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Friday, August 26, 2011

Vacation day 3 through 9

Okay, back to vacation before I forget what we did. Here’s my long, rambling account of days 3 through 9… if you’re still interested (if you’re not it’s okay, I’m just writing this down so I remember).

We left Oma’s house bright and early and got into Cincinnati (which I still cannot spell correctly without looking it up) in mid afternoon on the third day; I think it was around 4 pm. The people we visited here are cousins of The Man – a brother and two sisters and their respective wives and children. We pulled up just as one of the sisters was leaving for the airport to go back home (in another state), so we only saw her and her family for about five minutes. We were at the brother’s house and the other sister was staying there – between them they had 5 or 6 kids there. Little Man was thrilled to have kids to play with, and immediately went to run around and get sweaty and tired in their huge backyard.

This was our first serious encounter with fireflies (of course Little Man had to go chase them!), and our first visit to Graeter’s – an ice cream shop that has been in Cincinnati since 1870, and is easily some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. If you ever go to Ohio, do yourself a favor and stop here. Seriously. I had the black raspberry chip flavor (their oldest signature flavor), and… oh my. I don’t think my taste buds have ever been so happy. Silky cream, rich, slightly tart raspberry flavor and huge chunks of high-quality semi-sweet dark chocolate. Now I want some more.

We spent the night there, and had a wonderful time. The Man and his cousin broke out the guitars and jammed for a while, and I got to relax (and not be in the car!), and Little Man wore himself out and fell asleep early (well, not normal early… just early for vacation).

The next morning was the 4th of July, which of course means there was a mid-afternoon barbecue we had to attend… in Warren. Five and a half hours away. So we had to leave Cincinnati at some unmentionable hour before dawn. I picked Little Man up and carried him to the car. I don’t remember much of the drive… I probably fell asleep several times. Luckily I didn’t have to drive!

We made it just in time to go visit and eat barbecue, I met a couple dozen of The Man’s family members, and the party was lovely… except that right when we were about to eat (outside, of course) the clouds that had been threatening all afternoon finally opened up. So we ran inside and ate in the house. Most of this part of the family doesn't have young kids anymore... but there was a 4 wheeler to ride!

No, I didn't let him drive it himself! He just happened to be sitting on it by himself when I took the picture. I made the "adults" drive.

That night we watched a fireworks display in town, but we didn’t have to go far – we just set up chairs in someone’s front yard a few blocks away from the house where we were staying. I forgot to bring my phone with me, so I didn’t get any pictures of the fireworks, but they were pretty cool – although I’m not sure which Little Man enjoyed more, the fireworks or playing with the horde of kids sitting on the lawn with us. Their parents were nice enough to share their sparklers and snappers with us, since we didn’t bring any (way to think ahead, mom).

Tuesday night we went to Pittsburgh, and Little Man got to go to his first baseball game with the boys. I stayed at the house where we were spending the night and took a long nap on the couch.

The next day, we spent the day doing touristy things in Pittsburgh. We went to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History,

where Little Man dug for dinosaur bones, and we rode up the incline. And down the incline.

And I just got close enough to the window for a few seconds to take this picture. Yikes!

But the view from the top of the incline was incredible.

Look! It's Pittsburgh!

While we were in the shopping center at the bottom of the incline, the boys were excited to find a map of the stadium they had gone to the night before to see the baseball game.
Thursday and Friday we spent at a camp on Lake Erie in Ashtabula, OH. We didn’t camp, there was an RV with running water and A/C, but we were out away from the city, on the lake.

Those tiny critters out there are Little Man and his new little buddy playing on the swing set in front of the camp.

The weather was amazing… 80’s during the day, mid-50’s to low 60’s at night, and it only rained once in the middle of the night. Thursday afternoon we went fishing on the lake. Little Man caught his first fish on his new Spiderman fishing pole, and I caught my first bout of seasickness. In case you didn’t know, I’m not a fan of nausea. But I had a blast anyway! It was fun to ride the boat (when it was moving) on that huge lake, and it was fun to watch Little Man enjoy the ride and the water and catching fish. Of course, I didn't take that picture with my own phone... so you'll just have to imagine him holding up a small perch on the end of a Spider Man fishing pole and grinning from ear to ear. It was cute, I promise.

