Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Cape for a Horse, of Course

You know how it is with kids and show and tell. Two girls bring in their toy horses, but one of the horses has a 'fancy cape' and the other one doesn't. June asked me if we could buy a cape that would fit Candy, the horse that she got as a souvenir from the circus recently. I told her that finding a cape that would fit her well and not fall off her back would be hard. Then June told me that the cape wouldn't fall off her back if we just located one with a long train.

(Yes, that definitely makes the task 100% easier and not 1000% more difficult. Just find a perfectly sized horse cape with a train. Got it.)

"Maybe we could try making one, June."

Which is how I came to spend the morning of my 7th anniversary sitting at the sewing machine with June on my lap, making a cape and a mask for a horse. (Oh yeah, I found out Candy needed a queen mask, too. Naturally.)

The cape was easy (I didn't even end up sewing more than the velcro closure, but the mask took some finagling - June knew EXACTLY how the mask should look and which parts of the horse face could (and more importantly COULD NOT) be covered up. 

Oh! And one more thing. June wanted to add 'jewels' from her jewelry box. (This is a small cardboard box she was given to decorate with sequins/confetti at a birthday party, but June didn't want to waste any on the box and instead hoarded a handful inside the box.)

So the finished train now looks like this:

I'm glad that June is so happy with how they turned out, and Candy has remained thus adorned since that fateful morning.

As I was cleaning up that morning, I heard June talking quietly to herself: "Candy really looks like a real queen. She's so beautiful." Then louder, to me, "I'm happy Candy looks so beautiful. She's a good horse. When I say 'stay,' she stays. When I say 'play dead,' she does it."

I really see it as evidence of her glass-half-full heart that she chose to compliment Candy on the two tricks that the horse physically can do on her own.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Notes on Bennett Lately

Instead of saying "Yes," Bennett says "Aye." And he usually says it with this little nod of his head. Every time he does it, I picture him as a little pirate following orders.


I still nurse Bennett before bed as part of our bedtime routine. Most of the time he gets very tired and just about falls asleep while I hold him there on the rocking chair. But lately he's gotten into this habit of snaking one finger up toward my face, poking me in the nose and loudly saying "NOSE!" Then he moves on to poke me in the "MOU!" and my "EYE!" (He actually pokes me in the eye, and will never not find it hilarious to do so.)


No doubt, he's a little Mischief Man and gets this little gleam in his eye when he knows he's doing something he's not supposed to. But he's just so sweet, you know? He's my sweet little Bubs. He is so interested in other people, and will say "Hi. Hi! HI!" louder and louder at people across the street until they acknowledge him, all while waving. After giving me a kiss, he'll say "June" and pucker up and walk in her direction, wanting a kiss from her. He's not aggressive with other kids and seems very bewildered when they are aggressive toward him, or are having an emotional time.


More and more he's able to communicate in ways that work for him. He uses "All done!" a lot, like when he wants to be doing something else. (For example, when he wants to get down from his stroller because a dog is walking by, he'll pull on the stroller seat belt and say "All done. All done!" Another one he uses a lot is "Stuck!" I find him so adorable when I can hear this muffled "Stuck! Stuck!" and see him trying to climb up onto the couch but just barely not making it, or when he's pushing June's baby stroller around and its wheel gets caught on a corner.


Bennett's Favorite Things to Do:
1. Play with the hose in the front yard (it's not turned on - don't report me to the drought people!)
2. Have me ask him unending questions and him nodding earnestly in response to every one. "Bennett, do you love Mama? Do you like bananas? Do you like to get owies? No, Bennett, you don't like owies!"
3. Reading these little "Hello" booklets he has a subscription to (they are the baby version of the Highlights magazine)
4. Wearing pajamas
5. According to daycare, his favorite things to do there are dance and read books. He'll dance to anything (including a fellow baby banging on the drum) and when it's circle time for books, he runs ahead to grab the best spot front and center.
6. Dogs. He wants to wave at every dog ("Hello, goggie!") and will reach out his hand and ask for a "Lick? Lick?"

