Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Parent-Teacher Conference

I had my one and only parent-teacher conference with Maddux's teacher this morning. I was a little concerned that I may get an earful about behavior 'concerns' due to some recent bits of info the teacher has passed my way in the carpool line. Maddux assured me that she has made all good choices since our return from Washington though, so I was hoping for the best.

No surprises: the only 'less-than-good' feedback applied to things we'd already discussed. I guess our main concern was that Maddux was testing limits more than other kids, causing a disturbance in the classroom. The teacher downplayed that, acknowledging that she is four and on-track for her age. Academically she is great, and that is actually where she does best. Mad Dog's teacher claims that when it's time for table work, Maddux is on-task totally, eager to please and do the work correctly. It's the free-play-time that gets her in trouble. (Apparently she likes to be the director of what and how the other kids play. Imagine that!)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Madam President

Maddux and I were enjoying a leisurely pancake breakfast this morning; it is Mommy-Maddux Monday and we tend to stretch everything out on those days. Maddie had chosen a place mat with all of the US Presidents on it. As we're finishing up she starts asking me a few questions about them: were any still alive, what were their names, etc. She finishes up by asking if only boys were presidents. I told her that so far, yes, but that girls can be presidents too. Then I asked her if she wanted to be president one day. She told me 'no' because she's too small. I said she could wait until she's older, like a mommy. She still grinned and shook her head. Then I asked her if it seemed like a fun job, and she quickly responded 'no'. Then she asked me if it was (a fun job). I told her it had a lot of responsibility. She gave her goofy smile, stuck her chin in her hand and told me, "I don't want hard 'sponsibility." Awesome.

Monday, January 23, 2012

KidsChess

Eli's school is undergoing some renovations and additions this year, so the amount of cool, after school clubs they host is limited right now. Since Brainy Builders (aka legos) wasn't offered this year, I gave Eli the choice (if he wanted) of participating in Art, Spanish or KidsChess. He opted for Chess, but by the time he chose it over the summer, the spots for fall were already full. Luckily I was able to get him in for the spring, and he started last week.

While I had briefed him on the game before, and reviewed some of the pieces with him before his first day, Eli had never played the game before. His best friend, Drew, was also signed up for the same time slot, so even the word 'excitement' does not do it justice. Eli came home from that first day bubbling about rooks and pawns and 'bush-ups' (bishops). All he wanted to do was play, and while we had ordered a practice chess set, it hadn't arrived yet. Luckily, the next day we found it had been delivered to our doorstep.

Over the weekend I think Eli and I played 37 times. He also taught Maddux pawn chess; it held her attention quite well Saturday morning. I vowed to not 'let' Eli beat me, but I did try to extend the game a bit to let him learn more and enjoy it. By the end of the weekend it took a lot less effort on my part to draw out the game because Eli was already starting to see moves before they happened. So cool.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GIrls' Weekend

Maddux and I just took our first long weekend away together. She and I flew to Washington to see Uncle Jay's twins, Maddux's newest and smallest cousins. I'd already planned to go, help, change diapers, take pictures, rock babies, and get my baby fix, but Lehr had the great idea of bringing Maddux along to hang out with her older cousins and grandparents. She was sooo excited. Well, until the day we left. She went to school that morning and was reminded that the next day was pajama day for her class and she would NOT be there. She was in tears and actually told me that she didn't want to go on the airplane. I was able to calm her down by reminding her that Grandma Cathie and Eden (her 2-year old cousin) were VERY excited she was coming and I was pretty sure they would be on-board for a pajama day with her.

Maddux watched a movie on the first plane, ate and played in an indoor play area in Minneapolis, and then slept on the second plane. We arrived at 11PM Friday night, but she was a rock-star and totally well-behaved. That night she slept with me and barely moved around in the bed (that is odd for her). The next morning she got up and played with Eden and Cole for a few hours while I helped with the babies. Then she, Grandma Cathie and the two older cousins left for Grandma and Grandpa's house. From that point on, I only saw Maddux once each day for dinner. She was way too busy having a blast with everyone to even notice!

I know she went to an indoor pool, and got 'reminded' by the lifeguard how to use the slide properly. I know she went shopping and convinced Grandma Cathie to get her a new swimsuit, and cover-up dress, and flip flops. And I know she got spoiled by love and attention all weekend.

The trip home was the same; Maddux watched a movie and was awesome. We had a VERY bumpy flight for our second plane ride, but she never even noticed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mommy Maddux

It warms my heart when I hear Maddux and a friend or two talk about what they want to be when they grow up. No matter how many fun and cool jobs the other girl(s) throw out there, Maddux almost always states, "I want to be a mommy."

And she does! I know this girl could run the country if she wanted to; she's got enough initiative, charm and spunk to do it. Her calling is to be a caregiver though, even if it's only part of what she does when she grows up.

This morning we were driving to school and Maddux told me (again) that she wants to be a mommy when she grows up, probably because we were just with three younger cousins. Then she tells me, "For brefix (breakfast) every day we'd have oatmeal and pancakes."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Melt, Melt Melt


Introducing my newest niece and (the current object of my affection and keeper of my heart) my newest nephew.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Given the late-night display of Eli's, I opted to have everyone sleep in a little more today, even though we could get into the park as early as 8AM. We got up around 730, got dressed and walked to the bus stop. (I must add that I had a very stern conversation with Eli before we left, letting him know that he would NOT be making choices for the family that day. He needed to remember that 'you get what you get and you don't throw a fit, or you don't get!' I know he was tired, but his meltdown last night was out of control and he was awake enough to know it and choose it. He listened intently, probably because he could tell I meant business, and spent the whole morning bending over backwards to make sure he was pleasant and gracious.)

