Sunday, August 26, 2012

Daniel likes to clean toilets. More specifically, he likes to swish the toilet brush around inside the toilet. Whether any grime is removed is of little importance. He is also apt to lift the brush out of the toilet to point to something in the room, so constant supervision and reminders to "keep the brush down in the toilet" are required.

It is surely easier to accomplish this task without his "help" but perhaps these early lessons will pay dividends later. I already have him trained as the one and only "toilet facing" member of the family to alert me when a ring starts to form. Should I notice this myself--perhaps? Should I be on a more regular cleaning schedule so that said ring never has a chance to form in the first place--certainly. But these are the realities of my life.

This week I did my best Tom Sawyer to prep the kids for Saturday morning bathroom cleaning. Daniel was ready for toilet and mirror duty and Ed was prepped on sinks and counters. They were so well primed that when John came down to breakfast they greeted him with a breathless, "Daddy--guess what we're doing this morning?" He could not fathom what could be so exciting at 8 a.m. "Cleaning the bathrooms!!!"

By 9 a.m. we had three clean bathrooms and no toilet brush mishaps, so I counted it as a success. What will we tackle next Saturday? Stay tuned.

After that early accomplishment, the boys and I ventured out to pick raspberries. They were enthusiastic about the opportunity, having missed blueberry picking this summer due to our wacky spring weather. At the farm, the proprietors encouraged us to "eat as much as you want" as we picked. The boys took them up on their offer, eating every single berry they picked as well as some of mine that they coaxed me into sharing "because our boxes are so empty!" I forgot the camera in the car and so couldn't get any picking pictures until the crabby end of our foray through the berry bushes.

Their enthusiasm returned when they discovered the bounce house and free ice pops that rounded out the visit. 

 And as long as were talking treats, tonight after dinner I gave the boys the pudding bowl to lick, primarily for the photo op, as of course it would be nothing so dainty as a single finger run along the edge of the bowl.

This was followed immediate by bath time.

I should also mention that the matching shirts were from the 5K we all walked this morning. In the rain. It took 63 minutes, but we made it. Well, Daniel and I crossed the finish line. John and Edward stopped a bit short as we had to walk through the parking lot on the way to the finish line and Ed's feet were quite sore. We got his shoes with a little room to grow and I think they might slip a bit when he walks, which would be quite uncomfortable with wet feet. Maybe it was a little silly to head out when we knew it would be raining (certainly, MANY others made the opposite choice as the crowd was quite sparse) but the boys had been looking forward to it all week--especially Daniel who kept asking me "when is the K-5?" I wanted them to know that they COULD walk that far. In truth, they probably walked farther in the April March for Babies, but they each got a bit of rest in the stroller along that route. We agreed that we were proud of our accomplishment, but would not do it again if it was raining.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Daniel has developed three new skills in the last few weeks. First, he's been working most of the summer to learn how to snap. One day it clicked and now he just can't get enough. He shows almost everyone he meets and sometimes will interrupt things like eating or reading just to test a few snaps, presumably to be sure it still works. It kind of reminds me of the "Spoonful of Sugar" scene from Mary Poppins. Something about those tiny fingers working so hard to make a bit of noise.

Second, he has mastered the monkey bars. My brother-in-law, wise in the ways of elementary school playgrounds based on his observations as a teacher, always says that ability to cross the monkey bars "separates the men from the boys in kindergarten." And, sure enough, Edward picked up this skill during the last school year. But Daniel, ever determined not to be left behind in anything Edward can do, swung and flailed himself about until he could do first one, then three or four (dropping down in the middle or calling for an assist) and then finally a set of about six or eight. Now he won't even consider a park selection unless he's sure it has monkey bars for additional practice. Thankfully, his arms still weary before his hands blister.

Finally, just this last week, he has taken to two wheels, and while he still has some practice ahead to become a confident, steady rider, there is no doubt he has what it takes.

He is beyond thrilled with this development! John shot this video last evening on the trail behind Grandma and Grandpa's house. Edward very graciously ceded his bike to Daniel for practice selecting the Razor scooter for himself. With just a bit of an assist in starting each time, Daniel rode up and down over and over. His main trouble seems to be concentration. If something catches his attention and he looks to the side, he tends to steer that direction as well and ends up in the grass.

 But he was much better and holding straight and steady last night after only minimal practice since our first, spontaneous effort last Wednesday when I noticed that the park we'd ridden to happened to have a very long, flat, straight sidewalk--a perfect practice space. I ran along with him a couple of times and quickly could tell that, just like Edward at this time last year, he was ready to solo. (Too bad for Daniel he didn't have his own personal cheering section like Edward did!) Now we just have to find the next size bike for Edward and add it to our fleet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First day of school--woo hoo!! And it's not just me (though I was VERY excited.) The boys were both ready to go back--so ready in fact that they were dressed and done with breakfast 30 minutes before we needed to leave. That left plenty of time for observing the torrential rain. And hail. Yes, about 10 minutes before departure it was not looking good for walking as tiny ice pellets came crashing down. We snapped this picture on the porch shortly after that ended.

 Edward was far too excited about his new "tie shoes" (a.k.a. "Uncle Joe shoes") to wear his rain boots. He carefully stepped around the puddles while Daniel waded through. (Side note about the tie shoes--we picked them out last Thursday and then Edward set himself to the task of learning to tie. Many frustrating attempts later I tried to console him by saying, "Edward, it's OK. You'll get it soon, but no one learns how to tie in just one day." "I WILL!!" he declared. By the next morning he could do it.)

So the rain cleared out just in time to stroll over to the two schools. Edward jumped right into the first grade line and barely looked back. He has several friends from last year in his class this year and already loves his teacher (though I doubt anyone will achieve the rock star status of his Kindergarten teacher.) The mom of one of Edward's friends who has already sent two kids through first grade reports that the homework load is impressive--not in amount, but in consistency. About 15 minutes worth every night. Good for building work habits.

Daniel is now one of the "big kids" in his class, which comprises three-, four-, and five-year-olds. He changed out of his boots and marched right in without even stopping to wave good-bye at the window.

I took this week off from work to spend "summer fun days" with the boys M-W and then enjoy a bit of "me time" today and tomorrow. When I got home, the power was out, which was weird, since the storm had ended before we left. It was a very localized outage, but lasted about two hours. I was delayed in getting out to my errands because I couldn't lift the garage door after disengaging the electric opener. Note to self (a.k.a. note to John): Install handle on inside of door.

Edward has one-hour early dismissal every Thursday so he had some extra playground time with friends before we had to go over to pick up Daniel. Then we had some more playground time there before heading home.

An after-dinner bike ride for ice cream cones completed a great first day of school for all.