Monday, June 27, 2011

Reading! My God, He's Growing Up!

My goal for each day runs contrary to Collin's goal for every day this summer vacation. I start every day with a list in my head of at least a dozen fun activities that we can do, things that will keep us running and busy, from sun up until sun down, so he's happy, and more importantly, busy. He starts every day with a question. This question:

"Can we watch a little t.v.?"

When the day comes to a close and we (read: me) managed to find enough fun things to do so that we didn't actually have time to turn on the darn thing, I tuck him in and he says:

"That was a fun day, but I sure wish we had time to watch some t.v." Sometimes, he adds, "Maybe, tomorrow we'll have time for know, t.v."

Can't win, can you? Tide pools. Art projects. Parks. Parks. Parks and more parks. Museums. Beaches. Hikes. A thousand and one activities. If only I'd turned on Dora the Explorer, his life would've been more complete.

Anyway, we are also working pretty hard on having "school" every day so he doesn't lose everything he gained over this last academic year. Because I've got the time, I have been spending a lot of time with him practicing his handwriting and working on math, and even moving ahead with reading.

I sometimes "trick" him into doing work. He's onto me pretty quickly for the most part. This is the boy practicing math and counting in groups of ten. We were using dry beans and bowls.

For reading, to my great delight, and not so much surprise (because I knew he was a genius--aren't they all?), he was ready for reading. I suspected it but was hesitant because I didn't want to bang my head against the wall, and because I was intimidated to try teaching such a big concept to a boy as stubborn as Collin. But, he seems to be picking it right up. I was so proud when he read his first story that I almost cried. I swear, I could listen to that crummy story a thousand times in a row to hear his sweet little voice sound out those words.

I think I clapped louder and made more of a fuss over it then when he made his first poop in the potty. This leads me to question: which is a more valuable skill in society? Toilet training or literacy?

It's fun to watch his eyes light up when he realizes he "gets" it. He really loves some of the games I've found for him that reinforce his sounds and supplement the reading program that I am using. He's really, really good at them.

First step: learning to read. Next step: president.

And I don't care what he says, it's a good day when you become literate, regardless of how much television you watch.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What's Been Going On

Since I got out of school, it's been a bit like bliss. Collin and I have been finding time to play every single spare moment and we are finding adventure in every day.

Now that he is out of school too, he's discovered that Mommy isn't letting him off the hook and he's stuck doing summer work in the morning. He's gotten used to it and has embraced the idea of "new" workbooks and his "new" marker board that he practices his math and letters on. He's doing awesome at it and the electric pencil sharpener helps. It's amazing how anything that is "just like at real school" helps. If only he'd stop thinking that eleventeen was a number.

When Daddy comes home, I try to keep the honey-do list to a reasonable length so that he can just enjoy being with his family, since he doesn't get to be with us all that often. But, every so often, he does have to work, just a little.

Who can help it, if it's fun to work with the boy?

Recently, when Daddy was home Collin had to show him how much better he was at riding all of his various outdoor toys, including his bike. He was so proud.

 I'm waiting to see, as he grows up, if every time he's concentrating, his tongue hangs out like that. It's so stinking cute.

The next few times he goes to karate, I'll have to take some pictures because I don't think I've ever seen him so excited and so focused. That tongue pretty much hangs out the whole time, like a thirsty labrador. And he's doing really well. He remembered some pretty long moves last time when the kids were sparring. It's kind of fun to watch.

And, Daddy comes home again in a few days to go on...wait for it...vacation! We are going on a short trip and I'm so excited. What a fun summer vacation already!

Why I'm Not Speaking to Bryon

It's painfully obvious to everyone that our time left in California is finite. I mean, come on, Bryon's already left, right? And, he expects us to join him in D.C. Dumb old, cold sometimes, snows sometimes, not California, D.C. Ugh.

I have until December or January. Stupid assignments always messing things up. I wouldn't have our life any other way, truthfully. I like moving. I like change. I like the adventure. All that, blah, blah....

But, I also like spending my morning like this.

And this.

And this.

Maybe if I convince Bryon that I need to do my Ph.D. at Stanford and it must be done now, I can con another five years here out of him.

Of course, we would have to sell our adorable child to afford a place like that. But, I think we'd find takers. I mean, you've seen him, right? The VA won't pay forever, you know?

