Thursday, June 30, 2011

First Ocean

Woah. Big.
Last weekend we took a trip to Virginia Beach to visit my sister-in-law and her kids and then stopped in Richmond to see my aunt and uncle. It was a nice trip and the boys, aside from Cal coughing so hard he threw up one time, were amazing little travelers. It is always so fun to introduce the boys to new things, but especially really cool, important things. Like say, the ocean. They saw the ocean for the first time last weekend. It must be amazing to look at that for the first time. I remember the first time I saw the Atlantic Ocean was when I was 18. And I hadn’t seen the Pacific Ocean that many times either. The beach there in downtown Virginia Beach was the very same spot I first looked at the Atlantic Ocean too. 

The boys have a Baby Einstein video about water, which includes some shots of the ocean, but as was evident from a trip to a farm a few months ago, they had very little idea of what the ocean is. We were walking on a path in between two fenced off areas where there was a big puddle that also took up some of one of the pastures. Cal pointed and excitedly said, “Ocean!”

Last Saturday, as we left the stroller by the boardwalk and started hiking across the expanse of sand toward the beach, the boys were terrified. Though they like sand, they hated it on their feet. They didn’t want anything to do with the water, even though their older cousin was frolicking with abandon in the waves and Brian and I were wading. We had to carry them there and then they begged to go back and look for ceiling fans they believed to be in a building we had walked by on the way. We directed their attention at everything individually- the seagulls and the boats, the kids, the sand, etc. 

Eventually they started liking the sand. They threw it up in the air and got it in their hair, their eyes, each other’s hair and eyes. Made for a messy bathtub when we got back, but I was glad they finally warmed up to the giant awesomeness that is Ocean. Enjoy my first-ever blog photo story.
This is so not cool. What do I do?

Help me, Dad!

Why are you doing this to us?

We don't care, Mom.


Daddy hugs make it a little better.

Go see ceiling fans!
Oh! A bird!

A boat!

So this is like sandbox sand?

Sandals off = huge progress

I like this sand, Cal!

Upside-down sand

Flying sand!


Happy boy A

Happy boy B

I love the ocean!
First ocean day brother hug!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

White Person!

The boys have created some moments of racial awkwardness of late. Since I can’t drive, we do a lot of walking, which naturally involves a lot of crosswalk action on the part of us and our stroller. Of course I taught the boys to look for the walk sign, which is, as you know, a white stick figure. When they see the orange hand change to the walk sign they yell, “White person! White person!” in recklessly loud and repetitive shrieks, alerting me to the fact that I need to kick the stroller into gear. In some cases, however, it alerts me to the fact that I have two very white boys pointing and yelling, “white person!” when there are people who are not white people walking toward us or behind us or with us. This is when I say loudly, “YEP. GOOD JOB! THAT’S THE WHITE LIGHT. THE WHITE PERSON LIGHT THAT MEANS WALK," as I avoid eye contact with our fellow pedestrians.

on Capitol Hill in search of white person lights
 A good example is from our trip into DC the other day. We were on Capitol Hill and making our way to the metro stop. We were nearing an intersection, but it was actually still not very close to us, and they starting yelling about the light. "White person!" I saw that we were almost to pass a couple black girls eating on a bench. What was I supposed to do? I just grimaced inside and kept trucking, trying to flash a wry smile that says, “Please, please look at what they’re talking about so you don’t think these boys are trying to put a spell on you.” Fortunately they didn’t even really look at us as we passed.

Cal and Ava

Then there are the less-embarrassing moments when the subjects don't know they’re being racially profiled by the boys, but they actually are. Cal has a girlfriend, yes that’s right he does. Her name is Ava and she is a twin with Ethan. They live close and come over often. They are half Vietnamese and half Filipino and here is a picture of them kissing. Anytime they see a girl with a dark complexion they point and start chanting, “Ava! Ava!”at the same time. Also, it doesn’t have to be little girl. The other day on the train they were calling an Indian 20-somethings girl Ava. My first mommy friend I met when I started staying home with the boys is Korean. Anytime we see a woman or girl who looks Asian they start yelling, “Angela!”

Anyway, you get the idea.

The boys are also ageists. Anyone, male or female, who looks older than me is “Mamama!” their great grandmother. When that person overhears what the boys are calling him or her, I just pretend that “Mamama” is the boys’ grandmother rather than their very, very old great grandmother.

