Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sonoma Train Town

On a recent trip to see my family, we made a little side trip to see the Sonoma Train Town. This is pretty much a 3 year old boy's greatest fantasy - a park with a scale model railroad that really runs over bridges, through tunnels, past streams, and by tiny scale towns. The railroad ride itself is about 20 minutes, including a 10 minute stop at a petting zoo with llamas, sheep, and goats. They also have a few toddler-friendly rides like a carousel and flying airplanes. Jackson and Mimi getting ready to get on the train ride...Jackson and Mimi on a carousel together. This was his first ride without someone holding onto him. No, I didn't pre-approve this idea. Yes, I was very nervous.Ok, so when I heard that parents couldn't go on the airplane ride with their kids, I thought, "fat chance my kid is going to do this!" I started to get pretty anxious when my mom put him into his seat because it would have taken me at least 30 seconds to leap the rails to go get him, and I wasn't sure if they would stop the ride if it was already going when he started crying. The real emotion set in, however, when I realized that he wasn't scared! In fact, he was having a great time and didn't need me at all! Ouch! This rather un-sentimental mommy definitely had tears in her eyes.

So You Think You Can't Take Your Kid To a Winery?

Do you think that taking a child to a winery might be akin to child abuse? Au contraire, mon frère! My parents live in the Dry Creek area of Sonoma, so Jackson has been visiting wineries since he was about 6 weeks old. Most wineries have beautiful grounds for your kids to explore, and many have awesome picnic areas to enjoy. Some even have novelty experiences like castles. The best part is that while your kid enjoys a beautiful California day outdoors, you can load up on some fancy-dancy wine for cheap (even if there is a tasting fee, most wineries waive it if you buy something). Here are some photos from our recent trip to Ferrari-Carano:

National Academy of Sciences (San Francisco)

On a recent trip to San Francisco we had the opportunity to visit the newly remodeled National Academy of Sciences. It is so beautiful, and so incredibly toddler friendly (except for the food court, where nary a chicken nugget could be found...).

The entire roof is covered in green plants to control heating and air costs. I totally want one. Plus, jumping in the roof puddles may have been the highlight of the entire day for Jackson.
They have this really cute Children's Museum-esque play area
just for kids under 5

Jackson really could have spent all day in front of this giant tank looking for the one Nemo-fish swimming around in it

Everyone liked getting to touch the sea creatures in this
aquatic version of a petting zoo

They also have traditional dioramas, which might be sort of boring to some of us (me), but toddlers apparently find fascinating...

Money, Money, Money

For Jackson's third birthday our very good friends sent him three dollar bills. I figured this would go over like a lead balloon with our three year old. I mean, what does money mean to a three year old? It's just great paper, right? Wrong, wrong wrong. Apparently our friends know more about kids then we do (they have three of their own) because Jackson was THRILLED with his "money." He carried it proudly around the house and kept saying, "This is MY money. This is Jackson's money!" The first weekend after the three dollars arrived, he even wanted to bring them with us when we went shopping.
I decided that Jackson was definitely ready for his own piggy bank. I ordered this awesome, handpainted, personalized fire truck piggy off of (the website where I now just have my paycheck deposited directly, because I am so obsessed with it):

Jackson loves to find "money" (mainly pennies) to put in his new bank. If this financial crisis continues, we may be coming to him for loans in the near future...