Friday, February 25, 2011

We had four days of no snow this week (no boots, woohoo!), but another inch or so overnight covered everything back up. Maybe we'll all stay healthy enough for some sledding this weekend. I was down for the count last weekend--fever, congestion, sinus pressure, ugh! John was basically a single parent for most of the weekend. Except the part when I got up on Sunday and decided I would still make the navy bean soup I was planning for dinner. Then I said I'd give John a break from kid duty and took them to ride bikes in the basement, forgetting the soup, which burned on the stove top. A double batch. Inedible. Oy. Well, actually, we did eat it that night; Daniel slurped it up, Edward said he liked non-burned soup better but it was still good, and John had seconds. Based on that, I put the leftovers away. But when we tried to eat them later in the week, the burned taste was even more intense (once again, Daniel didn't notice, but the rest of us did.) So down the disposal it went. So sad.

By Wednesday, the cement-block feeling in my head was gone, but then Ed woke up from his nap with a 101-degree fever. Stayed home Thursday and never had a fever all day, but he still has a stuffy nose and cough. We'll see what the weekend holds.

In other cold-weather activity, our whole family tried ice skating two weeks ago--three of them for the first time. I used to skate often enough as a kid that I usually had my own skates, but John says there was roller skating, but no ice skating in Des Moines when he was a kid. Our kids have seen the rink at the mall and been intrigued, but we hadn't taken the plunge until the Children's Museum offered a special "Healthy Families" event that included free skating on a Friday night. The (little) boys actually did surprisingly well. At first they were very clingy, and let's just say that while I can hold my own in the rink, my skills are not sufficient to keep two people upright. Acting on the advice of the instructor leading the museum program, we had the kids try a kind of marching gait, that actually worked pretty well. They were excited to be able to move on their own, though they still spent quite a bit of time on their butts. We all had a good time and the boys have been asking to go again.

During our annual February thaw the week of Valentine's Day, we took the opportunity for some outdoor play, despite the lingering snow.
At the beginning of the week, our sidewalks weren't clear enough for bikes, so we walked a few blocks to the creekside path to expend some energy. The boys were thrilled to be on wheels again (hence the bikes in the basement when the winter temps returned at the end of the week.) We thought it was funny to juxtapose the bikes with the snowy background.
Our attempts to capture a festive Valentine's picture devolved quickly from this:

To this:
And here's a little video John pieced together over the weekend.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Well, we survived the great Blizzard of 2011 and its aftermath of arctic temperatures. Hard to believe we might actually be pushing 40 this weekend. I told the boys this would be our last "super cold" time of this winter, guessing that we've seen the last of these sub-zero weeks until next season. I hope Mother Nature doesn't turn me into a liar.

I am well aware that winter is far from over. We'll surely even have more snow, but let's leave the rest of the arctic blast to the Canadians, eh?

I sometimes feel bad when my blogging doesn't keep up with my Facebook posts, but here's a little something just for you loyal blog readers:

Full disclosure: John was shoveling the driveway while I was trying to clear the three foot drift from the front porch/door. The boys took off across the front yard and soon we heard Daniel calling but couldn't quite make out what he was saying. Amazing how the snow muffles sound! I worried that he was calling "my boot my boot" as in "my boot came off in the snow" but luckily he was just calling "I need a boost!" Rather than immediately boosting him out of his snowy snare, I captured this video so you could share the moment.

This snow also enabled us to employ some of the knowledge we've gained from reading The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. In one of the stories, our heroes (7- and 8-year-old sister and brother Annie and Jack) travel to the Arctic circle and encounter polar bears. They get caught on some thin ice that begins to crack, but by observing the polar bears they learn that if you lay down on your belly your weight is more evenly distributed and you won't break through. The boys employed this trick to get across the front and back yards when walking was simply impossible as the drifts were up to their waists. (I think our official storm total was only 10-12 inches, but the winds really piled it up in places.)

We all had a snow day on the Wednesday of the storm. John worked hard to clear the driveway even through the snowplow berm and then I took over later to dig out our front sidewalk. Usually we can count on a neighbor or two to help us out with a snowblower, but this storm was too much even for the snowblowers--at least the small ones our neighbors have. Most of them were out with shovels and snowblowers, taking off a layer or two before trying to plow through. Pretty incredible stuff!

We were back in business by Thursday though and even managed a Saturday afternoon sledding excursion with Grandma and Grandpa before the deep freeze set in this week. We don't have photographic evidence, but full props to Grandpa who executed a tremendous dive/evasive maneuver when Edward was headed straight toward him after he took Daniel on a downhill ride. It only took us a few slides though to realize that the adults were inhibiting the sledding. The kids riding solo with their lighter weight were able to go much farther, much to their delight. Of course that meant a lot of trudging up and down for Mom and Dad, but it all burns calories, right?
It was a little bigger hill than we've been to before. Daniel's first reaction: "I put on my scared face because I was scared...but it was FUN!" It was getting dark so the pictures aren't the best. When Edward bundles himself up for outdoor fun you can barely tell it's him with just eyes and nose poking out from his hat/hood so no pics here.

Here's the last time back up the hill to the car. John's so warm from the exertion that he's removed his hat. Daniel's so tired he begged John to pull him up. He still had to "polar bear" part of the way as it was too steep to pull, but we made it and a good time was had by all.