I could study the possibilities for what this thing is. From a distance (you look like my friend--hee hee) I thought it was a large chunk of vertebrae that had been really battered.

Up close, it seems to be some sort of boat part. But, what?

The whoosie-whatsit? That thing that does the flibbity-jibbit? Yes, of course. Anyway, I poked it. With my hand, once I saw that it had a flat metal-appearing fitting and realized it was probably mechanical and not organic; but then I thought, "what if I'm wrong?" and I got grossed out.

Anyway, thoughts on what it is? I'm talking to you Bryon and Gramps.

Our tally for a morning at the beach was about forty dragon flies, four lizards (which Collin informed me would be six if we saw only two more), and this rock, which we had to bring home.

Collin carried it up a precipice-laden, extremely steep hill, which I felt was dangerous because of the slippage risk and the impalement danger of him carrying a sharp object against his chest. When I brought this risk up to him, he said:

"Mommy, I won't impale myself, it will only stab a little. I won't get blood. I promise." Okay. Hard to argue. And, he didn't. He also made it all the way up the hill with a rock that was much too heavy for him to carry that far, and all the way to the car before hoisting it into the front seat and saying, "here, this is for you now." Thanks buddy. I always wanted a shapeless, ugly, grey rock.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day! Now, Look Out!

All is as it should be today. Collin was with his Daddy.

...And, Daddy tried to kill him.

I thought to myself, "Oh how cute. I never take videos of them just playing and rough-housing." Apparently, I should've been serving as a spotter.

Not to worry, Daddy did, in fact, catch him before he smashed his head too hard on the coffee table and the only casualty was a picture frame. Everyone is fine. He didn't even cry, just a little "hey, what the heck just happened?"and all was settled with a big squeeze.

Well, except for the question of who is a better rough-houser? Obviously it's me, since I have never flung our child across the room.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Do You Think He'll Remember This?

Star Tours officially opened last week at Disneyland. It's been closed for quite a while for renovations. Before that, Collin was too short to ride. He measured himself at the little stick outside pretty regularly, to make sure that when it did re-open, he'd be allowed on. When he officially reached 40-inches, and was allowed on Space Mountain, he knew he'd be allowed on Star Tours, and didn't quite understand why it had to be closed still when he was now allowed to ride.

Being the Star Wars family that we are, we simply had to head to Disneyland the official opening day, right? I had planned on getting there early to try to at least avoid some crowd. Well, we didn't get there until 11 am. The line was 3 hours when we got there. 3 hours. 3 hours! We decided not to wait. I felt terrible. He was a little disappointed but got over it pretty quickly and we passed a lovely afternoon at the rest of the park.

On our way back through that area to exercise our fast pass option to hop onto Space Mountain, I noticed the line looked distinctly shorter than it did that morning and asked a worker who told me that it was indeed only 1.5 hours. So, I made the executive decision to hop into line and we started our long wait. It moved relatively quickly and my boy was so patient. By the time we got to the lobby, he was so excited to see the spaceships on the wall and hear the music playing that he could literally, barely breathe. He was panting. It was a sight to see. I wish I had videoed it. It was worth the wait just to have that memory.

I asked someone in line to take this picture of us by the sign so we'd be able to say that yeah, we were there on opening day. It's not great, but whatever. It was dark in there and it's on the phone with no flash on.

And, then there's this. These are the greatest 3D glasses ever, I think.

When we got to the front of the line, they decided to re-measure the boy, which had me a little ready to fight. I didn't say anything, but my heart-rate went through the roof. After our one experience where they turned him away from Space Mountain at the last minute, I'm always on edge when they measure him. I was afraid I'd just waited 1.5 hours, plus over a year of this kid getting excited, for him to be turned away. I was ready to get Walt Disney out of cryogenic freeze to remedy the situation. He's 40-inches in stocking feet, and I wasn't about to let someone in a polyester vest and a plastered smile tell him no. They didn't.

He had a blast. He says it's his favorite ride now. He immediately wanted to ride again. He said it would be okay if we even had to wait in the long line again. I said no, especially since when we got out, it was up to 3 hours again. Seriously. But, I did get him a t-shirt that said he rode the ride on opening day. That kid is so spoiled sometimes. After that, he wanted a t-shirt that said he rode EVERY ride. He didn't quite understand the t-shirt thing, I think.

