Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Treasure Hunt

A few weeks ago I had to work late, so I put together a little treasure hunt for Ian to do after J picked him up from school. Now that he's reading, it was a lot of fun. I hid a series of clues around the house, and at the end he got a little toy. J was awesome and recorded it for me. Now I will share with you.

Each clue required him to do an activity, and surprisingly he wanted to do them all!
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Can you tell how proud we are o his reading? I love this boy with my whole heart!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

On Reading, Silent Movies, and Tiny Toy Pieces

I took exactly 5 pictures during the month of February. I completely made up for that during the month of March.

Thoughts on Ian as a four year old. This is important because he is almost FIVE. Four has been pretty great.

Whenever anyone asks Ian how old he is, he is quick to reply that he is four AND A HALF, not just four thank you very much. He is counting down the days to his birthday.

His reading is fantastic. This has got to be my favorite development in the last 6 months. He reads so well, and from what his preschool teacher tells us it is at a first grade level. Wow.

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 Funny story, we completely gave up on naps about 6 months ago, and transitioned over to a "rest time," which is essentially a 30 minute break to get him to sit still and relax for a bit. Pretty quickly he was really resisting "rest time," so now it has morphed into "reading time." This he goes for with minimal complaining, and picks out 4-6 books of his choosing. We barter about what the length of time "reading time" will be, then I dim the lights and close the door. He reads! Generally, he reads a book out loud at the top of his lungs (wants me to know he's really reading, I suppose). It's great.

He likes silent movies! So do we! It was quite a discovery. There as a live version of Peter Pan that played several years ago on network TV. Watching that was the beginning of his Peter Pan obsession, so I had promised we would check it out from the library. But when we went to the library it wasn't there. There was, however, the 1924 version of Peter Pan. He insisted we check it out. I resisted, explaining that it was black and white and no talking. He continued to insist, so I gave in. There were raised eyebrows when we went to the check out desk.

By golly, it was a really good movie! I say this confidently because over a two year period we have watched every available version of Peter Pan. We are experts on the subject. The special effects were impressive, the costumes were elaborate, and the music was great. Every few minutes a screen with a sentence or two would come up, and we would all read them out loud together, and by the end of the movie he was reading them out loud by himself. I was telling the children's librarian about it, and she suggested another silent film, The General, with Buster Keaton. It was about a train heist - hilarious and he loved it. He's watched it several times, and doesn't even need us to read the words to him.

How many four years old like silent films? Ours does.

Our house is in a constant state of Playmobile and Lego pieces. 



They are all over the place. He really enjoys both and has started creatively building on his own. He is also constantly losing specific pieces, and it drives me crazy. But, it's okay, to be honest I'm happy to help him with the Lego thing. They're kinda fun. Ian and J even got me my very own Lego set (a little cottage) for my birthday. We had the best time putting it together, he and I.



Phoebe enjoys laying on top of Lego pieces and supervising.


I think she misses his trains.

Oh, and a highlight from last month was going to Ian's preschool and giving a talk about being a veterinarian. I took some xrays, extracted teeth, and some intestinal worms in a jar. This is the third time I've gotten to do this talk, and I get so nervous about it. But the audience of two, three, and four year old kids is always great. The kids are fascinated with the show and tell items I bring, and the teachers are completely grossed out. It's great.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our January

January certainly went by in the blink of an eye. Now it's the middle of February. . . .what???

In summary, we had a busy month.

We reluctantly put up all our Christmas decorations. We ended up with an abundance of sweets in the house, and Ian was delighted to eat the final piece of Nonna candy. It's a favorite of everyone in the house, something my grandmother made every holiday season. Pretty simple - lumps of pretzels and peanuts coated in white bark candy. It's the perfect mix of salty and sweet.
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The gingerbread houses we made over Christmas turned out really nice. We kept them on display, and although Ian asked repeatedly the first week whether or not he could have "a teeny, tiny taste" only once did I actually catch him licking one of the peppermints. I think he decided it just wasn't worth the effort. Anyway, I couldn't bear to throw them away, so we picked off as much of the candy as possible.

It was rather alarming how hard the icing had become - it took a fair amount of prying. Most of the candy popped off in a projectile fashion.

Then I gave my child a knife. Don't worry, it was a butter knife and he was supervised. He spread peanut butter across the roof (and all over his hands, shirt, hair, and face).

Then we took it outside and poured birdseed over the top. Tada! Best way to repurpose your holiday gingerbread house.
The birds had a good time, and we so enjoyed watching them eat the seed. 

Then the squirrels made the great discovery. Greedy little critters. 
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I'm betting they had one heck of a belly ache.

We've been practicing writing letters. Being able to read has helped tremendously with his interest and willingness to do this. 

The stuffed Peter Pan he got for Christmas has become his best buddy. One day Phoebe fell asleep on the couch, and Ian was nice enough to tuck Peter Pan in with on top of her. Impressively, she slept like this for about two hours. Silly cat.

We had our first snow of the winter. Nearly four inches. It was beautiful.

It was a fine, dry snow that didn't make good snowballs, but he still had fun throwing it at us!
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He spent a good deal of time like this.

 Mmmmm
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He made a snow angel, but thought it looked like a rocking horse.
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My work closed for the day, and J got to come home early.

We got the snow tube out of the attic. Our hill in the back yard seemed a bit smaller this year. . . but still quite a lot of fun.
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J and Ian made a snowman.

He was rather proud of the finished subject.
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A few days later we went on a very snowy hike. There is an old quarry on the West end of town. It was about a mile walk. The road was shaded and still covered in snow and ice, but Ian was a trooper. After days of being cooped up first with pneumonia (yes, he got pneumonia twice in a four week period), then with cold weather he had so. much. pent. up. energy. . . so did we.

