Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"I swinging"

Sometimes it's good to break out of the old routine. Sydney (hopefully) learned that during a weekend trip to a playground. Little Miss Routine loves when I push her on the swingset, but she started fussing when Jeff volunteered to do it.

What do you know? Swinging is fun with Daddy, too! I could hear her giggles from the top of the big slide.

(I really did frame the above shot. It was the digital camera's delay that caused Sydney to almost swing out of the shot.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Art lessons

We've been doing a lot of coloring this weekend. For AJ, I try to find online coloring pages related to his favorite interest of the moment. Lately, that's been Humpty Dumpty and Jack be Nimble. Thus, the coloring pages shown below.

As I pulled the pictures from the printer, he didn't run off with them to the dining room table as I'd expected. Instead, he placed them on the easel and instructed, "Okay. This is going to be our project today. I am the project teacher."

And I just had to include this photo for Grandpa David's benefit. All those times he's complained that coloring books limit a child's creativity... Sydney seems to be "drawing her own lines" regardless. (And each time she does, she proudly proclaims, "I did it!")

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The many uses of a hot tub

Who says hot tubs are just for soaking? Over the weekend, I lowered the water temperature and took the kids in twice. AJ calls it the outside bathtub. I figure he can call it whatever he wants as long as it gives me a chance to be in it.

And apparently the kids have just as much fun playing in the water from outside the tub. As I was balancing the water Saturday night, AJ held regatta races. Don't let Maggie fool you. She couldn't care less about the boats. One of her tennis balls is floating under those bubbles.

After being bumped by Maggie one too many times while on the step, Sydney climbed down to safer ground for a game of fetch. Throwing the ball (usually just a few feet), she'd order, "Go get it Maggie!" Maggie often would ignore her, probably figuring it wasn't worth the effort to retrieve the ball from such a short distance. Undeterred, Sydney would go after it herself, saying, "Okay, I get it."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pedal power!

We thought we were being so smart back in 2006. That's when we bought our bikes and the tow-behind trailer. AJ was only a year and a half at the time, and Sydney didn't exist. But since we were hoping for a second child, we bought the double-wide version of the trailer. So everything worked out perfectly, right?

Here's the faulty part of that logic: strap these two in, and suddenly you're hauling 75 pounds of kids, not to mention the weight of the trailer. But the kids love to ride and, despite the close confines, they get along well. Plus it's a great work-out. So despite Jeff being gone last night, I bravely set out to take them to the playground.

AJ snapped this picture of me from the trailer as we prepared for the trek home. I'm smiling because I had not yet attempted the never-ending hill, better known as Highway 61, that must be conquered to reach home. Whatever the muscle group is on the back of my thighs, they are killing me this morning.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Take me out to the ball game

The 2nd annual "Guns 'n Hoses" (police vs. firefighters) softball tournament featured a whole lot more than just a softball game. It was also a chance for each department to show off their skills for the crowd.

Silly Daddy volunteered to be the bad guy in a K-9 demonstration. (Yes, he's well-padded with protective gear, but why you would encouarge a well-trained german shephard to attack you is beyond me.) I'd been concerned that maybe it'd be traumatic for the kids to watch Daddy in such a situation, but the K-9 officer assured me it should be no problem. He was correct. I needn't have worried.

Sydney hung on the fence, watching in fascination. But even as the dog hung on Jeff and tried to drag him down, Sydney squealed with excitement, "Puppy!"

AJ, meanwhile, was so excited to run up and down the bleachers with a friend that he barely paid attention. Though he did enjoy meeting "Abe" a little later.

Sydney is going to be a baseball fan. Her attention span lasted for a good two innings. She happily cheered for Daddy's team, "Go Blue. Yeah Blue!" And when there was a colision at home plate between the runner and catcher, she looked at me and said, "Uh oh."

She also loved the food, gobbling down a hot dog and then starting on her brother's. (AJ, as I mentioned, was having too much fun playing in the bleachers to do anything else.)

P.S. The police won the game for the second year in a row.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gravity wins again

I originally took this picture thinking I could write something about AJ's chocolate moustache. Instead, let me call attention to the scab you can barely make out on his forehead at the very top of the photo.

When AJ came home from daycare last week with the scratches on his face, the explanation I got was simple, "I fell down."

But as I should know by now, with AJ, nothing's simple. The more detailed version of the story is this: AJ fell while attempting to jump out the window of the playhouse at his daycare. Or as he told me quite matter of factly, "I thought I had wings. I couldn't fly."

Thank goodness my ever-cautious, superhero-wannabe decided to test that skill at a low level.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nap time

While Jeff and I cleaned up after dinner last night, the kids headed into the living room to play. A short time later I could hear Sydney's voice, so I moved in closer to better understand what she was saying.

