Friday, December 31, 2010

Ethan's First Trip to the ER

So Ethan has now taken his maiden voyage to the Children's Hospital Emergency Room.  He is four months younger than Caleb was for his first visit, but I'm actually surprised that it has taken Ethan this long since he is MUCH more of a daredevil than his brother.  Well, on to the story...

About 14 hours after we got home from Florida, on the afternoon of December 23rd, Nanna and Papa arrived for their Christmas visit.  Shortly after they got to our house, Ethan was playing in the play room with Nanna while Daddy, Papa, Caleb and Mommy were upstairs.  According to Nanna, Ethan suddenly decided to take a leap from the top of the playroom steps into the playroom (something he has never been permitted to do, but since when do two-year-olds obey all of the rules?).  Nanna said that he hit the ground left foot slightly ahead of his right, and that his left leg immediately buckled under him. Initially, he cried a little bit, but was easily calmed down.  He resumed crying anytime he tried putting weight on the foot, so he compensated by crawling and dragging himself around the play room for about thirty minutes.  After observing him for a while and Marcus examining his foot, all the adults agreed that an X-ray would be a good idea.  Marcus and Ethan headed off to Children's hospital while the rest of us went ahead with our dinner plans.

Since I didn't get to be there for the ER visit, this part of the story is second-hand, but I have no doubt that Marcus will correct any errors I make :)  They arrived and were admitted quickly to an exam room.  Apparently, children in the ER over Christmas week get the royal treatment, because, during the 2-3 hours they were there, Ethan received a bunch of stickers, an adorable new teddy bear, a really cute Christmas book and a lot of playing and tickling.  (Marcus said that he's pretty sure Ethan's infectious smile and eye contact won him more 'rewards' than the average patient.)  Whether due to the holidays or to his personality, Ethan had a great time from beginning to end.  He was very cooperative and still for the doctor and for the X-ray, and we were all very relieved to hear that there were no breaks or fractures anywhere in his foot.  He must have just pulled a muscle or bruised the bone.

It has been over a week now, and he is still limping, but the foot has improved a lot.  For the first three days, he wouldn't even walk without a dose of ibuprofin in him.  By the start of day four, he was putting weight on it without meds.  The ER had suggested that we follow-up with the pediatrician if Ethan was still limping in four days, so I took him in on Monday afternoon.  The pediatrician recommended no further X-rays as long as he was improving, and said that he had no concerns at this point since Ethan was walking on it without complaint (albeit, with a limp).  The only hard part the last couple of days has been trying to keep him from doing any further jumping until the foot is completely healed.  Ethan's feet have been spring-loaded since he could jump, so keeping him grounded has been no easy task.

The one funny thing about this foot injury has to do with the timing.  Since Ethan was limping everywhere we went the whole week of Christmas, Marcus ingeniously taught him to say "God bless us every one" whenever someone asked about his foot (just like Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol).  Ethan's childish enunciation of this phrase is perfect and the image of him limping around and delivering that line has been absolutely hilarious.

More about our Christmas with Nanna & Papa next time!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wagner Christmas

Our days with family in Melbourne, Florida were busy and full of fun.  A bunch of the family came over to hang out at Mimi's house that Friday night that we arrived.  Caleb and Ethan had a lot of fun running around and playing with their cousin Chase (who is one year older than Caleb).  Saturday morning, Marcus slept in as late as he could, and then headed off to the shooting range with his brother Mike.  The boys and I spent the morning at Mimi's house and then all three of us went down for early naps (thanks to the late night and travel the day before).  All four siblings (along with spouses and children), converged on Mike & Gigi's house around two Saturday afternoon to open presents and eat together.  

