Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Star Wars Invasion

We are in the midst of a full blown obsession with Star Wars.  Well, Jack is.  Casey follows along a little bit.  I've always liked the original Star Wars movies, so I have no problem watching them over and over again.  Especially when you watch them with Jack...I tend to miss a lot while I'm answering his questions. 

It seems like there has been a resurgence of Star Wars lately.  A lot of Jack's friends got light sabers for Christmas and I didn't understand why all the renewed interest.  But I've since realized that there is a new Star Wars animated show and it's also the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back.  And there's probably something about 4 and 5 year old boys that just makes them like Star Wars.

Strangely, Jack's new interest started on New Year's Day.  We were watching the Rose Bowl Parade and there were some Storm Troopers marching across the TV screen.  Jack wanted to know who they were and what they did so I told him there was a movie called Star Wars.  Since he's so interested in space and stars, this piqued his interest and he asked if he could watch the movie. 

I thought he might be too young to watch the movies but I bought Episode IV (the first one) and played it one day.  He loved it.  Upon first viewing, he wasn't as much concerned about the plot but he loved all the creatures and good guys vs. bad guys theme and the fighting and the light sabers.  He gets that it's not real and what's not to love about the fantastic feat of imagination needed to create these movies.  He thinks Darth Vader is funny in his costume and the Storm Troopers are funny.  And he doesn't get the love story or really care.   

Then, my sister sent Jack some Star Wars Legos for Valentine's Day.  And Jack couldn't have been happier.  It was a merge of his two favorite things at the moment - Legos and Star Wars.  He got the good guys and was begging and begging for some bad guys so he could set up a proper scene with the Legos.  I finally got him some as a gift on Casey's birthday.

So, now we have Legos and we've watched the original movies.  The kids go around the house singing the Darth Vader theme.  They've turned cardboard boxes into starfighters and police helmets into Jedi helmets.  Casey even has a hilarious impression of Chewy.  Jack has turned most of his Legos into spacecraft and space stations and death stars.  Today he realized he could turn one of his Lego sets into a great hover craft like Luke flies in the first movie.

On Saturday, we went to Target.  I let the kids browse the toy aisles and when Jack got to the Star Wars aisle, he said, "Mommy, I got the shakes and shivers when I saw the Star Wars toys."  And if that didn't make me want to buy him whatever Star Wars toys he wanted, I don't know what would.  But I didn't because he didn't ask...because I told them we weren't getting any toys and if they didn't whine they would get a special treat.  (I took them to a Cupcake Truck.  Like an ice cream cup, but with cupcakes!)

So far, this has been my favorite interest of Jack's.  We've been through cars, dinosaurs and trains (and more) but there's a little bit of a Star Wars dork in me that loves being Mom to a boy who loves Star Wars.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Casey is 3!

Casey turned 3 yesterday!  I was telling Pat that I can vividly remember almost everything about the morning she was born.  Hard to believe that was 3 years ago.

After the big festivities of the weekend, Casey's birthday was pretty low key, but we had a nice day.  Pat had duty so he gave her the big birthday gift on Wednesday night.  Casey now has a big two-wheel bike with training wheels like Jack's.  Her reaction to getting the bike was funny.  She just sat there and kind of laughed uncertainly for about 5 minutes.  Then we went outside for the last few minutes of daylight.  She hopped on the bike and rode it like she's been on it for a year already.  She and Jack cruised around the cul-de-sacs and then parked them away for the night.

We were up bright and early yesterday and outside on our bikes by 8am.  (First they insisted I take a picture of them hugging though...not sure what's up with that.)  I am so glad that we had weather where we could do that.  It seems a little risky to be buying a bike in February and expecting to be able to ride it but lucky and blessed we have been with beautiful weather the past couple days.

After dropping Jack off at school and going to the gym, I took Casey on a little trip to Toys'r'Us.  I let her pick out a couple things for her birthday.  (I had never been to a Toys'r'Us until I had kids.)  We looked at all the princess stuff and the babies and the ponies and all things pink.  I was hoping we would find something a little different from what we already had though.  Luckily she found a pink guitar and decided that's what she wanted.  And then we found the umbrella section and she was so excited about an umbrella.  She walked around the store with it and out to the car.  She can't wait for it to rain.

After an unsuccesful attempt at getting Casey to nap, we opened her presents from Maine and a couple other little things I got her.

She was very excited about getting her own scissors...

