Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rainy Day Playing

Who says you need to stay inside on a rainy day????

Lego, The Final Chapter

Anyone who knows me knows that I am pretty persistent.  Slow but steady I usually get the job done but sometimes one has to know when they have bitten off more than they can chew.  I am sad to say the Lego project is no more.

No longer could I stand the Lego staring at me from beside my bed, mocking me.  Alright so maybe those were just the voices in my head but from wherever they originated I knew I could live with them no more and I also knew that there was no way I was going to make it through all 22 Lego kits.  NO WAY!

So it was time to release my Lego babies back into the general population, back to the wild that is the hands of my two boys and their many Lego building friends.

Yes, it is true that I feel on some level I have failed my boys but I like to think that this is a project we can revisit when they are older.  I have saved every Lego instruction booklet for SOME reason right?  Until then my boys have the most nicely sorted Lego collection EVER!

The Bike That Jack Built

Don and I were in the garage last night and looked over at little Jack's bicycle.  We realized that he has slowly given his bike a makeover.  It happened so slowly that we hadn't realized it.  Almost like when you see your friends children and comment on how much they have grown and your friend says "Oh, do you think so?"

And so we see:

The Christmas Teddy Bear Grandma and Grandpa gave Jack when he was two years old tied on the bicycle with a string from his string art kit.

The pinwheel he got from a loot bag fastened with way too much packing tape.

Dollar store horn that toots an extremely irritating toot.

Two foam balls, one stuffed into the horn and the other in the handle bars.

About ten spoke beads left over from Ben's reign with the bike.

All together it creates quite an impression.  That's my Jack!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dirty Boys

SOooo, we all know what little boys can be like in the bathroom. Wet butt anyone? This was a cute one though. The perfect chocolate imprint of someones mouth on the clean white towel in the bathroom. Niiice.

Rainy Days

It rained here for two days. Daddy was at work so we didn't have a car which meant some heavy duty indoor time. The boys were super de duper the first day. I, being the slightly neurotic and anxious sort that I am scoured the house. It was clean clean clean for like a whole hour. SUCCESS!

The second morning I walked anxiously from room to room looking for something to clean (weird huh?). The it dawned on me, we have kept busy this summer doing a lot of playing with friends. This has been awesome and is exactly what the boys prefer but we had left something important out. Wait...not we, I had left something important out. Downtime.

I think I forgot how to relax and just be happy being. There is some sort of strange guilt attached to that for me. Stay at home mommyitis perhaps? Maybe. So the boys and I cuddled on the couch under a blanket. Nintendo DS in their hands and ipod in mine and together but separate we played and snuggled. Offered encouragement to each other when someone did well, sighed and supported when someone did poorly. You know what? It was nice and as these boys grow I want to have memories of times just like these. They are just as important as the more active and busy memories. So I shall suck them up and absorb them GUILT FREE!!!

Knowing of course that on rainy day number three we need to get back to busy...

Eat My Crust!

We have a picky eater in this house.  His name is Jack and he almost drove us to distraction.  As a baby he ate everything and then slowly from about two years of age on things started to change for the worse.  One by one he eliminated one food after another.  We fought it tooth and nail oh yes we did.  About two years ago we had our last food fight.  I remember it well.

It was roast beef night and after 40 minutes of cajoling, bribing, threatening, time outs, and well you get the idea Jack finally ate one piece of roast beef.  I sat at the counter with him looking at me and me looking at him, both of us hating the other.  Sweat dripped from my brow and tears on his cheek.  I had won, he had eaten the roast beef.

At that moment I realized that instead of triumph I just felt sad.  This was not how I had imagined family meals together.  I had grown up with a picky eater, my brother.  He grew up on yellow mustard and bread, grill cheese made with a very fine layer of cheese whiz, chocolate milk, and sometimes kraft dinner.  I did not want to fight any longer but nor did I want to watch Jack devour loaves of white bread with mustard.

To the internet I went and turns out I had it all wrong.  Forcing your children to eat what they don't want to creates a whole host of other issues.  Better instead to provide healthy choices and trust that they will eat what their body needs.  So I do my best.  I have tried many things...

