Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Here Comes the Sun (do-n-do do)

What a gorgeous day!!! 

We didn't waste a second of it.  We were out of the house by 9am and playing in the front yard.  At 9:30 I wrangled up the crew and we hit the grocery store.  But, with the promise of a visit to a new park, they were on their best behavior.  Well, not Ellie.  Ellie has temporarily (I hope) lost her "best behavior" someplace. 

As soon as we got to the park the kids took off in
Three.

Different.

Directions.

Within 2 minutes of being there, Austin yelled from the top of the tower "Hey Mom!  I made a new friend!"  and then later I heard him telling her "It's great to make new friends, don't you think?".  Cute.

Ellie latched on to one our neighbor girls (who is 5) and Riley played with her neighborhood friend (the same age) for the first time.  I mean, they've been around each other plenty, but this is the first time they have actually played together. 

After chasing everyone around for an hour or so, we went to have a picnic lunch and a very small egg hunt (one egg/kid).  After lunch, the kids all gathered up on the bench of the gazeo to get a better look at the pond and birds.  Here they are, with their ages.  We're a busy bunch when we hang out!

Then Austin did this:

And my heart melt.  He loves her....really he does.

And when I thought my kids couldn't possibly be any cuter, Riley worked her way over to big brother to get a little love too.

It was a fantastic morning.  Riley was a big helper on the way back to the car.

Sorry about your lunch bag, Rob.  But, as you know, when she wants to do something, sometimes it's easier to just let her go.

We are looking forward to summer and the promise of more warm sunny days!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Move Over Rob

I'm taking over the shop.

For the last couple of months I have been fascinated by the blog "Knock Off Wood".  The woman who runs this blog breaks down popular (read: Pottery Barn) furniture into easy to read plans ready for anyone who is interested in buidling their own furniture for a fraction of the cost of purchasing.  Kerry has also been allured by this site, and together we have no shortage of projects we would like to build.  However, it wasn't until she posted THIS, that I actually felt inspired enough to go out and buy this:

On my Thursday night off, I headed over to Lowe's where I dug through their piles of boards and pick the straightest I could find. $13 Later I walked to the car armed with the materials to build my children a picnic table.  I needed to beef up Ana's plans a bit because the Runchey children come a little taller than your average brood.  I enlisted my dad, and his ability to retain every geometry proof he ever came across in high school, to calculate new angles for me to use for the table legs so that I would add 2 inches of height to the table, while still maintaining a solid base.  Thanks Dad.

Next I cut the wood down to the right lengths (or what I thought were the right lengths...more on that later).

Then I stopped and I waited 3 nights while Kerry and I worked out our schedules and found a time to build this bad boy.  We wanted to learn together.  Plus, I'm fairly certain that there is no way I could have done this without extra hands (more on that later too).

Today Kerry came over at 1pm, I quick threw all three children in their beds and threatened them with platefuls of vegetables should they decide to sneak out of bed.  No.  Not really, but I thought about it.

My kids nap from 1-4, so that gave us 3 hours to build the table.  We lined things up.

We drilled holes (I'm in love with Rob's power-driving drill!).

We (and by "we", I mean "I") may or may not have cut two boards about 10 inches too short and had to run back to Lowe's to buy another board.

We also may have jerry-rigged one board that wasn't quite fitting how we wanted it to.  But, it is underneath the table and no one will ever see it.

This:


This is why I'm certain I wouldn't have finished this on my own.  Kerry was my human clamp.  I mean, Rob's shop is loaded down with clamps, but my human clamp was able to measure and line things up.  Handy thing, that sister of mine.

In just shy of 3 hours (including my trip to Lowe's and back), we produced this:

This extremely stable table.  It does not wobble even a tiny bit.  However, one side of this table just might be more stable than the other.  The plans call for screws and wood glue at every fastening step.  I'd say we remembered the wood glue on about 30% of our joints.  Glue schmue.  Who needs it?

I literally dragged Austin out of bed, threw some shoes on him, and told him to have a seat.  Doesn't he look happy?

Then I brought out some jelly beans and bribed his friend to have a seat too.  They both sat very comfortably and munched on their treats.  Once Riley and Ellie were awake, they too enjoyed the table.

Now I just need to sand it down, fill the screw holes with some wood filler, and paint it!  I haven't completely decided on a color yet but Austin has given me several options.  Ellie has given me one....pink.

I'm pretty proud of this!  Kerry and I will be taking your orders shortly.  There may be a small wait list.  With our first project under our belt, we'll be taking over Rob's shop with all our "to build" projects we've been drooling over on Ana's site.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The New Academic Plan

There has been an ongoing debate in my own head on whether or not Austin is ready to go to Kindergarten next year.  Although the teachers mentioned his social skills were lagging (which I was shocked about because around the neighborhood, you can't get him to stop talking with everyone), but have improved a lot.  What my concern was, was his ability, or rather inability, to hold a pencil the right way.  I mean, he's made vast improvements in this area too, but that isn't saying much since he had minimal skills to start. 

