Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Late Shift

Well, we're back on the late shift this week. I'm not quite sure how the transition started, but the kids are sleeping in and staying up super-late. What surprises me is Taisim - the girl has new-found late night energy. It's actually kind of fun being up in the middle of the night with them - they've been having a lot of fun playing with each other, but it's starting to wear on me. I've been sleeping in later than usual, but I still feel too tired to be much fun in the wee hours of the morning. As I type this Yuta, Taipan & Taisim are snuggled in bed still (it's almost noon).

This week has been pretty low key though. We went to the park after I got off work on both Monday & Tuesday. It was just about dark when we got back home on Tuesday (Yuta was working), and the kids and I played in the driveway for a bit, until I started noticing the mosquitos, then we came inside.

Here are some pics from our driveway play:

Last night Yuta went to a fantasy football draft, and the kids and I stayed in. Taisim napped from 7-9:30pm, and Taipan fell asleep around 8:45pm... only to wake up ready to play at 11:30pm! So you can imagine how late, or shall I say early, we were up. The kids were very interested in our game closet ... grab one, play it for about 15 mins, then go back for another, and another and another. Balloon Lagoon has been a favorite lately, as has Pretty Pretty Princess.

We have plans to go to Cedar Point today, but that hinges on how late everyone sleeps, and the weather (I have no interest in going to an amusement park in the rain).

Off to work...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Does He Look Just Like Buddy Holly?

So we mentioned Taipan's setlist in Rock Band in an earlier post, but at the time he was really only playing guitar and drums. Well, he started singing along too, but only recently started singing with Rock Band.

Without further ado... Weezer's Buddy Holly as sung by Taipan...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Don't Know Where I'm-a Gonna Go ....

Things are a little bit back to normal now, so hopefully we're back to blogging again.

Yuta's got some pretty fun video of Taipan singing some songs on Rock Band. He's got to convert it, but hopefully it'll be here soon.

In the meantime .... Volcano!

There's a Little Einsteins episode that has a volcano and a geyser in it. Taipan asked to see some video of a volcano the other night, so we got on YouTube to see what we could find. We found lots of Mt Etna and some volcanos in Hawaii and Washington, and also came across a few videos of homemade volcanos. After seeing those, we knew we'd have to make our own too.

Last night we cut up a box, lined it with foil, and grabbed almost all of our playdough. Yuta used an empty playdough container as base to build the volcano around, and to use as a resevoir for our lava. I was helping Taisim fall asleep during the construction, but made it out in time for the eruption.

Taipan wasn't quite sure what to expect, and backed away from the table quite a bit before we did the eruption. Once he saw what happened, he came in for a closer look. We put some water & dish soap in the container, then added baking soda & vinegar. And then added more vinegar. Then more baking soda, then more vinegar and so on until we emptied two already open bottles of vinegar. We had one more bottle of vinegar, and decided to use it after Taisim woke up.

So more eruptions after Taisim was awake:

And then she wanted to do it herself.

Our volcano is now in pieces on the kitchen table, drying out a bit. The dough is still soft enough to mold into another volcano if we want to. But we're all out of baking soda and vinegar - it's on the shopping list for this weekend, so maybe we'll do more.

It's also been requested that we make a geyser, so we've got Diet Coke and Mentos on our shopping list too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday was a fun day

After a pretty great day on Saturday, we started out Sunday pretty slow.  I was the first up, followed by Taipan, and then Taisim.  We decided to hang out upstairs for a bit - initially we went up to feed the fish, and decided to stay and play.  Taisim found some dolls in the toybox, and Taipan wanted to make a Train-O-Rama for the Christmas doll (it's a soft doll dressed in green & red that says "My 1st Christmas").  So we brought up some of our trains, and got them all to move at the same time.  Christmas Doll seemed to enjoy it.

After that I brought out a Blues Clues board game that a friend handed down to us.  We had a lot of fun playing it.  For where Taipan is with board games, this one was just about perfect - he loves Blue, he loves finding clues (a renewed interest since discovering Shana on PlayhouseDisney), and he enjoyed skidooing and setting up the game and all of that stuff.  

Yuta woke up, I worked out, the kids did some computer games, and then Yuta had to go to work, and shortly after that we went grocery shopping.  On the way there Taipan told me that he wanted to make blueberry pie, so I picked up pie crusts and blueberry filling just in case.  I had fresh blueberries at home, but having never made anything other than pumpkin pie, I didn't know what else I'd need and wanted to be prepared.

So after Taisim fell asleep, and Taipan and I did another few rounds of Blue's Clues, we started making blueberry pie.  Turns out that I had everything we needed, so we got to work:

I was more than a little intimidated by the lattice top crust, though looking back on it I'm not sure why.  I guess because I'd never done it before and didn't have confidence in my abilities.   I also paralyzed when the recipe said to flute the edges.  Um.  Ok.  I had no idea what that meant, but thanks to google I learned that it was nothing to be afraid of.  

