Monday, August 24, 2009

A Sunday afternoon graham cracker snack put John in the mood for s'mores. He mentioned this to me before I left for the grocery store, but of course I forgot to get the chocolate. (We already had the marshmallows, left over from some baking project.) Never fear. He made a special trip with Ed to pick up the elusive ingredient while the grill warmed up for our chicken dinner. This was a powerful incentive for Edward to eat all his dinner as he knew the joy that awaited. (He had them at daycare during a lesson on camping. He is unlikely to have any real camping experience until he's old enough for Scouts!)

John found a stick and his pocket knife (Boy Scout remnant?) and whittled a poker while Ed finished his veggies. It was a nice long stick, keeping Ed from getting too close to the grill, but still required parental vigilance. I kept hearing the voice over to one of those Emergency reality shows: "In the split second it took to say Hello to a passing neighbor, the grill had turned over..." Ugh. Anyway, it was a success and the treat was enjoyed by all.

John was grilling a second set of marshmallows so I managed to both feed Daniel and snap this shot. After I'd set the camera down and turned back, this is what I saw: "More more!" (Note: these pictures were taken in immediate succession despite the pitch black back drop of the first. Guess the flash was overwhelming at such close range.)
The treats were the end of a fun-filled weekend. We started with a rare Friday evening adventure to the Children's Museum. John got home early and the kids were just waking up from naps. We wondered how to fill the hours until bedtime and decided on the museum. A quick call to Grandma and Grandpa revealed that they were also at loose ends (or, at least willing to skip whatever they had planned) so they met up with us for a bit of museum fun. Surprisingly, it was a perfect time to go. Hardly anyone else was there between about 5 and 6 p.m. It was great to have four adults there so we could let the kids explore in different directions. When I go by myself, it's always a challenge to keep up with them!

Daniel was very methodical in placing these cones. They were all stacked when he approached and he spent a long time picking them up one by one and placing them in a row--much longer than I would have credited his attention span!

It is difficult to let him climb up this tall slide on his own, but he really can do it and the pure joy of the ride down is infectious.
We split up Saturday morning with John taking Ed for a haircut and the library and me taking Daniel on an errand and then to the park. (It was supposed to be the other way around, but he fell asleep in the car so we switched course.) It was fun to watch Daniel explore the familiar park on his own, rather than following Edward around an attempting to replicate all his physical feats. He got around just fine, but on his own terms. We spent about 10 minutes at one point playing "Mommy, sit here" as he moved from point to point and patted the place next to him for me to follow. The only command I ignored was when he flopped belly down on the concrete and patted the ground next to him. Simon says: no thanks.

We met up back at home for lunch and while the boys were eating, I spotted a wooly worm climbing on the screen. We kept an eye on him until lunch was gone then got down to explore.
We have almost this exact shot of Edward two years ago (a lot less hair though!)
This picture mostly defies explanation, except to say that the bucket was some sort of helmet as the vehicle morphed between race car and fire truck.
Daniel still eats bubbles.
But he's so cute we'll keep him anyway.
And we'll close with an Edward story. Sunday morning I took out a blueberry coffee cake for a treat. Edward was intrigued by the notion of cake for breakfast, but I tried to explain so he wouldn't expect chocolate. I told him it was blueberry and cinnamon and that it was called coffee cake because people like to eat it with coffee. He considered for a moment.

"I will call it juice cake because I like to eat it with juice." Can't argue with pure logic.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well, I wish I could say we've been too busy living life to find time for blogging about it, but the truth is we've been up to a lot of nothing this month. I finished my summer class about the time of the last post and have been enjoying a more leisurely schedule since then. Next class starts next week and I'm not looking forward to it--another dry business requirement, Operations Management. Maybe I'll be surprised, but I'm not holding my breath. I really enjoyed the summer class though, an elective about leadership, so maybe I can ride that high all the way through the fall term.

We enjoyed another backyard pool adventure on Friday after naps. John's office observes "summer hours," sending staff home at 3:30 on summer Fridays so he was home for the fun. We were amused at Daniel's fine motor skills as he attempted the squirt gun. Only his thumb is strong enough to pull the trigger and holding it this way means he squirts himself in the face more often than not. He seems not to mind though. (Click on this picture to see a larger version that shows the spray of water.)I had to snap this pre-pool shot. Who doesn't love a baby belly hanging over a diaper? I still can't bring myself to take Daniel for a haircut because I know he won't look so much like my baby with the wild curls snipped away.
Here's Daniel reading to himself on Sunday morning after church. I've managed to take both boys solo to church the last two weeks. Can't promise it will happen every week, as it's quite stressful and there's not a lot to be gained spiritually from the endeavor. However, I am aware that this is how they'll learn the ritual, and I see kids not that much older who can keep it together the whole hour so there's hope. This week we left during Communion when Daniel took a toy combine (metal) and chucked it two pews ahead of us, luckily not hitting anyone in between. I can tell the experience leaves an impression with Ed though because after watching part of a Sesame Street episode featuring a magician wearing a cape, he described it to John as "the priest made the cards disappear." I had watched it with him and it had not occurred to me to equate the costume with the priest's vestments!

John, like his mother, can not appreciate a photo of himself, but I think this is sweet.

