Tuesday, March 6, 2018

3.5 and 5.5

  The times, they are a changing.  Bennett will be three and a half next week and Orelia has already gleefully celebrated her half birthday (she's now five and a half, as she will proudly tell you).

One of the fascinating things I've found through parenting these two souls is that while every month and year brings new habits and behaviors and accomplishments (and setbacks), each kid still seems so very much themselves.  Bennett is starting to really like numbers and really like KNOWING the numbers, so he adores a hopscotch board.  On this particular day he drove his butterfly-winged car over to the hopscotch board to dutifully recite the numbers he saw underneath his feet.

 And while Orelia has stopped (mostly) wearing costumes to school (she wore one every day to school for two years, I think), she still gets dressed every morning with such excitement and flair.

 In or out of a costume she receives compliments and smiles everywhere she goes for her "style."  And she is always dressed for the "occasion" that exists (either in her head or real life) - leotards for gymnastics, shorts for cooking ("working clothes," as she calls them), or dresses for a dinner out. 

 At five and a half she's still loving princesses and all they embody, but she has a lot of other interests as well.

 She loves the idea of horses recently, and would very much like one for a pet please and thank you.

I will never forget the time we did a pony ride at a harvest carnival and the pony in front of her pooped.  Afterward she very disgustedly said "That did NOT feel very much like a princess!"

 Life can be like that sweetie, but no matter where you go in life, I'm sure you will bring some regal flair.

 Both Orelia and Bennett love "weeding" our garden with John.  I sit on the front porch, occasionally with my camera, and am content to sit out the labor thank you very much.  I had to capture Orelia weeding in an Elsa gown, however, because it cracked me up too much.

 Something about this weeding chore makes both kids excited, and I am hapy to hand them their buckets and tell them to get to work.

 Bennett will very rarely pass up an opportunity to "help" with anything, especially if his sister is already helping Mom or Dad.  He has always had a strong work ethic in many ways, as well as an extremely strong desire to do things himself.  Much to our chagrin. 

 Harper is seven and continues to be herself as well, sweet and playful and full of love for everyone she meets (save for a few barky dogs on the street).

 Bennett loves feeding Harper and loving her in his rough little way.  Orelia likes to make sure Harper is never left out when we do things as a "family."

We have had a recent schedule change in our house.  Orelia who has napped every day of her life (almost) for 5.5 years has finally dropped her nap.  I always expected her to slowly drop it where she would fight nap and skip nap every other day or so.  But instead, she kept on napping every day and we decided to just tell her nap was over and we stopped putting her down for nap.  This means she is going down  to sleep earlier at night, at least.

 Bennett was the real impetus for this change, because he was napping for three hours a day and driving us crazy (to put it lightly) when it came for bed time and he wasn't sleepy enough.  So we have cut his nap down to an hour and are dealing with slightly less shenanigans at bed time. 

 During the day he's as cute as can be, and has amped up his charm to new levels.

 He's been connecting more with kids at school and is playing with Orelia and her friends more than ever.  Just yesterday he was the teacher in a game of school and Orelia's friend said "Bennett can you teach us about trucks?"  He sure can! 

 He is full of laughter as well as full of food because he almost never stops eating.  He weighs himself every night to "see how much [he] ate."  I have every expectation that he will be eating more than the rest of our family combined during his teenage years.  I better keep my Costco membership.

 Not only is he playing more with kids, but he also is seeking out more play time with Mom and Dad.  He doesn't want to play trucks or Duplo by himself anymore, but he wants us to be by his side and playing with him.  He would truly like me to race around the house on my hands and knees pushing a car/truck around (like he does), but my knees aren't really capable of that, so I slowly walk around the house carrying the vehicle he has deemed most important for me at that moment. 

 He still has that physical and aggressive side (like many boys, I'm told), that I really struggle with - especially since it is so different than Orelia's nature.  Just this week, he finally started remaining calm enough to push his hands together and grunt "I'M SO MAD!" when his sister (or I) upset him badly enough that previously would have made him lash out physically.  He may forget this newly acquired skill any day, but it is nice to at least see a little improvement on something we have been working so hard on.

 Orelia, too, has matured a lot and she is definitely looking striking lately.  She has also matured a lot in her behavior at school lately.  She still has perhaps a tinge too much to tell the teacher during circle time, but she's sitting still and being a little calmer as she waits to be called upon. Her handwriting and interest in letters and numbers is getting better, and I think next year in kindergarten she will have a great year.

She is as social as ever and wherever she goes is surrounded by new and old friends.  She would prefer to have a play date every single day, but since I don't quite have the energy for that, she is thankfully able to take some quiet time to herself these days and play "pet shop" in her room (where none of the pets are sold, mind you, they are all owned and loved by her).  She still shows her love for people by giving them things, and she is constantly making us works of art that John dutifully takes to work.  Bennett also has gotten in on this "game" and dutifully churns out many "long snakes" (scribbles) or pieces of paper covered in glue or car stickers. 

Our house generally looks like a tornado has blown through (unless Bennett ha had a stint of organizing), but it is a house filled with two very busy and silly kids whom we love with everything we have. Three and a half and five and a half are pretty fun, albeit tiring, ages. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Color Factory, Again

 When the chance came to get tickets to see the Color Factory again in San Francisco, I knew I had to try to make it happen since we had such a good time last time.

 This time we went on a Friday, which meant Orelia had to miss school and "tragically" miss the Lunar New Year parade.  This didn't bother me in the least, but Orelia was mildly devastated at the thought of missing any big event.  Luckily, she had an incredible time and admitted afterward that it was better than any parade they put on at school.

