Saturday, May 31, 2008

Playing ball with Dad

Michael took the kids to the park to play ball while I was cleaning the house and doing the laundry. He called to see if I would come play, but I figured it was an excellent opportunity to accomplish some shoveling without the snowstorm (reference: cleaning the house with kids around is like shoveling snow in a snowstorm). The second time he called he sounded so disappointed that I wouldn't come I decided to take a break and get some pictures.

Recently when Ethan was at the Father's and Son's outing the boys all played some baseball. Ethan hadn't been taught how to throw, hit or catch the ball and his lack of form was apparently very embarrassing for Michael.

He's made it a point to take Ethan out and show him proper techniques to both throw and catch. Just in one day he made terrific progress. The boys were so excited to toss the ball around with Daddy that Ethan started giving Elle some pointers and would gingerly toss the ball into her glove. She was so excited when it would land in her glove.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Filling Momma's shoes

Elle has found my only pair of heels in the closet and decided to claim them as her own. She loves wearing them all over the house and even wanted to wear them when we went out today.

A little princess walking around in her momma's heels is so classic!

Elle has also found my bag of material scraps which she loves to get into. She'll take out some piece of material and have me tie it around her wrist or drape it over her head, all the while saying, "So pretty. I'm a princess!"

Ethan on the other hand has used the same bag of material scraps to give Hunter a wildly nasty Indian burn on the back of his neck. Apparently that was the "fee" for use of the living room swing as dictated by Ethan. Hunter went along with it until he realized how much it hurt. As a punishment Ethan went on restriction from TV and has to make Hunter's bed for a week. He begged for a spank instead.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Novelty Toothbrushes

The boys needed new toothbrushes so when I was at the store with Hunter I let him pick out race car toothbrushes for himself and Ethan. Next thing I know they are "racing" their toothbrushes all over the house and the bristles look worse than on the toothbrushes I was replacing.

"What? You didn't see that one coming?"


Friday, May 16, 2008

Night time antics

Michael gave Elle a bath in the downstairs shower. She was having a fit about it, so he decided to play with her hair a bit to get her OK with the deviation in the normal routine. With her hair soaped up he started molding it into a cupie doll look, followed by a troll hair-do...mow-hawk, spikes, etc. She is very much into hair (among all the other girlie things that is so stereotypical for her) and she loved all the different styles.

After we put the kids to bed I went to check on them before going to bed myself. They had all climbed into Elle's crib which was cute, but silly considering the HOT weather. I took this picutre before breaking up the nest.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

From bad to worse

I got the water bill for the last three months and much to my surprise our usage spiked to almost double of what we usually use. I showed Michael, but despite all our best efforts, we couldn't come up with any good reason for the sudden change.

So, it's two weeks after we got the bill and as I was giving the children a bath the water never really got warm. Since it had been hot all day the water was comfortably cool, but in trying to adjust the temperature I finally turned off the cold water with only the hot spikett open but only cool water was coming out. I went down and asked Michael to check the pilot light. He said to wait longer for the water to warm up, but I insisted so he went out to check. I knew he found something bad when he turned the hot water off.

I went down, "You found a leak, didn't you" Apparently years ago when Michael's dad put the water heater in he installed copper piping directly to steel connections. Electrolysis. I went out to look. The whole water heater cabinet was soaking wet from the leak, the water heater was badly damaged and rusted. I guess it was just within the last three months that the connection finally gave up and started leaking.

Michael sent me down to the local hardware store to get 2 steel hoses. When I brought them back it turned out that they weren't long enough so he sent me back to get longer hoses.

His work truck was in the driveway, the Land Cruiser was blocked in so I drove his truck both times. I don't particularly like driving it because it's SO big and difficult for me to navigate. On my way back to the hardware store the second time I turned the corner and didn't swing wide enough so the back end of the truck hit a parked car on the corner.

I pulled over to asses the damage and try and contact the people whose house it was in front of. They weren't home so I left a note. I didn't have my camera either. I went home because by then the hardware store had closed and Michael had to go to the next city over before Home Depot closed at 9pm.