The little mommy had set two of her dolls on pillows and covered them up with blankets. She was then softly telling them, "Go sleep babies. Okay?"

When she noticed me watching, she quickly put her finger to her lips and instructed, "Baby's sleeping. Shhhh."

I so love this age!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fish tales

Who needs toys when you have an imagination? The "prize catch" AJ is proudly holding up is actually a brush for cleaning our hot tub's filter. As I was busy adjusting the water's balance in our hot tub, AJ started swishing the brush around in the water. He then held it up and announced, "Look! I caught a walleye."

Unfortunately, the brush proved to be a little too fish like: It got away. AJ managed to drop the brush,which of course immediately sunk to the bottom of the tub. And that's where it stayed until the next time Jeff and I used the tub.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The agony of defeat

In AJ's case, it'd be more accurate to say "the agony of de knee".

AJ was so excited to get to run in the Whipper Snapper races. And then the unthinkable happened. Right as he took his place at the starting line, he happened to look down. And there was blood on his knee. Oh no!

With his oh-so-supportive Daddy just a few feet behind him offering an encouraging, "Just run!", AJ dashed the 100-yards to the finish line.

By the time Sydney and I caught up with them, AJ was sobbing. You'd think his lower limb was on the verge of falling off. A friend of mine, who was also at the race and who was more prepared than I was, offered a baby wipe to clean up AJ's knee, but that wasn't good enough. He needed a Band-aid. He was sure of it. We finally located one, and all was again right with the world.

Here's the kicker. Before the race, AJ had a chance to meet and pose with a variety of mascots. Note his right knee in each of these pictures, which were taken more than a half hour prior to the race. He'd already skinned his knee back then, and hadn't even noticed. (And yes, the injury was that minor.)

At least he was honest when he explained his need for the bandage, "I need to not see the blood."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Day Sydney

I can't help but wonder what was going through Sydney's mind at the moment this photo was taken. She's the shortest one in the room (besides baby Zane) and the center of attention. Surrounded by a sea of people and dogs, her brother and friends are urging her to open more presents, while the adults try to maintain enough calm to at least read the cards.

Aren't birthday parties fun? Now if we could figure out a way to keep the birthday girl and her big brother from fighting over all her new toys.

After lunch and presents and cake, we suited the kids up for a run through the sprinkler. Three of the four kids had fun.

But the guest of honor didn't seem to find much amusement getting sprayed with ice cold water. It's too bad, because maybe if her too-small swimsuit had gotten wet, perhaps it would have loosened up a bit on her.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TWO fast!

Clap for the birthday girl. Yeah, Sydney!

Let me use this opportunity to ask the questions every parent asks on their child's birthday: Where did the time go? And how did she get so big so fast?

Holding my 4-month-old nephew this morning only highlighted just how big Sydney has gotten. I barely remember her so small and quiet and cuddly. She still loves to be held and carried around. But beyond that, she's 29 pounds of non-stop energy and attitude.
So in answer to the questions everyone asks, I'm going to have to fall back on a favorite line I've used since her birth: time flies when you're having fun, and when you're sleep deprived.
Kids are great!

Friday, June 19, 2009

When one door shuts...

Chances are, if you look on the other side, you'll find a toddler who's recently discovered she's tall enough to reach the doorknob. Odds also are that she's carrying a purse announcing, "Bye! Later alligator!"

Now if we could teach her to open the doors again after she closes them.

On second thought, I'm going to savor every day that she lacks the coordination to turn the door knobs. That skill would literally open a whole new world for her to explore.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy? Birthday

When AJ turned two, he was so excited when I made cupcakes for his birthday that he started calling them "Happy cakes".

With Sydney, the reaction was a little different.

Actually, the reason for this resourceful little scavenger's fit is that I just slid the batter-filled muffin tins out of her reach. For the third time.

I needed to bake 12 cupcakes for Sydney to bring to daycare today. That's a perfect number because I have enough muffin tins for just that many. But because nothing can be simple, the box holds enough mix to make 24 cupcakes, and I really didn't want to go through the process twice. So instead I divided it up into cupcakes and a small cake. The cake went into the oven first, because it required additional baking time. In retrospect, I should have put them all in at once, so that the cupcakes would be done sooner.

All went quite well during the mixing process. AJ and Sydney each got a beater to lick. A little later, they happily relieved me of the spatula and spoon. It was when Sydney finished her spoon that we began our battle of wills.

"Sorry Sydney, it's all gone." I told her when she came back for more.