No cake, but we had some girl scout cookies to round out the day.  She was a pretty happy birthday girl and went to sleep in her new Princess sleeping bag.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

My Valentine's Day started off nice and early.  For some reason I couldn't sleep so I decided to get up and be crafty at 5am.  I made these little heart boxes with my Silhouette cutting machine, added a little note and then put little bags of homemade marshmallows in them for Jack's classmates.  

When Jack got up, I had to force him to write his name a few more times on his Valentine's cards.  He had already cut out a bunch of hearts and put stickers all over them.  He was supposed to write his classmates' names on all of them, but he only got one done.  The funny thing is that we started really early with making his valentines.  I guess it was too early because he was excited about making them in January and then had no desire to do much more with them in the last couple weeks.  

He had a nice little class party.  This was the first party where I've actually seen him interact with his classmates.  At other times, he was focused on Casey and I being there and not interacting with his friends.  Yesterday he was telling jokes and talking to everyone at his table.  He actually came up with a pretty funny joke - "Why did the bear cross the fire?  He wanted to get fired up."    

 We worked on valentines for Daddy in the afternoon and played outside.  For Pat's valentines we got a little crafty.  We taped some heart shapes into baking pans.  Then covered some marbles with paint and rolled them around in the paint to make "marbled hearts."  It was a cute little craft but didn't take nearly as much time as I wanted it to.

Dinner turned out to be a hit though.  We made our own heart shaped ravioli.  I got the idea from a blog called little things bring smiles and her Valentine Inspired Dinner Party.  I put 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of water in some bowls and told the kids to dig in and turn it into dough.  After we kneaded it for a while, we rolled it out, cut it into heart shapes and added a little cheese.  It wasn't the greatest pasta but the kids liked it, even after it was cooked and they loved making it.  I would have liked some pictures but my hands were covered in dough the whole time.

Overall it was a nice Valentine's Day.  I wish I had done some Valentine decorating but I just didn't get there this year.  I saw so many cute ideas in the blog world.  Maybe next year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Casey's 3rd Birthday Party

Yesterday was Casey's birthday party.  We held it at a place called the Bounce House, which is exactly what it sounds like.  The kids run around and bounce on all the big inflatable objects and get all worn out.  Then they get very hungry, eat lots of chips and wait patiently for the pizza to arrive.  Then they eat pizza and go bounce some more.  Then they eat cake and bounce a little more.  By the end of the two hours, hopefully they are exhausted and ready for bed!

I struggled with this party a little bit.  Pat would have been happy if we'd just ordered pizza and bought a cake.  I wanted it a little more personal and homemade.  It was also a princess party, but there's not much princess-y when you're at a bounce house and 2/3 of the guests are boys.  I wasn't sure what to get/make for party favors that was somewhat gender neutral.  So a lot of things ended up being a little more last minute that I would have liked because I simply couldn't make a decision, couldn't find the right balance between getting junky favors and not spending way too much time making something. 

Somehow I stumbled onto making homemade marshmallows.  I almost didn't make them because everything else I made on Saturday (day before the party) didn't turn out right.  I was surprised when the marshmallows turned out to be the easiest thing I made.  And they were so cute.  I cut heart shaped out of them and put them in little bags.  

Leftover marshmallows after I cut out the hearts

Cute little marshmallows
These are the marshmallows all bagged up along with a chocolate covered pretzel.  Jack and Casey helped make the pretzels and had a great time.  They weren't quite as polished as I might have liked, but I'm guessing they still tasted good with the 3 to 5 year old crowd.  Then I added some Play-Do and stickers and put them all in a party favor cup.  A cup because that's what I had and I wasn't making another trip to a store.

Pat took Casey to get a princess dress for her party.  She was so excited to put it on and put a pretty headband in her hair.  She wanted to wear the princess heels but she had to suffice with just bringing them in the car.  And that's Jack, who doesn't like you to take a picture of him unless he thinks he being deliberately excluded.  Then he jumps right in.

And here is the princess cake.  I was terrified to decorate this lady, but I thought she turned out pretty well for my first foray into princess cake decorating.  And it turned out to be easier than I thought.  As long as you remember to put the decorating tip into the bottom of the piping bag before you put all the icing in there, it's not too bad.  Once I started making all those pretty little flower bits, it was kind of fun. Casey was completely confused as to how the doll got clothes and how I made her dress.

