Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Note From a Gwarrel

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

Mom-E gave me the heads-up the other day that Big Brother came home with a note from a "gwarrel" (girl in Little Brother-speak) in his class.

For a few brief moments, I anticipated all kinds of brotherly teasing and yelling and screaming about somebody having a "gwarrel-friend."

However, according to Big Brother - who is an "Honest Abe" - apparently everyone in the class, the teacher included, received one.  (Making me think, "Wow, this gwarrel spent a LOT of time writing notes.)

Still, it was very cute and very sweet.  But don't tell Big Brother that.  He might scream and run for fear of "cooties."

And yes, we agree that Big Brother is cool.

Have a good weekend,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New 'Nastics

Well, we've started a new adventure in gymnastics, or 'nastics as Little Brother calls it.

And it's been a while since I've written about 'nastics.

We changed to a different gym, mostly due to a much less pervasive smell of feet, better viewing space, a more formal evaluation and feedback process the kids, to make sure they're in the right class.

Oh, and the fact that all 3 boys are now taking 'nastics, and the new gym's classes are such that everyone's class is on the same day in a 2-hour time block.

After taking a leave from gymanstics for a while, Big Brother has returned from the sidelines, and seems to be enjoying himself.

Little Brother has continued to enjoy his 'nastics.  He's really pretty strong, especially given that people accuse him of being Bab-E Brother's twin.  We were briefly worried this week when they changed Little Brother to a different class.  Although they moved him to the right one for his age, he is one of only 2 boys, and let's just say he has absolutely no interest in anything that could be even remotely perceived as gwarrely ("girly").

But in terms of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement, Bab-E Brother definitely takes the cake.

He has been drooling (literally and figuratively) about wanting to do 'nastics, having been relegated to watching Little Brother for months now.  Given his various attempts to do somersaults and other jumps at home and in the viewing area at the gym, it was clear to Mom-E and I that we should sign him up ASAP.

Bab-E Brother is energetic to begin with, but I've never seen him quite so fired up as he was for the first class.

The gym has a very cute little penned off area for the toddlers.  

And while all of the other kids were circled up sitting on their spots, Bab-E Brother pretty much started running around the area, jumping on mats, hanging on bars, etc. 

He was so hyper that he was "that kid."

You know, the one who needs to be simultaneously sprayed with the Ritalin mist-fan and shot with the Benadryl dart gun.

But fortunately, he did calm down (eventually), and without medication.

I was sure that afterwards, the teachers were going to try to sell us a harness for him.

(Insert reference to SNL Sketch with Mike Myers and Nicole Kidman - "My mother says harnesses are cruel."  "My mother says they're very necessary.")

He's very cute.  Bab-E Brother refers to 'nastics as "My School."  And one of his favorite parts is the hand (and foot) stamps they get at the end.

So much so that he informed Mom-E in advance of the class this week that he would NOT be taking a bath that night (to preserve his stamp).  Fortunately, Mom-E had transient occlusion of both of her ears with wax when he said that.

But it's been very fun to watch all of the boys frolick around, jumping in the foam pit, jumping on the trampoline, and in Bab-E Brother's case, pretty much jumping non-stop for a half-hour.

What has been somewhat less fun is chasing Bab-E Brother around the viewing area for the 1.5 out of the 2 hours that he is not doing 'nastics, because the anticipation and excitement seem to linger.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Creative Spelling

And, no, I'm not talking about "label" or "usual".

Let's face it, preparation for weekly spelling tests can be a bit tedious (aka it's the third week of school and we're already tired of it.)

And I'm only talking about what it's like for parents!

No doubt for kids it can be quite arduous, too.

This week, we were practicing words on Thursday afternoon for the Friday test.

Big Brother missed about 5 of the 15 words (in part because he was preoccupied with his Trio blocks).

But when we said we were going to practice them again later, he pretty much protested with a "Why?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe because you have a test tomorrow and you still can't spell some of the words?" I ventured a guess to myself.

