Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jack's YMCA Camp

Jack had loved his camp at the YMCA! He got to play with play-doh, have gym time, run in sprinklers, pretend to be a pirate, and generally make a mess every day. He also loved having his own thing after watching Ella get to go to so many camps. He went for two mornings a week for four weeks and looked forward to every day of it.

Today he had his end-of-camp party and Jonathan, Ella, and I got to come see where he'd been having all of his fun--we also got to witness the mess-making first hand!

Next Summer, since he'll be three he'll have a lot more camps available to him, but he had so much fun at this camp it might still be his camp of choice.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happily Ever After

Ella's art class at the Mint Museum this week is Happily Ever After. Ella's loving it so much she couldn't wait to get there this morning. She is decorating her own treasure box (and finding treasure throughout the museum to fill it), making her own fairy tale book, and creating a dragon puppet. We have one more class tomorrow--I hope we can get it all done!

Yeah, what was it I said about Jack being a sweet little brother a few days ago? I must say Ella's got the right attitude for handling the hijinks of a little brother. Tonight when I was putting Ella to bed, there on her pillow was a spider, a scorpion, and a cockroach (all toys, of course). I jumped a little, but Ella just sighed and tossed them to the end of her bed...something I'd never do because they'd probably make me jump again the next morning...

Jack's got the right attitude for playing with Ella, too. Jonathan's kept these incriminating photos off the blog for a while (I don't know why--because it'll come back to haunt him when he's running for president one day??), but I think it's cute. Tonight Ella and Jack went through all of her jewelry and were each wearing several necklaces, bracelets, rings, and princess shoes. I got this picture as some of the fun was winding down. I think one of the funniest moments for me in the past few months was one night when Jonathan and I were in the kitchen together. We had just told Ella to go upstairs to clean her room or something. Then, I hear high heels clicking on the hardwood floors downstairs. I start saying, "Ella, I thought we told you to go..." Before I could finish, Jack came around the corner. Jonathan and I laughed for a while about that one.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stayin' Cool in the Pool

I'm sure all of our neighborhood pool pictures are starting to look the same, but this is how we spend a lot of Summer days. Ella has been swimming on her own, but today she wasn't feeling particularly brave (or energetic--maybe it was the late night) so she wanted to wear her arm floaties. Ella's wearing a bandaid over her eye just to keep the sun off of that new scar. Jack had fun chasing his torpedo shark in the big pool. He's so comfortable swimming all around the pool. I remember just this past Spring he wanted to stick to the pool's steps at my parents house--now he actually wants to swim without any floaties at all! It's hard to believe we only have about one more month to spend at the pool. Summer's just flying by (or swimming by, in our case)!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Yup, tonight we took the kids out to the crowds of a baseball game and bought them some peanuts (no cracker jacks, though). We had sung that song with them on a few occasions, so we knew that if we took them to a baseball game we'd have to get some peanuts (*psst, hey Jack, you're not supposed to eat the shells!*). With the cotton candy vendor trolling the stands there was no avoiding that treat either. Jack picked out pink because "it is Ella's favorite color." What a sweet little brother.

So after a drizzly day spent at the pool, we took in a beautiful, clear, cool night at the baseball stadium of Charlotte's minor league team, the Knights. We had the best seats we'd ever had--right behind home plate. The kids were a little too preoccupied with the treats, chants and cheers, and mascot sightings to take in much of the baseball game, but we all definitely had a great time. Ella even got a small, soft souvenir baseball that the nice gentleman next to her caught and gave to her. (Sorry, Jack, I tried!)

