Monday, April 16, 2012

Just Far Enough.....

Last week, we enjoyed a little family get-away.  We didn't have time to indulge in a major spring break trip, but still wanted to do something fun.  Henry and Anna both loved last year's escape to downtown Minneapolis.  The fact that we parked the car and walked to and from our hotel for three days - well, Henry still talks about how cool that was.  So, we decided to do the same this year - - just a different hotel, with a better pool (read: water park), and on the other side of downtown, near the Mississippi River. 

Besides lots (!) of swimming (bonus for Mom: really warm water!), we took walks downtown and along the river, went to the Mill City Museum, ate out a lot (another bonus for Mom: no dishes!), ordered room service, went to see Mirror Mirror and had popcorn and candy, did a little window shopping, bought books, watched movies and snuggled in bed, had lots of treats and - of course - jumped on the beds!

Really, what more could we ask for on a fun family weekend??

(Well.....maybe the beach.  But, I'll take really-darn-close-to-perfect!)

Every once in awhile as we were walking, Anna would claim that she was just too tired to walk one more step. "Carry me, pleeeeaaaaasssssse!" 
Giving up on her chances to be carried, I'm pretty sure Anna is hailing a taxi in this photo.

The swimming pool was definitely at the top of the kid's weekend favorites list. But, Henry especially loved exploring the downtown skyways, and Anna couldn't wait to hop on another escalator.

Clearly, it IS the little things that the kids will remember most.

Window shopping.  (really, I didn't pose Henry).

For me, getting this picture was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend.

So, the water park at the hotel was attached to an arcade and the kids were excited to play a few games before we left.  When we arrived home on Sunday, after the hotel and the Easter festivities at Grandma and Grandpa's, Henry decided he wanted to build his own arcade game.

 He found a big box, and within an hour or so, he created the "Penny Slide."

Described as "Epic! Cool! and Fun!", the trick to the Penny Slide was to do just that - - carefully slide a penny down the shoot, and make it into one of the bowls.  Each bowl was designated with a certain amount of points.  Players would earn points, and once a certain level of points was reached, Henry would crawl inside the box and push his homemade prize tickets out of a little slot.  Tickets could be used towards a few of the prizes he had assembled.

Clearly, this was VERY epic, VERY cool and VERY fun!  Chuck E. Cheese doesn't have anything on this kid!

I was so impressed.  The project entertained Henry for the better part of the afternoon. And, he started making plans for all the other games he could build....

As Henry continued to dream up his next cardboard arcade game, I just happened to stumble on this video on Monday.....

Henry has watched the video about a dozen times.

Inspiration at its best!

I feel a BIG summer project on the horizon.....Does anyone have lots of spare cardboard boxes? 

And a REALLY big garage?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Yesterday, I found Henry completely mesmerized by the book he's been reading.

This past weekend, we were at a book store, and both kids were able to pick out a book. Henry chose "The Invention of Hugo Cabret." This, of course, is the book that Martin Scorsese so beautifully made into the movie "Hugo."

Check out Henry's zebra bookmark.  A gift from Grandma and Grandpa, straight from Rwanda.  It is leather and hand-painted, and I wish I had a whole zoo of them.....

I love when Henry becomes so completely engulfed in a book.  Step away from the video-games, my dear.  The real adventure is in the pages of your books...... 

Henry has carried this book everywhere with him.  To Grandma and Grandpa's for Easter.  To school.  To the library.  ("Mom, what if it is checked out at the library.  Then what would I read?")

I think Henry particularly loves how substantial the book is.  It's heavy.  It feels good in his hands.  It makes him feel grown-up to be reading a book with so many pages.  (Henry commented that it has almost as many pages as the Steve Jobs biography I'm reading right now.  In fact, he asked if he could read my book after he was done with Hugo!)

We watched the movie Hugo just last weekend.  (If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  Absolutely stunning!)

Henry is still deciding which he likes better.  The movie or the book.  I think it may end up being a tie.  But of course, I could care less..... 

Just keep reading, darling!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Five Now....

Yup, she's five now.

How that time went by so quickly, I'll never know.  But I do know having Anna around has made for the best five years of my life.  All of us together.

For the last few years, I have written a letter of sorts to Anna, describing a few of the more (and less) endearing things about her.  The everyday things I want to remember when I'm eighty.

So, for 2012.....  

Here's a dozen things I know about Anna: 

I believe Anna may have been a cat in another lifetime.  When she wakes up in the morning, she'll spend 10 minutes stretching.  Really.  Ten whole minutes.  Big, full body, arched stretches.  Accompanied by groans and sighs.  Sometimes, she may even purr a little.  She's just like a happy cat in the sunshine.  And once she feels that she's stretched properly  - - well then, Anna is ready to start her day.

