Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thanks, Brooke!


Thanks to Brooke, who actually remembered to bring her camera (that's a crack on me, not her) and who has taken the time to post some cute pictures to her blog, we have some great moments captured from tonight. We had a fun night celebrating the long weekend with our good friends the Browns and Hulls. Sweaty and dirty by the end of the night, the kids had a blast! Thanks, Carolyn and Tom! And, thanks again, Brooke, for getting it all on film! Too bad you and your camera were gone when Carolyn pulled out the pogo ball and Jonathan and I demonstrated the mad pogo ball skills we had honed in the 80's.

Check out more pictures and moments from tonight on Brooke's amazing blog:

http://whatisdownwiththebrowns.blogspot.com/2008/08/more-holiday-fun.html

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's a Parade!



We caught "the Southeast's largest Labor Day parade" at a local town's festival this morning. Of course, today's a UF game day, too, so we had to sport our Gator colors (we were very subtle). We were standing front row to watch the parade full of marching bands, clowns, floats, beauty queens, fire trucks, police cars, mascots, and lots of other noisy and cool attractions. Jack wasn't sold on the whole thing and actually sat down behind us on the curb for a while--that is, until they started passing out candy. You couldn't keep him from the front row after that! Just about every float that passed would throw candy out. Kids from behind us would run up and grab candy, too. Once after the big kids came through and cleared out the candy in front of us, there was an awesome moment I wish I'd captured on film. A little girl with a Georgia jersey on came up to Jack, who was in his Florida jersey, and gave him one of her pieces of candy because he hadn't managed to grab any. I guess while it's a bottle of Coke that'll bring a Democrat and a Republican together, it takes candy and parade for a Gator and Bulldog to see eye to eye. Go Gators!



Friday, August 29, 2008

One More Adventure



Summer's coming to an end and today is the last non-weekend/holiday day that I'll have with the two kids for an adventure before next Summer. So we just had to get out of the house for another big day. Ella wanted to see "the birds with boo boo's" again so we were off to the Carolina Raptor Center. They asked to see the albino red-shouldered hawk, Honeysuckle, who is their favorite as soon as we got there. And, as soon as I pointed out the Peregrine Falcon Jack said, "He's fast" before I could read the next sentence that they can reach 200 mph in dive. I guess they did listen to me when I read off all of the informational signs last time we were there. Jack brought along his binoculars for some serious bird watching (you've got a convert, Nonni and PaPa!).

We had fun, but it was a little muddy and very humid. You can even tell from Ella's hair that it was humid (cute little curls)--so you can imagine what mine looked like! You can tell from Jack's legs, hands, shorts, face, shirt, arms, and feet that it was muddy..... Yup, it was straight home for baths!













Jack actually just turned to me and asked if he could go to his school. He's decorating his "All About Me" paper for his class and he's very excited about telling his teachers about how much he loves bugs! So, as great as this Summer has been, I think we're all ready to get into the routine of the school year. This year, Jack will go to school on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and Ella will go Tuesdays through Fridays. So, I won't have both of them on any weekday morning, but I'm really looking forward to the one-on-one time I'll have with each of them. Plus, they get out at 1pm and with no naps anymore there's probably still time enough for an adventure or two in the afternoon--if we have the energy, that is!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wrestlemania



We're not kidding, folks, when we say our kids love to wrestle each other. They go at it for 30 minutes or more, usually until someone gets hurt. Is it cruel that I show no sympathy and tell them they've accepted the risk of getting hurt when they wrestle? C'mon, I do at least kiss the boo boo. Plus, once they see they're not getting the attention they wanted, the crying switch gets turned off and they tackle their partner-in-crime again. I suppose there are worse ways for them to expend all this energy and I definitely prefer this to the bickering, but I could definitely go without having to break up wrestlemania at the library.


Today we went to the kids' school to meet their teachers. Jack is lucky enough to have Ella's teachers from last year. Ella has a teacher she had in her 2's class who still remembers Ella telling her (when Ella was 2, mind you) that she had "beautiful eyebrows". The kids are very excited about school now that they've seen all their friends again. Ella was even telling Jack about all of the cool art projects she got to do in Ms. Melando and Ms. Cunningham's class. Hopefully they'll make groundhogs again this year because the idea of that one made Jack giddy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jumping Bean


Our Ella Bean is back to gymnastics. She'll take it year-round through mid-June. She jumped down a tumble track, climbed a rope (with knots) 15 feet up, did some bar work, and did lots of great energy-sapping running today. An extra bonus this year is that a girl from her preschool class will be in her class--it's exciting that someone from our school even lives near us! Every time Ella goes to a gymnastics class her answer to the question "What was your favorite part?" is always "jumping on the trampoline." If she only knew that trampoline was an Olympic event....I'm not telling her. Did you see how high those girls got??