Fortunately, when later arrived, Big Brother was at least willing to work on his spelling words.

After spelling "bonus" correctly, Big Brother proceeded to write "poop!" at the bottom of the page.

And that's when one of those moments of parental spontaneity kicked in.

"You know what, Big Brother. Every time you spell a word correctly, you can write 'poop!' or 'pee!' at the bottom of your paper."

Surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly), it worked as a motivator. Other than Little Brother and Bab-E Brother barging into the room just to be ornery, Big Brother maintained pretty good concentration. He got 13 of 15 correct, and got to write "poop!" a lot, which made him happy.

On the flip-side of the page below, we drilled on "label" and "usual" until he had them down, and he got to write "poop!" a bunch more times.

But I opted not to show you that, because you're probably already tired of seeing my kid's "poop!"


Have a good week,

Friday, August 24, 2012


Happy Fatherhood Friday!

The other evening, out of the blue, Big Brother decided to help me make dinner.

Little Brother is often Mom-E's helper in the kitchen (particularly if it involves anything chocolate).

But this was the first time Big Brother extensively assisted with dinner.

His first request was that we make corn muffins.  Fine.

But as we put them in the oven, he made a special request for Wuffins, too.

And since he was extensively helping and doing an excellent job, the answer was an easy "Yes."

Only problem was that the muffin pan was "occupied" by the corn muffins.

So, being the resourceful soul that he is, he quickly suggested that we make "Mini-Wuffins", and we did.

As was the case with regular wuffins, they turned out quite well.  In fact, maybe even a tad better.

But I can't help thing that this would be a great item for a fast-food breakfast menu:
A 6-piece mini-wuffins with a side of maple syrup.

That was a definite advantage of the mini-wuffins - they were quite easily dunked in syrup, and less messy, because you can eat them in one bite.

The boys have always liked french toast sticks, so I figure if my kids will eat them, there's definitely a market for them.

So if anyone knows any big-wigs at any fast-food places, let me know, and we can make our case.

I'm already thinking of slogans like, "We Ain't Bluffin', We Got Mini-Wuffins".

Okay, I better stop now.

Have a good weekend,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Caught Red-Handed

The other night I peeked into Bab-E Brother's room, and found him fast asleep in the following position:

I wasn't sure whether to laugh hysterically, or be mortified, so I did both.

(And while I was immobilized by the humor/horror, Mom-E quickly removed his hand and he promptly rolled onto his belly.)

Happy (Almost) Wordless Wednesday,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Minty Hot Chocolate Connaisseur

Little Brother has a penchant for a number of things - coins, tiny plastic toys, blankets, ropes, even latex gloves (which, by the way, he now stores in an M&M Mini's container that I once used to store quarters).

But I digress.

One of Little Brother's favorite pastimes is afternoon hot chocolate.

It could be 3000 degrees outside, and the boy will still want hot chocolate.

And, invariably, he has to put something in it (besides the marshmallows, of course).

Perhaps the "mint" gene is X-linked, because he and Mom-E both really like their mint hot chocolate.

For a while, he was content to go with just the generic Starlight peppermints.

Then it expanded to Starlight spearmints.

Next, we crossed over to Tic Tacs.  But not just the white ones.  One night I found myself at the store with green Tic Tacs on the list (amongst many other things).  I figured it was for some kind of school counting project.  But no, alas, just Little Brother's wish to sample every flavor of Tic Tac.

(Dude, by the way, I'd pass on the orange ones.  But then again, maybe you'd like that.)

And this has been shortly followed by pillow mints.

Of course, it's not good enough to add just one thing.  You've gots to combination.

So, Little Brother's current recipe for that perfect cup of afternoon hot chocolate, to keep you hot on that hot summer day, is to "cool it off" with a refreshing combo of spearment Starlights and Tic Tacs, and finish it off with some pillow mints.

