Thursday, May 28, 2009

Park #5 - Maxwell Park

Greetings, faithful readers of our blog! This week finds us late on getting the park review out as it was not good park weather. I was waiting to see if things would clear up so we could head to the park but no such luck. But lucky for you we went to several parks last week! Now that is dedication to my anxiously awaiting readers, right!? Or maybe it's just boredom...or a kid that says "park, park" every waking moment of her life! But anyway...let me just mention that I am no park expert by any means. I just go there with my kids and am either thrilled or annoyed by what I find there. But please tell me if there are things you want me to specifically look for when I go...or something you want me to add to the review. I have had a lot of great feedback so far. Sometimes I am so focused on what the park does and doesn't have that I forget to make it somewhat entertaining which is the fun part of writing them. For example, I forgot to mention that at Anderson (during the early potty training days), "someone" (for the sake of embarrassment, I won't mention names) POOPED their pants...and because "she" did not have underwear on (yet another funny story), it rolled down her pant leg and onto the ground. But a very swift and intelligent mommy (again, no names please), swept it up like an in-fielder grabbing up a ground ball, and tossed it in the can. Phew...that was a close one. Further embarrassment came when we left the park in nothing but a t-shirt and a diaper - WITH SHOES ON. Can you say TRASHY? Anyhow...I don't think there is a day that goes by that I don't laugh my butt off at something like this (or drink until I forget about it...KIDDING). And come just doesn't happen to us...if you have had a 2 year old or have have gone through something similiar or will. I am not making this stuff up, people - it WILL happen to you if it hasn't already. And then you say if it does happen to you, you'd never tell...HA (I was one of those people)...well, I say there is more of it to come so you might as well laugh about it and enjoy it. Why wait til you're old to look back on it and laugh? There are so many other embarrassing stories I could share with you but I better get on to the park review. Maybe I'll add an embarrassing story to each park review and you all can give it stars.

Maxwell Park is located between Parkside Junior High and Normal West on Parkside and Gregory St. The website ( says it's a 125 acre park. It includes the Champion Fields softball complex, 6 lighted tennis courts, playground equipment for all ages, a larger pinic shelter (available for reservations), restrooms (we'll get to that in a minute), a completely fenced in dog park, 18 hole frisbee golf course, a 12 pit lighted horseshoe court (I thought horseshoes were banned like yard jarts...HA, remember that FUN and scary game?), 3 small picnic shelters, basketball court, and hiking trails. It has lots of trees for shade and benches for mommies (or daddies, or whoever) to sit. As I mentioned before, it does have a "restroom"...I wouldn't call an open room with 3 stalls and NO doors a place I would rest. How restful could "going" in front of people really be? But at least it has a bathroom though...I am still almost speechleess that Bittner park does not have one...seeming how I drink most of my meals, a bathroom is crucial (and no, I am not talking about alcohol, people...if I didn't drink a smoothie every morning for breakfast, I wouldn't get to eat - there is no time to sit and eat a meal with 2 small children -so many parks, garage sales, and other things to do! Caffiene and water are also a key part of my semi-successful parenting - so needless to say, I "drink" a lot and bathrooms are important).'s a big park so got to keep a close eye on your peeps. It's also close to a somewhat busy road. But the playground seems safer than most. A place to the bathroom...check. Picnic area...check. Lots to do...check. Clean...check. We give this park 4 and 1/2 stars! (would have given it 5 if the bathroom stalls had doors...)

"Littlier" kids play area (sign says 2 -5)

"Bigger" kid play area

Some swings (one is hanicapped accessible), a digger and other things...

More swings....jumpy things, and a Merry-go-round...yep...remember those?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some 1sts...

First ride in our new (well, new to us) double jogging stroller. They love being able to sit by each other and see one another.

Reece smiling as she buckles the buckle all by herself for the first time in this stroller.

Brody's first time at a "late" (well, late to us) night party on Memorial Day. I think it was probably 9pm here and he was still happy (and cute)

Brody's first time driving a car...a race car too!

Reece's first date. Parker took Reece for a (supervised) drive in the truck!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Park # 4 - Walt Bittner Park

From West Bloomington, to Normal, to East Bloomington...we have been traveling to parks! We went to Walt Bittner Park this week. It is located at 3907 Rave Rd....just off of Towanda Barnes Rd just south of Fort Jesse. This park has a playground, basketball court, baseball field, pavallion/picnic area, and a big open field. We saw someone flying a kite out in the big open field which we thought was a great idea and something we may try sometime. The play ground was really nice and clean. It had a larger play area with a sign posted saying it was for ages 5 to 12. It did have a pretty big, dangerous type opening with a rock wall that older kids would like. It had a smaller play area too. It had swings and some other "ride-on" activities for the kids to do. It did have benches for people to sit on. There wasn't much shade except under the pavillion. One thing that I just couldn't believe is that it had NO bathroom...good thing "mi-mi" lives just around the corner! Overall we give this park 3 and 1/2 stars.

