Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Play Date...

On the way to a play date this morning, Benjamin noticed that the radio announcer said that the previously played piece of music was by Beethoven. (Yes! I listen to NPR. Big surprise, there! :-) That, of course, sent him spiraling into one of his Question-Asking Filibusters.

Who is Beethoven? The composer.

What's a composer? The person who wrote the music.

Is he still here? No, he's not still alive. He lived a long, long time ago.

As I said this, I wondered if I was then setting myself up for the scrutiny of exactly how long ago...when Jesus lived? ...when dinosaurs lived?

Then Ellie stole the show. To Ben's question, "Is he still here?" she replied a split second after me, as if to confirm my answer. "No Ben. He's extinct," she said.

This hairpin turn in terminology afforded us a whole new subject to discuss the entire rest of the ten minute trip to the McKenneys' house.

As I always say, never a dull moment...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jubilee Day

Last Thursday was Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg. Jubilee Day is the Country's (?) Largest One-Day Street Fair and a matter of great...pride, I suppose, to... Mechanicsburg-ians. We decided to take the kids this year after having not gone in at least 3...or 4.

My Aunt Pat, who loves to go to craft fairs (you know, the serious juried type), sounded remotely intrigued when I told her of our plans to go. Then as I began to describe the atmosphere, I too, realized just how much more of a "carnival" feel Jubilee Day has. There are copious food stands - lemonade, chicken, kielbasa, ice cream, cheese steaks, ribs, snow cones, funnel cakes... There is a petting zoo, kiddie rides, face painting, plastic carnival-type toys to buy.. There is even a raised stage for live bands.

I took my camera but then decided to leave it in the car at the last minute, knowing that it would be all I could do to hold onto a little hand and attempt to follow Jim through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. And boy, did I miss some GOOD shots! Picture this one - two very old men and someone in a big chicken costume, arm in arm, dancing to polka music being played on accordion. I'm NOT kidding!!! Behind them was another conspirator bouncing around with a sign that read something like: "Save the chicken. Eat more kielbasa!" Oh, how I wish I had carried my camera...

The kids each took $5.00, that they recently got from Aunt Dottie, to buy something. Spending money always poses a great challenge for Benjamin. He has a terrible time making up his mind about how to spend money!! Ellie quickly settled on an inflatable purple unicorn with rainbows all over it. It also has a rainbow-striped "handle" protruding from its stomach that emits a baby-toy-esque squeak when it is squeezed. Just lovely. Ben, on the other hand, picked up and contemplated practically every item in the same stand before moving on. He had been slightly tempted by the plastic light sabers, but the kind he could afford didn't light up. Those cost $11. We pointed out the tie dyed shirts that were $5, since Ben points them out to us every time we pass someone wearing one. But that wasn't a good option, either. Many stands later, he finally settled on a bamboo slide whistle. Again, just lovely.

We continued on to the petting zoo, found a treat for the kids to eat, and started the hike back to the van. Ellie chose kettle corn, which was very easy for her to eat while sitting in her stroller. Benjamin chose ice cream in a bowl, which was not so easy for him to eat while walking through a crowd. A minute or two after purchasing the ice cream, Jim made a very strategic error out of sheer desperation. He put Ben on his shoulders with his bowl of ice ream! Has he not seen the commercial on TV with the two dads with kids on their shoulders eating ice cream?!?

Ben did very well...for most of the trek back to the van. When we returned, I grabbed my camera quickly to capture the ice cream dripping down the side of Jim's head. The best part was watching Jim bite his tongue and not get upset, while Benjamin was all the while completely and utterly oblivious.