The kids were very excited about presents this year.  A couple of adult elves helped put all the presents in piles and then we let the kids take turns opening their presents.  All of the kids did a great job stopping after each present and thanking the giver with a hug and a kiss.  I was very happy to see their excitement and gratitude for each gift.  Our boys enjoyed a shower of Imaginext Batman toys as well as several new Lego sets.  They also each got a new bike (Caleb got the 18-inch bike I promised him at Thanksgiving and Ethan got Caleb's 14-inch bike.)  Aunt Traci and Aunt Gigi cooked the traditional Wagner holiday meal: ham omelet, sausage balls and several delicious desserts.  Around 6:00 pm, Mimi took Caleb and Chase, the oldest cousins, for a special treat: they went to see A Christmas Carol performed at a local theater.  Aunt Wendi and Joel also went to the play.  After Aunt Traci took Maddie home for bed, I followed suit and took Ethan back to Mimi's house and put him down.  The Daddies stayed up late at Mike's house, intending to play PS3, but Mike's game system was out of order, so they had to revert to the dark ages and just hang out and talk :)

Sunday morning was worship at Marcus's home church, and then lunch at Jason's Deli with the whole family.  After lunch, the four men (i.e. big boys) piled into one car and headed to Orlando to watch a movie together, while the ladies took the five kids to their various homes for nap time.  After naps, Mimi, the girls and the kids piled into the Mimi-mobile and Aunt Gigi's car and headed to Orlando to meet the guys at a very cool restaurant in downtown Disney called T-Rex.  Aunt Traci and Aunt Gigi were kind enough to get there before the rest of us and wait in line so our party of 14 could be seated shortly after arriving.  I was especially grateful for that, because it ended up taking us almost two hours to get there. (Thanks to a gas stop, an emergency potty stop for Caleb, a slight wrong turn, and a LOT of traffic.)  The kids loved the T-Rex experience, though, and we topped the evening off with some playing and browsing at the huge LegoLand right next to T-Rex.  In spite of the cold, all had a great time, and we had to drag the kids back to the car around 9:00 pm for the trip home.  I so hoped that the kids would fall asleep on the drive, but apparently being in their cousin's car seats and in their Mimi's van was just too stimulating, and they both stayed up the WHOLE way.

On Monday morning, Mimi, Marcus and I took Caleb and Ethan to the elementary school where Mimi works so they could ride their bikes and play in the park.  Aunt Traci, Uncle Josh and 18-month-old Maddie joined us there.  It had finally warmed up a little on Monday, so we all enjoyed some time outdoors before meeting the rest of the family at Makotos, everyone's favorite local Japanese restaurant.  By this point in the trip, I was at my wits end with occupying little boys at restaurants, so I was more than happy to accept Mimi's ever-ready iPhone entertainment :)  Monday night, Mimi volunteered to put our kids to bed so that Marcus, Wendi, Traci and I could go see the latest Narnia movie in the the theater.  Marcus had a Rave gift card from one of his bosses, so we splurged for the first time in our lives and bought popcorn and a soda at a movie.  It was very exciting :)  The movie was great, and we came home to two sleeping boys and one happy Mimi.  (It is pretty awesome when you get to come home from a date to a babysitter that was so happy to get to watch your kids that you feel like you did her a favor.)

Tuesday was our final day in Melbourne.  Uncle Mike & Aunt Gigi had to work and Aunt Wendi and Joel had already headed back to Birmingham, so the rest of us spent the morning at the Melbourne Zoo.  Marcus had to leave us for a job interview around noon (and accidentally took my car keys with him), so the rest of us had to do some creative car juggling to get everyone to Crispers for lunch time.  Aunt Traci saved the day by running around to get me a set of keys and then going back to the zoo for my car while Mimi and I manned the kids at Crispers.  After lunch, we all met over at Mike's so the kids could do their stocking scavenger hunt.  Mimi abbreviated the stocking hunt this year because a couple of the kiddos were sick and all them were tired.  Even with those cards stacked against them, the kids participated more than ever and thoroughly enjoyed the hunt (especially the boys).  After the stockings presents were claimed and opened, the Mommy's took the kids home for bedtime and the big boys finally enjoyed their night of video games.

We said our goodbyes, loaded up the car, and hit the road again on Wednesday.  We stopped in Gainesville for a park and dinner date with our good friends, Danny & Lauren Price (and their three kids).  We lingered with our friends longer than we probably should have, and ended up pulling in our driveway just before midnight central time (which was 1:00 am "body" time).

Thanks for a great week, Wagner Family!

