Monday, October 2, 2017

Fort Wayne August 2017

This post is very belated, but in August, we met Cabbage, Bean, Aunt K, Uncle J, Grammy, and Grandpa in Fort Wayne for some fun.

First up, Science Central.  I had bought a membership to save on the Nugget's birthday trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.  I figured that Science Central might be tiny and disappointing, but I was so wrong.  It was just the right size to entertain the children for hours and not big enough to be overwhelming.

We ate twice at The Hoppy Gnome that day.  It was so good!  Then a nice swim in the hotel pool - I always forget to take swimming photos of the cousins, but they had so much fun playing together in the water.

The next day, we did the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.  We had taken the Nugget once before when he was 2 or 3, but he didn't remember it, so it a fresh adventure for everyone.

Grandpa and the Nugget 2017Grandpa and the Nugget 2010 
Grandpa (he loves that hat) and the Nugget 2017 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Too slippery

Spork:  Who's driving dat truck?  What him name?
Me:  (This is nonsense chatter, because he knows I don't know the truck owner, so I answer therapeutically by giving him a nonsense answer) I bet it's a giant pickle.
Tater:  (giggling) No way!  Pickles can't drive trucks because they're too slippery!

Tater:  I'm going to have a baby.
Spork: It gonna be a girl baby or a boy baby?
T:  A girl baby!
S:  Eew!  I don't like girl babies, I only like boy babies.

S: (Practicing his new choir song) The Lord said to no one, gonna build me an arkie-arkie!

Nugget: When I close my eyes and think about water, my finger nails get sharper.

Hubby:  Happy Anniversary!
Spork:  Mommy!  It your Vanasteries?!  That just happened to Mrs. B (his teacher)!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

On okapis and e-collars

Fabulous Spork-isms:

"Why is it called an okapi if it doesn't cop?"

"Tater and I are gonna wear matching pajamas! Then I will be camouflaged, and you won't be able to even see me."

Upon seeing Boomer's post neuter Elizabethan collar,
"I don't want a cone dog, I just want a regular dog!"

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Family Reunion 2017

We were able to go to Hubby's family reunion this summer.  It's always an ordeal to herd these three to the other side of the country but always worth it.  After a full day of travel, they got right into nature for a dose of fresh air, hiking, and blackberries.

The next day, our Midwest kids woke on Midwest time, so we kept them busy with new toys as long as possible.  

When we got too rowdy, we went for a scenic drive.

Next, we hit a really fancy Mexican restaurant and out to the pool.

 The following day, we went to Ashland for Lithia Park.  There's a little creek that the kids can wade in, and it was a big hit.  I was wishing I could transport our preschool here, because so many discoveries were made out in that creek.

One of the highlights of the trip was the evenings, when we'd get together with the whole extended family.  Tater would put on her leotard and do gymnastics shows, complete with regulations for the audience, "Clap now!  You were the first clapper.  No beverages!"  Spork played gleefully and exuberantly and managed to skin another body part every day, so we hit the drugstore up for a huge box of band-aids, fixed him up, and sent him back out over and over again.  One cousin, M, played equally well with both the Nugget and Tater.  They climbed trees and made epic chalk art together.

Papa treated us to the jet boats.  Spork immediately shouted, "My lips are dry!"  I thought Tater would cry, but she gave the pilot and his cheesy jokes the side eye, and when we actually started, she had a wide smile plastered on her face.  The Nugget chanted, "One more spin!" towards the end of our ride until the pilot could not resist giving him another.  My favorite part was seeing an osprey snatch a fish out of the river.

The kids were sad to leave, but we were all ready to sleep in our own beds!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Nugget, age 10

Dear Nugget,

10?  Can you really have been earth-side for a whole decade now?  This year has been a tricky one for you, and I can see you are struggling to emerge from your little kid chrysalis.  It's a hard place to be, in a tween body but feeling still so new and young inside.  I won't trap you in childhood, but I treasure your time here and honor the difficulty of letting go.  "I'm too big for that ride now, and I feel sad."  "I'm jealous that this bounce house says for ages 5 and under."  "Why can't I have toys at Mass anymore?"  Most of us jump at the chance to grow older and do more, but you are a noticer, and you have keenly observed that there is so much goodness in childhood, and you aren't in a hurry to get through it.  I'm really ok with that, and you can Peter Pan your way through your teen years if you want, though I doubt you'll give me that courtesy.

As you grow, it becomes more evident that your early sensitivities are heightening instead of fading.  You feel more, see more, hear more, taste more, smell're a gosh darn superhero.  You're made of really special stuff, and I am never going to take the advice to toughen you up.  I know your ability to feel things uniquely brings intense empathy to a world that needs it more than ever.  Your tenderness and gentleness is powerful and brave.  You share adult-level emotional insights while at the same time pogo-sticking and blowing gum bubbles. 

You're one of the most amazing people I know, and I'm so lucky to be on this ride with you.

*Merp and Meow,

*The Nugget's signature happy sounds

Friday, July 7, 2017

Spork, age 6

Dear Spork,

Happy 6th birthday!  It's been quite a year for us, hasn't it?!  We've located all the pieces that we were missing to your puzzle, and it's been a game changer.  You're getting to be more relaxed and confident in your own skin, and we are enjoying spending time with the real you.