Pureeing veggies and hiding them in food.  This kid has some sort of veggie sensor and rejected most of these options.  Though Don and I enjoyed eating them!

Offering a choice of foods on his plate and hoping he would one day magically be interested.  This was the least successful.  Everyday as 5:30 came closer the tension would rise in our house as we waited for Jack to pull up to the table only to run away screaming "I hate your dinner" in an ear piercing shriek that cannot be duplicated.

Holding his favored foods hostage, "If you eat this nice carrot you can have this lovely peanut butter sandwich...mmm....mmm."

Now I hate to admit it but I make him something separate if the main meal is something he will not be interested in.  I said I would never do it but he got me.  Picky eaters are picky so this helps us get through a pleasant meal time and I can make sure he is getting something with some nutrition as opposed to just eating a bun every night for dinner.

Anyhow, back to the crust, which of course Jack will not eat.  We had a good laugh the other day at lunch.  Ben gave Jack some good natured ribbing at the lunch table to which Jack responded without missing a beat-

"Eat my crust!"

Yes Jackie, we all have those moments and when we do I think "Eat my crust" is the perfect response.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Letters to Ben

Dear Ben,

Each night for the past three you have come down the stairs crying after we put you to bed. You are worried Mom and Dad are going to die and that you won't see us anymore. I remember feeling the same feelings about my parents when I was your age and I looked through the photo album at them.

Each night we have reassured you that we aren't going anywhere but you are getting older and while this answer might satisfy Jack you dig deeper. "But you will die one day and then I won't see you anymore." On the third night this happened (which I suspect may have happened because you got to come cuddle Mom and Dad in our bed on the first two nights) you really got me thinking. Life has no guarantees which means we need to be grateful and enjoy each day we have because each one is a gift. Of course people say this all the time but your questions made me realize they weren't just words it was real. We are only on this earth for a few short years and then we move on.

I tried explaining to you that by the time Mommy and Daddy go you will be grown up with your own children. I don't think you could conceptualize this quite yet. So I focused on the one thing I know for sure. It is true that one day our bodies will grow too old for this earth but I know we will meet again in heaven so really we never need worry about saying goodbye.

Love you Ben.

Cuba, The Prelude...

Our boys are getting excited. So are Mom and Dad for that matter. We will be heading to Cuba soon and last night things got a bit more real for the boys when Daddy brought home three rolling suitcases we found on Kijiji. Well you would have thought we bought out the toy store with how excited these two boys were. Major play ensued.

Ben was an airport worker loading the bags up and down the stairs for Jack who was the air traveler. I am pretty sure he went up and down in excess of 10 times. No small feat for a little boy-pure determination.

Ben and Jack were travelling to get to the amusement park. Of course they had to drop their suitcases off first.

Our hallway was a moving sidewalk in the airport and they rode it back and forth.

They were pilots who had packed their suitcases and were heading off to work.

Then things took a more serious turn. Cases were selected for each member of the family for when we go away-I was assigned the smallest one. Packing lists were formulated. Jack is bringing only toys and books no clothes. Ben is bring only books, no toys. Then the packing began. What a sight. Every pocket was zipped and unzipped multiple times to ensure that all available packing space was accounted for. Packing was limited to books which were selected for content with care. At the end of the evening Daddy was responsible for taking the suitcases up to their bedrooms and this morning I was in charge of bringing them down the stairs.

The cases have rolled up and down my hallway throughout the day. I did have to stop the suitcase race that started as it was sure to lead to a suitcase derby which can only mean bad things for the suitcases and my walls. I think that maybe these boys are excited to go away. They just needed the tools to show us their excitement and now we know they are just as excited as we are.

The Toe Competitions

Yes those are my toes close up and...well pretty. Not the toes but the toe painting. I came home with this pedicure and the boys love it. Jackie has made me promise not to take it off. Benny has developed a different way of expressing his appreciation. I had a girlfriend over with her kids for a play date and as we sat and chatted Ben came over to examine our toes. He quite proudly announced that I was the winner with the nicest toes! Needless to say my girlfriend and I had a bit of chuckle over the results of the toe competition. It has continued to happen. Each time new toes are available for judging Ben has a look. Sometimes the results are announced publicly and sometimes just to me after company has left..."Mommy, you have the nicest toes of all the Mommies." Thank you for noticing Ben.


