Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grandpa Paul's Surprise Visit

Will and Hallie see all of their grandparents quite a bit, which says a great deal about the grandparents' commitment to their grandchildren because we all live hundreds to thousands of miles away from one another. (Tom and I are committed to fostering these relationships too, but it takes everyone involved to be on board and we're lucky to have pretty much the most dedicated and generous parents around.) I think we've seen at least one grandparent every single month this year.

October's grandparent visit was from Grandpa Paul, who decided to surprise the kids by stopping in College Station on his way back from a business trip to Mexico. (Grandma Brenda didn't travel with Grandpa Paul to Mexico so she didn't get to visit us this time around.) He arrived Thursday morning while the kids were at school and came with me to pick them up.

Will did the most priceless double take when he saw Grandpa standing in the hallway outside his classroom.

Hallie was equally excited but not at all surprised to see Grandpa - go figure.

That afternoon they jumped rope and Grandpa pretended to be Hallie's horse.

"Paul and Brenda sittin' in a tree.  K-i-s-s-i-n-g.  First comes love, then comes marriage, 
then comes a baby in a baby carriage."

"Giddy up, Grandpa!"

After Hallie turned in for a nap, Will and Grandpa had multiple water fights and played beanbags, hockey, football, golf, and basketball.

Hunting bears

Beanbag toss




Discussing club options

After a visit to Tom's new office and dinner at Dixie Chicken, we headed home for a bit of wrestling.

The next morning, while Tom was at work, Grandpa and Will had a treasure hunt...

...and Grandpa, Will, Hallie, and I went to the skate park for a quick ride and the playground for a game of tag. (At one point Will got himself stuck in one of the skate park basins and Grandpa had to climb down and help him out. After that, Grandpa had to give the basin a try as well.)



"You're it!"

Deep in conversation

That afternoon, while I stayed home with a napping Hallie, Grandpa took Will to the TAMU golf course where they hit a bucket of balls and played all the holes on the putting green.

The dad of one of the little boys on Will's soccer team is a coach for the TAMU women's soccer team. I know, score, right? I grew up going to UW women's soccer games with my dad, so we thought it would be fun to carry on the tradition of a different kind of "Friday Night Lights" and take the kids to see the TAMU women's soccer team play. The game was great - TAMU won 3-0 - and everyone enjoyed the atmosphere and the TAMU school spirit.

One of the primary reasons Grandpa Paul came to visit was to see Will play soccer. Grandpa Paul coached mine and Sara's soccer teams for years when we were little and still plays soccer himself, and I know for a fact that if we lived closer to Grandma and Grandpa, he'd be coaching Will's team now. Just thinking about that scenario brought tears to my eyes - I would LOVE to see the two of them as "members" of the same team, doing something that special together. But since that can't happen, coming all the way to College Station to see Will play is the next best thing.


One of my favorite pics. Coach Jordan: "Which way are we going?" 
Austin, Riley, and Will: "That way!"

Right before Grandpa had to leave on Saturday he spent a little quality time with Hallie - a few special moments shared when Grandpa wasn't being monopolized by Will.

Cuddling under the pink blanket while watching football

Can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving, Grandpa!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Playground Beckons

Now that the high temperatures are (only) in the upper 80's we're visiting the park once again. I kid you not - we went to the park in early May and didn't go again until late September because it was just too hot.

Hallie loves to "paint" on the sidewalk with water, though she usually gets her dress wet and ends up heading home in just her diaper.

Will loves to run laps around the track...

...and play tag. When tag doesn't end well he likes to pout.

But their favorite activity is sword fighting. By themselves, with me, with each other.

About 15 months ago we filmed this sword fight:

And last week I filmed this sword fight:

I'm so proud of how far Hallie's come with regard to her sword fighting. (I especially love the last couple of seconds of this video, when Hallie just cracks her sword down on Will's head. For the record, no children were injured in the making of this video.) I find it comforting to know she'll have something to fall back on when destroying books for a living doesn't work out.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Future Soccer Star

Soccer season is underway!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

He Rides!

Bike riding started off much like swimming and soccer did for Will: tears, tears, and more tears.  Will never wanted to ride, and when I WAS able to convince him to pull out his bike he would only ride in slow circles on the back patio.

Will overcame his aversions to swimming and soccer very, very S..L..O..W..L..Y.   I required him to continue participating, and with each new day I pushed him just a little further than I'd pushed him the day before.  (For example: swimming day #1 = sit on side of pool; swimming day #2 = put feet in water; swimming day #3 = walk in water up to knees.)  As I'm sure you imagine, it took a very long time for Will to get to where he is now with both swimming and soccer.

Will wasn't making any bike-riding progress, even with training wheels, so one day I decided it was time to say goodbye to the training wheel safety net.  I knew Will could and would eventually learn how to ride a bike if I opted for the slow-and-steady forward progress method we'd used in the past.  But to be honest, I can't stand that method and wanted to see if just jumping in feet first would work.

Both Tom and I doubted it would, but I stuck to my guns, and that weekend we went to the park (the sidewalks in our neighborhood would be terrible for learning to ride a bike) to give bike riding - without training wheels - a try.

Yes, there were tears.  I knew there would be.  At one point both Tom and Will wanted to pack it in for the day, but drill sargeant mom made them keep trying, and you what?  He did it.  Just for a moment or two, but in that moment I saw him realize that bike riding was something at which he could succeed.

The next day we went back to the park, and he did this:

And this:

If you listen carefully to the end of the first video you can hear me start to cry as Tom lets go of the bike and Will takes off.

There are times when slow and steady wins the race, but there are also times when it pays off to just take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and jump.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Birthday Recap

Will woke up early, put on his Batman shirt and Birthday Boy ribbon, and ate Fruit Loops - his choice - for breakfast.

At school his friends sang Happy Birthday to him and he shared Batman cookies with all of them. (A special thank you to Brittany of Sugar: Cookies, Cakes, and More in Utah for the Batman Cookies!)

Later in the day Will shared pirate cupcakes with his teammates at soccer practice, the four of us went to McDonald's for dinner, and Will opened his presents.

Batman shirt

Spongebob Squarepants golf balls



Mario & Luigi mustaches

Epic sword fight - last one ever this close to the new TV

Hallie opened a half-birthday present and then slowly broke down when she realized that on half-birthdays you only get one present.

Will wrapped up his special day by blowing out a candle on one of his pirate cupcakes, which interestingly enough he didn't actually eat - I guess he was too full of sweets by that point in the day. (Lest you think me a terrible mom for not making Will a birthday cake for his birthday, Will decided he wanted cupcakes on his actual birthday and a Batman cake for his birthday party.)

Will's birthday party was held on the Sunday following his birthday. After hemming and hawing about what kind and how big of a birthday party he wanted to have (all the kids in his class, some kids in his class, all the boys in his class, his best boy friends and his best girl friends), he finally decided on inviting just his two best boy friends, Logan and Michael. Tom and I took the three boys (and Hallie) miniature golfing and out to lunch at an indoor golf/bowling/arcade in town, and then we all came back to our house for Batman cake, presents, and Batman cape favors for all three boys.

Will's frighteningly out of control putt

Michael's much more controlled putt

Jail time

Will, Michael, & Logan

Waiting patiently for their lunch

Hallie's one ride/game was the "Merry Round"

The boys ran wildly from game to game until the $$ ran out

He's five.