For my girl, the sure fix to any bump or scrape or owie is a bandaid.  At any given time, Anna has at least 2 or 3 bandaids affixed somewhere on her body.  Heck, the kid squeals with delight when she gets a box of bandaids as a gift (think stocking stuffer).  Last weekend, after a particularly tough wipe-out on the cement, Anna was sporting no less than 11 bandaids.  She's even been known to come running for one, only to realize that her new-found owie was just a spot of misguided red nail polish.  (We put a band aid on it anyway).

Between preschool and Anna's fabulous daycare, she is pretty much set for kindergarten in Fall.  However, I know that the hardest part of the transition to school will be not getting to see Tami, her daycare provider. (Actually, that will be hard for all of us!)  Most mornings, Anna gleefully skips to the car, singing "I can't wait to go to Tami's house."  (How lucky are we?)

At our house, Anna has been dubbed the "manner's police."  At the dinner table, you dare not chew with your mouth open or forget to use your napkin or lapse on your please and thank you's.  Otherwise, Anna will call you on it.  Last week, she threatened to put Henry in "manner's police jail" for a milk slurp that she deemed too loud.

Anna is an amazing storyteller.  (I think she takes after her great-grandpa Joe).  Although she loves to be read to, and is starting to read words herself, Anna really has no need for reading.  She simply makes up her own stories.  She'll pick up a book, and narrate her own wild tales and adventures, simply by looking at the pictures.   And often (okay, yes. I may be biased....), her stories are much better than the originals.  

Anna has a style all her own, and it reaches far beyond what she wears.  It's the inflection in her voice and the way she rolls her eyes and how she flips her hand across her forehead (in a "no sweat off my brow" gesture).  She can be cute and sweet one moment, and all drama the next.  She turns it on and off like a switch.  She's five, but has a charm and personality well beyond her years.

This kid has an incredible memory.  Even her teachers have remarked at what she remembers.  Anna can recall events from years' past.  She can hear a song once at school, and then sing it all day long.  And she'll remember some long-ago promise I made, calling me on it when I least expect it, and demand that I make good.      

My favorite part of any movie is the very end when the credits roll. Because inevitably, that's when they play the really good music.  And that's when Anna hops off her chair to dance.  And I mean dance!  She wiggles and bounces and twirls and shimmys. And she doesn't care if anyone is watching her. She just wants to move. I think Anna is happiest when she is dancing. 

Hand's down, Anna's least favorite meal is dinner.  We'll be sitting at the table for a minute or two, and Anna will whine "How many more bites do I have to take?"  It doesn't matter what is on the menu, dinner is just not her thing.  But compare that to breakfast - - oh my.  180 degrees different.  As soon as Anna finishes her morning stretches, she's out of bed, asking for a pancake (or three). 

Anna can really keep up with the big boys!  She could care less that her brother is almost 3 years older than she is.  She's going to make herself noticed.  If Henry has friends over, they better well be prepared to have a tag-a-long sister.  No one puts this baby in a corner.

Anna is pretending to be Henry.
Anna is prone to bad hair days.  Her hair just hasn't grown in.  And that fact is starting to bug her.  She notices that she can't have pony-tails like the other girls.  It comes up more and more often.  Of course, I don't have a magic potion to make her hair grow faster.  But it does spark conversation about patience and the important kind of beautiful.  (Around here, we can turn anything into a teachable moment....)

Unlike her brother ("Mr. I'm Bored"), Anna can entertain herself really well.  She easily finds things to do during the course of the day.  She's a master of "the project."  I can give her paper, scissors, glue and a few markers, and she'll be happy for half the afternoon.  But, while she's working so hard, she'll turn me into her go-fer.  "Mom, can you get me a drink of water?"  "Mom, I need more glue."  "Mom, do you know how to make a book?"  "Mom, I'm really, really hungry."  "Mom, where did my purple marker go?"  "Mom, can you put on a movie for me while I make my project?"

Random favorites: SpongeBob, ice cream, her brother, going to the park, dress-up, Tami's house, Papa, the reading backpack and sharing can from preschool, sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa's house, chocolate, playdates, Happy Meals (primarily for the toy), reading, swimming, Skype-ing with Aunt Annie in Africa, and her new pink bunny from Uncle Rick.

Happy birthday to my sweet girl.  My feisty, smart-as-a-whip, charming Anna. 

You make me laugh more than anyone I know.  And I consider myself blessed everyday because I get to share it with you.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Too often, I get caught up in busy schedules and play dates and worries and trying to do way too much with way too little time.

And then something comes along.  Something that reminds me about the wonder in even the simplest of things.  Something..... 


These pictures were taken on Anna's birthday.  As usual, I orchestrated festivities all day long to celebrate.  But do you know what both Anna and Henry talked about the most?

"Remember the bubbles, all hooked together, and shiny in the sunshine?  Those were so cool." 

A little soap and water.  Enough magic for the entire day.