Friday, July 31, 2009

Back seat driver

Do as I say, not as I do...

Why is it that the child who can't seem to hear my repeated requests for him to pick up his toys, has no problem listening to me when I'm saying something I shouldn't?

And then he's only too quick to point out the error of my ways.

While driving yesterday, I encountered an incredibly clueless driver. She was in the left lane of the freeway, I was in the right. I could see ahead a truck coming down the ramp trying to merge. I figured the easiest way to let the guy in, woul dbe to move over into the left lane. Wrong. This woman was in la-la land, and managed to perfectly adjust her speed to coincide with me. I sped up. She sped up. I slowed down. She slowed down.

A name came to mind and I uttered it frustration.

From the back seat came a reprimand. "Mom, you shouldn't call people a moron. That's not nice. You're acting like a toddler."

What could I say? "Yes, AJ, you are right."

Ironically, just as I'm typing this, AJ called from the other room, "Was I a good listener yesterday?"

"Yes, AJ" (a little too good.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bag o' legos

Here's my latest (and perhaps best) excuse to date for justifying my lack of organization. Being too neat and orderly can lead to obsessive compulsive traits in future generations.

Consider, for example, poor Sydney. The innocent child seems to think playing with Legos is all about picking them up and putting them in a bag. She has no desire to build with the tiny blocks, nor does she try to knock over towers that Mommy builds. Instead, she just wants to pick up the pieces and stuff them into sandwich bags.

She really had me confused for a while this morning. She came into the kitchen and repeatedly announced, "I big. I big."
"Yes, you are a big girl." I answered.
"No, Mommy. I beg."
"You're what?" I asked.
"I beg," she insisted. "I beg."
I gave up trying to translate and instead said, "Show me."
That's when she lead me to the cupboard and pointed to the top shelf where I store the plastic bags, tinfoil and other wraps. The lightbulb clicked on.
"You want a bag?" I asked.
Bingo! She clapped her hands, repeating "I bag." She then happily walked back into the living room and began stuffing the colorful little rectangles, along with other small toys, into this most prized possession - a Glad sandwich bag. (Yes, I gave my toddler a plastic bag for a toy.)
And why does Sydney think this is what you do with Legos? Because the first time she played with them, she saw Grandma Elouise sorting through the massive pile trying to find the pieces to a particular set, which she then put in a Ziploc bag. So of course Sydney, who already has an obsession with purses, loves this idea of a game.
By the way, before anyone comments on Sydney's extremely shaggy hairdo, please note she's getting a long overdue trim Friday morning. Just in time to have her long overdue 2-year pictures taken.
Maybe I should be a little more organized.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


From morning 'til night, my kids came up with some of the darndest things today.

Sydney started it. She'd done a wonderful job sleeping through the night. And how did I show my thanks? By trying to wake her up before she was ready. Attempt number one involved rubbing her back. She ignored me. On my second try, she pulled her legs and arms into a tight fetal position. I finally opened the blinds, allowing bright sunlight to invade her cozy little cocoon of blankets, and then I shook her again.

Without so much as raising her head or opening her eyes, she protested, "Mommy, go 'way!"

I just can't wait until she's a teenager. She is definitely not a morning person.

Fast-forward to bedtime, and AJ gave me new reason to appreciate Aunt Sarah's tough job. We had popcorn for a bedtime treat, with the result being AJ got food stuck in his teeth for the very first time. He came to me, fingers in his mouth, and said, "Mom, I need some toothal floss."

And that's when I discovered that flossing someone else's teeth is much more difficult than flossing your own. Making things slightly easier was the fact that because AJ still has only baby teeth, it's just the molars that are close enough together for floss to be needed. Making things slightly tougher was the fact that it was AJ, so of course he couldn't stand still.

We finally loosened the offending piece of popcorn, so I told him he could finish the job by brushing his teeth.

And now a follow up to yesterday's blog. Because of Jeff's work schedule, I had to drive the kids to daycare this morning. On the way there, Sydney called from the back seat, "I want chay pie."