It was a shame tonight because the home team didn't win, but the night still ended well. After every Saturday night home game at the Charlotte Knights stadium there is a big fireworks show, so we stayed until after the very last out of the game to catch the show the kids really came to see. It was a late night, but definitely a fun Summer pasttime. Here's to Minor League Baseball!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

School of Fish

Ella's School of Fish art class wrapped up today. We got a guided tour of the art museum this morning which Ella really got a kick out of. Over three days we completed two pieces of artwork; however, each piece of artwork had multiple art techniques involved and we needed all three days to complete them.
We took home Ella's ocean scene collage and left her Mister Seahorse at the museum to be displayed in a student art showing next month. (Have you ever had artwork displayed in an art musuem? Maybe Nonny has. How cool is that?) Next week's art class theme is Happily Ever After. No doubt Ella will dig that!

We were so inspired by Ella's fish artwork that we decided to get outside to enjoy the beautiful day and create some new collages. So maybe these ones didn't take several days, but they did take several hours...we got a little distracted with some outdoor play...but, the end result was still cool.

Gator had a ball outside, too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Bubble Bath Kind of Day

Today was another busy day with camp for Jack and an art class for Ella. Jack's camp counselor told me when I was picking him up today that he's having a ton of fun at camp and doesn't want to leave each day--which is great considering he only has it 2 days a week. Next week is his last week and there's an end-of-camp party so I should get some pictures from his camp then.

Ella has a 1 1/2 hour art class at the Mint Museum of Art three days a week this week and next that she's really enjoying. I have to attend the class with her, so this has been some great bonding time. Our artwork this week is inspired by Eric Carle's Mister Seahorse illustrations. Ella cut out a large seahorse all by herself--and without lefty scissors. I looked around the room and all of the other moms/grandmoms were cutting it out for the kids, but Ella didn't need any help. All of those cutting exercises she did after her teachers last year noted she had issues (mostly because she was using right-handed scissors) have paid off. Great work, Ella! At the end of the workshop Ella will pick one piece of her artwork that will be displayed in the museum--very cool, especially for a little girl with aspirations of being an artist.

Jack was falling asleep on my lap while reading library books at 7:00 tonight, still covered in a little bit of paint and a lot of dirt from camp. The only way I could get him to wake up and take a bath was to promise a bubble bath. The kids' bubble baths are more about making bubble beards and blowing bubbles than relaxing, like mine. Boy did they have a ball! I actually had trouble putting Jack to bed after that!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sir Mess-A-Lot

It is the constant battle at the Williams household (and I'm sure we're not alone in this) to get the kids to clean up their messes. They destroy things just for the sake of it! They dump, scatter, knock over, and generally leave a path of destruction. Our play room is like a land-mine half the time--be careful where you step! Ella has gotten pretty good at cleaning her room and putting things away, but she doesn't like it. Every time I ask her to clean up after herself, I have to listen to the whole sob story about how "boring" it is. Jack (and, I know he's only 2...but, closing in on 3) pretty much refuses to clean. Any alternative to cleaning is the better choice to him--throwing away his toys (curiously, he'll actually help you pick them up to throw them away...), going to his room, and even no t.v. for the rest of the day. Today the play room was the worst it's been in a long time. Mitchell came over, so the kids could even reach the toys on the higher shelves...puzzles, blocks...all of the really fun stuff to clean up... After Mitchell left we had the audacity to ask the kids to put everything back where it belongs--instead they decided to bring all the mess from their bedrooms to the playroom. Short story long, there were no fun activities for the Williams kids tonight because they were on strike and we weren't budging.

At dinner, we were telling the kids that watching t.v. and going to the jumpy place are privileges. Jonathan went on to tell them that we deserve kids who help clean up and help take care of our house. Ella looked at him with a smile and said,"Daddy, you got the wrong kids." She eventually recanted and decided she wanted to stay with us even if we did make her clean occasionally. By the end of the night, we, as a team (aka not just me), got the bulk of the mess cleaned up. Faith restored! But, those kids are lucky they are so cute!

Friday, July 18, 2008

This One Goes Out to Noah Brown

We had a request from Noah Brown to hear Jack sing, so after three nights of trying to get our shy boy to sing for the camera we finally got a good take. I apologize we don't have great range, but we only sing two songs at bedtime: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and a night night song sung only by me, which will not be making it to the blog...