Not So High on His List:
1. When June crawls around the house and pounces out at him while snarling
2. Me cooking. Cooking with Bennett in the house is awful. His go-to move is to press himself between me and the cabinets (like when I'm at the stove or sink) and physically push me back away from the counter.
3. Eating meat. He'll take down some meatballs, but that seems to be about it for meat.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Pumpkin Patch

This Saturday was our first (and only!) Saturday without a soccer game this season, so we decided to take advantage and visit a pumpkin patch. We went to Fog Willow Pumpkin Patch, which is the same big one we visited last year because it's so great. We had such a great time!

June couldn't wait to pick out a 'medium-sized' one. Bennett can't say 'pumpkin' but does say 'cumpkin,' so that's what we heard all day. (That and 'cack-tor!' for the tractor.) 

At one point, the other kids were off playing and Bennett just kept running toward the tractor that was pulling the hayride. I kept trying to get him to walk back to the playground with me, but he wouldn't budge. Eventually I asked him if he wanted to ride the tractor and he said, "Aye," which is his way of saying yes. (He's like a little pirate.)  So in we went! Just me and my Benny on the hayride.

Michael snapped this photo from the afar playground.

Pony rides - June was so excited to end up with the horse she wanted. June named her Stormy but I'm pretty sure I saw her real name as Joanie.  Bennett desperately wanted to ride a horse, but said "All done. All done. ALL DONE" basically as soon as the horses started moving. He didn't cry or anything, just made it quite evident that he was, in fact, all done.

While we were in the mining section, it started to rain, which was kind of fun, really.

But it did mean that finding a dry spot to eat our lunch was going to be difficult. We ended up at this spot, which was great because it ended up drizzling a little and the kids were able to perch under the umbrella and not get wet.

We bought five pumpkins on our way out the door and considered it a really great Saturday morning! We love the fall time and this changing weather!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Seventh Anniversary Celebration

Today is our 7th anniversary! Michael and I had our official celebration on Friday night because that worked for our babysitter.  It's amazing how much the thought of a date night at the end of the week makes my week fly by so much faster.

We got dressed up and went out to eat at a nice restaurant in town called Ella. We had an awesome meal and some drinks but held off on dessert since we were stuffed.

After that we went to a play at a community theater titled "5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche."

The premise of the play is about a womens' group of widows during the 50's who meet, and the audience is sort of treated like the members of the group. So we all got name tags as we arrived...I was Alma and Michael was Bessie. :)

It comes out that all of the women in this group are in fact lesbians, and their annual celebration rating and eating quiches is quite the euphemism. It was so fun and enjoyable, including times where they encouraged we, the other members of the social club, to loudly exclaim that we too were lesbians. Some of the older men were a little hesitant, but most of us loudly went along with it and it was really great.

After the play, we went out for dessert, then came home to relieve the babysitter. She said that it had been a good night and there were a couple of drawings for us the June had made.

The next morning, Bennett was happy to see us again and got right down to one of his favorite new activities...putting on other peoples' shoes. In this case, the booties I had worn out the night before.

Happy anniversary, baby. I love you so much!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Around Here Lately

Going to a birthday party, having all of the girls get 'rainbow fairy' face paint and June asking for a full cheetah mask:

Getting school photos back:

Decorating the house for Halloween:

Going out for dessert:

Nature walks with friends at the UC Davis Arboretum:

Post-dinner walks around the state capitol:

Bennett looking HUGE in his crib:

Bennett helping Daddy shave:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tiger Team Games

We've had four or five soccer games so far and they've all gone really well!

I was a little nervous leading up to the games since my attempts to get my kids to play little games at practice hadn't gone so well. Some kids got bored with scrimmages after 3 or 4 minutes (which boded ill considering games are 40 minutes long!). Some kids were really hurt and discouraged that they had to fight for the ball, and that other people might come and take the ball from them. So, when the first game came and ALL of my kids wanted to play, and NONE of them cried when they didn't get to keep the ball, and ALL of them stayed interested, I counted myself very lucky.

