Monday, June 27, 2011

Daniel "opted out" of tee-ball tonight. (Actually his lack of listening during and after dinner forced us to make good on the "if you don't listen you won't go with to the park" threat, but it could be argued that this behavior was all in the service of a bit of one-on-one attention: mission accomplished.)

He serenaded me with the following:

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Mary: "Hey, Edward, do you know what today is?
Edward: "Ummm...Uncle P.J.'s birthday?"
M: "No, that was Thursday. Today is June 25."
E: considers a moment "I'm five-and-a-HALF?!"
M: "You got it!"
E: looks down and gives himself a slow toes-to-head once over "I think I'm a little taller!"

Friday, June 24, 2011

We've been trying to help Daniel deal with frustration/anger without hitting. This mostly involves using a calm voice to ask what made him so angry, followed by asking what he should do with his anger. Correct answers:
a. shout "I am SO angry"
b. stomp feet
c. pound floor with hands

Basically, it comes down to anything that doesn't involve touching other people or hurting himself.

For a few weeks, whenever things aren't going his way, he shouts at the perpetrator (usually Edward or me), "Fine, then you're not coming to my next birthday party."

I have to say it is difficult not to laugh, but I try to calmly respond, "OK, Daniel. I'm sorry I'll miss it." When my own frustration level is high, I must admit to responding, "I really don't care!" Mature.

Yesterday when he was sent to the stairs to "think it over" (aka Time Out) after hitting Edward (more than once) he resisted until I threatened to take away his bike. Then he stomped off to the stairs saying, "Fine, then I'm taking off all my clothes." Within seconds I had an underpants-clad boy half-way up the stairs.

I had to leave the area so he would not see me doubling over in laughter. When the three-minute timer beeped, he returned to playtime with his emotions under control. He did not put clothes on for the rest of the night. But I did not take a picture go go with this post.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I am sort of a slave to my schedule: mornings at school/work, afternoons for nap followed by playtime, dinner when John comes home, bedtime 7:30-8 p.m. It's been working. For five years. Until this week.

Iowa City's summer swim classes are only offered on weekday mornings, daily in two week sessions. I wanted Ed to take lessons last summer, but didn't see how, given our schedule. I must be loosening up (or preparing for the upheaval fall will bring) because this year it was so clear to me: just switch to afternoons at school/work and have playtime/swim lessons in the mornings. So that's what we're doing.

I must say it is quite lovely to "sleep in" until 7 a.m. Even the boys are down with this (helps that it's been dark and rainy.) Lessons are at 9:45, so we have no rush through breakfast, no "hurry up and get dressed." We play, we swim, we come home to hang the wet things and play a bit more, then off to school in time for lunch at 11:30.

Daniel asked why we couldn't just go to swimming lessons in the afternoon, and I explained that the teachers are only there in the mornings. "Well," he said emphatically, "I wish there would be swimming teachers in the afternoon so I wouldn't have to do so many things!" By which he meant, "so many changes" because he listed off "not eat breakfast at school, take nap at school, eat snack at school, not play at home after nap." None of this is in any way onerous, just different for him and he's not entirely pleased. He does love to swim though so I think he'll make the sacrifice.

The parent viewing area at the pool is well to the left of the pool and has a terrible glare in the morning light, so it's hard for me to watch. Today I stepped into the pool area a few minutes before the lessons ended and was so excited to see Edward "swimming" face down in the water, kicking his feet, propelling himself about two body lengths before sputtering up and starting over. It was just so amazing to think that less than a year ago, he considered it a MAJOR accomplishment just to dip his whole face in the water. He always resists our attempts to support a front or back float and yet here he was showing the first signs of independent swimming. It totally fits with his personality though--he won't be told how or what to do, but must approach with caution, observing, attempting and finally mastering and then endlessly repeating.

Maybe we'll see something of the same with t-ball. John and other parents have found that it's best if they switch kids when playing catch before or during the practice sessions because the kids get tired of hearing instructions from their own parents.

When John posted this pic on Facebook last week, a friend commented on the juice-stained shirt. Just for the record, this was from an afternoon snack of fresh cherries, and he hasn't quite mastered the fine art of pit removal. He was digging them out with his fingers and then of course (a la Uncle Joe) wiping his juicy fingers straight across his shirt, ignoring the napkin right in front of him.Daniel and another player's three-year-old brother have made fast friends on the sidelines. Ed, in the line of t-ball kids is practicing his "ready stance." The coach (in blue shirt) is amazingly patient with this group of ten 4- and 5-year-olds!
Thus a very Ed-centric post ends with a Daniel pic.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I finally had a chance to go through our vacation photos and put together a selection for your viewing pleasure. As you scroll down, you might question my use of the word "selection," but trust me, there were more. And be glad we're in the digital age and you're not forced to sit through an entire slide carousel of "Our Missouri Vacation," (ahem...Quito!) (Geraghty family inside joke!)

