Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Warrior

So, this weekend, The Wife was at her sister's bridal shower (or whatever they're calling it), leaving me with the boys all weekend. This was particularly interesting because this was the first weekend that I was alone with the boys overnight. Spoilers: it was fine.

Friday, we had dinner at Grandma's house. I got there after work, and the two bigger boys were running around playing, and the littlest boy was asleep on Grandpa's lap. Nothing like a 4-5:30pm nap to make sure bedtime GPS smoothly. Sigh. Anyway, it was a very nice dinner, and we played, and then went home. 1 and 2 went to bed without too much of an issue, and 3 was awake until about 10:30. I woke up with only two boys in bed with me, which is one less than what I was expecting.

Saturday, I had work, so the kids went to Grandma's house again. Miscommunication at the end of the work day: Grandma lost her phone, and she and the boys went to the Family Park to swim. I expected them back at their house around 3:30, and they weren't. I waited until 4, then finally got a call from Grandpa's phone (which is basically never on) letting me know where they were. Sigh. I drove out to get them. So, plans change: instead of having them home at 4, we got home at 5:30.

We had a nice, simple dinner of noodles and sauce and cheese, with a side dish of fruit. After dinner, the highlight of the weekend for me: milkshakes! We made fresh, homemade milk shakes using yogurt, bananas, ice cream, almond milk, and a touch of honey. For the chocolate shake, we used a spoonful or two of cocoa powder. For the strawberry shake, we used a full thing of strawberry Greek yogurt.

Only thing I would have done differently was to use chocolate almond milk for the chocolate shake, and I would have liked to have had a couple of strawberries left over for that one. Probably an extra scoop of ice cream, too. Small complaints, really.

The boys helped out quite nicely. They peeled the bananas, measured the milk, and operated the machine. I think they enjoyed it that much more because they helped make them.

Bedtime was much easier because the naps were earlier in the day and before the swimming. (I bribed 1 and 2 to keep 3 awake on the car ride home, which they did.) I don't think 3 took more than about 25 seconds to fall asleep.

Friday night, The Baby was up about four or five times and had a difficult time settling himself back to sleep. Saturday night, he had no such problems. He woke up asking for Mum Milk around 5, but when he realized that she wasn't there, he fussed for about 30 seconds and put himself back to sleep. No worries, for sure.

I didn't try to exercise in the morning like I usually would. I didn't want to be so far from the children when they were waking. My body needed the rest, anyway.

Cute moment: we switched the arrangement of bedrooms so that Little Bear is sharing with The Boy. This was their idea, because they both liked falling asleep with someone else in the room. Little Bear sleeps on the top bed, The Boy pulls out the trundle and sleeps on that. The beds are right next to each other. So, last night, Little Bear fell out of his bed....and landed on the other bed, snuggled into The Boy, and never really woke up. The Boy woke up long enough to rearrange himself, then fell back asleep. Neither boy decided to join us at night.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

That Boy Needs Glasses

So, early this morning, The Wife woke up and left the bedroom for a little while, leaving me, The Boy, and The Baby cuddled in bed. The Baby woke up and sat up, looking for Mum. I decided not to open my eyes, in the hope that he would see the two of us sleeping and cuddle back.

"Mum? Mum?" he called. He then turned to The Boy and started pulling his shirt up. "Want milk?"

I grabbed him before he got a little higher and tried to nurse on his brother.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Birthdays and Sprinklers

My birthday this year was a busy one. I had a normal day at work, and then I went to chorus rehearsal. Hey - it's Tuesday night. It's chorus rehearsal night. That's why most of my vacations are planned between Wednesday and Monday. Tuesday is chorus, and has been ever since I joined the Dapper Dans back in 2002. When I got up to run, the rest of the family stayed asleep. I actually left home at 7:30 for work, a tad later than normal, and they were all still asleep. They did call around 9 o'clock to sing a group happy birthday, which was nice.

Chorus rehearsal was really quite nice. My chorus all brought in cookies - my acknowledged favorite - and wrapped them up to give to me. So, my house is loaded down with cookies. So much for keeping gluten free this week. It was really cute and really sweet, and it is very, very touching. I'm a very lucky man.

Wednesday night, Grandma and Grandpa volunteered to watch the boys while The Wife and I caught a baseball game - so, of course, it rained. Instead, we had a nice dinner at Red Robin (free birthday burger!), followed by a showing of Red 2, the action comedy. Both the burger and the evening were wonderful. My birthday present was a coffee grinder, which replaces the grinding coffee brewer that just broke down after four years of steady use. Right now, we're not so big in presents / same-day celebrations for birthdays. Our schedules are kind of rigid, and we don't have the option to cancel things that we have planned just because of a birthday. It's not that important.

