Friday, May 25, 2012

zoo day with nano

We were so excited to get Nano for a day and a night on his way back to Hawaii.  
We got to have an extra special zoo day with him.
And for the first time ever we got to ride the train (thanks to our membership from Nano and Nana).
It was nice to see so many animals so much faster than normal.  
The tiger was the most active I have ever seen.  He jumped up on this tree right as we drove by.
The boys were thrilled because goodness knows Jimmy always asks why we don't ever go on it.
And Gus just loves Choo-Choos.
When Gus looks at this picture below he just says "Hot. Hot."
Can you tell by his face that it was hot?
And as always we loved the monkeys.
Then we headed to the splash pad to cool down.
Gus was pretty much on auto pilot going down this slide so Nano and I took stations on opposite ends.
Then it was time to take Nano to the airport.  Gus started to cry because he didn't want him to leave.  We told him Nano had to leave on the airplane and he whimpered until he fell asleep on the drive home.  When he woke up the first thing he said was, "Nano? Airplane?"  He rarely talks about the two things separately anymore.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the end of the season

The end of our first T-ball season that is.  Jimmy had a great time and I think he learned a lot... you know, all that good stuff about playing on a team and being a good sport.  As cliche as it may seem, it is so important for your kids to learn those things through sports.  If Jimmy takes after his parents he will not be a professional athlete, but I love that he wants to play at this age and I hope that it continues for a while.  One night before his evening practice he said, "I can't wait for T-ball.  I really need to get some exercise."  That cracked me up. Perhaps I don't run him around enough at home.  I guess organized sports will be a necessity in this house since left at home with me, we mostly do art projects and play Playmobiles. However, I will take credit for spending countless hours with Gus taking swings in the backyard these days.  He does want to do everything that Jimmy does so it is no surprise.  At the rate he is going, he will certainly surpass his older brother (sorry Jimbo).  Gus swinging that bat in our yard reminds me so much of my brother Danny, and as I put the ball back on the tee again and again and again, I am even more aware of my mother's extreme amount of patience.  She was surely better at it than me since she was a born athlete, but at least I am trying. 
 Jimmy was so proud of his T-Ball pictures and put them up in his room.  While we came to the team with a few friends we already knew, we lucked out to have great coaches and a really nice group of parents to hang out with.  Jimmy got along well with all the kids and they were pretty stinkin' cute.
(Anybody else see a Jack Burch look-a-like in there?  I never noticed it in person so maybe it is just the picture)
The last game of the season was a night game which the coaches said was the most difficult because all the kids were exhausted or hungry or just plain difficult.  Still they "won" the game.
Don't they look like they are having fun?
 Actually, I don't think Jimmy had a problem with the night game, but he was looking more forward to the treats afterwords, but what kid isn't.
 I wonder what they all talk about over there in that huddle....
 Coach Chad told Gus not to cross that line.  
I told him he might turn into an old doctor in kind of like a reverse Field of Dreams situation. 
Apparently, that didn't scare him and I was wrong. 
That would have been cool to see in person though, right?
Other than cookies and juice boxes, the kids also each got a special trophy.  Jimmy didn't know this was coming, so he thought it was pretty cool... although, he didn't actually know what it was.
 Yay, for his first participation trophy ever!!
 And yay for great friends, too!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

star wars toys

With Star Wars catching on in our house so much these days, it was brought to my attention that we don't have enough Star Wars toys in our house.  Despite the fact that we have more toys than we really know what to do with sometimes, I couldn't help but agree.  I told Jimmy that he could surely ask for some for his birthday or Christmas, but in the meantime we made some of our own. I got out some old Playmobil figures, switched some hair colors, added a little paint, marker, and electrical tape, and we had our own versions of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo:
   I think Han's gun is actually a gas pump handle... not sure.
While doing this, I suddenly remembered I had these giant clear-green tooth pick things I had held onto for some unknown reason and realized they would make perfect light sabers.
Jimmy had also been begging he to make this egg carton vehicle.  He said ours turned out cooler.  We did have a droid to help drive it.
This space ship is, of course, our own design, but it is Star Wars inspired.  It is already breaking so I don't know how long it will last, but at least we eat a lot of eggs so we can always make more.  Jimmy loved all of it, but he wanted me to keep going and make Darth Vader and all the rest.  We shall see.  Don't hold your breath.