Opening presents in Mike & Gigi's living room.  
 Mimi looking through her Christmas gift: a family photo book
The cousins having fun at the Melbourne Zoo.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Alligator Farm

After an activity-filled two weeks of traveling and celebrating Christmas with family, I will be playing catch-up on the blog for a little while :)

On Thursday, Dec 16, we piled into our packed-to-the-hilt SUV and started off for the Red Roof Inn in Valdosta, Georgia.  (During our five trips to Florida in the past two years, we have learned that breaking the trip down into two days makes it easier on all of us.)  We got to the hotel a little before eleven, transferred the sleeping kids, and enjoyed a pretty good night's sleep.  The good-sized king bedroom & bath were definitely not bad for the $42 we paid.  After a rather lame but still filling continental breakfast, we were back on the road before 10:00 am.  After hearing that most of the family wouldn't be off work until after 5:00ish that day, Marcus made a spur-of-the-moment decision to take I-10 toward St. Augustine for some sight-seeing instead of taking our usual route through Gainesville & Orlando.

We arrived in St. Augustine around 12:30 and parked near the Castillo De San Marcos so we could enjoy some strolling.  Cheap as always, we told the boys we would only pay to go inside one thing: either the castle or the Alligator Farm.  They chose the Alligator Farm, so we just walked around the castle and saw what we could see from the outside.  Then, we crossed the street and spent some time exploring historic St. Augustine, something that could have taken up the whole afternoon (especially if we hadn't had the kids along).  We ate lunch at a quaint little bar with a live guitarist for entertainment.

The kids were very good all the time we were eating and walking around, so we were happy to reward them with a trip to the nearby Alligator Farm.  Marcus and I had visited the alligator farm more than seven years earlier, but we were impressed by all the additions since then.  The place is more like a zoo now, in addition to being an alligator hatchery.  We saw all kinds of exotic and local birds, monkeys, a komodo dragon, as well as hundreds of alligators and crocodiles, including a couple of albinos and the farm's largest alligator, Maximo.  They have even added a mulched play area, which our kids throughly enjoyed after so many hours in the car.

The grand finale of the afternoon was watching the feeding of the big gators in the largest swamp area of the park.  We saw this seven years ago, and it was just as impressive this time as we remembered it being then.  More than 300 alligators crawling over each other in the water vying for handfuls of dead rats tossed out by zookeepers is really something to see.  When we were all alligatored-out, we piled back in the car and set off on the last 2-hour leg of our journey to Mimi's house.

More about our Christmas in Florida next time :)

The feeding of the big gators in the swamp.
The boys pretending to be eaten by a preserved alligator on display.
Ethan dropping food into the juvenile alligator habitat.
The boys enjoying the play area.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

On Sunday morning, Caleb and I headed out for a before-church run to Target while Daddy and Ethan held down the fort at home.  We got what we needed and pulled back in the garage just in time to pick Daddy and Ethan up for church.  Church ran a little long that day, and, after eating out, we didn't make it back home until around 2:00 pm.  Both boys fell asleep in the car, and we decided to carry them upstairs and let them nap since we knew they would have to be up later than usual that evening.   Marcus and I ended up hanging out upstairs until the boys woke up around 3:45 pm.  When Caleb woke up, he went straight downstairs for a drink.  Our conversation (still upstairs) was suddenly interrupted by Caleb's deeply chagrined voice wailing: "Mommy!!!  Daddy!!!!  The Christmas tree fell all the way down!!!!!!"  I looked at Marcus, whose face was registering a fast-flash of surprise, realization, and then mild panic.  We rushed downstairs to see that, sure enough, the Christmas tree was flat on its side in the living room.

Ethan, conspicuously absent from the rush downstairs, was the first questioned.  He explained with the nonchalance of a two-year-old that he pushed the tree over so he could reach the train ornament that he wanted at the top.  The next question was, when did all this happen?  Marcus filled us in on that by sheepishly admitting that he had heard a crash downstairs while Caleb and I were at Target, but he thought it was just Ethan playing with his toys and had not investigated it.  So, our once-beautiful Christmas tree laid on its side in the living room for about seven hours before the tragedy was discovered.  And, naturally, I had watered the tree just before leaving for Target, so the laminate wood floors in our living room were flooded for half the day.