What is treasure for a seven year old boy? Does it have to cost a lot of money. Nope. Ben was lucky enough to get his hands on this lovely discarded bug skin. Gross for Mommy = Good for Benny!

Brothers AND Best Friends

Of course there are days when brothers get on each others last nerve and there will be more of those days to come but these are the days I like to remember best. The days where big and little are best friends. Maybe it is an early morning snuggle or a backyard adventure but they are totally in sync with one friends.

Game On!

What have we been doing while Daddy is working nights? A little old fashioned family competition on the wii fit board. Oh yeah baby. Winner gets to pick the television shows for the evening-unless Mom wins and then she picks a show that the boys will like. The main thing is that we all get to play together, throw a few good natured insults around, this is especially interesting with a 4 and 7 year old, and have some fun!!!

Jack's Doghouse

Ben and Jackie accompanied me on my weekly grocery trip this week.  Now sometimes this can provide another level of difficulty.

"Can we have those chocolate covered cakes, the ones made with palm and coconut oils?"
"Can we have the hot wheels that they charge double for here because parents buy them to keep their children quiet while they shop?"
"Can we have some of that super sugary breakfast cereal guaranteed to have us whipping around the island in the kitchen within minutes of consumption?"

However on this day I had two angels helping me which truth be told is usually the way these boys shop.  As long as I lay out what stops are to be expected I can usually count on at least five stops without much trouble.    Back to our trip.  Only one request was made on this trip and it came from Jack.  He wanted to bring a box home from the pile of boxes found at the ends of the checkouts for grocery packing.  Seems reasonable and so my boy had himself a big beautiful waxy apple box.

Little Jackie spent a couple days playing with the box until his final vision for the box struck.  It was to be Pedro's mean Pedro's dog house.  He had Daddy cut out a door and Mommy make the sign "Pedro's Show".  I did have to advocate for the dog more than a few times that afternoon.

"DO NOT put him in the box if he doesn't want to go in it."
"But Mom he went inside all by himself"
"I was watching the whole time he DID NOT go inside by himself!"

After a rough start Pedro did adjust to the box.  Of course there was bribery involved as is evidenced by the photos above.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letters to Jack

Dear Jack,

I want you to know that my heart aches for you. You are like me. Feelings all closed in. Little touches mean big things coming from us. I want to grab you up in my arms and snuggle uggle you, but this makes you cry. I want to tell you that I want to glue myself to you so you know how much I love you and want to be with you but this idea really just freaks you out. I want to fill up your 'kiss tank' but all that kissing upsets you.

I KNOW how you feel because I often feel the same way EXCEPT when it comes to my boys. Right now you are sitting beside me snuggled in your blanket and your little finger reached over to my hand and touched it for a moment. Little touches that mean big things.

Please know that I try to love you the way you want to be loved and that I love, love, love you.

Ben's Baby Boy

My Benny has a baby. His name is Pedro and he is a little mutt we got when Ben was 18 months old. They have a bond those boys do. Every morning they like to get in a good snuggle. Today was no exception. Thankfully Pedro is pretty patient and also allowed himself to become a member of the band aid brigade!

Geocaching, Real Live Treasure Hunting

We started geocaching about a year ago. It is a real live treasure hunt for kids and for adults too. you go to the website and upload coordinates to your GPS to find the treasures. Then after following the trail you will reach the area the cache is hidden. Some are large containers which hold all sorts of treasure (think dollar toys) while others are micro caches which only hold a log book to mark your find. It is a great way to explore for a few reasons:

1. You get to explore new places that you didn't know even existed.
2. The thrill of finding a hidden cache is intense. I have seen cheers break out amongst groups of avid seekers-usually by the adults!
3. It is the perfect activity to do with another family.
4. At the end of a day of geocaching you have had much fresh air and exercise, your dinner will taste great!
5. This is the best one and the reason that never fails to amaze me. Your children WILL walk for hours (like at least 3!!!) and not complain even one time because for them this is big time treasure hunting and they are willing to work for this kind of fun!