This park was much closer to our hotel so we were still able to walk through the gates a few minutes before the 9AM opening for everyone else. The main attraction for us was to be the Star Wars 'stuff', so we walked straight over to get a fast pass. On the way we were called in to sign up for Jedi Training. A friend told me about it, but I'd totally forgotten, so I was so glad to have the Disney Cast Member remind us. We signed up and then went right to Star Tours. The kids loved it and we caught a few of the Jedi Trainings before ours. Eli and Maddux LOVED the Jedi Training; they both got to fight Darth Vador and ate up every second of it. Maddux was front and center on the stage and the actress leading the whole thing made a few remarks about 'no one liking a clumsy Jedi' as she looked at her - how fitting :) Then, when she was battling Vador, the same actress told Vador to not anger Maddux because 'look at her'. As if on cue, Maddux kinda lifted her shoulder and smiled at him. Awesome.

We also saw a Little Mermaid show, a Muppets show, a live stunt show, and the kids got to run around a "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" movie set playground. There were a few nighttime shows I'd planned to stay for, but around 4PM, Lehr and I decided to finish our next thing and head back to the hotel. I had a very early alarm for my race (2:45AM) and the kids were visibly tired. Lehr and the kids hit the pool when we got back while I sorted out our suitcases and my race stuff. We met by the pool for a quick bonfire marshmallow roasting and dinner. A great end to another great day!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Disney

So, on Wednesday I told the kids to pack a car suitcase because we were taking a quick road trip to Florida for Mommy's race. The kids were excited because they'd be able to watch a few movies in the car. I also told them I'd pack their suitcase because, even though we'd only be staying one night, there may be a pool at the hotel and they could swim.
video
About half-way to Orlando we stopped for lunch. Lehr had written a note in a blank book for Eli, indicating that we were planning to go to Disney World while we were in Florida instead of just going to Mommy's race. (Maddux got a blank book for character autographs as well.) I shot a short video of Eli reading the note; he kept asking for hours afterward, "Are we REALLY going to Disney World?" We asked both kids what Disney World was and neither could tell us.

We arrived too late to do anything Thursday night, which was fine because we had an early, long day planned for Friday. Lehr and I had made reservations to have breakfast in the Cinderella castle with the Princesses. We were the first family to arrive at the park, which was cool and eerie, all at once. After about an hour of walking around outside of the gates, we got the all-clear sign to come in and go to the castle. It was very very cool to walk along Main Street (at a fast pace, to keep in front) and see the castle with NO ONE else in front of you.

Once we walked into the castle, we were ushered over to Cinderella right away for autographs and a picture. Maddux was awe-struck. We then walked up a winding staircase to a fancy room where we were seated and fed a great breakfast. While we were eating, one at a time, Snow White, Ariel, Belle, and Aurora came through the room, stopping at each table to sign autographs and pose for a picture. Maddux just grinned; she was literally speechless. Our waitress tipped us off to leave breakfast before everyone else and get right in line for Rapunzel/Tangled. We didn't know if it was a ride or what, but she warned us the line soon got out of control. We got very lucky and only waited about 15 minutes. Maddux then got to meet, get an autograph and picture and talk with Rapunzel. She was VERY bubbly and engaging and Maddux loved it. (The boys got us a fast-pass for another ride while we were there.)

From there we rode one of the favorite rides, the race cars. Maddux navigated a car with me and Eli drove one with Lehr. It felt like bumper cars due to the constant impact of the car on the 'track' that kept us somewhat straight. The kids really really liked that one. From there we moved around the park, stopping for rides and attractions very often, and food out of our backpack or from a quick street vendor almost as often. Maddux and Eli also loved the teacups (much to our displeasure); it was the ride that Rapunzel told Maddux to go on. We continued around the park until 7PM when we found a spot along the parade route. We were lucky to catch a short glimpse of a show performed on the stage in front of the castle while we waited. A group of teenagers sat next to us and let the kids sit in front of them to get a better view, and even lifted Maddux up to see the princesses up for a while. At 8PM the Main Street Electric Parade started. So cool. The kids really liked it, and we had an unobstructed view. Right after that they showed a quick 'show' on the castle, and then it went straight into the fireworks. Wow. Eli couldn't stop saying that: Wow.

By the time all of that was done, it was late and we walked quickly to the buses, along with the rest of the park. Our hotel was about 20 minutes from Disney, and then our stop was about 20 minutes into the hotel 'complex'. Maddux fell asleep on Lehr's lap almost immediately. Eli made it until we entered the hotel area, but we were carrying both kids to the room. In the transfer from clothes to PJs to bed, Eli melted down about something, but that was the only 'bad' moment of the whole day.

This ended up being a really awesome and successful day. The kids were on their feet for 16 hours (no stroller) and we had a great time. We were able to do every ride we wanted, a few of them even twice, and we never waited more than 25 minutes in any lines. Most of the time it was 10 minutes or less. Life is good.