Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Girl Scouts

Tonight I'm out to dinner with Luke because Alyce is with Mom at Girl Scouts! Yes that's right my little girl is a Girl Scout well just a Daisy.

Tonight's meeting is being held at our house thus the need for Luke and I to vacate to McDonald's. Alyce was so excited she was bouncing off of the walls. I think most importantly she wanted to show off her room to her friends.

The troop seems well run and every mother has a small sliver of responsibility from hosting to presenting.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Soccer Practice

Alyce enjoying a snack with her team after soccer practice.

I wouldn't say her team is good. But they are having fun.


Last week we took the kids to Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey Circus. Our friends Josh and Tammy invited us to go with their kids Gideon and Sylvie.

At first I wasn't too excited to go. But with tickets at $12 a seat I relented. The seats were pretty good and the circus was entertaining. Luke spent most of the time in my lap with his hands over his ears. It was kind of loud and he's sensitive. Luckily he didn't freak out and burst into tears like he had done earlier this year at a baseball game.

Fall Festival

Yesterday was the fall festival at Alyce's school. It was a fund raising event and by the looks of it pretty successful. It was also the first time the kids got to wear their Halloween costumes.

This year Luke is Captain America and Alyce is a purple mermaid.

At the event there was a Trunk or Treat. People decorated their vans and the kids hit everyone for candy like they were houses. It was neat and fast.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Alyce's first day of kindergarten! And it couldn't have come soon enough! Mom and I weren't in a big hurry to see her out of the house. But both she and her brother have been bouncing off the walls for the last few days in anticipation of the big day. Now that the day has come and gone we hope that life can return to normal.

Alyce is in afternoon kindergarten along with every other child in the neighborhood. A few events last week we met some of Alyce's classmates and their parents. I think about a third of the families in attendance live in our neighborhood. One girl, Ellie, lives three houses away. We've met her and her parents before but haven't had much reason to carry on a conversation let alone become friends. We are hoping now that the kids ride the bus together and get off at the same spot we will become closer.

I stayed home from work today. I couldn't miss such a big event in my children's lives especially since I have a dearth of vacation days saved up. The morning was pretty much like any other. Mom got the kids up and fed and then fed again earlier than normal because they'll be in class during their normal lunch time. Once dressed up in their 1st day of school finest we brought them outside for the required 1st day photos. Timings being what they are Alyce can't ride the bus to school except for Fridays when Luke doesn't have preschool. We have to drop Luke off first and then hightail it over to Alyce's school to get her in on time.

We didn't get to walk Alyce to her room. We just brought her outside and waited for the buses to show up with her classmates. Many parents put their kids on the bus and then drove to school to record the experience and to make sure they got there ok. If we didn't have to drop Luke off I think we would have done the same thing. Once everyone was accounted for it was time to say goodbye. Except things happened so quickly we didn't get the heartfelt goodbye we hoped for. We had given her about a million hugs before then so she didn't seem to notice not getting one more. And then they marched in. Mom and I turned and walked to the car holding back a few tears. I was sad to see her go but happy that she was taking such a big step.

Later that afternoon when she got off the bus she was as happy as can be. She and Luke even played with Ellie and her sister while we and Ellie's mom chatted for a while. Mission accomplished. We asked Alyce how her first day of school was and she said some pretty generic stuff like she had fun, she liked her teacher, and enjoyed the bus ride. The big item of note was that they search for some buried treasure of tootsie rolls.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eye Muscle Surgery

There is some news out of left field; Alyce is having another eye muscle surgery for her Strabismus. Last week Mom took Alyce to the eye doc for her annual checkup. During the visit the doc stated Alyce's eyes needed another adjustment. We noticed her eyes drifting a bit before the visit so we weren't too surprised by the statement.
The schedule was booked so tight that Alyce would have to wait until mid September for her procedure. In order to get it done before school started we elected to be put on the Cancel List. The Cancel List is a waiting list for those who will step in when the the scheduled procedure cannot be done due to complications, fever, or some other factor.

We figured we'd get in roughly August when the list had exhausted itself. Well the list must have been really short because we got the call yesterday and Alyce is in surgery today!

Mom spent yesterday getting Alyce ready. Watching videos about the outpatient experience provided by Children's Hospital. I spent an hour talking to her at bed time allaying her fears. Throw in some dinner, ice cream at Culvers, a new set of Legos, and Alyce seemed ready to go.

This morning she was in great spirits. Playing video games on the computer and with Legos. Even at the hospital she seemed unimpressed with the events that were transpiring. I think she was more interested in watching Blue's Clues than going into surgery.

