Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No school!

Dima's off school today since the teachers in our school district have decided to strike. I guess this could be a good thing if the strike continues during our Vermont vacation next week. At least then he won't miss any school days. We had a nice leisurely breakfast this morning, the kind we have in the summer when we're not rushing out the door for anything. I made eggs and bacon while the kids goofed around in the playroom. Then while I cleaned up from breakfast they played some more and of course Dima was hitting things and totally wound up - he always is for some reason or another, but I had him take a little time out and once he finished that he did seem to have settled himself down enough to play nicely.

While he's out of school I decided to have our own lessons here, I'm continuing writing numbers by having him fill in the blanks from 1-31 like they had been doing in class. Josh sat with us at the kitchen table and I gave him construction paper and markers to "decorate" the paper and then let him have at it with the scissors and Mr. Destructo created a mess of teeny little pieces of paper all over the place. He was kept busy then after the cutting, cutting, cutting by taking each bit to our recycling bin. Since Josh keeps asking when we're leaving for ski school we made a construction paper chain with one link to represent each day until we leave. Josh still gets a little confused about when a new day starts since they take naps and sometimes he thinks it's a new day when they get up from nap. After the paper chain I showed Dima how to make a "hot air balloon" out of construction paper by using two sheets of different colored paper and making them into stripes then alternating them to make a stripey balloon. Now I'm planning to keep the pieces of paper for him to use as a puzzle.

Josh saw skiers doing jumps and moguls on TV over the weekend and as he was going into school yesterday he was saying that he's gonna tell his teacher the he can do that. I can only imagine what he'll do when he gets on skis and tries to imitate what he saw.

This teachers strike should be interesting cause if it goes on for a while Dima will have days off now that Josh doesn't have off and then later when they make the time up Josh will be off while Dima's at school. The news says it could go on 12-22 days but we haven't used up any snow days yet so that could make rescheduling of the time easier.

After we drop Josh off in the mornings I'm thinking I'll take Dima for walks in the parks we usually go to so we can both get some exercise and we'll do more writing lessons to settle in at naptime and just before bed. Since Josh is still in school we'll keep our same routine as far as no TV on school nights and normal bedtime so he can get himself up and out in the mornings.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

v a c a t i o n

I must say that going on our little get away over the weekend was nice for me because I really did have a chance to relax a bit since I didn't think about what I needed to do (laundry, dishes, cleaning up) while we were there and could actually sit down, either with the kids or by myself to goof around with them or to just do nothing once in a while. Another benefit of the salty air is that the boys are both still pretty tired and taking long naps each day which gives me more time to catch up on stuff around the house.

Chris built some shelves in our garage while we were gone and we intend to store our Christmas decorations and stuff like that out there. Yes, on January 23rd our Christmas stuff is still around, though it's in boxes and ready to be stored it's still in the way so I'm trying to get that stuff ready to throw on the shelves when they're finished - okay, maybe we'll gently place them since they're mostly breakables. But since the kids are still snoozing at 4:15 I've had more time than usual to get my stuff done and get that done.

I do think Josh is in some kind of growth spurt. He was extremely sassy last week - as in refusing to go into the school when we got there on Wednesday and being more sassy than his usual four-year-old defiant self. I was told a while ago by our real estate agent that she noticed that her kids would get like that and be unusually hungry just around a growth spurt. Over the weekend I took along and made 2 pounds of macaroni and cheese and mixed in some peas to have with our entree and josh ate the meat plus most of the mac and cheese w/ peas, in one sitting!! Dima and I each had smallish portions compared to what Josh ate. He's always been a pasta / starch / bread kind of kid. He can put away piece after piece of French toast on weekend mornings until his little belly is puffed out. My theory of the Sassy Little Man growth spurt was proven true since he can suddenly reach up to turn off the light switch in Dima's room after trying for months to turn it off after Goodnight prayers.

My vacation is about to be extended even more since Chris got me a gift certificate for a spa at Christmas time and I booked an appointment for this coming Sunday. Not only will I enjoy being there and being pampered like that I'll also just enjoy looking forward to it.

