Sunday, June 17, 2012

Silly stuff

Last week, entirely unprompted by us or by any television show of which we're aware, Little Bear came up with a new wrinkle on a game. The Wife started, "I spy, with my little eye, something... silly!" Little Bear responded, "Is it my face?" and made a silly face and noise. Game over, Little Bear wins, Mum rolling on the floor. With The Baby, I do the same "It's... it's... it's... THE CLAW!", where I bring my hand, fingers wide and reaching, and grab his cheeks and forehead. It's very cute. Recently, The Baby starts smiling when I start the first "it's," and he leans his face toward my hand. Anticipation... he's a smart kid, thankfully.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Big, Big Friend

The Boy has recently decided that his favorite new game is playing "My Big, Big Friend," so named after a cartoon that he discovered on Netflix. That's relatively extraordinary in his life, mostly because it was a show that he discovered on his own, with no prompting from any of us. He was messing around in the Netflix app on the iPad, found it, and liked it a lot. It's about a group of kids with quasi-imaginary friends. They can see each other's imaginary friends - sometimes the adults can, too, and nobody seems to think it odd. He's Matt, I'm Bongo the big, big kangaroo, Little Bear is Yuri, Mum is Golias the elephant (no jokes here, survival instinct kicking in), and the baby is Tickety-Tock Molly the baby. The Boy then reenacts scenes from the show. This week, it's a soccer game. I'm okay with that - soccer is not my favorite choice to watch, but I played it for years as a kid. The Boy's second favorite game is playing puppy. He crawls around and pants and barks at things. It's very cute. The Baby is just starting to think about letting go of things and standing on his own. It's only a matter of time. This was about when his brothers did that, maybe a touch earlier. Regardless, this is a great time in a baby's life - he's always smiley and happy and giggly. The Wife thinks that his vocalizations are a little higher in pitch than his brothers. Maybe a tenor? Little Bear has been diligently practicing writing his name. Not bad for an almost-3-year old. He also requested that I put him to bed last night, which was remarkable and rare and wonderful. He doesn't so much like me reading books to him, but he does like me telling him stories off the cuff. Some of them are "Little Bear and the Dragon," where he outwits an admittedly dim-witted dragon in funny ways; last night was "Little Red Riding Hood." As far as The Wife and me, we're doing great. Closed on a house on Wednesday, to which I've been having a strong emotional response. Completing a cycle, or a circle, or restoring our life... I've been meaning to explore this, but it's been tricky to write this week. Three days I was in rehearsal until 10, the other two days I was asleep before 9:30.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Travel Plans

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. The biggest takeaway? My children travel exceptionally well, particularly for kids their ages. I honestly don't cringe at the thought that I'll be taking them on trips right now! That's a big step up. The Baby is the most worrisome, but it's understandable. He really doesn't understand why he's in his car seat.

We went to Crofton, MD, to spend Memorial Day weekend with my college friends. One of my buddies just got a house there, and we all descended on it for a long weekend of hanging out and having fun. There was probably 5 families and one or two other people, with 8 kids 5 and under and 2 more, 7 and 11. It was awesome. We didn't do much - you really can't, with a group that size and with that many small, small children. We went to a local playground, went to a local sandwich shop, did a lot of playing in the yard. Much fun was had with a garden hose and $10 inflatable sprinkler thing from CVS.

We also drove down to the Alexandria area to see my composer friend A and his family. It's the first time that we had seen them since late 2010. I loved getting the chance to see them and to meet their youngest daughter, who is a little older than Little Bear. Last time I saw her, she was a baby - now she's a real, authentic little girl. They loved the iPad, in particular, although The Boy was a little reticent to share.

The trip out to Maryland was a little bit difficult. The older boys slept for most of the first few hours, but The Baby didn't. He tends to nap a lot in the mornings and not so much in the afternoons. We got going when I was done with work at 2, and he was flipping out by 5 o'clock. So, a five hour trip (ETA 7PM) turned into arriving at our hotel at 9:30.

The trip back was fairly easy. We stopped in Annapolis to take in their Memorial Day Parade, which was really cool. The kids really enjoyed it, as one would expect. Parades, for little kids, are awesome! We got home around dinnertime, which was perfect.

This past weekend, we went up to Novi, Michigan, for the dual purpose of The Wife's father's family reunion and a singing thing for me. The trip out was really kind of brutal - another 5 hour trip that took seven hours, with an arrival time of 11:30PM. The Baby was pretty good; some rough spots near the end, just like last time. Little Bear had a rough trip - a couple of accidents along the way, which is weird for him.

During both weekends, we all slept in the same hotel room, which was a new experience for all of us. In Maryland, The Boy and I had one bed, The Wife and The Baby and Little Bear in the other. In Michigan, there was a foldout bed that Little Bear took. It worked surprisingly well. We did try, a couple of times, to have the older boys share a bed. It didn't go well; they thought it was fun time and not sleepy time. Very cute, but not ideal for the stated purpose. It went so well, actually, that when we got home from Michigan, Little Bear said, "I want to go back to the hotel!"

The family reunion was exceptionally well planned. The picnic lunch we attended was held in an outdoor pavilion right next to a wonderful playground area. So, the adults could sit and eat while the children entertained themselves! It was pretty awesome. It was also nice meeting that chunk of the family, whom I haven't met before then. After nap time, I went over to East Lansing, where I spent until a little after 1AM singing songs with friends. I got back to the hotel a little after 2, and we left the next morning at 8AM.

The trip back was much, much smoother, mostly because The Baby slept most of the entire way back. We stopped at a meeting for my chorus's Ireland trip, which was a nice snack & run around break for the kids. We got home soon after four, unwound for an hour, then went to a friend's house for pizza and games. It was neat, particularly since they had a magician come by. The kids turned into pumpkins about two minutes after the magician started, so we excused ourselves and went home.

They were all in bed by 8:10 that night.

Travel is exhausting. I don't travel particularly well, but it's nice to see that my children are - thus far - taking after my wife in their relative ease of travel. It helps, I guess, that The Wife & I were willing and able to provide songs and games and conversation with them. We also have a "Trip Music" playlist of some of their current favorites. It was, though, exceptionally cute and gratifying to see my older boys sitting in their carseats, with comic books open in front of them. (It was a Mickey Mouse comic and a "Tiny Titans" comic.)

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