Alyce is out of surgery, recovery, and was just wheeled back into her room. Talking to the surgeon all went well. They only needed to operate on the inner muscle of her left eye. Worse than the surgery Alyce can't go swimming for the next week unless she wears goggles. I'm thinking we will just keep her out of the water altogether.

Once she's woken up completely and manages to drink something and keep it down we can head home. Now that Alyce has made her way through she said to us "this is not fun".

The white thing over her eyes is just a wet washcloth and not bandages. Other than the pool Alyce can go right back to her normal routine. We're not too sure about day care tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Six Flags

What spring and summer would be complete without season passes to Six Flags? One of the nicest perks we have living where we do is making quick trips to Six Flags. 5 minutes down the road and you are parking your car. A few minutes after that you are in the park.

We ride the same rides every time we go. The kids don't mind. I think they prefer the routine. One bonus on going late in the evening is that all the other children have gone home. Leaving our kids with the run of the place. So much that the Bugs Bunny Airplane ride didn't have anyone in line providing Alyce and Luke the opportunity to fly their own planes.  Upon taking off Alyce went straight up to the top. Luke well it took him most of the right to figure out that he had to pull back hard on the stick to go up. He managed to get off "the ground" but never got all the way up.  No worries though he enjoyed himself.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Strawberry Picking

Two weekends ago we with some neighbors went to go pick strawberries. It was supposed to be a neighborhood event but at the last minute most people cancelled. While their cancellation was regrettable the other family (Cris and Cory) that joined us is our favorite family in the neighborhood.

The Eckert's farm is a fully working farm. I'm sure they make a lot of money out of growing food the conventional large farm way. However, they've also perfected the small farm experience. During the year they have all manner of crops available for people to come and pick their own; strawberries, peaches, apples, and pumpkins to name a few. To get to the fields you take a tractor ride which pretty much made Alyce's day. On top of picking as much as you want you can also eat as many berries as you want while out in the field. A first I was a bit skeptical but looking at the vastness of the fields there are more berries going bad on the vine in a day than they'd lose from people eating their fill.

Picking the strawberries wasn't easy work. It was really hot and dry out in the fields. Alyce withered first. After 10 minutes she said she was ready to go. I don't think she was too hot, I think she wanted to get back to the farm house where a bounce house was setup. Mom and I picked over a flat of strawberries. However we made it back to the farm house with a single flat. The reason for that is another story.

I really enjoyed picking strawberries with my family. I think it is one of those unique family events that can turn into a tradition. I'm not sure the kids got as much out of it as I did but stuff like this has a way coming back around when you least expect it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Alyce's Dance Outfit

Alyce picked up her costume for her upcoming dance recital. Her dance this year is to Rockin' Robin. Half of the girls in her class are wearing pink and the other half is wearing pink. Alyce happily is wearing pink. It's not purple like last year but it's still pretty cool.

End of the Year Party

At the end of Alyce's school year the district put on a little carnival for the kids. It was a fairly simple affair in that there were just games and artsy things to do but no rides.  Alyce and Luke went to all the different stations and played all the games. They also took a few turns in a bounce house. Balloon animals being made were also a big hit; Alyce with a unicorn and Luke a horse.

After the games we took a trip down the hall to the art area and each kid made a picture. The crafts provided were plates full of paint and circle stamps. By dipping the stamps into the paint and then onto the page you could make pictures out of circles. Luke's picture was pretty random. Alyce's was a very happy caterpillar.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Father Daughter Baseball

Last night Alyce and I had a father daughter moment. We played baseball together. I guess it wasn't really baseball as we were just throwing the ball to each other and swinging at it with the bat. I did get to show Alyce how to hold a bat and the path the bat is supposed to take when swinging. Surprisingly Alyce bats left handed and throws right. Between my poor pitching and her mediocre swings we didn't have a lot of success driving the ball over the fence but we did have fun. Alyce did knock a ball pretty good; right into my head. The ball and bat were so squishy I barely felt anything. Luke was out with us but wasn't interested in swinging the bat. However, he sure wanted to throw the ball around. Mom gave him one of his own but on occasion he'd steal the ball from us.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Flowers

Alyce picked these beautiful flowers for Mom.

I don't have it in my heart to tell her it's a weed.

Lost 2nd Tooth

Alyce lost her second tooth last week! Unfortunately we don't have any evidence; Alyce swallowed it. It had been loose for days but still too attached to pull it out. During breakfast one morning it was gone.

Naturally Alyce was saddened by this. I think she was afraid the Tooth Fairy wouldn't come. Mom had a good idea about this predicament. She suggested that
Alyce write a letter to the Tooth Fairy and leave that under her pillow instead.

