Monday, July 30, 2007

Shall we play a game?

In David's world, stacking blocks with the intent of knocking them down is one game he likes to play by himself or with others, so imagine Nataliya's surprise when I took out the Jenga game to play with David.

Jenga is a game played with wood blocks, stacked alternatively three across to build a structure 18 levels high. Each player then takes a turn removing out one of the lower blocks and stacking them on top until the tower's topples. (Recommended for children aged 6 and up.)

Although I assured Nataliya that David had played the game with me once before, images of David swiping the stack from the table ran through her mind. How could David resist the urge to topple the tower before the game even begun? This is the boy who hides puzzle pieces in between couch cushions, takes apart anything he can get his hands on, and scatters his toys around to make it look like a hurricane came through our living room!

Well, imagine Nataliya's surprise when David not only didn't destroy the structure, but he played the game correctly. Not just correctly, mind you, but he played well... perhaps too well for the two-year old he's supposed to be. He was extremely careful not to disrupt the tower and was successful in placing each piece higher on the tower, even when the height of the game was higher than himself. His hand was steady and you could see the concentration in his face.

David carefully examines the game, trying to figure out which piece to move.

Finding a loose block, David is elated as he slowly manipulates it out of the structure.

Only after the tower fell and the game ended, did David show his age, swiping the fallen blocks around and laughing. As impressive as it was to see him play a game so seriously, it was a relief to see him revert back to our little boy.

Note: If you have an aversion to wood blocks, Jenga will be available in November 2007 for the Nintendo Wii.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Whoa! Wiggly Concerts are real!?

For months now, we've been telling David that he's going to go to a Wiggly Concert, but he either didn't understand or believe us until he was sitting in his seat, staring at the four Australian men wearing yellow, blue, red and purple. David and Julia appeared to be in shock as the Wiggles started in with their favorite song, "Rockabye Your Bear" and the kids never truly recovered, even as the performers finished with "Big Red Car." However, both David and Julia seemed to be entertained throughout the show.

Joining us at the concert were their Aunt Samara, Uncle Glenn and Cousin Kayla, who all enjoyed the concert as well.

As we left the show, David turned to us and indicated he wanted more! Fun was had by all! Nobody seemed to mind too much that Greg, the longtime yellow Wiggle had been replaced by Sam, previously known as Professor Singalottasonga.

David looks a little concerned before the concert begins, not certain what to expect.

Henry the Octopus, Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, and Wags the dog entertain the crowd.

The Wiggles finish their concert with a ride in the Big Red Car.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What does $1 buy you nowadays?

Not much if you live in the USA and even less if you use euros... unless you shop at the garage sales. This past weekend we drove by a couple of them and couldn't resist stopping by and checking some of them out. We (or rather David) hit a jack pot when we spotted a toy guitar selling for $1. I am not talking about one that's available at every toy store that you press bunch of buttons and different melodies are playing. No, this one has strings, 4 of them to be exact. David was sitting in the car and his whole face lit up when he saw me picking up the guitar. There was no way back. Seth was adamant to spend a dollar on a dusted guitar with 2 missing strings, but eventually he gave in.
Once we got home, I washed it thoroughly and gave it to David. He played the guitar for hours, literally. He took it with him to the park. He wouldn't let Julia touch it. He went to sleep with it on Saturday night and it was the first thing he asked for on Sunday morning. He even took his toy piano, activated the demo mode on it, and accompanied the two-dozen songs with his own playing.

So, even though the buck doesn't stretch far these days, it does bring an occasional serenity.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We are in big trouble now

At eleven months and two weeks, Julia finally had the courage to let go and take her first real steps. She had taken steps before, but it was more of a momentum-thing, diving into Mommy or Daddy's arms. This time, she not only took her own steps, but she was in control. She was delighted with herself, and rightfully so. She still walks like she's had a few too many drinks, and in the video below, David accompanies her walking with sound effects from his toy piano. But as cute and wonderful as it is to see your child take his or her first steps, it's also a precursor to a lot of troubles for me. For example, what happens when both kids decide to go in opposite directions at the park? Well, that's more of a concern for next month. For now, we can enjoy her wide smiles as she explores her newfound mobility.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Samina's Birthday bash

Exactly a year ago, David's friend, Jordan, became an older brother to his baby sister Mina.

Today, we celebrated her birthday in their backyard which was transformed into a water park. The kiddies had so much fun splashing in the water, playing with water balloons, going down a slide, drawing with a chalk and popping the bubbles.

Everything fun must come to an end. Right? Not in this case. After the outside play, the kids enjoyed pizza while the adults devoured Italian goodies. David refused to eat from his own place, but had no problem finishing off Grace's leftovers. Thankfully, Grace was a good sport and didn't mind "sharing".
The finale came when ice cream cake was served. Miss Mina is too little to have good table manners (which I lack as well when it comes to sweets) and too impatient to wait for someone to pass her a spoon, so, she took matters into her own hands - literally - improvising other ways of getting the frosting into her mouth.

Even David had a taste of the ice cream cake, but he lost interest after a few bites since he doesn't seem to have a sweet tooth.

