Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Funday

We haven't been to The Ball Factory in awhile, so today was the day. I had forgotten how six hours straight of Kidz Bob tunes can drive one crazy. 

Today was "organize the toys" day for Greg, which means I had to get the kids out of the house. I also had several hours of grading to do and a four-hour grad school class to plan. (I'm getting observed this week, so I have to be on.) Therefore, $25 (plus the cost of lunch) didn't seem too bad for the opportunity to get some work done and make my kids happy at the same time. 

Oh, and were they ever happy. Chicken nuggets and special yogurt with marshmallow googly eyes for lunch? Check. Gelato ice cream cone (for Henry) and a chocolate muffin (for Nick)? Check. Balls to throw at other kids? Check, check, check, check.

As for me, I claimed one end of a red couch (the one Henry's on) with my laptop bag, a green marking pen, and hundreds of grad school assignments. Nick and Henry came to say hi and fill me in on the kid gossip every 20 minutes or so, but they played all day, from before noon until we left around 5:30. If either of them had been wearing a FitBit, I bet their numbers would've been off the charts!

A neverending game of dodgeball in a pit? Sounds like a nightmare to me, but Nick spent hours happily whipping balls at other kids. (And, one would assume, getting those same balls thrown at him at top speed.)

Henry preferred dancing with the other kids (to the endless Kidz Bop tunes, of course). I asked him on the way home what his favorite thing to do at The Ball Factory is, and he said, "The big dark slide." 

Even though I can't get the Justin Bieber songs out of my head, it was still a decently productive day. Oh, and just in case you were wondering why I blogged three days in a row. . . one of my new year's resolutions this year is to blog a minimum of four times per month, and today is the last day of January. Last year I had exactly 48 posts, so I also would like to beat that by at least a few posts. Whether I'll succeed remains to be seen, but hey, at least I haven't blown my resolution in the first month.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Swimming Progress

Since last year, Nick and Henry have been taking weekly swimming lessons at our YMCA. Once every week or two, I try to take them to practice the skills they've been learning. Today, I took my phone into the pool, because I was either crazy enough or brave enough to risk water damage while taking pictures.

Nick is still in a beginner class, but Henry has already moved into the preschool intermediate swimmers' class. His little toes can't touch the bottom, even here, so the swimming you see him demonstrating? It's all him.

Nick is a very decent swimmer himself, but he gets nervous when he can't touch the bottom, and since he's older his classes are in the big pool. He gets scared and the water is colder over there. Nick has pretty much mastered the belly flop, the cannonball, and multiple other artful ways of jumping into the pool.

I think Nick probably jumped in several hundred times in the couple of hours we were there. I got tired just watching him.

See that blur in mid-air? Yup, that's Nick. 

Nick is just learning to do a proper swimming stroke, but he's very proud of the progress he's made. I think he gets better after every lesson.  :)

Henry can jump, too, though he's not as acrobatic as Nick. I think he wins for facial expressions, though.

I'm a fairly decent swimmer, though I'm probably the least athletic person on the planet. I didn't get to do much actual swimming today, either, since the family pool is so shallow. But I still feel exhausted after spending a few hours chasing these two guys around in the water. Each of them devoured two protein bars in the car on the way back to our house, and they'd had a big lunch before swimming. Right now? They're sleeping like logs. Swimming is good for that.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Random Friday Night in January

My Friday nights are always spent with my boys. Greg pulls up in the van after school, and then he takes off in my car and I climb in to the van, ready for a night on the town. Or as much "on the town" as one can be with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old.

Yes, Nick is sitting on a motorcycle for his haircut. 

Tonight I decided haircuts were in order. Henry and Nick were both getting pretty shaggy. Nick said he wanted to have a long, dark haircut like Harry Potter. I told him that if he grew his hair any longer, it'd have to be brushed every day. As to the color, I told him he wasn't changing that until he was at least fifteen!

Henry wasn't picky about his haircut, so long as it was "cool." 

We tried a new haircutting place in Naperville, Snips-Snips. I may be cheap enough to purchase my children's jeans and toys at Goodwill, but I also take my kids to a specialty place for pricey $16 haircuts. I'm a contradiction of a mommy, I guess.

The boys loved this little door to the bathroom. He must've gone through it ten times.

Nick's hair turned out okay, though I think it's still a little shaggy. I'm afraid his dreams of Harry Potter hair (at least, how it looked around the 6th movie) are not to be fulfilled. I originally asked for Nick's hair to be left a little longer (per his request), but he moved while she was cutting and then it had to be evened out.

I'm loving that toothless grin.