I went back about a half hour later to take pictures of the damage and the people were home so I knocked on their door. It was a guy and his girlfriend who lived there. It was his truck. He was nice and understanding.

I suggested that we could pay for the repairs out of pocket since they were minor. The tail light was broken, some paint scratches, and the bumper was bent. The girlfriend was a real (bad word edited out)....just a real nasty person. But I suppose she can be that way because she was "hot", as Michael put it.

The guy was OK with handling it privately, but said that it was probably a lot worse than I thought. He was saying that it was going to be two weeks to repair, car rental during that time and $5000 for the restoration. Uhh....

He wanted to get my driver's license information and insurance info (just in case), but since I just came back down to get pictures I left my purse at home. I drove back to get it. When I got back I went looking for the insurance card in the Land Cruiser (which would have been the wrong one anyway), but I couldn't' find it. I told the guy I could call him with the information, but the girlfriend must have thought we didn't even have insurance. When Michael pulled up right after I left he re-iterated that we would pay for it out of pocket. At that point the girlfriend accused, "Do you even HAVE insurance?!?" Michael started citing the vehicle code to them and shut her down. "Oh, you sound like a cop."

Right. I just hit your car with no witnesses and came back to tell you about it even though I don't have insurance. Duh!

I called the guy back with the insurance phone number and our policy number for the truck and left the information on his voice mail.

I want to to the right thing, but if the girlfriend makes things nasty and gets the insurance involved we could probably demand that they pay for half since they were parked in a red zone. It's probably red because that area is so close to the corner. When I was talking to them it came out that this isn't the first time their car has been hit sitting on that corner. No, REALLY!??
We did get the right parts for the water heater and Michael got it all put back together for hot showers in the morning. It's amazing how things can go from bad to worse so quickly. I should be happy. It could have been MUCH worse. The water heater is still working, Michael was able to fix it, we got to the other hardware store before it closed and got the parts for cheaper than the local store, nobody was hurt in the fender bender, and really...despite what spanky says, the damage wasn't that bad.


We went to Habitot for the first time in a while. They don't have free parking, which is probably why it's been so long. They've added quite a bit to their water play and grocery store since last we were there. The kids spent a lot of time in the water play area. They brought in little cars to make a car wash. The kids rode around in one and "washed" the other, which I thought was smart since they weren't getting themselves wet by washing both.

Elle spent a bit of time making the art project. They had several salad spinners with paper plates, paint and droppers for the paint. She would put drip paint onto her plate and then put the lid on and spin it making neat designs. Hunter had me write his name in paint and then spun it, which looked really cool. Ethan only put paint around the edges of his plate so the design looked rather striking.

I mostly just followed Elle around and let the boys run on their own. Habitot is the smallest of any of the places we go so they were relatively easy to keep track of. Hunter went and painted his face in the dress up area. Ethan and he played make believe in the space ship and launching station they had set up. In the construction zone Ethan used the building materials to build a "house". What he did was make an outline, kind of like a live architectural floor plan. He showed me everybody's bedrooms and the door and all the other aspects of his creation. It was impressive.

One of Elle's favorite things at any museum are the areas where she can pretend to be like Mom. She went into the little store and went shopping with a little grocery cart. She brought it over to me and we talked about all the things she picked out and she pretended to eat each one after we talked about it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Running through the sprinklers

We had a bit of a heat wave this week. On Wednesday we have Denver over for a play date. After I picked them up from TinyTots and fed everybody lunch we headed up to Grandma's for some time in the sprinklers. We brought the squirt guns from the Father's and Son's outing and balls. There was lots of running and screaming to begin with, but as they got their energy out they began experimenting with the spirnkler and all the towels that were provided.

I remember playing in the sprinklers as a child. It's one of those "must's" of childhood. Fortunately Grandma has a great backyard for this kind of thing. After they finished soaking all their towels we dumped the ice maker out on the lawn for them to play with. They thought it was great fun to throw the ice-cubes up in the air and watch them shatter on the patio. I sat just inside the door so I could keep and eye on them and watched a movie on Grandma's laptop.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thoughts on Mother, from the boys.