We made a few trips during the week into Amish country, where we went to the cheese factory and bought fresh cheese, and rainbow popcorn (I had to, it was so cool!), and the best peaches I’ve ever tasted. We bought two dozen peaches, but by the time we got home I wished we’d gotten a bushel.

We left OH at the crack of dawn on Saturday (notice a trend?), and went back down to the other side of TN to see my brother and sister-in-law - Little Man’s godparents. I have to stop there because our evening in Knoxville needs its very own entry.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kindergarten is off to a rocky start

Last night's activity before dinner was writing a page full of lines:

"I will not touch anybody."

I've already gotten an email from his teacher. *sigh*

It is funny, and difficult, and entertaining, and utterly maddening to have a child you know to be brilliant, and charming, and good-natured, and loving, but who is also a hard-headed, rambunctious BOY (Wild Thing). All the teachers/caregivers he has had tell me the same thing: He's really smart, but his behavior needs work.

Believe me, we're working on it.

I worry that he'll miss out on all the things that amazing brain of his can do if he gets branded as a problem. That teachers won't see the kid who tells great stories and remembers EVERYTHING, but the kid who talks too much and can't keep his hands to himself.

I'm sure he'll always be a Wild Thing to some extent... but I'm hoping some day (soon!) we'll figure out how to help him channel all that energy. TKD certainly helps, but it's not enough.

Meanwhile, he looks so cute in his uniform!

(I promise my next post will be the rest of our vacation - before I forget what we did!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thoughts from Little Man

"Hey... that cloud looks like a dinosaur. There's his head, tail, and arms. It's gonna blow away and be dinosaur bones."

"When I grow up (holding arms far apart vertically so I can see how much bigger he'll be), I won't be old enough to be a dad, because I'll still be a kid."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Had a DUH moment

Okay, so I have alot of those.

Background - I like forms (if you're not tkd-savvy, it's a series of moves we have to memorize in order, sort of like a simulated fight with no opponent). I spent the better part of my childhood in dance lessons, and learning a routine and learning a form is pretty similar. So I enjoy it.

Weapons and sparring, not so much.

My weapons hit the floor alot, and sometimes my face. My sparring matches aren't much better - even lower ranks beat me every time. I don't like either one very much, I just do them because I have to if I want to keep learning forms and promoting. They're like an afterthought in my martial arts training.

That right there is the problem. All of my at-home practice is working on my form. I practice it because I like it, when I really should be spending most of my extra practice time on the things I don't like because I'm not good at them.

I'll only get better if I train, and if I never train in the things I'm not good at because it's not fun (it doesn't feel good, it's frustrating, it's embarrassing), I'll never be better than I am now. Self-improvement doesn't happen if you avoid doing the hard, uncomfortable things.


Yep. I get it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Beginning of the School Year

Last Saturday, we went to get Little Man all his supplies for kindergarten. He went with me and sat in the buggy and collected all of his new, neatly packaged treasures, naming off each one as I checked it off the list. As soon as we got home, he wanted to take them all out and put them in his new backpack (the bright green and gray one we picked out first, even though he wanted the rolling, black and red Spiderman backpack that cost 2.5 times (!!!) more).

Sunday morning he came out with his loaded backpack on his back, carrying his lunch box. I'll have to remind him for a whole week that he doesn't start "big boy school" till next Monday.

I'm glad he has that excitement. I remember that feeling, how fun it was to open up new school supplies, start fresh notes with clean, crisp notebooks and new pens, meet new teachers, pick a new seat in the classroom, and learn new things. I hope that he always loves school as much as I did.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Conversation with Little Man

This one is from a few weeks ago, after the third day in a row that he got in trouble for hitting another kid at school:

Me: "What do you think?"
Little Man: "I don't know why I keep being a bully when I want to be good."
Me: "I think it's because you lose your temper and forget what you should do and hit because you're so frustrated that you can't control yourself."
Little Man: "Mom, I think you're exactly right."

I wonder how many more years I get to be "exactly right"....