"Sorry, honey," I told her. "Mommy doesn't have that song in this car."

"Do you have 'We're not gonna take it'?" AJ asked.

"Nope. You're going to have to listen to what's on the radio."

"But we want wild music," AJ responded. "Wild, loud music."

So he already thinks I have lame musical tastes. I can't wait until he's a teenager.

As I tried to leave them at daycare, Sydney started to cry. Her teacher, hoping to make me feel better, noted that Sydney never cries when Jeff drops her off, and said, "It's always tough when you disrupt their routine."

Thinking of the non-wild music I'd just made them listen to, I nodded, "You don't know the half of it."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monsters of rock

Funny... AJ doesn't look like the big hair, head-banger type.

And while Sydney seems to have perfected the hair toss move, and has been sporting a shaggier 'do, the latter is a temporary condition that Auntie Barbie should cure this Friday.

Hair length aside, turns out Daddy has been introducing these sweet little souls to his college-era music of choice: heavy metal. Who knew the six-minute drive to daycare was enough time to influence the musical tastes of these impressionable young minds?

Tonight, as we were driving to soccer practice, Sydney asked something I couldn't understand. She repeated herself several times before finally getting Jeff's attention. He knew right away what "Chay pie" meant. She wanted to hear a song from his "Best of the Big Hair Bands" CD.

Do you want to hear "Cherry Pie?" Jeff asked.

Sydney squealed with excitement that Daddy understood and was granting her request. And then AJ interrupted, "No, I want to hear 'We're not gonna take it'!"

Great! Twisted Sister is so much more appropriate than Warrant for the preschool set.

Trying to find a bright note, these kids certainly ought to end up with an appreciation for diverse musical genres. When it's me behind the wheel and in control of the car's CD player, we generally sing along with Sunday School songs. And this is good practice for me, I suppose. After this, their musical choices in, say, 10-15 years maybe won't seem quite so outrageous.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's official: AJ's growing up

Our baby isn't just our baby anymore. All of a sudden he can claim a couple other titles from outside organizations, titles like "soccer player" and "preschooler."

Regarding soccer, I knew this day was coming. But the preschool news was a pleasant surprise. I'll get to that in a moment.

Tonight marked AJ's first soccer practice, and boy did he have fun. He got to wear his new shin guards, socks and special shoes. He got to wrestle with his buddy Gino, who he hadn't seen in over a month. He got a Transformer sticker. And, oh yeah, he even got to kick around a soccer ball.

I give the coach (one of Jeff's colleagues) a lot of credit. His expression in the photo below speaks volumes about how much patience is required to keep a group of 4-year-olds focused. They covered a lot of ground on their first night: Run. Kick the ball. Kick the ball back this way. Don't use your hands. And no tackling.
How much do you suppose they'll remember when they re-group tomorrow night?

Now, to the preschool news. AJ has been accepted into the school's early readiness program for fall. He'd been on a waiting list due to his mother's inability to pay attention to registration deadlines. But thankfully, I got a call today that a spot opened up, so we're in! It's not that I think AJ needs the program to prepare for kindergarten, but rather, all of his friends from daycare are going, so I don't want him left behind with only younger kids to play with.

It's kind of a weird sensation to commit to these outside groups. And especially both in one day. Up until now, our family's schedule has been based on Jeff's and my committments. Now, we're throwing committments of AJ's into the mix. I know this is just a small sampling of what's to come, but somehow I feel like we all grew up a little more today.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Look who's in the driver's seat

Is this a preview of what the kids are going to want to do at the State Fair (climb on every piece of equipment possible), or perhaps a peek at what they'll want to be when they grow up.

Daddy gets to ride in some of the coolest vehicles. And between a rally at City Hall and a family picnic, the kids had a ball checking out the rigs. Of course, for AJ, the highlight was turning on the lights and siren. For Sydney, I think the joy came simply from getting to sit in the front seat.