In a similar but much, much more delightful manner, the boys are making creative comparisons that are warming my poetic heart. I will always remember Cal’s first metaphor. It was on an airplane on the way back from Idaho this spring. He looked out at the clouds below us and said, “Clouds are pillows!” I melted. The other day, while eating chicken nuggets and French fries (Operation Beef Up Cal, fast food edition), Clark said that his French fry was a “horsey!” Cal, not to be outdone in the creative food interpretations department, held his nugget up to the light and said, “like a bear!”

This is all part of the way the boys are learning about their world, and even though it’s awkward and sometimes makes me blush, it’s interesting and entertaining. I’m guessing the uncomfortable “white person” habit won’t end anytime soon, and I’m sure for a long time they will also group people of different ages and races into categories and call them names of people they know. Maybe it won’t be too long before they stop yelling it aloud and start only thinking it. I definitely hope that seeing the world in figurative ways never ends! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reston-y Weekendness

I have an idea of who some people are who read this blog, and a lot of them are not local, but I know that some are and that I typically get a lot of page views when I post even though I don’t get many comments on the blog itself. So, for you unlocals, you can disregard this short posting about Reston-ish things going on this weekend.

Taste of Reston is going on at Town Center. It already started this afternoon and goes on through Sunday. There’s a little carnival and tons of booths with food and drinks. I noticed this morning that there is a little train ride and carousal at the carnival that we might take the boys to later.

A friend recommended this site for a great calendar of area events by the day, so check it out.

Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum is having a family fun day that looks cool.

Let me know if there are other Reston-y things going on this weekend that I should know about!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Guitar

Just a note about a particularly cute exchange that happened on our balcony picnic today…

I was having the boys use leftover cake plates from their cowboy birthday party. On the plates is the drawing of, among other things, a guitar. So, as we sit there, the boys munching on their PB & Js and me on my salad, Clark says, “Hold it, guitar,” while he tries to grab the illustrated guitar on his plate.
I say, “Clarky, silly, you can’t hold the guitar. It’s only a picture of a guitar.” Clark looks at me and says, “Mommy hold guitar.” I laugh. Then he says, “Calvin hold guitar.” I reiterate something about the guitar being pretend. “Balcony hold guitar! Rocking horse hold guitar!” (Their rocking horse was sitting out on our balcony for the picnic) and finally, “Trees hold guitar!”  I’m laughing and smiling and paying all the attention in the world to Beautiful and Funny Clark, when Cal pipes up matter-of-factly, as if telling me something everyone else already knows, “The guitar flies.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beefing With Chicken

Yesterday we saw the doctor. Clark got his chin stitches out and both boys had their 2 year-old checkups. Turns out that Cal has lost weight since he was at the doctor a couple months ago, so we were given some advice on how to get him to eat in the form of anecdotes, several print-outs, and a bottle of something that is called chocolate medical food. My two-cents? The words chocolate and food have no business being so close to the word medical. It makes me want to throw up cookie chunks into a bedpan not drink it.
Operation Beef Up Cal in full swing..ironically with chicken
After the appointment we quickly formed Operation Beef Up Calvin and went to Chick Fil A for some nuggets and fries. Those are a couple of the things that the boys will rarely ever turn down.  I’d say the trip was a success. They ate a lot, sucked milk through straws with a 90% success rate while only occasionally looking like old men, and played in and around the playground without getting stuck in it or scared by it more times than they were amused by it.
Following closely on the heels of the Chick Fil A experience was a leisure family walk to town center for some ice cream. The boys discovered a tiny fountain we didn’t know existed while we tried to feed them ice cream, so it actually took awhile for them to eat in between splashing and nearly flopping into the fountain face-first in front of all the adoring dogs people watching them.
The fact remains that we need to work harder to get Cal to eat. The list I got from the doctor suggests stuffing foods with sour cream and peanut butter and things like that…which doesn’t seem like it would work at all for Cal, but I’ll try it. My brilliant friend Gen clued me in to serving the boys V8 Fusion since they will hardly eat any vegetables or fruits lately. They seem to really like that, and that’s another way to add calories and a daily vegetable serving. Last year at this time the boys would eat any fruit I gave them and they wouldn’t want anything else. Now all they want is the bread or cheese and nothing fresh. I’m looking for other ways to beef Cal up, but also to get them both to like to eat fruits and vegetables again.  For good measure I’ve also started a bread-baking experiment in order to provide better bread for the boys (and the Huzz and me). The loaves I made today turned out better than the ones I made last week by far. Last week after Cal tried a piece of the bread he made a face and said, “Different bread, Mommy.” This week I didn’t use as much whole wheat flour so it’s more like bread, less like a carpet square, so things are looking up in that department. Also, the house smells amazing.