It's just not his thing.  He doesn't like to draw.  He doesn't like to color.  He doesn't like finger paint, and only mildly tolerates regular paint.  So, how does a mom increase her son's fine motor skills when he has zero interest in any of the above?

Legos.

Specifically for my son, Star Wars Legos.

I came across these great $3.50 Star Wars Lego packs in the Easter section at Target.  Of course, I had Austin with me so I didn't buy any at the time, and when I went back to get them, they were sold out.  I sent the family on a man hunt and now have plenty.

But, after having watched Austin build two of these ships now, I am convinced this is my answer to increasing his fine motor skills.  I mean, these pieces are TINY!  I don't help him one bit with putting the ships together.  The other great part is that he is slowly learning to read the directions by himself.  The age range for these packs is 6-12, so I don't anticipate he'll be completely capable of following the directions solo anytime soon, but with a little guidance, he builds the ships himself and his dexterity and concentration is bound to improve.  Look at the focus in those eyes!  He isn't even bothered by the fact that my camera is 8 inches from his face.

So, this summer, we will be buidling Lego ships.  Attempting to color in the Star Wars coloring book, and then I'm going to make him write his name each day.  Maybe I'll find a Star Wars pencil or something.  After that, it's up to the teachers.  May the Force be with them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Slippery Reader

The month of March has been Celebrity Reader month at Austin's preschool.  When I saw the sign up sheet posted, I immediately signed up Rob to read to Austin's class.  I couldn't think of anyone else that Austin would rather have come to his class and read a book, than his dad!  But, I purposefully didn't tell Austin for a couple reasons.  1) I needed to make sure Rob could actually rearrange his work schedule to accomodate the preschool schedule and 2) If I told Austin that his dad was going to his school to read to him, I would hear about it every 5 minutes....it would have been a very long month!  But, the teacher told Austin the good news last Friday and Austin ran up to Rob and said "Dad!  You are going to be our Slippery Reader!"  He was extremely excited (Austin that is...not Rob...or maybe Rob too).

Today when Rob came down in his work clothes Austin said "But Dad?  I thought you were going to be our Slippery reader today?" and Rob confirmed it was part of his plans for the morning.  Austin said "Well, most of our Slippery readers just wear clothes.  Not work clothes."

He made an exception for Rob and his work clothes and allowed him to come to his class anyway to read "There's a Wocket in my Pocket".  It was such a hit (and so short) he had requests for an encore performance.  Then he slipped out of the room and off to work.  Just like a Slippery Reader should.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Crazy Days

It was craft day at the Runchey house again last week.  I'm convinced there are great crafts to be made from egg cartons.  I have NO idea what they are yet, but I always make sure I have at least one empty egg carton on hand before I throw one away.  I just know there is going to a fun activity around the corner that requires an egg carton.  In the meantime, we set off to create some crazy glasses.

I set each kid up with their own paints and paint brushes.  I don't like to encourage sharing.

Okay, really I did this because Austin didn't want pink.  Ellie only wanted pink, and Riley didn't voice her opinion.

Austin was concentrating very hard on his task. 

So was Riley.

Oh no, wait! That's not how it went.  Riley was sitting on my lap and I was helping her get the paint on her "glasses" when we had a battle over artistic differences (she was trying to paint my face) and she insisted I vacate her chair and leave her be.  I agreed, but I took away her brush and replaced her paints with finger paints.  I wasn't in the mood to repaint the walls and that was the direction her "art" was headed.

Ellie was perhaps the most focused.

And yes, I DO comb my child's hair. 

I swear I do.

Here, with the addition of some pipe cleaners, are the fruits of their labor.


Ellie did not want to put her Crazy Glasses on.  She didn't want to look "crazy".

Who would ever think that?

Monday, March 15, 2010

A nerd after my own heart

For years I have been dubbed (by my brother and sister) as the "nerd" of our family.  I have openly accepted this label, as I believe its' origin is envy.  I mean, who wouldn't want to purposefully infect raw meat with E.coli O157:H7 and work in a lab that smells like rancid meat all day?

Last night I observed my successor in all her glory.

Did you know that March 14th is referred to as "Pi Day"?  I did not.  Maddie did.  To celebrate, her class was going to eat pie and have a contest to see who could recite pi to the most decimals!  I couldn't think of a better way to spend March 14th if I tried.  Well, no that's not true.  I'm not that nerdy, but I thought it was a great idea for a classroom and I was on board.  Prior to last night, I only new pi to the 7th decimal.  It has never been a goal of mine to learn any more than that.