So, here's to you, Noah!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Singer, Artist, Astronaut Mommy and Batman

Ella has decided that she wants to be a singer, an artist, an astronaut, and a mommy and live with us forever. Jonathan always tries to tell her that she really can't live with us forever, but I'm enjoying the time when we all think that would be fantastic...I'm sure in about 12 years none of us will like the idea. Jonathan and I are both happy to support her in her other endeavors (uh, in at least 20 years for the mommy part). I've told her that she has to be really good at math if she wants to be an astronaut--she's convinced she's ready because she can add numbers up to as many fingers as she has. Today, though, she did studiously complete 16 pages of a preschool activities workbook, including some beginning math. I was amazed at how well she could follow instructions. I read the instructions to her once and she kept on task and even corrected herself once when she mixed things up. There is no doubt she'll be ready for kindergarten in a year.

Jack napped while Ella "studied". He's had two busy mornings at camp. Yesterday there was no nap but then he was in bed before 8pm (woo hoo!). Tonight might be a different story because he took a 2-hour nap after laying out his beloved big blankie himself (thanks Nonny!) and settling in to frog position. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Jack responds, "Um, Batman!" Well, hopefully this Batman will sleep at night.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Today we had Baden, Ella's first true love, over to our house for the first time. We haven't seen him since the last day of school, but not a day goes by that Ella doesn't talk about Baden and how she's going to marry Baden. According to his mom, Ivy, the feeling is mutual. These kids are so sweet together. Baden made Ella's day (or maybe even year) by bringing her a dozen pink roses (his mom was looking more for a plant, as a belated housewarming, but Baden insisted that Ella would love the pink roses more--he does know our girl). I never thought my daughter would outdo me with flowers received from a boy by age 4!

We brought Baden, his mommy, and his little sister Ilse to our neighborhood pool with us and had a great time. Baden and Ella loved to go down the slide together over and over and over again. Ilse, being the little lady she is, stuck to activities that didn't get her hair wet. As much as Jack wanted to hang out with cutie pie Ilse, he just couldn't work with that--his (and Ella's) new favorite thing to do is swim underwater with his eyes open.

As Ella was tackling Baden in this picture, he was saying, "Ella, you're my very best friend." It just melts my heart.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Grumpy Bear

I've teasingly called Jonathan Grumpy Bear ever since we first started dating to sort of lighten the mood whenever he was being, well, a grump. I even got him a little Grumpy Bear Care Bear stuffed animal, I think for one Valentine's Day. The toy bear has since become one of Jack's required sleeping buddies and, apparently, rightfully so. Jonathan must've passed the grumpy torch down to Jack because Jack spent most of today being a little stinker. He cried and complained, went boneless, and wiped off my kisses. At bedtime he didn't want his bedtime songs and, again, wiped off my kisses. Hopefully tomorrow he'll wake up on the right side of the bed....

Ella's thoughts lately have been a lot less ethereal and a lot more logical. Here's a mild example of what I think is a milestone--when we were putting Ella to bed she started explaining to us that if Jack wipes off my kisses with his hand, the kiss is now on his hand so he still has it (maybe she was trying to make me feel better). She went on to say that if he then wiped that hand with the other hand, again, the kiss would still be on him. She's a sweet girl, and she let us sing all our bedtime songs tonight. I filmed one of them and am posting it more for myself--who knows how many more nights I'll get to listen to these adorable voices singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". I'm sure Jack will be out of his funk tomorrow and back to his sweet little "night night songs".

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ah, Those Summer Nights...

What better way to top off a hot Summer day spent at the pool than with ice cream. This is a rare treat for the kids, so they savored every bite. It was the only way we could keep all the kids in one place tonight while out for dinner with the Browns.

