Saturday, April 27, 2013

Take me out to the ballgame!

This afternoon and evening, Steve, Cathy, and I got to witness an amazing transformation in Jack. He's definitely become an independent kid.

We have new neighbors up the hill/next door, and they have friends who have kids close to Jack's age. We introduced ourselves a couple of weekends ago, and ever since, Jack has been looking for the kids to come back and play.

Tonight, he saw "his buddies" outside. He immediately ran up the hill to ask them to play. And they came and played. They ran around the swing set for a while; then ran around the yard. Then they seemed to get bored (Jack tried to invite them inside the house). So I offered to get some balls and sports stuff.

That's when Cathy and I started to have a good time. After they each had a turn or two to hit the ball off of the tee, and Jack got a ball to the face, we decided we would try to teach them how to hit the ball and run bases. We split them up into two teams (boys vs girls), and then the craziness ensued.

We tried simple instructions first. Hit the ball, run to the pinecone (first base). Sounds good. Except no one dropped the bat and there might have been a few swings at the other players. They also needed clarification on which pinecone to run to. Okay, hit the ball, drop the bat, run to the pinecone where Auntie Bubbles is standing. Good.

Next how to field. Catch the ball, tag the runner. Unfortunately, they didn't quite understand this was a two-step process, so first they tried to split the tasks ("you catch the ball, I'll tag the girls"). Once we cleared that up; wait, we never got that cleared up. So instead, we moved on. It just got more confusing. The batter would hit the ball, drop the bat, run to get the ball, and try to tag someone. Yep, that was all one kid.

After about 4 innings, Cathy and I were ecstatic that we got every kid to hit the ball, drop the bat, and run to the base without trying to pick up the ball first. Jack even got into sliding into the bases. Of course, he liked sliding so much, he slid when he was playing outfield (into a base, not trying to catch the ball). We eventually got the girls to run to second base and third base. The boys never really got past second (which is a good thing, in my book).

We finally broke for dinner, but we did return outside for a second game, a bonfire, and some Yonanas (that's a story for another blog post). While Auntie Bubbles made a great effort to get the kids to play again by themselves, it was really just chaos. So instead, they started to play tag and then we made dessert.

It was pretty dark by that time, so of course, Steve suggested hide and seek. If you thought our T-ball story was good, hide and seek was better. All four kids hid together and managed to be quiet for about a millisecond after Steve finished counting. Then the screamed. And when Steve found them, they screamed again. Then it was Steve's turn to hide, and the kids counted. The rule was to count to 30, and despite a dislike of the number 16, they managed it pretty well. The seeking was pretty funny as they narrated the search. "Let's look up here. Okay, how about in the tire swing. Maybe back here. How about this side." Steve can stay pretty quiet, so it took them a few minutes, but they eventually found him, and then yes, screamed.

I think the best quote of the night was during monster tag. It was from Jack, of course. "I tagged myself, so now I'm it."

Oh, to be five again.

And now for a few pictures:





Thursday, April 25, 2013

"I liked this homework"

I got myself on another obsessive binge yesterday and today. This time, it's about picture books. I've been writing for a friend's picture book blog, and I'm loving it. It's really opened my eyes to the amazing books that are out there. This binge, though, it's about an old favorite.

I love Mo Willems. I'm not sure which book we read first, but I can tell you we have never read a book by him that we didn't enjoy to at least some extent. The best laugh you will ever hear from Jack (aside from when Steve tickles him) is when he laughs at Trixie trying to talk in Knuffle Bunny. Or when he laughs at Piggie announcing that he is "not a happy pig" in the rain. Or when the pigeon has a fit because he can't drive the bus.

So yesterday and today, Jack and I have been browsing and playing on Willems' websites. There are cool games to play and fun things to download. Best of all, there are all kinds of materials for teachers and parents to print out that go with the books.

I downloaded the activity kits for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Duckling Gets a Cookie. These are the two newest Willems books in our house (both entered in the last week).

So I had to print these bad boys out, but we don't have a printer at home. Not to get off on too big of a tangent, but I have lamented the lack of a printer since I stopped teaching almost a year and a half ago. I still haven't done anything to remedy that. Normally I just don't print. But I was determined, so we needed to hit the library to print. And we did.

$9 or $10 later, we have two packets and several beginning word writing worksheets. Tonight, while I gave Reid a bath, Jack got to do some of the Duckling activities and to practice writing "an" words.

It was amazing. Reid played nicely in the bathtub. Jack sat in the hallway right outside of the bathroom completely engaged. And we did this for a full 15 minutes. No crying, no drenching mommy, no yelling. It was bliss.

Jack found the five differences in the pigeon and duckling pictures. He completed the maze so the pigeon could get his cookie. He counted the cookies and wrote numbers. He did these things all by himself. He asked questions, but he did not insist I do it for him or sit over him while he worked or say that it was too hard. I was so proud of him.

And it continued. I got Jack a coloring page and an "invent a cookie" sheet. While I read to Reid and put him to bed, Jack traced his "an" words and then wrote them on his own. He then colored the pigeon a beautiful blue and the duckling black. He drew about a dozen chocolate chip cookies. And he didn't once yell for me. He was still working when I came out of Reid's room.

I asked him what he thought of the activities. And that's when he said, "I liked this homework. We should do it again." I never mentioned homework. That was all him. I hope he always likes being challenged like this.

We then continued the normal routine of shower, books, song, bed.

Tonight's bedtime was nothing short of perfect. So now I need to go find some more author websites and fun printables. Look out library printer, you're going to get a workout.

Since I'm a proud mom, here is a selection of the work from tonight.




Play, Play, Play

Every day when I pick up Jack from school, I ask him what he did that day. And every day he gives me the same answer, "play, play, play." And right now, that's how I answer anyone who asks me what we've been up to lately.

Despite the random snow and the seemingly ceaseless rain around here, the boys and I have been trying to take advantage of every partly sunny/sunny moment to get outside (even if it means bundling up).

Turns out, my guys like to dig. So we go outside, find the old planting pots we abandoned in springs and summers past, and dig through them to get them ready to plant this spring. They also like to dig just about anywhere, so if I can keep them digging in the woods and not the mulch, I count that as a win. Jack also likes to hunt for worms. He finds them, then places them in a new cool, dark place together (so they can have friends).

Reid likes to do whatever Jack is doing. That means chasing Jack around the lawn with a shovel or down the driveway on his bike. When Jack is at school, Reid and I play cars, or tools, or climb the furniture. He also loves to color. And this morning, we tried out playing with shaving cream. He liked it enough to play for about 10 minutes, which I think is a long time for a 17-month-old.

If we aren't digging or playing cars, then it seems like we are cooking. We love to bake, especially chocolate chip cookies. But we also like to try out something new every once in a while. Below, you can see Jack putting together our pineapple bacon wraps. They were pretty yummy, but not as yummy as we thought they would be.

So here are some pictures of our two cuties as they play, play, play lately. Enjoy!








Easter 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jacob P - another newborn baby photo shoot!

My sister Susie and her husband are best friends with Brent and Dawna. Brent and Dawna have just recently become parents to a gorgeous little baby boy, Jacob. Thanks to my sister's connections, I got to take Jacob's newborn pictures today. It was so fun!

As you will see in the photos, Brent and Dawna are such caring parents. Jacob obviously gets his easy-going attitude from them. He barely fussed the entire hour and a half it took me to take all of the pictures. I probably could have taken more, but we all needed a lunch break!

But enough writing about this cutie and his great parents; let's get to the pictures!