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Endless Summer

No, we're not surfing again. I'm just lamenting on the fact that these last few weeks of Summer seem to be dragging on and on. Far are we from those first three weeks of Summer where it seemed that we were on a new adventure each day. If you have kids, you know about those times when you've pushed your kids for a really long, fun day and they're past the point of exhaustion and enter hyper-mode. They can't speak clearly, they're jittery, they seem hyped up on Jolt soda (is that even sold anymore?). Well, my kids seem that way just about every day all day for the past week. This Summer of excitement has put them past the point of exhaustion. They can't help themselves but to misbehave. Today I had to benumb them by taking them to the movies for Kung Fu Panda (yay, 50 cent movies!). After watching them run around like little maniacs at a car service area, a hair cut place, and the food store, hypnotizing them with a movie was all I could do to keep my own sanity today.

Tomorrow we have the perfect activity planned for hyped up kids--the jumpy place! We're meeting Brooke and her boys at an inflatable jumpy castle place to let the kids jump to their hearts' content. One week left of Summer...hopefully we all survive!
(Ella wanted her picture taken singing.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Times





After a fun birthday party this afternoon of bowling (Ella bowled a strike!) and jumping, we went home for some outdoor play. The fun went from good to great with Jonathan's homecoming after a tough work week away.




The kids and I cleaned up the house today (we have a tendency to let it go a just a tad when Jonathan's out of town). I was trying to encourage the kids to help me pick up everything by telling them that we want Daddy to relax when he gets home from work. Ella said, "But Mommy, I want to belax, too." (That wasn't a typing error--Ella is still channeling Barbie.)


They all love Jonathan's "whack-a-kid" game.

Herman the Worm

Ella came home from her ballet camp last month singing this song. Now, Jack knows most of the words. It's a cute little duet, with even a little small sample of the sibling spats that have been going on here in the Williams house. In talking with a mom with older kids, I've come to learn that the fighting between the kids is an end-of-Summer phenomenon that I should learn to expect. Hopefully I can figure out how to thwart it next year. One more week of Summer and then hopefully they'll be back to being like peas and carrots.

Friday, August 22, 2008

There Is Hope!

Just when I thought my kids would be heathens forever, they've surprised me again and restored my faith in their future capacities to be civilized. Today I took my two preschoolers to the Mint Museum of Art. Why, you might ask? Well, I'm not crazy. Ella has two pieces of artwork on display in their Student Show that she created during her camps at the museum this Summer. The show only runs for another week and we definitely weren't going to miss Ella's art on display in a public gallery.


Ella's beautiful seahorse, inspired by Eric Carle's Mister Seahorse, is the top left one (the one with the most pink, of course). There were several stages involved in creating this piece of art--painting (with glue) torn pieces of tissue paper onto paper, tracing a daddy seahorse and a baby seahorse onto that dried tissue paper art, cutting them out, painting with watercolor a background, painting dots on the seahorses, and then putting it all together.







The second piece of artwork on display from Ella is a book she created during the fairy tale class. You can actually only see the back cover of the book. Hers is the striped one, top right. To make the book cover, she painted stripes, combed texture into the paint, and then sprinkled it all with glitter.









After we saw the student art, we decided to check out the exhibits upstairs because we pretty much had the place to ourselves, so no worries of disturbing anyone. The kids really liked the Arts of Ancient America exhibit. I think Jack picked up a 4,000 year old stone club (yikes!). Seriously, though, the kids were great. They asked questions, they walked (as opposed to running "as fast as a jet" as Jack likes to say), they actually looked at the art. In fact, I was the only one who got scolded (flash photography--oops!). I did have a carrot to dangle in front of them--once you get through this exhibit, there is a resource center room where you can touch, read, and draw. We spent most of our time here learning about Mayan textiles. The kids used crayons to color their own tunics on paper. Ella used some stencils to create Mayan patterns on hers. Even in this room, which is not closed off to the rest of the museum, they were pretty quiet. We were at the art museum for an hour and a half--unbelievable, if you ask me.


Once we had walked through the rest of the museum, the ultimate pay-off for these two was to be able to run around the awesome grounds they have there. We walked on ledges, ran on all of the paths, looked at the gardens, and threw pennies into the fountain. I actually had to convince Ella this morning that we were going to have fun at the museum. She didn't even seem interested in seeing her own art. But, by the time we left she admitted it was a great time. I don't think I'll press my luck, though, and go with both of them again...at least, until they're civilized.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Super Kids!


Ella and Jack had fun today pretending to be super heroes. Ella wore her sparkly purple cape and called herself Super Girl. Jack was Super Jack for a while and then decided it was more fun to be Ella's nemesis, "The Mean Guy". Using hangers as swords, they battled it out.

If Ella has a super power, I would have to say it is to melt ice-cold hearts with her smiles and sweet words. During lunch today, before she had eaten her fruit and cheese, she was asking me for more crackers. Worn down by way too many nights staying up late to watch the Olympics, I admit I was a little crabby when I responded to her. She hugged my arm and said, "Mommy, you're the best mommy in the world." Thinking she was trying to play me, I said (still with some crabbiness), "Why would you say that? I didn't give you any crackers." To this she responded, "But, you give me lots of hugs and kisses. That makes you the best mommy." It's hard to be grumpy after hearing something so sweet.


Jack's super power, in addition to his abilities to fall asleep anywhere and break glass with his scream, is in those bear hugs of his. They are awesome--they can heal anything.