Enjoy!  Bon appetit!

Have a minty good week,

Friday, August 17, 2012

Riding Machine

Go Big Brother, Go!

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

After an entire summer of pretty much blowing off his bike, suddenly with the start of school, Big Brother suddenly had rejuvinated interest in mastering riding a bike with two wheels.

Little Brother and Bab-E Brother are also avid riders.  Little Brother has got the hang of riding a bike with training wheels.  Bab-E Brother has a Lightning McQueen trike that he powers Fred Flintstone-style with his feet.

Riding bikes at our house is pretty much like rush hour traffice on a busy interstate in the middle of a thunderstorm.  Our driveway slopes, making it not very friendly for someone learning to ride a two-wheeler.  That leaves 3 boys and 3 bikes to ride on a fairly narrow sidewalk leading to the front door.

(Translation: it's crowded, difficult to turn around, and everybody is frequently crashing into each other - often on purpose.)

So two nights ago after dinner we headed to a parking lot to give the boys more room to safely ride.

The result was amazing.

After two times of crashing pretty quickly after I let go, Big Brother just "got it."

Next thing you know, he's riding laps around the parking lot with relative ease.

Afterwards, we celebrated with slushies for everyone!

Last night we headed back for more biking.  This time he's riding even faster, and able to better control his brakes.

You can guess where we'll be again tonight.

He still has work to do.  He's a little more nervous - and hence wobbly with his steering - while riding in our neighborhood, but he's getting the hang of it.

But this major accomplishment so aptly summarizes much of child development.  It's not a linear process at all, but rather discrete with these quantum leaps.

This weekend he couldn't ride a two-wheeler.  This week he can.  Amazing.

In retrospect, I might've seen this coming.  Over the Christmas break, we did some riding.  Big Brother was able to ride about 10-20 yards before crashing, although turns weren't possible.

But it was clear during t-ball season that his coordination has really improved, and I suspect this translated to him being able to balance and ride the bike.

Needless to say, Mom-E and I are quite proud (and rightly so is Big Brother)!

Keep up the good riding, buddy!  We love you!

Have a good weekend,
Ride on,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

T-Ball Coach

As you might imagine, t-ball season came to a close for both Big Brother and Little Brother a while back, and I've been meaning to write a related post.

Thank you, marbles, for continuing to rattle around up there, so that some coherent words may form.

I didn't write as much about t-ball this year, compared to season's past, although there was plenty of fun and excitement.  Perhaps that was due, in part, to the fact that we were at t-ball 4 days a week.

The boys' highlight was the TROPHY at the end of the season.  And while they had fun playing actual t-ball, by the end there was quite the focus on the trophy.  So much so, that when Big Brother's team announced that there would be trophies, Dad-E had to contact Little Brother's coach to make sure they'd get trophies, too.

Lest we have a full-blown (nuclear) freak-out at home lasting an unspecified number of days.

(Brief digression.  I generally agree with one Adam Corolla about the problems of creating a "Participation Trophy" generation.  But when it's Y t-ball and the boys are 4 and 7, I think it's fine.)

And so it ended up that Big Brother got his trophy and Little Brother ended up with 2 trophies: 1 from the Y, and 1 because the Y didn't tell his coaches about their trophies and they went ahead and ordered some.

The most important thing is that both the boys really seemed to enjoy themselves.

Little Brother did so despite the fact that 3 of his last 4 games were cancelled by a regularly scheduled Monday afternoon thunderstorm.

My two favorite moments of his season were:
1. He's standing on 2nd base.  A ball gets hit up the middle, and instead of running to 3rd he took off into the outfield along with the players from the other team.

2.  He's playing 2nd base.  Starts having a jovial conversation with the player from the other team who's standing on 2nd base, completely oblivious to the grounder that just went trickling past him.

I'm so glad that Big Brother played t-ball again this year, making it his 3rd season.  Initially, he wasn't going to play, but after he remembered that you get cool snacks after the games, his stomach led him to sign up.