Though I've noticed in the last week a definite increase in the number of times she's had this conversation with Daddy:
"Daddy, you army so-der?"
"Yes," Jeff patiently responds each time, "I'm an army solder."
"I army so-der too!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A doll's life

As the meeting of blue-eyed, pudgy-cheeked babies comes to order, I can't help but notice one of these things is not like the others.

Believe it or not, Sydney has more in common with Mary Ann, the black doll propped next to her, than with the rest of her brood. For one thing, they're the only two on the couch made in North America. A quick check of Sydney's dolls reveals all can trace their origins to China. Mary Ann was manufactured in Mexico.

Mary Ann is, by far, the senior member of the group. This past Christmas marked 35 years since she came into my life. Thus, her other similarity with Sydney is I've referred to both as my baby. 'Course, I was just shy of 4 years old when I gave that label to Mary Ann. I have to say, she's aged well.

Normally, I'm not an overly sentimental person and don't get that excited about passing things along from generation to generation. Maybe it's just because I like new things. I didn't want to wear my Mom's wedding dress, and I won't expect Sydney to wear mine.

But I have to say I enjoy watching Sydney play with Mary Ann. Not because of the memories I have of playing with the doll, but because of a connection it gives Sydney that goes beyond me to people she will never know. Mary Ann was a gift from my Grandpa and Grandma LeVahn. Grandma Grace also gets credit for sewing the peach-colored nightgown on the doll. Clearly, it was well made.

I can't imagine my Grandma ever took the time to think about how long the doll or the dress would last. But I have to believe she's fully aware her great-granddaughter is now holding in her hands something she once lovingly held in her own. She's also probably aware that writing this has brought tears to my eyes. And to that she'd likely say, "Oh you silly kid."

I just might have to say that to Sydney the next time I see her playing with Mary Ann. Just because.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ice cream courage

It was bound to happen. Now that our basement is useable, AJ's afraid to go down there by himself.
Logic and lighting make no difference. He doesn't want to descend the two half-flights of stairs without someone by his side (or, even better, a few steps ahead of him.)
Earlier in the week, AJ wanted to play baseball outside. But, horrors, the bat was downstairs. Daddy (who really didn't want to play baseball) told AJ he had to go and get the bat. After much whining on AJ's part, they did not play baseball that night.
We found a more powerful incentive a few nights later: root beer floats. The ice cream is in the freezer downstairs. I told AJ he needed to go down and get it. In his enthusiasm for the bedtime treat, AJ made it halfway down before remembering the scary possibilities of where he was about to go. Back upstairs he rushed. He then did his best to convince Maggie to go with him. That didn't work, even with us urging her to join him.
By this point, I, too, was halfway to the basement, standing on the landing trying to coax Maggie to go with AJ down those last few steps. It was the principle of it. He was so close to making it to the bottom, and Maggie should follow his call like she does for us.
At last it worked. Their feet touched concrete. AJ opened the door under the stairs that leads to the freezer. And that's when this great moment of victory fizzled. AJ wasn't strong enough to open the well-sealed freezer door.
Yes, I went down and helped him then. He was trying so hard (physically and mentally), and deserved a reward for his efforts. The rootbeer float served that purpose quite nicely.

Rhyme time

While I was busy walking from room to room putting away clean laundry, Sydney, was busy trying to get me to play with her. And so, as I emerged from the hallway by her room, she popped up from the couch and declared what may be her longest sentence to date: "I Humpy Dumpy sat on a wall!" She then collapsed on the couch in a fit of giggles.

Someday, when she's older, she'll realize she needn't have put so much effort into getting my attention. When I'm doing laundry, I welcome even the smallest distraction. Which is why I then tried to make her repeat what she'd done so that I could take a picture.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Party 3

Let this be a lesson to any aunts out there. Be careful not to blink, because when your eye lids flutter back open, you just might discover your nephew has grown up and graduated. It doesn't seem all that long ago that Jonathon was AJ's size/age, and suddenly he's ready for college.

