Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring Cleaning

We've been so busy (and sick) in February that we are way behind where we need to be with gardening, pruning and lawn care. So with the gift of a few hours of sunshine and free time on Sunday afternoon, we attacked the front yard.

Alas, the back still needs to be done, and that's always much more work than the front. But at least we've started things now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mr. Darcy

It was a big night for Jane Austen fans across the globe tonight.

Mr. Darcy won the Oscar for Best Actor!!!

In honor of His Royal Firthness, here is the moment that made him famous.

Could I love this man any more?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

... And more LEGOs

Back in December, I had received a free pick-a-mix-LEGO box as a gift with purchase with the Police Station. Since they would only give me one of those free boxes, I decided to save it as a birthday present for Ryan. Combined with some of his birthday money, what could be better than a trip to the LEGO store?

Ryan was unbelievably thrilled to make this trip - especially since I took just him and left Alex to work on  his Pinewood Derby car with Carl - and carefully examined each and every possible box as an option. Usually when the boys get money or checks for their birthdays/holidays, I spirit it away and deposit it in their savings accounts. Its generally not as if they *need* any more toys, after all. But the card from his great-grandmother Rita arrived late, on Valentine's Day, actually, so I thought it was a Valentine card, and he opened it before I could stop him. He was puzzled over the piece of paper, but I explained to him that it was worth money if we took it to the bank.

Now, Ryan does understand what money is. He's been receiving an allowance since September, and he is all about the power of the dollar bills, and how they relate to his LEGOs. So I decided to let him keep this check (especially since I managed to keep the other great-grandparents checks away from him) and off to LEGO we went.

After Ryan checked out all the different sets out - would it be the new spinning Ninjagos? More Star Wars? His own Harry Potter set since the other ones all belong toAlex? Atlantis, with which he has some odd fascination? Nope, for Ryan it was more ... wait for it... police LEGOs.


After picking his Grandma Rita present (whom Ryan described as his 'cousin' to the LEGO cashier), it was time to turn our attention to the back wall. As our chief LEGO master of ceremonies, I knew we needed certain pieces more than others. But this was Ryan's gift, so I was determined to let him fill up the box how he wanted. Imagine my pleasure that Ryan also seemed to grasp which pieces we needed the most. Lots of the big, long ones, and the smaller thin base plates. He crammed that sucker full - so full I thought they might make us put some back. And when he was done, he went to the bin of the smallest pieces and through a handful of them in, too.  Way to get our money's worth, Ryan!

He held his box the whole drive home, and began assembling it immediately. Grandma and Papa were coming over for dinner, and Papa oversaw the assembly, but it was all Ryan.

One very happy, proud little five year old.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Year's Pinch Pot

One of the things I find most annoying about our elementary school is that they never send any of the children's artwork home until the end of the year, after they have a big Gallery Night. Its incredibly frustrating, and made even more frustrating by the fact that Alex doesn't exactly give us the best description of what he does each day, especially when it comes to art or music class.

Last year I was up at school one day and discovered a pinch pot Alex had made on display.

A pinch pot I had never even heard about.

When we asked Alex about his day that evening at dinner, and received the usual non-descriptive response, I asked if he had made any pinch pots lately. "Oh yeah..." he replied. So we practiced that night, us asking Alex about his day and what he did in school, and how an appropriate response would be, "I made a pinch pot! Its black and red and out of clay."

Over the past year, the "pinch pot" has become synonymous with reminding Alex to tell us some of the more important details about his day. If we don't receive enough details out of him, our next question is usually "Did you make any pinch pots today?" which prompts a sheepish grin and some juicy details about what happened during the eight hours we were apart.

And as a whole, he's gotten much, much better at telling us about things. We'll hear all about the story Mrs. Stading read during storytime, and about how they played with cups during PE, or who got goals during the big entire first grade soccer game at recess. We've been rather pleased with the details we receive, and I don't even have to cross examine him to the extent I did in kindergarten. Another parent even expressed amazement at the details I had received one day - a huge source of pride for me. I was feeling good about being a good parent.

So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I noticed some 1st grade artwork on display.

Artwork that included Mrs. Stading's class.

And one clay shark scene crafted by one Alexander Swanson.

Something that he obviously spent a great deal of time creating.

Something we had not heard about at all.

This year's pinch pot.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Be My Valentine

I think I might be the luckiest woman on the planet.

This year I received Valentine's from Captain Wentworth, Edward and Jacob, and Will Shuester.

Not to mention cute cards from my boys and my nieces.

I asked Carl if his gift of a Twilight Valentine to me meant that he might watch the movie with me as a Valentine's present, but apparently that was pushing my luck a bit too much. I should have asked him to watch the Alice 'Sobe' commercial with me instead. ;)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The LEGO Five Year Old Party

Ryan turned five on February 1, and we celebrated his birthday the following weekend with an indoor party at Pump-it-Up. This was my first time hosting a birthday party for either boy not at our house, and I'd say it went quite well. I've always worried about his early February party, because if the weather is rotten, we're all indoors. We've gotten lucky with his previous birthdays, and we could have ended up having his party outdoors on this Saturday, but I would have been massively freaking out all during our Snow Day the day before if we were at home. So I'm especially glad we went the Pump it Up route. We picked Pump it Up - out of all the dozens of various bouncy places around - because they actually keep you separated from anybody else. One of my chief objections to parties at other places is that its hard to know who is there for you, and to keep track of everyone. Pump it Up moves you through two different bouncy rooms, and then finally to the party room, and you rarely see anybody else there.

