Thursday, June 28, 2012

Uptown Girl

I've made no secret of the fact that the kids and I listen to a lot of Glee in the car. I have the first seven Glee CDs as well as the Warblers CD, and we rotate through these eight choices quite frequently. I like these CDs because I adore the show, but also because they're great mixes that expose to the kids to genres and specific songs they probably wouldn't otherwise come in contact with. I absolutely love that they know the words to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, Adele's Turning Tables, Journey's Don't Stop Believin', and Michael Jackson's ABC.

One of Hallie's most recent favorites is Uptown Girl, which incidentally was one of my favorite songs growing up. It's actually a pretty easy song for little kids to sing because 50% of the lyrics are the words uptown, downtown, girl, and boy.

Hallie looks hysterical when she sings this song, kind of like a little uptown girl herself.

I took a video of her singing (don't worry, Tom was driving and I was in the passenger seat), mostly to show Tom how weird her mouth looked, and decided it was worth posting here.

Oh, and while I may have an uptown girl in Hallie, Will informed that he is definitely a downtown boy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Surprise Visit

Grandma Brenda arrived first, on a Monday. The kids knew Grandpa Paul would be visiting too, but they thought he wouldn't arrive until Friday, after his work week. Little did they know Grandpa had rearranged his schedule to arrive on Thursday afternoon instead, in time for Will's last baseball game.

Tom picked Grandpa up at the airport and dropped him off at the front door.

The surprise was true, and the kids' reactions so typical of each of them.

Our attempt at a photo was pretty true as well, again with the kids' reactions so typical of each of them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tour de Will

A few months ago I wrote about Will's progress in the bike-riding department. With a good shove-off from Tom, Will rode on his own - without training wheels - for about 10 yards. We were thrilled, and so very proud of him.

But after that day, the progress stopped. Completely. Will begged us to put the training wheels back on his bike, and when we refused to do so, he refused to ride. The one time we convinced him to try again he could barely go five feet without falling off the bike and bursting into tears.

We were all frustrated, so we just backed off, at least temporarily.

A few weeks later we were over at Natalie and Caroline's house and I saw the girls riding a glider/balance bike. I asked their mom, Erin, about the bike and she gave it rave reviews; apparently it had helped Natalie graduate from her training wheels in just a couple of months. And since Natalie and Caroline had really already figured out the bike-riding thing, Erin offered to let us borrow the bike.

When Will - and Hallie, for that matter - first gave the glider a try it was clear they both had zero balance after years of riding tricycles and two-wheelers with training wheels. It was kind of ridiculous, actually, how unsteady they were - they looked like newborn foals, attempting to balance on their own for the very first time. But both Will and Hallie kept riding the bike, and they LOVED it. So much so that the fights they've had over who gets to ride it and when will most certainly go down as some of their most vicious.

Grandpa Paul and Grandma Brenda came to visit when Will had been riding the glider for about five weeks. Grandpa mentioned he'd never seen Will ride his bike, so Will, Tom, and Grandpa headed to the park to give the bike a try. (Will was reluctant and less-than-enthusiastic but willing because he didn't want to let his grandpa down.) About 15 minutes later there was an urgent banging at the front door. It was Grandpa, and all he said was, "GET YOUR CAMERA AND COME OUTSIDE!".

When I reached the street I didn't see anything worth taking a picture of, that is until Grandpa pointed up the street and then waved his arms in a "ready, set, go" motion. At that point Will started down the three block-long hill leading to our house...without training wheels. Tom ran - actually he had to sprint to keep up - beside Will, shouting words of encouragement and making sure Will remembered to use his brakes. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. And terrifying, seeing as Will was really cruising and wasn't yet an expert at using the brakes.

The view from our house to the top of the hill.  Will started
biking on the near side of the farthest telephone pole in the
center of the shot.
Tom can't quite keep up on the steepest part of the hill.
Here they come!
"Don't forget to use your brakes, Will!"
Almost there...
Look at that smile!
Three days later Will learned how to start off on his own, and two days after that he learned how to stop without falling off. This video was taken at the park in Lincoln, Nebraska, just two days after Will truly learned how to ride.

