Monday, January 25, 2010

First Basketball Game

Zach had his first basketball game yesterday. He's playing in the YMCA preschool league with his friend Caleb, just like football. And, also like football, Mike and Ross, Caleb's dad, are helping with the coaching. The first two weeks the kids had basketball practice, and Sunday they started their first of four basketball games. It was pretty entertaining to watch. Soccer this past fall was our first experience with organized sports, and Zach was the youngest on his team and was involved, but at times seemed to not know what was going on. Football was next, and he was totally focused and knew what to do. Basketball, thankfully, seems to be more like football. Zach seemed focused and went after the ball a lot. The kids are actually not supposed to steal the ball other than to intercept a pass or to grab a loose ball. We didn't know that, so on the way to the game Mike had talked Zach up on stealing the ball right out of the other team's hands. Whoops. I only saw Zach do it a couple of times, I think.

Here's Zach playing defense. His buddy Chase, my friend Tyra's son, is in the yellow shirt on the far left. Mike is in the background, behind the kid with the ball, yelling at Zach to steal it. Apparently this is before he learned the rule about stealing.

This picture kind of cracks me up because you can tell the coaches have told the kids to stand with their hands up, and for a lot of kids, that's pretty much how they spent the whole game- standing around with their hands up in the air. At least they followed directions, right? Zach is right in the middle, pretty much under the ball. His friend Caleb is right next to him in the blue shorts.

Here's Zach on a fast break-away. I have no idea if he scored on this or not. He had probably 4 or 5 break-aways in the game, and on some of them he scored, and on some he didn't. Zach has been dribbling the basketball for a long time, so he's pretty good at that skill. Dribbling left-handed and shooting are two things we need to work on. Oh, and passing the ball- he's a little bit like his dad- a ball hog.

Now for the video. Drew and I drove to the game separately so we didn't have to spend as much time there, especially because it was right at nap time and I wanted to get out of there quickly. It was a big struggle to even get Drew out of the house, and the entire (no exaggeration) way to the game, Drew cried/yelled/whined, "Home...Home...Home!" He did not want to go. Seeing the video camera helped improve his mood slightly, but also made it hard to videotape very well because Drew had to be able to see the screen (of a very small camera) or else he would scream at me and make a scene. So I apologize right now for the quality of this video- it's pretty terrible- lots of neck or waist-down, very shaky footage. And because the screen on this camera is so small, it's sometimes difficult to follow all the action of something as fast-paced as preschool basketball. I taped just the first few minutes of the game, and then in the fourth quarter I went to the other end of the court to try to get a close-up video of Zach shooting. Finally, I wanted to clip this video in a few different places, but it didn't seem like that was possible, so there are moments of action followed by moments of video of the floor. So you might want to watch the video in the following segments:


Just like with football, I initially did not want Zach to play basketball. I didn't have a strong feeling against it, but I just thought, he's four and a half; how much can he really do playing basketball? It only took one game, though, for me to see how much fun he had and to feel happy that we decided to do it, just like football. I did see Mike and Zach on the bench at one point, and Zach didn't look very happy. Mike later told me that he was getting after Zach because Zach came off the court saying something along the lines of, "I'm beating the other team with all the baskets I'm scoring!" We also got a laugh out of Zach's game face, which is probably what Zach would call his "mean" face, and the fact that he is always bouncing around out there on the court.

All in all, it was a really fun game to watch. Good job, Zach- you made your mom and dad proud!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Brotherly Love

On Monday I had to wake Zach up at about 7:25 to eat breakfast and get ready for school. I was holding Drew in my arms when I woke Zach, and Zach said in his sleepy state, "Where's Drew?" I told him, "Right here. Why?" Zach said, "I want to snuggle him." Drew had already been saying he wanted to eat, so I didn't know how it would go, but I sort of laid Drew down on Zach (Zach was on his side, and I laid Drew down so they were sort of perpendicular to each other), and the two boys just laid there and snuggled, Zach rubbing Drew's head and me rubbing Zach's head. It was precious. What a great way to start the day. It's funny, because Drew loves to give Zach hugs, and will randomly go up to Zach during any given day and say, "Hug," and the boys will hug each other. Sadly, Drew does not do this to Mike or me. He loves his big brother, that's for sure.

