Monday, January 26, 2009

Megan's Birthday Party

Sunday, Megan had a few friends over for her birthday party.

I was a little bold and decided to let the girls paint birdhouses for the activity, but I had the foresight to give all the kid old T-shirts, so it didn't turn out too messy.

After that it was cake and ice cream, open presents and then some "free play." Despite the lack of originality, it all went really well and the girls had a good time.

Megan was VERY specific about the cake: pink cake with yellow frosting and purple flowers on top. Megan had all kinds of complaints while I was making it: the yellow should be brighter, she should get to write her name, the purple flower doesn't have a stem (so it got green swirly things and everyone was ok with that). But in the end, it passed muster, especially since we had pink ice cream to match the cake!

Megan's really taking her older age to heart. Today she tried to give Liam a time-out three different times. This included one yelling match with Megan screaming "Liam, say sorry! You have to say sorry or you get a time-out." and Liam just yelling and crying back at her. I am sure Liam is so excited to have an extra parent in the house! I can't wait to see what happens when Megan turns five!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Losing My Son and My Mind

For MLK weekend we went up to see my sister's family before they all move to the East Coast next month. I took Friday off work and we went up Thursday to get in an extra long weekend. We had fun hanging out with Cousin Brooke, Auntie Sarah and Uncle Bryan. Liam has gotten so used to hearing Brooke call Mac "Uncle Mac" that he has picked that up himself! He's back to saying "Daddy" but if you ask him Daddy's name, he'll still say "Uncle Mac." I also managed to squeeze in a little bit of a run while I was up there, which I always enjoy.

We came home Sunday and broke up the long drive home with a stop for lunch. Normally we aren't fast food people, but you can't beat the indoor play areas for kids. I suggested we stop at Burger King in Portland, which had the added advantage of being next door to a super arket since we were precariously low on diapers for Liam.

I rode the bus past this BK every day for 4 years, but never went inside so I had no idea what I was in for. This was the BIGGEST indoor play structure I had ever seen and it was a complete ZOO! I mean kids were just crammed into this thing, running and screaming - one of those places where I just can't help but think, "Thank God Mac is fixed!"

My kids started in a far corner bouncy alcove, but Liam soon started flirting with the tunnel leading to unknown places. The first few times he came right back, but then he was out the other side and not paying any attention to my calls to return. No big deal, I just walked around the ouside of the play area to the other side to go get the munchkin. Only one tiny little problem: when I got to the other side HE WASN"T THERE!

I looked back in the tunnel, in the room with Megan, in the low tunnel next to the first one. I still didn't see him. I yell "Liam!" but there is no answer. I make a lap around the structure - I notice there are a lot of BIG kids here, but no Liam. I grab Megan and tug her by the arm around the place twice more and then panic starts setting in. I mean my kid is SO much cuter than all the other little brats here, what if somebody walked off with him? Or what if he is stuck somewhere?

I took Megan out to Mac, who was waiting in a Disneyland-like line to order food, and went back to the play area. Mac got out of line and followed behind with Megan. "Well, take off your shoes and start climbing through there." Mac tells me.

I head to the front and as I pass by the corner, some awkward kid is flopping down the stairs about three feet above my head, just as happy as can be. Yup, it's Liam, no worse for the wear. It seems he must have taken off up the stairs and was up in the stratosphere layers of this plastic tube monstrosity, while I was searching the lower reaches of this place, not giving enough credit to my kid's climbing skills. Still, it took a bit for my heart rate to come back down to normal. From now on, it's McDonald's only for us!

Miss Imagination Turns Four

Maybe I was too hard on Megan last time with the whole lack of imagination accusation. The day before her birthday, she got on the toy phone and "called" up Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella and invited them all to her birthday party. She informs me they are all coming!

We did Megan's birthday kind of like we did Christmas - in piecemeal fashion. Last weekend we had a little celebration while we were up visiting my sister's family. Then on Megan's birthday we started the day with pancakes with whip cream and sprinkles!

Then Mac's mom got into town and they all met me downtown for a birthday lunch at the Ram (because it is close to the hospital), with a couple of presents.

Then the family had birthday cookies after dinner while I was at a late work function.

I brought back tiramisu from my dinner and then we did all the rest of the presents.

That night Megan and I talked about genies (think Aladdin) and fairy Godmothers and birthday wishes. Megan said,"I was I was a princess like Cinderella and I lived in a castle and I wish I was a pilot and I could fly an airplane."

Sunday, we are having a friends birthday party for Megan (anyone have any suggestions for activities??). Megan is having four friends (and apparently three Disney princesses) over to enjoy her chosen cake: pink cake with yellow frosting and purple flowers on top. How's that for princess??