Nick's neck, by the way, is all red because he simply cannot sit still while the stylist uses the clippers. That's part of the reason I take him to the kids' salons. They have a little more patience and skills with wiggly ones. Every time Nick gets a haircut, he pulls the gown from around his neck, gets hair down his neck and back, and then scratches it until the skin is all red.

Henry is less wiggly in the chair. I really like how Henry's hair turned out, and he was quite pleased himself. "Mommy, I have mermaid hair!," Henry exclaimed. I'm not exactly sure where he got that idea from, but it was cute anyway. "Um, my hair is yellow, light yellow, just like a mermaid. That's why I swim so good." Henry does indeed swim very well for a four-year-old, and he's now in an intermediate preschool swim class. Not sure if his "mermaid hair" has anything to do with it, though.

After our foray into the world of children's haircutting salons, I took the boys to the bank, where they were thrilled to get suckers through the pneumatic tube system. I seldom go to an actual bank anymore, but Henry and Nick insisted that suckers are the main thing that travels through those tubes. They were right, I guess. They must've learned that from trips with their daddy.

No, I didn't buy him the Viking Hat. I'm also aware that Vikings didn't wear hats like these.
Henry would've made a cute Viking, though, right? I'm actually regretting not buying the hat, now. 

After the expensive haircuts and the trip to the bank, I took the boys to the Goodwill by our house. I always see it as something of a treasure hunt. You never know what you're going to find, but there is usually some treasure to be found. I was looking for children's shoes, a purse, and a new bread machine. (My $120 bread machine has something wrong with the pan. Probably from using it every other day for two years.)

My kids think Goodwill is like a magical toystore. Usually this is because I let them pick out a toy for their troubles. (Their troubles being having to walk around the store with me treasure-hunting.) Tonight Nick found a Star Wars pinball machine, still in its box. It looked like it hadn't been used and even came with batteries.

We'll have to try this machine tomorrow. Henry will insist.

Henry got a brand new Sno Cone machine (everything was still sealed) and a pair of brown shoes in like-new condition. They may have actually been new--Target donates unsold merchandise to Goodwill. My little scientist has been trying to make "ice cream" by dumping random things (crayons, berries, socks) into bowls of water and freezing them. I'm hoping Henry likes this better and starts to realize how frozen treats are actually made!

Oh, and me? I found four new, sealed packets of Lego Friends kits ($1 each), a brand new sealed Silly Putty egg (both for my classroom prize box), a brand new Nine West purse (with original tags), and a Breadman Breadmaker that looks like it was used maybe once.

I'm making bread right now, while I'm writing this.  :)

The funny thing about bread machines is that every secondhand store has piles of them, most hardly or never used. I think this is one of those appliances that people give away because they never mastered using it. My kids go crazy for my homemade bread, so I'm on my third machine already.

Total cost? $40 on haircuts and $31 at Goodwill. Oh, and two very cheerful children.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Starting the New Year at the Planetarium

Today we decided to go to the Adler Planetarium to celebrate the new year. I hadn't been in years, and Greg and the boys had never been, so this was an eagerly anticipated trip. The prices for museums, however, have gone up by a great deal since I was last there, so we ended up getting a membership. Honestly, if we only go twice, we'll have already gotten our money's worth. When I was tucking him in to bed this evening, Nick wanted to know if we could go back tomorrow.

Planet Explorers, the area just for kids, was their favorite by far. We kept going back to this area between shows and exhibits, and it was difficult to get them to leave. Henry and Nick pretended to be astronauts for a long, long time.

This is how astronauts strap themselves down to sleep.

There were caves to explore, but they liked popping up from the cave into these bubbles the best.

While we waited for our lunch to be ready, there were telescopes to try out.

Our lunch was pretty good, but the view behind us was spectacular. We even got a cupcake with a little moon and star on it.

The boys loved learning about the solar system, though they were a little scattered. They ran from exhibit to exhibit.

The planets hanging from the ceiling were pretty awesome.

This cool experiment (a vacuum taking out the air and showing the kids what'd happen to a balloon and a marshmallow) thrilled them. I was pretty surprised, too.

The two shows we caught were really fun, and Henry kept saying, "This is the best thing ever!" We made time afterward to see the moon exhibit.

In the moon exhibit they had switches and dials and buttons just like they did during the Apollo program.

They also had rotary dial phones, which didn't make sense to the boys.

This moon lander was a big hit--they got to fly over the moon and land in different spots.

So it looks like the Adler Planetarium will be our museum of the year. I bet we could visit ten times and the boys still wouldn't get bored.