Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ready or not .. oh, there you are

Eldest loves playing hide and seek, but he may be a little cloudy on the concept. Aside from counting only to five, and getting too excited when he's hiding that he just comes out of his spot and laughs at whomever is looking for him, today he picked the worst place to play hide and seek.

After dinner, Eldest and I went across the street to an open field by next to a church to kick the soccer ball around (he's dribbling the ball with his feet really well, by the way). Then, out of the blue, he says he wants to play hide and seek. This field has ONE TREE to hide behind. He went and hid behind the one tree every time I counted. It always amazes me where a 3-year-old can find fun.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Firebirds

Eldest had his very first field trip of his short life today, and it was the coolest field trip he had ever been on. I was chaperoning, and it was the coolest field trip I had ever been on.

One of Eldest's classmates' dads set this up -- he is a helicopter pilot for the Army. The class met at the Guard unit's headquarters at a small airport in the valley. It wasn't a long trip -- these are 3-year-olds, after all -- but we did get to see a Blackhawk and an Apache helicopter. I hope the kids thought it was as cool as Dad did. The Blackhawk is a transport helicopter, this one wasn't armed but was open for all the kids to see, and sit in! Eldest actually sat in the cockpit of a working Blackhawk! The Apache was just as cool, it had its armaments (though not armed) attached and the hatches open so the kids could see (but they weren't allowed in, it's just a two-seat gunship).

Remembering field trips from my youth, this was so much better than boring trips to arboretums or replica pioneer villages or Norridge Park. It was great, too bad only the adults will have decent memories of it. One thing did put the trip into perspective -- on the Apache, there was something that looked like cylindrical disco ball on top of the helicopter near the rotor. I asked the major (the classmate's dad) what it was, I forgot what he called the device but said it was to throw off incoming guided missiles aimed at the Apache. Kind of a somber reminder that amid the wonder of the day, these helicopters and the people who showed us them are involved in something very serious.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lyrically sound

I have a few new guilty TV pleasures: "The Singing Bee", "Don't Forget the Lyrics" and "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" I now have them set to automatically record on the DVR. It's not really deep television viewing, but it serves its purposes: It's safe to have on around the boys (and if we are trying to wind them down and don't want to watch "Dragon Tales"), it's entertaining in a we-can-do-better-than-that contestant kind of way (or in the case of the singing shows, a that-contestant-sings-as-bad-as-me sort of way), and it's not appointment television, so it's no big deal if we don't watch it or gets expunged by the DVR, but it's there when there is nothing else on. "The Singing Bee" might be my favorite, mostly because it moves at a good pace and is challenging, plus Wife and I find ourselves completing the lyrics with the contestants.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A house with six mammals

Sunday, we took the boys to a Super Pet Adoption at the local PetSmart. Two tents of dogs for adoption, and one of cats. We knew the risks, but luckily, did not add any pets to our house.

We went for a few reasons. We knew it would be fun for the boys, especially Eldest. Lately, he's been somewhat apprehensive toward dogs, and the last time we went to one of these, he was a little freaked out by all the barking. We left this event with him saying "I'm not afraid of dogs anymore!" We'll see if that holds true, but he definitely wasn't as spooked.

Wife and I do want to get a dog someday, not yet. Our cats are 13, and they just got used to the idea of having two littl'uns in the house, a dog might push them over the edge. But events like this give us an idea of what size we're looking for, what temperament, etc. We may get one before while the cats are still with us, and I can't imagine a day where we don't have a cat in our house (that's always a challenge, too at an adoption like this, that we might add a cat or two, but we've never been that tempted as we are sometimes with a dog). Still, I wonder if someday we are going to attend another pet adoption, without looking for a dog to take home that day, and see the dog we know was meant for us and vice versa.

It was a fun time, capped off to our first trip to a Utah location of Chipotle. Very good burrito.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Fresh Maker!

We had a roll of Mentos in our house that Wife brought home from a work function, and Eldest wanted one. When I informed him they were mints, he really wanted one, as he recently discovered the curious strength of Altoids. Needless to say, he loved the Mentos and kept asking for more, I cut him off at five. A funny thing happened then, we were out for a walk, a limo was blocking the crosswalk, and instead of waiting, Eldest ate a Mento and walked through the limo to get to the other side (actually, he led us through, he's not allowed to cross the street without holding my hand), eliciting a smile from the driver. Then our car was boxed by this businessman, and Eldest got four burly guys to pick it up and move it. Of course the businessman chuckled! Alas, I couldn't get Eldest to show off the Mentos roll no matter what I tried. Maybe next time we'll save the Mentos for a bottle of Diet Coke.