Of all the guests at the party, Casey probably spent the least amount of time bouncing.  She just wanted to hang out in the party room and look at all the pretty plates and decorations.  I guess she was just being a princess.  I even brought pants because I wasn't sure she would want to bounce around in her dress but  she preferred to stay in character.

There was some intense air hockey.  Jack loves this game.

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Casey, Happy birthday to you!

I had a great time at the party, and Casey did too.  It was great to see all our friends and all their children having a fun time.

When we got home,  Casey opened her presents and she is one lucky princess who now owns every princess accessory she could want or hope for.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow Day, Sick Day, Cleaning Day

Whew!  It's been a long day and somehow it was really productive and fun and a good balance of playing and accomplishing even though we made Jack's first trip to the doctor for illness and it was a snow day.

The day started with Jack's eyes being glued shut from some gunk and 3 inches of snow on the ground.  School was cancelled and I managed to get a doctor's appointment at 9:20.  We left the house before we usually even leave for school and it was all relatively easy to get the kids out of the house.

Jack actually likes to go to the doctor.  I guess he thinks it's a fun trip.  We've never really gone there because he was sick so he doesn't have any bad memories.  He also thinks doctors can fix anything.  He was such a little man today.  He didn't say a lot but he did everything they told him told him to.  He loved the blood pressure cuff...just sat there and giggled the whole time.  While he was sitting up on the table and waiting for the doctor, he said, "Remember when we pretended this was a garbage truck?  We're not going to do that this time because we're bigger now and we're just going to wait for the doctor."  For the record, I don't remember when they pretended it was a garbage truck, but it was probably a fun game.  We were in and out of the doctor's office with a diagnosis of conjuctivitis in both eyes and our prescription eye drops within 20 minutes.

At home, I started the de-germification.  I don't usually worry about germs too much.  I think the more we're exposed to the more we build up our immune systems and the less sick we actually are.  That being said, today I had to play some defense and start a counter attack on these bad-boy germs.  Every bit of linen has been washed, surfaces have been wiped, hands have been washed and washed and sanitized and washed.  Because THERE IS A BIRTHDAY PARTY IN 4 DAYS and I need the birthday girl to be healthy and not get what Jack has.  And I need the birthday girl's mama to be healthy too.  My strategy to keep Casey from touching Jack today was to tell her that she couldn't have her birthday party if she got sick.  It worked pretty well.

Along with the sanitizing, we made bread, we painted, we made another doll quilt (for Casey), we opened up some early Valentine's presents (thanks Grammie & Auntie), we played Star Wars Legos and discussed Star Wars A LOT.  When I walked around the house this afternoon, I had to laugh at the disaster it was and the things I found.  It was clean, but certainly not tidy.  Toys everywhere...

Legos scattered...

Casey was dressed like this.  (She got new underwear and tried them all on at some point in the afternoon.  I don't know why she's only wearing one sock.  And the t-shirt is actually her painting smock that she didn't take off after painting.  At one point she had a scarf wrapped all around her very elegantly.)

I found these two boxes in my closet...

My closet was the bedroom for the babies.  They were taking naps in there amongst the shoes.  You can even see that Jack's baby had his bedtime story nearby.  The shoebox to the left is not actually for my shoes but is a storage unit for Jack's baby's blanket when he is done with it.  Originally Jack said, "Mommy, next time Grampie is here I want him to build me a shelf so that I have somewhere to put baby's blanket."  Then he decided the shoebox was the perfect place for it.

There were are blocks all over my bedroom floor...

Lego houses dismantled on my windowsill...

Trains on my laundry baskets (at least the baskets weren't full of dirty clothes)...

Easels in the middle of my kitchen...

And a lot of junk on my kitchen table...

But you have to give Casey points for not listening going after what she wants...

I gave an empty tissue box to Jack (for a space station I think).  Casey wanted one too, so I told her she could have the next one, when all the tissues were gone.  Next thing I know, Jack is saying, "Yay, Casey you have one now too!" and she is holding up an empty box.  An empty box that used to be completely full, leaving the pile of tissues on a chair.

Despite the odds (sick kid, snow day, no naps) this day turned out pretty great.  Most of the toys are away, Lego land has been restored to order, Casey is fully clothed again, the babies are still napping peacefully, the tissues are so much easier to access, Jack's eyes are better, Casey's eyes are still good, the fourth load of laundry is drying, and there is dough just waiting to be baked for fresh bread tomorrow.  It's time for me to go enjoy my own clean sheets I think.