Tuesday night, the boys had a good group violin class. It was only them, again, but Little Bear participated fully from the beginning to the end. The Boy took a little bit of convincing, but he eventually capitulated and began to play. I'm glad to hear that. Part of playing an instrument as a youth and in school is the social aspect; when the boys see that friends can play instruments with them, practicing becomes a bit easier.

Side note: The Baby continues to call Little Bear by the full sobriquet, "Jesse Bear." That's amazingly funny and really, really cute. I hope the name sticks for a little while, anyway. I just call him "Little Bear" all the time, because it amuses me to do so.

Little Bear got a really, really cool Superman shirt that has its own cape. It's a t-shirt with velcro on the shoulders, where the cape attaches, and it mimics the top of Superman's costume. It's pretty awesome, and it's now his favorite shirt. He's still making cape out of paper, even though we're trying (futilely) to forbid the scotch tape attachments. He likes drawing the modified pentagon with the S in it, around which he writes, "Man of Steel." I think we need to read him more Superman stories, so that he gets the idea of the humility and moral code of the man.He's more than just punching bad guys. He's got a solid, mid-Western set of values and a staunch idea of justice and truth.

Monday night, on a chilly-ish evening, the boys and I went to the park. The sprinklers are on at our local playground, which is an irresistible attraction for little boys. But, because I'm not a n00b to this whole parenting thing, I had planned ahead. I brought new clothes and towels, and when The Boy and The Baby headed for the sprinkler, I stripped them down to their underwear and let them go nuts. We were at the park for about an hour, and The Boy ran around barefoot in his underpants for the entire time. The Baby got cold after about five minutes; very little is cuter and more pathetic than a tiny little boy, shivering, resisting coming out of the water to play. He griped about being cold until I got him dried off and changed. I thought Little Bear would be smarter than his brothers; but, about a half hour into the park stay, he stripped down to play in the water as well. Sigh. He lasted until we were ready to go home. The neat thing? All three boys crammed themselves into the wagon for the short trip home. Made it tougher to pull, but they seemed to enjoy that.

It won't be long before the three boys will fit in nothing but a car together...

The Boy went school shopping the other day. Kindergarten starts later this month. Kind of excited about it, but filled with trepidation. He's such a sweet, friendly, smart little boy... I want to protect him from the idiots and bullies that he'll encounter. I know I can't, and I know that he's going to be able to take care of himself (if not, he'll start lifting with me in the mornings). I know that I can't, and I know that it's only my job to protect him from the stuff that he CAN'T protect himself, but still... he's The Boy, you know?

Monday, August 5, 2013


Yesterday, after the swimming lessons, we went to the Schenley Park Ice Rink to play mini-golf. The Sisterhood Chapter from Rodef Shalom had rented it out and filled it with minigolf holes as a fun family-day kind of fund-raiser. We were, naturally, one of the very first families to arrive, so we were able to play without waiting too often. It was a lot of fun.

Little Bear cheated. A lot. He'd hit the ball, pick it up and move it to a more convenient location, then hit it again. Lots of dragging the ball into the hole with the club. He also used an unorthodox backhand grip, which likely didn't help. The Boy did okay - didn't cheat in the same way, but he has the same issue I do with golf: we hold the club and swing it as if we're playing baseball. The Wife did quite well. I was just fooling around - didn't really feel like playing seriously, so I did a bit of dragging and kicking the ball, too (mostly the kids' balls, to put them in a slightly better position). The star of the day was The Baby, who swung his golf club at whatever ball was closest to him, regardless of whose ball it was. He also splashed in every single puddle on the rink (still some puddles left from the last rainstorm) and managed to lose his golf ball three separate times. It was really quite cute.

After that game, we bought hot dogs for lunch. I had a second, which my wife - inexplicably - brought back with ketchup on it. I don't think I've had ketchup on a hot dog in 30 years. It tasted weird. After lunch, I brought The Baby home to rest while The Wife played another game with the older boys.

The Baby had a tough time relaxing, but once he fell asleep, he slept hard - almost three hours' worth! It's nice to see that he CAN relax with me - even though he asked for Mommy a few times, he finally relaxed enough to fall asleep. We watched some "Elephant Show" (it exists - check it out on YouTube. It's glorious in it's wonderful 70's life) and some Elmo's Potty Time.