By the next morning (surprise surprise!), Ellie's unicorn was almost completely deflated. We were able to resuscitate it for a few more days, however. Ben has gone on to "master" the slide whistle. The other day, it somehow ended up it the van with us. I didn't realize it until he scared the "begeezes" out of me when he began playing along to the Cadets' 2009 version of West Side Story. Yep. You haven't really lived until you've heard West Side Story on slide whistle. I just can't wait to see what treasures we find at Jubilee Day next year!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Sandy "Gift"

The kids had a very full day. To top it off, we had a picnic dinner on a tablecloth that I laid out on the floor of the screened-in porch. (They had just gotten into the sandbox in their wet bathing suits as I finished preparing dinner, and I wasn't about to invite that into the house!)

As we sat and ate dinner, I noticed this little gem that someone had left me on the screen right next to the door. Can you see the perfect little sandy hand print to the left of the flower pot? Isn't it precious? I've been having pangs of "they're growing up too quickly" lately, and this was a nice little...gift, of sorts. :-)

Now don't get me wrong. I still despise grimy smears on the computer screen, television, windows, storm door, etc, etc. But this perfect hand print just seems...nice. It won't be too long before we'll have such bigger issues to deal with than a few pesky little finger and hand prints all over everything. I wonder if I'll ever miss them...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Strawberry Pickin'

Last Friday morning, we went strawberry pickin' at Oak Grove Farm, which is just a few miles from our house. We went with our good friends from pre-school, the "other" Weavers. Henry was in Ben's class, and Julia was in Ellie's class. The teachers were forever getting the two families mixed up. And to make matters worse, the other mom's name is Beth - way too close to Becky! I always joke that it's a good thing we like each other, or the constant mixing up would be just plain annoying!

The kids were so excited to see each other , since they haven't been together in about two weeks. When we got to the strawberry fields, feeling optimistic, we doled out one 4-quart basket per child and decided that the mommies would simply facilitate.

The kids jumped right in and got to work. The girls bent down right away and began looking closely for berries to pick. The boys tried this for a few minutes and then settled on the Easter Egg Hunt approach. They would simply walk wistfully up and down the rows waiting for a berry to jump out and ask to be picked.

Here's a cute shot of Jules showing off a good find.

Whenever the boys would find a big one, they would yell from across the field, "Jackpot!" I'm not quite sure they even knew what that meant. It just sounded exciting when Miss Beth yelled it earlier... Henry even took to yelling for the not-so-big ones too. He'd holler, "Medium jackpot!" Hey. What ever it takes to motivate boys, right? :-)

Ellie was our "Berry Picking Monster!" She hardly ever came up for air!!! I helped her find her first berry, she narrated very exaggeratedly, "Twist... and... pull." And off she went. Beth thinks we may have discovered a good career path for her. :-)

The other kids caught on to Ellie's work ethic and would randomly walk by and leave their baskets next to her, perhaps in hopes that she would help them out a bit. I actually overheard Henry ask her once if she could put some berries in his basket, too! They figure it out at such an early age, don't they? Why should I work harder if I might be able to find someone else to do the work for me?!? :-)

And she's still going...

Can you see Jules' Braveheart berry streak above her right eye? Love it! Now that's the sign of a hard worker...and eater. Watch out, Mel Gibson...

By the end of our excursion, Beth and I had finished helping the boys fill their baskets, and they were seated in the field, waiting. We were just topping off the girls' baskets, as we began to hear the boys yelling in unison, "We're finished... We're finished..." once every few seconds. Must be time to go!

All in all, it was a fun outing. The weather was gorgeous and cool. The berries were DELICIOUS. And the kids were terrific. Each family went home with 8 quarts of strawberries!!! This was, oh... about four times the amount I thought I'd be returning with!!!

Anyone have any good strawberry recipes??????

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ben's Baseball Advise

We took Ben to get his first real baseball glove this morning. He's SO into playing catch with Daddy right now! With his new glove on, he almost visibly "puffs" up. He has a twinkle in his eye, keeps his feet moving, and gets so proud of himself when he has a good string of successful throws and catches.