Not satisfied with that answer, she climbed up on the stool to see for herself. That's when she spotted the muffin tins that were filled with batter. It was pretty easy to figure out her next move as she stretched out her arm to dip the spoon in one of the soon-to-be cupcakes. I quickly intercepted/rescued the muffin tins and moved them to a different part of the counter.

As I worked to clean up the kitchen, the little turkey casually slid the stool over to the new spot and attempted another stretch and dip maneuver. I again told her no, removed her from the stool and went back to my cleaning.

It was on the third try that the tantrum started. That was the end of Sydney's time in the kitchen.

By the time bedtime rolled around, she was back to her happy self. I'm sure the cupcake she was allowed to sample as a bedtime treat had nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zoo rides

You go to the zoo to see what?

Who needs animals when there's a little train and full size playground? All aboard!

Sydney and I skipped the short rail excursion with the guys around the zoo grounds. Instead, her ride of choice was the swing. The little daredevil has figured out that if you lean way back in the swing, it's just that much more thrilling and fun.

She also had to make repeated trips down the slide. She was getting a little frustrated by the bigger kid you can see in the background. He was faster than her and passed her frequently on the stairs. So when she finally got to the slide, she spread her arms wide across the opening and announced, "Sydney's turn!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Traveling in style

I couldn't decide if I should laugh or shake my head when I looked in the back seat and saw this:

When did my baby become so self sufficient? She can't put her beloved Dora sunglasses on by herself, but apparently she can slide them up on top of her head. Meanwhile, she kept a sturdy, two-handed grip on her leftover chocolate milk from lunch.
Quite the sophisticated passenger, and definitely quite a kid!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Faire thee well

Meet AJ's newest hero. His name is Sir Victor. Though AJ sometimes calls him Sir Actor by mistake.
That's because we repeatedly had to explain to AJ that Sir Victor was only acting while jousting and sword-fighting with Sir William at the Olde World Renaissance Faire.

AJ was hooked from the moment we arrived, when a woman screamed to signal the start of a (rather lame) re-enactment, "Pirates have taken our castle!" Pirates and knights and peasants (I don't think he ever figured out what they were) all in one place - way cool!

Our toddler princess, meanwhile, was rather uninterested in the lords and ladies around her. Throughout the joust, she was far more fascinated by a nearby horse that was grazing. When we got to the children's area, she didn't even want to get out of the stroller. Until she saw AJ win some candy. Whoa - that changed everything. "My candy!" She marched up to the first game she could find as Mommy scrambled to find another ticket.

But the biggest hit for her was her brother's blue icee. She didn't even pretend it was hers. She simply kept holding out her hands for "AJ's juice."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

If we could talk to the animals...

It's not that we were trying to be a family of Dr. Doolittles. It just sort of turned out that way. On Friday, we let the kids terrorize the animals at the Zoo. Then on Saturday it was the creatures at the Aquarium who breathed a sigh of relief as Sydney waved goodbye.

I didn't even realize our zoo had lions. But a trip down a pathway we haven't traveled before revealed three lions. In the heat of the afternoon, the big cats were feeling quite lazy. Sydney did her best to order through the thick glass, "Wake up lions! Wake up!" Alas, they ignored her.

At the Aquarium, Sydney's favorite spot today was the aviary and its "ducks and turtles, ducks and turtles," which she chanted over and over again.

She's the perfect height to notice all the underwater creatures that adults miss unless they figure out the view is better if you squat down. When a rock turtle swam by she gave it an enthusiastic greeting, "Hi turtles!"

Though the ducks proved to be the ultimate favorite as she shouted, "Hi ducks, quack quack!"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Driveway fun

Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jo came over for dinner last night. After we finished eating, AJ convinced Grandpa to play hockey with him, which was quite the feat, considering Bill says he's never played hockey in his life.

After a while, Sydney, who'd been the "Zamboni driver" (i.e. she pushed her Dora riding toy around the driveway, weaving in and out of the game), gave Grandpa an excuse to take a break from the game, charming him into giving her a ride up and down the driveway, again and again.

A little later, as the bugs started to get particularly annoying, Sydney, who already was wearing bug spray, turned her charms to Grandma. Sydney loves having lotion, sunscreen and, apparently, bug spray put on her. So she convinced Grandma she needed a little more on her wrist, "Right there."

Happy Birthday Grandma Jo!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good cover

Note to Jeff: you might want to take some notes from your son. He's smooth.

AJ and Jeff were watching TV together last night. It was a sports channel. I wasn't really paying attention. A little later, I walked through the living room and caught a glimpse of a swimsuit clad woman on the screen. I think it was a shot from an old Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, but I didn't get a long enough look to be sure because Jeff hurriedly changed the channel. But not before AJ asked, "Is she wearing a bikini?"

