Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Friday, Indeed!

I knew it was going to be a good day when the kids let me sleep in.  Well, in their own way.  Austin and Riley were the first up, but instead of coming into our room and standing inches from my face they went into Austin's room and just played.  I'd love to say they played quietly and allowed Ellie and I to continue sleeping, but they are 5 and 2, so we know that's not what happened.  Still, no one came in my room until 7:15.  And I was awoken to the sounds of Star Wars rather than someone literally breathing down my neck. 

After breakfast we all got ready and headed to the Murphy's to dye Easter eggs (Rob has the day off).  Kerry had stumbled upon someone's blog who used kool-aid and water to dye eggs.  Intrigued, and interested in avoiding the vinegar smell, we decided to get the gang together to try it out.

Each kid had 5 eggs (counted many times by Ellie.  Counting is her new "thing").  Riley got her hands on the orange kool-aid and had all her eggs died in record time.  She wasn't interested in other colors.  I tried to encourage purple, but she later re-dyed my attempts orange.  Actually, she dyed all her eggs several times, all orange, each time, but happy with each result.

Actually each of my kids probably would have picked a color and done the same but the older two were a little more adventurous once they watched their cousins work on their creations.  Austin went for a little half and half action:

Ellie was certain she wanted mostly pink.  Shocking.  After her eggs were dyed, she counted them a few more times, each time handling them a bit more rough than the time before and I'm shocked that her eggs are not broken.

I didn't get a good shot of everyone's eggs.  But, the kool-aid worked just as well as the dye kits you can buy.  My kids weren't quite patient enough to let the eggs soak for longer than 30 seconds but still got decent results.

After the Murphy's we headed home for a quick break in the action before we took everyone to see the movie "Rio".  This trip wasn't quite as successful as Tangled, but wasn't bad.  Everyone sat in their own seats the whole time (unless they were out of their seats dancing..sometimes Rob just can't be controlled).  Both Ellie and Riley had to go to the bathroom at separate times, and Austin did NOT like the evil bird in the movie.  Also, he was loud.  But, we were at a movie on a Friday at 11:40am...everyone had kids so no one seemed to care.

We even got home in time for the girls to nap (which they NEEDED).  Tonight Jake and Maddie are coming over for a sleepover so the fun isn't over yet!

Hope everyone has had an equally delightful Friday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Balance is Key

Last fall I tried to get Austin to ride his bike without training wheels.  It wasn't a success.  He has taken to leaning heavily on his left training wheel (I was able to raise the right enough so he couldn't lean that way...but the left only went so high) so much that when I took off the training wheels he would immediately tip right over.

After only a week I gave up and put them back on.  Fast forward to this summer.  I'll be damned if I am going to be making all our park walks as slow as he rides with training wheels.  He is not a "need for speed" kind of kid to begin with, but add to it a completely lopsided bike ride (because of his leaning) plus some noisy plastic training wheels creating as much friction as sandpaper, and we have ourselves one excrutiatingly slow walk.

So, it was back to no training wheels.  I enlisted the help of Rob this time because I thought he'd have more patience with the boy.  Not that I was getting mad at Austin (well, not all the time) but that's my flaw as a teacher.  Some things, to me, can't be explained....you just have to "get" them.  He was not "getting" it.

Rob took him across the street to our big flat grass field and tried to teach him there so when he'd wipe out, it wouldn't result in gravel laced scrapes.  And although it was a great idea, and sort of worked, grass fields are bumpy and not ideal.  After another couple tries by me on the sidewalk I realized that our son has no balance.  For as much as he leaps around the house, scales the swingset, and flies up rockwalls at parks....when it comes to bikes, he has no balance.

Then I remembered something I bought him when he was two years old.  He never fit on it so it got put in storage for quite some time.

It's a "balance bike".  They are catching on in popularity in the US, but have been around for decades in the Netherlands (or so a coworker from there told me).  The idea is that a young child (age 2-3) runs around on one of these for a year or two pushing with their feet and eventually getting comfortable enough and fast enough to push and glide down the street.  Then, when they are big enough for a regular bike, you just explain the concept of pedaling and off they go, because they have already worked up a great sense of balance no training wheels are ever needed.

So, I dusted it off (literally), adjusted the seat and explained it to Austin.  We started about a foot up the driveway.  The game was that he had to go down the driveway and across the sidewalk (the finish line) without his feet touching the ground.  Once he accomplished that distance we made another mark on the driveway and tried again...working our way up the driveway.

Day 1 was slow but he made about 5 marks up.  Day 2 just clicked with him and he made it up the rest of the way.  Here's a video from Day 2.

Once he repeatedly went down the driveway without feet we got him on his regular bike and had him do the same thing.  He, of course, crashed his first time, declared he hated bikes and stomped inside the house.

Day 3.  He decided he didn't hate his bike and he tried again.  After a few times he was successful and then I told him to put his feet on the pedals and do the same thing (no pedaling).  After that, we tackled the sidewalk AND pedaling.  He took off.

Okay, "took off" is relative term here.  But, without much effort, he was able to bike 20 feet before stopping.  I think that was last Wednesday.  We've had a lot of wind so biking hasn't been ideal around here, but yesetrday he biked past 3 houses before he had to stop.

Those Dutch are on to something...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

He's and She's

Yesterday I came upstairs to find a note on Austin's door.

I thought to myself..."here we go", as I was sure we had entered the stage of "No Girls Allowed".  Then I studied the note:

What the heck did that say? 