We closed out our party tour last weekend by celebrating Jonathon's graduation. I had to explain to AJ that, as much as he wanted to play knights with his cousin, this probably wouldn't be the occasion for that. Ever hopeful, AJ brought along his tinfoil-wrapped box of a helmet, plus the box Daddy wears when they joust, because "Jonathon's head could fit in Daddy's helmet." (We left them in the car. Jonathon, you can thank me later.)

AJ took the picture below. I like it because of the shot that happened to be on the screen at the same time. It was part of a montage of many hundreds of pictures chronicling Jonathon's first 19 years, dissolving one to another. Comparing then and now, the hair style may have changed a bit (thank goodness!) but the smile and pose are identical.

Sydney, meanwhile, thought this "movie" was pretty cool. She didn't seem to draw the connection that it had been created in honor of Jonathon. And so she sat in suspense, paying close attention. Each time a new picture of him would pop up, she excitedly pointed to the screen and exclaimed, "Jonathon!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Party 2

Our second stop on Saturday's cross-state tour of parties was at Barb and Paul's 25th wedding anniversary celebration/renewal of vows.

We arrived late - just as food was being served. AJ didn't seem to notice, however, because he was too busy playing with the neighbor's golden retriever (or, as he calls the breed, shiny golden retroover). By the time he was ready to eat, Jeff, Sydney and I were all settled around a picnic table, so Jeff gave AJ the okay to go get his own plate of food.

What a moment of independence! What an opportunity! AJ came back with... drum roll, please... four pieces of watermelon and three cupcakes. And boy was he excited. (or maybe the anticipation caused the sugar rush to set in early.)

Sydney, meanwhile, chose to focus her charms on the groom. They are quite color-coordinated, after all.

I suppose it's only fair that Uncle Paul has made it onto Sydney's list of fun people. Her big brother has had a special relationship with Auntie Barbie since back when the closest he could pronounce her name was "Bobby Bobby".

Monday, July 20, 2009

Treasure hunt

Hard to believe, but this past weekend's National Guard family picnic is probably the last one we'll ever have to attend. Jeff should be done with Guard duty long before next summer's picnic rolls around. Kind of ironic, considering our kids are now old enough to enjoy the games offered.

Though AJ didn't seem to enjoy one game very much. He'd been so excited to sift through the sand in search of coins during the treasure hunt. Until he didn't find anything.

It didn't help that his sister found a dime almost immediately. Must be beginner's luck.

AJ did eventually find a coin. After at least five minutes of digging by at least a dozen kids, there was a penny sitting fairly exposed on top of some sand I'm fairly certain AJ had dug through at least several times. Perhaps AJ gets credit for unearthing it, but I'm kind of suspecting someone walked through the sand pit and dropped a few more pennies for the unlucky few who were still searching.

You know it was a good weekend...

...when a ride around the block with Daddy is all it takes to send these two little troopers off to dreamland.

Three parties in three cities in one day seem to be the limit for these two. For mommy, too! Hopefully over the next few days I'll actually find time to write about the fun we had.

The short nap didn't do much for AJ. He crashed pretty quickly Sunday night. During snuggle time, he even gave me his blessing to leave, as if I was a distraction from what he needed to do: sleep. He told me, "You can go take your contacts out now, Mom." (This is usually the excuse I use when I don't have time to cuddle. I know he'll fall asleep within a few minutes. Hmmm... could he be on to me?)

Miss Sydney, on the other hand, managed to summon enough energy to try a few new stall techniques at bedtime. She's quite creative and adaptive. It was all charm for me. "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!" she declared in her sweetest voice, giving me a hug and resting her head on my chest when I laid down next to her on the couch after being dismissed by AJ.

"Go to sleep," I told her.

