Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Kid

This week the kids got a chance to meet one of their distant cousins. We picked up cousin's Dev at Lady Di's cousins home by St. Paul, MN. He is 1 year older than Number One Son and is visiting from Texas so he and N1S spent the entire drive home asking each other what kind of restaurants each state had. It turns out there are a lot more chicken chains in Texas than in Minnesota.

Dev stayed with us for three days and Lady Di packed each day with so many activities that the kids, who are used to staying up late in the summer, pretty much collapsed on their beds and were instantly sleeping each night.

We started off the activities at the zoo.
We paused a moment at the flamingos.

Here are some monkeys looking at some monkeys. Or maybe it's the other way around.
We ended our trip at the butterfly house.

The rest of Dev's stay was occupied by a trip to the beach, swimming in our backyard, going to a movie, playing basketball and eating pizza. Plus a few more outings squeezed in. I'd say a pretty good vacation.

When it was time for Dev to return to LD's cousin's house the kids were disappointed to see him go. Once we got home, LD and I were ready to just rest and have a quiet day. The kids must have gotten used to all of the special activities everyday. They quickly asked, "Well, where are we going tomorrow?"

So now they expect everyday to be a trip to somewhere exciting.

"Yes kids! Tomorrow we will visit a hands-on exhibit of the two messy rooms in Minnesota. And the best part is you will get to actually be in charge of the clean up effort! After that, you can go on a nature walk through beautiful flower gardens, immaculately mowed grass and end with a do-it-yourself artwork project involving chalk and an actual working driveway! So get to bed. You have a big day tomorrow."

Monday, July 20, 2009

All the World's a Stage

We had a nice visit from my sister and her family last week. They have two girls, E who is Sweet Pea's age and her little sister H who is three and a half. As soon as they arrived the kids started playing. When they ran out of toys to drag out, Lady Di suggested that they go to the basement and think up a show to perform. We have a cabinet full of old costumes in the basement that helped with the creativity. Actually, each 30 second show was pretty much based on which costume each kid wanted to wear and less upon plot and storyline. One of the plays was titled, "The Beautiful Princess and Darth Vader". It involved a tale of a beautiful princess walking around humming to herself when Darth Vader enters and menacingly shouts, "Where is the princess!?"

Then both actors ran offstage down to the basement.

Here is the cast of "The Soldier, The Princess and The Hunter".
The next still photo is a promotion for the upcoming "Princess and the Pea" production. Starring Sweet Pea as 'the princess', Number One Son as 'the mattress' and cousin E's debut as 'the Pea'.

Little cousin H got stage fright and was unable to perform unfortunately.

When the cousins had to leave at the end of the day we thought the theatre district would close down for the day, but there was one last performance on the marquee. We were able to sneak a camera into the theatre to snap this photo from the play, 'Disco Darth Vader vs Spiderman Scooby-Doo with antlers'.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baseball and Earplugs

Last Saturday was a busy one for our household. For starters, Sweet Pea's girl scout troop, along with many other troops in the area, was invited to the Metrodome to see a Twins game. Before the game, the scouts got to parade across the field in their tunics and wave to the crowd. Luckily, SP allowed her brother to attend the game with her since he is such a Twins fan.

Unfortunately, Lady Di and I had other, unbreakable plans for that evening. We are fortunate, however, to have a great babysitter who was willing to take the kids and enjoy the game with them. LD went with them to settle them into the Dome and get Number One Son his BIG PRETZEL and SP her bag-o-cotton-candy. Once the snacks were arranged, LD met me at the Target Center for our night out.

We attended our first rock concert in fourteen years. Green Day is one of my favorite bands so LD got tickets for my Father's Day gift. At the arena, I was surprised to see that we weren't the oldest couple there. In fact, Green Day fans are pretty much represented by all age groups. We were also shocked to find out how many parents brought their young children, seven years old and up, to the concert. N1S is a big Green Day fan, but not all of their songs are appropriate for kids. Plus, I'm not sure if his ears could have handled the volume of the music and special effects. There were more times than once that LD and I got the phlegm in our chest pounded loose by the drums and various explosions throughout the concert.

Sitting next to us was a boy that was no older than seven with his father. Half way through the show, the seven year old sat back in his seat bored while his Dad air-guitared the rest of the set. The lead singer Billie Joe even pulled two eleven year old boys on the stage to help with the show. To some of the parents' credit many of the young kids we saw had ear plugs but not all of them. The youngest we saw in attendance, was a pregnant woman's yet unborn child. I wonder how rock music sounds in the womb.

Even with all of the pyrotechnics and light show, we were both continually distracted by people watching. Just to our right were a pair of seventies-friz-haired twins who seemed to think they were the backup dancers for the band. From the first song, they were completely in sync with each other doing a dance that looked like they were trying to row a boat with very tiny quick strokes. About half way through the concert though, their choreography started to fall apart as one of the team started running out of gas.

We sat at the top of the lower section on the opposite side of the arena from the stage. Even though we were at the top of our section, we had steps and a walkway just two rows in front of us. I thought, "these are going to be great seats". At my advanced age I don't need to be 'moshing' in front of the stage. I also felt that my ears were a semi-comfortable distance from the speakers. And the best part was, since we were away from the stage with only two people in front of us, I was going to be able to enjoy the music from my seat and not feel the need to stand throughout the concert. However, when Green Day came out on stage and played that first note, the Mom and her teenage son sitting in front of us immediately stood up and stayed that way until the encore. I thought, "Come on, Mom! There is absolutely no one in front of you! You don't have to stand!".