My mother has black hair
My mother is ____ years old
My mother's shoe size is _______.
My mother likes to work.
My mother is happy when I cooperate in school.
My mother is sad when I grow up.
The funniest thing I ever saw my mother do was act like a monkey.
The funniest thing I ever did with my mother was _____________.
I like when my mother _________for me.
I like to help for my mother.
My mother's favorite food is vegetables.
My mother does not like to eat candy.
If I could give my mother anything, I'd give her a hug and a kiss.
The first thing my mother does when she wakes up is take a shower.
I love when my mother squirts me with squirt guns.
I love my mother because she lets me play with squirt guns.
The color my mom likes best is burgundy.
Her favorite TV show is ________.
Her favorite scripture is _______.

My mother has black hair
My mother is 10 years old
My mother's shoe size is 23.
My mother likes to work on her computer.
My mother is happy when it's Mother's Day.
My mother is sad when it's Christmas.
The funniest thing I ever saw my mother do was do a funny face.
The funniest thing I ever did with my mother was go crazy.
I like when my mother makes food for me.
I like to make presents for my mother.
My mother's favorite food is potatoes.
My mother does not like to eat nothing.
If I could give my mother anything, I'd give her water.
The first thing my mother does when she wakes up is stretch and yawn.
I love when my mother draws chalk with me.
I love my mother because she's so nice.
The color my mom likes best is pink.
Her favorite TV show is some girl show.
Her favorite scripture is ones about the Holy Ghost.

A little dialog about my Mother's day (report) cards. (Hey, out of the mouths of babes you can learn quite a bit about yourself.) I can only figure that my favorite foods are vegetables and potatoes because they are the least favorite of the boys. I make such a big deal about how good they are and they should at least try them, it would only be a natural conclusion that they're my favorite.

I suppose it's a good thing that they perceive my favorite thing to do is work. One year I got a mother's day (report) card from Ethan that said, "All day my mother watches TV while I sleep" I was so indignant when I read it, "I do NOT watch TV all day" I would watch after they went to bed, which is probably were that came from.

"My mother is sad when I grow up." Ethan must notice when I get sentimental about how big he is getting. Sometimes in a silly mood I'll bring him on my lap and kiss him all over and call him "Baby Ethan" and cuddle him like a baby again. He likes it, but I see now that he gets what the underlying message is.

I laughed a great big belly laugh when I read, "act like a monkey". Guilty. I was in the kitchen and the boys were eating either breakfast or lunch. I don't remember what brought it on, but I did, in fact, act out a very good monkey.

Yes, I am happy when Ethan is cooperative with his lessons. He gets in moods that are quite impossible and it wears me a lot. I make sure to appreciate him A LOT when he's in the zone for making progress on his lessons.

The boys all just went to the Father's and Sons outing up in Lake Berryessa. I bought them a pair of cheap flashlights and some water guns for the annual water fight. They all run around getting dirty and wet...doing all those things that moms would frown on like peeing in the bushes and playing pranks and staying up WAY too late. Apparently the Bishop took his scuba gear and played lake monster for everyone who went out in the canoe. I imagine it's something like Lord of the Flies for a day. They all have great fun and when they get home it's a big pile of dirty wet clothes and dirty stinky boys. Elle and I had a nice girl's weekend with a picnic, bubble bath games and then she slept in my bed. Anyway, I suppose Ethan was super grateful that I got them the water guns so they could play with the rest of the boys.

Bubbly water is one of my favorite things. Ohhh it's SOOOO good! I got hooked when I was in the Canary Islands. So, it would only seem appropriate that if he could give me anything, Hunter would want to give me water.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cherubs to the farm

Cherubs has an annual trip to the farm that we participated in again. Cherubs is a 0-5 singing group that was organized as a retirement project by Atha Petty about 15 years ago. I haven't been going to Cherubs myself because the boys have out grown it and just run around and disrupt everybody else. So, Grandma has been taking Elle to Cherubs so she can enjoy it. She likes being with her other little friends and she'll come home and sing all the songs. I still participate in that I am helping them convert all their music from the tape system to CD's and digital. It makes the monthly music preparation MUCH quicker.