Realizing she wasn't getting anywhere with me, she then looked across to Jeff, who was also sitting on the couch watching baseball. In an equally endearing voice, she proclaimed, "Go Twins!"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This is the life

I remember making an emergency trip to Target once on a Saturday night in search of vacuum cleaner bags. I must have been in my mid-20s at the time. I got to the store and realized I'd forgotten my billfold at home, so I had to drive back to my apartment, grab my wallet and return to finally make the needed purchase. As I walked back to my car with vacuum bags at last in hand, I recall thinking, "I thought being a grown up would be a lot more fun."

Last night those thoughts crossed my mind again.

Friday night. Middle of July. Youthful, rose-colored visions would have placed me lounging on a deck overlooking Lake Superior, surrounded by husband and close friends, laughing and enjoying dinner and drinks. Silly, silly dreams.

Reality is Jeff needed to nap in between his regular day shift and a special late night shift, and so to ensure he had a quiet house in which to sleep, I decided to take AJ and Sydney out to eat. Sealing my fate, I allowed them to choose the restaurant. Which meant our dinner plans for this Friday evening in the middle of summer were determined by which Happy Meal toy AJ wanted most. Transformers got the vote, so off to Burger King we went.

During the drive, I questioned AJ if the Transformer promotion was still going on. He assured me it was. He saw the commercials, and they teach him things he told me.

Walking into the restaurant, I couldn't help but notice I was in the minority. That is, I was one of very few females, and one of only two people over the approximate age of 17. I've read numerous advertising industry magazines that talk about how Burger King has decided to target the younger male demographic. Clearly, their strategy is working.

So we placed our order and found an open table amid a sea of mostly teenage boys. It was as we opened the Happy Meal bags that we made the horrible discovery. (You knew something has to go wrong, otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it.) This Burger King had run out of Transformer toys, substituting instead a silly Pokemon game.

I got the kids settled and busy eating and then walked over to get ketchup, napkins, etc. As I filled my glass with pop, I suddenly heard AJ's voice from across the restaurant, "Mom! Can you ask them if they have any more Transformer toys?" Apparently my explanation of "these things happen," wasn't satisfactory to him.

Back at the table, we continued eating. For AJ, all joy had left the meal. Though at one point he perked up enough to ask, "Mommy, want to sing 'I'm a little teapot?'"

Do I know how to spend a wild Friday night, or what?

As we were finishing our meal, I commented, "I think it would have been better to go to McDonald's."

With surprising contriteness, AJ answered, "Yup. I'm sorry for this."

There was one person at the restaurant likely having less fun than I was. Remember the other adult I saw? Turns out she was a chaperon. She walked over to the tables of teens, and I overheard her say to her oh-so-receptive audience, "Don't forget to go to the bathroom before you get back on the bus."

I guess I should be grateful I only had two kids to watch. And on a brighter note, at least this Burger King had a small play area.

Playing with Duplo blocks at a Burger King on Friday night. Somehow I thought being a grown-up would be a lot more fun.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A few more "AJ-isms"

If I believed in re-incarnation, and if a certain baseball legend known for his off-beat comments weren't still alive, I'd suspect AJ was Yogi Berra in a previous life.

Recently, as Jeff and I were looking through sales fliers and talking about what was advertised, AJ spoke up and asked, "Remember when we had Sydney advertised at church?" (Baptised)

Last night, while driving to a couple of stores, AJ was doing his best to convince me he needed to buy a new toy. Since I knew this trip would be pushing bedtime limits, I decided to take advantage of the bribe opportunity and responded, "Well, we'll see how you act while we're shopping."

AJ assured me, "Mom, I'll be a good actor."

He's close... in the ballpark... just doesn't quite have it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fodder for bad dreams

Is it because he's a boy, or because he's four? Depending on the answer, AJ will either permanently confuse me, or hopefully move beyond this stage.

AJ is a child who is fascinated by sharks. That's a wobbegong he's pointing to during our recent trip to the aquarium at the Mall of America. He knows all about ferocious sea creatures. How? He likes to read about them and what they like to eat. As a bedtime story.

