Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tree House

Ever since we moved into our house the boys have asking constantly for Mark to build them a fort like we had at our old house. We've had so many more important house projects to get done that building a fort was always at the very bottom of the list. But this month we finally got to the point of being able to build them a fort. And when I say 'we', I of course mean 'Mark', because I can't be trusted with a tape measure and a saw.

He used only wood that we had in a pile of scrap in the back of our property, leftovers from various structures we've taken down since moving in. It took him about four afternoons to complete. The boys are thrilled to have a tree house. 

A few days ago while I was busy working on something in the house, I noticed that it got very quiet - usually something worthy of investigation. The boys weren't in the house, and they weren't in the backyard. Then I remembered about the tree house, so I looked in the way back of our property to see if they were there. There they were: at the tree house, Tommy pushing Ben on the swing. It was a sweet moment, made possible by my awesome handy husband. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011


It's been raining for the past week, and so there's been a lot wrestling on the couch, indoor tag, and general bouncing off of walls.

After five straight days of being cooped up indoors, I got desperate one day and sent the boys outside in the rain. They didn't last very long in the cold and rain, but they lasted long enough to drive their trucks through some fun puddles.

And so on Saturday morning we drove up to snowy Henry Coe Park (about 40 minutes from our house) to take a hike.

 When we first arrived, Mark accidentally hit Ben in the face with a snowball. Ben was not too happy about this. Every 10 minutes for the rest of the hike, he would ask Mark, "Daddy, why you hit me with a snowball? I didn't like that." 

 The last leg of our hike was uphill. Normally, Benji doesn't last very long on walks just down the street, let alone an uphill hike. But this time he walked three-quarters of the way himself. It helped that we kept asking the boys to find the source of this little stream, so they had some motivation to read the top of the hill (where our car was parked).

Snow! Seeing the snow falling in heavy fat flakes reminded me of the sense of excitement I got as a child waiting for the first snow. In Connecticut, the first snow could come as early as the beginning of November, and it was always fun wondering if it would be enough to go out to play in or enough to cancel or delay school the next day. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I should say) since we live in California and will be homeschooling, my kids probably won't ever get to experience the joy of having a snow storm cancel a few days of school. 

This is the best snowman we could come up with given the sparse amount of snow on the ground. He was about one foot tall and the kids loved making him.

When we got home, we built a fire and thawed out while we ate our lunch. The rest of the day was a pleasant blur of family naps and hanging around the house.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

School Time

Lately I've been experimenting with fitting some school time into our day. I've realized that it works best to give the boys playtime right after breakfast, then have a family devotion, then have more playtime, and then have school time. I'm hoping to have 15-30 minutes each day where we can have a purposeful time of learning, even if we just put an alphabet puzzle together or draw with crayons.

On this day, they practiced writing letters in sand, an activity I learned of from a preschool teacher friend of mine. It's said that kids learn best when they are using as many of their senses as possible, which is why we have colored sand and they are using their fingers to trace. Benji mastered "O", and Tommy got some help writing his "M"s (since he usually spells his name T-O-W-W-Y. Of course, they also had to draw silly faces, which is what Tommy is doing in his photo.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ben is Three!

You are three years old today! Actually, you think you should be four, just like Tommy. It took quite a bit of convincing to make you believe you're not the same age as your brother. This is probably due to the fifteen-month gap between you and your brother; you are so close in age to Tommy and your abilities are so similar, not to mention the fact that neither of you remember life without the other - that you probably think you're Tommy's twin brother rather than "little" brother.

All about you:
  • You love to tell stories. Sometimes your stories are imaginative, about you flying around, or sleeping in a tree. But often they are mundane: "So, I turned off the light, and then Tommy turned on the light. And then I said, 'Tommy, don't do that!' And then he said, 'Okay'. And then we played!"
  • You get very annoyed when you are interrupted. 
  • You enjoy meeting new people and talking to them - kids and grownups alike. When we're out shopping, you'll often try to talk to grownups we pass. The younger ones usually just look uncomfortable, but the older, grandparent-types seem to enjoy talking to you.
  • You do NOT like it when we laugh at you when you're being cutely defiant. 
  • You like to ask people, "What's in your mouf?" when you see them eating something. 
  • You have a sonar for food. You could be three rooms away and hear me opening a bag of pretzels, and you'll come running asking, "Is that a snack? Can I have some?"
  • You have a heart that enjoys sharing. I've caught you spontaneously sharing snacks and toys with  your brother. 
  • You do not like having your picture taken (much to my dismay).
  • You like to match things that you see, only you say they "rhyme" instead of "match". We often hear, "Blue fork...that rhymes!"
  • You love to sing and make up songs. One common song we hear might go something like this: "God niiiiiiice! God is nice, is nice, is niiiiiiice!" You also make up songs about what's going on around you: "I see a's a nice driiiiiiives...truuuuuuck, truuuuuuck, truuuuuuck!"
  • You think "VeggieTales" is actually called "Benji Tales".
  • You love to have an audience. If you realize that people are watching, you'll start making funny faces, doing a funny dance, and basically doing whatever it takes to make people laugh.
  • You spontaneously say "Mommy, I love you" many times throughout the day, in a very sweet way. Melts my heart!
Some of your favorites:
Books: Your favorite books are anything by Mo Willems, like the Knuffle Bunny series and the Pigeon series.

Shows: Bob the Builder is your current favorite show. 

Food: PeanutButterJellySammich. Which is really a peanut butter and honey sandwich. That's what you say whenever I ask you what you want to eat. You would eat PB&Hs for every meal of every day if you had your way. You're warming up to veggies, but still don't like to eat anything green. You like carrots, but only raw, not cooked. You love bell peppers strips, raw. You eat slowly, and you're often the last person left at the table after meals, which everyone involved is perfectly fine with (we try not to make a big deal about eating quickly). 

Toys: Tools, or anything that can be made into a tool. Drums, and anything that can be made into a drum. Also, a bungie cord. It's amazing all the different ways you boys can play with a bungie cord.

New things: You are becoming very expressive when you talk - complete with perfectly timed breath-intakes and "Wow!"s. You can almost independently use the potty now. We just send you off in the direction of the bathroom and you (usually) do the rest. 

Other: You're proficient at riding your two-wheeler bike, but you still need help getting started. Your behavior has been, overall, very good in the past six months. You used to be very stubborn about some things and we'd have frequent battles over what seemed to me to be a very small issue (like cleaning up a spill). Nowadays, you clean up after yourself without prompting.