Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shortly after this exuberant embrace of the Easter Bunny's largess, the jig was up.

In the 10 minutes it took to drive from our house to church for Easter Mass, three childhood heroes were toppled. I always knew that I would not lie when confronted head on with the quest for truth, but I thought it would come from Edward and I thought he might get a few months or a year of being "in on the secret" before Daniel was brought up to speed. At the very least, I thought Edward would be the one to reveal the truth to Daniel, in a conspiratorial big brotherly way.


A friend of Daniel's, whose family does not participate in the myth-making, told him, "It's your parents" and that's all it took. I think she probably told him back around Christmas, because Daniel has tested the theory a bit in the last few months, casually mentioning, "I think maybe you and Dad are Santa Claus." My response, "Oh, really, that's interesting. What makes you think that?" has never drawn him into further conversation.

But this morning there was no dancing around it. Voice from the backseat: "Are you guys the Easter Bunny?" Sideways glance between John and me. "Are you sure you want to know?" YES!

"OK then, here it is. Yes, we got the treats and made the Easter baskets."

What about Santa? Again, "are you sure you want to know?" YES

Another one bites the dust. Here, Edward was skeptical, "But, wait, how do you know what we want from Santa. We only tell him!" Oh, really, you mean you don't spend weeks and weeks of anticipation listing your hearts' desires? "Oh, yeah, I guess so." There's still the magic of the snowglobe, which Edward knows he only told Santa and Mrs. Smith. Maybe there's still a kernel of mystery there.

That 10-minute drive seemed endless, and then, getting out of the car Daniel said, "What about the tooth fairy?" Are you sure you want to know? NO...wait, yes?

I'm sad for him that the myth is busted even before he loses his first tooth (which just started wiggling this week.) I guess he won't care too much as long as he gets his dollar when it falls out.

We made a point to let them know they should NOT spoil the secret for other kids. I've revisited that point separately with each boy today. We talked about how even though there isn't a real guy in a red suit who travels all over the world in a single night, there is a special feeling of excitement and a spirit of giving that helps us celebrate Christmas. And we agreed that holidays are special family time with or without the colorful characters. And we proved it by spending a lovely day together riding bikes (with new baskets from the "bunny") to the park, playing backyard wiffle-ball, grilling out and eating our first porch dinner of the season, and then another bike ride--for ice cream dessert.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

 It was an amazing milestone year for Team Kenyon in the March for Babies. As we approached this year's event we wanted to do something special to recognize it was our 10th time walking for Will. We decided we'd set an audacious goal of $10,000 and see if we could make it happen. Well, I shouldn't say "we" could make it happen. It turned out, all it took was an army of generous friends and family members supporting us as they have from the very beginning.

The local March of Dimes staff asked us to be part of the opening ceremony for the walk. They announced that it was our 10th March for Babies and we were called to the "stage" to share a few words about our journey. John announced the "moment of silence" to honor all the babies who have lost their battle with prematurity. And then we walked! It was the most beautiful day we've ever had in 10 years. Cool, but growing warmer. Bright sunshine, light breeze. Wish we could bottle that up for every year, since we know what it's like in rain, snow and cold!

We had to dash to Daniel's soccer game after the walk and by the time we got home I was spent. Literally. I had to put myself to bed for the afternoon with a 100-degree fever! The boys muddled through and I stumbled down to join them for pizza and a movie at dinner time. By mid-afternoon Sunday, one final donation (from a stalwart Team Kenyon member who had already donated, but just couldn't stand to see us less than $100 from our goal) put us over the top.

We raised $10,000 in honor of our 10th March for Babies
 and Will's 10th birthday coming up this fall. Wow!

Thanks once again to all of our amazing family and friends who answered our call. We know we would not have made it this far without you and each step forward is that much easier with you at our sides.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Well, the entire basketball season passed without any documentation here. Luckily, the four primary readers of this blog got to see games in person. My parents' experience even included Edward getting a bloody nose mid-game--exciting!

So let's start soccer season off right with a couple of shots of Daniel's first game, in which he scored three goals! Yay!

Edward's team played two games this morning (can we say insanity?!) but with the bigger field, our low-powered camera, and his, shall we say, less-engaged approach to the game, I wasn't able to capture a picture. Will work on that (both the action and the picture) as the season progresses.

