Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gilroy Gardens

Our family took our first trip to Gilroy Gardens this weekend! 

Getting a pre-roller coaster pep talk.

Obviously still not too happy with roller coasters. 

Furrowed brows...trying to figure out how the race cars work.

Spinning fun. Mark and I were sick just watching them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ben at 3½

You're three-and-a-half, but you say that you're four when people ask you how old you are. You insist that you answer this way because that's what size clothes you wear, but really it's because you're always trying to find a loophole so that you can be the same age as Tommy. The other day on the playground, a few people asked you how old you are and you said, 'size four!', and of course, they thought you meant that you're four years old. You didn't bother correcting them.

You're a fun-loving little guy and you're usually happy and cheerful. You're still just as physical as ever, and you often get along well with other kids who like to be physical, even if they're one or two years older than you. You're still adventures on the playground, as evidenced in this video, which is just a small glimpse at your skill as a monkey:

Books: You're not really into books, but you'll sit and listen when it's time to read a book. You're enjoying Daddy's reading of The House at Pooh Corner and A Cricket in Times Square.

Food: Peanut butter and honey sandwiches remain your favorite food.

Shows: Since the television hasn't been on in months, (except for a rare occasion when other kids are over and we put on a movie at night), I'm probably going to retire this category, at least for summer time. Ever the warm weather came, I decided to keep the TV off so you kids could find creative ways to spend your time and not keep begging me to watch a show. It worked, and you haven't asked me to watch a show in quite awhile.

Toys: Tools, anything that can be made into a tool. Drums, and anything that can be made into a drum. Tinkertoys frequently become hammers or percussion instruments. But mostly, you play outside and find things to do and games to play with your brother. You really love Tommy and much prefer to do whatever he's doing.

Activities & Skills: You're able to ride your bike completely on your own now, and you don't need us to help you push off. You love to sing. Frequently throughout the day, you'll find a few sticks (see Tinkertoys, above) to bang together and will parade through the house singing praise songs. You can only remember a few words of most praise songs, and then usually inaccurately, so your songs end up sounding something like this, "Nothing our God can do!.....Nothing our God can do!....Nothing that we do!..." (The real song goes, "My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do!")

Behavior: You used to be incredibly stubborn, especially when it came to obeying a simple instruction like, "Clean up your blocks." You seem to have left most of your stubbornness behind in your second year. 

These days the behavior issues we have with you are more about the heart. For instance, a little while ago we had a situation where a boy hit you with a stick. He was disciplined by his parent and then he apologized to you, but you refused to forgive him. After praying about it together and talking about it, and then praying and talking some more, you eventually forgave him happily. But getting to that point was a lot more work than I was expecting! 

New things: You recently started pronouncing your "L" sounds correctly and clearly. It's sad in a way, because it means no more hearing the words "bwankie", "wuv", or "pwaybround".

Other stuff: You don't like to do work. If I ask you to put to do what you think is too much work around the house, you'll whine and say, "But my aaaarms don't wooooork!" or "I don't know hoooooow!" We're working on this. You also don't like to walk long distances, but you've gotten a lot better about this in the past few months.

You like to help in the kitchen and you're getting really good at cutting fruit and vegetables with a butter knife. Often I'll give you a pile of carrots or zucchini to cut and you slice everything up for me. You're also learning how to make scrambled eggs.

You really love people. One day you told me, "Mommy, I like to say hi to people because I love them." I believe you! You always say hi to people wherever we are, whether it's a really strange-looking man on the sidewalk downtown or an employee stocking shelves at Target. You're friendly to everyone and ask them about themselves. I have a feeling you're going to be a compassionate and friendly man when you grow up.

You insist on looking at books upside down. You know the right way to look at books, but you like them upside done for some reason. Whenever I fix it for you, you turn it back the way you had it.

I'm looking forward to your 4th birthday, because you'll finally be four and then I can finally stop lecturing you on the importance of telling the truth. Unless, of course, you start insisting that you're five, since you were already four. 

