Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crafts at the Library

Jacob has wholeheartedly embraced making crafts at the library. Tuesday night he went with Mommy to Pajama Time at the Savage branch. This week's program included an ocean theme and a craft. Consider the result, dubbed "Jellyfish #1" by the artist's wily PR department:

It's a fine piece of work if you ask me, not even considering the two and a half year old nature of the artist. Consider the undulations of the tentacles and how the eyes follow you where ever you go in the room. The masterwork has already found its place on the highest shrine of pre-school art, the refrigerator. Jacob was quite enthused about the results as well:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever--J. Keats
On Thursday, Jacob went with Daddy to Pajama Time, again at Savage library with the ocean theme and craft included. Here is his second effort, captured from the artist's own perspective:

The highchair may not have had the best angle

Lacking inspiration from his Oahu t-shirt and the guiding hand of Mommy, this work is considered less accomplished and thus is named "Jellyfish #2." Notice the muted colors in the tentacles and how the eyes follow each other. Nevertheless, he swims with his older brother on the refrigerator.

The time has come, I suppose, to expand Jacob's craft experiences beyond the library and onto other venues. Lowe's and Trader Joe's awaits. Recommendations are welcome.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fun at and after play date

This week's play date was a big one for Lucy, even though it is Jacob's play group. She showed off her walking skills both outside on the grass (why did I forget to bring shoes for her!!) and inside on the hard wood floors. She also got to ride on the big kids' swing and down the slide (both with daddy constantly holding on to her). Jacob was rather aloof, hanging out by the rocks or watching from a distance. He became more enthusiastic when we went inside.

Inside plenty of toys waited for us to enjoy them. Lucy and Jacob loved Caroline's play kitchen. Jacob even microwaved a cucumber for me. I pretended to enjoy eating it. What will happen when he starts cooking for real at home!?! Lucy dropped a lot of the dishes on the floor. Chloe was quick to pick them up. Lucy also climbed up to the top of a toddler picnic table, presumably to get to the dishes Chloe had stacked there.

The real action was afterward during lunch at Pasta Blitz. I ordered a couple of slices of pizza and a lemonade. I brought some lunch for Lucy: Gerber peas, Cheerios and a banana. I cut up some pizza for Jacob and offered Lucy a piece. She loved it. I could barely get any spoonfuls of peas in her and not one Cheerios. All she wanted was cheese pizza. Jacob was too busy looking out the window to focus on eating. Lucy might have eaten more pizza than Jacob did. Jacob finally ate the banana along with a lot of my lemonade. Lucy totally amazed me. It may be time to give up the Gerber.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles VIII

As we drove in to church, we thought we were late because a lot of cars were parked by the playground. We've started parking near the playground so we don't have to walk as far after Mass when the kids are done playing. We were not late and no children were at the playground, so it must have  been some sort of fluke.

Walking into church we saw Father and the acolytes getting ready to go in, so we knew we weren't late. We were the first to arrive at the children's chapel as usual. Jacob turned on the lights and I turned on the TV. Lucy wore shoes to church for the first time. She practiced walking around with help. She'll be walking on her own in no time at all.

Jacob decided to repeat some lines from the second reading a few times as he was looking at his own book. His favorite was "forgiven us to God" which strictly speaking is not accurate but certainly heartfelt. He did a lot of chattering during the sermon also. Lucy wasn't as distracting. She wandered around a bit and tossed books on the floor, but not too many or too loudly.

Timmy and his dad Luke came in during the gospel. Timmy was pretty good, just wandering all over every now and then. Timmy and Jacob both wanted to go upstairs after the sign of peace. They pushed on the door together to no effect. Eventually when the parents were ready, we helped open the doors and head upstairs. Jacob took off like a shot while Lucy tried out walking again. I ran to catch up with Jacob. He was in tactile mode, so every light switch, door handle, banister and sign within reach was touched. Walking up to receive communion, he stroked each pew. And also on the return trip.

I saw Colin, James and their parents in the vestibule but didn't get a chance to talk to them. I wonder why they didn't come down to the children's chapel. I hope they aren't concerned with their boys pestering our kids. I think it's been okay the past couple of weeks.

After Mass we headed to the playground which was pretty warm and fun. Timmy and parents didn't join us this week. Hopefully we'll get to see them next week.

In spite of Jacob's chatter, I could follow a good bit of the sermon. In the gospel, Jesus teaches His disciples about praying, including the Our Father and the famous line about "ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Pulling out an old cell phone, Father asked us how great it would be if we could text with God. Prayer should be that way--talking with God, building friendship with Him which we bring to our communal prayer at Mass. None of us have as good a prayer life as we should. Too often we go to God just when we want something. We think it's good for us and often God doesn't respond in the way that we want. He really knows our needs and will take care of us. We need to be open to what He wants for us. We could figure it out if we paid more attention to the petitions in the Our Father.