Dinosaurs are another favorite. Meat eaters versus plant eaters. He soaks it up like a sponge. The T-rex is the coolest in his opinion. It's the most vicious predator of all time. Another likely pick for bedtime stories.

So I wasn't all too surprised last night to hear that AJ was afraid to go to sleep. Until I found out why. Something was scaring him, he said. He thought Ernie was going to come and get him. Ernie – the lovable orange guy who sings about rubber duckies on Sesame Street.

Trying to convince him that his fears were unfounded, that Ernie used to be my favorite Sesame Street character, did nothing to calm him. So I moved to another technique – distraction. I asked him which Muppet he liked best. His answer? The Count.

I will never understand.

On an unrelated note, take another look at the picture of AJ and Ellie with the Lego triceratops. Note the woman in the background. Let this be a reminder to all of us of why we should be careful about yawning in public. You never know when a blogger is snapping pictures.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Joust plain silly...

Earlier this week I referenced some of the fun games adults can get away with playing as long as they include their children. But there are other games that, if you're over roughly 48" tall, you could be amongst a whole group of kids and, there's just no getting around it, you're still going to look ridiculous. Case in point...

Jeff earned all kinds of Daddy of the Year/MacGyver points for creating a brave knight using only a cardboard box, tinfoil, duct tape and a preschooler. And he gets oodles of bonus points for actually sword fighting this young gladiator.

But one look at Jeff in the top photo with a box on his head and I start laughing all over again.
Incidentally, if points are awarded for taking one for the team, Jeff earned some of those, too. AJ tends to take these jousts just a bit too seriously.

Luckily, the battlefield medic is always willing to jump into the fray. I wouldn't be surprised if she'd been cheering on AJ to bring her a patient.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Playground makeover

Hmmm... you've changed your look somehow. What could it be? Maybe it's the combination sand/Cheetos masque that's giving your skin such a youthful glow.

Oh wait... no, don't tell me... you're doing something different with your hair.

Miss Sydney, you are quite the trend setter with your static style. Look - even your brother is trying to copy the new 'do.

I'm beginning to sense signs of a generation gap. The playground curse when I was little was sitting down in shorts on a metal slide that was facing the sun. For my kids, the biggest threats are static shocks and punk rock hair-dos that go along with a ride down a plastic slide.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The pressure is bubbling...

Much to AJ's dismay, his little sister now thinks it's really fun to stick her face in the water and blow bubbles. This comes after a week of watching his cousins splash and swim like fish every chance they got.

AJ likes being in the water, but is terrified at the thought of immersing himself. He's told us in the past he plans to be a SCUBA diver who doesn't go under water.

So with the stakes raised at bathtime, AJ decided it was time to prove he was as brave as Sydney. He geared himself up...

... but then still couldn't bring himself to dip even his chin into the water. It'll happen some day. And knowing him, all it will take is one time, and then we won't be able to drag him from the water.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Little squirts

Does it make up for countless middle of the night wake-up calls? Probably not. But having kids provides such a wonderfully legitimate excuse to once again play so many childish games.

Imagine how odd it would have looked for Jeff and me to chase each other around the yard with squirt guns. Throw a couple kids in the mix, however, and we suddenly look like really cool parents spending quality time with our offspring.

As I looked through the kitchen window Sunday afternoon, the scene was just too tempting. Jeff was standing innocently in the yard with the sprinkler, attempting to salvage our pitifully brown excuse for a lawn. Meanwhile, an empty squirt gun lay in the sink, and a fairly impressionable 4-year-old sat just a few feet away.

Needless to say, it was pretty easy to convince said 4-year-old to sneak up on Daddy. Let the games begin! With the boys going at it, I conveniently excused myself back to the safety of the kitchen

An equally tempting target presented itself a few minutes later. Sydney decided she wanted in on the fun. I filled up another squirt gun and headed into the garage to show her how to squeeze the trigger. Before I could do so, however, Jeff came backing into the garage, totally unaware I was there and armed. I simply could not pass up on this opportunity.