Moral of the story: I’d love some advice on getting picky kids to eat healthy things. And I’ll also give some advice as I keep trying. Now excuse me while I go cover dinner in peanut butter and sour cream make a totally normal dinnertime meal.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Two Paths Diverged in Green Suburbs

I know each child is unique, but the boys are really showing of their differences lately.

Clark watches his shot while Cal squats at his ball
Clark has an attention span for things that interest him that is simply amazing. I’ve written before about his knack for hitting a baseball with a bat. Well, that was only the beginning, as it turns out. He also likes to hit golf balls and fake hockey pucks into the net…for hours on end. He has such attention and focus on hitting whichever ball it is, that it is actually a little unnerving. (Should I be focusing more attentively on things like dishes and laundry in order to be a better person?)
He doesn’t expect to be waited on. When we go outside, he wants an adult to pitch a ball to him, but he also immediately runs to get the ball after he hits it or after it gets past him, and throws it back to the pitcher.
When we were at the driving range the other day (because that is such a normal place to take a 2 year-old, I know), he was getting help occasionally from me or Uncle Ken, or Brian, with putting his ball on the tee, but if we didn’t do it right away, he would painstakingly take the time to set it there himself. Over and over again, until he got it right and the ball was balanced on the tee. He would then straighten up and smack it and start the whole process over again.
Cal is much different. He likes to pretend to do things like vacuum with baseball bats and sweep with hockey sticks. While at the driving range, Cal, like most toddlers I can only assume, enjoys playing in the gravel and the dirt, touching and talking about any errant golf carts, pointing out the flags, throwing the balls in the opposite direction and toward people, etc. When given a club and ball, he prefers to squat down and slap at it with his stick, while using only one hand.  Sometimes he’ll do it for a couple hits in a row, but, usually something else captures his attention and he is off to pursue it.

With hockey, Clark methodically sets up the little goal in the living room, arranges the ball in front of it, but not too close to it, and situates himself and his stick in the perfect spot. By that time, however, Cal has grabbed the goal and started pushing it across the room as a vacuum, which elicits screeches of frustration from Clark.
Clark's chin stitches
Of course, the boys share plenty of similarities as well, one of which is bed-jumping. This hobby gave Clark his first four stitches earlier this week.

We're anxious to find something that captures Cal’s attention as much as hitting something round with something long and stick-like captures Clark’s attention. Maybe he will revolutionize the vacuum industry.

Whatever happens, I'm sure the paths that diverged in green suburbs will stay close and intersect in many places down the line.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Zoo Gravel is the Best Gravel of All the Gravel

One of the few non-gravel moments
We took a trip to the Reston Zoo this morning with Best Friend Nick. Kids are supposed to like animals, right? Naturally curious about them, interested in seeing them, touching (some of) them, feeding them, etc. Here we go again with my boys and over-the-top obsessions. Gravel! There is gravel and even dirt all over the zoo! At least this trip Cal didn’t eat goose poop, but still. Kangaroos, farm animals, zebras, ostriches, camels, snakes…No. Gravel. Dirt. Throw it, push it, drop it, kick it. About the only interest they showed in animals was when Cal asked to get in the cage with the python and when Clark touched the baby goat. 
Gigantic bovine creature in your face? No big deal. Rocks please.
No, of course I didn’t let Cal get in the python cage! Why would you think that? Oh, and the fake rhinoceros. They did enjoy riding it.

The Reston Zoo is a great place and I encourage any local parents to take kids there…unless they’re obsessed with gravel. Also, if you want something to do this weekend, the Herndon Festival is going on with lots of activities and music and rides and food. I think we’ll take the boys to check it out. If I see gravel though, I am out. We will go to a place with the opposite of gravel. What is that? A pool? Bouncy toys? Pudding?

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