It took me a few minutes but I finally decoded the message.  It said "He's and She's".  Only, the apostrophes were more like "i"s.  I knocked on the door, announced I was a "she" and asked if that meant I could come it.  He said "Of course you can, you saw the sign!". 

Of course.

I asked him why he put it there.  He said he just wanted everyone to know they were allowed to come in.  Both boys and girls were allowed.

Ellie was very excited about this.  She asked him if he would write a note for her door that said "everybody can come in" and Austin said "No."  Ellie said, "How about 'All People'"? and Austin said "No.  How about 'He's and She's".

Turns out Austin has no idea how to spell "Everybody" or "People", but has a fairly good grasp on "He's and She's" (minus the use of an apostrophe), so that is what he was willing to write.

Ellie and Riley both put in their orders and everyone had a sign on their door within a few minutes.  We're a very inviting family.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Undecided

The other day the girls and I were playing school in the basement.  It's where we keep the chalkboard/paint easel.  It's also where we keep a lot of toys that don't get played with quite as much as the others.  Actually, if you can keep a secret....it's where I put a lot of the toys that I'd like to get rid of, but need to keep out of sight for a bit to see if they would be missed.

Anyway, after our writing, art, and gym classes were finished I headed upstairs for a teacher's break.  The girls stayed downstairs.  I made a quick phone call and Ellie came up the stairs like this:



At first I laughed out loud.  Then I sort of thought it was creepy.

It's a part from Santa Claus Mr. Potato Head.

I'm still not sure where I stand.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cake Boss Jr.

While we were in Iowa we had the treat of cable TV.  One night, Austin, Taylor, Lynne, and I watched a few episodes of Cake Boss. 

Austin was amazed.  He loved it.  When we got home we were happy to find out seasons 1 and 2 of Cake Boss are on Netflix which we can stream on our TV anytime we want.  So, that night Rob, Austin, and myself watched 3 more episodes.

That sealed the deal.  Austin wanted to make a cake....now!  I convinced him we could wait until the next day while the girls were napping but we did our research bright and early the next morning.  He settled on a scene from Star Wars (shocking).

As it turned out, Austin was not all that interested in baking or decorating the cake.  Until it was time to add some of his Star Wars figures.  At that point he took over.  He sat there and rearranged his figures for about 20 minutes.  It was a battle scene of Mustafar where Obi-Wan and Annikan duke it out near some lava.  I'm fairly certain the Clones and R2D2 have no business being in this scene.  The more the merrier I guess.




And then the Cake Boss wouldn't let us eat the cake.

I can't remember how we finally convinced him we were eating that cake, but we did...and it was delicious.

We have two other little bosses in the house who are waiting (not very patiently) to decorate their cakes.  Something tells me they might actually help out though.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring Break 2011

Since we didn't have any major plans for Spring Break, we decided to make a family fun day of Friday, and then head down to Ankeny, IA to visit with Rob's brother's family for the weekend!

Rob took the day off from work and we headed to the Science Museum in the morning.  We decided we'd just buy a membership because by the time we had paid for our whole family, we'd only have to go one or two times more in a year to make it pay for itself.  As it turns out, Cargill gets a 25% discount on membership there.  So, after my discount, and some gift cards we had from Christmas, we only paid $16 for our year long membership! 

As we toured the exhibits Riley picked up every telephone she saw.  I had no idea why she was so entranced by these phones until I figured out that they were Audio explanations of the displays.  So, whenever she picked up a phone someone started talking to her.

While Riley learned about the difference between a muscle cell and a fat cell, Ellie and Rob explored the underside of a giant thumb nail.


And then Riley was discussing the healing qualities of skin.


Austin was pretty excited once we got to the dinosaur area.

I told him if he stood just right it would look like the triceratops was eating his head.....sort of.

He ran around that area explaining all of the dinosaurs to me.  And then he spent a little bit of time versing their "dinosaur specialist" on the life Entelodont (which was nicknamed "killer pig"...picture a huge, vicious, wart hog).

We all enjoyed our time at the Science Museum and we're happy we have the membership as we'll definitely be heading back.

After the museum, we piled in the car and drove to Cabela's in Owatana to check out their stuffed animals (and I don't mean cute teddy bears) and fish and to grab some lunch.  We made the mistake of eating at the Sportsman Cafe and then dealt with the after effects at the Iowa rest top for 45 minutes.  Live and learn.

Only half way through our drive Austin was already getting ansy to see his cousins.  He had already resorted to dressing up his football in his sunglasses.


Once we got to Ankeny, I thought the kids all did a great job playing together.  Ellie and Riley were delighted to have their very own girls only sleepover in Taylor's room!  Austin slept in Isaac's room.  Hunter didn't have any visitors in his room, but judging by his hesitancy to leave the boys alone, it won't be long.

Riley and Hunter spent a little time relaxing on Saturday with Caillou.  Those older cousins can wear a kid out!


Speaking of wearing kids out.  Dave and Lynne are on to something in that department.  With Dave coaching at the schools, he has access to the high school gym in the evening.  We all went there Saturday night to run around.  Taylor and Lynne played softball.  Isaac, Rob, and Dave played basketball.  Hunter shot some basket with his mini hoop.  Me and my crew chased each other around.  Eventually a big game of dodgeball was started.  Once everyone was officially worn out we headed back to their house for Pjs and bedtime.
 So, for not having much planned for Spring Break, we did pretty good.  We had an awesome weekend!  Thanks Dave and Lynne for letting us crash with you!