Monday, September 30, 2013

Arboretum Antics

I love the Children's Garden at the Morton Arboretum. I think it is beautiful, and I love how there is a guard so that my children cannot just leave. Henry loves the climbing parts the best.

Last week, I had three doctor's appointments, and several hours to kill in between them. So I met the boys for some outside time.

I hadn't been back to the Arboretum in awhile, so it was fun to check out all of the children's exhibits.

They had a stack of hay and some pumpkins for exploration, and the boys loved moving the pumpkins back and forth between the haystacks. . . .

. . . not to mention climbing on the haystacks. Hey, this is a hands-on place, remember.  ;)

Henry did not want to let go of this gourd.

After the haystacks, we went to walk on the rocks. I rolled up their jeans and made both Nick and Henry take off their socks and shoes. I was thinking they'd wade a bit, and the rocks were a definite hit.

Wading, however, soon devolved into belly-flopping and splashing. It was only in the low 70s that day, but my guys didn't seem chilled in the slightest. We ended up having to change both boys from the skin out.

Henry adored the flowers and kept trying to pick them. In this picture he was pointing at the flowers and saying his version of "Look at the flowers!"

We spent a decent amount of time on the playground as well. I think if I mimicked their movements on the playground, I'd burn thousands of calories.

Nick can move with incredible speed. Agility? Not so much. But he's got the energy factor down pat.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Man, have you got your hands full!"

That's what I'm often told when people see me with my two very energetic children. My response is that yes, my hands are definitely full. But my heart is full, too. How could it not be with a smile like this one?

Or a grin like this one?

We had fun at the Cafe N' Play today, and I watched my kids run around being silly and dressing up in different costumes. What a nice way to end the week.

Although Nick did freak me out a little bit in this costume he made up. . .

Doesn't he look like something out of a post-apocalyptic nightmare?

So are my hands full? Yup. But we sure had fun! The boys even microwaved me some plastic fruit for me. Before having children, I had no idea how much fun little boys can be. They drive me absolutely bonkers. However, they also make me laugh and enjoy my time with them more than I ever thought I could. (Even while pretending to eat plastic fruit.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Boxes and Bookshelves and Hunting Vests

Last week my husband brought up some boxes of clothes for the boys. Some were Nick's old clothes I'd saved for Henry, and some were hand-me-down clothes for Nick that a friend had given me. The kids had a great time playing with both the boxes and the clothing.

That's a turtle on Henry's butt, by the way.

Henry found a hat that he loved in one of the boxes.

While Grandma Toni and I were distracted going through the clothes, Henry found a new hiding place in the bookshelf.

Nick liked it, too, but he said he didn't fit very well.

Nick found the hat from his 1st Birthday Party, and it still fits! (Kind of.)

The goggles were a gift from Grandma. Nick loves to wear them on his forehead. Not sure why.

Henry found a hunting vest that he thought was pretty sharp, even if it was in Nick's size.

Thanks to Grandma Toni for helping me go through the clothes.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cleaning House

Just in case you know me personally, you can close your mouth. I'm not talking about me cleaning house. It's well known around these parts that I abhor cleaning, especially vacuuming. In fact, I once had a doctor tell me to avoid vacuuming because of my asthma and allergies. During certain seasons of the year, I can't even be in the house when Greg vacuums. The boys, however, have no such restrictions.

Henry helped with his toy vacuum.

Nick's Occupational Therapist had suggested that Nick would benefit from what she calls "heavy work." That's when he does tasks that require lifting, pushing, and moving things around. It's really good for his coordination and his sensory needs. So Greg taught him how to use the vacuum today.

I'm not sure why Nick wore the goggles. He said something about them helping him. I also did not condone his clothing choices this morning. This is what he looked like when I woke up.

Nick dressed himself in a pair of pajama pants and threw a moose sweater on top of it. It's not that cold in our house, but he likes the pockets in front.

Maybe the goggles did help, because Nick did a halfway decent job on our carpets. Greg, of course, went over everything twice, but Nick got to help with all of the different parts, even on the stairs.

Henry got to help out on the stairs, too, since our attachment for the stairs is fairly lightweight.

Henry didn't want to give it back!

Greg likes to pretend the vacuum is eating him. Then everyone acts scared of the hose.

Here's Henry fleeing from the vacuum.

While I can't take any credit for housecleaning this morning, I did take 71 pictures of the children helping. That should count for something, shouldn't it?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Making Trains at DuPage Children's Museum

Last week, I heard about a program at the Dupage Children's Museum where the boys could make ceramic trains. We had to go. They had a great time!

Nick said this was just like making gingerbread cookies. I warned him not to eat this clay!

Henry was a little ticked off that I wouldn't let him bang the rolling pin on the clay. He got over it, though.

After they rolled the clay flat, there were little train patterns to use.

Henry liked poking the clay with the paperclip. I helped him trace around the train so it would vaguely resemble one.

I think their favorite part was painting on the glaze. They used way too much, but that's okay.

Henry would've painted his on all night if we would have let him. He got really mad when it was time to stop.

Here's how the trains looked. They'll be fired this week and we can pick them up this weekend.

Nick's train is yellow and upside down. 

Henry's train is blue and also upside down.

What a fun way to spend a Friday night.  :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Climbing to New Heights

The last week was really tough for me, due to the unending heat in my school, which isn't air-conditioned. School was cancelled for students on Tuesday and Wednesday, but teachers still worked the whole day. I am pretty sure I had heat exhaustion on at least a few of the days, and I didn't start feeling better until Friday, when the temperatures cooled off. I probably have the hardest time parenting when I'm not feeling well--I just want to rest and recuperate, and little children always need something.  On Friday, I was feeling a little guilty about not playing with the boys much during the workweek. Nick asked me when Greg dropped the boys off around 4 p.m., "Mommy, do you feel sick again or can you play with us today?" I was pleased to respond with, "I feel better, Nick. Should we go to the park?" The shrieks of joy that reached my ears answered that question, and so off to the park we went.

Please note the joy radiating off of him in waves. 

I try to maintain a delicate balance while the boys are playing at the park. I don't like to do the helicopter parent thing and be a spotter for every climbing attempt. However, I don't feel comfortable waiting off to the side when I can't keep track of where they are, especially since they tend to run in opposite directions.

Henry has been pretending more when he plays. In this case, he was an airplane preparing for takeoff.

Instead, I like to find a central point between the boys and casually keep both of them in my peripheral vision. I let them talk and play with other kids and I try not to interfere unless I see something dangerous or mean. (I'm happy to say those incidents are far less common as the boys are learning to get along with others.)  I always snap pictures along the way and chat with the boys as they are playing. I think I get more exercise than the boys, just trying to keep them in sight!

Every parent struggles with when to help and hover and when to back off and foster independence. I'm pretty proud of my kids' level of independence at the park.

Henry keeps surprising me with his climbing abilities. He prefers the equipment meant for the bigger kids, and often he rebels at any help I might offer. Instead he struggles and tries repeatedly to get to the top, shouting in triumph when he finally reaches the top.

"Hi Mommy! I up!" said Henry proudly.

Nick is slightly less likely to take chances, though he likes to climb as well. He'll ask for help if he needs it, though, and will help Henry out, even if Henry would rather not have the assistance.

The only hard part is getting them to leave when its time to go home. I'm looking forward to some nice cool fall days where the boys can play at the park after school.