As I've blogged about before, Ryan wanted a LEGO theme for his "five year old birthday" (he never calls it his '5th birthday' -- only 'my five year old birthday.'). When the LEGO store first opened up, they offered birthday parties. But they closed their party room down for a bit - its supposed to open back again in the summer - and it was hard trying to find a way to make LEGOs and Pump it Up go together. But I think we managed just fine.

First up we needed a brand new LEGO shirt for the birthday boy.

Then we designed some LEGO invitations.

We ordered a LEGO cake from our local bakery, Ann's Kitchen Cakes.

We set about making our own LEGO goody bags. The goody bags contained a mini-LEGO kit of either an airplane or a truck, along with the LEGO coloring book we designed, gummies, candy, and a little rubber alien Ryan insisted upon fresh after our stop in Roswell, New Mexico.

I chose a yellow-red-green-blue color scheme, with yellow being the primary emphasis. For added decorations we had Ryan's LEGO head bucket sorter, Ryan's stuffed LEGO guy, and a nameplate made for him, along with a giant "5" out of LEGOs. Finally, Carl made these fantastic LEGO marshmallow pops, and we drew what are supposed to be LEGO faces on the yellow cups.

And since you can't have a LEGO party without LEGOs... we bought a big giant box of LEGOS and filled up little plastic cups for each child. Ryan then added one minifigure to each cup - out of his own collection, I might add - because he didn't think you could have fun with LEGOs without the minifigure. I did put my foot down on any of the ones that came from a set being given out, but I thought it was pretty sweet he and Alex were willing to share their prized LEGO guys with friends. We added a few mini LEGO stickers to the cups out of the giant LEGO ultimate sticker collection books. The kids got to play with their LEGOs while they ate the snacks and cake and Ryan opened his gifts. Several cute little ships were made.

 The birthday boy had a great time at his LEGO party and loved being the center of attention.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolate Fever

The first graders at Spicewood had Chocolate Fever Day on Valentine's Day.

Its based on the book  "Chocolate Fever," about a boy who eats so much chocolate he gets sick.

Chocolate Fever

All the kids came with chocolate fever spots on Monday (made with brown eyeliner) and wore their pajamas since they were 'sick.'

At the end of the day, they learned the steps of how to make a chocolate sundae, and we had an ice cream party for them.

Then they opened their Valentine's from each other and ate WAY too much candy and sweets.

Finally, it was time to take the Pledge to never eat too much chocolate again.

They were all given the cure: take one vanilla pill (ie, a white chocolate chip).

Alex had a great time, even if he was feeling a bit under the weather. But I'm sure wearing jammies all day helped make things all better. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

 Valentine's Day, 2011.

I stayed home from work since I'm still recovering from the flu. Alex still wasn't feeling that well, but since he has been fever free for several days, we sent him to school so he wouldn't miss "Chocolate Fever."

Here he is with his chocolate spots and pjs on in the morning before heading off to school.

And since I didn't like the very persistent cough he's had for two weeks now, here he is at the end of the day back at the doctor's office, getting a nebulizer treatment.

 He gets to do this four times a day for the next week at least. :(

Ryan was back at school, and came home with a valentine he made just for me.

And this evening, we opened our gifts and cards to each other. The boys received (what else?) LEGOS and books.

And Mommy received some beautiful roses, as well as a truly brilliant card from Carl.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Soccer Already!

It hardly seems possible, but Alex's first spring soccer practice is tomorrow morning. In the middle of our illnesses, we realized that last season's cleats come nowhere close to fitting the boys. So a trip to Academy was in order.

Ryan was easy, and picked out these cleats.

His favorite color - blue - and the color of his Chelsea uniform, to boot. He will definitely be stylin' this spring.

Alex was a bit harder to please. He wanted cleats that were his favorite color, red. And the only red ones they had were white with a hint of red  - which I quickly deemed a no-no for muddy soccer fields - and some black ones with a red Nike swoosh that they did not have in stock in his size. Turns out they didn't have many shoes his size.

So I started randomly opening any box that was size 4.5 and looked for shoes that did not have pink on them. Out of all the cleats,  we found two no-pink 4.5s.

But it turns out that one of those was a clear winner.

For not only does it come in a nice manly black with a black Nike swoosh, but it has color changing swoosh options!

How cool is this??!!

I totally want color changing shoes for me. Think how easy women's fashion would be... we wouldn't need 42 pairs of shoes. Oh wait... maybe that's not a good thing after all. We need our 42 pairs of shoes.

So despite the lack of choices Academy presented to us tonight, Alex still managed to end up with his red cleats after all.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

One Happy Five Year Old

Ryan's birthday party went off today without a hitch. I'll post more photos and details later, but the one thing I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to blog about was his reaction in the car on the way home.

"I'm just so shocked. I don't know how I feel. I can't believe how wonderful it all was," he told us, completely unsolicited. It totally made my year, let alone my day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day!

Well, it happened. We got the perfect* snow day. (*Perfect would not have involved a 5:17 am wake up call from the Round Rock School District letting me know that the 2 hour delayed start was now a full day. We had a two hour delayed start. TWO. EXTRA. HOURS. TO. SLEEP. And they call us at 5:17 am??!!)

But the kids had an unbelievably wonderful time. We woke up to a winter wonderland outside, with just enough snow in all the right places to have the best time.

Most of it was spent sledding.


And having snowball fights.

It was such delicate, fluffy snow, that it was hard to make a snowman with it. Although we tried.

The boys played outside three separate times, having to come in periodically to rest and warm up.

It wasn't long, though, before the sun was shining and by 1:00 pm most had melted away. Fortunately, our front yard and driveway is pretty shaded, so it stayed snowy and icy the longest of any house in our immediate sight.

And nothing says fun like an icy, steep driveway.


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