One picture later we were in the clear. I thought her picture of the Tooth Fairy was great. However we can't pull it out until both she and Luke are older. It's currently on my wall at work.

Monday, April 2, 2012

No Longer Needs Night Lights

This is old news but Alyce no longer needs night lights. However she still needs a night light. Confused? It used to be that Alyce needed three night lights to go to sleep. Two plugged into the wall and a Cinderella night light in her bed.

Starting in January she no longer wanted one of the wall ones but kept Cinderella and the other. A few weeks after that she said that Cinderella was too bright and that she didn't want her on. We couldn't have been happier. Cinderella liked to tear through batteries. The only light remaining is an LED light we gave her for Christmas. At its lowest setting is provides pale pink light for the room. Enough light to find the door in the minefield that is her room but not enough to keep her up.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Parents As Teachers Balloons

A few weeks ago we had a visit from our Parents As Teachers person. I've discussed them in length in other posts. Alyce has graduated from that program now that she is in preschool and and soon to be kindergarten. That doesn't mean she doesn't have anything to offer our big girl.

The visit with her about Luke went just fine. Luke seems to be progressing just about right for his age. We don't have any concerns about him. She gave Mom some ideas on how to help with some motor control skills. Skills such as hitting something with a racket or bat or throwing and catching a ball.

For the former she set us up with two balloons on strings. The kids are supposed to use either their hands or a racket to keep the balloons aloft. They've been a huge hit. So big a hit that they were taking up room in our living room for a few weeks. After a while the tape holding them gave way and we disposed of them while the kids weren't watching. For the later she gave Mom instructions to create yarn balls for the kids. They are pretty simple affairs. The balls are easy to catch and easy to throw. Since they are made out of yarn they don't do any damage if thrown in the house.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Last Saturday we took to the kids to the St. Patrick's Day Parade. This is our third year attending and probably the best weather we've ever had. The kids are big enough now that they could walk from the parking lot to the parade route; a trek of about 6 or 7 city blocks.

Our friends Ted and Molly carve out a little section of the parade route to create our own little party zone. Even though attendance was greater than expected we had plenty of room to move, cook, and converse. The kids took up location on the curb to get the occasional bit of candy or string of beads that would come our way. 
About halfway through the parade a group of bigger boys joined our group. They were welcome guests of Ted and Molly's but still they succeeded in pushing our kids out of the way a bit. Alyce seemed a bit disappointed in the additional competition for the goodies but she had enough and didn't need anymore junk cluttering up our house.

Luke seemed to be enjoying himself. He spent some time sitting in our laps and on the curb. He got a few pieces of candy but didn't compete for much of anything else. Rather than fighting for the scraps Luke attacked the main course the snack table. On multiple occasions he pulled me over to the table and pointed at crackers, pretzels, or cookies for consumption.

As the parade was winding down some weather was moving in. We decided to pack it in to avoid walking in the rain. The kids again traveled to the car without any fuss. Their maturity was awesome.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Well Behaved Kids

Today we took Alyce and Luke to the movies. We saw The Gruffalo. A short movie based on a book of the same name.

We also went with a lot of neighbors from the neighborhood with their kids. All the kids behaved fairly well. About as good as you would expect 5 year olds to behave. But Alyce and Luke both are perfect. They didn't get up, make noise, Or need to be disciplined. In almost any situation in public our kids are the best behaved.

I have no idea why they are so good. We don't raise them very strictly or let them get away with everything. Maybe being in the middle plus them being predisposed to be good is all we need. In any case I was real proud of them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Painting Helper

Luke is approaching 3 and because of that we are getting his big boy room ready. The first step in doing that is to get his room painted.

When I paint a room I like to do it by myself. I find the methodical quiet work very relaxing. When painting Alyce's room we hadn't moved in and I had the house to myself. For weeks now Alyce has been asking to help paint. Mom and I's response of "it's a Daddy job" has been falling on deaf ears.