After five water-soaked towels, four broken ornaments, three dustpans full of tree needles, two whining kids and one hour of effort, the mess was cleaned up enough that we could go back to our preparations for the babysitter and the Christmas banquet we were attending that evening.  We did our best to restore the tree to its former glory on Monday and Tuesday by restringing some lights, rehanging ornaments and doing lots of fluffing, but I'm afraid it is a lost cause.  Caleb was so sad on Sunday night.  He told the babysitter everything that happened and explained sadly that "our tree used to be so beautiful."  All in all, I'm just really, really glad that Ethan didn't get hurt, and that the floors do not seem to have any noticeable damage from the water.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Giving Season

Last year, Caleb made Christmas cards for his friends at church by cutting pictures of toys out of magazines and gluing them into the cards.  This year, I wasn't thinking about that and ended up throwing out all the toy magazines after we bought the bunk beds.  Caleb remembered making the cards and he wanted to do something for his friends again this year.  When he brought it up, we had just purchased a 24-pack of play dough during a sale the week before, so I told Caleb and Ethan that they could give some of their play dough to their friends, if they wanted to.  They were up for that, so I got some cute little gift bags at Walmart and we got to work.  Ethan's favorite part was picking which colors of play dough to give to each friend.  It was hilarious to hear them discussing each friend and what colors he/she liked the best.  

After we stuffed the bags with play dough and candy canes, we got to work on the cards.  I typed up a very simple little quad-fold Christmas card in Microsoft Word and printed out ten copies.  Caleb wrote each friend's name and his own name for each card, and Ethan traced his own name for each card.  Caleb spent more than an hour carefully writing all the names (as well as his own name, over and over).  Then Caleb and Ethan put some Christmas stickers on each card, which took them another hour (since Mommy was cheap and bought foam stickers).  After each card was doled out to its corresponding bag, we put all the cute little bags in the car to be hand-delivered to each friend.

I'm glad the boys came up with another good idea this year to help us all remember that Christmas is more about the joy of giving than the fun of receiving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Musical Beds

About ten months ago, we "officially" moved Ethan out of his baby room (the room with the crib) and into a room shared with Caleb.  I moved all the boys clothes into their shared room, hung Ethan's name letters on the wall next to Caleb's, and did everything else I could think of to make the transition complete.  The boys sharing a room (and a queen bed) went really well for several months, until, suddenly, it wasn't going well anymore.

Shortly after Ethan turned two, he turned into a full-fledged night owl and started fighting bedtime with the creativity and tenacity that is unique to him.  Part of fighting bedtime was acted out by trying to keep his bed buddy  (Caleb) awake as long as possible.  Caleb, who is not a night owl and settles down very easily for bed at night, did not appreciate the incessant talking and poking designed to keep him conscious.  So, the peaceful nighttime relationship between the boys quickly disintegrated.  At first, we tried laying a line of pillows between them and forbidding Ethan from touching the pillows, but Ethan just got louder and Caleb still couldn't go to sleep.  I'm not sure exactly when it was, but sometime in the late spring / early summer, we gave up on the boys sleeping in the same room at night and put Ethan back in his "baby" room.  So he has been back to sleeping in his crib or on the floor in his old room for the past six months or so.

After Ethan moved out, Caleb's nighttime falling asleep was undisturbed, but apparently it got too quiet too fast, and Caleb started obsessing over the night sounds that he could hear from his bed.  The "scariest" of the sounds was a very persistent owl that has been in residence in one of our trees since we moved into this house.  So, Caleb started resisting bed time because he was scared to sleep in his room alone.  He vacilated nightly on whether he preferred having his persistent little brother yakking at him while he tried to fall asleep or  an otherwise empty room full of uncertain night noises.  (His first choice was always that Mommy or Daddy lay down with him until he fell asleep, but that was a luxury he only enjoyed about once a week.)  In a nutshell, we never really knew where anyone was going to sleep until bedtime.

Around the time that I got pregnant, what was left of bedtime's continuity quickly dissipated.  The boys were taking long naps in the late afternoon and staying up until ten or eleven at night with Daddy at the helm (I went to sleep at like 8:00 every night), until they finally collapsed in whatever room they wanted to sleep in.  This is when our year of musical beds reached its peak.  After I started feeling better in October, I shortened Ethan's afternoon nap time and stopped putting Caleb down for a nap at all, so that they would go back to having a reasonable bed time.  For the past two months, we've done a regular bedtime routine starting around 7:00 or 7:30, and both boys are almost always asleep (in their separate rooms) by 8:00 or 8:30, like they used to be.

