Monday, August 23, 2010

This is what passes for entertainment at our house. Tonight the whole family spent about 10 minutes in the smallest room in the house in fits of giggles. The boys found their attempts at body art highly amusing and we were laughing at their gales of giggles.

Edward was "putting on lipstick," which is interesting because I could probably count on one hand the number of times he's seen me do this so I'm not sure where he took his inspiration.

Daniel had himself completely covered, practically requiring a second bath. It rubs off very easily, but by the time they were done the water was kind of a dingy grey. Ugh.

They tried coloring on each other, but found they preferred to keep things more personal.

We got the mirror so they could see what they looked like. John was pretty proud of this "artistic" frame.

While I'm posting pictures, here are a few from our weekend festival, "Sand in the City" which was primarily a sand sculpting contest, but also included a huge pile of sand dumped in the street for kids to play in. The bath above was tonight, but an even more vigorous scrubbing was needed Saturday after this filthy fun.

There was also a bouncy castle.
On our way back to the car, the boys stopped to play "real music" at the outdoor piano on our pedestrian plaza. Earlier in the week they'd wanted to stop to play but someone was actually playing with sheet music and I told them it wasn't their turn because someone was "playing real music." Perhaps someday they'll have a "real" duet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Mom, do we have any oil pastels?"

This question strikes fear in the heart of a woman whose highest artistic achievement is a stick figure. But Daniel spent the last two weeks at school in a unit focused on art and has loved the exploration. Yet another benefit of his mornings away from me, since he'd never get any artistic instruction worth a hoot from me! The culmination of these two weeks was an art show this afternoon at the school. We got up from naps a bit early and headed back down to see the "gallery" and have a snack with Daniel's class. The teachers really did a nice job displaying the variety of media they've explored--paint, photography, sculpture, watercolor, crayons, pencil and a mixed-media masterpiece. (The oil pastel is mounted at bottom right, next to the large "masterpiece.)

Of all his efforts, though, the most entertaining to us was the title he gave this piece (I think you'll have to click on it to get an image large enough to read the mounted label):

This was our second afternoon return trip to school this week. On Wednesday we went back so Edward could join his class in sending the five-year-olds off to kindergarten with a small but sweet graduation ceremony. He's already talking about how "next time it's August I'll go to kindergarten." How quickly that will come. Actually though, I found myself a bit melancholy as the first day of school approached. I truly do not dwell on the "what ifs" and "should have beens" on a daily basis, but there are certain milestones that amplify our loss of Will, and this was one of them. We decided to follow the example of another couple we heard speak about their loss a few years back, purchasing a full set of school supplies and donating them to our local elementary school. As friends with whom I'd shared my first pregnancy posted pictures of their beaming kindergartners on Facebook, it gave me some comfort to know that a child who might not have had a backpack, nap rug, reusable water bottle and other items that their classmates brought from home, was outfitted in memory of Will.

The gloom doesn't linger long though. How could it when we're surrounded by this type of exuberance?At some point last week, it was no longer enough simply to jump from the couch. A cape was required for full superhero effect. John pulled out a couple of old shirts and we tied them on with the sleeves. The boys ran and jumped and saved the world. This is partially inspired by Edward's new Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story) fascination, but Buzz is an astronaut not a caped superhero, so there's been some adaptation. However, the catch phrase is in rotation: "To infinity, and beyond!" Edward tries to teach Daniel the proper pronunciation, but we still giggle to hear "Buzz Lightyear. In Buffinity and beyond!"

Another fictional character who is popular in our house right now: Lentil, from the Robert McCloskey book of the same title. It's about a boy who can't sing or whistle so he learns to play the harmonica. We have a plastic harmonica that the boys like to toot around. Daniel recently asked me if I know how to play "the re-monica." On Sunday morning, while I was in the shower and John was patiently trying to help Daniel in the bathroom downstairs, Edward started calling down asking if he could play his harmonica in the bathtub upstairs. (Lentil does this because "the tone is improved 100 percent.) John managed to put him off until the downstairs bathroom business was finished, but eventually, boy, pillow and harmonica were all laid out in the bathtub.

Later that day, we celebrated what would be a brief reprieve from the oppressive humidity with lunch al fresco. We had four lovely warm days/cool nights with no air conditioning, but we're back to swamp now.
Two Saturdays ago we took a trip to Chariton to help John's grandpa celebrate his 90th birthday! We had lunch at a local restaurant where our boys impressed both their great-grandfather and the cook by chowing down on a full dinner-plate-sized pancake each. It was a small enough restaurant that the cook was the one to clear the plates and he actually asked, "Did they eat ALL of that?" Yes, these boys know how to eat. Then we played in the town square gazebo for a few minutes before heading out to the nursing home to share birthday cupcakes with John's grandma. Luckily it was a nice enough day that we could picnic under a shady tree on the grounds, giving the boys plenty of room to run without disturbing the residents. By the time we left, it was two hours past their usual nap time and they were both glassy-eyed with exhaustion. Unfortunately, the only sleep on the way home was the 20 minutes it took to get to the next town where we needed to stop for gas and bathroom. After that they would not settle. It was a long two hours back to Iowa City. My resolve against the car DVD is getting thinner by the road trip.

And finally tonight, a special birthday wish for my mom, who was not home when we called, but has a round of "Happy Birthday" waiting on her voicemail and (we hope) a card in her mailbox. Happy birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

This is where Daniel took his Monday afternoon nap:
This is Daniel climbing in to bed on Monday night:
In between, my parents arrived in a rental truck filled with items they are divesting in their efforts to prepare for one day (soon?) departing our childhood home. Among the items was a full-size mattress and box spring, which we installed in Ed's room (using the back side of the crib as the headboard. (The crib front was supposed to be the footboard, but it didn't fit right and we deemed it unnecessary.)
We then moved the twin bed into Daniel's room and got it set with a guard rail to ensure he stays put. While all this construction was under way, my parents took the boys to their hotel pool for two hours. By the time they got back, we were done and they were exhausted. Perfect combination! They were so tired that they slept without a peep the whole night, even through a very loud thunderstorm.
It just happens that earlier this summer we started having issues with Daniel waking earlier and earlier each day and crying from his crib, demanding to wake up. When the calls edged toward 5:15 a.m. (!) we bought a timer for his lamp and set it to turn on at an acceptable hour. We told him he could not wake up until his light turned on, and after a few days, he got with the program. We hope this training will stick now that he has more freedom of movement. I'm sure we'll eventually have some issues with unauthorized night or early-morning wandering, but for now, he seems pleased with the new arrangement.