 Orelia went into each room knowing what to expect, which I think made it all the more fun for her.  (Each room is designed by artists and creatives who took a blank canvas warehouse and made it into a color "experience" of all five senses.)  She definitely spent a long time trying out each of the scents on the scratch and sniff wall, even though almost none of them seemed to appeal to her in the least.

 This time Bennett was the one who tried the black (charcoal) lemonade.

 He liked it better than Orelia did, but he decided one sip was enough.  ("Sour!" he proclaimed it.)

 This time we went with friends to the Color Factory.  I missed having John there, but the kids seemed to love having the added craziness of some of their buddies around.

 The kids spent a lot of time "hiding" in this ribbon room made of 1,000 ribbons hanging from the ceiling. 

 Orelia chose this dress specifically for the Color Factory, and it seemed to make her almost camouflaged in the ribbons. 

 I don't really like the sensation of walking into a ribbon enclosure, so I stayed outside of the ribbons and waited for the photo-ops to come to me,

 I think something only photographers can understand is that for me, half of the fun is being able to photograph these types of events.

 The purple room was filled with thousands of print-outs of "selfies" from the internet, which Orelia found especially fun to throw in the air.

 Bennett turned the room into a construction site in his mind and played "bulldozer" by pushing the paper all around and "crane" by lifting the paper from one place to another.  I don't want to say he has a one track mind, but he can be very committed to his love of trucks.

 Orelia can placate Bennett and play trucks too, but she was definitely more interested in creating disorder instead of order in this room.

 The confetti room was, of course, a hit once again.

 Unfortunately it reminded Orelia of falling snow, and she tried to catch some on her tongue (and succeeded, blech). 

 To finish up an exciting morning, the kids took a dip in a pool of 10,000 yellow balls.

 It was a little deep for Bennett to walk in, so he stuck to the edges as if it were a real pool.

 Orelia, of course, dove right in.

 Bennett decided to do what he did last time in this room, and remove all the broken balls to a nearby trashcan.  The Color Factory workers found this quite amusing, but my boy does not like to see things out of place of broken, thank you very much.

 There are few things I can imagine Orelia less interested in doing than cleaning up a ball pit of its broken balls, but that's the beauty of the Color Factory, that everyone can find their own fun where they see it: Orelia wreaking havoc, Bennett creating order, and me behind my camera.

 We all agreed on the perfection of the mini yellow ice cream cone to finish off the morning, however.

A day of hooky felt just right to all of us.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Onto Better Months

 January is THE WORST MONTH of the entire year.  If you ask me, which you didn't. 

 Christmas is over and the weather is drab.  There isn't much to look forward to except the second semester of school, which isn't exactly thrilling.

 But it is officially February, and I am thrilled we have past the worst month of the year.  I took these photos of Orelia in her "Valentine's dress" (from last year) for us to put on her Valentines for classmates this year.  Valentine's Day with preschoolers is such a sweet holiday.

 We have had a child-sized art table for awhile, but after I organized our art supplies in easy reach (with tons of paper on hand), both kids have been loving sitting down side-by-side to create every day.  Sometimes they create masterpieces together (and sometimes they fight over who gets to physically hand these pictures of Mommy/Daddy), and sometimes they create separately.  It's so fun to see them sharing something I love so dearly.

 Bennett wants to go to school every day, but he survives on his three days a week.

 He often plays inside with trucks, trains, or puzzles, but he can also have a blast outside being silly with friends.

 He and a new friend spent ages "delivering packages" to one of the play structures last week.  He may have learned to love packages from all the Amazon and Google Shopping boxes that show up on our doorstep every week.  Or maybe he just loves the trucks that deliver the packages.

 Orelia had her 100th day of school on Monday, and we spent the morning counting out 100 Froot Loops and then stringing them onto a necklace (followed by eating said Froot Loops the second the necklace was placed around her neck).

 Orelia loves any reason to celebrate, and the 100th day of school seemed like as good a reason as any to her.

 February came with a bang here and we have been having 70 degree days all week.

 The sun is staying out later, which means there is actually sunlight when Bennett wakes up from his three hour naps (hence the sleepy-eyed, dog-armed photo).

 Never underestimate the power of sunlight to brighten a mood, and just this extra bit of afternoon sun has made our nap wake-ups that much easier.

 Bennett has been battling a stomach bug on and off all week, though somehow has managed to take some of his cutest photos.

 Every time I see his cute face lit up by the late afternoon sun, I can't help but break out my camera.

 He took a very early nap on one of his sick days, which meant he woke up while his sister was just starting her nap.  We had an hour and a half of leisurely quality time alone, which was quite nice.

 His sweet preschool teacher had given me the art supplies they were using that day to make trains since she knew Bennett would have enjoyed that particular art project.  We spent a long time arranging all of the train cars, gluing them down, and then creating animals, people, and cargo to add to the train.  Thank you Teacher Becca for providing us with an hour's worth of entertainment!

 Orelia, who always dresses as if it is summer, has started dressing in bathing suit tops again now that it actually feels like summer outside.

 She got so much attention for this outfit at school on Friday that she wore it today again.  She would probably like to wear it tomorrow, but I think I might insist on cleaning it first.

 We are crossing our fingers that Bennett has finally kicked his stomach bug now, and can go back to the land of the living tomorrow.

 He spent the morning at his favorite "sick day" activity, walking around the dog park with Daddy where none of the nearby creatures can catch whatever is ailing him. 

 It's hard to believe any kid in the "snakes and snails and puppy dog tails" realm could look as sweet as this by choice.  (Trust me, I would never consider trying to get either of my kids to pose like this.)

 So happy February, everyone! 

In Palo Alto that means the daffodils are coming up and the magnolia trees are blooming.  And it means the worst month of the year is behind us!