When I sold Caleb's queen bed on Craig's list last month (to make room for the coming bunk beds), Caleb got freaked out about sleeping in his room again, so he's been spending most nights on the floor in our bedroom.  Ethan always starts out in his room, but, if he wets the bed or wakes up with a bad dream, he ends up finishing the night in our bed.  (I was joking with a friend the other day about the silliness of having a 4-bedroom house when we often all four sleep in one bedroom.)

Marcus and I are both hoping that setting up the bunk beds in a couple of weeks will start a new era of bedtime consistency in the Wagner household (at least until April).  For one thing, I will be painting and setting up the crib room for Baby Sister in January, so that will be off-limits as a back-up for Ethan.  And Marcus is about done with having kids in our bedroom, so I think that will be off the table after Christmas, as well (again, at least until April :).  Hopefully, with a super-cool option like the bunk beds they will have, we won't even have to make them sleep in their room anymore because they will just want to!  (A girl can hope!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pancake Breakfast & Christmas Tree

This past Saturday morning, we went to the big shebang that some of the ladies at church put on every December: a pancake breakfast with Santa.  The whole building is bedecked in holiday cheer.  A group of ladies and teens serve a delicious breakfast of pancakes with syrup, chocolate chips and powdered sugar as toppings (talk about a sugar high!).  After breakfast, the kids go through craft and activity stations for more than an hour.  One of the stations is a chance to sit on Santa's lap for a photo op.  Ethan was no more fond of Santa than he was of the Easter bunny, so he did not make it into the picture.  

On a side note, I was a little unsure how to handle the believing-in-Santa thing when Caleb was younger, but I think we've found a comfortable place: both kids love pretending, so we've just filed Santa into the "pretend" category along with all their favorite Disney and television characters.  They can have the fun of talking about him, reading stories about him, and even writing letters to him without struggling over whether he is "real."

Anyway, back to our weekend... On Sunday after church, we stopped by Home Depot and picked out our Christmas tree.  It was really cold on Sunday, so we didn't spend much time outside deliberating over trees.  We bought the first one that we both liked and then headed home to set it up and decorate it.  We have gotten a real tree every year since we moved to B'ham, and, even though I grew up having an artificial tree, can't imagine every going back to that.  I LOVE the evergreen smell every time we walk in the house!

Caleb on Santa's lap.  Ethan would have absolutely none of it :)
Daddy helping the boys make "reindeer treats" at the pancake breakfast.
Caleb and Ethan on the little train that drives around the church parking lot for the pancake breakfast.
 Ethan loves measuring and pouring anything.
 Look at those eyelashes!
 Mommy helping the boys make hot chocolate gift bags.

 Both boys loved the whole process of setting up and decorating the tree this year.

 Caleb drinking hot chocolate with Daddy after raking leaves in the cold.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ethan (Monthly Update)

Ethan is 2-years-and-8-months-old now!  The biggest development this month is that he is now Pull-up free at night.  I decided that I wanted to try nighttime training him before we set up the bunk beds, since those embedded twin mattresses will not be as easy as a crib sheet to change.  For the first week that we abandoned the Pull-ups, he wet the bed every night.  Marcus was Super Dad and got up with him and changed the bedding every night.  After the first week, things drastically improved and he went to wetting the bed every few days.  It's been about six weeks since we started nighttime training and he is almost always dry now.