The latest development in firefighter wear is using a pot as a face mask. In the picture above, Daniel isn't sure a frying pan will create the desired effect.
Again, I had to get permission to post this one and it was granted, reluctantly. John was already home and changed for the pool by the time Edward woke, bleary-eyed from his nap. He needed a little snuggle time to fully shake the sleepies out. It's so interesting that he still does this on occasion when he wakes. Daniel will have none of it. Even if he wakes up crying (which is unusual, but does happen) he allows himself to be held and rocked for maybe 15 seconds before squirming down and trotting across the room to deposit his pacifier in his bed and then run for the door.

Our local schools start on Thursday and the university's fall semester starts Monday. Our air conditioning is turned off as mild days are giving way to cool evenings. Summer isn't over (and I'm sure we'll have more heat) but signs of fall are all around. Locals always say that summer is the best time to be in Iowa City because the pace is slower and the population thins as students head out for summer adventures. Even though my schedule isn't tied to the academic calendar (no summers off!) I always appreciate the reawakening as the town buzzes with the energy of a new year.

Monday, August 03, 2009

An amusing anecdote (and requisite background info):

Background #1: Two weeks ago, I made a deal with Edward: if he could get through the morning drop off with no tears he could have an M&M when we got home. I was at my wit's end with the daily melt-downs and thought this would give him incentive to keep it together. Before you scoff, "ONE M&M??!" know that this was only my opening gambit and I was prepared to offer just about anything to break this horrible cycle. He did not counter, so we did not escalate the bargaining game. The first couple of mornings, I could see him swallowing hard and considering the prize awaiting before steeling himself for a "Bye, Mom!" He also started deciding in the morning exactly which color M&M he would choose when he got home. Call it bribery, call me a horrible parent, but it worked. He has resumed his customary cheerful disposition at school and I am no longer starting my days with a broken heart. It was so successful that after the first week, he became a bit hit-and-miss with requesting the reward. If he brought it up, I immediately produced the treat, but if he didn't mention it, neither did I.

Background #2: Last night we took a walk after dinner to get ice cream--a great way to end a summer weekend. We had the double stroller with us, but on the way home, pushing uphill, I suggested that Edward could get off and walk for a bit. He complied and I kept pushing while he and John trailed behind. Suddenly, I heard Ed's piercing shriek and looked back to see John scooping him up from the sidewalk. He had tripped (over his own foot) and scraped his knee, though the blood-curdling screams had John convinced he'd knocked out a tooth or worse! We were only half way home so it was a long, loud walk--not the restful summer evening we envisioned. At home, it was bath and bed time and as a distraction for Ed, I suggested he could take a "stand up bath." (I also thought it would be wise to avoid total immersion of the wounded knee.) I used the handheld shower head to hose him down, careful not to have direct spray on the knee. This was both distracting and calming and he got clean, pajama-ed, and tucked into bed. I didn't realize how big an impression this had made until we were leaving daycare and the director popped her head out of her office to say, "Hey, I heard Edward got to take a shower!" I gave her the back story and she said he hadn't told her anything about the scraped knee, just the shower.

Scene: Today, 12:30ish; returning from work/daycare, taking off shoes and putting away hats in front hallway; no mention of the after school M&M until...

Edward: I'm not going to have an M&M today. Yeah, because I'm a shower man and shower mans don't need M&Ms.

I'm not sure which is funnier, the ego-inflating "shower man" or the plural "shower mans" but either way, I almost choked stifling my guffaw.

Last week we ventured out to the Johnson County Fair and had another fun evening. The cows did not make the same impression on Ed as last year, but nonetheless, a good time was had by all.

The goats are friendly, though the boys were hesitant about the hands-on experience. Daniel preferred to stand back a bit and say, "Hi, goat!"

After trying on the helmet, Ed said he wanted the fire-fighter to show him the mask. He dutifully pulled out the full face mask and tried it on, demonstrating the attached microphone/speaker and letting Ed speak into it. Later, we learned that Edward had intended only the flip down mask attached to the helmet.
Luckily the kids are still small enough that the number of available rides is somewhat limited. Daniel rode this, a train, and the merry-go-round with John holding him tight. Edward also tried a small-scale Ferris wheel (which he rode alone with no objection, even when it stopped with him a the top to let another crying kid off) and a big inflatable bounce slide. In the future we may have to discuss ride rationing ahead of time or our "free" family fair outing could get quite pricey!

We ended the evening sharing a huge cup of ice cream. Edward, as usual, asked for chocolate, but I persuaded him to try a new flavor "cookie dough" (slightly less mess due to the ice cream itself being vanilla.) It was pretty loud though and he didn't quite hear my description of this new flavor. After a few bites, he exclaimed, "I like co-KEE-do!"

We've got him straight now and he actually requested this flavor on last night's excursion. He also asked me on the way past the grocery store this afternoon if we could have that "special treat," cookie dough ice cream at home some time. I'm guessing this will happen.

Daniel had his 18-month check-up last week and sailed through. He's tipping the scales at 29 pounds and measures about 33.5 inches. Within about 90 seconds of entering the exam room, his doctor said, "Well, I guess I don't have to ask you about his language skills!" He is quite the little chatterbox. His teacher reported that he now has most of the class asking, "Why, why?" about everything. Daniel also is into greeting everyone and everything, including this exchange as we drove by a landscaping crew, "Hi law-mo, har you?" (translation: Hi lawn mower, how are you?) If you say, "Hi Daniel, how are you?" He'll respond with a matter-of fact, "Good."