Funny Summer Memories

Last week, we were driving somewhere and it was dark.  I don’t even remember where we were going but we really don’t leave the house much after dark so it made Casey comment about all the pretty lights.  She wanted to know if there were pretty lights all over the world like this.  I told her there aren’t this many streetlights all over the world…places like where Grammie & Grampie live in Maine don’t have many lights.

This developed into a conversation about the fact that there aren’t many houses by Grammie & Grampie’s house because the two buildings on either side of their house are not houses.  One is my dad’s extra garage.  It used to be a fire station and it is still fire station red.  Jack wanted to know why there were desks and chairs in the upstairs of the fire station and I told him that it used to be a school house before that.  They were kind of fascinated by that for a minute or two and then backtracked a little bit.
Jack said, “There was a fire station when we went to that nut party.”  What?  Nut party?  I had no idea what he was talking about but I hoped I hadn’t missed out on a fun-sounding party.  A nut party and a fire station?  After I composed myself I asked him what he was talking about.  “You know, that one at the school where we used peanuts and then we got to pick out prizes at the end?”  
Ohhh.  It made sense to me at that point.  It was called the Peanut Fair and it is part of the International Festival when we visit Maine in the summers.  We pay a couple dollars for a bag of peanuts and the kids go around and pay a peanut for each game they want to play.  After they play the game they get a coin or two and at the end they “buy” prizes with their coins.  It’s a pretty fun time for the kids.  
And yet there is no fire station near across the street from the elementary school where the Peanut Fair was held.  There is a big garage across the street that kind of looks like a fire station.  And that just makes me marvel at Jack’s memory.  The fact that he remembered some random building in Maine that looked like a fire station to him and then brought it up six months later.
And because I didn’t post any pictures of the peanut fair this summer, I might as well do it now.

Lego City

I may have mentioned that we have a few Legos lying around the house (here).  Christmas added a few items to the collection and I was getting tired of all the houses, spaceships, starfighters, ninjas and pizza shops sitting on the built-in bookshelves.  It added a cluttered feel to the living room.  When they were all lined up neatly it didn’t look too bad, but when I moved them all off the shelf during Christmas decorating I realized how much better it looks without them.

I decided that the kids needed a Lego table.  They were setting up cities in the middle of the living room floor and it was getting dangerous to walk into the living room in bare feet.  I’ve probably already invested more time thinking about, planning and executing my Lego storage solutions than most people but I did some more internet research and thinking about the best way to make a Lego table.

All my plans revolved around some surface onto which I could glue a bunch of Lego base boards.  I have an extra coffee table but I decided that wasn’t big enough.  I thought about buying an unfinished table top at Lowe’s and gluing the boards on that.  It could be shoved under Jack’s bed to move it out of the way or it could just be placed on top of an existing table.  I looked into buying a used (bigger) coffee table on Craigs List.  I thought about gluing boards onto their train table too.  I searched Pinterest for “lego table” and saw all kinds of cute solutions.

I thought about all this for a good week.  Then the Legos all over the living room got to me one day and I tentatively asked, “Do you guys want to turn your train table into a Lego table instead?”  It was an enthusiastic response from both of them and we got to work.  Actually, I got to work and they got to playing.

The train table is upstairs in our playroom and it’s not really used all that often as a playroom.  I was somewhat afraid that if I put all the Legos up there, they wouldn’t play with them.  But I reminded myself that we could always move them back downstairs if that was the case.  Nothing was permanent.

The best part about this train table is that we bought it for $25 off Craigs List 2 1/2 years ago and that’s a bargain for a train table that’s held up as well as it has.  Now that it is living it’s second life as a Lego table it makes it even more of a bargain.  I think Pat is no longer cursing me for sending him 30 minutes away to the “country” to buy it.

The original owners of the train table told us that train table had two sides to the top surface but that the one with roads, water and land was a little beat up.  We’ve had it on the plain green side since we’ve owned it.  We decided to flip the boards back over and the kids immediately arranged their buildings and space centers and cars within their new city.

It’s been almost two weeks since we created our own Lego City up their and the kids have loved playing up there.  Of course it requires that I spend a little more time up there too but that’s actually been good for our laundry since the laundry room is beside the playroom.  I fold and they do city things.

Oh, and it turns out it’s totally not necessary to glue any Lego base boards down onto the table.  Their bigger sets already come with bases and they enjoy just having a flat surface on which to drive the their cars.

There is also a big bookshelf in the playroom and it has more than enough storage for the sets that are rotating out of “city” duty, the Star Wars Legos that occasionally attack the city, their extra blocks and instructions.

So, here are some pictures…

Minutes after I put all these boxes back on the shelf the kids had pulled them out to create something else.  I looked around the room that night and said, “Wow, this place is a disaster.  We need to clean it up.”  Jack said, “No it’s not…it’s the Lego room!  It’s supposed to be like this.”

They are both really happy up there.  Jack continues to amaze me with how well he can follow the directions to put things together and his creativity in designing his own structures.  Today he created his own castle complete with a drawbridge.  Sometimes Jack likes to brag a little bit about how great he is at following the directions and how he can put anything together, but I put him in his place by reminding him that I am the only one who can put that X-wing back together when it falls apart again after 3 seconds of play.  😉

Casey is also starting to create her own structures and a few days ago she put something together all by herself by following the directions.  I was very impressed.

Hopefully the newness doesn’t wear off anytime soon, but I think this playroom will get a lot of use for the last few months that we have left in this house before our next move.  (It has a future life as a man-cave for Pat, but that is years down the road when we return.)
 