Here's a little video of the boys playing after naps on Monday. First we had the beach towels out and were playing beach in the hallway upstairs, and then the boys decided to play pirates. Zach put on his cowboy boots (no pants, though, as he naps in his underwear and really delays putting his pants back on as long as possible) as his pirate boots, and Drew decided he needed boots, too. The only boots Drew has are his snow boots, but he was fine with those becoming pirate boots. So we played pirates, and they got on their ship (our bed), and then they became tackling pirates. This video cracks me up because of their outfits and because of them tackling each other. Watch Drew when he gets tackled or tackles Zach- he does this funny thing where he sort of pokes Zach's cheek. He tackled me once and did it to me, too. I'm not sure what he's trying to do, but I find it very cute and funny.

1/24/10 Update- My mom told me earlier today that the video of Drew singing is on the end of this video. I have no idea how that happened.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Scenes from Winter

It's been one heck of a winter in Iowa. After the massive snow storm back in early December, there was another massive snow storm late in December, and then EXTREMELY cold temperatures. The worst part, in my opinion, though, is the huge snow drifts that make it very difficult to see when driving. You have to creep way out practically into the road you're turning on/crossing, just to see if there are any cars coming. It's dangerous and nerve-wracking. Finally last weekend the thermometer snuck above freezing, so some of the snow and ice finally began to melt. But then at night it'd drop below freezing again, and the roads would be slick in the morning. On Saturday the boys and I arrived home from an outing to find Mike taking advantage of the"warm" (about 33 degrees) temperatures by chopping up the ice at the bottom of our driveway. The boys just had to help.

They got all the ice broken up and cleared out, which makes the drive up into our driveway much smoother.

This next picture was taken at Mike's office. There is a good 6 inches of ice pushing the gutter away from the building. At first Mike wasn't able to get ahold of the landlord, who lives in Virginia, but finally she got back to him and sent somebody out to take care of the problem... sort of. Today he said somebody came out and stripped off most of the gutters, but the gutter right above his door is hanging off now.

One of the perks of all this snowy, cold weather we've been having is that the trees have been flocked in snow many days, and it's just beautiful. I really love seeing the trees like that, and I don't remember another winter where they looked that way so much. It's like they're right out of a painting or something. Here is one tree from our front yard on Tuesday.

And a close-up of some branches.

So most of the ice had melted, and then, at about 3 a.m. yesterday, the freezing rain started. Today was yet another day where all the schools canceled, making it 5 snow days so far this year. Here is what our swing set in the backyard looked like this afternoon.

And a close-up of the icicles.

This is what our tree branches looked like.

The concern now is that the wind is supposed to pick up, and we are worried about our tree branches breaking. Some power lines have already gone down, but thankfully ours are underground, so we should be good, I think. We have had trouble getting into our garage, because the garage door is so heavy with ice that it can't go up on it's own. I don't know if the freezing rain is supposed to continue tonight or not, but I'm hoping not. The main roads are not so terrible; it's the parking lots and driveways that are really bad.

Hopefully the temperatures will warm up again so we can melt the newest round of ice. Seriously, though, how long until spring?!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Drew's Own American Idol Audition

Drew decided he didn't care that he does not meet the minimum age requirement for American Idol; he was going to audition anyway.
Randy said, "Yo, dawg, I like how you added your own style at the end there. That was cool, man, but I don't know if I'm feelin' it."

Simon said (be sure to read this in a British accent), "If we were looking for the winner of a toddler pageant, that would have been quite good, but we're looking for the next American Idol. I think the chicks will like you."

Kara said, "That was very honest. I could tell you were feeling it."

And if Paula were still there, she would have said, "Shut up, Simon! Drew, it was a little pitchy, but you know, it's just so amazing that a young child like you could come and sing for us. You're like a bright light in a winding, dark tunnel, shining into the sky, shining on the birds flying and the clouds floating overhead, illuminating everything around you. And, I, well, you moved me."

Faux Hawks

When our friend Molly started cutting Zach's hair, she introduced us to the world of the faux hawk. I like to give Zach faux hawks, but after a little teasing (or maybe not even teasing, but just comments) from preschool classmates earlier this year, Zach decided he didn't want faux hawks anymore. Occasionally he gives in and decides he does want one, and he gets so many compliments when he does. I know faux hawks aren't for everyone, but I think they look darn cute.

One day last week as the boys and I were going upstairs to brush teeth before preschool, I asked Zach one day if he wanted a faux hawk. He said no, but Drew immediately started grabbing at his hair and saying, "Hawk! Hair. Hawk!" So then Zach decided that if Drew was getting a faux hawk, he should, too. I couldn't resist taking pictures of my two little hip boys.