It was a great summer party! It sure is great to be born in the summer. Happy 1st Birthday, Mina!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

There ain't no mountain high enough...

After spending Saturday at the local parks and the pool, we decided on a change of a pace and drove to Bear Mountain today. Since the thermometer was creaping towards 100 degrees, the mountains seemed like a good hideaway from the heat. The scenery on the way wasn't as beautiful as it gets in the fall, but at this point of our kids' lives, they wouldn't appreciate it anyway.
David and Julia enjoyed climbing and jumping on the playground until the heat got to them and they needed to take a break.

They both enjoyed eating their lunches, surrounded by nature, and as you know, a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of bagel taste much better when eaten outside.

Julia got a chance to do her favorite activity -- walking -- which kept her happy. David was unusually quiet and content sitting on Seth's lap by the lake and throwing rocks into the water. Lastly, he was treated to a couple of rounds on the carousel before leaving Bear Mountain behind.

Since we were only 15 minutes away from Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, we couldn't miss an opportunity to go shopping.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence day!

Today we started our own family tradition that I hope continues for as long as we live in Leonia -- participating in the town's annual "Run for Fun" race (I am still trying to figure out the fun part of it). As I prepared to run a 5K race, my family cheered me up from a distance. One day, I hope, my kids join me running around the block race for the kiddies, then 1 mile race and maybe even 5K race with me.

Believe it or not, I made it without needing a medical attention that was cruising around in the ambulance.

I even managed to get a trophy for a second place among the women in my age category. Shortly after, my kids were banging it on a street.

Once the "ceremony" ended, we headed to our friends and neighbours for a BBQ. The grilled food and homemade dessert were so amazing that not only did I replenish the calories I lost while running in the race, I consumed more than I'll be able to lose even if I run every single day this week. Oh, well, it was definitely worth it. Needless to say, it was both my lunch and dinner for that day. Julia had her first taste of pizza and a hot dog today and as expected, she approves of them. David, on the other hand, is another story. He hasn't had any lunch nor dinner today.
Baby Mina and her brother Jordan were perfect hosts sharing their toys as well as their table. As an older playmate (she is 20 days older than Julia), Mina showed my daughter how her toys work.

And later they had their own race on the deck.

The kids slept almost till their dinner time and so did I. Even though it rained later on, the day couldn't have been more perfect. As the day's approaching to an end and we are putting the kids to bed, I am off to run those 7 miles.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Life is a beach!

Seth and I decided not to take a long vacation this year for various reasons, mostly because vacationing with two babies is oxymoron. But more about that in another blog. Instead, we agreed that we should take a few one to two day trips to various local spots, including amusement parks (ex. Sesame Place) and other child friendly (or adults overwhelming and money draining) places.

Today was one of those trips. We packed up the kids early in the morning and headed to Jenkinson's Boardwalk. It is a great place to take the kids to, go on the rides with them, build some castles on the beach and forget about the diet for a day. I was personally excited over tasting the taffy candies, fried cheesecake and really good ice cream. We purchased two wristbands (sold only on Tuesdays) for Seth and David. Julia could only go on 2 rides: a train and a carousel which are free for the kids under 3, so she didn't even need any tickets. (She really didn't care about the rides.) Nowadays, she is the happiest when she is outside walking, so as long as she is not stuck in the stroller, she's content. She did, however, enjoy playing in the sand and stomping in the puddles.
David kept dragging Seth to the same rides over and over again, and of course his favorite was the train which kind of resembled Thomas the train.
We were surprised that David liked and wasn't scared of a swing ride. Seth had to hold me back in order to place David on a swing since I didn't think it was appropriate for his age, but I noticed Seth holding his fingers crossed hoping David doesn't cry. David ended up going back to this ride another seven times.

While the kids were having their lunch and snacks that I brought from home, Seth and I were indulging in extra large ice creams and oversized pizza slices.

We had a blast, even though Seth and I got a sunburn, most likely Seth won't feel his feet tomorrow, but hopefully we exhausted the kids so much that they'll sleep till tomorrow noon. (Wishful thinking...)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

It is 10 P.M. Do you know where your children are?

Julia is sound asleep in her room and my boys are gone. It is 2 hours past David's bedtime, but he and Seth are still at the local carnival enjoying the rides. We purchased David a wrist band that lets him in on the various rides as many times as he wishes... and wish he did! In the last two days we heard him say "more, more, more" (referring to the rides) more than ever. So, by getting him a wrist band we got our money's worth.
Even though he rode a carousel at Van Saun Park many times earlier that day, he still insisted on over 10 rides at the carnival.

"Train" was another overused word today and we went along with his request.

Making friends on the old fashion car.

Relaxing on the fire engine (thankfully, there was no fire in sight).

David, get off that horse already, the lights are going off!

The carnivals are also known for selling yummy junk food. David had no interest in an ice cream that Seth offered to him. I never thought a child of mine wouldn't like sweets, but David doesn't and I am relieved. I am afraid how disappointed he will be tomorrow when he sees an empty park. Oh, well, there is always next year.