Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Our Day at the Zoo

Yesterday, we left early in the morning, went by to pick up Auntie Diane and headed off to the zoo for the day. It was a field trip day for OHVA, Jonathan's eschool, and there were lots of other homeschooled families there as well as many other preschools and public schools. It was a busy place until about 1:30 or so when buses full of students left, leaving the zoo to just the family groups. We ate a picnic lunch next to the lions and watched the 'parking lot gulls' dive bomb for cast offs periodically. Jonathan was fascinated. I just kept praying they wouldn't drop anything as they flew overhead. It was a wonderfully calm, fun day. Here are some pictures we took along the way.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Boys and Their Toys

I am hesitant to admit it. But it seems I have no choice. Our house has been taken over and annexed by the Lego company. Yes, I realize it might be hard to believe but alas, tis true. We are what they might fondly refer to as one of their 'modest warehouses in the Northern US' where their blocks, special pieces and even bionicles are 'housed in a building where constant evaluation, creativity, and consultations can occur 24/7 with appropriately aged builders'. *sigh*

Having this distinction means that we must be careful where we walk when entering the main 'creativity den'. We NEVER enter in the dark, and even when all appears to be clear, we've learned not to trust the leftover 70's tan shag carpet that keeps the builders knees from ever getting splinters. Our feet have thanked us over and over again for our cautious rules, enacted after too many trust-inspired walks across the room. In this warehouse, builders must rouse themselves from creativity to get their required good night kiss at the door, and only under dire emergencies like middle of the night illnesses or other episodes where blood is involved, will Warehouse Supervisors enter the room.

We have come to realize that inspiration apparently arises to the Senior Builders from previous creations, stacked on every flat surface, ready for immediate interaction with new creations should it be deemed necessary. Only minimal inspiration comes from other sources as is apparent by the few sports and automobile posters and other memorabilia that surrounds them during moments of creativity. And it would seem that previous, well worn issues of Lego magazines, building instructions and posters would be absolute necessities in such a place.

Recently, the creators have added a new requirement in their warehouse that is still under discussion by the Budding Builder of the bunch. Apparently you must be of old enough age to respect previous creations, piles of pieces sorted for creations yet to be developed, and with knowledge enough to avoid stepping on projects currently in development to be allowed to enter the inner sanctum. Alas, those who are three don't seem to fit this list of requirements but feel that, just by the mere fact that they live in the warehouse, they should be allowed in at any time. While this issue has been brought before the Warehouse Supervisors on several occasions of late, no permanent policy has been created, and all involved are playing it by ear. The Senior Builders feel this policy needs continual enforcement and do their best to subversively act when they feel it is necessary. We've tried to tell the newbie that her feet would be much better off if she declined to enter of her own free will but even that hasn't stopped her.

This honorable distinction has taken an even deadlier turn. What was once limited to the upper realm of the warehouse has begun to appear in the more populated areas on the first floor. No longer can those others sharing space with the creators plop themselves in a chair without first checking to see that it is clear of current, imaginative creations. Younger, budding builders must first check their dollbeds before putting their babies to sleep to be sure they won't be stabbed by errant bionicles hiding in 'caves'. And possibly the most grievous issue of all is the inability for vacuuming to happen quickly. Senior builders must first be sure no highly important pieces are hiding in the realms of the 70's shag before the sweeper swiftly sucks them in to oblivion, never to be used again. This means the creators must place themselves prone and roll, bounce and otherwise swipe at all areas of the floor before they will declare it 'safe'. And we won't even mention what has to be done to vacuum the 'inner sanctum of creativity'. It seems to the Warehouse Supervisors that this isn't necessary but the builders loudly voice their concerns on a regular basis.

There are positive sides to everything. The Warehouse Supervisors have consoled themselves with knowing that their builders are usually doing something creative, worthwhile and inspiring, and are therefore not arguing with each other. There is also the 'then you vacuum when you are done inspecting the floor' thing which alleviates that from the Supervisors list of things to do. And finally, pictures of our Senior Builders creations are loaded weekly for all to see. Our builders are published! How awesome is that? :)

All in all, admitting you are a modest warehouse for an international corporation shouldn't be so bad. Just don't walk barefoot unless you're in to the latest Lego inspired "Indian dance". And then you should expect that every other warehouse employee will laugh right along with you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mother's Day

Mother's Day here was quiet. Our normal 'whole family' event didn't happen for a variety of reasons so Don's family came and spent time with us by themselves. It was a good day and although the boys made themselves scarce as they played with Legos and so on, Laura had a wonderful time. Daddy, Aunt Diane and Grandma Jan all enjoyed their time with her. Here are some pictures from our quiet afternoon.

No! Dat One!!!

As you know already, getting Laura dressed in anything but a dress each day is an exercise in parental determination. As the days warm up, the struggle will be more about which dress she's allowed to wear around the house vs. what is saved for Sundays and other special days, but it will be nice to let her have free reign in her closet.

This morning as I was helping her get dressed I was preparing for our usual 'discussion'. I was stunned at the turn the conversation took. Initially, I had determined that although our day was going to warm up to 80, the cooler morning meant her dress would need sleeves and I was preparing myself to say "No" to every sleeveless dress she'd pull out. When she didn't even approach the closet I should have realized she'd already made up her mind but I was slow to pick up on what she was doing. As I turned around to find my diaper clad child trying to climb on the glider, I asked her what she was doing. She paused, dropped her knee of the chair, pointed up and said "No! Dat one!"

