Friday, April 30, 2010

Surely He Jousts

Or slays dragons, or conquers the offending villain-of-the-moment with a light saber. Such deeds were the thrilling action behind Danny's knight-themed birthday party at the park. For close to three hours, Danny ran, climbed, yelled and had an absolute blast, surrounded by his buddies (and never more than a foot from Parker - those two were joined at the hip!). It was exactly the kind of simple, joyful fun that I love to see my kids have. You know when the event ends with red-faced, sweaty kids that it was most likely a success.

Danny also succeeded in focusing on the party itself, and not the presents, which was a tremendous relief. Up until today, gifts were his primary interest. And don't get me wrong, he couldn't wait to get home and tear into a few of them. But from the minute we arrived at the park to set up camp, he was off and running on the playground, enthusiastically greeting friends once they began to arrive and waving his stick (lance/sword/light saber) the entire time. Unless intent upon a serious moment of play, he had a smile on his face the entire afternoon, especially when everyone sang "Happy Birthday" before the cupcakes.

We didn't get too many notable pictures, but I know of at least a couple precious ones that Crystal took. Lucky me, she decided to bring her "big beast" and practice with a lens. I'll be sure to share them once I get my hands on them. Until then, I better start researching a picture of a knight that I can use for Danny's cake tomorrow. These kids and their pastry requests may be the death of me!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Can We Snuggle?

I'm sure many of you will agree that one of the more fun elements of parenthood is recalling the amusing things our children say. There are the repeat sayings that we're sure we'll always remember, but years later are sometimes merely a faint memory, like Clare's 15-month-old phrase of "No fine! No fine!" when things were most definitely not fine in her book. A mere year later I can barely recall how toddler Danny used to frequently express either distaste or frustration with something by proclaiming, "It's weird!"

We vow to write these things down. Sometimes we even do...but not as often as we'd like. So today, as we near Danny's fourth (!!) birthday, I want to be sure to jot down two of his recent sayings. The first was a one-off that took place over spring break, and I think has permanently settled itself into the family lexicon. As you can imagine, as the youngest of four grandchildren, and the only boy, Danny is occasionally the odd man out, or skunk at the picnic as my mother likes to say. I don't know what exactly transpired on this particular day to disturb Danny, and I'll never understand the timing. But I will (hopefully) always remember sitting at my parents' dining room table, having just enjoyed a delicious feast, when a previously-excused Danny approached us all and announced, very sorrowfully, "I'm a little bit sad, and I'm a little bit angry." The peals of laughter from every single one of us were surely not the response he was going for, so I still feel a little bit bad about that - but I'm grateful for this most useful phrase!

I'm also grateful for the numerous times of late that I hear Danny ask me, "Can we snuggle?" Danny is definitely our more cuddly kid, and I'm trying to absorb every moment of that before he's too big and cool to snuggle with his mom (and is mortified by my even mentioning how he used to love to do that). Okay, maybe I don't appreciate it every time he asks, as he's clever enough to use this as a ploy when I'm angry with him. No flies on him, either, because who can resist such an offer?

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Girl After My Own Heart

Considering his age, Danny spends a disproportionate amount of time worried about death: his own as well as others'. He likes the idea of God bringing people back to life, though I fear the Easter message has gotten a bit jumbled, as he seems under the impression that death isn't permanent. I have chosen to leave this particular topic alone for the time being, because I think three-going-on-four is too young to lay awake at nights worried about mortality.

I was reminded today, though, that heaven could be a very appealing concept for him. After attending the precious First Grade Mass today, wherein the first graders proudly led the school in the service (and Clare did an outstanding job on her reading portion), I was in the hallway outside of the first grade classrooms when I noticed the above piece of art. Clare's musings on heaven were predictably pious and sweet, and I especially loved her use of the word "glorious," but my favorite line was sandwiched between the joy of being with Jesus and the angels and saints: "I think in heaven you can eat whatever you want!" This is exactly how I picture heaven, too! (With the added bonus of never having to go to the bathroom. Think about how great that would be!) I think I got this impression from the terrific movie "Defending Your Life," but I know Clare hasn't seen that, so perhaps it's just a case of the apple not falling far from the tree.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Fine Bromance

Amy snapped this cute picture of Danny and Parker at soccer practice the other night. Friendship at this age is such a sweet thing to observe, because it's so honest and sincere. They are the best of buddies, unless they're arguing over the same toy - but even then transgressions are quickly forgotten. Sweet Parker even started to cry when Amy dropped us off at the airport for spring break!