Yay--the fountains are back on in Charlotte! We're still under water restrictions, but a few good rainy afternoons has made everything look alive again. The kids got all red-faced chasing each other around the fountains and once we'd had enough with the falls and boo boo's on the hard concrete, we decided it was time for ice cream. (You'll notice Jack's nursing a hurt knee with a washcloth that has now become a staple in my purse for just such occasions. Poor, sweet Noah had a big spill that was soon forgotten in a bowl of chocolate ice cream mixed with gummy bears--yummy!)

Ella and Miles are comparing notes on their chocolate ice creams. Seriously, this conversation lasted several minutes. And, although Griffin didn't partake in the ice cream, he was his smiley self practicing standing (thankfully successfully on the aforementioned hard concrete). Our fun night unceremoniously came to an end when, as we were saying our goodbyes, Ella loudly announced to the entire outdoor area that she had to go poo poo....ah, our sweet little lady. But, Miles told us that he wants to go to "Ella's pool" soon, so we'll pick back up on the fun tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tutu Cute

Today Camp Tutu came to an end for Ella. It was a great week and Ella really enjoyed her camp--there was lots of dancing, singing, stories, art projects, and camaraderie with the tween girl camp helpers. Camp concluded today with a show for the families. Don't be fooled by Ella's garb, this was in fact a ballet camp and not one for belly dancing... Ella's group performed her favorite pixies song, a special ballet routine, and a few other songs.

She's also very proud of her Picasso-inspired drawing of her and me.

Just between you and me, I'm not sure I can sit through another preschool-age ballet recital. Ella actually did an excellent job with all of the steps of the routine, but as a group it looks quite a mess. And it just feeds on this whole princess obsession. The camp for the next age group up is called Camp Diva--sounds like the logical progression that we're hoping to avoid. We chose this camp for Ella this Summer because she's been asking to do ballet again for a while. So, in August we'll have the talk about what she wants to do this Fall, ballet or gymnastics. Hopefully she'll make the "right" choice (*gymnastics*)...ok, I'll try not to steer her one way or the other...


Jonathan found Jack screaming in the bathroom at 4 this morning. He looks at Jonathan, eyes barely open, and cries, "You flushed the potty!" Jonathan, puzzled, tells him he didn't. "Yes, you did!" "No, Jack, there's no pee pee in there." "That's because you flushed it!" (Funny how the half-asleep 2-year-old made more sense than Jonathan at 4am.) Poor Jack was very upset and Jonathan was pretty amused. Was Jack really having a nightmare about us flushing his pee pee? I knew that was a big no-no with him, but I think I'll try even harder now to make sure not to flush for him....I have slipped up before...and Jack gets rather flushed by it.

On the Ella front, we've discovered that Ella is a kindred spirit with Barbie. Last night we watched the Barbie Mariposa movie, which is the theme of her ballet camp this week. You might've noticed that when Ella isn't quite sure how to say a word or hasn't heard it clearly, she starts it with 'be' (she calls a computer a beputer and dessert is bessert, etc.). Well, in the Barbie movie they called the forest the be-wilderness. Jonathan and I couldn't stop laughing every time we heard it in the movie....and, I was also thinking, great now we're going to have to spend more time correcting this. But, who knew that she was just channeling Barbie this whole time! Ella would be thrilled with that idea--that's what I'm afraid of!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

So Cute and Sweet

Our next-door neighbor Mitchell came over today to play and then stayed for dinner. So, Jack, Mitchell, Ella, and I were sitting around the dinner table ready to say Grace. Ella says, "Ooh, ooh, I want to say Grace!" She went on to sing, as we all held hands with each other, "We are the pixies, so cute and sweet. We love to dance and point our feet." Mitchell had the most confused look on his face, not just that it was a very strange Grace, but wondering whether by holding hands in this circle he was confirming that he was in fact a pixie, so cute and sweet. Yet, he diligently continued his hold on Ella's hand. We went on to say a proper Grace, but it was just a very funny moment. Ella gets home from ballet camp all this week at 6pm, so she gave us a demo of the dance that went along with her little song after dinner.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Family Dinner

