It's entertaining watching The Baby around other kids. A slightly older girl was trying to take his toy, and he was having none of that. She tried to rip it out of his hand, and he just held on to it until she gave up. She tried to throw something at him, but her mom grabbed the projectile. The Baby didn't get upset or angry, just watched her curiously until she went away.
Handled just like Little Bear used to, at that age. I'm proud of him.
This week, The Wife, the boys, and Grandma have travelled to Atlantic City to spend time on the beach. I'm a swinging bachelor for the next couple of days. Friday morning, Grandpa is driving me to the bus station, and I'm taking the bus to Philadelphia, where The Wife will pick me up and drop off Grandma. We head on to New Jersey at that point for Cousin J's engagement party.
I'm still really unhappy about being as far from the boys as I am. I know that things are fine, and everybody's going to be happy and healthy and ready to go; but I'm still paranoid. Plus, it really disrupts the rhythm and flow of my day - I'm used to waking up with little people in bed with me, eating breakfast with little boys, and usually having one or two pop downstairs and exercise with me. I'm not looking forward to going home tonight to an empty, quiet house. It's not cool.
I was kind of looking forward to sleeping in this morning - I would sleep until 6:45, then quick dressed and breakfast and out the door. Instead, I awoke a little before 5 and wasn't able to get back to sleep. The house was too quiet, and I didn't have any little people to snuggle me back to sleep. I exercised (which I don't normally do on Wednesdays), putzed around, and was still at work a half hour early.
Instead of staying home tonight, I'm going to go see Pacific Rim - the kind of guy movie that would be difficult to see with the boys at home. I mean, c'mon - giant robots fighting with giant monsters, in IMAX 3D? That screams "WIN" on so many levels. That'll go from 7 until 9:30, then I can go home, clean up a bit, and go to bed. Sigh.
Today, The Baby and Little Bear had their birthday party. It was at the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library, and there were, probably, 25 kids there. It was awesome. The Wife did an amazing job planning, preparing, and executing the party.
It was really quite simple in effect: the kids came and played in the large playroom. We co-opted the art room to be the food room, but the rest of the playroom was open and available. I can say for sure, being one of the cleanup folks, that every single toy was used in joyful manner.
The food was healthy and tasty: pita with hummus dip, tortilla chips with salsa or yogurt cream dips, fruit in various forms (blueberries, watermelon, oranges, etc.), lemonade, water, and some unhealthy treats: jelly bean boxes, chocolate, and cookies with the kids' picture on them.
We also had a lady, friends with The Wife from high school, who does face painting. We hired her for the party as well. That was a big hit. The Boy had his done as Batman; Little Bear as an orange tiger; and The Baby had an Elmo done on his hand. The face painting was a big hit, and I heartily recommend it for a party.
The party started at 3, everyone left around 5, and The Wife and I finished cleaning up around 6. It was nice to have the party away from home; I always find it frustrating to clean the house sparkling before visitors arrive only to have it demolished again by the end of the party.
This particular party was perfect. Little Bear just turned four; The Baby is turning two on Tuesday. There is no need to have an expensive, elaborate shindig for kids who really prefer unstructured play. They had fun; the parents were able to relax a bit and enjoy chatting with each other; and we had a successful afternoon.
Next up: The Boy's party. Not exactly sure what we're doing yet, but we are pretty sure we're going to do something like "rent out" the little pool at the JCC for an hour or two. Swimming party!!!
The Baby has been in an extremely good place for the last couple of weeks. This point, just turning two, is a good time for babies: he can do so much and has developed a certain amount of independence, but he still needs lots of attention and snuggles and hugs. The insanely cute thing: when you tell him he can't do something or can't have something, his response is, "Oh, man!" That "Oh, man!" is both a "F you, Daddy!" and a "But I really want to do it," which makes it that much funnier. It's hard not to laugh at him, but we hide smiles behind hands pretty well.
When his brothers practice violin, he almost needs to be bodily restrained from trying to participate, which is really cute. He knows all of the songs and poems almost as well as his brothers do, and he likes to sing / chant along with them. I'm glad he's so interested in it! He's also just learning how to jump - he gets an inch or so off the ground at a time.
Little Bear is still wearing a cape 20 hours per day or so and introducing himself to people as "Superman." I'm not sure he really gets what Superman is all about, except that he's super strong, can fly, and punches bad guys. Well, that's most of it; there's also the strong moral code and good behavior, which he's getting MOST of the time. Like his older brother, he's an absolutely vicious and mean little thing when he gets tired. He's a little vicious when bored, but not like when tired. I just think it's awesome that he wants to be Superman (he needs to "fly" with Daddy ten times per day or so), and there's something truly amazing about a little boy riding his bicycle wearing a cape.
He is doing an awful lot of reading lately, including sounding out the letters of words when he doesn't know them. It's impressive and a little frightening; our Little Bear is so, so, so smart! The Boy was reading at this point, but I don't know if he was sounding out words quite as fluidly. Don't get me wrong; he's not going to read the Lord of the Rings this year. But, I'm fairly sure that, like his brother, he'll be reading a few grade levels above his age.