Christmas Day 2011

Once again, I woke first on Christmas morning.  I was pretty thankful that Jack and Casey weren’t up at the crazy hour of 4:45am like they were the weekend before in Ocean City.  They woke up around 6:45.  After that it was pure torture for Jack to wait for Daddy to check and see if Santa came and for Auntie and Wally to show up even though it was only a few minutes.  In the days preceding Christmas he kept asking if Daddy really needed to make sure Santa came…couldn’t he just go downstairs and see everything himself?

Jack’s big present from Santa was a rod hockey game and Casey’s was a princess castle.  They both loved these gifts and if you ask them what their favorite present is, they’ll say hockey game and castle.  These gifts were both Daddy Santa’s ideas and then there were several other gifts that Mommy Santa procured.  I probably put a little too much thought into all these gifts, but I like to get something that they want, something they’ve never even thought about but that I’m sure they’ll like and a game.

Casey spent the morning playing with her princess castle, dressing her paper dolls from Auntie Mary, playing the flute, pushing her babies around in her new double stroller from Auntie Jenn and watching me build her Lego bus and pizza place from Grampie & Grammie.  She dressed in her new grey polka dot tutu skirt and a pretty princess shirt.

Jack challenged anyone and everyone to a game of rod hockey while wearing his prison-suit-orange Flyers sweatsuit and his Flyers jersey.  He set Pat to work building his Lego jet plane and later his Lego Space Shuttle Launching Station from Grampie & Grammie.  He also spent a lot of time with his Action Agent Spy Train and Battleship.  Auntie got him some Legos from Cars 2 and Jack intently put all those together himself.  (Yes, the house is being taken over by Legos.)

I kind of just wanted to sit and play with the toys, or at least just sit, all afternoon, but Jenn and I got to work preparing our Christmas feast – pancetta wrapped beef tenderloin, delmonico potatoes, green beans and honey glazed carrots.  It was all delicious but whatever I make next year is going to be super simple so I can just sit and relax on Christmas day.  Oh and I tried a cranberry cream pie that was a big failure…most likely due to my attempt to substitute some flavored jello for a packet of plain gelatin.  It tasted all right but it never set and was more of a cranberry cream soup.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas shopping was helping the kids pick out gifts for each other.  Casey got Jack a Boba Fett helmet (Star Wars character) and a Lightning McQueen color changer.  Jack got Casey her very own nerf gun and some Hello Kitty Legos.  Just before bedtime, there was an intense Star Wars battle throughout the house.  Casey was Princess Leia which she mentioned YELLED a few dozen times.  Jack was Boba Fett and Daddy and Auntie were taking aim at anyone that moved with their nerf guns.  It was a good way to work off the pie (and the dinner)!

It was really a great Christmas.  The kids were both really excited and they still like and play with everything they received.  Plus, it was awesome to have both my parents and my sister and her fiancee here to watch it all unfold.

We also got this great family picture and somehow even Tugger is looking at the camera and smiling!

     

The Christmas Play

Everyone else in blog land is talking about their new year’s goals and resolutions but since I’m a slacker and haven’t written much here since before Christmas, I’m going to back up a little bit and write about Christmas.  Maybe I’ll get to writing down some of my goals for 2012 on another post.

One of my favorite parts about Christmas and what I was most excited about was the Christmas play in which Jack and Casey sang.  Practice started for this play during the last few weeks of summer vacation.  It was called drama camp and a couple mornings a week, I dropped the kids off at church for 2 hours.  I didn’t realize at first that I could just drop them off so it was an unexpected, very pleasant surprise when I realized I had a couple hours to myself.  I think I spent them all at Walmart though, preparing for the hurricane.

Starting in November there were practices between the masses on Sunday mornings and practices on Wednesday nights and then some big ones on a couple of Saturday mornings.  At first I didn’t understand the play.  It wasn’t the traditional Christmas story that I expected.  It was about a group of kids practicing for their Christmas play and they were a little rebellious and didn’t want to play the traditional roles of shepherds, sheep and snowflakes.  (Although I didn’t realize there were a lot of snowflakes in the Christmas story.)  They all wanted to be Christmas presents.  Eventually it gets sorted out and the true gift of Christmas is all the children and people.

As I watched all these practices and saw the play coming together, I really started to like it.  It was a very cute play and all the kids worked so hard.  Even when Jack and Casey were sick for the beginning of December, they still practiced singing their song.  By the end of all these practices, they knew all of the parts of the play.  They can sing (and still do even weeks after) all of the other parts.  There were days when the songs were stuck in my head all day.

So, the play was at 3:30pm on Christmas Eve before the 4pm mass.  My main goal was to get there early enough to get a good seat to see the kids perform.  Last year, we got to church at 3:15 for the 4pm mass and were seated in the lobby so I knew it had to be earlier than that.  I talked to the music director and she suggested being there by 2:45 to get parking even though the kids didn’t need to get there until 3 for practice.  So we got there at 2:40…the parking lot was pretty empty and we got second row seats.

And then I endured wise-cracks, jokes, and sarcastic comments galore about how early we were at church, mostly from my husband.  I expected it, especially after we were early for a light show the previous weekend, and I didn’t care because I just wanted a  good seat to see my kids sing their hearts out in the Christmas show!

The play was really great and the kids were so good and I was so proud of them.  Jack sang and did all his choreography and didn’t even look too afraid.  And Casey was a ham every time she saw us watching her or taking pictures.  Hearing the whole church full of people clapping for them was really nice.  They all got a great round of applause for delivering a beautiful Christmas play.

Walking around bit before the show

Watching the other group sing and getting ready for their part

Jack in the show

Snowflake Casey

Not a great picture but I love the expression I captured on Casey as she was being a ham!

Casey’s Christmas hair bling

Casey pretending to be asleep while they placed a bow on her to turn her into a present.