The best part of the line though, may have been seeing a woman nurse her pre-school aged child. The kid was about three inches shorter than Collin, so I'm pretty sure he'd have gotten turned away at the front of the line, but he was certainly at least 3 1/2 or maybe even older. It was bizarre to say the least. Maybe in third world countries, maybe in extreme cases, maybe?? The kid was so big, it was an obvious physical strain for her to support him while she did it. His legs wrapped all the way around her back. Imagine picking up your large child and putting him to your breast now, in a standing position, and how you would support him. This is what it looked like. And oh, he did not easily fit under that wrap. It was very, very, very weird. I almost never care what other people do with their kids but that just struck me as totally weird. I saw them a little earlier getting into the Space Mountain line too. Apparently, they think their kid is old enough to ride Space Mountain but not old enough to stop nursing. Huh?

Life is Good

I've come to the conclusion that if the worst thing I do as a parent is let my kid watch inappropriate movies, I'm not doing so bad. He's well-adjusted, happy and healthy. He's a good boy, save for urinating on other children at school, (it only happened once!) and for the occasional boy behavior. He's also the sweetest, most gentle creature on the planet. So, I think we are doing well. I'm okay with him watching crap, especially since he doesn't watch much of anything in total.

Anyway, he watched Lord of the Rings with us, in marathon fashion the last time Daddy was home. If I had to watch Toy Story one more time, I was going to kill myself. And truth be told, he is so much more into knights and swords and what I like to call "cool" stuff anyway. If you call it cool, it's not nerdy, right? Wahoo for me. He got a little bored with the talking parts, but boy did he like the fighting parts. He is looking around every corner for Orcs and the big watching eye of Sauron. Apparently, nothing will ever scare my child. Besides, they look sweet don't they?

Oh, and another failing of my parenting perhaps? This. Let's just say I encouraged this Or, at the very least, I didn't stop it.

At least I'm a healthy cook. This is butternut squash that is meant for our homemade macaroni and cheese. Collin didn't like it. He ate it; but, he didn't like it. On a regular basis, I still hear, "Kari is a better cook than you. Why don't you make dinner like her?" Kids.

Anyway, I'm still reveling in the joy of relaxing and in getting to actually enjoy time with Daddy when he comes home, instead of just waving hello and locking myself away for the 48 hours he's home so that I can study. Life is so good when there's less stress.

And now that there's a break, I'm reading and studying the area's of medieval literature that are of the most interest to me, instead of just the stuff that I had to read. You didn't realize that even medieval literature was broken into itty bitty categories did you? Well, it is. But, now that I'm done with all my core work, I can actually just do what I WANT. It's like playtime! I even watched First Knight again last night, which I haven't seen for years and I was actually sad halfway through because I realized I only had halfway to go. Now, of course, that isn't really studying, but it just reminds me how much I love what I'm doing. That movie is based "loosely" on Chretien De Troye's version of Lancelot, which I'm in the throes of right now and it's an amazing story. If I could do THIS every day for the rest of my life, I'd be happy until the day I died. Bryon and I are even talking about going to England next year when I graduate and taking Collin on his first overseas adventure. I can't wait. New furniture can wait another few years. I hate our stuff so much that it makes me cringe sometimes, but the Bodleain library and castles await.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kiss My A

Hey, Dr. Let's just call you "x" to protect your dignity, remember when you said that I would never make it? Remember when you said I would never survive the semester, let alone get a thesis done next semester? Remember when you flat out told me to quit? Remember that conversation? I do. I remember it vividly because I thought you were perhaps the worst student advisor in the history of the world and you made me cry. It was also the moment that you made me realize that this was actually what I wanted because you tried to take it away. Thanks for being terrible. I wouldn't have known what I truly wanted without you.

As for how I did this semester, I simply must tell you: Suck it.

Let me get back to work on my prospectus now because it is due shortly and I have more proving you wrong to do. And not just proving you wrong, but really, really wrong. Never underestimate me again.

Just had to put it out there. After this semester of unexpected surgery, a kid at the hospital, a stolen wallet and countless other bad days, I deserved to crow a little over a hard earned 4.0.