Tomorrow, I'm going to give Eldest a chocolate bar, I'm going to walk around with some peanut butter, and we'll see what innovative chaos ensues.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Time in a bottle

My mother-in-law just had hip replacement surgery, and she's going to be laid up for several weeks, so I'm making her some videotapes, mostly of cable shows she doesn't get, but also of every camcorder tape we've recorded over the past four years. I'm watching/taping the first one now, and it is of Eldest's first summer, three years ago.

Aside from how little Eldest is, and how much back then he looks like the present-day Littlest, I'm amazed this is already three years ago. Part of that is how Eldest's personality traits today were already showing up then, and the other part is that this doesn't seem that long ago. Yet it has been three years, and in three years, when Eldest is closing in on 7, it will be six years ago, and so on and so on.

I've always explored, and written about, how to slow down time, or more accurately, the perception of time. There's always the lurking feeling that there is no way to slow down time, that the boys will grow up quickly like it or not. And if it can't be slowed down, then the best I can do is preserve the memories as best as I can, not just in my mind, but via videos, pictures, writing, etc.

I have seven tapes I'm transferring to video for my mother-in-law. My goal for the next year is to double that collection. Let the amount of memories dictate time rather than the amount of years.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The great outdoors

Wife and I are not campers. We love the woods and the mountains, but we also love indoor plumbing and soft beds. The boys may drag us kicking and screaming into an overnight camping trip someday, maybe soon.

We visited some friends who were camping at a state park on a large resevoir about an hour from us. We only went for a few hours, and it was fun. It was mostly low-key, did a little hiking and hung out. Both boys had fun, Littlest just likes being outside, Eldest had a blast on the hike and walking our friends' little dog. We came back down by the lake, and Eldest got to ride on a Wave Runner! Our friend took him, and she wasn't going to go very fast, until Eldest asked her to go faster. She still didn't go that fast, but he had so much fun. He's not fearless, but he'll never turn down a chance to be adventurous.

So we were leaving, and Eldest is sad, saying he wants to stay and go on another boat ride. I get a sense he'd love a campout, probably Littlest too. Our friends invited us next year to stay overnight when they camp, maybe we will. But I'm reserving the right to find a hotel in the middle of the night. One with a hot tub, too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First day of school! First day of school!

We've been anticipating this for months now, and the day finally came -- Eldest began school. OK, it was just 3-year-old preschool, but it was at a real school (the Catholic school near us), and it was his first day. I thought I'd be melancholy than I was, more than anything, I was proud that this day had come. We all walked to school together, the teacher invited the kids into the class, we met some of the parents, went to breakfast with Littlest, and eventually walked back over and picked Eldest up.

He had fun, and is looking forward to his second day tomorrow. There are 11 girls and four boys in his class, but he mostly gets along with everybody, though I hope he becomes good friends with the boys, not because I don't want him playing with girls, but he needs the rough-and-tumble play time other boys mostly provide. We picked him up on the playground, where the class ends their day with recess, and he was having a blast and didn't want to go (we offered to buy him a donut and he left). Any of my worries or fears about Eldest starting school melted away, and it was comforting to know other parents worried about how well their kids would hit the toilet on their own (we put a Pull-up on Eldest just in case, we can't get out of him whether he used the potty or not).

His teacher was telling the parents how each kid did, mostly saying they did well, but when she came to us, she got specific: Eldest was great at following directions. He won't do that for us often, but we signed up for that, it's more important to us he listens to other adults.

And he did this first day. And I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Search and replace

Coming soon to a theater near you (pretend this is the movie trailer voice): In a world where everything is in an orderly place, on little boy will upset the status quo. Prepare yourself, for The Relocator.

Littlest is walking really well now. After a few months of mostly crawling with some steps here and there, he is a full-time walker, and he's starting to pick up speed, too. With his new skills, his new penchant of picking up things and putting them someplace else, somplace we either can't find the item or are surprised by its new location, has grown by leaps and bounds. Nothing within his reach is immune -- books, toys, magazines, cell phones, eyeglasses, iPods, sippy cups -- anything we leave too accessible. We started calling him "The Remover" though a friend suggested "The Relocator" which I like better, though both monikers sound like the title of a Jason Statham (he of "Transporter" fame) movie. Wife and I have wised up and started putting keys and such up higher, but I wasn't wise enough to keep Littlest out of my wallet.

So the other day, I walk into the boys' room and find my Visa. Littlest had found my wallet and started took my emergency credit card out. Cute, huh? Later on, I find him with my wallet again, and this time, the Visa and my money market card are gone. And I couldn't find them, anywhere. The Relocator struck again, and this time he did a good job of relocating the cards. We did find my library card under the bed, but not the two other cards. As a precaution, just to make sure I didn't lose them somewhere (which I'm 99 percent convinced I didn't), we canceled the cards. I'm certain I'm going to find the two cards before the new ones arrive. Or, better yet, Littlest will walk right up to me with one of them in his hands.