Sunday, May 29, 2016

Duckling Dash

Benjamin's preschool (mascot: ducklings) hosted an end-of-the-year race for the kids. Instead of a party or picnic, they had been practicing running with the kids and finally finished things off with this dash, which consisted of about 1/10 of a parking lot mile.

There was a sign hanging in the school office entryway that had a countdown to the duckling dash. In teacher speak, this was a countdown to summer break for teachers. Mmm hmm.

But really, it was a cute event. I did my own few mile stroller dash with Claire to the school and even had to cut my run a bit early to make it in time. Except I arrived on time and then had to wait another 30 minutes for his heat. Apparently they were in the business of lying to parents to make sure we didn't miss the 3-minute event. Solid move.

They ran as a class wearing special school t-shirts donated by a local hospital and then received medals, took a picture with their class, received 1/2 banana and a personalized school water bottle (of which Claire was totally jelly since her Buh Buh got a "special drink" and she did not. He also declined the banana and she would've never done that.)

Benjamin was pumped and ready and then... he fell. He and the boy next to him crossed paths a little too close and he took the fall. But instead of being sour about it like I was afraid would happen, he got right back up and his teacher grabbed his hand. He ran the rest of the way. I was totally proud of him, even though he ended up being a total crabpot the rest of the day after. One of the moms I chat with at the playground after school each day had her husband snap some shots of Benjamin racing away. I didn't ask her to, so it was a pleasant surprise.
I love how excited and determined he looks. He was not a fan of soccer and he has no interest in riding his bike, but he's a killer swimmer for his age and he likes to run. They're all different, I'm just glad he's finding his (healthy) niche. Now to just help him grow another inch so the sticklers at the pool will let him go down the slide since he's about 39.75" and needs to be 40". He's been down about 10 times now, but the cranky lifeguards are pushing back this year and he's all kinds of devastated over it.

That air shot above though? Totally my fave. Game face. Determined. Go-getter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Piñata Creating. Mayo es, ¿verdad?

So I'm a little late.

The day before Cinco de Mayo, I saw a picture of a friend making a pinata with her daughter and it occurred to me that we didn't have a thing to do that afternoon. Paper mache is easy to manage and the kids would love it. I texted my neighbor for her leftover newspaper (she receives, we don't) and grabbed those up before mixing up a batch of flour and water for the afternoon indoor fun activity (since it appears it may never get warm in the Midwest ever).

Jumped on the bandwagon and the kids mostly enjoyed he process. Claire wasn't a fan of the mess (though typically she's ALL GOOD with coloring herself in full arm sleeve tattoos with marker). Benjamin kinda took the bull by the horns and jumped right in. I ended up finishing it, like almost all projects, because attention span was lacking after 30+ minutes. I'd say Benjamin tackled 60% of the paper mache solo, so I consider it a success.
It wasn't dry in time for a Cinco de Mayo celebration smash, so we had it laying on the deck in the sunshine to bake for some days. And finally, on May 16th, we decorated with pieces of colorful tissue paper and the hot glue gun. I stuck some twine in the sides and we popped popcorn on the stove to add to the inside as confetti/treat. The kids stuffed it before we hung it. Benjamin received some fairly negative marks from his teacher via email that day, so there was no chance I was putting anything sugary in there.
I hung it from a tree in the backyard and Benjamin took some major whacks to it and eventually we gave up on our incredibly sturdy construction and dumped the popcorn in bags and snacked away.
Sometimes it really is all about the process, as the product lay there, somewhat forgotten for ten days before we picked it back up and continued on (when I was just ready to send it out for trash pickup instead). Believe it or not, the breaking was rather anticlimactic.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that every single Easter while growing up, my adorable husband and his equally adorable family would make these very same balloon pinatas and break them open as an Easter celebration activity with the cousins. The tradition lives on.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Little Free Libraries

Have you ever seen one? Opened one up? They're usually located in front of private residences, just like a mailbox would be. Each one is decorated a bit different and contents are unique, of course.

{stock photo from Pinterest of a LFL in Poulsbo, WA. Obvi I love it because
it's in one of my favorite states and the hippie culture is legit.}
I'm kind of obsessed. It all started with a simple geocache about a year ago that led me to one, and now every time I stumble upon one, I'm usually sitting in front of it for a half hour after just reading books with the kids.

Last week I had about 15 minutes to kill before the children's museum opened after dropping Benjamin off at school, so I drove a few blocks to find a geocache. I never did seek or find the cache, but stumbled upon a Little Free Library instead and easily wasted away those free minutes. I traded out some books I had in the car and vowed to go through the books we've outgrown or tired of for trading at other little libraries.

We met a friend and her daughter for a walk to her local park today and on the s-l-o-w walk back with two small kids who stop to touch and feel ants and small rocks and dandelions, we finally made it to our car, but not before stumbling upon another little free library. (I have ditched the stroller recently in favor of walking to close parks because exercise feels good and for the additional tactile exposure to nature). It was one of the cutest I've seen and was stocked with books of all genres and age groups. We probably read 6 of the 30+ books before having to peel my kids away to head home for dinnertime.

Benjamin was sad to leave behind two he fell in love with (one about Lord Licorice from the CandyLand board game that he cheats at) and another, The Gingerbread Cookie Mystery. We read the princess book and saw the Fancy Nancy books and read the Curious George, but he chose these two obscure books because he's kind of obsessed with sweet treats. So after buckling them into the car, I grabbed a couple books from the car stash and drove back over to the library for a quick exchange to grab those two new beloved books. He sat "reading" them the whole way home and requested them read the moment we walked in the door. He's always been a book nut and I love what these adventure walks and little libraries do for their curiosity.

More than the little library itself, I want to know who lives inside these homes that make it their mission to maintain these little adventure containers and promote literacy for neighborhood people of all ages. It's just super cool. The teacher in me has full on emoji heart eyes for these little libraries. And really, who doesn't love mini things? I mean, really.