Friday, July 23, 2010


We've joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) at Gorman Farm just five minutes from our house. For the past couple of weeks, in addition to collecting fruits and vegetables, we were able to cut some flowers (zinnias and sun flowers) to take home with us. The most amazing part of the field of flowers was all the butterflies there. Too bad all I had was my less-than-able cell phone camera to take pictures:

Jacob and Mommy find the best to take home!
It's been a lot of fun to go visit the farm. We've also seen some turkeys grow big in a few short weeks. They'll be enormous by Thanksgiving!

After we got home, I found this in our backyard:
I hope we didn't snatch him from the farm!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Found Another Library!

At this point, you probably think that all we ever do is go to the Howard County Library and the occasional play date. We've done some other things this week.

We went shopping on Monday morning (day before yesterday as I write) and back to the same shopping center in the evening to use our "buy one, get one free" coupon at Meadows Custard. The daily special was a custard called "Dirty Turtle," which sounds bad but tastes good. If you've ever eaten the candy called "turtle," you know it's a blob of caramel with five toasted pecans stuck into it and coated in chocolate. The pecans look like four legs and a head, hence the name "turtle." Such a description hardly does justice to how tasty such candies are. Anyway, this custard was clearly based on the candy and we weren't sure where the "dirty" part came from. The custard is chocolate with caramel flavoring and toasted pecans. They were the best toasted pecans I've ever had. We should have bought a pint, or a gallon, or the recipe.

Yesterday (Tuesday morning) we had a fun play date. Lucy is on the verge of walking and tried to show of some skills. She pushed a little ride-on toy around the first floor. The host's younger sister is about six months old and is on the verge of crawling. She tried to show her skills by chasing after some toys. The older children got along quite well. Jacob had so much fun he forgot to ask Patricia for her cell phone!

Today we went to visit mommy at work. We didn't see her office, instead we met out by the planes in the parking lot. No fooling, check them out:

She had some leftover snacks from a party, so we all had some cookies and grapes. Actually, Jacob didn't have any because he couldn't be bothered from playing with the rocks underneath the planes.

Since we were half way there, we went on to the western branch of the Anne Arundel County Library. They have a lovely children's section right by the entrance. The play area was fenced off by a train and included Legos, board puzzles, bead mazes and stuffed animals. Jacob and Lucy had a fun time playing with the stuff and the other kids. One little girl kept coming by and patting Lucy on the back. We rode the elevator to the second floor and walked around the grown-ups section. Jacob wanted to play with every computer we walked by. Luckily no one was using any of them. He is getting better about whispering in the library which is gratifying for me. Then we headed home for an early lunch and nap. The library was a fun discovery and will be a good stopping off point on the way to the comic shop in the future.

Tomorrow we are off to Costco and to our local library to return some items that are due. It's shaping up to be a fun week.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles VII

Sorry for having no chronicle last week. Last Sunday was rough because of the kids being very busy during Mass along with their regular friends, Colin and James. The rest of the day was just as busy. My apologies.

Colin and James weren't there this week, so maybe their mom has given birth to number three? Instead, our friends from St. Mary's were there--Luke, Kim and Timmy. Also another mom with two kids and what seemed to be a grandma were there too. This week our children we definitely the worst behaved of the lot.

Jacob wandered around a lot during Mass, chattering mostly to himself and not being too disruptive. He certainly provided bad example to the other kids, except for when we asked him to kneel down. He went one better and laid prostrate on the floor. Otherwise he was taking books off the shelf and giving them to people (not just us) and playing with the blinds, light switches, and volume nob for the overhead speaker. Definitely distracting.

Lucy was much better than Jacob, though she had her moments. Lately she will crawl towards something and then look back at us to see if it's okay. Sometimes I think she knows it's not okay but wants to test us. Like with the electric sockets. We'll have to bring in some outlet covers next week to help baby proof the cry room. She has an awfully cute look on her face when she looks around.

Jacob is definitely learning the parts of the Mass. After the Our Father and Sign of Peace, Jacob was demanding to go up to the church for communion. Not that he wanted to receive communion; he really wanted to put coins in the poor box. Luckily I had my supply with me, so I fed him coins till our turn to get in line. He looked around a lot in church and he's taken to running his hand along the ends of the pews as we return from receiving the Blessed Sacrament.

Father preached about the importance of hospitality today (since the gospel was the story of Mary and Martha hosting Jesus and the first reading was Abraham taking care of the three strangers). Also, he talked about having a balance between work and leisure. It was a quite good sermon.

After Mass, we played on the playground at St. Louis along with Timmy and his parents. A good time was had by all there, though Lucy definitely came away the messiest. We have to teach her to wear shoes!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Longest Drive Ever!