Ethan has also entered a bit of a rebellious stage this past week or so.  We never went through much of the Terrible Two's with Caleb (it was the Terrible Three's with him), but I think Ethan is trying to give us our first taste of that infamous stage right now.  Since toddler-hood, Ethan has been mostly eager-to-please and quick to repent of any wrong-doing, but the last week or so he has seemed to delight in disobeying.  He is trying my patience and Caleb's patience with his constant mischief, and he is spending way more time than ever before sitting in time-out and alone in his room.  He is actually kind of reminding me of a rebellious teenager in that he sometimes gets in this mode where he willfully adds one wrong on top of another, regardless of what consequences I dole out.  Hopefully this rebellious streak will fade as quickly as it appeared, but, in case it doesn't, at least I'll be able to remember when it started :)

Lately, Ethan has really enjoyed playing Memory Match with Caleb and me.  He has a very good memory and has no problem keeping up.  One time he actually beat both of us!  (Caleb is used to winning and he was NOT happy about that.)  Ethan also likes playing Candy Land, but he doesn't have the attention span to sit through the whole game, so he usually has a puzzle or a book to entertain him on the side while we all play.  He's an excellent little multi-tasker.  He loves doing jigsaw puzzles now, but most of the ones we have are too complicated for him, so we do them together.

Ethan doesn't eat nearly as much as he used to.  (Caleb actually regularly out-eats him now.)  He has not become a picky eater, but he just isn't as hungry as he used to be.  He has not,  however, lost his insatiable curiosity and desire to be a part of everything, so he still begs for any food off anyone else's plate.  If someone  is eating, he will worm his way onto his or her lap, smile sweetly, and say, "Can we share this together, please?"  ("Share together" means one bite for Ethan, one bite for me, one bite for Ethan, etc.)  But for all his mooching, he is definitely the first to share anything he has.  It is actually kind of hard to get him to eat alone because he wants everyone around him to have some of whatever he has.

Apart from the recent behavioral challenges, he is still such a cheerful, people-oriented little guy.  He does not like to be alone at all (being confined to his room is a worse punishment than a spanking for him).  He loves it when the whole family is together, and he so much wants everyone to be happy.  He frequently goes around asking each person in the family (or the room), "Are you having a good day?"  If someone says "no" (trust ornery Caleb for that), Ethan looks chagrined and immediately tries to find out why and then fix the situation. He is the first to notice when someone looks sad or angry.  He is our joyful little encourager and connector and we love him so very much!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Black Friday Shopping

As I mentioned earlier, my mom and I went on our first ever baby clothes shopping trip on Black Friday.  (Thankfully, the small-town JC Penney's that we shopped at was not uncomfortably crowded.)  We had never gone shopping together for boys clothes, but, with the baby-girl news fresh on our minds, we decided it would be fun to browse the girls clothes together while I was in town.  When we got to the store, Mom told me how much she was thinking of spending.  My eyes bugged out because it was about 6x what I was expecting.  Knowing my mom is often more generous than is good for her finances, I mentally scaled the number down and then we went to town.

Carter's is my favorite brand for 0-12 month clothes, and JC Penney's Black Friday deal was 60% off all Carter's clothes.  We just decided to take one of everything we liked and then do some paring down at the register.  As we shopped, we were very pleasantly surprised to see that we were drawn to the same clothes (since our tastes in clothes have always been very different).  We quickly collected two arm loads full of pinks and purples, and then took our spoils to a table to sort through and make sure the seasons and sizes all worked.  After exchanging a few outfits for different sizes, we were ready to check out.  The whole process took just a little over an hour. When everything was rung up, we were both excited to see that we didn't have to put anything back, since the huge sale kept the total way below Mom's goal.  We ended up with about four outfits in every size, from newborn to 12 months, as well as a bath set, matching bibs, and a precious blanket.

When we got back to my parents' house, we spread out all the clothes in the living room for Daddy, Papa and the boys to "ooh" and "ahh" over.  Caleb especially enjoyed all the adorable girl clothes: he grinned his signature grin and talked happily about his baby sister.

I am ecstatic with all these baby girl things.  It's made the fact that I am going to have a daughter even more real.  As soon as I got home from Arkansas, I delighted in folding all of the clothes and putting them away. (I'll wash them in Dreft later on.)  We've been home for almost a week and I still go into the nursery every day to admire every little item :)

And it wouldn't due to close out this post without a mention of Marcus's Black Friday acquisition.  After five years of resisting the urge to buy a video game system in lieu of work, family and church responsibilities, Marcus finally decided that it was time to go ahead and do it.  So he busted out the $300+ of "fun money" that he's been saving for over a year to buy a Play Station 3 bundle from Walmart.  He had to spend most of the night at Walmart to get it, but it was $90 cheaper than retail.  I have no doubt that he and his PS3 will spend many happy hours together :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving in Searcy

We had a lot of fun in Searcy with my parents over the long weekend.  It was really cold the first day, but it warmed up after that and we were able to be outside more.  One afternoon, Papa, Marcus and the boys spent some time clearing the leaves out of the backyard.  (Caleb tore a couple of holes in his new jacket climbing a tree in the backyard, but Nanna got out her mending kit and stitched it right up.)