Tomorrow is Thursday so that means I take the boys for skating lessons in the afternoon after school. If it's nice enough maybe we'll picnic somewhere instead of coming back here since the rink is closer to school than it is to home.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Winter Fun at the Beach

Once I figured out that Chris was going to a hockey game with his Dad and brothers for this past weekend and realized that it was a long weekend I decided the I wanted to DO something so I took the boys to Ocean City, New Jersey. We left on Saturday after Dima was done with his skating lessons, the kids ate lunch on the way there so by the time we got there we could check in to the hotel and get moving and explore the place. The Flanders Hotel http://www.theflandershotel.com/
was really, really nice. I got a one bedroom suite with a kitchen so I could take stuff and make our own meals which worked out well so that I didn't have to plan around getting hungry kids out to a restaurant especially since it's off season I didn't even know how many places would actually be open. Our passes through the lobby -with lots of antiques- were the worst for me with trying to keep both boys from touching anything. On the way down I rehearsed ahead of time what would probably happen when I was checking in and they did sit nicely for a moment until they decided to goof around on the circular sofa and Dima then got wound up and had trouble calming himself as he often does in exciting situations like that... and that was only the beginning of the excitement.

Once we checked out the hotel room we got bundled up - it was around 25-30 degrees and super windy the whole time we were there- and walked down to the beach and boardwalk. The beach was great cause the kids could run, run, run to burn up energy and it was sheltered from the wind and while it was really windy when there were no buildings to shelter us from the wind the boardwalk was fun cause the kids could look at the stuff in the windows, including Dima's favorite Hot Air Balloon figurines and lots of car things for Josh to look at. It was nice to have that time to get out an walk, a very nice change from out usual walks around the neighborhood. Saturday afternoon we found an arcade and spent some time playing skeeball and Josh "drove" one of the cars on a video game, like a maniac I might add, steering allover the sidewalks and bashing into things while I pushed the gas pedal for him. There was an amusement area that we could see from our suite that we could walk through and just the excitement of seeing the rides had the two of them going "Look at THAT!!" - okay for Josh it sounds more like "Wook..." but seeing the stuff through their eyes is interesting and fun. Josh saw the train tracks and followed them to a garage and was even thrilled that the train was inside. He also had a great time digging in the sand while Dima and found seashells. At first Josh wanted to keep every shard of a shell that he found but then he lost interest and wanted to dig, dig dig. They both liked watching how the sand would blow around while we were walking and looking between the cracks of the boardwalk for frost that hadn't melted. While we walked along it was like Josh was providing our soundtrack cause he usually sings whatever song pops into his mind and doesn't have a problem with other people hearing him sing at the top of his lungs. There were pirate ship replicas over the boardwalk so then he'd sing about the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, from Veggie Tales and other times he asked me to remind him of different lyrics including " Walking around the Christmas Tree'" his version of Rockin around the Christmas Tree from Home Alone.

Sunday morning we were walking pretty early when Josh saw that the arcade was closed and literally threw himself on the ground crying - I'm picturing an ad for that arcade in there somewhere... but he poor kid really wanted to go back in to play, then he was clamped onto my legs for a while and got upset that he was cold and trying to explain that if we'd get moving we'd warm up was not easy. We did end up back in the room and most of our time there was spent with one of Josh's favorite things at the moment, his superheroes puzzle or there were some toys there, an Noah's ark and Mr. Potato head and a little car that kept Dima busy cause he'd just spin around in circles on his knees to watch the little beads inside it move.

The place also had videos and I let them watch Home Alone and they thought it was the funniest thing ever. I was a little hesitant to let them see it again - since they start replaying dialogue from movies after they've seen them a few times and I really didn't want them to start saying some of the stuff from that movie. During the movie I had a little discussion about how some things aren't nice to say and either they actually listened to me or what they heard didn't have that much of an impact.

Getting the kids to sleep was a bit of a juggling act, Saturday I decided to let Dima stay up while Josh went in to the king bed - another thing that they thought was really cool - since he yaks and sings to himself while he's falling asleep. Dima is good about going to bed and lying quietly till he's asleep so that way worked best. On Sunday night I experimented with letting Josh stay up and that was a mistake cause he woke Dima up with his chatter when he hit the bed then the two of them were goofing around and after it became obvious that they weren't going to get much sleeping done I went in to lay between them so they'd quiet down. There was a pull out sofa bed - another thing that they thought was amazing. I spent the first night there but since I read about the resident ghost on the Flanders website I left the bathroom light - which I probably would have anyway - and a small kitchen light and had to look around the room anytime I woke up during the night. I felt a little better with in the same room as the kids and was hoping that Josh wouldn't tell me about seeing "angels" in his bed as he has on occasion in the past. Talk about an un-relaxing way for me to spend my night!!

We had a really nice time waking up together on Monday morning and then getting out to walk the beach one last time. I asked for and got extended check out so we could have half a day down there and we left for home after lunch. Even thought we didn't stray much from our normal routine while we were gone, it was nice to have a change of scenery. Josh must have been exhausted cause he slept most of the way home and again once we settled in for a nap here. I for one am already looking forward to nap time this afternoon. It is always nice to get back to your own (ghost-free) bed once you've been away.