If you'll recall the Facebook-style vacation summary, this first set was right after the "what's open at 8 a.m. question." We eventually were directed to the local fish hatchery, which, as it turned out, was not officially open until 9, but brought us to an area near a lake where the kids could run around until it opened.
For a quarter, you could buy fish food and feed the thousands of trout thrashing around in these pools, helpfully covered by strong wire. This was deemed highly entertaining by the five-and-under set. Later, they saw the ranger net a couple of trout and feed them to a huge turtle inside the park building. This station is maintained through the fishing license fees anglers pay, which makes sense, since they raise the fish that eventually get dumped in the fishing lakes and streams.

We stopped riverside for a bit to watch the fishing action. This was just downstream from a huge dam, which was letting out a higher-than-usual volume of water due to heavy flooding in the area. The boys were eager to get all the way down to the river bank, but the way the water was rushing, we kept them up on higher ground. A very chatty fisherman who appeared to be mostly an observer, allowed the boys to handle some of his gear.

Being rained out from this mini-golf wasn't the worst thing in the world, given that our kids were more interested in seeing how far they could throw their balls than in attempting to sink any putts. Of the dozens of area mini-golf establishments, this one was selected for its knights & castles theme. Turned out it had hosted the U.S. mini-golf open just the week prior. We don't mess around!

Even with all we saw and did, there's no doubt that the highlight of each day was our late-afternoon swim. Since the average age of our fellow hotel guests was around 70, it's safe to say we basically had the pool to ourselves. Daniel is quite the jumping dare devil, assisted by inflated arm bands (muscles.) Edward mostly eschewed the floatation devices in favor of the weighted sticks he could throw to the bottom of the pool and dive down to retrieve--a very new skill. He did not seem to feel any affect of the constant belly flopping from the pool steps (first swimming pic above.) Perhaps he doesn't have enough stomach surface area...

Who knew when we accepted this trip offer back in September that Edward would develop a Titanic obsession and that Branson would be home to a Titanic Museum? It was obviously fate. To cement the experience, one of the two "boarding passes" he and John received upon entering the ship was for Captain Edward J. Smith. John quickly handed it to Ed, who was the hero of his tour group.
These two pictures stitched together might make a nice shot of John and the boys, but unfortunately we lacked the time and patience to capture one with both boys actually looking at the camera. This was outside the Talking Rocks Cavern.

This was inside the Talking Rocks Cavern. It was VERY wet and we were glad to have accepted the ponchos the guide offered as we entered the mouth of the cave. I had dressed the boys in pants thinking it might be chilly inside and gym shoes for better climbing traction. Needless to say they were pretty much soaked to the knees by the time we emerged. It was cool, but difficult to take pictures in the low light.
This is one John managed to capture--this formation is described as "cave bacon." Two weeks ago I might have been able to tell you how it was formed, but alas, that tidbit did not stick around long.

Outside the cave kids could mine for gems (after the parents purchased a large bag of sand with gems hidden inside.) John got some really great close-ups of this activity, so forgive the long-ish series. (Again, be thankful you're scrolling at your own pace!)

They gave us zip-loc bags for the kids to carry their gems home as well as a card to help identify the stones. We didn't quite get around to that level of detail, but perhaps some rainy day that will be our afternoon activity.
I take a lot of heat for sticking to a strict schedule of afternoon naps (which is morphing in to rest/quiet time) but truly, our boys were not able to function for an entire day of this trip without a break in the afternoon. It was difficult to get them settled with all of us in the same room, but this was an important part of all of us being able to last through dinner in one piece. Vacation naps also were later in the day than home naps, followed by swimming and a late-ish dinner (7 p.m. is a late meal for us.) That allowed us to stay up later all together, which somewhat mitigated that whole "nothing to do before 10 a.m." deal--though we were still always at breakfast by 8!