Maddie however, Maddie soaked up this challenge with bounding enthusiasm.  Literally.  She was bouncing around my parents house reciting pi with every leap.  She was out of breath, rolling around on the floor, she was literally delirious with her eagerness to get to the next decimal place.

When we left my parents house last night, she was able to recite pi to the 50th decimal.  I couldn't have been more proud.  My little nerd protegee.

And, because I thought it was interesting, check this out!

Near a Raven

It is a poem.  Only, the poem, when "decoded" gives you the digits of pi to the 740th decimal place!  Amazing!

Happy Pi Day! (a day late).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Clone Captain Rex

As the majority of the house is recovering from whatever is plaguing us, Austin has been busy running around battling pretend droids around every corner.

Here, he is Clone Captain Rex.  He is wearing his space helmet, carrying his blaster, and also sporting his jet pack.  Inside his jet pack is Elmo a baby Hutt that he rescued from the evil Count Drakoo.

It's a tough job, but someone needs to defend this galaxy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bunch of sickies

Not much has been going at our house.  Except for sickness. 

Last weekend Ellie was sick.  It came on suddenly, lasted a night, and left just as quickly as it showed up.  I thought we were in the clear.  Then, last night, she had a relapse.  I knew at noon that it was happening.  I found her laying on the floor zoned out.  Ellie is never laying anywhere.  She is a princess and her main role as such is to dance around in loud plastic high heels.  Sure enough, around 7:30pm she got sick again.  Today she is in better spirits, but seems to have caught on to the idea that when she is sick, she gets more attention.  Thus, every once in awhile her "belly hurts".  But I think she's fine.

Riley, she also does not sit still.  She is the baby sister and her job as such is to irritate every one else.  Okay, maybe that's a little harsh, but nonetheless, it is a role she has perfected.  Laying on a chair is not in her job description.

Sure enough.  She is now sick too.

I'm sick too.  But, I believe mine could be allergies.  I've been in denial about having allergies for years.  Never had them growing up, so why would I now?  My self-diagnosis came when I once attended a "Mold & Mycotoxins" conference (enthralling, I know), where we observed several mold cultures in covered petri dishes to help us in identification.  Well, some yahoo in the class took it upon himself to get a better look at each mold and opened up every petri dish sending mold spores flying everywhere.  As I left the room nauseous, feeling my throat tightening, and my eyes tearing up....I realized I was allergic to mold.  I've been in denial ever since.  The "allergies" only flair up when it's raining....you know, perfect conditions for molds to flourish.  It's probably time to come out of denial.

I digress, we're sick here. 

And those eyes are saying "Mom!  Stop talking about mold, and start snuggling!"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

They're back.

We've had some visitors lately on the berm.  I'm sure I've touched on the wildlife refuge we have in our backyard.  Hawks, jack rabbits (the size of great danes), ferrel cats, eagles, and now the coyotes are back.  I heard them yapping and howling last night but couldn't see them since it was so dark.

This morning I peaked out there and was surprised to see two of them just hanging out on the top of the berm.

Just enjoying the sunrise I guess.

I enjoyed watching them for a bit.

They would perk up every once in awhile like something caught their interest.

This made me start thinking about what they eat.  I googled it.  I should stop googling things like that.  I came across an innocent fact page that talked about how coyotes have been known to easily get over 5 or 6 foot fences.  But, if a fence proves too high, coyotes are expert diggers, and will easily tunnel under said fence.  Oh, and also, the amount of attacks on  humans is increasing.  Including little humans.

It's as if he could read my mind.  So, I quickly started thinking things like:  My husband has been known to shoot ferrel cats that wandered into our yard and started having parties on our deck at 3am when his wife was 6 months pregnant and already low on sleep.  Don't cross a pregnant woman low on sleep (or at least her BB Gun toting husband).

That's right....run away.  You should be scared.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back to reality

Well, my vacation was fantastic and thanks so much to all the grandparents and Rob for picking up my slack!

Carrie and I were able to go skiing again on Saturday afternoon, but the temperatures were around 60 degrees.  That is great weather for building snowmen, and not so great for skiing.  But, I still had a wonderful and exhausting time!

Upon arriving home I was energized and everyone was excited to see me so that was nice.  The kids' enthusiasm even carried into the next morning.  What a treat!

Riley.....Riley's hair seems to have grown at least an inch since I was gone.  No small feat for this little girl!

But, then I looked closer.  Go ahead, look closer.

Yes, that's right.  Along with her hair she has sprouted little horns and a major attitude.  Yikes!  I'm hoping it's short lived and can be attributed to some more teeth, or lack of sleep, and I'd even accept that she is just mad at me for leaving (or coming back--those grandparents can be very fun!)  The main point here is that I hope it doesn't last.  It's only Tuesday and I'm already planning my next ski trip!