This evening, as I was cleaning up from dinner, Jim was out on the screened-in porch helping Ben to "teach" Ellie how to throw and catch with her new "little kid" pink and purple glove. (You knew we couldn't have gotten away with just buying one, right?!?) As I was finishing up, I heard Jim come into the family room saying in a strained voice, "Let's go in here and sit down for a minute, guys." He had taken one in the...well, you know. The kids were concerned, and he managed to stammer out a few confirmations that he was just hurt and would be fine. They both asked, "Was it me?"

Jim answered, "Yes, Ben. It was you."

Ben's response was simply and calmly, "You have to keep your eye on the pitches..." Perhaps we should steer him toward team management instead of playing...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Exciting Morning, Benjamin Style...

I LOVE hyping things that I know the kids will get really excited about. This morning was a perfect opportunity for that. When Benjamin woke up, I greeted him with a nice dramatic,"Guess...what! We have been invited... to Cassidy's house... to watch the workmen dig a huge hole in her backyard for her new pool!"(read with appropriate emphasis and pauses for heightened drama :-)

BIG smile..."TODAY?!?!?"

"Yep, right after breakfast!"

This confirmation sent Benjamin running to his room to pull out all of his "construction shirts," so he could lay them on the floor and contemplate which one would be right for this momentous occasion. He laid them all out in the hallway by the bathroom, so I could help him decide while doing my hair. He listed the various pros and cons for each shirt (a little tight, too baggy, more comfortable, the excavator is bigger than what the workers will probably be using, but this one may be too small...)

Once everyone was ready for the day, we ate a quick breakfast and were just cleaning up when Cassidy's dad called to tell us that the workers had started early! We went to the bathroom, brushed teeth, put on socks and shoes and got buckled into the van faster than ever before. (Ellie wasn't as excited about the digging, but she was thrilled to be going over to play with Cassidy for the first time ever.)

Ben was overcome with excitement before we even got out of the van. He caught a glimpse of a skid steer around the side of the house. And parked in front of us was a long, empty flatbed trailer with an extra bucket attachment, which was obviously meant for a rather large piece of machinery! We quickly went into the house and directly out to the back deck. And there, we came "face to face" with a HUGE excavator. Ben was in Heaven. There is simply no other way to put it. I could have seriously just reached out and touched that sucker, it was so close!

Cassidy's big brother, Harrison, just finished Kindergarten this year, and he and Ben seemed to enjoy each other's company. They both enjoyed narrating the entire scene and asking questions. Michael and I did the best we could to come up with logical answers. I'm sure the construction workers were probably snickering if they heard us... Likewise, they would also go through long periods of simply standing still and watching as if they were in a trance!

Harrison took Ben up to his room to share the bird's eye view with him, too.

The girls were less than impressed by the loud machines ripping up the yard, so they busied themselves playing My Little Ponies, Webkinz, and who knows what else! They really seemed to hit it off! Ellie was quite impressed by Cassidy's princess quilt and her "huh-mungus" stuffed tiger. Mr. Michael even set her up with her own pink cup full of juice, so she was lovin' life.

I had taken a bag of chocolate chip cookies over with us, and Harrison honed in on those pretty quickly. He asked his dad if he could have one. Michael said, "Yes," and then got distracted by something else. We found Harrison a while later, still sitting at the kitchen window with the bag of cookies now within arm's reach, having himself a private feast! :-)

'Love this picture of Harrison at the window. What little boy wouldn't die for all this action right outside his window?!? (I'm thinking your boys would have loved this too, Chris F...)

Thanks again, Phillips Family, for sharing your super cool back yard entertainment with us! It doesn't get much better than this on the Weaver Family "Excitement-o-meter!" Again, something that I can't say I ever envisioned in my life 10 years ago. ...driving to someone else's house to watch construction nor having a family excitement-o-meter... :-)

We're headed back tomorrow morning. As luck would have it, the digging got delayed by a HUGE rock. I wonder which shirt Ben will wear tomorrow...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Music That'll Make You Smile!