Monday, May 14, 2012

the force is with us

Gus Kenobi and Jimmy Vader
Jimmy's favorite movie is now officially Star Wars.  It was inevitable, I suppose.  He has still only seen the first one (Episode 4), but it has had a big impact and he is already planning for Halloween.  These will not be the costumes you see at Halloween, but they will suffice in the meantime.  Jimmy used up all the money in his pineapple bank to buy the Darth Vader helmet (the talks and make the scary breathing noises) and the red light saber.  Originally, he was hoping for green (his favorite color), but this one came with the helmet and was on sale, so he decided red (his other favorite color) would be just fine.  So I guess he chose the Dark Side.  Gus still seems to be using the force for good, but he will hit you with his light sabe if you make him angry. He loves it even though it is just made out of a plastic golf club, some green streamers, and electrical tape (sorry if it is not the actual color of Obi Wan's, but let's not get knit picky). I do have a video of them having a light sabe fight, but since it ended in Gus crying, I will not be posting it. 
May The Force Be With You As Well.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

raising arizona kids cover

So, I actually won a contest!  Jimmy, Gus, and I got to be featured on the cover of Raising Arizona Kids Magazine (no Zach... but he couldn't have made it anyway, so he can't complain) and we won a trip for our whole family to Legoland for two days along with two nights at a hotel.  It was a pleasant surprise because I never win things, but I did have a really good feeling about this one.  The magazine has an essay contest ever year for Mother's Day and my friend Dena actually won it last year.  She happened to send an unrelated email that led me to the RAK website where I saw that the essay was due in a week.  Then I saw the topic for this year: "What I learned from my mom about being a great mom."  I knew in a moment that it would be easy for me to write.  Well, I say easy because I have so many things I could say about my wonderful mother and how she inspires me.  It turned out it was actually difficult getting it down to the 500 words allowed because I wanted to say too much about her.   It felt good getting it all down in writing, but it was also a little bit hard to put it all out there for the world to read. Here it is:
My mom played with her kids. I don't just mean in the normal way every mom plays with their kids. She really got down on the floor and played with us. I know a lot of moms who never really do this and they are still great moms, but to me this was something that made my mom special. Our house was where all the other kids wanted to come play. She once let my best friend and I turn our entire living room into a fort that literally used every couch cushion in our house. To top it off, she let us keep it up for a week. I knew that was pretty awesome at the time, but it really sinks in when you stop to contemplate this situation in your own home. My 4 year-old Jimmy and I are pretty frequent fort builders, and when he begs me to let him leave them up for “just one more day,” I can't help but give in. Thank goodness living in an immaculate house would be unnatural for me. I would much rather live in a messy one where kids are having fun.
I would hardly put myself on par with my own mother's patience and kindness (I still work on those ones quite a bit), but I like to think at very least her playfulness rubbed off on me. In my house we make massive toy set-ups made of everything from Legos and Little People to cardboard boxes turned into airports. Currently, an entire room of my house is dedicated to a Swiss Family Robinson island made of Playmobil, and I am confident my mother would be proud.
We were never spoiled because we never really had enough money to be, but my mom had a talent for finding ways to make things special. We would wake up on any given birthday or holiday to find decorations and treats. She would let us play hookie from school to go to a Spring Training game. She managed to plan creative birthday parties and take us on amazing vacations. She knew that family time should come above all else. We never had a beautiful house, or nice clothes, or fancy meals. As a kid sometimes I was embarrassed about those things, but now I can't thank her enough for giving us wonderful and happy memories instead of lots of “things.”
I wish I could talk to her now and ask her how she did it all, but I can't. She passed away more than 6 years ago. My greatest sadness is that she will never get to meet my two boys, Jimmy and Gus. I think the only way that they will ever get to know even a piece of her is through me. When they grow up I want them to be able to brag to their friends about how awesome their mom was in the same way I still brag about mine.

So, we got to be on the cover and they did a two page spread on the inside.  You will have to get your hands on a copy to see the real deal, but you can see a few of the other pictures here.  The picture for the cover cracks me up.  I think Gus is shoving goldfish crackers in his mouth, but I am going to go with what one of my friends said and say he is blowing a kiss.  Needless to say, he was not so cooperative during the photo shoot.  Jimmy's little bashful grin pretty much sums up his attitude during most of it as well.  When I originally told him that I won and we got to be on a magazine, he was not very excited.  Then I threw in the part about winning a trip to Legoland, and he changed his tune.  I might have used the Legoland thing to help get him to cooperate, but even with that he only lasted for so long taking pictures.  All in all, it was fun and they even came back to our house on the spur of the moment to see our Playmobil set-up.  Jimmy was more excited for that part and enjoyed showing off his toys.   When the cover came out, I showed it to him him and said, "Hey, who is that?"  He just looked at me and said, "What?" in his standard sort of embarrassed way that he does when he doesn't want to answer a question that he obviously knows the answer to.  So he wan't that impressed, but he does look at the Legoland website just about everyday, so at least there is that.  
I have already posted about this on Facebook and sent it out to a few people via email and I have gotten back so much wonderful feedback that any qualms I had about putting myself out there have all gone away. A man stopped me tonight at Jimmy's t-ball game because he recognized me.  He told me that he lost his mother last year and that the article really moved him.  He said he was even thinking about writing a letter to the magazine and thought it was so weird that he would bump into me.  It was very nice to hear.  I teased on Facebook that I enjoy making people cry, but it is a little bit long as they are good cathartic tears.  It has been such a nice tribute to my Mom and it has been so nice to hear from many long lost friends and relatives about how much they loved her, too.  She was so special to so many people and I know that she is smiling down on all of this.