Edward's second game was at the same time as Daniel's, but luckily on adjacent fields so I could shuttle a bit between them. We were expecting chilly conditions as this last week has been pretty brutal for the first spring practices (temps in the 40s and winds not far behind!) But this morning the sun was shining and the wind was calm.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Children's Department at our library has had a large Lego castle on display for about a month. For the first three weeks or so they asked kids to submit ideas to name the castle. We happened to be there the night before the drawing and both boys submitted names. Lo and behold, when they drew a suggestion from the jar, Edward's idea "The Fire Temple" was the winner. This was cause for great excitement!

We stopped by Friday evening for a visit on our way to a community art show featuring work from students at all the local elementary schools. This is work students are supposed to complete outside of art class and submit to the art teacher for inclusion. Our boys  used one of their two-hour delay mornings in January to work on their projects in water color. This year I confirmed what I've long suspected--anyone who turns in work is featured in the display and invited to the artists' reception. That matters not at all, as it is a fun event for the kids and a total "see and be seen" event.

We got a note home about Edward's piece being included, but did not receive one for Daniel so we weren't sure if his piece would be on display. It took us a while to find it (even though the pieces are arranged by school--we simply overlooked it in all its abstract glory.) He gave quite a long artist statement, the gist of which was that it is a pond and the black section is a monster truck with orange pollution escaping into the pond.

Edward was more literal in his work: a castle (mixed media: water color, crayon, colored pencil.)

One Sunday in February a woman I recognize but do not know well approached me after Mass and said she was so proud of how well the boys had been behaving recently and asked if it was OK with me if she gave them a treat. I figured she had a piece of candy for each and thanked her. She went and talked to the boys while I was talking to another friend and out of the corner of my eye I see her hand a dollar to each! They were over the moon! She said her husband was Italian and it's an Italian tradition to reward kids with money. We thanked her again, but on the way home I had to be sure to let them know this would not be a weekly occurrence.

Not to worry. The very next week Daniel returned from the Children's Liturgy to report to me that Edward had been performing his latest skill: armpit farts. Edward denied it, but I knew Daniel would not make up something that specific. I also knew how enthralled Edward was with this skill and its ability to both impress and draw attention/laughs.

Not to be outdone in seeking attention and laughs, Daniel composed the following notes as the Mass progressed, handing the top one to me and the bottom to Edward:

Mine says: Mom I (heart) you you are funny
Edward's says: Poop I (heart) you you are good

Of course passing Edward a note referring to him as "Poop" led to uncontrolled giggles and poking and whispered one-word reminders "Poop" (ha ha ha ha ha!) I finally said they were both losing their iPods for one day and that sobered things up, slightly.

I was furious when we got home and sent them to their rooms. John was even more furious when he heard what happened and went up to collect the iPods and demand explanations. Edward tried to continue in his denial of the rude behavior at the Children's Liturgy, but when pressed, admitted he'd actually done it. For the lie on top of the bad behavior, John imposed a further punishment of writing a note of apology to the Liturgy leader. Unfortunately I didn't copy it before he presented it to her. But John also told Daniel he was to write an apology to me, giving no further instruction or assistance regarding content or spelling. This is what he wrote:

(I am sre for riting a not to Edward abwt poop I wil dust the TV stand for a weck Daniel)
Translation: I am sorry for writing a note to Edward about poop I will dust the TV stand for a week

I appreciated that he gave himself a punishment even though this was not part of John's instruction. It should be noted, however, that the TV stand was never dusted.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

At long last this week, we reached the 100th day of school. The celebration had to be pushed back twice due to snow days that will have to be made up in June. But by Feb. 3, they had actually achieved the 100th day, which is cause for celebration. I think it's more of a kindergarten thing that extends into the early primary grades. A friend with 3rd- and 4th-grade kids said the milestone was not marked in the older grades.

But Daniel and Edward were each invited to create an item out of 100 pieces. Daniel elected to string together 100 rubber bands, which was quite an impressive task. The finished product stretched from our front door to our back door. I lack the photographic equipment to capture that, but this double loop gives an idea of the length.

Edward's medium, of course, was Lego. He decided to make the number 100 out of 100 Lego pieces. This was also an interesting challenge as we didn't have exactly the same size pieces to make the two zeros the same way. But through a bit of trial and error, adding and subtracting and substituting, he made it happen.