What a great group of kids I have! They are all so sweet and they each have their own personality. One girl wants to hold my hand a lot. One little boy gives me hugs. Another little boy tries to tickle me. The kids get so proud when they make a play, like stopping the ball or scoring a goal.

It's hive soccer, of course, where the kids all just run around after the ball. Sometimes I can convince a couple of them to hang back and play defense a little.

I tell you, though, it's a lot of work! I'm out there on the field the whole time, helping the kids, encouraging them ("Go for it!" "Other way! Turn it around!" "Great save!" "She's on your team, you don't need to take it from her!"). Blowing the whistle when we need to stop the play and do a throw in or goal kick, deciding whose turn it is to throw or kick it in. Plus keeping track of the time (10 minute quarters, with subs happening at 5 minutes) and keeping track of which kids' turn it is to come out. (I've started asking parents to help keep track when possible.)

I usually end the game a little hoarse and in need of my own nap. 

I've been pleasantly surprised with how June does, considering she was one of the ones who got offended when other people took the ball from her at practice. But she runs around with this determined smile on her face. I wish I had a better chance to watch just her without any other responsibility. When she gets the ball she tends to run in the wrong direction. When I talked to her about it, she acknowledged that she knew she was going the wrong way, but that she dribbled away because "that way no one will take it from me."

I continue to torment myself wondering what the other parents are thinking. Am I doing a good job? Are their kids having fun? Am I letting each kid play the same amount? Encouraging each kid the same amount? Helping each kid to have fun? I'm encouraged not only by poor Michael's constant reassurance that I'm doing just fine, but also by the fact that all my kids seem to be having a good time. They all want to play, and act bummed out when it's their turn to sit out. I've talked to some other coaches and friends who have kids on their team who still refuse to go out on the field. 

I try to make practices as fun as possible, but I've got kids ranging from 4.5 to 6. So the things that might amuse a 4.5 year-old might seem childish and boring to a 6 year-old. And the drills a 6 year-old can do might be too tough for a 4.5 year-old. So I do my best and hope it all works out. 

By the way, here is my tiger tee-shirt. Our team is the Tigers and I decided to buy a shirt to wear while I coach the games. It is majestic and worn a little ironically, and I'm sure some people think I'm wearing it in earnest and think I'm a little nutty.

So there you have it! We're about halfway through our season of games and if it ends as strongly as it has started, I'll be thrilled and consider it all a success. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Notes from Soccer Practice

Notes about Soccer Practices:

1. As much as you prepare for what is going to happen on that first practice, and how other kids might get upset or want to stay with their moms, you also need to prepare for what happens if it's your kid who wants to sit out and be with you.  June got very upset that one drill involved her not keeping her special ball (the balls were 'community balls') and she basically sat out the rest of practice, crying on the sidelines. It felt awful. Should I be a bad coach and leave the kids, trying to calm down mine? Or be a bad mom and go on coaching with my kid crying on the sidelines? Not a great way to start things off.

Things got SO much better. I talked to June about being able to sit out from a drill if she doesn't like it. She has decided to sit out drills now, and we have never had another big problem!

2. Some drills will go over so well and the kids will laugh and hug you and make you feel great. Other ones won't work out.  I have had to say "Welp, okay, this isn't working. Who wants to go run down the hill instead?"

3. About assistant coaches. I didn't have one assigned to me. And no one volunteered to be one, but several dads offered to help out if I ever needed it. I sort of went back and forth between being glad for their volunteerism, but I also didn't want anyone trying to take over (what if they had a different attitude about the whole 'JUST HAVE FUN!' thing? What if they were super serious and hardcore?) Well, I do sometimes ask this one dad to help out, but I tell you, sometimes I do wish that I had pushed about getting someone to volunteer to help out full time. It's hard keeping all the kids together, and setting up the cones for the drills in the few seconds so the kids don't lose attention. And to be a backup if I ever needed to miss practice.