The next day Zach decided they should have faux hawks again, and Drew was happy to go along with it. I didn't get pictures of them both that day, but I did get a couple of cute shots of Drew while we were playing when Zach was at preschool.

I always wanted a daughter with long, pretty hair that I could french-braid. Faux hawks aren't nearly as fun as that, but I guess they will have to do!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Curt!

Last Friday was Grandpa Curt's 60th birthday. Curt and Linda decided to have a small party, and they asked me to bake the cake for it. I really enjoy baking, but I've never made a cake for anything other than my own kids' birthdays and the occasional get-together with friends, so this made me a little nervous. The only request Curt had was that it be a marble cake, and he said Zach could decide how to decorate it and what kind of frosting to use. I called upon the expertise of my good college friend Kristi, who lives nearby and has taken a cake-decorating class and knows a thing or two about baking cakes. She loaned me her Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, her Wilton Yearbook, some pans, and an idea. Then Zach decided we should do chocolate frosting (good boy, Zach!) and that we should use orange icing for the decorating. So Drew and I headed to Michael's and I picked up some real cake-decorating supplies of my own. On Thursday I decided that I should make a practice cake, just to make sure I liked how everything tasted and to practice my decorating. I was glad I did, because I ended up completely changing the cake recipe. The recipe I used originally called for some almond extract (to take away some of that cake-mix flavor), and it called for melting some chocolate with milk and water and swirling that with the yellow cake batter to make it marble. Well, Mike didn't like the almond extract flavor, and I felt like the ratio of chocolate to yellow was too lopsided to really qualify as marble. So, I used some tips Kristi had given me back in March when I made Drew's birthday cake, and some of my own ideas and totally revamped the cake. This was a bit risky because I didn't have time to make another practice cake, so I had to just go on blind faith that it would taste okay and have the desired marble effect. Although I personally love frosting from a can, I decided that I should go all-out and make my own frosting and icing. I did, and they tasted good, although I'm not much of an icing person and I don't necessarily think the homemade frosting was better than the stuff in the can. I was glad to know what exactly was in the frosting, but also not glad to know how much of that stuff (like the butter and shortening, especially) was in there. Oh well. You gotta go all-out when it's birthday cake, right?

Anyway, the day of the party, of course, Drew did not nap. The kid ALWAYS naps. In fact, I'm not sure there's been a day in his life (all 22 and a half months of it) that he hasn't napped just a little. And maybe he did actually nap a little (we didn't have the monitor on for the first 45 minutes or so, but when we turned it on, he was awake), but we don't really think so. Zach didn't nap either, but that's not so unusual these days, and we weren't worried about him. Drew did okay at the party, but he became frustrated at the end when his ice cream fell off the bottom of his spoon (who wouldn't get mad about that?), and he very intentionally dropped his spoon on the floor and screamed at me. This was about 45 minutes after Curt and Linda's friends said how well-behaved our boys were, so I knew it was about 44 minutes past our departure time. Despite the crabby child, we still had a nice time getting to know Curt and Linda's friends better and celebrating Curt's birthday, and the cake turned out pretty good.

Here I am at about 11:15 on Friday night, working hard to fill in the zero with many little icing stars.

And the final cake. You don't have to look closely to see that my stars are not uniform in size. I need a lot more practice.

Here's Grandpa Curt just after or before he opened his birthday present, which was an Iowa State pullover jacket that was very painful for me to buy. At least Zach was decked out in his Hawkeye gear when we bought it, so nobody could get the wrong impression.

Curt with his cake.

The next three pictures show the friends that came to celebrate Curt's big day.

And here's Drew playing with one of his favorites, Lightning McQueen, before having his meltdown.

Zach had helped me make the practice cake, and he really wanted to help me frost the actual birthday cake, but I ended up doing it after he went to bed on Friday night. There was a little extra batter that I poured into a round cake pan, and on Saturday afternoon before the party, he got to frost and decorate it. Our friend/neighbor Molly just started going to Farrell's, the kickboxing/work-out place Mike and I have been going to, so we decided to decorate the cake for her first free day (where she gets to eat anything she wants after a week of a strict diet) as a celebration of completing her first week.

Those little hands had a difficult time getting the icing squeezed out of the bag, but together we made it work.

The proud chef with his creation. B-M-C is for Brad, Molly, Cooper, our neighbors.