This weekend we went on two family bike rides - each at least four miles long - with Will riding his own bike and Tom towing only Hallie. Tom said the rides felt leisurely, what with 45 fewer pounds to tow. Our second family bike ride took us past the skate park, and now Will has decided he can do tricks as well.

We still have a ways to go as far as bike safety and the rules of the road are concerned, but there's no going back now. Will is officially a bike rider and I am officially the biggest balance bike supporter around. (Hallie's still riding the balance bike, and has gotten to the point where she can coast downhill without putting her feet down for 5-7 yards at a time. Her improvement is impressive.)

He rides! And this time it's for real.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Butterfly Badminton

Will and Hallie found what Tom and I call our "backyard bag'o'fun" in the garage and were immediately intrigued by the badminton rackets and birdies inside. As it turns out, Will and Hallie are TERRIBLE at badminton, especially when they try to play with each other; Will only makes contact about 12% of the time, and Hallie can only hit the birdie if it's dropped directly onto her racket. It's painful to watch their games, and even more painful to participate in their games.

Her birdies may not take flight, but she might...

P.S. I had absolutely no idea - until I wrote this post and had to use spell check - that the game is spelled/pronounced "badminton".  I've been writing/pronouncing it "badmitton" and/or "badmitten" for as long as I can remember.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Saints and Angels

I thought about including these photos in my last post, but decided these women deserved a post all their own.

We were incredibly lucky this year: both Will and Hallie were placed with teachers who were absolutely perfect for them. Both kids received the best year of preschool education I could have hoped for, but they also received generous amounts of spiritual guidance, emotional support, and LOVE.

Ms. Nancy
Ms. Fran
Ms. Holly
Ms. Andrea
I am so grateful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

School Year Wrap-Up

The school year - Hallie's first year of preschool and Will's last year of preschool - has come to an end. The final weeks of school were full of activity, from musical presentations to pool parties to birthday celebratons to graduation ceremonies and receptions.

The end began with the school's annual pool party, which took place on a beautiful but cool-by-Texas-standards day in early May. Hallie, like many other children and adults, felt that the 80-85 degree temperatures weren't warm enough for a pool party, so she spent most of her time wading up to her knees and then lounging on her towel. Will and his buddies braved the water, but then had to sit on the deck wrapped in towels to warm up. Pathetic, I tell you. I went to swim team practice when the temperature outside was 55 degrees.

Next came the end-of-the-year Chapel, during which all of the kids performed two songs: Hosanna Rock and Who is the King of the Jungle.

We blew through Hallie's water day and Will's pizza party...

...and came to land, at the end of the week, on preschool graduation.
The week prior to graduation the four-year-old classes practiced walking into the church sanctuary (where the ceremony was held), finding their places on the stage, performing their musical number, lining up for the diploma presentation, and walking across the stage. After they'd rehearsed the entire ceremony a couple of times, the 35 or so kids were sitting in the pews, waiting for their teachers to take them back to class. Will's teacher glanced over at him and was surprised to see him sitting silently (not all that common, especially when he's near his buddies) with tears streaming down his cheeks. She asked him what was wrong, to which he answered, "nothing". She asked him what was wrong a few minutes later, when he wasn't near his friends, and he finally confessed that he was just sad about leaving preschool and his teachers. I was subbing that day, so Ms. Nancy came and found me shortly after this discussion to fill me in on what she and Will had talked about. If he'd cried during rehearsal there was a good chance he'd cry during the actual ceremony and then I'd need tissues. Lots of them.

It seemed Will got all of his tears out that day though, because during graduation his eyes were dry. Mine weren't, however.

I honestly can't believe that Will is done - completely done - with preschool and will be heading off to kindergarten in the fall. He's SO, SO ready, but am I? I was ready when he was three, and when he was four, and even right after he turned five. But now? I'm not so sure.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Identical Cousins, Part 2

A few days ago my sister and brother-in-law posted these pictures of Hallie's identical cousin, 18-month-old niece, Lily, and her newest method of protest.

I laughed out loud, because I immediately knew where she'd learned it.


Sorry, Sara and Jeff.