A "long lost" college friend, Jen, shared this on her facebook page, and I just had to send it on! If this doesn't make you at least smile a little bit, I don't know what will!

I can just see Charlie Berry (a good teaching buddy from my MD days), groovin', chuckling, and saying "Yeaaaaaaaah!"

I've obviously been out of the "music loop" too long when "thunder storms" make me nostalgic... Listen to it. You just gotta'! :-)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Interviewing the Kiddos

I suppose this little "quiz" to do with your kids has been floating around on the Internet for some time now. My friend, Chris, posted her kids' answers on her website, and I thought it would be fun to do with Ben and Ellie. It's rather lengthy but should make for a cute read.

What is something Mom always says to you? B-No. E-Don't take toys outside.

What makes Mom happy? B-When I say "I love you!" E-Not letting me get lost.

What makes Mom makes sad? B-When I do bad things. E-I got lost. (not that she ever has...)

What does your mom do to make you laugh? B-tickle me. E-tickling.

What was your mom like as a child? B-little. E-She loved to make silly faces.

How old is your mom? B-22 (note to self - raise allowance!) E-uhh, 20-30-60-70...

How tall is your mom? B-30 E-medium

What is her favorite thing to do? B-take pictures E-play with me

What does your mom do when you're not around? B-clean up E-go to the store

If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? B-cleaning up??? E-us!

What is your mom really good at? B-helping E-taking pictures and taking care of us

What is your mom not really good at? B-recycling E-picking apples (Somehow, I'm not in the least bit offended...)

What does your mom do for a job? B-teach E-take care of me

What is your mom's favorite food? B-When we tried those pumpkin seeds (roasted ones at Halloween), you really liked them... E-eggs (Really?!?!? Neither of them came up with chocolate?!?!?!?)

What makes you proud of your mom? B-when you help me E-I think I'm proud of you for throwing a great party!

What do you and your mom do together? B-go special places E-play

How are you and your mom the same? B-We both like raspberries. E-Sometimes I talk the same way as you...

How are you and your mom different? B-Your hair is longer, and mine is shorter. E-We do different things at the same time.

How do you know your mom loves you? B-Because I just know. E-You take care of me, and I don't get lost. (recurring theme...)

What does your mom like most about your dad? B-marrying him E-being your husband

What is your mom's favorite place to go? B-I'm not really sure. E-With us to the grocery store. (Uh, NO! Are you kidding me?!? :-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ben's Latest Rationale for Getting a Pet

We have a cat. An old cat that likes no one except me. The kids have no real idea of what having a pet is like. But like seemingly every elementary-aged child, the desire to have a pet has sunken in and grabbed a hold of Benjamin.

He mostly fixates on reptiles and birds. (Huh. Not a very good combination as I look at it in type...) He is forever trying to catch a bird with his bare hands. Whenever the mood strikes (which is often), he will go running full speed toward any unsuspecting bird in his line of site. Then he gets disappointed when it flies away! He genuinely believes that one of these times, he's gonna catch one to take home as a pet!!!! Oh, but he'd settle for one from the pet store, too.

As far as reptiles go, he'd be very happy with a turtle or a lizard. (Not over my dead body!!!)

Other pertinent side information: Benjamin LOVES berries, especially raspberries and strawberries.

And this is where today's revelation picks up.

Ben and Ellie were watching Diego this morning. The show was about saving an iguana, I suppose. Ben came running to find me before the show was over to tell me that we need to get an iguana because...are you ready for this???? "They eat strawberries and then the seeds come out in their poop. And then the seeds grow more strawberries!"

What more could a boy want?!? A cool reptile for a pet, AND constant replenishment of the strawberry supply!!!!! (Thank you very much, Diego!)

Again, one of those times when an appropriate response somehow eluded me...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

News of the Weekend!