On this day we went to a local walking trail to geocache. The day was perfect, no sun but still very hot and two sweet boys to enjoy the activities with. Nice.

We Like, We Like to Party!

It would appear that a bit of new tradition has come together at this end of the double cul de sac we live on. Whichever families are home congregate in the driveway of the family who lives at the end of the cul de sac. Everyone brings something from their from the kitchen and the result heavily rivals the one found in the children's classic Stone Soup!

The kids are particularly smitten with these evenings because it means they get to play outside with all their friends until it is way too late and then they get to go into their friend's basement to play which is the BEST part! Last night around 9pm all ten of the kids started chanting "Party, party, party". It was quite a site!

Ben being a bit older than Jack knew that the chances of it being party night were good. Now, earlier in the night I had seen my children's feet and knew they shouldn't be in anyone's home with those dirty toes and I had mentioned this casually to Ben. So later on when he asked me if they were going to be able to go into their friend's basement I was still unsure what was happening so didn't give a firmly positive response. Ben was devastated "But Mom, if we don't go into their house that means I washed my feet for NOTHING!" I checked and those were some of the cleanest toes seen all night. My boy likes to party.

We are fortunate to have great neighbors and we think this 'party' thing is a wonderful precursor for the teenage years. I figure we throw a 'party' every Saturday night at one of our homes for the kids and this way we will always be able to keep tabs on them...crafty parents!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Daddy Adventures

Daddy got out the goop today and by the looks of things everyone had a GOOD time!

Maytag Repair Man

Anyone who knows this family knows that we have a slight issue with electronics. In the last two years we have had to replace:

*one stove motherboard
*one laptop
*one pool pump
*one pool pump electrical receptacle
*two dishwasher pumps
*two television sets

Well this weekend we added another washer motherboard to this list. A tad insulting considering it is the second time we have had to do it!!! Not sure where our luck comes from but it has been crazy considering everything we own is less that five years old.

Today we had a pretty sweet little repair man. I think we call all agree he is as cute as they come.

THE Marble Track

So by now you know that this Mom and Dad like to take on projects and this March break passed was no exception.  Momma decided that it would be a good idea to build a paper marble track with the boys.  So Momma did.  Mostly by herself but definitely with supervision from Ben and Jack, oh and lots of trial runs by the boys too.

Now the marble track was cool, like really cool.  Way cooler than the volcano, underwater panorama with moving scuba man, marble track complete with You Tube video, the coolest project yet.  The boys loved it and whenever other children came to visit it was usually the first stop of all the toys.  There were grand plans to add additional marble tracks to the frame.  And so the marble track lived in the kitchen...for FIVE months!  Then came the day when it was time for marble track to move and so it moved to Ben's room.

This is where the demise of the marble track really hit fast forward.  You see, every time play dates came over the kids would be upstairs ALONE with the marble track.  When the track was in the kitchen I could carefully monitor my 'third child' making sure that all the other kids were being nice to it, not fighting with it, not being to rough with the delicate baby that was MY, I mean the boy's marble track.

But I digress, the other day I asked the boys to pick their rooms up so I could vacuum and I laughed a little when I went into Ben's room because their the marble track sat on top of Ben's bed clearly tossed up there in hurry and I knew then that it was time to let my baby go.  Now there had been chit chat between the boys about how they might get rid of the track.  Most notable were the crashing and bashing scenarios but there was also mention of burning.  So today I told the boys was the day to rid ourselves of the track.  I had a girlfriend to meet and so I told the boys that while I was gone they could do the deed however they liked.

"Can we do it now mommy?"
"No wait until I am gone"
"Are you okay with us destroying it mom?"
"Yes, I just don't want to see it happen."

When I came home it was gone and all that was left was a little pile of ashes in the back yard.  Guess the fire fantasy won out.  Ben was a bit concerned that my feelings were hurt because he is sensitive and felt my attachment to the track was strong.  So all I have left are these pictures I snapped this morning because the photos of the track in its glory days were lost with our camera in the spring.  That is okay though, these are enough to remind me of how I spent March Break 2010.