So I shook my cane at her, put my teeth back in and shouted something about 'whippersnappers' and grumbled myself to my feet. She must not have heard me over the music because she just kept clapping and shaking her booty. I guess she did sit down once during the show to pay the drink vendor for her strawberry margarita in a plastic hurricane glass, while her teenage son held it for her and kept trying to sneak a taste while pretending to only smell it.

The evening ended with a five song encore and our legs and ears were still working. We went home right afterwards to give our babysitter her bag of money and pretty much went straight to bed. We are old after all.

It was difficult to get a good picture of the stage from where we were and LD wouldn't let me post the picture I got of her trying to jimmie the lock on Billie Joe's dressing room back stage.

It was a great show and a memorable night. Thank you again, Lady Di. I'd say we are probably good on concerts for another fourteen years now. Unless, Green Day comes back sooner.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's A Sunshine Day

So far, I can't complain about our summer. The weather has been close to perfect almost every day. The kids have been having fun with various outside activities. And I have been mowing the lawn. In Minnesota, we complain all winter long about the weather. So when summer finally comes, we don't want to miss a day because we know snow and ice will eventually return and we will be wishing for those past warm summer nights.

But it seems that every summer I reach a point where I am tired of all the nice weather. I know it sounds illogical since we only have three months of warmth to savor each year. In June, we get to experience the outdoors without coats for the first time and everyone is excited to start swimming, fishing and camping.

In July, we are into summer full force with outside activities planned for every day off. And every day at work is spent anticipating getting outside when work is over.

Which brings me to mid-July. At this time of the year, I start to grow weary of warm sunny weather. I enjoy the comfort of wearing shorts but am tired of making sure I take full advantage of a clear summer day. It's a 'too much of a good thing' scenario. Because of our short summer season, I feel guilty if I do anything inside. If I am inside the house, I am not enjoying the nice weather enough. But sometimes I just want to watch television. Is that so wrong? This morning I woke up to overcast skies with a threat of rain. I was overjoyed. Now I had an excuse to stay in. I didn't have any nice weather to feel guilty about not enjoying.

Well, the 'rain out' was short lived. A few sprinkles in the morning were chased away by Mr. Happy Sunshine by mid morning and I was forced to go outside once again. Groan! Not another perfect day!

I know where these feelings come from too. My mother. I'm sure your mothers did this to you too and we are conditioning our kids in the same way. When the day is nice, it's instinct to tell the kids, "Don't waste this beautiful day inside. Go outside and play."

Here's a few of our 'sunshine day' activities that we have enjoyed so far this year thanks to our mothers.
Swimming at the beach.
Playing soccer.
Girl Scout camp.
Golf camp.

And here's an update on the pumpkin patch. Still no blooms, but the plants are starting to crawl around their pen. We've certainly had enough sunshine for them.

So enjoy the summer everyone. But if you want to stay in today and watch television, I will understand.

Friday, July 3, 2009

This Old Man

The kids are growing up so fast lately, it seems that just last week they were still sleeping in cribs. This thought really hit home with me recently. With the kids' busy schedules, it is hard to find time to get both kids to their activities on time. Last Spring was one of those times when I was at work and Lady Di needed to get Sweet Pea to her dance lesson. Number One Son had homework and piano to practice and he really didn't want to get dragged to his sister's dance practice anyway. I would be home in less than an hour and N1S is old enough to be on his own a little bit. Many of his friends and classmates have been on their own at home for years, but we have been dragging our feet in this regard. It's not that we didn't trust N1S to be on his own, we just didn't want to let our child be so grown.

By allowing him to be on his own for an extended period of time has signalled the beginning of his independence. His lessening need for his parents assistance. His growing up.

I didn't want to face it. I wanted our kids to stay our little ones forever. When they no longer depend upon us for everything and anything, it tells me that I am growing older too. It won't be too long before we will no longer need babysitters. We'll be able to leave whenever we want, but will we want to? I know when the kids were little they would often drive me crazy by following me around everywhere I went and not allowing me a minute's privacy. Now I find myself seeking them out in the house when I realize that I've been sitting alone in front of the television for twenty minutes. I'm not ready to not be the center of their universe yet.

I know I have to let them go sometime, but I don't have to like it. One sign of N1S's evolution was a conversation we had recently. He had invited a friend to come over on Friday. On the day before, I asked him if he was excited that his friend was coming over to play the next day. He said, "Dad, don't say 'play' anymore. Say, 'coming over to hang out'." So now he's too old to play.

In the other bedroom, his little sister, like many younger siblings, is trying to keep up with her big brother in everything. She has already tried to set up her own playdates with her friends on many occasions. Without telling us anything about it. On one occasion, her friend's parent actually showed up to drop off their kid without calling ahead. Luckily, we were home at the time.

It won't be long before there are many things we, as parents, will be left out of. As the kids grow they need their own lives and privacy. We just have to hope that they know that they can always come to Mom and Dad when they need it. No matter how old they are, they can always be our little ones again.

This year I may let N1S light a few of his own fireworks for the fourth. And I'm sure Sweet Pea will right in line asking when it will be her turn.

Have a safe and sane fourth everyone. Celebrate with a big 4th of July family play date.

Stuff About Me

My photo
I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.