A few more blizzard pictures for posterity:
"Helping" John clear the driveway.
Loading the front porch snow into our yard cart to haul away because there was no more room to throw it to the side of the walk.
Sitting on top of our headless snowman (head had fallen off a few days before the storm.)
A cool "wave" snow drift in the back yard, where drifts were as high as our first floor windows.
Snow exhaustion. (Note: they put their snow gear on over their pajamas and ended up never getting dressed the whole day.)

And finally, I feel I must share a moment of motherly vindication. You may recall my description of the Christmas morning meltdown from Edward ("but I didn't WANT Lego!") I'm happy to report that he is now fully obsessed with his Lego and constantly begs John and me to help him recreate the pictures in the book that came with his set. We were worried that we were doing too much, but he clearly was picking up on how to translate the pictures to reality because he created this set entirely on his own:
The book showed numbers 1, 2 and 3, but he took it all the way to 10 on his own, with only a little guidance from John on how to make the 7 stable enough to stand with the rest. I find this particularly interesting because I think he'd be hard pressed to write these numbers as his dexterity is still pretty limited. He shows little interest in coloring or any sort of writing and has taken pains to limit his requirements in this area by reducing his "signature" to Ed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

My mom objected to my characterization of my older son in the last post. I think I was clear that his behavior was nothing unusual for a kid watching his brother get all the attention, but she claims I overstated the need for physical restraint. I'll just have to say that a mother and a grandmother view/remember the same scene quite differently.

However, this post will focus on the more commonly displayed Edward attitude--exuberance.

We hosted his/our first "kid" birthday party on Jan. 8, and I would say it was a success. For several reasons, I deviated from my instinct that the number of guests should equal the age of the kid and invited his whole class plus a few younger siblings who are Daniel's age. Edward has been invited to SO many parties over the last two years that I really felt we owed a lot of people a return invite. Plus we were not having it at our house, but at our community gym so there was plenty of space for the kids to just run around and be kids. Plus it was only for 90 minutes, 10-11:30 a.m. I figured we could handle it. We did, though I was definitely glad a few of the parents hung out to chat and to help corral the kids as needed.
The gym was full of bikes for the kids to ride around plus two inflatables for jumping and sliding.

We had this part for the first hour and then moved to a separate room for cupcakes and juice/water. I had warned John in advance to be prepared to lead a few games of Simon Says since I was sure the cake would not last the remaining 30 minutes of the party after we left the gym. We were totally unprepared for the cake/drinks to last three minutes. Literally by the time the last kids were getting their cupcakes the first ones were done and ready to move.

We had specified on the invitation that the kids' friendship was the greatest gift and were very happy that people respected this and did not bring gifts. However, that left us with time to fill. John jumped in on Simon Says, but then Edward wanted to be Simon.
Then EVERY kid wanted a turn, but their attention span wore out before we could get to everyone. Then we moved on to the hokey pokey, which was a hit (and I'm told has been reprised on indoor play days when it's too cold to go outside at school) but again, didn't last long enough to get us to that magical 11:30 hour.
It kind of devolved after that and the kids ran around a bit, collected their party bags and left. One kid's dad thought it ended at noon so was late for pick up (luckily he was the one who left his cell phone number when he dropped of his son, so a quick call and he came right over.) While we were waiting, the kids had a second cupcake.
Edward had fun and it really was pretty easy, all things considered. But I'm definitely reconsidering the idea of celebrating with friends on the boys' half birthdays. Something about the June/July time frame just seems to offer so many more possibilities for energetic boys.

Speaking of Edward, he floored me last night with this question just as I was turning out the light for the night: "Mom, why did a very angry man shot Abraham Lincoln?"


He always uses probing questions to extend the bedtime ritual, but usually they're about what we've just read or something we've done that day. This was totally out of left field. I asked him where he'd heard about that and he said, "From a book at school." I told him it was a long, complicated story ("what's complicated?") and that we'd have to talk about it more in the morning and maybe get some more books from the library.

This morning I had him show me the book at school. It was a book about "young Abe" but the last two pages dealt with his presidency, the Civil War and his assassination (all in about 50 words, so, you know, nuance is lost.) In fact, the page that said he was shot was actually a picture of Civil War soldiers pointing cannons at each other, so Ed and his classmates thought Lincoln was shot by a cannon in a Civil War battle.

I braved our blizzard to dash quickly to the library before picking up the kids from school and checked out a few other books on Lincoln, but even though they're the same series/reading level as some of the Titanic books we've been reading for the last month, the concepts are way over his head (pioneer times, government, elections, etc.) We'll see if we can make any sense of it for him.

Speaking of the blizzard, this apparently is supposed to be one for the record books. At last a foot of snow (including thunder snow with lightning, which I just heard/saw) driving winds and the arctic cold. Public schools are closed tomorrow. Not sure yet about our daycare, which tends to follow the university's lead on closing. So far UI classes between 4:30 p.m. today and 10 a.m. tomorrow are canceled. Staff are supposed to report for work, but I can easily take vacation time if daycare is closed. We're grateful to be far enough north to avoid the inch of ice that is the southern edge of this storm (down toward St. Louis.) I'm not sure about a snow day with no power/heat! Thank goodness for a warm house (even with our drafty windows and front door!)