He even got to break some ice up with a giant stick (his new "walking stick"). That giant stick went on our entire walk and now resides in our back yard.
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The quarry was quiet.

The water was so clear.

We threw rocks and watched them sink to the bottom.


The end of the month we took Ian to hear the Oak Ridge symphony orchestra. Every winter they do a free family concert, and this year they played the music from Jurassic Park and Star Wars.



Ian had brought his R2D2 Lego minifigure, which he kept tightly grasped through the entire concert.

We were really, really impressed with how awesome they sounded. Ian had got the most awesome look of delight when the Star Wars music started.
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Afterwards they had an instrument "petting zoo."

I sure do love our little town, so many things to do right in our backyard!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Christmas 2015

Our Christmas was a memorable one, filled with family activities and a thousand precious memories. I am so utterly grateful for my family.

We were able to ride the local Christmas train.

Ian's obsession with trains has waned some this year, but he (and we) were still tickled pink to get to take a train ride. 

We spent most of our time looking out the window. A road runs along the tracks most of the way, crossing several times. Ian enjoyed waving to all the cars at each crossing.

He got to see Santa and Mrs. Claus - what a treat they were both there!

He whispered his wishes in Santa's ear. I couldn't hear most of it, but he certainly had Santa's full attention. Santa asked very nicely that we leave some cookies and milk out for him (and that he not let Mom and Dad eat those cookies!).

Santa gave him a nice, plump candy cane, which he enjoyed in all it's sticky goodness.


We've been on this train a few times in years past, but this was the first time they let us climb up on the engine afterwards. What fun!

We did a lot of activities this Christmas - there are so many things for young families to do - but we have learned the best activities are within 15 minutes of our house. Like the Christmas parade, where you can go eat dinner at your favorite Chinese restaurant and then walk right outside to meet up with your bestie to watch the parade. Also, it was about 70 degrees outside, perfect weather for such an event. We have. So. Much. Candy from that parade.

Ian and his best friend Lucy. Those two are just to peas in a pod. It was impossible to get a decent picture of the two of them smiling and looking at the camera, they were hyped up on each others company and sugar. But here they are at the start of the parade, watching the floats come by and holding hands.

One thing that we have done in years past is go to the Christmas Cave at Cherokee Caverns. We had planned to do this the weekend before Christmas when Ian came down with pneumonia. He was quite ill that weekend and then the first part of the week, poor little guy. On the nights he was still feeling sick we would pick a neighborhood and go drive around to see the Christmas lights. That really seemed to cheer him up.

By Christmas Eve he was almost back to his normal self. We drove to Knoxville for the sole purpose of getting a hot doughnut from Krispy Creme.

Yum!

A holiday tradition from my side of the family is to make Ethel's Sugar Cookies. I have no idea who Ethel is (the recipe is listed in my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook that she received as a wedding gift in 1969), but she was a genius when it comes to sugar cookies. No other recipe compares. So after we got back from Krispy Kreme Ian and I made and decorated cookies.

Notice his short sleeve shirt? It was almost 80 degrees outside on Christmas Eve. We had the AC on in the house.
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Tada! He meticulously picked 3 out to leave out for Santa. And I will say that Santa left no crumb behind.

J took this fantastic picture right before we went to bed on Christmas Eve. Our tree was just perfect this year. Each ornament has it's own story and memory.

Oh, Christmas morning! I've said it a thousand times this year - four is a truly magical age. He received a ton of presents, but this Peter Pan from Santa was his favorite. 

He carries that Peter Pan around and sleeps with it. 

His other favorite was a pirate ship.

We have about a thousand more Legos in our house than we did prior to December 25th. 

Including this awesome Toy Story train.

Hope your Christmas was as magical as ours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Ornament

J's sister sent Ian a new ornament last week. It came wrapped with a note that said to open BEFORE Christmas, which he was absolutely ecstatic about. Never has he been instructed to open a present before the big day. It warranted a video.

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It's Woody!

And just so Aunt K knows, it didn't leave his hands for about 2 solid days. He even wanted to sleep and bathe with it. Thank you!

Monday, December 21, 2015

It Certainly Looks Like Christmas

Yup, it definitely looks like Christmas around here. Jason spent one cold Saturday morning stringing the lights. I put the ribbon on the posts. Ian rolled around in the grass in the front yard and ripped a hole in the knee of his pants. 

Our gel clings that we bought last year actually survived a summer in the attic. Ian was pleased as punch to apply them to the front door. Now that he is reading he spelled out Happy Holidays all on his own!

We set up the tree.

Ian was a great helper this year.

The finishing touch!


These are the Christmas pajamas I bought for Ian to wear last Christmas Eve. They arrived in the mail December 26th of last year. So, he's been wearing them at least twice weekly since thisThanksgiving - even thought they are a wee bit small. My little elf.

Our second tree is a fiber optic model purchased back in the college days. It was $10 from the Dollar General. I must say it has held up surprisingly well. 

My mom let me, my sister, and sister-in-law pick out a few pieces of her Snow Village set this year. Ian had the best time unpacking them and arranging them on the table.

The prize piece was a train station. It didn't actually come with a train, so he set up his own track. 

When I was little we had this gingerbread house that I was completely fascinated with. If I remember correctly, it was in a plexiglass display case. Every year when my mom unpacked it I would salivate looking at all the gumdrops and icing. Someone, I need to ask Mom who, spent a lot of time making and decorating that house. Nowadays, they have these kits  where the gingerbread is already baked and assembled into the house. All your have to do is add the icing and candy. Thankfully, they provide enough candy for both decorating and eating while you decorate.


We had a great time doing this.



Tada! I'm proud enough of this one. I might even immortalize it in plexiglass!

Just a few days until the big day!