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Month: July 2014

good girl

good girl

It rained at Elsa’s birthday party, which could hardly have made her happier. While everyone else ran for cover under the trees, she ran straight out into the open field, soaking it all in, literally and figuratively.

Admittedly, it has only been 3 days, but so far 2 years old looks really good on her. On Friday as we were running out the door to meet Dad as he came home from work, she was the only one of my kids to thank the lady who happened to be holding the door as they ran through. And at her party at the park (after the rain had stopped and we had eaten our sorbet and cake) when she opened her gifts she very sincerely and spontaneously let the givers know that she really liked them. The floral harem pants were hardly out of the wrapping when she started putting them on and the fluffy pink dog could not be pried from her arms and was quickly given a name: Betts.

As far as the party itself, well, Elsa is the most interested in “drawing” of all our kids. She “draws” on the magna doodle, or on paper, or on her clothes — you know, whatever is handy. So we had a “scribble” party. Nothing too fancy: t-shirts with fabric markers so the kids could “scribble” on their clothes, and then a white cake with white frosting accompanied by some tubes of icing so the kids could “scribble” on that as well.

It might have worked out slightly better if 1. it hadn’t rained and 2. we had remembered to bring cardboard or something else to put in the shirts to they were easier to write on, but still. It was fun and simple and all was well.

And now I have a 2-year-old again, which makes me happy because 2 year olds are kind of my favorite.

elsa turns 2

elsa turns 2

Well, the 2-year warranty has expired, so I guess we’re going to keep her. Even though she steals my mascara, puts lip balm all over her neck (and the counter), unravels entire spools of dental floss and treats the bathroom like her own personal splash pad.

She also is the go-to for healing hugs, for belly laughs, and for kitchen help.

I know I said a few weeks ago that her language skills were a bit behind, but she must have read that post and wanted to prove me wrong because since then she’s had a language explosion and has become quite the mimic. (Me: “Blast!” Her: “Bass!”)

And more than ever she’s just one of the gang. If the boys are riding bikes, she needs hers too. If they are having a pow-wow on the top bunk, there she is. And if someone mentions “snack” she’s the first one there and she makes sure everyone get their fair share.

Several weeks ago I had some meetings at Simon’s school and ended up spending all day there with her and Oliver. It was kind of exhausting. So when we got home I decided to lay down and rest for a few minutes. She came into my room, climbed on my bed, gave me a kiss, saw me smile, kissed me again, cuddled up next to me for a minute, then went to play with the boys while I finished resting. It was exactly what I needed to get me through the rest of the day.

I’ve been saying it all along, but I think she’s a bit of a magic baby. A magic pixie baby.

jinx!

jinx!

This is how it goes, the two boys in unison:

“Jinx!”

“Jinx again!”

“Brown sugar!”

“Brown sugar again!”

“Pot!”

“Pot again!”

“Bunk beds!”

“Hahahaha!”

I don’t know what it all means or where it all came from, but that’s okay. Brothers are supposed to have their own language.

soccer camping

soccer camping

Because we are kind and generous parents, and because we want to balance out some of the nerd-ery that has been evident for many years now, and because the boys have now been begging for over a year, we finally signed them up for a soccer camp. And every morning last week we were on the bike heading to camp by 8:45. (I’m really proud of myself for that, by the way.)

Oliver’s camp was just 2 hours while Simon’s was 4, which meant a lot of back-and-forth for me and Elsa, or a lot of hanging around. Sometimes we stayed and watched or played at the playground, sometimes we went home.

By day 4, Simon was really tired. And a little discouraged. He was not doing as well as he’d hoped, and his team often lost. I was glad Elsa and I had stuck around that morning because I ended up giving lots of encouragement and having some good talks about how we get better at things by practicing and practicing and practicing. We even struck a deal that we would spend our Saturday mornings at the park practicing skills so that they wouldn’t be the worst ones out there. (Not that they were the worst — just the least experienced.)

And on day 5, Simon had a great day. He was happy and excited the whole time. And when I picked him up, he told me all about how he had gotten 2nd place in the goalie game. Nevermind that the coaches had helped make it happen, he wasn’t last and that was a huge boost for him. I’m really grateful to those coaches for making sure he had a good experience.

Fingers are crossed that the boys eventually learn to love playing just to play, and love seeing themselves get better and better and don’t worry so much about winning. But for now, the victory is in not giving up.

should have seen the pocket monsters coming a mile away

should have seen the pocket monsters coming a mile away

If you are wondering which of the 640+ Pokemon is the lightest, Simon can tell you.

If you are wondering which is the shortest, Simon can tell you.

If you are wondering how many start with the letters G-L-A, Simon can tell you.

He can tell you which type is the least common. He can tell you which ones have the most evolutions. He can tell you how many Pokemon are in just about every section. And he can even tell you where the publisher made mistakes in coloring and printing the book.

(He cannot tell you why Pikachu is so popular.)

For my part, when he first showed us the book that he wanted to get — based on the recommendation of a friend from school — I really wanted just to say no. I’m not really sure why, other than that it seemed like a super-geeky thing for him to have. But he had a gift card to Barnes and Noble and he was allowed to do whatever he wanted with it. So I bit my tongue and let it happen.

A few days later, after he’d been studying the book obsessively, it was his turn to say our family prayer. Simon always gives really great, thoughtful prayers about how grateful he is that he got to play video games and eat cookies and such. But this time he mentioned how grateful he was for his Pokemon book because “the Pokemon are really interesting.” And that’s when it clicked for me.

The Pokemon are interesting.

Since then I’ve been better about really listening to him when he tells me about the different monsters and figuring out what he’s talking about. He has insisted that we all choose a favorite Pokemon, which means I’ve skimmed the whole book. I can’t say that any of them really spoke to me, but there were several that I thought were pretty cool.

So I kind of get it. A little bit.

He’s started to think that he needs more information about these creatures, which means that one day we may have an entire Pokemon reference library. That’s assuming, of course, that he sticks to the books and doesn’t care too much about the video games or card games.

Haha. Fat chance. That I really can see coming.

wilderness camping

wilderness camping

Dirt and ticks and bears and . . . no toilets.

That’s what we signed up for, and that’s what we got —except for the bears — at our first (and hopefully not last) camping trip of the summer.

A friend invited us and some other families to trek up to the Catskills for a backpacking adventure. We took her seriously when she said “backpacking.” We got everything we needed in 4 backpacks (2 big, 2 little) . . . and then hiked 1/4 mile to where we ended up pitching our tents because, well, not everyone was ready to backpack the 2 miles we’d planned on.

Which was fine because there wasn’t really a place to camp 2 miles away like we had been told. But there was a beautiful waterfall that we climbed around on, waded through, and crossed many times when we hiked up there later.

We also enjoyed fireflies, the sound of fireworks (it was the weekend of the 4th), filtering our own water from a nearby stream, and sitting around the campfire with friends until we could hardly keep our eyes open any more. You know it’s a good trip when your kids are crying when it’s time to leave, they love it so much.

Although I know it wouldn’t be the same if it were something we did every night, I kind of really do wish we could sit around a campfire to laugh and joke, tell stories, share ideas, and learn about each other.

The dirt and the ticks and the bear warnings — and even the lack of toilets — are a small price to pay for such moments.