After breakfast on Saturday morning, we headed outside to take Benjamin's training wheels off! We've been talking about doing this for a while and wanted to wait until the weather and (Daddy's schedule) afforded us lots of practice time.

Here he is heading off on two wheels for the first time.

Our street has a little "annex" that leads to another (much more affluent) neighborhood. (I joke that it's where the feudal lords live, and that we live in the peasant village :-) Jim thought this would be the perfect place for the kids to practice riding, since there's not much traffic and it's almost flat.

I love this shot (below). You can almost hear Jim's back screaming, can't you?!? ...reminds me of one of those old V-8 commercials where the people all walked around crooked b/c they hadn't had their V-8 for the day... And I love "Little Miss Thing" following along with her girly streamers blowin' in the breeze!

She made a lot of progress this weekend, too. Her bike is actually bigger than Ben's (for numerous reasons that I won't go into right now...), so it takes a good bit of "oomph" for her to keep it going.

Ben was a super bike student!!! He thoroughly enjoyed the process of figuring out how to do it himself. He never once cried. He never took a bad spill. When he fell, he would simply untangle himself and stand back up. He didn't get frustrated and actually spent most of the time giggling and smiling as he just kept working at it.

A few minutes in, Jim asked him, "Are you havin' fun, Buddy?"

He replied, "No, but I'm gonna get this!"

After maybe 30 minutes or less, we were able to start letting go...

Ellie was also very proud of herself, as well she should be. She told Daddy,"I can get on my bike by myself. I can turn by myself. I am a star!!!!" Here's her "star" pose, I guess. Oh my, are we doomed... :-)

Look at that "I'm proud of myself" smile!!

And by the end of our first 45-minute "session," he was doing GREAT! He begged to go back to our practice spot (that no man's land between socio-economic levels) after lunch. We returned for only about 30 minutes, during which time he mastered turning.

Today (Sunday) after lunch we went back again, and the child mastered starting by himself! Jim and I seriously can't believe how "easy" the whole transition was. Now if only all other transitions in life were this easy...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Straight from Ellie's Mouth

Ellie LOVES "making" fairies on the Disney website. They let you pick out every little detail from the color of eyes, hair, and skin, to jewelry, hair style, and even arm and leg placement. Then for the finishing touch, you get to name your fairy or simply hit the "random" button until the computer comes up with a name that you like. We have allowed Ellie to print out about 6 or 7 of her fairies over the past few months. Some of my personal favorites are Libby Prettystorm and Melody Sweetsong.

So yesterday, Ellie came barging into the bathroom to plead, "Mom, can I please get on the computer and make another fairy?"

"I suppose so..."

"I'm going to name this one 'Deaf.'"

To clarify, I asked, "You're going to name it 'Death?'" I worried immediately, has our recent viewing of Star Wars begun influencing her creative thought?!? :-)

Apparently not picking up on the subtle difference, Ellie responded, "Yeah, 'Deaf.' Only she's going to be only a little deaf. Do you know what people do who are only a little deaf?"

Still trying to determine whether we're talking about "death" or "deaf," my mind is struggling to keep up. I replied,"no what?"

"They speak Spanish instead of with their hands."

Ah, so we have been talking about "deaf" all along! Again, I find myself at a loss for words. Where do I start re-explaining things? ...it seems like mere moments ago I was going to the bathroom BY MYSELF!!!!!

After a meager attempt at correcting all of the various aforementioned misconceptions, Ellie went on to make a beautiful Tinker Fairy named Ella Yarrowpond. And knowing her, she probably still thinks that all Spanish-speaking people are actually hard-of-hearing.

Perhaps Disney is missing the boat...maybe there should be a spot after selecting abilities to select dis-abilities for your fairy...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Day at the Zoo!

