Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ioka Valley Farm {and happy halloween!}

We're practically down the road from Ioka Valley Farm now, so we went thrice this fall.  It's cute; it's fun; it's very pricey.  There's a huge "family play area" but anyone age 2-62 has to pay to get in.  You're going to charge me to supervise my kids on a playground?  Seriously?  But-- they let you in free from 5-5:30, we live close and playground time limits are great for parents... so it's all good.

Ioka's now closed for the season, but we'll be back for breakfast with Santa because the sausage links are to die for.

And -- a little extra credit for you: a post I came across recently and loved -- about why Christians maybe shouldn't segregate themselves at "harvest festivals" on Halloween.  {here}

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

growth spurts {three and a half to three and three quarters}

Soon my little Pupper will be four.  But before he is, I want to take a bit to remember him at three and three quarters (or three and eleven twelfths as he now says).

This post has been in my head for ages -- since pretty much the day after I last wrote a Bob update (in the spring) because suddenly (he must read my blog) he just grew up.  It seems true that growth comes in spurts.

We'd been trying to convince pup to give up his 'suckie' since he turned three (remember the big pacifier flyaway flop?), with no luck.  We'd been promising him a "real" bicycle when he was old enough to get rid of it.  He wanted to upgrade from trike to bike, but not badly enough, until... we let him ride one with training wheels around the store.  Best day of his life.  All he wanted to do was go back and ride again.  We let him once or twice more, until a lady told him, no bike riding in the store, and that game was over.  So -- on his own, without prompting one day -- Bob said, "You can take suckie and put her in the garbage.  I'm getting a new bike."  And then he never spoke of suckie again.  I think he had to completely block "her" from his memory in order to quit.  I'm serious.  A couple of times I talked about how he was so mature for giving up suckie and cool new bike and all that and he looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about.  He never mentioned the pacifier again.  Only once, months later, did he talk about the loss: "Mom, I used to sleep with blankie and suckie but now I sleep with blankie and mousey."  (Mousey was suckie's immediate replacement as blankie's number two.  Aren't child comfort item needs fascinating?)  So that was that.  Sucker gone!

The other problem we were having back in the spring was the whole struggle with getting dressed.  And then the warm weather came and with it t-shirts and shorts and boom! problem solved.  Bob can whip up a summer outfit with ease; not having to force him to dress is a huge bonus in life.  Oh, he still prefers to wear jammies at all times while indoors, but he's totally accepting of the idea that he must wear "real" clothes outside.  All is well.  (Except when we can't find the right undies to match the right superhero jams!)  After a summer of so many inside/outside clothes changes, Pup's a pro at dressing now and so far the cooler weather hasn't been much of a stumbling block.

Bob and Owen are the best of buds and play together almost all day long.  Nowadays they've expanded their repertoire from fire rescue 24/7 to include riding bikes, swinging and spinning, playing in the rock piles, board games, Wii, play doh, and a good amount of chasing and tackling and general silliness.

So that's Pupper these days, growing up but still little.

I've had questions from the fam about Bob's birthday wish/need list, so here it is:
-- batteries for his Cinderella sound story book
-- roller skates
-- snowball maker
-- wii remote charging station
-- cheesecake for his birthday and his party (yes, mom, you have to make two!!)
and that is all.
-- bigger winter socks (shoe size 7/8)
-- a kid (not baby) sized beanie or two
-- size 3 footed jammies (now that owen's wearing his old ones, he wants to wear them too)
-- size 3 or 4 sweaters and sweatshirts

Thursday, October 24, 2013

an easy toddler monster project

I've got a dozen posts started -- some in my draft pile and some just in my brain -- but my jumbled mind just hasn't been letting me finish any of them.

But... today is my day of super productivity!  And I don't want to let another pass without accomplishing something here, so... I'll just do a quick easy one.  A quick, easy post.  Featuring a quick, easy, Halloween-y project for littles.

This was Owen's project at table time yesterday; so simple it's perfect for the toddler set.

Here's what we did...