This weekend I finally tackled his room and Alyce was ready to help. I started off cutting in the ceiling with Alyce sitting in the room with me. She was sitting under the desk because she didn't want to get paint on her head. What kind of messy painter does she think I am? As I neared the floor she started asking if she could help. I didn't have it in me to tell her no. I set up a drop cloth, gave a brief lesson, and let Alyce loose on the receptacles. I held her hand for the first one and needed to clean up her work when she was finished. But in all she did a pretty decent job. There was one paint splatter on the drop cloth from when she forgot to scrape the excess off her brush. Later on while Alyce was in quiet time I pulled her out to finish the last baseboard in the room. I wanted her to have one final chance behind a brush.
Alyce seemed pretty pleased with herself. I liked the bonding time. Even though I was kind of dreading painting with her in the room it turned out better than expected. The hard part in parenting is knowing what your kids are ready for. I didn't think Alyce had it in her. It turns out she did and then some.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Birthday Bowling

For my birthday, way back in December, we went bowling. I thought it would be a fun way to spend the day before New Year's. We picked up a good deal at the local Brunswick where for $60 6 people got two hours of bowling, shoe rental, a pizza, and unlimited soda. We thought we'd invite Gideon and his dad to join us to make 6. We also invited them so Gideon's Mom would have the house to herself and Sylvie so she could clean for the New Year's Eve party they were hosting later that night.

To make the bowling experience as fun as we could we had bumpers setup in the lane. The bumpers keep all of the balls in the lane and out of the gutter where balls usually go when kids are bowling. Josh being an old pro at this also brought over a bowling ball ramp. This ramp will allow the kids to put the balls up high enough that the ball has some decent speed when it hits the pins. The increased speed keeps the action up and the kids interested.

Even with all of that Luke's interest waned about 3/4s the way through the first game. Both he and Gideon thought the circular ball racks would be more fun than bowling. We made Luke finish his game and after that one of us bowled in his place. He didn't seem to mind. Luke was also a big fan of the ball return. So much so that he wanted to stick his hands down the hole. We had to explain to him a few times that it would be really bad if he left his hand where it was. Luckily he did figure it out without having any pain inflicted. Normally he has to learn the hard way.

Alyce did well. We thought it was going to be just normal bowling but instead it was Cosmic Bowling. Cosmic Bowling is when they turn off all the lights except for black lights and other special effects. Add in some music and you have a party; if you're a teenager. We thought Alyce with her delicate sensibilities would freak out with the instant darkness and noise but she handled it like a champ. Even last year while on vacation she was very fragile when her environment changed. Since then she has been able to handle that stuff a lot better. It's amazing how things change and so quickly.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Little Miss Modesty

Yesterday like every other day I brought Alyce over to Grams and Papa's house after dance class. We stop by to pick up Luke and to change Alyce out of her leotard. Most nights Alyce changes her clothes in the living room in front of god and everyone. Tonight was not one of those nights. When I got Alyce's clothes out she whispers in my ear that she wants to change in private. I have no idea why she wanted to do that. I guess she is developing some modesty. She didn't have any trouble changing in front of me so I guess her modesty only extends outside of the immediate family. While in the bathroom Alyce said she wanted to change in there from now on. It'll be interesting to see if her modesty is there next week. It's probably time she develops some modesty.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Registered for Kindergarten

This week we registered Alyce for kindergarten. Yet another step out of the nest. Alyce is pretty excited about it too. I think she would be ok if she just started going today.

We had the option if sending her to a full day of class but the school district doesn't pay for that. So she'll just have half a day every day. By state law they can't teach the full day kids anymore than the half day so we aren't missing much.

When she starts she'll be at yet another school. Her fourth one in four years. Alyce will also get to ride the bus! Sadly with scheduling the way it is we think we will have to drop her off at school because Luke's preschool starts 10 minutes after Alyce's.

It's pretty cool she's going to be going to school 5 days a week. At the same point I'm kind of sad that she's growing up.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Counting to 28

Mom got an update about Alyce when picking her up from school today. Apparently Alyce can count to 28 now. I'm not sure what constitutes being able to count to 28.  Do you get from 1 - 28 with 0 errors or are you allowed to miss a few? The reason I'm wondering is because we have been working with Alyce to count to 20. She does really good, however, she misses 13 every time!  Even if we make her say the word thirteen and then go eleven, twelve, <pause> we are greeted with a very unsure "fourteen".

But if the teacher said she counted to 28 then the school thinks she counted to 28 and for right now that is good enough for us. I figure she'll get 13 correct before it becomes issue.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lego Friends

Alyce has picked up a new interest, Legos. She's built with them since Duplos but has now taken a serious interest in them. We've put a few of my sets together and even though the instructions were tough she managed them well.
Today we picked her up her own set of Legos. It's from a new line that Lego put out expressly for girls called Lego "Friends". Gone are the blocky mini figures and here are cute little girls with names like Stephanie and Mia. Also a lot of the blocks are more girl friendly colors like pink, purple, and fuchsia. The sets are also girl friendly too.

Some people are up in arms about the whole thing. Saying that Lego is pandering. People vote with their credit card and from what the shelves looked like today the general public likes them.