This past weekend, we drove to Falls Church, VA to stay with my godfather and his wife (Charlie and Denise). My sister and her family met us there, too. After a treacherous trip (Friday PM traffic in DC and storms), we all arrived later than anticipated, around 7:00. The kids were wired for another good 1 1/2 hours as we unpacked and figured out where everyone was going to sleep.

Saturday morning started at 6:00 a.m. and was no calmer as we juggled everyone through breakfast, sun screen, lunch-packing, general impatient excitement... Sarah finally asked if Jim and I could please take Caroline with us, as Colin was still napping 15 minutes after our intended departure time of 8:30. Of course we agreed, shuffled car seats, buckled everyone in and headed out. 20 minutes later my phones rang... It was Denise asking if perhaps Sarah's car keys were next to Caroline's car seat. In fact they were. Sigh...

"Why are we turning around? Are we going home? I don't want to go home. We want to go to the zoo. Why are we turning around... (ad nauseum for 20 minutes)"

Then back we went again, this time following Sarah and Mike (and Colin, who had awakened mere moments after we pulled out the first time!). So we got a bit of a later start than we had planned, but all was good.

Right off the bat, we saw some rather active Orang utans, a sleeping tiger, and a rowdy lion. The lion was quite impressive to watch! Ben seemed to exhibit more of an attention span than last year, as I recall. However, after a few minutes of watching the lion, he began announcing to our group (in a rather loud voice), "Vamanos! Vamanos!" Ahhh. Thank you, Dora and Diego! :-) Of course, his Spanish outburst garnered lots of chuckles, so that phrase was reused numerous times throughout the day.

We marched on to see countless other animals before seeking out our traditional shaded picnic lunch spot next to the Gibbons cage. After a quick bite, we headed back to the trail to see how many more animals we could visit before it was obvious that we needed to call it a day.

I didn't get as many awesome pictures as I did last year, but there are a few... I love this one below of Ben and Ellie's hands on the glass as they watch the tortoise getting a drink of water. Ellie kept saying over and over, "Now that's a turtle, alright!" :-)

And what would a trip with Benjamin be to ...well, anywhere without "special treatment" by whatever construction workers are in the vicinity? The zoo is constructing an Elephant Trail, much to Ben's excitement! One of the workers noticed Ben with his face plastered to the crack between the gates, so he opened it nice and wide for Benjamin to see all of the equipment on the move. Nice, huh? I'm serious...anywhere we go!!!!

After visiting the elephants and the construction, we were on a mission to find the giraffes - Ben's one requested animal. I finally got fed up and asked an employee at a souvenir stand. "Excuse me. Can you tell me where to find the giraffes, please?"

"They're in Miami for two more years. ...because of the construction. But they have some in Baltimore..."

Uh huh. A lotta good that's gonna' do me in DC!!!!! Luckily Ben took the news well. We finished with a quick sweep through the panda exhibit and headed downhill toward the parking lot. Everyone was wiped out and ready to head for home.

On the way back to the cars, I called out over my shoulder to Sarah and Mike, "When we get to a good spot, we're going to stop so I can take a picture of your family."

My family loves it when I get all bossy about picture-taking, especially when everyone is tired. This is what we call, Nazi Photography. :-) And ta-da! With only two shots, I actually got a decent one of the Secrist Family!!! BOTH kids are looking at the camera and smiling. Can you believe it?!?

And here's a picture of the Snowcone Brigade. They looked really pretty, and Sarah and I thought they would be good "treats" for the kids. Turns out, they taste pretty darn bad! What did we expect for a mere $1.95 at the zoo? We'll have to remember that for next year.

The girls slept almost the entire way back to Charlie and Denise's. Ben sang. To Disney songs. Mary Poppins in perfect falsetto. Can you hear it now????

We spent the rest of Saturday visiting with Charlie and Denise at the house and running around with the kids. We had a wonderful visit and can't wait to see them in a few more weeks at the beach!

And here's one last shot I just had to include of Caroline. Another good one! I'm on a roll with her! I love the crooked smile. :-)