Little Mr. Charm then smiled up at me and said, "She's pretty like you, Mom."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Questions, questions...

There's no such thing as a dumb question. Right? The only stupid question is the one not asked. Right?

Clearly, that's the philosophy of a certain uninhibited 4-year-old in our family. Here's a sampling of some of the questions he's asked recently.

  • He obviously was paying attention during communion as the wine was being passed out, because he looked at Jeff and asked, "Daddy, why are they giving you blood?"
  • Perhaps an indication that I don't dress up often enough; when AJ saw me getting ready to go out in dress, nylons and high heels, he ran over, rubbed my calves and asked, "Mommy, what's that black stuff on your legs?"
  • As he slowly woke one morning from an apparently deep sleep, he stretched, smiled and asked, "Did you like the song in my dream?"
  • And he's already showing an awareness for one of life's great injustices. He wants to know, "Why isn't chocolate healthy?"

Inquisitive minds are good. Now if only I could come up with some good answers for him.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

All done! (not quite)

Sydney will never be a member of the Clean the Plate club. She's picky and, I suspect, we dish up more than she needs. We're used to AJ-size portions, and she's never going to have as big an appetite as her brother. So when she starts pushing her plate toward me, saying, "All done," I've found success by taking her plate, but leaving a little food on her fork and replying, "Eat this, and then you're all done."

Such was the case last night with mashed potatoes and corn. Sydney clearly didn't want to eat any more of her supper. But by that time, she'd already handed off her plate, thus eliminating her favorite hiding spot. She tried smearing it all around the high chair tray, but it was clearly still visible. So what did the industrious toddler do? She lifted up her shirt and tried wiping it all on her belly.
No-no Sydney. Supper goes in your tummy, not on your tummy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Commanding verbal skills

How quickly do toddlers grow and master new abilities? Less than eight months ago, I was writing about Sydney's massive vocabulary - all 11 words of it. Now, our confident little drill sergeant relishes showing her command of the English language by barking commands at everyone around her.

Among her favorite assertions:

  • No!
  • Maggie, lay down!
  • Choc milk peese!
  • Mine!
  • I got you. (which is always sweet when she wraps her arms tightly around my neck)
  • I ready! (as in, "I'm ready to behave" or "I'm ready to say I'm sorry", when really she means "I'm ready for you to let me go play again.)
  • I ready to go.
  • Sit down. Right here.
  • Go downstairs play. Okay?
  • Wake up!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The dragon whisperer

Forget any notions about Sydney being a damsel in distress. At the Children's Museum on Saturday, she didn't budge when the dragon reared it's fire-breathing head.

For some reason, Sydney, who is terrified of AJ's toy dinosaurs, has no fear of this gigantic and loud dragon. I suspect her bravery has something to do with the favorable associations she has with Dragon Tails, the characters on her swim diapers. Any time she "goes swimming" in our big bathtub, we tell her to go get her dragon pants.

To get the dragon to "wake up," you have to play a matching game that involves pushing buttons to connect which medieval character would be found in certain areas of a kingdom. Once all the buttons are lit up, the dragon slowly inflates, roaring the entire time. It stays up for maybe a minute, and then sinks back down.

Sydney stood her ground, and never took her eyes off of it. AJ generally stands in the middle of the floor and shouts, "You stay away dragon!" (Usually he does this while wearing knight garb, along with a toy wooden spoon, which is the closest thing to a sword that they have there.) Sydney, meanwhile, took a quieter approach. Pointing at the dragon with all the ferocity she could muster, she ordered, "Go sleep dragon!"

As an added bonus, we ran into our friends Avery and Reese during our visit. AJ and Avery decided they were going to be bad guys. So they let Sydney and Reese load them into the cart and haul them off to jail.

(Actually, the two older kids climbed in back and then ordered the younger two to climb in front and play along as their prison guards.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Water fun

Here's a recipe for fun: start with a sunny afternoon, add in a friend (Gino) you haven't seen in a month and then sprinkle in some shockingly cold water.
My plan was simply to water our pathetically brown lawn. But the sprinkler was a powerful magnet, drawing the boys to it with an unseen force. After one or two mad dashes, their clothes were pretty wet, so I belatedly made them change into swimsuits, which gave me the opportunity to lay their clothes to dry in the sun.

Sydney, of course, wanted to copy her big brother. Until she got a blast of the ice cold water. I'm not sure if her scream was born of shock, rage or a combination of the two, but I'm certain any neighbors in a two block radius probably heard her. From that point on, the only water Sydney wanted anything to do with, was the bottled variety.