Now that enough time has passed, I can talk about our morning excursion last Wednesday. The original plan was to go to the Savage Library and then on to Annapolis to hang out at the mall there, go to the comic shop and buy some groceries (Lucy and Jacob go through milk faster than light through a vacuum). Jacob had a completely different agenda in mind.

Jacob spent the morning begging, whining and flat out stating that we were going to the "Millis Mall," which translates to Arundel Mills Mall. This continued through breakfast and snack time. Eventually, he started throwing toys to make his point. I told him after the second toy that he'd get a time out if he threw another. He picked up another toy. He smiled. He threw it. Then he said he wanted time out in mommy and daddy's room. He was pretty smug about it, too. So I put him in his own room. Then he really pitched a fit about being in the wrong room. Lucy and I hung out for the two minutes then released him from his prison. Now he was upset and we were running late for running errands.

So I decided to concede and draft a new plan: we could go to the Elkridge Library and the Mills Mall. So we loaded up in the van and headed out. After about 10 minutes of driving, Jacob fell asleep! At 10 in the morning! Quite annoying, so I decided we would just drop the books that were due in the outside box. Not having been to the Elkridge branch before, I drove past it and had to turn around. So it eventually worked out. Then I saw a Shell gas station, which is offering a gas discount with a grocery store frequent shopper card. The card didn't work, so I had to pay full price. After that, I told Lucy we would head home and put Jacob in his bed.

Driving back down I-95, a truck with a smoking engine was pulled over on the curb. Everyone in front of me had hit their brakes to slow down and look, so I had to hit the brakes too. I braked hard enough to wake up Jacob 5 minutes from home. He started crying and demanding the mall again, so we turned the car around yet again and headed back north to the mall.

We finally got there and followed our usual routine. We visited the coin-operated ride-on machines, riding them without coining them. Lucy rode on some of them for the first time. Then we walked over to the book store and hung out in the kid's section, which features a Thomas train table. On our way back to the car, we looked at the waterfalls and the fish tank in Bass Pro Shop. Jacob was finally satisfied and we headed home for lunch.

Lucy was very patient through the whole affair and got to eat a quarter of a slice of bread with her lunch as a special treat. Jacob had his usual peanut butter sandwich with fruit on the side. I was worried that nap time would be delayed since Jacob slept in the car, but everything went normally.

Changing plans constantly was a challenge. I'm glad I rose to the occasion, but I hope the occasion does not arise again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Good and Bad at the Library

Yesterday (Wednesday) I took Jacob and Lucy to the library. We had some returns to make and a reserve for Angie was waiting for pick up. Also, Angie wanted some more books on potty training to get new ideas for what to do with Jacob. He still has little to no interest in using the potty.

After dropping off our returns, I noticed a free computer, so I thought I'd look up potty training books and we could get them before going to the children's section. What a big mistake that was. Usually, we go to Jacob's section, hang out for a while and then go find books for the rest of the family. Jacob had a little meltdown in the 649.62 aisle. He kept demanding to play with the computers, pulling books off the shelves, and whining without ceasing. Consequently, I grabbed three random books on potty training and hightailed it to the children's area. He calmed down a little bit, but it was very crowded (thanks in part to the triple digit temperatures this week). He picked a puzzle fairly quickly and wanted to go. The hurry was a bit of a shame since I had let Lucy out and she was enjoying exploring the toddler area, cruising the low shelves and playing with the toys. The librarian dutifully retrieved the puzzle for us. I carried Lucy so she wouldn't freak out about being put back in the stroller.

As we headed back into the main library to go to the 30-inch globe that Jacob loves, he asked if we were going to get a book for daddy. I said no, not today. His request made me realize the mistake I'd made. If only I'd have waited to go get mommy's books after the children's section visit, I would have followed proper order at the library. The globe was fun as usual and Lucy didn't fuss too much when I put her back in the stroller there. Checking out went smoothly, though Jacob did want me to pick him up so he could see the receipt print out. He told the librarian that it was just like the printer at the game store. She was impressed. We went home for lunch.

Today, we went to the Savage branch for story time. We arrived just at 10 a.m. so we didn't have to wait for the doors to open like last time. We went in and made a beeline for the children's section. Jacob happily looked through various books and occasionally asked about the computers. He received the usual response: "We can play with computers at home." He seemed satisfied. Lucy was mobilized again to her delight. She even rode for a bit on the rocking horse. Our old friends Miss Ellie and her son Alex showed up. Alex took a turn riding the rocking horse, then as soon as he got off, Lucy raced to have a second ride. She was cute and impressive. Then the bell rang for story time.