Bigger play area (see rock wall with openings). Also off to the left you can see this big thing hanging down and then a seat. It was a really neat swing type thing that I hadn't seen at any of the other parks. Reece sat on it and basically wrapped her legs around the pole and held onto it and you spin them around. I thought it was pretty neat!

Back side of big play area...lots of things to climb on

Smaller play area...this was one of the nicer (and really cute) smaller play areas I have seen.

Reece getting ready to go down the slide...

Reece riding the horsie (or whatever it was)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Park # 3 - Anderson Park and Aquatic Center

Last week we checked out Anderson Park in Normal. It is located on East College Ave or 100 S Maple St. You can view additional info about this park at
Anderson Park has a tennis court, basketball court, softball/baseball diamond, 2 pavillion/picnic shelters, 2 large playground areas and restroom (in between the two play areas). This park is rather large with plenty of things to do. It has lots of shade, picnic tables, benches and areas to sit and relax (that is until you see the playground). This particular week we brought our first special guest - cousin De-de (Kennedy), Tate, and Aunt Jo-Jo.

The smaller playground on the west side of the park (closest to the aquatic center) posted a sign that said the playground was for ages 5 to 12. This I thought was interesting as we had two 2 year olds that just came from the bigger (much scarier) playground area where I didn't see a sign posted. I liked how the smaller playground had tubes that had to be climbed to get to the higher, more dangerous play area. This meant, our two year olds could not access that area without our help.

The larger playground area (on the east side of the park) was quite the match for fearless 2 year olds. As a mother watching, I am pretty sure I was on the edge of a heart attack nearly every second. This playground reached heights of I'd say at least 15 feet (Jodi, keep me honest here)...I certainly couldn't touch my little girl as she dangled her foot out of one of the many openings (which contained a rock wall, rope, pole, etc) any opening at which my 2 year old had no fear of. If you could have only seen Jodi and I running from end to end with our arms in the palms sweat as I re-live this image. There were a couple of baby swings and even a handicap accessible swing. There were 7 BIG slides (which I got the priviledge of seeing my daughter shoot out of like a cannon ball in a cannon) and a few small ones. There was a bathroom but it was quite the walking distance from either play area and it was not very clean and had no soap!
I am giving this park 3 1/2 stars...I did like it but it just may be a few years til we go back.

Smaller playground on the East side of park (see the tube under the slide that they have to climb to get to the higher parts)

higher parts with openings...

Bigger, more dangerous side off in the distance...

phew...finally safe and caged...

Monday, May 18, 2009


We had another minor adjustment made to Brody's helmet this past week and we will go back in about 3 weeks. At that point we will probably move to wearing the helmet just at night and maybe some during the day at home in the air conditioning OR maybe he will be done completely!! YEA! So in preparation for the days to come with no helmet, we have been trying on hats and I am totally in love with this little boy in his hats!

Daddy is a long time Red's fan so this is his fave...(you can see his new little teeth on the bottom)

And this is my heart melts!

Reecey wanted to try it out too...
And I couldn't resist adding this one...Brody and his buddy Bo!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Park #2 - White Oak Park

Located at 1514 N Cottage Ave, White Oak Park is just around the corner from O'Neil Park (Park # 1 from last week). This park appeared to be very new...possibly built just in the last year or so. It had a very nice picnic area with a nice grill and a view of the lake (according to the Bloomington site it is a fishing lake). Eventually there will even be some nice shade in the grassy areas around the playground. Right now the trees are too new/little for shade. The benches around the playground were made with that platsic coated metal (no splinters!). The restroom was literally steps away from the play ground area and was very clean. Actually the whole area (ground, play area, parking lot) was exceptionally clean. There was enough to do for several age groups. I liked how they seperated a play area for the smaller kids. There were 4 baby swings and 4 regular swings. The slides were easily accessible via a ramp or stair steps of "rocks" (no steep stairs to climb!). I liked that there were not a lot of open spots where little kids (like my fearless 2 year old) could jump out and brake numerous body parts. The kids would also probably enjoy the 1 mile walk trail around the lake. We saw some ducks and geese out there. It seemed like a peaceful place to go even with kids! Due to it's "newness" and location, there were just a few people there which is a plus when you are trying to keep an eye on a swift toddler. On the way home you could grab some "Little Ceasars" pizza (new in town!!) and a movie from Family Video which is just down the road from the park. Overall, we give this park 5 stars and will definitely be returning!