4. There is a big difference in skill level and physical ability between 4.5 year-olds and 6 year olds. I just keep trying to have games that seem to appeal to them and hope they're all interested.

5. When you need to teach them to play soccer, you really need to teach them.  I had a couple of small talks about soccer rules and then tried to have my group play short-sided games. They sort of stood around looking confused. When I said "Alright! Let's play!" a few of them ran off to get their own balls. The conversation then went something like this:

"So in soccer, we only play with one ball. I know sometimes we practice and everyone gets their own ball, but in games, there's only one and we share it."
"Because...because that's how you play soccer."
"Can I keep my ball?"
"No, we're only playing with the one ball."
"Can we use my ball as the one ball?"
"Er- maybe."
"What about me? Can we use my ball?" "I want to use my ball."
"It doesn't matter whose ball we use, guys!!"

5. I tried to gently get my kids ready for games, with each practice having one gentle theme. Themes like "To score points, put the ball in that goal over there!" and "Goalies can use their hands!" Even then, I felt like my team wasn't ready for the first game. I had let them play little games and there were lots of remaining issues. One boy just kept dribbling out of bounds...and then would continue dribbling until he was practically in the parking lot. A few kids were getting upset that others would take the ball away. Some kids got bored of playing after a few minutes, which boded ill when the games were 40 minutes long! 

But the games came and we all did just great! That's a post for another time! And the great news is that, now that we've had a few games and they all went great, I can save practice for simply fun, silly drills that they all like. 

Judy was in town one day and took some photos! I was so glad because, since I'm coaching, I haven't had the chance to take any pictures of June. 

Me and June gearing up: 

Playing the 'sleeping giant' game:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Circus Night

The weekend before last we had tickets to the circus! We actually had 4 tickets, but Michael had heard the circus rehearsing and thought it might be a little too loud and overwhelming for Bennett. We invited several pairs of friends to join us, but it just didn't work out so June and I went by ourselves. It worked out nicely since we had two extra seats, so I placed June in the spot that didn't have someone sitting right in front of it. 

When we got there, we got straight to souvenir-buying (a plastic show horse) and then went down to the floor where there was an elephant doing tricks for the crowd. I put June up on my shoulders so she could see.

It was pretty neat because one of June's preschool weekly themes was the circus lately, so she knew all about the different acts of the circus. She asked if there were going to be people on trapeze and tigers and clowns.

It was so cool to watch her reaction to all of the different pieces. We were so close to the action, so she was constantly looking around, taking in all of the different things happening at once.

I felt like the people on the tightrope were directly above us. I had the uneasy sensation that if they fell, those big poles were totally coming at us. June and I were so excited when they were just walking across the wire, with me taking several pictures. I should have known that that was nothing compared to what they did eventually.

By this time in the act, June and I were giggling nervously and June was whispering "I would never do that. NEVER!"

We loved the elephants, of course. June's other favorite was this dramatic dance with a big suspended sphere with women during Cirque de Soleil type things inside. Her favorite part of it was the four mermaids who were suspended above he ground around the edge of the arena.

There were no fewer than 17 tigers in this ring at one time:

I was a nervous wreck during the tiger act. There was just one guy in there with them, and he kept telling them what to do. There was this one tiger who took a long time to listen to him and he was baring his teeth and I thought for sure we were going to watch a dude get mauled. But it was super cool.

Overall, it was a great time. I was pretty glad we didn't bring Bennett because he's just so ansty these days and the show was pretty long. I know that Michael or I would have been taking turns walking him around the concourse if he had been there.

This was June's first time going to the circus and I think it was the perfect time to take her. She had just the right amount of wonder and excitement, and just (barely) enough attention span to get her to the end. It was a great time!