You can tie your shoes, button your shirt, follow Lego directions mostly on your own, go on "big kid rides" at the fair, and you are starting to learn the fine art of sibling negotiation.  You had your first drop off playdate this month, and it went wonderfully!  You are strong enough to carry the clean laundry upstairs and love to set the table.  "What can I do?"

Your teacher told me last week, "I love all your kids so much!  That middle one - he's a character!"  Yes, you are!  Comedy, both intentional and unintentional, is your gift.  From spontaneous dances celebrating the joy of an unlimited buffet to very intense dramatic play scenarios typically involving lassos, your creativity is in overdrive.  You joyfully create very intricate drawings with fine tip markers, and you love to practice writing.  If I feed you the correct spellings, you can whip out a whole paragraph in a single sitting.

We worried that the introduction of a new dog would be hardest on you, but you sure surprised us!  You are calm and even-tempered with the puppy, are a big helper with his training and exercise, and truly enjoy your new little canine companion.  The animals in your life are definitely helping inspire the seeds of empathy in your heart lately.

We're both a little nervous and a lot excited about kindergarten this fall!  You're all signed up for choir and are continuing with horseback riding therapy.  We will try to get a little soccer in there too if my head can wrap around the chauffeuring nightmare.  A busy Beaver is a happy Beavs, after all!

We love you so much, thanks for being you!


Awesome Pronunciations by Spork:
Skaneeto bread....zucchini bread
Old MacDonald's....McDonald's
Dolt burger....Adult sized (not kids' menu) burger

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Spork's Banana Split Birthday Party

Around Christmas time, Spork gawked at a picture of a banana split.  He asked reverently, "When can I have one of those?"  I decided then and there that we would ring in his 6th year with a banana split party.  Since banana splits are a vintage dessert, I added in a sub theme of classic summer.

Thank You Cards
T-shirt - if you don't immediately think of Gwen Stefani and giggle when you see his shirt, I'm not sure we can be friends.

I cut a cardboard box into a 6 shape and decorated it with Neapolitan colored tissue.  Spork watched me carefully and noted his satisfaction several times.  We used it to decorate our front door for the occasion!

I found this adorable cone shaped vase at Target, and filled it and some ice cream dishes with carnations.  I popped sprinkle paper straws (also from Target) into the dishes to make them look like little ice cream sodas.  I reused the tropical leaves from the baby shower.  The banner, "6" balloon, and chalkboard are from Target too.  I don't get paid to blog, but I would love for Target to pick me up and sponsor all our parties!  I feel like the Target fairy reads my mind, because like Kelly's store on Handy Manny, they "always have just what I need."

Activities: Summer & Ice Cream Fun!

Our first party activity was just an open-ended play prompt.  Each child got a paper cone and a balloon.  I challenged the kids to throw and catch the balloon just using the cone.  This one turned out a bit too challenging for our 6yos, and I realized that the friends were way more interested in our zip line and dome climber.

We made ice cream play dough!  I set out all our little cones, dishes, and spoons.

Spork's big gift from us was this ice cream truck.  We set it out for the party with our pizza and ice cream sets.

We played Cone Crunch (a modified version of Silly Smash, in which each cone hides a little prize).  Under our cones, we hid non-fragile chocolates, adhesive mustaches, and cute erasers.  Then my party assistant invited each guest to smash 3 cones and keep the prizes!  (My early intervention work brain is insisting that I mention that this makes for fabulously fun proprioceptive input as well.). 

Water balloons are de rigueur for my summer birthday boys.  Here are some party tips for water balloons:
1.  Fill them up the night before and store in a cooler UNLESS you are using the bunch-o-balloons.  The bunch balloons close with a plastic ring, and they will leak if they sit for more than a few minutes.  I found this out the hard way when I opened my prepped cooler to see tiny sad deflated balloons floating on gallons of water last year, and those things aren't cheap!
2.  Make sure parents know to prep your little party guests with swimsuits and towels.  It can be more than a little inconvenient to send sopping wet kids home or to their next destination.  And even if you have easygoing party parents, some children have sensory issues that make damp clothes an absolute misery for them.
3.  With said sensory issues, some children are not down for the intensity of water balloons, so I always announce it first so they can evacuate the area if they so choose.  I set up an alternative activity inside for any kids who are sitting it out.
4.  Dollar Tree water balloons work just as well or possibly better than more expensive brands.

Menu - classic kid summer favorites:
Pizza - Daddy usually picks it up, but since he was freshly home from a work trip, we had it delivered and felt extra relaxed about life.
Banana Splits

I did take the Pinterest tip to prescoop the ice cream into a muffin tin, which made banana split assembly a breeze.

For favors, I used ice cream cone stamps on little Kraft bags and stuffed them with water balloons, punching balloons, bubbles in a popsicle shape, and beach balls (all from Dollar Tree).  I topped each bag with pink, white, or brown paper shred to use the Neapolitan color theme again.  Finally, I made some Shrinky Dink banana key rings to clip on the handles.  I used the bright white blanks with Sharpies.  If you feel less than confident about your free hand art, you can also run blank Shrinky Dink paper through a printer.  A regular size hole punch shrinks down to the perfect size for a ball chain.  These little banana guys turned out super cute, and I might just keep an extra for my purse!