Monday, July 11, 2011


My garden is exploding. Well, most of it. Some things like my strawberries, zucchini, and bell peppers have gotten a slow start I think because we've had unusually cool weather this year. But everything else is thriving and giving us lots of things to eat. It's been amazing to watch it grow so quickly. Some days we don't get out to the garden to look at it, but when we finally do it surprising how much it's grown in just a few days.

Left to right: Onions/shallots/leeks, chard, strawberries, zucchini, bell peppers and broccoli. Along the back fence is spinach and snap peas.

Here's our broccoli in all its glory.

My favorite thing in our garden: leeks. I started them from seed back in February and transplanted the seedlings in the garden in April. They looked really pathetic and I didn't expect them to grow at all, especially because we had a lot of rain right after I planted them and it looked like they got washed out. But to my surprise a few months later, I had leeks growing! It brings me joy every time I go check on them to see them growing strong.

This is what I'm doing with the plethora of carrots, chard, and spinach we're getting: washing, cutting, and freezing. We have a chest freezer which is almost full of bounty we've been collecting and freezing from farmer's market, our garden, and family's garden. I had originally had dreams of learning to can and preserve, but after reading about it (and other's experience) I decided it's too much work for me right now. So instead, I'm saving everything in the freezer to be used for soups and smoothies later. It's going to be a yummy winter.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

June In Our Family

I haven't updated our blog much because, well, there's not much going on with us. We've been mellow around here. So mellow that I haven't bothered to pick up my camera to document how laid back we've been. If I do take a snapshot, it's with my cell phone because it happens to be the closest thing to me. 

Our days have flowed into each other so that there are some mornings that I wake up and it takes me a few minutes to remember which day it is. And that's a good thing. Because it means that we don't have anywhere to be (most days) and we don't have anything we need to do beyond the basics of living.

I still wake up early to run and to spend time with God, but after the boys wake up our usual morning routine has dissolved into whatever we feel like doing. If it's a warm sunny morning, the boys might feel like playing in the sandbox, even though it's only 7am and they haven't had breakfast yet. Most days, we have breakfast and then the boys head outside for the rest of the morning. It's amazing what kinds of things they find to do when we don't have anywhere to go all day. 

So, pardon the picture quality, but do enjoy a sampling of our little adventures from the past month.

Tommy and Ben all geared up for a 'venture, as they call it. They packed up their little backpacks with random toys from around the house, grabbed their sunglasses and hopped on their bikes to go see what the great big world had to offer (in our back yard). They came home about 15 minutes later complaining they were huuungry and asking when it was time for peanut butter sandwiches.

Our first family s'mores night of the summer. We put the boys to bed at the normal bedtime of 7:30pm, then got them up an hour later for a surprise marshmallow cookout in our backyard. After stuffing them with s'mores, we laid on the grass and stargazed for awhile, until it was the parents' bedtime. Then we all went to bed.

The boys asked permission to use some of Mark's tools, nails, and scrap wood (don't worry, they know how to use tools properly!) We found them attempting to construct Noah's Ark on our back patio. This kept them busy for over an hour. 

We celebrated Father's Day and Grandma's birthday with an egg and balloon toss at the park. Amazingly, no kids got egg on them, though the eggs didn't last very long. It was certainly entertaining to watch a bunch of preschoolers try to toss eggs back and forth to each other.

One Saturday we had a trip to Monterey to go to the aquarium. We had lunch on the wharf and got the kids a treat at the candy store. Almost a month later, they still speak with awe about the giant lollipop they saw in the window (Benji got a much smaller version and Tommy got cotton candy).

The boys resting on the couch together with a snack. I think Ben is trying to balance Cheerios on Tommy's head.

Painting a mural. This is the best kind of art project: give 'em a huge piece of paper, three colors of paint, some brushes, and let 'em have at it. They even cleaned themselves up afterward.

My adventure: I finally realized my dream of finding a recipe for bread that is quick, easy, and yummy! (Hey, I like to dream big). Next on my list is to try the healthy version of the recipe which uses whole wheat flour instead of white. I'm just waiting for a key ingredient to arrive in the mail and then all my bread dreams will come true.

Tommy being goofy at the big shoes outside the Children's Discovery Museum. We went there with some friends, and unsurprisingly, I think the kids had the most fun outside the museum, exploring the park and discovering a nearby creek.