Everyone who rides The Ducks receives a quacker souvenir. Oh, lucky, lucky us. These were immediately banned from the car and hotel room and eventually just stashed in the bottom of the suitcase until we got home. Thankfully they have been of limited interest since then. I had thought the boys would really delight in the surprise of the truck driving into the lake so we didn't tell them what these vehicles were when we drove by a few times before our own ride. They took to referring to them as "those car-truck-bus things." The boat surprise was a bit less dramatic as the driver was required to make a safety speech about life jackets and such before we entered the lake. Also, with the flooding, there was no big splash, since he had to ease the boat down a ramp that was covered in water and through a stand of trees that should not have been submerged.

They did a good job taking turns at the wheel and allowing a few other passengers to do the same. Daniel actually had started to fall asleep on the drive out to the lake and I had to shake him awake with a promise that he could drive the boat.

Here is Ed trying a mini-bowling game at the "Chuck-E-Cheese"-type place we went to on the last night. This is where Daniel's vacation diet got the better of him (#underwearintrash) so he missed this activity while we quickly returned to the hotel for clean clothes. Edward had gotten a foot scrape at the pool that his sandal was rubbing, hence the attractive socks/sandals look (to reappear later due to unexpected chilly weather.)

This is the Jack and the Beanstalk climbing exhibit at The Magic House--St. Louis Children's Museum. Fantastic place!

Our children's museum does not have a water exhibit so our boys were thrilled with this opportunity.

They also both enjoyed the mechanic shop, complete with a roller bed for sliding under to complete repairs.
Top of the Gateway Arch.
Bottom of the Gateway Arch.
John's best attempt at a Gateway Arch family photo. The elevator to the top was deemed a "spaceship" and is probably one of the things you'll hear about if you ask the boys about the trip.

Our final stop was the St. Louis City Museum, an attraction that defies easy explanation. It was simply, amazing. I can not recommend it enough for kids and adults alike. Our kids were a bit on the young edge of the spectrum, as we were a bit nervous sending them climbing into tunnels for which we could not see the exit. Luckily they (Edward) knew enough to turn around and come back if he couldn't find us at the end. Or simply stand above and shout out "Mom!" or "Dad!" John and I marveled at being able to identify and locate the sound of our own children's calls amid the absolute caucaphony of hundreds of kids and teens. (MANY school groups were there that day!)

I've been telling people it's basically a huge old downtown building or warehouse that an artist converted into an indoor playground, complete with three-story slides, caves and tunnels, a "skateless skate park" (kids slide and climb on the ramps), a series of outdoor climbing mazes, and a rooftop with more slides, a Ferris wheel, and a school bus perched over the edge.

Inside the school bus.

Edward climbing up to the rooftop slide.

To give you a perspective on the climbing (Ed is the tiny dot of blue shirt just to the left of the mid-climb tree.) The sphere and point you can see just beyond is

this structure for more spiral climbing. And when you're all done, you simply


It will come as no surprise that this was all quite exhausting. But very fun and great to have the time together for a new adventure.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Even though they're usually focused on trucks and other loud passions, I'm so glad the boys still enjoy the quiet contemplation of blowing bubbles. This was how we spent some outdoor time yesterday without expending all of our energy in the 95-degree heat. It didn't last long--inevitably the bubbles were spilled and alas, I've yet to purchase this summer's gallon of refill.

Thankfully, Daniel has abandoned last summer's habit of treating the bubble wand like a lollipop. This summer's idiosyncrasy is keeping the bike helmet on as long as we're outside, even after the bike has been left aside for other pursuits. Leads to quite the sweaty head, but at least I don't have to help him take it off and on a million times as his whim changes.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Quotable Daniel:

Leaving a birthday party, Daniel asked, "Why did Alex have Spiderman cake and Spiderman plates?"
M: "Well, I guess he must like Spiderman. Do you like Spiderman?"
D: "No."
M: "Why?"
D: "Because I don't want to get all webbed up."

Arriving home after a barbecue after aforementioned bday party, half-lidded in his car seat: "I'm just so tired I could close my eyes right now. But first I want a peanut butter sandwich."

Thursday, June 02, 2011

John took Edward to buy a baseball mitt before dinner tonight. T-ball starts Monday. Which one of them do you think is more excited about the prospect of stuffing the new mitt under Ed's mattress to help soften it up?

It's a low-key parks & rec program for 4- and 5-year olds in the park down the street. He won't need cleats, but I'll have to persuade him to put on socks and gym shoes. John probably would cringe at the thought, but I hope he retains his instinct to duck away from a ball coming toward his face. Broken glasses are not in the summer budget.