Today's story time theme was the circus. Miss Ellie and Alex were there. Alex was acting up, not wanting to sing or sit. I sympathized since Jacob went through a phase like that. Luckily, that phase is over and Jacob enjoyed jumping through the hoop like he was a lion and walking the tightrope (an orange string on the floor). There was a backup on the tightrope, so Jacob only made it halfway across and then stood with the rest of the kids. They looked like they were part of a police line up! A puppet theater presentation of Curious George Goes to the Circus rounded out a fun story time.

But that was not all, because when we returned to the library to check out some books,we discovered Louie from the Bowie Baysox, the mascot of our local minor league baseball team:

Jacob was totally fascinated. He received a high five and an activity book from Louie. We also received a second activity book for Lucy. She has not started chewing on it yet, but I am sure once we give it to her, she will. We went home for lunch, triumphant!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles VI

Today we got to church early. We were a little nervous that a parade route would go right in front of the church, which would be convenient for watching but hellacious for departing. We hoped to see the parade but not get stuck in traffic. More on that at the end of the blog.

After turning on the lights and TV, we settled in for the 8 a.m. liturgy. A different family (who also had two boys) joined us this week. They got along with Jacob fairly well. Jacob got into a conversation with one of them about the little rug squares that we use for kneeling. I couldn't quite follow, but Jacob was explaining some situation where the boy would get a time out. His warning wasn't a threat but more like friendly advice.

Lucy tried to play hide and seek in spite of the paucity of good hiding spots. And in spite of us not participating. The game ended quickly but without hard feelings on either side. She is definitely becoming more mobile. Walking can't be far away. She didn't flirt with the boys and they didn't flirt with her. She was only minimally distracting this week.

Unfortunately, Jacob was having his conversation during the homily, so I did not glean much from it. The gospel was Jesus sending out the 72 disciples to prepare the towns for his coming. Father talked about not being attached to material things. Instead, we should be ready to witness to Jesus's message. We are the new disciples who need to carry on the mission given 2000 years ago. I wish I had paid attention to more. Maybe I should start reading a commentary on the gospels.

After Mass, Jacob insisted that we go to play on the church's playground. Surely he will ask again next week. While there, we watched cars exiting without any problems. We figured the parade route was somewhere else.

With a little driving, we discovered a corner of the parade route. We watched as long as Jacob could stand it, which must have been 20-30 minutes. A pretty long attention span for him. See our pictures here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A fine day out

Jacob spent the morning asking to go to a "new-new playground." The "new playground" is hidden within walking distance of our house but has had lots of Jacob and Lucy visits, so it's probably passe by now. A "new-new playground" is one which we haven't visited before. Angie also made a request this morning for a couple of books from the Savage branch of Howard County's Public Library. This branch has a Friday morning story time (with craft). It seemed like we'd get a lot done this morning if I could find a playground.

Luckily, the internet came through with some surprising suggestions: school playgrounds. Howard County has a lot of schools and now that it's July, school's out for summer. We went to Forrest Ridge Elementary School, drove around back and found the playground. In addition to basketball courts and baseball fields, two wonderful playsets were completely empty and ready for customers. Lucy tried out the slide. After going down, she decided to go the wrong way for a second ride:

 Please note: Lucy's hair was subject to static electricity, not a bad hair day.

Jacob enjoyed playing on the playground, too, even venturing across a difficult bridge with a little help from Daddy. I gave enough help that I couldn't take a picture, so here's a shot of the bridge. You can fill in Daddy and Jacob with your imagination:

He kept his hands on the top two bars and stepped carefully across. The second time I think he would have made it on his own but I wasn't confident enough in him not to be right there holding him.

Lucy took a much safe bridge all by herself:

After all this picture taking, Jacob decided (as he often does) that he wanted to take a picture too. Somehow I was able to limit him to one picture. Naturally, his favorite subject is hanging on the side:

Yes, that is Jacob's cheek and ear on the right and the playground on the left. The sun seems awfully large and close in this picture, but it really wasn't so bad.

Afterwards, we went to the library for books and storytime. We arrived a little early and had to wait outside with some other people. It's nice to live in an area where people are lining up to get into the library! Once inside, we found three books for mommy (two with cake ideas for Regina's birthday and one for fun) and a video for Jacob. Then story time started.

Today's storytime was all about the Fourth of July, featuring stories and songs of patriotism. Then came time for the craft. Again with the patriotic hat!! Jacob had a lot of enthusiasm for making it, using the glue stick to attach the stars. Unfortunately, since Daddy was helping in stead of Mommy, the results were not as good:

Note the paper clip holding the star and pipe cleaner and the terrible taping job inside. This was supposed to be a hat for Lucy (since Jacob already made one for himself), but the measurement was far too large. Lucy wasn't allowed to model it since the structural integrity is weaker than a sandcastle's in a sandstorm. In hind sight, I think it would have been better to use the glue stick on the ribbon and stick the stars into the glue rather than putting the glue on the backs of the stars. Maybe there will be a new craft next week!