My favorite moments of his season actually didn't occur while he was playing:
1.  In the middle of one of Little Brother's games, when Little Brother was playing in the dirt, Big Brother ran onto the field during the game to show him how you should get into "ready position" while watching the batter.  He's such a good coach.

2.  Since the season has been over, Big Brother has - on his own - asked me to play catch with him and practice batting.  He's never done this before.  It's always been at my asking, and typically lasts less than 2 minutes.  My boys do not have to play baseball, but I have very fond memories from my youth/Little League days of playing Pitch-and-Catch with my dad in the front yard.  Big Brother is left handed, and I told him that means he might make a very good pitcher, and so he's been quite interested in working on his throwing skills.  So, as the father of 3 boys, I admit that his interest in playing ball brings, as Yoda would say, "warm feelings to my heart."

3.  At the start of 2nd grade, Big Brother filled out a sheet about his likes favorites.  He made statements like, "When I grow up, I want to be a baseball player.  My favorite thing to do is play baseball.  When I'm home I like to go outside and play baseball.  My favorite sport is BASKETBALL."

Ah, kids.  No shortage of entertainment.  Love those boogers.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Caramel Wars

Hello Everyone!

I hope you had a nice weekend.


Oh wait!  I guess I should actually write a post. :)  Okay, okay...

There is a certain fast-food restaurant, for which my boys have a little bit of a penchant.

To keep things "anonymous", we'll just call it - as my high school French teacher did - Chez MacDo.

So the folks at Chez MacDo have these Petit Nuggets du Chicken that for some unknown reason the boys really like, and for an even bigger unknown reason think is the only chicken fit for their consumption.

But as I've mentioned before, the one catch is that they need their special "Dunky Dunk", aka Sauce du Caramel.

The funny thing is that with caramel sauce they down the chicken carnivorously, but without the caramel they act like they've been served limburger.  Go figure.  This coming from their Dad-E, who when he was a boy would only eat the mini-Lender's bagels, refusing to eat the full-size ones, as if they were made a fundamentally different matter.  So I guess I kinda can figure.

The caramel issue used to be a "non-issue".  Chez MacDo had nice little packets of Dunky Dunk that came with the apple slices.

And then, for some reason, when Chez MacDo starting including smaller portions of both fries and apples in all Kid's Meals, they got rid of the caramel completely.

OH THE HORROR!!!  AAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I digress.

So, what are a Mom-E and Dad-E of 3 picky eaters to do?

After considering several options, we pretty much resorted to the BEG FOR CARAMEL one.

Most of the time, this works out pretty well:

"What kind of sauce would you like?"

"Could we just get 2 squirts of caramel from the sundae machine, please?"

Often, the response is "Sure, no problem."

Sometimes it's a "Yeah, sure.  I don't know why they got rid of those caramel packets."

(You're telling me!)

Other times, however, I get that "I'm a robot from another planet.  This does not compute." look.

C'mon please.  I KNOW you have caramel.  I will gladly pay for it.  Please sir, may I have some more?

"Uh, I dunno, let me ask the manager about that."  (I understand, those two pumps on the caramel machine are quite the taxing bicep workout.)

Manager: "Yes, sir.  I'm sorry.  We can't do that."

"Why?  Your store actually got it for me 2 weeks ago."

"Well, we're not allowed to just dispense the caramel into an open container.  Health code...yackety smackety...blah blah blah."

"It seems to dispense fine when you put it on top of a sundae?"

"We can't do that."

"Okay, then I'd like to order a caramel sundae, minus the ice cream, please."

"No, that's not necessary.  We'll get it for you (THIS TIME!)"

"Thank you.  I'm not asking for an entire cup full of caramel.  Literally just 2 squirts - just enough to fill up a ketchup container."

I even had a manager explain to me that if every car in the drive thru requested caramel, what a giant mess that would be.

