While visiting Albuquerque over Christmas, we did a few special activities with our family. With six active young kiddos all under one roof, it was necessary to go out of the house a few times! Grammy and Papa had brainstormed several fun ideas for us. We visited the Explora science museum twice during our visit. Jaden and Cody had been to this museum a couple times before, and we love this place! The silly mirrors at the entrance are always a hit.
The newest Explora exhibit (one we hadn't yet tried) involved creating your own marine animals. First, the kids chose a creature (fish, jellyfish, squid, etc.) to color or design.
Then, the kids scanned their creation into the machine....
...and poof! A scanned image of their creature popped up and swam around this ocean wall.
The kids LOVED finding their fish and then running around after it as it bopped across the screen. My boys were so excited to put new creatures on the screen that they would barely color two lines on each one before scanning a new one in. What a creative exhibit!
We also spent some time at the sand table (another new exhibit), which was actually a sort of topographical map. As you would build up or tear down your sand hills, the lights shining on the sand would change, each color indicating a certain elevation. We adults got a kick out of creating hills and valleys of varying elevations and watching the lights change.
The kids, however, just treated the exhibit as a large sand box. :)
We always love riding the five-star elevator. It contains a couple large couches and even a piano. Talk about going up in style!
The bubble exhibit had been expanded into a much larger area than the last time we visited. We made huge bubbles...
.... stood inside bubbles,
...and played with bubble foam.
Jaden and Cody experimented a bit with the good old-fashioned bristle blocks.
Ryan and Cody drew a design with this fancy contraption (totally don't remember what it was called...).
And then we built some block towers.
Another day, Papa and Grammy gave us a pile of coupons and gift cards to use at an Itz family fun center. This was our first experience at an Itz. It's a bit pricey, so I doubt we will go often but the kiddos all loved their time! We first tried out their pint-sized bowling lanes.
The lanes were shorter than normal bowling alley lanes, and the balls were MUCH smaller and lighter. It was a great way for Cody and Jaden to try out bowling for the first time.
The little ones were pretty animated whenever they knocked anything down, so it was quite enjoyable for us adults to watch. Cody jumped and danced all over even after knocking down a couple pins at a time. I think he's preparing his jump of jubilation already now. :)
The kiddos enjoyed themselves at bowling but didn't have a super long attention span for a full game. Perhaps they were just excited to try out everything else...
The corner of the Itz building had a section of smaller games especially for little ones. We spent the longest amount of time here. This mini-carousel was free to ride.
Despite his appearance, Jaden really did enjoy his carousel ride. This is simply the face he gives me frequently when I ask to take his picture. Oh, the joys of three... :)
This virtual roller coaster ride was free too.
We played a few simple arcade games as well, such as this Whack-a-Mole. It was built just at the right height for Cody.
The highlight of the visit for the 3-year-olds was riding this Frog Jumper ride. Matt was the designated adult to accompany the kids the first time. Way to go, Uncle Matt! :)
Jaden was a bit hesitant to try out this ride the first time....
...but he willingly jumped on (surprising Mommy!) for the second ride. All the kiddos giggled happily whenever the ride bounced them up and down. No tears = a successful ride!
I just love their big smiles!
Then, we tried out the Spinoli ride (which made Mommy a bit dizzy).
We spent quite a few afternoons (and mornings sometimes too) at the school playground. It's wonderful that this place is so close to Grammy and Papa's-- just an easy walk.
One day, Jaden, Ryan, and Abby pretended to be food stand vendors.
Midway through our visit, Albuquerque got some snow! Jaden and Cody enjoyed some brief playtime in the snow. They were never much for playing in the snow while we lived in Montana, so a brief taste of snow this winter was probably all that they needed. :)
There was just barely enough snow for Ian and his daddy to squeak out a small, cute snowman.
We tried to plan a few small at-home events for the kiddos during the week, too. One night, we popped popcorn and watched a Christmas movie.
Gotta love this special cousin time! :)
Another night, Papa made a fire in the fireplace. It made their family room so cozy! Jaden and Cody enjoyed just watching the fire.
Aunt Kim surprised the kiddos one afternoon by making balloon animals for them. So fun!
Then, the kids all helped to make sopapillas for our dessert after a delicious Mexican meal. Grammy showed the kids how to roll the dough and cut it into squares.
I think Cody and Jaden's favorite part was watching the dough puff up like a pillow once it was placed into the deep fryer. Eating the sopapillas was only so-so in their book, although they were pretty excited about licking off all the powdered sugar.
We adults, on the other hand, loved these desserts and had no problem finishing up the ones the kids left behind! :)
We always cherish this special family time together. Thanks, Grammy and Papa, for all the wonderful memories and for being such excellent hosts for our active families. We love you!