Again, I welcome your feedback, comments, suggestions, etc. A couple of things to note...I have made the address of the park a link to mapquest. Also, we have realized there are so many parks in Bloomington Normal that there is probably no way we could visit them all in just one summer. So, there might be weeks that we visit two (of course there might be weeks we can't visit at all)...and who knows...maybe we will continue on our adventure next year. Right now, we'll just take one year at a time.

That building in the back is the restroom and meeting room

This is the smaller play area...

Picnic tables, grill, lake (off in the back)

Look out! Future Nascar driver...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I can't believe my 3rd mother's day has come and gone already. Each year they are more exciting and meaningful. Today we had Brody dedicated at our church. We had a nice lunch with my parents and brother and then dinner with Brock's parents and sister's families.
Getting Reecey to pose for a picture these days is like finding a pair of baggy jeans at a Kenney Chesney ain't happenin'. The girl is always on the go so this is catching her in action. One major advantage of them being at this helpless stage in their life is that I get to pick out their of course they are going to wear their "I love mommy" shirts on Mother's day - DUH! I better enjoy it while it lasts!
Here's the happy bunch...

My handsome (and non-mobile) child...

And now for the Brady Bunch...

The 3 girls...Reece (2), Gracie (2 weeks) and Kennedy (2)...look at these faces...I feel sorry for poor little Gracie already.

The boys...Tate (8 weeks), Bo (21 months), Brody (7 months)

And then the 3 littlest ones together...

(Not pictured: Reece, Kennedy, & Bo think catching 1 is hard...try catching 3! That'd be like trying to lick your elbow...IMPOSSIBLE! {I know you all just tried to lick your elbow and you couldn't do it, could you?})

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A new park adventure - Park 1

Reece, Brody and I are on a new adventure this summer. What kind of adventure you ask? A park adventure...we want to find the best park in Bloomington/Normal! Reece loves parks so I figure why not visit them all and find the best one. Each week (Lord willing and weather permitting) I will take the kids to a new park. We will give it 0 to 5 stars based on 1) cleanliness, 2) multiple ages group friendly 3) safety 4) place to relax/pinic (mostly for mommies), and 5) having facilities/restrooms on the premises. I will give all of you the scoop on the parks including some pictures. I will try and put some pics of the kids at the park too for your enjoyment of course :) Feel free to add comments as well, ask me questions, offer suggestions, etc. Not only will we discover some new places to travel, we will find out which ones are worth it and which ones aren't...and you won't have to waste your time doing it. You can also find out about Bloomington Parks on and Normal Parks at . These websites list all the parks, their addresses, and some of their features. I'll warn you, the Bloomington site is quite frustrating but the Normal site is pretty user-friendly. So here we go...

The first park we visited was O'Neil Park. It is located on the West side - the BEST side - of course! O'Neil Park is located on 1515 W Chestnut. O'Neil Park has:
  • Basketball Court (be sure to bring your own ball)
  • Picnic shelter
  • Playground
  • Softball field
  • Swimming pool
  • Tennis court
  • Skate Board park/area
  • Baseball field

A couple of good features about this park is that there is a pavilion close by with picnic tables and there are a few benches for mommies to watch their kids. There were plenty of things to do for several different age groups. I'd say the playground itself was more designed for ages 3 and up. Reece did fine being 2 but she did struggle a bit on the rock climbing wall and also got stuck in some of the tubes. There were only two baby swings and one was broken. The play equipment itself seemed clean but the ground was littered with garbage and cigarette butts even though there were 4 Bloomington Rec vehicles and a dozen workers on the scene working on...well...something I suppose. Another downside to this park is the location of the restroom. It took several minutes to walk there and with a potty training child that could be disastrous. It was also not well marked (I wasn't sure we were even walking to a restroom) and it wasn't "baby" friendly. Overall, we give this park 3 stars! See ya next week!

Main playground area with rock climing wall and 4 slides.

Other side of playground showing swings and picnic area (in the back)

And of course a few of the kids having fun...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Another Monday update

Not much new on the home front. Reece is still doing great on the potty and we have had only a minor accidents. Brody got another bottom tooth today and we are working on no swaddle - AGAIN. Right now he looks very comfortable on his side/belly sleeping (going on 1 hour). Now that he is rolling he could sleep how ever he wanted if only he didn't have that swaddle. Maybe now he will realize what he has been missing!

Brody blowing "raspberries" during his bubble bath...

Watch out for the floating head...maybe just a tad too much water.

Reece loves taking a bath with her brother...and he enjoys it too...look at him trying to see her. The joy on his face every time he sees her is so adorable.

First biter bisquit experience...he liked it, but boy was it messy.

Harley and his buddy