The farm sits in the middle of Vallejo in a residential neighborhood and right next to a school. I'm not sure it's a really good example of an operating farm because they're slightly disorganized and messy, but they've got all the token animals and a rather large collection of ducks and aggressive geese. Elle had a run in with two geese in particular that came down the path towards her honking loudly and weren't afraid of people in the least. Elle got VERY upset and started screaming and backed off the path over a vegetable of some sort. The geese were just eye level with her, and I'm sure I'd be scared too if something my size came at me like that.

The kids fed the animals little scraps of bread or leafy green stuff. We saw one of Grandma's turkeys that she donated to the farm two years ago. She had originally gotten two turkeys with the intention of making them Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. However, they got SO big that they were too much to handle in butchering, de-feathering and cooking. Fortunately for them, right?

We went through the whole place in about an hour, which I didn't expect. I brought a lunch. It worked out though because the boys stopped listening and I declared an end to the outing. They kept throwing rocks at the ducks despite more than one request to stop. Whenever we go anywhere I remind them as we are going in what happens when they stop listening. They faithfully reply in unison, "We go home." At least they know the consequences and more importantly that I'll follow through and do it. Poor Elle, who was also throwing rocks, had to be carried out kicking and screaming. I just reminded her all the way back to the car how she didn't listen and this was the consequence. I figure it saves me more headaches in the long run.

Friday, May 2, 2008

All of Daddy's helpers

Michael went to the store to get a new pair of pants and of course he brought all of his "helpers". The kids were SUPER excited to go shopping. They wanted to be a part of every aspect of the clothing adventure. I caught this picture before Michael put a stop to it. It was too classic to pass up!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Exploring Nature

We went to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum today. We've been there before so I didn't bother to check the times. Much to my surprise the hours had changed and it didn't open until noon. Fortunately they have rather large grassy fields with play equipment right next door.

It's surprising to me how well the boys interact with other children...making friends very easily and making up games that anyone who wants to play, can. They're not discriminatory based on age. I think that's a big benefit of using the Thomas Jefferson model. Grouping of children according to birth year can breed envy of those older, contempt for those younger, and alienation from siblings.” (Oliver DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education).

Elle decided to be adventurous and climb a tall bar structure with a steep slide. The only other way down was to climb back down the bars. Elle navigated fairly well up, but got stuck and couldn't figure out how to get down.

I watched how Ethan noticed that Elle was not running around with them and started looking for her. When he found her at the top he organized himself and Hunter to help her down the slide. One of them was at the top and the other was encouraging her from the bottom with promises to catch her. They got her down safely and the games with their new friends continued. Later on Elle found a younger child than her and "helped" him on the slide. It was really quite cute, although I'm not sure he considered all of her interaction "help".

We had lunch on the picnic tables and then went in right when they opened at noon. The kids got half sheets of paper with different animals to find. I told them that they would get a prize if they found everything. They really liked the scavenger hunt. The only hard thing to find was the whale, which ironically enough was painted on the floor right under our noses.

We were watching the turtle out on her mat eating dandelions when we all heard snarls and roars coming from around the corner. The resident mountain lion was playing with her ball. She was rescued from a guy who kept her as a pet. He went out of town and asked the neighbor kid to throw a whole chicken from the store over the fence every day. He got curious and peeked through the fence and saw the mountain lion. She was badly emaciated and malnourished, not to mention she had been de-clawed. Fish and game seized her that day, but the muscular damage was long term. She looks healthy now, but she has a hard time moving around, so her small enclosure at the museum would have been too small for any other mountain lion, was just right for her.

Field trip days are always the best because I plan super easy dinners, the kids go to bed early and stay there and then I get to watch LOST.