It was a lot of fun doing the cake for Curt's birthday, and it has me looking forward to Drew's birthday in a little over a month. Thanks for giving me the opportunity, Curt and Linda, and for having faith that I'd do an okay job!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two Videos in One

Drew is almost two, which means he's at that age where he does so many things that we think are just hilarious. His personality just comes out more and more each day. I'm trying to get lots of Drew on video lately because of all these funny things he's doing. I feel kind of bad that I'm not getting as much of Zach on video, but then I remind myself that I did video of Zach more when he was almost two.

Anyway, here's a video of Drew that is meant to be two videos, but I'm still getting the hang of uploading videos to One True Media. The first part shows Drew talking about Lightning McQueen. I like how this part shows Drew trying to get some crayons put away just right, because that is how Drew is. He is great at cleaning up and wants things put away just so. It's kind of cute. The second part of the video shows Drew doing this funny voice. Over the last week or so, Drew has suddenly started switching into this deep, gravelly voice and saying, "," and he does it for no rhyme or reason, just out of the blue. It cracks me up. I told Mike about it the other day, and then at bath time we got Drew to perform for us.

Drew also sings with me almost every night/nap time, and I'm working on getting a video of that. I have one, but it has an awful lot of my voice singing on it, and I'd rather not post that!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Poultry Pork

I was shredding some chicken the other day at the kitchen table when Zach walked into the room.
Z- "Whatcha doing?"
Me- "Shredding this chicken for dinner tonight. We're having chicken and noodles."
Z- "Oh. Do you have to wash your hands after you touch it?"
Me- "No, it's already cooked."
Z- "Ok. I'm just gonna have a little taste." Takes a little pinch and eats it. "That's one good pig!"
Me- Slightly confused, wondering if I heard him correctly. "What?"
Z- "That's one good pig!"
Me- Laughing. "It's not a pig!"
Z- Kind of annoyed with me. "Yes, it is!"
Me- Laughing, making Zach more annoyed. "No, it's a chicken!"
Z- Annoyed. "Yeah, but it comes from a pig!"
Me- Laughing so hard I can barely talk. "Honey, no, it's a chicken!"
Z- Totally annoyed with me. "I know that, but it comes from a pig!"
Me- "No, honey, pork comes from pigs, chicken comes from chickens!"
Z- Starting to smile ever so slightly. "Oh."

It was a great moment.

And now that Drew's really talking, I feel I should put in a quote from him. The following are 2 examples of conversations that occur quite frequently these days.

D- "Wy-wy."
Me- "Fire engine?"
D- "Yeah."
Me- "What does a fire engine do?
D- "Wy-wy. Shoot."
Me- "What does a fire engine shoot?"
D- "Shoot wa-wa."
Me- "A fire engine shoots water?"
D- "Yeah. Wy-wy shoot wa-wa."

Drew and I have this conversation probably 3-5 times a day, though lately it's changing slightly. For example, now sometimes he jokes and says, "Shoot juice." And I play along, saying, "A fire engine shoots juice?" He loves playing that joke on me. He also now says it quickly, so it runs together, saying, "shoowa-wa."

The fire engine story has recently almost been replaced by this conversation:
D- "Kee-keen."
Me- "Lightning McQueen?" (The man car in the movie Cars, in case you didn't know.)
D- "Yeah. Kee-Keen. Hook."
Me- "Did Lightning McQueen get hooked?"
D- "Yeah. Kee-keen. Hook. Truck."
Me- "Lightning McQueen got hooked by a truck?"
D- "May-may."
Me- "Did Lightning McQueen get hooked by Mater, the tow truck?"
D- "Yeah."

It's funny how many times we can have these conversations in a day. Sometimes Drew reminds me of my Grandma Lenore, when she had Alzheimer's and would tell a story, and then 10 minutes later tell the exact same story in exactly the same words and inflection. It's like Drew is a broken record or something. It's pretty fun, though.

Here's a video of Drew saying some of these things. He is suddenly big into cranes and especially hooks. He likes to "hook" all sorts of things, as you will see in this video. We also ask him about colors, but he doesn't play along this time. He knows orange, blue, and green usually. He loves Elmo and Ernie, but instead of saying Ernie, he does Ernie's laugh. Oh, and he loves the song from "Elmo's World" and Ernie's Rubber Ducky song.

This was intended to be a really short post with just the quotes, but then since this video went perfectly with Drew's quotes, I thought I had to put it on, and now I'll be going to bed late AGAIN! I edited the video really quickly because it's so late, just clipping it before you have to endure too much of my singing.