These two really are super kids. I may not be the best mommy but I'm certainly the luckiest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Main Event




We set up our wrestling ring, a.k.a. the jumpy castle, tonight to let these kids get all the energy they've been using to quarrel with each other out. The kids had a blast wrestling with each other without us telling them to knock it off (they especially like to wrestle near our pointy coffee table or in public places). They got some jumping in, too, but really, what better place than a soft, cushy bounce house to wrestle around and tackle each other?


Maybe after getting this off their chests tonight, they'll wake up and be able to share again. I remember back when Baden came to visit our house and he brought Ella flowers Jack asked why Ilse didn't bring him flowers. I just told him that usually boys bring flowers to girls. I told him he could give flowers to a girl some time and then asked him who his favorite girl is. He pointed at his sister and said, "Ella." What a sweet little brother.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Come-back Kid

He may look sweet, but this kid has a comeback for everything. Actually, it's the same comeback and he literally says it back to any comment, whether or not it makes sense. He's been doing this (and gets the biggest kick out of it) constantly for about the past week. I have no idea where he picked this up--we've all seen it in every Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller flick, but I don't think it was in WALL-E.

This is how conversations with Jack go lately. (Each comeback is then followed by several minutes of giggles and self-regard.)


"How are you doing, sleepyhead?"

"No, you're a sleepyhead!"

"You're such a big boy."
"No, you're a big boy!"

"Would you like a banana?"
"No, you're a banana!"

"You're such a silly goose."
"No, you're a silly goose." (Sometimes he actually does make sense because we are teasing him.)
This is a rare moment today when the kids were actually getting along. I think maybe they've just spent too much time together this Summer. This past week I've been constantly breaking up yelling matches between these two (maybe Ella doesn't like his new back talk). School starts in just two weeks and, though they may not admit it, I think they'll be happy to have something that is just theirs again.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Child Labor




The kids were eager to help this morning while Jonathan and I were doing some house cleaning--and I'm definitely eager to put them to work. I could see the gleam in Jonathan's eye with thoughts of having his own in-house lawn service one day. We're far from that, but heck, they are a lot closer to those floor boards for dusting than we are.

Jack has mastered using the potty but still can't manage to put his own underwear back on. I find him running around without any bottoms on several times a day. This is a new one, though--wrong end, Jack!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who Knew?





Even Brooke and I weren't too sure that a day of outlet mall shopping would be fun with 5 kids tagging along, but I guess when you're with great friends fun is always possible. Our desire to check out what's new at the Pottery Barn Outlet got the better of us today so we hauled the whole crew down there for some end-of-Summer shopping. We're crazy, right?




The kids were all troopers in a few stores and then Brooke and I got to tag team shop while the kids played on a sandy playground. They were using their Crocs as shovels, all reminiscing of their recent beach trips.




Brooke and I found some bargains and the kids felt like they had a playdate. Hey, I knew shopping could be fun--maybe now Ella and Jack are convinced.

(Uh oh, we're off to another potty break.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Little Diva

We've created a monster! Yeah, yeah, I guess we all knew that--what, with all the pretty dresses, pink, and princess stuff we've flooded into her life. But, there are definitely moments when this seems more clear. Today Ella told me that she is "the princess of all girls". So, we had to have a talk about how princesses are nice and share and take care of others. Then, though, I found Ella on the couch with Jack in true diva fashion. After a beautiful morning out at a playground, the kids were resting, catching up on their Disney Channel shows. Jack had fallen asleep and sprawled across the couch. I guess this provided Ella with the perfect footrest. Check it out for yourself.....












We've been watching a lot of the Olympics these past few days (or "Belympics" per Ella). Today we caught a little tennis. She's seen the diving, gymnastics, swimming, and beach volleyball but tennis seemed to surprisingly draw her attention most. She has now changed her career aspirations to being "an artist who goes into space and a tennis player." Jack still wants to be Batman but now wants to be a "golf ball player", too. Maybe golf will be a Belympic sport by the time he's all grown up.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Captain Jack's Pirate Party

It's been over a week since Jack's birthday, but we've been out of town for the past week so we planned his party with his friends for today. Jack had a pirate birthday party at our neighborhood pool. Grace and Cate, Baden and Ilse, Aaron and Nina, Kathryn and Austin, and Miles, Noah, and Griffin all came with their mommies to help us celebrate. The kids had a great time playing at the pool--they'd go down the water slide one after another, after another, after another...

Once the kids got hungry, it was inside the clubhouse for lunch, cake, and some pirate fun! Ella wore her "I Love Jack" Captain Jack Sparrow shirt I got for her over a year ago at Downtown Disney--it finally fit and we finally had the perfect occasion for it. Jack wore his cool new pirate shirt with his monogram on it handmade for him by Aunt Tracy. (Thanks--and, we missed you guys today! We hope Jake had a great first day of school!)

Jack definitely loves pirates and the pool! I'm glad all of our friends were a part of the swashbuckling fun.

Here's just a taste of the party pictures. To see all of the fun check out our Picasa album: http://picasaweb.google.com/redish76/JackSPirateBirthdayParty