Cut five half sheets of neon printer paper into strips.
Drizzle some good ol' elmer's glue all over a piece of black construction paper.
Let the kiddo have at it: sticking the paper strips wherever he pleases until he covers the page.
Glue four more strips hanging over the edge as arms and legs.
Cut out eyes and mouth from another piece of black construction paper and excess strips.
Stick them on.
Pick up your monster, say "Rahh!" and scare the crap out of the baby who just made it.

Seriously, poor Owie -- he is terrified of his final product.  I have never seen him so afraid of anything. So you might want to make the eyes and mouth a little nicer looking if you try this with your sensitive types.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

preschool dropout

So, the title probably implies this, but -- we bowed out of preschool.  We gave it a solid five weeks (Wednesday and Friday mornings), but in that time pup's feeling toward school went from: unsure and nervous but excited for something new, to: sure that he really didn't want to go to school.  He tolerated it fine while he was there.  He enjoyed meeting new friends, special treats, new toys, bringing home books and little games to borrow. But from the moment he knew he had to go to school in the morning until he had recovered with a tissue in his classroom after drop-off, he was very upset and it made those two mornings each week absolutely awful.  When Owen and I came to pick him up at 11:30, his face would light up and he'd run to grab his stuff and come with us.  On the walk home I'd ask him all about his day, and with varying levels of enthusiasm he'd tell me whether or not he played in the sandbox, and what he had for snack, and then I'd say, "So aren't you glad you went to school today?"  And he'd yell back. "No!  I missed you and Wooden too much!"

So, we gave it a while, but in the end Bob really just wanted to stay home, and that is fine with the rest of us.  I wasn't really planning to send him this year anyway; I think there is way too much preschool pressure, at least around here.  I believe that these little ones should spend most of their time home, exploring their world on their own terms, with guidance from the people who love them most, smothering them with kisses and tickles all the live-long day.

These pictures tell the story of school-bob versus home-bob quite nicely, I think...

He walks home looking very serious after a morning's hard work.
Without a moment's hesitation he sheds his shoes and bag, and he is FREE again!
He runs around the driveway singing, "This is a beautiful neighborhood!"
It starts to rain, and he soaks it up like the rain is his freedom itself, jumping in face first and collecting it in buckets.

I'm glad to have our free mornings back.  Bob has a whole life of the school and work grind ahead of him.  He can start that next year.  I say, let him have his last year of freedom!  It's okay to change your mind.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

boys and guns

What is it with boys and their guns?  It's born in them: they love weapons.  I remember the first time Bob saw a few of the neighbor boys playing with their toy guns and asked, "What are they doing?  I want to play that!"  Oh dear, I thought.  For the most part I've had a Mr. Rogers type philosophy on the issue: guns and weapons equal violence and violence is not to be encouraged.  I don't really want my boys running around pretending to shoot everyone.  And yet, banning weapons doesn't do a thing.  A stick is a gun; a bubble wand is a sword; duplos are good for building one thing: pistols.

A while back I read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.  He gave me a new perspective to ponder.  He writes,

Capes and swords, camouflage, bandannas and six-shooters -- these are the uniforms of boyhood. Little boys yearn to know they are powerful, they are dangerous, they are someone to be reckoned with. How many parents have tried in vain to prevent little Timmy from playing with guns? Give it up. If you do not supply a boy with weapons, he will make them from whatever materials are at hand. My boys chew their graham crackers into the shape of hand guns at the breakfast table. Every stick or fallen branch is a spear, or better, a bazooka. Despite what many modern educators would say, this is not a psychological disturbance brought on by violent television or chemical imbalance. Aggression is part of the masculine design; we are hardwired for it. If we believe that man is made in the image of God, then we would do well to remember that "the Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name" (Ex. 15:3).

... The universal nature of this ought to have convinced us by now: The boy is a warrior; the boy is his name. And those are not boyish antics he is doing. When boys play at war they are rehearsing their part in a much bigger drama. One day, you just might need that boy to defend you.

Ben and I still try to teach our sons:
Love people; help them, rescue them. 
Make others happy, not sad. 
Use your bravery to defend and not to harm the weak.

But as long as they are treating each other kindly and both having fun, I don't try to discourage their gun and swordplay.  I let them play out their daring adventures and dangerous battles undisturbed -- because this world needs brave boys who will become brave men to fight for what is right.

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