(Probably not any more mess than the backup you created by taking 5 minutes to debate with me about 2 squirts of caramel.)

I know, I know.  "Why don't you just BYOC (Bring Your Own Caramel), Busy-Dad-E?"  Besides the logistics of hauling some caramel around everywhere, of course, with our boys, only the caramel from Chez MacDo will do.

Oh mon dieu, sacre bleu!

Parents 0, Boys 1

Friday, August 10, 2012

Second Grade

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

It seems like just an eye blink ago, Big Brother was starting first grade.

And now here we are starting second grade.  Yes, school started this week.  Unbelievably early, I know.  But at least no homework so far.

Dear Big Brother,

Mom-E and I are so proud of you!  Second grade is going to be an exiciting awesome year!

Indeed, you're already excited about getting to play on the "bigger" playground.

I'm glad you know a few people in your class from last year, and hope that you make many more new friends this year.

It will be exciting to watch as your skills continue to develop more this school year.

Mom-E and I enjoyed your class work from the first day of school, with some very concrete responses, and others that were more creative.

Nice job on the correct spelling of Transformer!

As introspective as you are, it strikes me how you said that if you were a feeling you'd be inside.  I truly understand what you mean.

Just know that no matter what, those feelings can always be shared with Mom-E and I.  We are here for you.

Here's to another great year!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Awesome Sleeping Position

When Bab-E Brother went to sleep, he was squarely in bed, head on a pillow and snuggled up with his "wubbie" burp towels and favorite stuffed animals.

When I came in his room to check on him in the morning, I found him like this: passed out on the floor, two feet from his bed, towel wrapped around his head.

Let's face it, if I woke up to find Mom-E on the floor like this, I'd worry that something was seriously wrong.

But when we're talking about our children, we know it's because they're just plain awesome.

No doubt he must've had a wild night partying with his Thomas the Train & Friends after we went to bed.

Happy (Not Quite) Wordless Wednesday,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Do As I Say

Not As I Do, the saying goes.

Such was the case the other evening.

We happened to have some Coke in the fridge.

Little Brother happened to see said Coke.

"Can I have some Coke?" he inquired.

"Can I have some?  I want some, too?" Big Brother and Bab-E Brother echoed.

We've done pretty well with holding off on soft drinks for the boys.

Although not long ago they got a taste of Sprite, which they liked.

And so Sprite became the "gateway drug" that got them to darker-syruped drinks, including Coke and Root Beer (Side note - Little Brother calls it Fruit Beer and Bab-E Brother calls is Root Bear, so I guess between the two of them they're batting .500).

Their absolute favorite, unsurprisingly, is the Coca-Cola Freestyle.  The cornucopia of soft drinks.

But we keep the Coke at a minimum, reserving it for an occasional treat.

Back to our story, the boys actually had a little Coke the night before, so when they asked again, we explained,

"No, we're not going to have any more Coke right now.  I know it tastes good, but it's really not good for you."

Fortunately, they accepted rejection without any significant protest.

As we were getting things together for dinner, Mom-E asked me, "What do you want to drink?"

"What do you want?" I retorted.

With "unified mind", we both answered (softly), "Coke!"

And so I snagged a Coke out of the fridge and handed it to Mom-E, who had nabbed 2 OPAQUE cups.

And while the boys were settling down at the table, Mom-E did what any reasonable parent would do - she snuck back to the other end of the house, opened the Coke, and poured our drinks.

Everyone enjoyed their meal, and fortunately our boys are too short (and they didn't climb on top of the table - this time), and so Mom-E and I drank Coke undiscovered.

Call it "Great Moments in Covert Parenting", or "Do as I say..."

Although I called it "Just plain good."

Have a good week,

Friday, August 3, 2012

Like Father, Like Son

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

(Busy-Dad-E, circa age 4)

(Little Brother, age 4)

Mom-E is laughing her head of over this photo of me.  "Now I know where this came from!"

Have a good weekend,