Suffice it to say that even with an adorable 2-year-old shield, my clothing was significantly dampened.

Sydney finally got her turn a little later. She's not much of a threat. Yet. But I suspect this was just the opening battle in what could be a very long war. At least, I hope that's the case.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Life's a beach - II

To the lady at "The Beach" in Cloquet who suggested the water there is as cold as Lake Superior, let me just say: No. No, it is not. While I agree the water was quite chilly, it didn't make you stop and inhale "huh-huh-huh" the first time it lapped through the holes of your rubber shoes.

That was Sydney's reaction to her first encounter with the icy temperatures of the greatest of the Great Lakes. But she quickly warmed to it.

On Friday, with temperatures in the upper 80s, we loaded up our three "kids" and headed to Park Point.

Sydney first wanted to throw rocks, which required her to wade in and reach down to grab the small stones that had washed almost to shore. Thankfully she never lost her balance. A head first trip into 50-degree water probably would have ended our visit right then and there.

A little later she plopped herself down and splashed the water around her. That didn't last long. She scooted herself to shore and instead asked for help building a sand castle. I have no idea how, at two years old, she even knows what a sand castle is, or that that's what you do at a beach. But that's what she wanted to do. Lucky for me, with my limited sculpting skills, she's easily impressed.

Meanwhile, one of us didn't seem to mind the numbingly cold water.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life's a beach

I'm not sure if this is a commentary about courage or naivete. But I find it interesting that our overly cautious 4-year-old insisted on wearing a life jacket before dipping his toes in Cloquet's newly opened "Beach," while his 2-year-old sister gamely slid down the slide into the cold water over and over and over and over.

I lost count of how many times I waded into the chilly water to catch her as she came shooting down the slide. The water was thigh deep on me, which means she'd go under water if I didn't grab her right before the big splash. Eventually I recruited Jeff to replace me at the bottom of the slide.

It was when I resumed my post as toddler catcher a few minutes after this picture was taken that Sydney received a chilly reminder of her own limitations. She positioned herself at the top of the slide before I made it to my spot at the bottom. Despite my warnings to "Wait, Wait! Wait!" she started the slippery descent. With a dive, I grabbed her arm... but not before she went completely under water.

She cried a bit as I pulled her out. Clearly she had never considered that possible consequence. I assured Sydney she was fine and reminded her why she needed to listen when Mommy says wait.

Sydney once again climbed the steps to the top of the slide. And that's when she stopped. One look at her face and I could tell she was waging an inner battle of nerves. I assured her I was ready and would catch her. I told her this was an example of getting back on the horse, an analogy she of course didn't understand.

Finally she let herself go and came swooshing down the slide. I caught her just as I had every other time except one and carried her to the edge so that she could do it again. I was proud of her willingness to continue. And that's when she chose to replace me as her official catcher, calling out, "Daddy, come!"

In other words, Sydney didn't interpret this as a lesson in her own limitations. To her, it was an example of Mommy's limitations.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hang on!

The change in Ellie and AJ's expressions as they waited to begin, compared to while the ride was in full swing, is priceless.

To young kids, the Nickelodean Theme Park at the Mall of America must seem like one of the happiest places on earth. The rides, the excitement, the obnoxious Sponge Bob souvenirs everywhere you look... how could life possibly get any better than this?
And getting to experience it with the cousins you only see once a year makes it all that much more fun.
Sydney's attitude and fearlessness may know no limits, but unfortunately (for her) her lack of height did impose a few restrictions on the rides she could enjoy with her brother and cousins. Luckily we found a few that allowed her to go on accompanied by Mommy or Daddy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What a bunch of characters!

It seems like everywhere we've gone this week, we've found bigger-than-life creatures. Funny how when they're around, camera-shy kids are suddenly happy to strike a pose.

Sydney is the exception to that rule. She did okay with the statues, but wanted nothing to do with the live costumed characters.

Vacations are so much fun!