Friday, August 29, 2008

Imagine the future

Armed with his Sponge Bob bat and ice cream bucket helmet, this preschooler is ready to conquer the world! (By the way, that's ketchup, not blood, on his cheek.)

It's so exciting to be three-and-a-half. The future is a mythical time when everything you dream will finally come true. AJ loves to imagine. His three favorite topics to think about (and talk endlessly about) are:
  • What he wants to be for Halloween
  • What he's going to ask Santa for Christmas
  • What he wants to be when he grows up

On that last topic, he's had some interesting ideas lately. He's going to drive a digger truck. Or be a fireman (much to Daddy's dismay). Somehow he'll squeeze in a side job as a rocket ship man -with an air helmet (that's a very important detail). And my all-time favorite: an "army soldier ice cream bringer." I'm not quite sure what the job duties would be for that one. Deliver ice cream to the troops? Or be one of the troops delivering ice cream as a humanitarian gesture?

One job he isn't ready for, apparently, is president. While watching the Democratic National Convention this week, Jeff told AJ, "That could be you some day. Do you want to be president?"

AJ immediately affirmed, "I want to be president."

So I asked, "Do you know what a president is?"

That stopped him, "No. What?"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The accidental gardener

Several years ago, I put a birdhouse in our front garden. I carefully chose the location to give us the best view of visiting scavengers from our kitchen window. What I forgot to take into consideration is that birds are messy. Many of the seeds end up on the ground, where they somehow manage to take root despite the rocks and landscaping fabric we'd put down.
And so for three summers, I have painstaking picked out more weeds than I can count that have grown around the birdfeeder's base. Late last summer, while pulling a weed, I noticed a sunflower seed attached to it. I realized I'd been pulling a lot of similar looking weeds, and so this summer, I decided to let one grow.
Ta da!
I also had nothing to do - this year - with the incredible amount of mini-pansies that are growing in my garden and front yard. Apparently last year's crop spread and came back, giving me little purple and white reasons to smile in unexpected places.
I potted some and they continue to grow like crazy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Don't even think about taking this away from me

Little Miss Finicky likes to keep us guessing. One day she hates a certain food, the next day she can't eat that same food fast enough. Or vice versa.

Gerber babyfood corn? Never would eat it.

Kernels of corn, either frozen or cut from a cob? A few weeks ago she loved it as long as she could feed it to herself. But the last few days, she's refused to touch it.

This brings us to Sunday evening's dinner, which included corn on the cob. Sydney wanted nothing to do with the corn on her plate. She instead pointed at my ear of corn and did her favorite "uh-uh-uh" grunt that indicates she wants something.

Curious what she would do with it, I handed her my corn on the cob. And that was my last taste of it.

Grabbing it in a vise-like grip, Sydney started out with tentative bites. She quickly graduated to serious chomps.

Suddenly, corn is good again. As long as it's on the cob so that she can eat like big people. We'll see how long this lasts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Party animals

Our good friend, Princess Addie, just celebrated her fourth birthday. AJ, the brave knight, was quite excited to finally get to go to her party.

The highlight was picking apples from the tree in Addie's backyard. (You can see their loot on the table and spilled on the ground around him.) The corn on the cob was a great treat, as was - of course - the cake. AJ managed to scam a second piece of chocolate cake from Mommy, which I belatedly learned was really his third helping.

At the end of the party, Princess Addie passed out party favor bags to all her prince and princess friends. Whatever you call these little blow toys, AJ managed to wreck two of them (his and Sydney's) pretty quickly. He does not seem to understand the concept of blowing without spitting.
All in all it was a great afternoon. You know the kids had a good time when this is the scene in the back seat by the time we arrived home.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The things they get into...

"Hey Mommy, look at me. Wheeeee!"

Is there any phrase more sure to strike fear in the heart of any parent who hasn't been paying attention to where their child has wandered off?

Luckily, this time it was only AJ's imagination running wild. I found him sitting inside an upside down stool and asked him what he was doing.

"I'm on a rollercoaster. Wheeeee!"

Of course. I should have known.

Sydney, meanwhile, is the one who continues to sneak off and get herself in the same predicament every time. Her favorite game the last few days is to climb the two steps leading up to AJ's bed. But that's as far as she can go. She can't get onto his bed, and she can't climb back down. And that's when she starts shouting, "Uh! Uh! Uh!" Until one of us comes to rescue her.

She comes by it honestly, I'm told. Apparently I used to do the same thing when I was her age.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Backyard busyness

Earlier this summer, when Jeff built the sandbox, I predicted it would provide hours of fun for AJ. I was half right. It's provided hours of fun. But it's Sydney who loves sitting in the sand, grabbing it by the handful and then letting it sift through her fingers into a bucket.

I am very sad to see the days growing shorter as summer nears its end. We've had so much fun playing outside these last few months. If Sydney's in a cranky mood, nothing cheers her up faster than heading outdoors.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A breakthrough at last?

In a tremendous battle of wills that has been waged for months, the stubborn little princess seems to be finally lowering her standards, giving Mommy a slight edge. Yes, Sydney is reaching for a cup of milk. At bedtime.

She also was happily walking around with a glass of milk in hand yesterday when I got home from work. "Happily walking around" - that's the key phrase there. Usually I arrive home to a child in the midst of a meltdown who can't be consoled until she's nursed. Perhaps she's finally discovered the joys of staying hydrated when Mommy's not around.