The Baby is really, really, really into elephants right now. He loves elephants! We need to get him a small stuffed elephant. He likes pictures of elephants, shows that have elephants, pretending he's an elephant, etc., etc. It's really quite cute. He finds the tiniest picture of an elephant imprinted on the side of a sippy cup, and he's entertained for five minutes.

After naptime, The Wife was playing Kingdom Hearts with a family audience. We shared some popcorn, then went over Grandma's house for dinner. Dinner, bath, reading stories, bedtime - both older boys slept in The Boy's room, which has been happening 4-5 times per week for the last month. Little Bear loves being in The Boy's room, and I think The Boy appreciates it, as well. Something about company. We'll see.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Family Update

Birthday season continues this week, as I hit birthday number 39. To be very honest, number 39 is kind of hitting me strongly. While I'm quite satisfied with the direction my life is moving (love my job, love my family, love my house, love most of my musical activities), the prospect of entering middle age is a little frightening.

I know, I know, best time of life, most fulfilling, accomplishing goals, etc., etc. I'm not disputing that. I guess this is some leftover realizations that I'm not going to accomplish many of the goals from college and grad school. I not sure which is something I'm struggling with more: the fact that I'm not reaching them, or the fact that I don't really want to reach them anymore. Probably the latter than the former; I'm coming up on three and a half years from the last time I practiced my instrument (non-music lesson division), and some days I wish I was less indifferent about it.

The boys, meanwhile, are doing wonderfully. We went to Idlewild on Thursday, which was an awful lot of fun. The weather was great - rainy and cool in the morning, which kept a big chunk of the crowds away, then sunny and warm in the afternoon, which let us spend some time in the water park. This year, unlike last year, Little Bear went on every single ride he could. This year, The Baby decided that he was afraid of every single ride. Sigh.

The Wife and I took turns taking The Boy on the bigger kid rides. Little Bear spent a big chunk of the day at Kiddieland. Even though he's big enough to ride the more grown up rides, he still really enjoys the kiddie rides. Plus, he doesn't need a grownup to ride the kiddie rides, which meant that I could pay attention to The Baby while he rode. For that matter, The Boy is still little enough to go on the kiddie rides, and he is not at that "forget about that baby stuff" stage yet, so he was able to have fun there also.

Having the kids go at a full sprint for the six hours at the park was pretty cool to see. I'm excited for when they're a little bit bigger, when they can go on a few more of the rides together. What wasn't as cool was the hour long naps they took on the ride home (that kept them up until nearly 11), but it's the summer. It's time to have your sleep patterns screwed up.

Other than that, things are going normally. The Dr. Seuss art camp that 1 & 2 attended was a success. I took some time off work to go the art show at the end, and it was amusing. Nothing like the big grilled cheese sandwich that The Boy at the last camp, but the truffle trees were entertaining. Plus, the really, really big project that they all did was cool. My kids we the only boys in the class, which was kind of funny. The teachers are... well, kids, probably 20-22 years old, who didn't seem to have many boys in their other classes. lol! My mother is correct: "It's more than just the plumbing that's different."

Little Bear has continued his Superman obsession, needing to be wearing a cape every waking moment. He's lost the rights to the cloth capes because of misbehavior, but that hasn't stopped him: he makes capes out of paper and tapes them to his shirt. It would be cute if he wasn't using a roll of tape per day and our house wasn't covered with little scraps of construction paper.

The boys' violin lessons have been ... going. The Boy is doing quite well. His twinkle twinkles have gotten quite good, for his age, and he cooperates pretty well during his lessons. Little Bear has been struggling a bit more. He's little; his size and his intelligence doesn't cover the fact that he's a normal just-turned-four little boy. He's silly, and occasionally randomly uncooperative. If he's tired, he's really, really mean. It's the nature of the beast. The teacher is quite frustrated by it; but, she's young. We're looking at a different teacher for the fall, someone who's a bit older and has more experience dealing with an exuberant child.

Worst case? Little Bear takes "lessons" during his daily practice with us. The Boy will continue as per normal, and we'll just continue Little Bear's development without a weekly teacher until he's ready to restart lessons. Good thing he's got two musician parents.

The Baby is actually starting to run like a little boy and not like a toddler. That's a neat sign. He also wants to ride his bike, and understands that the pedals are for his feet, but hasn't quite gotten the pushing of the pedals down. He's playing his letter games just like his brothers, and he knows the abc song with ease. Good news? He's at least as smart as his brothers. Occasionally asks to use the potty, which is nice.

That's about it, for now.

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