We opted to take the boys to the zoo yesterday, both to capitalize on a gorgeous day as well as the fleeting freedom of them not being in school every day. They fit right in!

Monday, April 12, 2010

'Everything's Better with Katy and Nicki'

That pretty much sums up our spring break this year. Given her propensity to be a pleaser, Clare generally goes with the flow and makes the best of a situation. This time around, however, Clare was audibly sad about leaving her cousins and California. She even told me that she wished we lived in San Jose - this from the girl who has told me in the past that she never wants to move, not even out of our house. She informed me that the four of them had decided they would all live together in the same house when they're older. I suspect Danny will get booted from this pact sooner than the rest, but for now it's cute.

We did do a lot of fun things with the girls (Sara included, of course). A rainy Monday delayed our Legoland plans, so we hit Chuck E. Cheese with Jen, Kelsey and Colleen (where I failed to take any pictures). The kids had a blast, and happily I did not emerge with a headache, so it was a win-win. Tuesday was absolutely gorgeous, so apparently everyone in the surrounding area decided it was the right day for Legoland, as the traffic was positively atrocious. The lines for rides were long, too, but Clare and Danny were still pretty darn happy to be there. I fear Katy and Nicki have outgrown the park, but they were pleasant troopers.

There was no doubt that knight-obsessed Danny would have a great time, and when we found "The Royal Joust" ride he was nearly overcome with excitement. He also requested the photo op with the giant knight statue. In fact, I may have to frame this picture and put it in his room, as often as he has asked to see it.

The entire ride experience reminded me that while Clare and I don't share a lot of physical similarities, she is definitely my child. She did not want any part of the roller coasters (even when Danny braved the Dragon Coaster with his cousins and Aunt Sara) or spinning rides. She was happy as a clam on the tame rides, which is exactly what I was like at her age. Life really does come full circle.

The day after Legoland we flew up to San Jose to spend a few days at "Katy and Nicki's house." We visited the Children's Discovery Museum and had a picnic in a terrific park. We celebrated Sara's birthday, and I went for a couple of runs in their gorgeous neighborhood. But mostly the kids just played, off by themselves, which is why I took so few pictures! Judging by Clare's despondence, though, you can imagine how much fun they had.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter 2010

A hectic spring break travel schedule has prevented me from being the punctual blogger I strive to be, but sometimes I just need to relax, right? Now that I'm home and attempting to re-acclimate to EDT, I'll try to catch up.

We had a West Coast Easter this year, celebrating at Grammy and Grampy's along with Aunt Sara and the beloved Katy and Nicki (unfortunately Uncle John had to attend his great-uncle's funeral in Montana). We had the usual Easter finery, baskets and the like, but as usual the real excitement was simply spending time together. And laughing at things Danny said, such as his delight over "lamb on a stick," which was really a sumptuous rack of lamb which Grampy prepared.

The day before Easter, while we were anxiously awaiting the cousins' arrival, Tim and I took the kids over to the beach. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we reveled in the sand. The water was still a bit too chilly for swimming, but Tim and Clare still managed to do a bit of wave hunting. Danny gave the ocean a fairly wide berth but was very focused on assisting Tim with the construction of the sand castle and its moat.

More to come on spring break, but one last note about Grammy and Grampy's house: Early spring is the perfect time for oranges, and they have a bountiful grove on their property. So each morning we were all treated to freshly squeezed oranges from the sweetest oranges I have ever tasted (and you should have smelled the orange blossoms!). And who did the squeezing? None other than Clare, who has since requested that we get a juicer. I had to explain that it's a bit pointless without the phenomenal oranges to go with it...