Our Dirty Little Secret

What is our dirty little secret?  Well, the one I am willing to share our love of junk food.  When Benny was little and I was still the 'perfect' mother.  You know the new mother, we have all been there and/or seen her.  That mother who gasps when her little one drops a toy on the ground and scoops it up even though their child is crying so she can give it a wash.  Well back in the day I did not let Benny have any foods that did not appear on the little food menu provided by the health unit.  That is until Halloween 2005.  It all changed then and I remember the exact moment.  I had put all of the trick or treat candy n a bowl on the fridge and I (with an over active sweet tooth) really wanted a chocolate bar from the bowl.  Benny was two and a half and way too old for me to eat something in front of him that he couldn't have without some sort of fit. So, I gave him a little chocolate treat of his own to keep things fair.  As it turns out Benny's sweet tooth is as bad as mine and let me tell you his little eyes lit up at the taste of that chocolate bar in his mouth.  Sort of like winning the lottery but without the cash.  It was a moment I will never forget.

So now years later when this family gets a hankering for a movie night complete with treats we head to our local Bulk Barn where we carefully roam the aisles selecting all the delicious treats we desire.  The most wonderful part is that you can pick five different things and just get a few of each.  Then when we get home we dump all of our loot into our own little bowl and ENJOY!

This was one of THOSE nights and enjoy we did!

Jackie's Car Wash

If Ben is my energetic boy then Jack is my methodical boy.  He is the kind of person who chooses an activity and sticks with it until it is done.  And so he did today.  He gave the car a wash.  Not only did he wash all the easy to get to regions but he took the initiative to find the step stool so he could even get to the roof.  THAT is MY boy.  Two peas in a pod we are!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our trip to the zoo...

We went to the Bowmanville Zoo with a friend of mine and her son. We had the BEST time. It took us only about 30 minutes to cover the zoo by foot so at first we wondered just how good this trip was going to be AND if it was worth the two hour car ride to get there but we were pleasantly surprised with all this zoo had to offer. There was a show to see, a trolley ride through lion and wolf areas, splash pad, huge blow up slide, and a park.

All the boys really liked the petting zoo area. 25 cents got you a handful of corn to feed the baby pygmy goats. Ben was especially taken with them. He spent so much time following them around and whispering sweet nothings in their ears. All love that boy is. Jack found a way to make his corn last forever...he picked up every kernel ever dropped by the other kids at the zoo. He is like me-I wouldn't dare burn a decorative candle until I was in my mid twenties. Obsessed with making things last I guess.

The show was amazing and one of the highlights of the day. All three boys watched with rapt attention and little Jack was so cute clapping like the most polite little gentleman. We also got a kick out of the ostrich that followed us in the tour trolley trying to nip Ben's head!

A good day was had by all which is saying a lot because it was 30 degrees that day so we could have easily ended up with two cranky moms and some unhappy boys but that did not happen at all.

Lego Update

Soooo the only update is that the Lego was moved up to my room. We had to move it because we were having a dinner party and a surprise party so I being the control freak that I am was terrified that the children would touch or even *GASP* mix up the sorted Lego.

So there it sits in my room mocking me. I see it first thing in the morning and last thing at the end of my day. I am sure it is laughing at me..."haha crazy lady...many have tried this before you and have FAILED".

I am starting to get worried that Don will find me when the boys are at school legoing away just to prove that the two days we (I) spent sorting the darn Lego were not in vain.

Ben's Triathlon

My sweet little Benny boy. You are energetic, outgoing, and ready to try anything. Perfect qualities for triathlons! This summer you completed your third triathlon and managed to cut over a minute off of last years time!! Woohoo!! Your race shirt drawer is growing steadily as is your sport stat page.

We are so proud of the way you attack all new challenges. Life is truly an adventure waiting to happen for you. I sometimes dream about where it will take you. Then I get freaked out and stop because I am pretty sure you are destined for some very interesting experiences...some of which I am sure I will NOT want to know about!

P.S. You look too cool in your body markings.