It's so nice to sit down at the table for a meal as a family. The meals are becoming less and less full of nagging (finish your dinner, sit up straight, etc., etc.) and more full of conversation. Tonight, in fact, we didn't have to nag Ella at all to eat her dinner. She was stuffing 3 carrots in her mouth at once. When I told her to eat just one at a time she told me she was trying to be a "fast-poke". I guess we've told her before that she's a slow-poke when we eat. Of course, we had some of our usual antics. Every time the kids get olives for dinner, they invariably put them on their fingers and we have to go through the whole surprised act of, "We have to call the doctor! What's wrong with your fingers?" Tonight it even escalated to "calling Dr. Dorsey" (Jonathan, by the way, is great at faking a two-way conversation...) until they finally fessed up that it was olives on their fingers. Silly Mommy and Daddy! I guess it seems predictable and silly now, but I'm pretty sure one day we'll miss knowing what can get them smiling.

We also talked about how Jack's going to camp this week (2 mornings a week for the rest of July). Since he's still only 2 he's registered for a camp that doesn't require potty training. There are even 3 year olds in the camp that are with the 2's simply because they aren't potty trained yet. I've been a little concerned that he might regress surrounded by kids in diapers. I didn't think the whole "if your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do that, too" talk would work, so I tried telling him that he'd have to show all the other kids how it's done and how great it is to be in underwear. So, we talked about that at dinner tonight. Ella piped in, "Yeah, you're a big kid and you can show them how to go pee pee and poo poo on the potty." You should've seen the look of pride on Jack's face. I think he blushed. I guess it sounded better coming from his big sister, because I know he hears from us how proud we are of him several times a day. So, hopefully he'll glow with pride at camp, too.

Ella also told us about her ballet camp, "Camp Tutu", that she went to today. She had a great time and looks forward to tomorrow. She has a recital on Friday, so I'm sure you'll see pictures on Friday's post.

There really is something to be said for eating together as a family--even at our kids' young ages.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

These Are For the Birds!

We spent our last morning with the Crossons at a Home Depot Kids' Workshop building birdhouses. The kids loved hammering in the nails and using glue to attach the front-door step. (Hey Ella, watch where you're aiming that hammer!) Aunt Tracy even let the kids paint them when we got home. Can't wait to hang them in our woods for some small birds to enjoy!

We had a great weekend and hope we get to see all 5 Crossons again soon (plus Maguire)!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Fantastic, long fireworks show? Check. Great seats? Check. Sparklers? Check. Fun company? Check. Traffic? Nope.

Tracy and Ken's neighbors put on a fireworks show that could rival any small town's, right at the end of their cul-de-sac. We just had to set up chairs at the end of Tracy and Ken's driveway and enjoy the show. The kids also had fun with sparklers and watching Ken set off some "fountain" fireworks. Great show, and the kids got to bed at a more decent hour (Drew even slept through the entire thing!).

Hey Crossons, thanks for a fun 4th of July!

Something for Everyone

The Crossons have an awesome backyard--it literally has something for everyone. They have a beautiful and picturesque 2-acre lot on a lake. Ken is currently building (and has been since October, with his spare time between time spent on a full-time job, 3 kids, law school, triathlons, and his wife) a 20x32' dock--we can't wait for the lakeside parties! Tracy and Ken also created a mulched play area in their yard this Summer, complete with basically two play sets, a sandbox, balance beam, and cool outdoor toys. There's also a hammock for when the parents get worn out. It is amazing! Gator even enjoyed having a fenced yard again--he was chasing squirrels and walking the line at will, without us whistling him back.

The kids also had a ton of fun after a polar bear came to the door and left a big block of ice for them filled with treasure (the kids ate this story up and kept retelling it to us). They spent a focused hour and a half working on it and then another hour going back to it until all the treasure was out of the ice. I think I'll have to have some polar bear treasure on hand in our freezer for the next sunny day when we have nothing to do (or Jonathan has kicked us out of the house for an important work call!). Great idea, Aunt Tracy!