As I'm writing this Dima's at school and Josh is going through his toys as if he missed them. At times he wants me to read for him or play games with him like his matching game and other times he wants to play all "my by" self he's good at doing his own thing and he's very focused on what he's doing and it's kind of nice for him to not have to share his stuff or my attention.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Philadelphia Zoo

The weather for the past few days has been especially warm - 65 and yes, it is still January! A friend was planning to take her daughter to the zoo so we decided to tag along. I actually remember some of the sculptures and the fountain just inside the gate from times I was there as a kid. We saw lots of animals and my theory on that one is that they've been inside because of the cold like we were and they appreciated getting out and about as much as we did. There were lots of humans out too, it was hard to find a parking space. It was nice to get out and walk for a while. Of course Dima's favorite thing about the zoo was the simulated rain storm in the crocodile / alligator house. Josh says his favorite thing was the "aminals". When pressed for more information he says his favorite thing was a bear that kind of ran inside the enclosure in a rather aggressive way toward my friend and her daughter I guess it was the most action we saw all day other then otters playing around. Memorable but not so funny to the adults. It was a little un-nerving after a kid was just killed in a zoo, but he and his friends were taunting the animals. The bears seemed like they were pacing and kind of agitated and there is a tree that overhangs the enclosure if it really wanted to you wonder if it could jump on the tree and climb out. On the way to the zoo Dima did get to see a person getting put into a cop car in handcuffs and I had to try to explain that even adults have rules to follow and when you break them you get put into handcuffs and taken to big time out in jail. He sure had lots of questions about that one.

Josh certainly had a full day yesterday. We started with a trip to an audiologist at the recommendation of his pediatrician. When they did routine ear tests something didn't seem right with his left ear so they asked for further testing. Of course he was gabbing with all the kids around him and the staff there and playing inside a big car in the reception area. The testing went very well, he sat very still and concentrated and did what he was asked and he's got normal hearing - and I for one am so glad that he does I was having a tough time thinking of putting the poor kid who already has glasses into some kind of hearing aid. After the testing we hit the local playground to reward him for behaving so nicely then to Wegmans where they have a train suspended from the ceiling and he's easily amused in there so I park him where he can see the train then run down the aisle I'm shopping in to get what we need. Then after we picked Dima up from school we did another playground to burn up some energy before we drove to the zoo.

Of course the excitement of the zoo was making Dima jump out of his skin. I had to tell him to stop running ahead of us so many times that I just ended up having him hold on to the stroller handle - I still take the stroller to places like that so Josh doesn't have to beg me to carry him. He's not a huge fan of walking long distances I think because he really does like to look around and see stuff rather than actually pay attention to where he's going.

I just discovered a great way to get the kids to eat healthy and think it's fun at the same time. We have a bag of tangerines and I let them take the peels off by them selves, they keep showing me their progress and are so proud of themselves that they can do it. Josh just asked for a third so he could do it again. His are a little messy cause he's squishing as he's peeling but that's what we have their Eating Suits (old shirts of my Dad's) for and that's why they both eat over trays that I can pick up and empty into the trash, compost stuff or sink and then wash them off for the next meal. This also gives Josh something to do with his Mr. Destructo side.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Crazy the Lord

Josh had music class at his preschool yesterday and came home singing "Crazy the lord" and fortunately I knew the song from when I was little and knew it was supposed to be "Praise ye the Lord" otherwise I might have questioned what they were trying to teach the kid. He still goes around the house singing bits of Christmas carols with mixed or nonsense up words and now that he's added his new song it cracks me up every time I hear him sing it and I have to stop laughing to tell him P-P Praise ye. The last few days Dima's really got chapped lips cause he's licking them all the time. Two nights ago I put Vaseline on his lips and told him not to lick it off cause it tastes bad so he sits there during bedtime prayers with his lips puffed out so as to not touch them. Last night in the middle of " Now I lay me down to sleep..."I suddenly had a memory of a character from the old show "In Living Color" and started laughing again cause that's really what he looks like. I looked the show up on youtube - you really can find anything on there - and found her it was Wanda I was looking for a link to put here but can't find one that I'd say was rated G. It's safe to say that for as long as he keeps doing that I'm going to be thinking of Wanda at their bedtime.