This week we also finally completed our Christmas present to ourselves when our new TV stand was delivered. We decided to take the plunge on a new TV for Christmas and John spent a good amount of time researching the various options. The TV itself was delivered two days before Christmas, but then we were left with a conundrum over its set up. It seems that furniture manufacturers are simply unprepared for 2014 customers who want a stand for a 47-inch HD TV that will also accommodate a stereo receiver and turntable.

A day of shopping (with the boys--oy!) the weekend after Christmas left us with one possibility, which we didn't love the look of, but which we were confident would hold the components. It was to be ready for delivery in the 3rd week of January. That week rolled around and I called for an update, only to discover that the piece we had ordered had been pulled out of inventory and another would not be available until the end of February. UGH! In the meantime, we had the new TV set on an end table in front of the old TV and stand (which was not wide enough to accommodate the new TV.) Very classy.

John and I both spent time scouring options online, but just couldn't bring ourselves to settle for a cheap, pressed-board, assembly-required piece as the center of our living room. Finally, John went back out (alone) to our local stores and hit the jackpot. He emailed me a picture of a stand that met the size requirements for all three components plus our DVD player. Then I asked if the narrow side shelves might even be the right width for his stereo speakers. A quick measure and eureka! It works! And we only had to wait five days for delivery.

 It just wouldn't be a 2014 winter blog post without a snow/ice/frozen tundra reference. The biggest bummer has been that the sub-zero temperatures have really limited our ability to get out and enjoy all the snow, but last Saturday was a perfect combination of mid-20s with fresh snow from that morning. We called/texted some friends who were just a eager for fresh air as we were, and spent a fun afternoon sledding and then playing on a snowy playground.Whee!

Friday, January 31, 2014

A bit of January randomness:

 Edward's art teacher selected his Nutcracker drawing for a small art show this month sponsored by the UI College of Engineering. It's an annual show in memory of the wife of one of the professors, who was a local art teacher for two decades. Ed's teacher said she appreciated his attention to detail in his drawing, which was based on his class field trip to a local dance school's Nutcracker performance. He said he used watercolor, crayon and glitter pen to create it.

 Here we see the Christmas sweatshirts from Grandma employed as defense against the Arctic January 2014. The boys have their sweatshirt hoods up, masks down, and ski-mask hats over them topped off with jacket hoods.

This craft project completed with Grandma last night is as perfect a window into our boys' individual personalities as we may ever see. The one on the right completed exactly according to the specifications of the kit, each step meticulously followed in order. (Edward) The one on the left, all the same pieces but placed according to the whim of the craftsman (Daniel) who never met a direction he didn't want to question.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A few days before Christmas and right at dinner time, Daniel came to ask if he could do some construction with toothpicks and marshmallows. I told him that is a fun project and a good idea, but it wasn't the right time. "In fact," I said, "That's a great thing to do during your winter break from school when we have all day to play!" However, winter break hadn't yet started and he was just SURE we'd forget.

"Well, why don't you write it down then," I suggested. "We can make a list of things you want to do over the break." He got right down to business:
  • Mrshmelo and tuthpiks
  • pool (to go swimming)
  • ice skate (I think he must have made me write this, though my writing isn't much better!)
  • Ice crem (he reminded us that we hadn't made good on our standard reward for passing a swimming level)
  • Move nitt (movie night)
  • Monopoly (it took almost the whole break to complete one game; we can only play in short spurts)
I'm pleased to report that all items on the list were accomplished during our two weeks plus two days of break. (The Polar Vortex, with daily high temps in negative double digits and wind chills in -30 to -40 range, hit right when they were supposed to go back to school so the first two days were canceled.)

Soon after returning to school, Edward and his classmates all researched or interviewed family members about what school is like in other countries. Edward interviewed Uncle Joe over the phone about school in Brazil, where he and Aunt Brenda lived for two years before their current assignment in Mexico City. At left are the notes he took and a right the final report. Note the green school bus and the students in uniforms (pink/purple was not specified by the interview subject--artistic license by the reporter.) Boys are identifiable by the blue hats.

His writing is improving, but to help decipher it reads: 
In Brazil the children wear uniforms, and the school buses are not yellow. They go to school from 7:30 to 1:00 and then come home for lunch. Parts of their schools are outside and their summer break is in December and January.