The Boy, also, has been in an extremely good place lately. He's been helpful, and friendly, and healthy; thus far, he's avoided the cold that's plagued his brothers this week. He had a great time at art camp and a good time at Rodef's camp, and he's really ready for kindergarten. His violin lessons have been going quite well: this week, he learned how to put his fingers down and play his first Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star! He even jumped off of the diving board at our friend's house over the 4th break. It was really quite exciting.
This week, when we've been dealing with the younger boys being sick, he's been really good about staying in his own bed at night instead of trying to climb in bed with sick brothers and parents. He's even been doing a better job at staying dry at night - he spent a couple of nights, before we went away, without his night pants and stayed dry!
It's been a suprisingly boring couple of weeks, even with the trip inside of it. Kind of psyched about that.
We had a heck of a week last week. A week ago Sunday, my wife sung with the Sounds of Pittsburgh Chorus - well, her quartet did. SoP is the other Sweet Adelines group across town, and they were performing at Kennywood! In exchange for the performance, each person gets free tickets for the amusement park! We jumped on that opportunity - I'm so glad that we're friends with the Sounds. They're neat people.
The day went pretty much as expected. We arrived at noon, hit Kiddieland immediately, and let the kids run wild. It was pretty awesome! The Baby was really into the rides and had a great time. His favorite was the flying elephants, mostly because he loves elephants. The boys ran from ride to ride enthusiastically - the lines in Kiddieland are usually non-existent (lots of kids can go on each ride at a time). At 2, when the chorus was ready to perform, The Baby passed out on my back and Little Bear passed out in the stroller. The Boy grudgingly sat and watched the performance. Midway through the performance, the skies opened up in a massive rainstorm! The boys woke up and started to freak out a bit, so we went home to rest and finish naptime.
After naptime, The Boy and I went back to the park. The rain had just stopped, and the crowds had left the park. It was utterly amazing - we had no lines for anything! The longest we waited was about seven minutes for a rollar coaster. It was epic. We went on the Log Jammer - the log flume - three times in a row without waiting. The Boy ran - sprinted - through the funhouse three times without slowing down. We covered just about every single ride that he was tall enough to ride! At 9:30 (we had been back to the park for 4.5 hours), the rides close for fireworks... and he was upset about that! We watched some fireworks then went home to bed. It was an amazing night. I freely admit to having chills during the fireworks - it was a massive flashback to the night that he and I went back to the Magic Kingdom during our Make-A-Wish trip. It was that kind of night.
Tuesday night, we drove to Harrisburg so that, on Wednesday morning, we could drive to Sesame Place! Sesame Place is about 260 miles from Pittsburgh - way, way closer to New Jersey and Grandpa's house. We expected to arrive at Sesame Place around 11-ish and head back north around 2, if we were lucky. We arrived at noon (slow moving morning), and - to my immense surprise - didn't leave Sesame Place until almost 7! The boys were so amazingly good. Again, morning rain had washed most of the crowd away, so the park was remarkably un-crowded.
(Then again, it could have been the price. If Grandma didn't sponsor the trip, then we could not have gone. I mean, $60 a person, no kids' prices? That would have been $240 just to get in, without talking about food.)
The park is so incredibly well-designed for little kids! The Boy was big enough to go on most rides by himself, and Little Bear was big enough to go on everything with an adult. The Baby could go on most things with an adult. The highlights of the day: Elmo's World Live, where The Boy was recruited to dance in a yellow vest during the actual show! He got to dance with Elmo. This makes 3 for 3 in terms of Musical Family participation in Elmo's World: the first year, Little Bear was the baby in "Let's ask a baby!" The next two years, The Boy was dancing on the floor with other kids. Good thing he's cute.
We loved the water slides, which were tube-related. We loved the Count's Water Castle, which had little slides that the older boys could do by themselves. Best part about that: there's only one entrance/exit to there. I sat there, playing goalie to the kids, and napped for 20-30 minutes in the middle of the day. The climbing nets were a big, big hit - we even lost The Boy for about twenty minutes on the net at the end of the day, much to our chagrin. And, meeting Elmo and Abby was a big, big hit.
All in all, it might actually be worth the $300 it'll cost to get in next year - not sure, but it might, particularly since I know now that we can last an entire day. The kids are at the PERFECT age for this park, so we might as well take advantage of that.
The rest of our vacation was find - easy trips, even considering that we drove back to Pittsburgh with a Little Bear who had a 101 degree fever. Grandpa was happy to see the boys, and he was ready for us to go when we did. We had a nice little birthday party for the kids, where we saw some of our friends. We watched the barbershop contest, off and on, for the weekend. The Wife took the kids to temple down in Scotch Plains, and we had an impromptu July 4 party with some great friends. Definitely worth the trip.