Since today's Saturday the kids are back to skating lessons and then later on or possibly tomorrow we'll be dis-assembling the Christmas tree. I'm sure we'll have lots of questions about why we're taking it down, as there have been as we've seen the neighbor's stuff disappearing.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Nana and Pop pop's property

Since Chris will be going directly to a Reading Royals game after work today I was trying to think of something unique to do with the boys today after school so that the day wouldn't seem so long with just the three of us and it being so cold out that we're stuck inside. Nana and Pop have a piece of property that they've got a pole barn on so far and will be putting a house there within a few months and we hadn't seen it yet so I decided to drive out there to have a look and maybe have a walk around. It was really muddy so we didn't do any walking - well, I did, but since I didn't think ahead to put boots in the car the boys still had school shoes on and I had them stay in the car while we looked around. On the way there the kids were filled with questions about where the property was and when Nana and Pop pop would be there. I had to explain that they don't live there yet but are moving their stuff to get ready to put the house there and that they will live closer to us than the four hour drive we have to do now to get to Southern Maryland.

Josh asked if they're bringing the old house with them
and I told them the house would be a new one and would be coming on a truck like the ones we've seen lots of times during our trips out to Lancaster. It would be great to be able to be there when the house is delivered, how often do you get to see something like that? The boys were asking if we could play with stuff once we got to the place and it took a while till the concept of Nana and Pop pop not actually being there today sunk in. Dima was intrigued by a windmill that you can see from where the house will be. I took a few pictures of the lot while we were there and drove down the street to check out the neighborhood. The place seems like it's a good spot and should be nice. During the drive the kids were arguing over the words to Christmas songs especially "Here Comes Santa Clause" and Dima kept us posted as we went by different Christmas decorations along the way. Josh was copying what Dima was saying at one point - word for word- and after listening to them for a while I tried to explain to Dima that if he was just quiet that Josh wouldn't have anything to copy but he didn't want to hear that solution so they did it for a while including dima trying to make up new songs so Josh couldn't follow the lyrics. I'm sure that the copying thing came from the movie "Meet the Robinsons" cause that's the movie of the moment since we watched it over the weekend, so now they quote scenes from the movie and want to watch it again and again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Josh started talking about idiots yesterday while he was playing and I asked him a few questions to figure out what he was talking about and narrowed it down to something on the toy globe and apparently he thought it was saying idiots when it said India.

The boys and I went to French Creek Park yesterday for a hike and lunch in the park. It was cold but as long as we were walking it wasn't too bad. Josh started complaining about being tired after we'd been walking for maybe 20 minutes and we made our way back to our car to eat lunch. The place has lots and lots of parking spaces near the pool so I can only imagine how busy they must be in the summer but yesterday we only ran into a few other people out walking or playing frisbee golf. There were a bunch of trees taken down by beavers but with the kids making noise while we were out there was no chance we'd see anything close up. Dima did notice while we were walking that there weren't any squirrels and so I showed him some nests but that didn't hold his interest for very long.

The park has little cabins for rent and I thought it might be fun to go there for New Year's Eve but I drove by them and it looked like they were all filled. People even had Christmas trees on the porches and most of them were done up with lights and everything. Maybe we'll go back to camp sometime with more notice. The park is only 12 miles from here but it would be fun to go stay over sometime. I've been toying with the idea of taking the kids to the shore sometime before the summer, maybe during spring break or MLK weekend I think they'd like watching the waves and exploring the beach even during the off season. Dima's learning to play Uno and they have other games and puzzles we can take along for entertainment in the hotel when we're not out and about. Josh is doing well these with jigsaw puzzles, he's got great concentration and really sticks to what he's doing.

Another of the sayings the kids have been using because they hear me say it is "that's pretty good, if I do say so myself" They've started saying at meal times cause I usually say it when something I've made for dinner turns out well.

Today is New Year's Day and so far we're hanging here at the house Josh is working on a puzzle now and I intend to have a low key, slow paced day since the kids will have to be up and out and back into the school routine tomorrow. If anything maybe I'll take them out for a walk around the neighborhood to check out decorations before people start packing them up. The Mummers parade is delayed but I'm sure we'll watch at least part of that today and I've got a pork roast and sauerkraut for later on. A friend and I are supposed to go to the movies later on, we can both use the break from kids and it'll be nice to have an adult to talk to.

Chris has used this recipe for tailgate food and from what I understand it's really good so this will be our pork roast for the New Year. It's from the Maker's Mark website:

Pork Tenderloin in Maker’s Mark Bourbon Sauce
1/4 cup Maker's Mark
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced OR 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 (1-lb each) pork tenderloins
Put all the ingredients, except pork, together in a bowl with a whisk or in a processor. Put the tenderloin and marinade in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator overnight.
Cook for 15 to 25 minutes at med.-high temp. until the pork has reached 165 degrees F. internally and has just lost its pinkness. Baste while cooking. Baste often!!
Do not overcook or it will be dry. Slice in 1/2-inch thick slices. This is a really tasty tenderloin. Serves 6 depending on how much you eat.