Mommy is far too wise to declare victory quite yet. But this little moment has provided a glimmer of hope that one day soon, Sydney – who prides herself on eating like a big girl – will begin to drink like one, too.

P.S. that expression on her face isn't a smirk. It's a mouthful of blueberries, her new favorite food.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fun day

I do believe this year's parade in Esko was the shortest I've ever seen. One minute we're waving at fire trucks and politicians. The next minute we realized that – hey, those cars that are passing with their windows rolled up – they're just regular cars driving down the street. The parade must be over.

Sydney, I noticed, quickly maneuvered herself to sit right next to AJ's bucket of candy. AJ was too busy picking up treats to notice. Our church gets the prize for best handouts. While they threw candy to the older kids, they also had little bags of Goldfish crackers for Sydney-size parade goers.

So despite the brevity of the parade, the candy haul was good, and the youngest two members of our family were happy.

After the parade, we headed to the park for the Lion's Club picnic. The turn-out seemed smaller than in year's past. But along with lunch, they served chocolate cake. Again, the youngest two members of our family were happy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Burning up the track... almost

"The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running." 
~ Anonymous

When I run, it's for the satisfaction that comes upon reaching the finish line. AJ runs for the pure joy of running.

We took him to the kids race in Esko Saturday morning. I'd figured it'd be comparable to the Whipper Snapper race he ran earlier this summer. Not quite.

The race was a full lap around the track that rings the football field – 440 yards! All the kids ran at once, which means AJ was running with kids 2-3 times as old as him. AJ started falling behind pretty quickly, so Jeff joined him about a quarter of the way into it. Luckily, AJ's too young to realize that the more runners he sees ahead of him, the fewer there are behind him. Ultimately, he came in second to last (third to last if you count that he beat the Dad who was running with the little kid who came in last).

But none of that dampened his enthusiasm. AJ got to run in a race. And he got a number pinned on his shirt while he ran. And when he finished, he got a ribbon and a t-shirt (leftovers from last year's 5-k race). To him, that's what mattered, and he felt victorious.

And I couldn't be more proud.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grab the leash. It's parade time. Huh?

No, I'm not taking my child for a walk on the dog's leash. This was his idea. "Grab that end, Mommy. We're a parade."

You couldn't tell that?

I've been wracking my brain for two days trying to figure this one out. And suddenly I think I understand. AJ's daycare class goes to the library once a week for story time. I bet the kids have to hang onto a rope as they walk down the street. And I'm guessing, to make it fun, one of the teachers has told the kids they're marching in a parade.

Speaking of parades, our community's summer fun day is Saturday. When I told AJ about it, he excitedly asked, "Will there be fire trucks?"
"And ambulances?"
"And canons?"
"Probably not canons," I said.
The ever-hopeful AJ answered, "But we'll check..."
"Yes. We'll watch in case there are canons in the parade."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The not shy one

"The little talker." "The chatty one."
"Future governor." "Sure can tell he's related to his grandfather."
These are just a few of the comments I heard Sunday following AJ's participation in the children's sermon at my parents' church.

And participate he did.

When the pastor invited kids to come forward for a short message, AJ ran to the front of the church. The pastor moved around a bit, gesturing for children to join him, and shifting his microphone cords so that he could sit down. Each time the pastor took a few steps, so did AJ. So when the pastor finally sat down, AJ was right there at his side: "Hi, my name's AJ."

Of course the pastor's microphone picked this up. Sitting in the back row, I could hear him loud and clear, as could the rest of the congregation.

The pastor started by talking about the upcoming Olympics, telling the kids there will be running and swimming and wrestling and other sports.
"I like to go swimming!" announced AJ.
"You do? That's great," replied Pastor Ron.
"I go swimming with my Daddy. We have a swimming pool."
I don't remember the pastor's next words. He was clearly trying to get back to the message. But AJ wasn't finished talking about swimming.
"I have three swimming pools," AJ told him, holding up three fingers to illustrate. I'm not sure where that came from. We only have one pool.
The pastor then tried – despite continued interruptions from AJ – to draw a link between the Olympics and the story of Jacob wrestling with God. It had something to do with God helping us overcome our fears.
"When it's dark in my room, I don't like that. But Sydney's not afraid."
And on it went.
I never did get the point of the children's sermon. I'm not sure if anyone else could either with so many interruptions. But they sure heard plenty of AJ's stories.
AJ may be too young to understand a personal relationship with God, but he sure felt comfortable developing a personal relationship with my parents' pastor.

And a side note: Happy half birthday, AJ! My not shy son is three-and-a-half today.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Excuse me, whose cage is this?

Yes, I admit I've made jokes in the past that it's too bad you can't say "Kennel up!" to a child. But I swear I had nothing to do with this.

During a weekend visit to Grandpa and Grandma Larson's house, Sydney decided to check out Dudley's digs. At one point, she reached into his food dish, grabbed a few pieces and tried feeding him by hand. Dudley didn't seem to appreciate Sydney's desire to share his abode. He grabbed his favorite stuffed toy and pulled it from her reach.

This wasn't a one-time event. Sydney repeatedly tried sneaking into the kennel. On Sunday, still in the pretty dress she'd worn to church, she managed to sit down in Dudley's waterdish. The dress soaked up that water like a sponge! That was Sydney's final venture into the kennel. I'm not sure she learned any lessons from this, but Mommy finally did.