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The State of the Smiths

The last few months of 2008, Liam nearly had me convinced he was color blind. I swear he was wrong about colors more than even chance alone would predict! But by golly - I think he's got it down! He's even getting gray right these days. Also, he for sure knows six shapes, so at least he isn't TOO far behind Megan (who could do 13+, including trapezoid and parallelogram at age 2). He's talking up a storm, with sentences! Liam started school (daddy and me) this month, so we're expecting an academic explosion, or at least a paint explosion or something similar. This kid is a total clown and LOVES to imitate big sister. We've gotten one pee-pee in the potty out of Liam (probably an accident). Getting out the baby potty seat has only renewed Liam's extreme fondness for toilets. His physique still most closely resembles a protein malnourished African child, but he is healthy and growing, so I guess he is just "small boned."

Megan has been telling us she is four for the last two weeks; her 4th birthday is next Thursday. Everyday I see more and more of myself in her, which is not necessarily a good thing. She's a whiz at logic but can't come up with an original thought to save her life. The inquiry,"Megan, can you make up a story about this picture?" resulted in a full-blown tantrum: "I am NOT going to do it and I am NOT talking to you!" She also does not function well out of her comfort zone. Unfortunately, I can relate. ;) Megan LOVES dancing and ballet, except she refused to go to ballet class, we think because she didn't like being in the spot-light. She does LOVE school and is still super excited about letters and learning to read. Plus, she's been working hard to master writing with lower case letters. Her toys of choice: puzzles, games and art projects (no dolls for Miss Anti-imagination!). Unfortunately, we have to use the same toys over and over and over again. "Megan, can't you do any other puzzle besides Tinkerbelle?" "Nope, I only want to do Tinkerbelle because it has the most pieces (100!)." So not much variety, but you gotta love that attitude!

Mac has found renewed zeal for his fitness quest. In fact, the rumor is he is going to run the Eugene Half Marathon this May, but he doesn't want anybody to know that for certain so he doesn't cave under the pressure. He still writing about fitness at Get Fit Slowly. Mac restarted pre-school this year and gets to go to kiddie music class once a week! He managed to get in one round of golf on a dry day and he'll be more than happy to tell you he shot a 42 on the back nine. I know, I can't contain my excitement either!

As for me, I work, run, and sleep - that's about it. I took second place in "Oregon's only half-marathon in January," which continues my long streak of second place finishes. Always a bridesmaid! There are still a hundred things I'd like to do to the house, but I never seem to have enough time or energy. Oh well, someday. Top priority is getting the new grow light set up; It's time to start spring seedlings! Good thing, too, we've eaten almost everything from the freezer and most of our canned spaghetti sauce, too. Still plenty of green beans, though!

That's the state of the Smiths for the start of 2009!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mac's Toy Review

Megan has many,many toys - way too many if you ask me. In fact she doesn't know the names for them all.

Recently she asked me,"Can I play with the yellow folding toy?"
Me: What yellow folding toy?
Megan: The toy with lots of folding things.
Me: Megan, I don't know what you are talking about.
Megan: You know, it has two roads and daddy thinks it's crap.

Sadly, I knew exactly which toy she wanted. Time for Daddy to keep his toy reviews to himself!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Six and a Half Eggs

Chickens are very sensitive to the amount of daylight and stop laying as the daylight hours wane. From an evolutionary stand point it makes great sense - you don't want to be hatching a brood in the fury of winter. But from an egg consumer's stand point it sucks - we are still feeding the fowl but they aren't giving us anything in return. Which is why this year we decided to take a cue from commercial farmers and put our chickens under artificial lights to increase production. It seems to be working great - in fact, today we got more than one egg per chicken for the first time ever. Our six* chickens produced six and a half eggs today! Don't believe me? Just take a look!

Six regular eggs and one dwarf egg. The inside is still a mystery!

(* - We used to have seven chickens, but chickens are just about the stupidest things on the planet. We lost ours to a drowning accident. Here we thought it was so down-home country to have the chickens and the cows share a field, but not if the chickens try to swim in the cow trough. Megan is not really aware of this as of yet. We plan to get several more chickens in the spring and then just be like, "Wow, now we have nine!" without emphasizing the math. If she really asks, we'll tell, but she already is creeping us out with all her questions about death, and so we don't really want to feed that flame.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Shiny Happy Cows

Our neighbor George raises cows for beef on a very small scale - just for his family and people he knows who buy half a cow or whatever. We "hosted" his cows twice throughout the year in our lovely green pastures.

At one point George had ten cows; now he only has seven. Yesterday Mac explained to Megan that meat comes from cows. He was very delicate, but honest.

That night as we looked over the cows at dinner, I quizzed Megan to see how she was affected by her little talk with Mac, especially because she seems to be obsessed with death these days.

"Megan," I asked, "what does George do with his cows?"
Megan's reply: "He feeds them meat!"
"And what happened to the other three cows?"
"They went away on a trip."

Perhaps Mac was a little too delicate.