Favorite things from the weekend...

Caleb--learning to ride his bike, reading books with Nanna & Papa, exploring the university on wheels, eating Papa's biscuits
Ethan---playing at the park near the house, playing with the trains and other toys in Nanna & Papa's play room, drinking Papa's chocolate milk (over & over again)
Rachel--eating Thanksgiving dinner, eating pizza at The Brick Oven (hey, I'm pregnant, eating takes a front seat!), watching the boys enjoy themselves, beating Marcus and Mom in Scrabble, and, most of all, shopping for baby girl clothes with my mom
Marcus--watching football with Dad (there were 4 games on overall, I think), Black Friday shopping (the middle-of-the-night version), watching Caleb ride his bike, eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Papa reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day to the boys.
Ethan drinking chocolate milk, a favorite at "Papa's house."
Nanna and Caleb watching the video of Caleb learning to ride his bike.
Marcus and Ethan at the high school track near my parents' house.
Caleb at the elementary play ground near my parents' house.

Papa and Ethan hunting for squirrels on Harding's campus.

Ethan on top of the Harding Bison statue.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Goodbye Training Wheels

We spent Thanksgiving with my parents in Searcy, Arkansas.  I'll post more about that later, but I promised Caleb that today's post would be entirely dedicated to his latest accomplishment.  The first morning we were in Searcy, Marcus and Papa took the boys down to the elementary school by my parents' house to ride bikes.  We'd decided the night before to try taking Caleb's training wheels off for the first time during this trip, so Marcus went ahead and removed them when they all got to the park.  I wasn't there for the teaching session (I was out shopping for baby girl clothes with my mom), but I saw the video.  Marcus gave Caleb a couple of tips like starting out by putting his foot on the higher petal and trying to go faster to help stay balanced, and then he let Caleb take off.  Amazingly, it took him less than 20 minutes to get the hang of it.  In the video I saw, he was riding all over the paved area of the school like a pro before they even headed home from the park.

This new development sort of turned our weekend into a bike-riding marathon.  We rode bikes all over Searcy.  A couple of days, the boys rode (we jogged along) to the high school football stadium near my parents house and then rode laps around the track.  Caleb went all the way around the track four times right in a row one morning.  He was very proud that he had ridden a whole mile :)  Another day, we took the boys and the bikes to our alma mater and let them ride all over the university (which was vacated because of the holidays).  The ante was upped for Caleb at the university because he went from riding in more open, flat spaces to sidewalks, sharp turns, slopes and curbs.  He wiped out twice during the two hours we were riding at Harding, but both times he immediately got back on the bike and continued his ride.  (This is very un-Caleb-like, and I was amazed that he hardly fussed over his scrapes and scratches at bath time that night.)  At the university, I was most impressed by him riding up and down curbs several times without stopping or tipping over.  We did a lot of practicing good "traffic" habits like stopping at every street, looking both ways and walking our bikes across, as well as veering well away from any pedestrians or other bikers.  (But don't worry, it will still be a very long time before any of my kids are allowed to ride bikes unaccompanied.)

We had a lot of great options for places to ride in Searcy, and now the challenge will be finding similar places around here.  Oh yeah...I forgot to mention one detail about this whole thing.  Knowing how easily discouraged and frustrated Caleb often gets when learning something new, I (rather flippantly) offered him a big motivational reward if he learned how to ride his bike without training wheels this weekend.  To be perfectly honest, I had no idea he would learn so quickly and did not think that I would need to follow through with my offer.  So, to make a long story short, I will now be using all of my birthday and Christmas money to buy Caleb a new Spiderman bike for Christmas.  He was going to get one for his birthday anyway, since he's had his current bike for almost two years and he really has outgrown it, but his precociousness on wheels has enabled him to earn that Spiderman bike three months early :)