Alyce had been asking for these since seeing the flyer in the mail. She's also taken to building things in her room during quiet time. The aspect we like the most is that Alyce is staying in her room playing in the morning rather than waking us up!

As we were walking out to the car Alyce said "thanks Mom" and gave her a hug. Putting the set together at Grams and Papas house was a lot of fun. Alyce assembled just about everything herself. I only helped locate the parts and checked to see if she missed a step.
Mom and I went out to see a movie. When we got back Alyce was playing with her new toys and even now an hour later she's still going at it. I'm playing with her some. We took turns being first place in the dog show. Her dog is called White Polka Dot and mine is called Graham Cracker.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Our families health this winter has been less than optimal. Even before winter we were all sick for Thanksgiving. Leading up the Christmas Alyce had her bout of pneumonia. Now that we've crossed into 2012 the trend hasn't changed.

Alyce had a checkup for her pneumonia a little over a week after her diagnosis. We were happy to find out that it had cleared up however she had picked up an ear infection in the mean time. So Alyce was prescribed yet another set of antibiotics for her ears. About a week into those antibiotics Alyce got sick again and we thought it was her ear infection flaring up a bit. It turns out it was some form of viral infection. Knock on wood but she seems to have cleared out of most of that.

Luke on the other hand picked up a bug from school. This was a lot like Alyce's flu that led to her pneumonia a month prior. There was a low grade fever and he was in a nasty mood. His appetite was gone except for liquids and yogurt. We are guessing that he had a sore throat too. He came down on a Thursday night and for the next 4 days there wasn't much improvement. The worst part about Luke being sick is that he is extremely clingy. From the moment he'd wake and for the next few hours the only words out of his mouth were mommy and juice. Hearing someone say mommy 100+ times gets annoying. On the 5th day right about when we were going to call the doctor his fever broke. That was this last Tuesday and we were left wondering what to do. His mood has improved some and his eating is slowly returning to normal. We've decided to let him recuperate on his own and avoid yet another trip to the doctors office.

Right as Luke was showing signs of improvement Mom came down with the same thing. Most like obtained from Luke and his countless coughs without covering his mouth. She's still working past her symptoms but is on the mend.

I've picked up their cold and it seems to show as a sore throat. Isn't too terrible but it seems to be sticking around for a while without moving to other parts of my body. I'd say I have had the easiest run of them all. I'm sure my turn is coming soon.

I'm hoping there isn't much left out there in the way of influenza this year. I'm getting tired of paying for school only to have our kids stay home sick. Even if the rest of the winter is healthy I'm sure we have the exact same thing to look forward to next year. It's becoming an annual tradition to miss a month of school.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sled While You Can

For Christmas the kids got a sled from Santa. With all the hills in our neighborhood it would be a crime to miss a chance to sled down them if we didn't have a sled.  As luck would have it two days after Christmas we got our first and only snow (so far) of the season. The snow however would be short lived. The snow fell during the night and by the time the sun had come up it was already melting away. To take advantage of the situation I drug myself out of bed, got dressed, and took Alyce out into the snow.  With maybe an inch of wet snow on the ground we took to sledding down the hill behind our house. The melting snow made a mess of the ground under our feet. We were lucky to keep our balance otherwise we would have come out muddy.

Alyce took a few turns on the sled with me holding onto the rope directing her. Next I let her go down the hill on her own. She wasn't too keen on that but for a 10' drop on a hill my assistance wasn't needed. We had fun kidding around too. At one point Alyce said "hey dad let's have a race up the hill", turns and runs up the hill, a few steps into it she starts running and yells "go!".

As our time wound down we walked back to the house. Alyce asked if we could have a snowball fight. So for the next few minutes I showed Alyce how to make some good snowballs and we tossed them at each other. A good time was had by all.

An hour or so after we went inside the snow was no more. Hopefully we'll get a chance to use the sled again before the winter is over.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Computer User

A while ago Alyce started using the computer. Using in its loosest sense I guess. I'm not sure when it started but Mom turned her onto the Disney Junior website. On the site there are lots of games for kids to play. They aren't too complicated and don't require reading harder than knowing your ABCs. After a few days playing Alyce has gotten pretty good at some of them.

Her skill in games isn't what caught my attention it was how quickly she learned to use the mouse. When she started, moving the mouse was a two handed affair, and pressing the mouse button would move the cursor off of where she wanted it to be. In two short weeks she advanced to using the mouse one handed and using the correct buttons with the correct fingers. She learned all of this stuff on her own. Pretty neat.

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