Following her finger I saw the t-shirt her Aunt Diane had brought her. Since it was white I've been saving its initial wear for a warm weather visit so she could enjoy it on Laura in all its initial glory. Apparently that was not to be. After I removed it from its current spot and handed it to her, it was hard for her to put it on herself because she was wiggling with so much excitement. In fact, she could have cared less what shorts I chose for her, and I think that's a first. Once dressed, she couldn't wait to get downstairs to show the 'boys' how she was dressed and insisted on a 'piter' for posterity's sake. And if, by chance, a meal today requires her universal dipping sauce, it may never be that white again. :)

We also gathered 'the boys' for a picture as well. Here's my whole, wonderful gang. Matthew, growing so old so fast, and Jonathan, in all of his 'can't make his hair cooperate for anything' glory. I've got some great kids, don't I?

Friday, May 11, 2007


Just yesterday I noted that spring has definitely arrived here. Not just for a day or two, but for what we hope is the entire season. The sidewalks are constantly busy with dogwalkers, families pushing strollers or pulling wagons, and kids running from house to house or riding their bikes as they avoid the cars going past in the street. YES! Spring is here. And with it comes a new era in family life for us.

Laura wants to go 'outide' as often as possible. The other day I caught her trying to con Jonathan in to taking her out with him by clasping her hands together against her chest, cocking her head to the side and opening her eyes really wide before saying "Pwease?!" with such a precious, pleading look that I was sure Jonathan wouldn't be able to deny her this small request. But alas, Jonathan failed to succumb and she was stuck behind the screen door as he went blithely on his way. Even after saying pwease over and over again, and frankly, hollering it at his back as he escaped. But Daddy couldn't deny it and soon he was putting on his sandals to take her out.

And so the tradition has been set.

Laura will confront anyone who appears to be headed in any way, shape or form, for the great outdoors. She will casually mention that she needs her socks on and one of us, thinking her feet are cold, will comply. If we don't, she's upstairs anyway, putting on her own socks, albeit upside down or sideways, so she can then move on to Phase Two. In this phase she'll walk around looking for the nearest pair of shoes that she'll once again attempt to put on herself. When she gets only so far, the pleading with the nearest bigger person ensues. In short order she is often shoe clad, ready for Phase Three.

Phase Three can take on a much more desperate tone depending on the cooperation of those around her at the moment. She moves from the cute, batting her eyes, hands clasped just under her tilted chin pleas of "Pwease?!" over and over again to stomping her feet and stating in no uncertain terms that "I wanna dough outide" in short order. When this doesn't work, she'll return to her pleading ways, hitting up each person as they come in the door, or dare to step anywhere near the door. If this fails to get her to her goal of the great outdoors, she'll move to Phase Four.

Phase Four involves driving her parents crazy by slipping ever so quietly out whatever door she can find that is not locked. Yes, our precious little three year old has figured out that she can do this on her own. Even when told she can't. Indeed her quiet, sly, swift movement from inside to out can happen so fast that we are often oblivious to it until we see her head bopping away from the screen door at a fast rate. *sigh* Soon I'm sure locks won't even work.

Once we've retrieved the plundering preschooler who eventually realizes she really isn't going to get outside at the moment, she'll start in on what we now have come to realize is Phase Five of her efforts. She'll sulk for a few moments, whining, trying to garner sympathy from those left indoors to do necessary chores. When she realizes this isn't working, the child goes quiet for a moment and then it is as if she is transformed. Running up to me she'll tug on my shorts, yelling "Mom! Mom! I dough what we can do!!!" Hiding your smile and wondering just how you are going to get out of this most marvelous suggestion, I turn to her innocently and say "What? What can we do?" She'll once again clasp her hands together under her chin, tilt her little head, open her eyes wide, smile so big it transforms her whole face and say "We can go to the PARK!"

Indeed, in very short order, everyone in the family is piling in to the car, water bottles in hand, off for another adventure with everyone else who's preschooler came up with the very same, wonderful idea. We're off to the park.

Yes, Spring is here. Pwease can we dough to the Park? :)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Boys! Tan It!

Lately, I have been watching in amusement as the boys play bionicles in and around the family room. I'll never let on that what they are doing is so closely related to girls playing dolls or with their dollhouses that it is hard to tell the difference. Well, there are the unique looking 'dolls' and the periodic blasting sounds as they shoot whatever weapons they have followed by the sounds of something being blown up, but you get my drift. They 'direct' their play much like girls do with their dolls, telling each other what to do and what to say, getting frustrated when they can't have the 'guy' they want, and in general playing what I like to call "Bionicle House".

For several months, in the midst of all of this bionicle play has been our three year old girly girl. Clad in her must-have dress, she plops herself down in the middle of their play, takes whatever castoffs they'll give her and will play, shoot, blast and blow up right along with them. I had to stop in my tracks the other day when I heard her tell Jonathan to pick up his Barraki. But then to her I guess it is just another baby name. I'll deal with the fact that she knows them all as well as the boys do some other day.

Recently, however, Laura has decided that her babies, bunnies and dollhouses are much more interesting. She will, when pressed, join in with the boys (they like her to pick up the pieces for them when they blast one to death by throwing him on the ground) but she's prefer her own little world. More than once she's had to deal with extracting bionicles from her dollhouse, her baby bed where they've made their headquarters, or her stroller where they hang from the 'cliff' as they exit the 'cave' before she can use them for their more intended purpose. Today I think she reached her limit.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught her headed in to the living room. In her hand she clutched two bionicles, her other hand was on her hip and she was stomping with purpose. I could only imagine what was to come so I followed her. As she went around the corner so Matthew could see her she said "Mattchew, Tan It! Dis is MY troller and YOUR DUYS don't bewong here." Matthew was quiet for just a moment and then he started laughing out loud. I think he and I both figured it out at about the same time because I was laughing right along with him. It seems he'd just been told to 'can it', a phrase I use with them when they are starting to cross the line between what are indoor activities and those that belong outdoors.

Oh be careful parent mouths what you say... for you don't know just who is listening!