Now I've got to get to bed. Another snow day tomorrow with high temperatures predicted to be 3 degrees BELOW zero, so I don't think I'll be too busy going out of the house! Maybe the boys will sleep in... yeah, right! They'll do that on Monday, when Zach has preschool or some day when I have an early appointment to get to.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fun with Family

This past weekend we got in some more good family time. The boys got to have a sleepover at Grandpa Kevin and Grandma Cynthia's house on New Year's Eve so we could stay up late with our friends/neighbors, and on New Year's Day, Grandpa Kevin, Grandma Cynthia, and Aunt Katherine came over to celebrate Christmas. Katherine's boyfriend Sam was supposed to join us, but he had food poisoning, sadly. He missed out on some fun rounds of Bananagrams, though it probably didn't matter, as we women dominated the game, and I'm not sure if Mike or Kevin won any rounds at all. Maybe they needed Sam's fresh, young brain to represent the male team.

After the boys woke up from their naps, we opened presents. It definitely seemed like Drew got the hang of opening presents at Christmas.

We were really wanting Sam and Katherine to be together when they opened this present Mike and I got for the two of them. We got them "smittens," which are mittens made for two. There's a left-handed mitten, a right-handed mitten, and one mitten that is extra large and has 2 openings, so that 2 people can hold hands inside the warmth of a mitten. Katherine and Sam go to college together in Minnesota, so surely they need something like this to keep their hands warm as they walk across campus hand-in-hand. Katherine blushed when she opened the present, which was fun, but we really wanted to see Sam's reaction, too.

Saturday we had a relaxing day at home. Temperatures were extremely low with wind chills way below zero. The actual recorded high temperature for our town on Saturday was 1 degree. I am not sure what it was with the wind chill, but it was cold. Already we have had ice on the insides of our windows and our back door, which is something that didn't happen last year until February, I think. Brrrr! So we did not leave the house on Saturday. I actually did not leave the house Saturday or Sunday. I did finish reading The Kite Runner, though, and wow, is that an amazing book. Quite depressing, but I just could not put it down.

So we didn't really do anything on Saturday, but had fun hanging out together as a family. Here are the boys showing off their Cheeto hands at lunch. Zach talked me into buying a bag of baked Cheetos a couple of weeks ago, and I'm not really regretting it. They're pretty tasty!

Saturday night we were excited to have my sister Sandy, brother-in-law Will, and nephew Anders come to visit. They were on their way north after visiting Will's family for New Year's. Zach and Drew were excited to see their aunt, uncle, and cousin again, although when I took Anders from Sandy so she and Will could empty out their car, Drew immediately started saying, "No! No! No! No!" and then "Up! Up! Up!" He wasn't so big on sharing his mom, I guess.

After some pizza for dinner, the boys got into playing. Zach and Anders were having a lot of fun crawling through a little tunnel Zach and Will made out of a blanket, a chair, the coffee table, and the love seat. Then Anders discovered Zach's belly button.

From that moment on, he was so interested in Zach's belly and belly button, and Zach was happy to oblige.

I love the faces Anders makes. It seems he does a lot with his tongue.

We got the boys in bed and Sandy, Will, Mike, and I played some more Bananagrams while watching a bowl game. Sunday morning we had some homemade blueberry coffeecake (something it seems I only have when I'm with Sandy), and Anders enjoyed some yogurt.

Sandy then helped me with my knitting. Last year when they were at our house at New Year's, Sandy and I bought some yarn and she taught me how to knit and purl. I started a scarf, and Sandy started a hat for me. On Saturday she presented me with my finished hat, and on Sunday she helped me get back to my scarf, which is now about 3 inches long. Ok, the problem is this- during the past year, I've seen Sandy a handful of times. Probably 50% of those times have I remembered to have the knitting with me for Sandy to help me with. And, what happens every single time (no exaggeration here), is that I get the hang of it, and then Sandy and I part ways, and about 2 minutes later I mess up and don't know how to fix the problem. Therefore, I have a 3 inch scarf and a very cold neck. This same exact thing happened. Seriously, not 3 minutes after Sandy left on Sunday, I made a mistake. I thought maybe I fixed it, but I didn't, but I did get it back to where I could go on and it didn't look terrible. But then I made another mistake, and this time I'm not sure how to get back on track. Since I have no idea when I'll be seeing my sister again :-(, tomorrow I'm hoping to stop in at the yarn store where we bought my yarn a year ago to see if somebody there will be kind enough to help me get back on track. And then, who knows? Maybe by 2011, I'll have at least 12 inches of scarf completed!

The Hawkeyes just won the Orange Bowl! Woo hoo!! Go Hawkeyes!