The kids aren't interested in eating it.  Yuta said it was good.

The other thing we had planned for last night was hair cuts.  So after Taisim woke up from her nap, I started getting things ready.  Taipan wanted to watch a movie in the living room, so that's where I set things up.  I put a sheet over the carpet, then put two chairs on the sheet, and had towels and baby powder at the ready.  

Historically Taipan does not like getting his hair cut.  Usually it's pretty long and gets cut when he thinks it's interfering in some way (the last time he had it cut he asked me to do it after it kept getting in his mouth while he was eating).  Yesterday I told him I'd noticed that he was pushing it out of his eyes a lot, and he agreed to have it trimmed.

After I was ready I asked Taipan to come sit down and he told me that he wasn't ready yet.  I told him to let me know when he was ready.  About 30 minutes later he went over to the chair, and I explained everything I was doing ... first I gave him a bowl of jelly beans, and put a movie on to help keep him focused on something other than the hair cut.   He was ok with me stuffing a towel into the collar of his shirt - he hasn't liked that in the past.  Having the towel certainly helped with the discomfort having hair all over.  I also used baby powder to help get the hair off and soothe the itching.  He really liked that.  

So I cut his hair, and then Taisim said she wanted a hair cut too, so I trimmed the back of her hair and her bangs.  Taipan said he wanted to help me, and that he would help her with baby powder when she get itchy.

Long story short ... check out these pictures.  It was a very gradual progression from Taipan helping put some baby power on Taisim's neck and arms, to her wanting some in her hands, and then this happened when I left the room to get fresh clothes for them:

I decided not to stop their fun ... I just asked them to stay on the sheet.  Of course it didn't occur to me that even if they stayed on the sheet that the powder would circulate through the air and we'd end up with a dusting of baby powder throughout our living room.  Even if it had occurred to me I probably wouldn't have done anything differently.

During the shot where Taipan is dumping it on his head he's saying, "Look, Mom, it's like a shower!"  He also got Taisim's head.  And Yuta came in the door from work in the middle of all of this too ... I can only imagine what was going through his head.

Eventually the bottle was empty, so we started the clean up.  I took both kids to the bathroom to wipe them off and change their clothes, and Yuta gathered up the sheets & towels.

We all wiped down surfaces, and then when I started to vacuum, the kids wanted to help. 

The living room is back to normal, and the kids smell WONDERFUL today.

Homemade Hot Air Balloons & Bedford Reservation

Our concoctions and contraptions book has a hot air balloon on the cover, and Taipan asked earlier last week if we could try that one ... we got around to it on Saturday morning.

The idea is to make a five sided box out of tissue paper, fill it with hot air from a blow dryer and wait for it to float up!

Taipan was ready with the glue sticks while I began tracing and cutting out the pattern for the balloon:

Then we glued the sides of the balloon together, and got the blow dryer out.  

And our balloon didn't float :(  We spent some time keeping it in the air with the blow dryer, and tried various methods to get it to work.

Right about this time Yuta and Taisim woke up.  He looked at the pattern in the book and saw that it said "drawn to scale", and we decided that the one I made was probably not big enough, so he made another balloon, this time bigger:

And it still didn't float.  So we thought we'd try to use a candle - maybe that would work better because we wouldn't have to worry about the blow dryer blowing the balloon around:

Still no floating.  I'm not sure what went wrong, but it was fun to give it a try.  Taipan lost interest somewhere during the cutting out of the second balloon ... it became more of a challenge for me and Yuta to try to figure out how to get the balloon to float.  If anyone reading this has any ideas, please tell us.

After the balloon making, we decided to go to a splash fountain in the Bedford Reservation.  I took the kids here last Sunday, and they loved it, so we went again.  The water is freezing cold, which is perfect for Taipan, as he loves cold water.  Yuta said his feet were going numb though.  Here's a picture from last Sunday so you can get an idea of what the fountain is like:

We played in the fountain for a little over an hour, and then walked around the surrounding field to check things out.  We saw a creek, and lots of trees and plants.  

Taipan noticed a big hole in the tree, so we checked that out too.

On the way back to the van, the kids had fun climbing onto and walking along a ledge.

After that we made a stop at PetSmart to get a scratching post for Cooper.  He hasn't really used it .... he doesn't scratch on the carpet or furniture often, but we figured we'd give the post a go.  We'll give it a week or so and if he doesn't use it we'll probably take it back.

When we came home the kids and I made banana bread .... then we ate banana bread.  It was our second batch this week!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Updates all around

Yesterday I had the chance to post about some recent goings-on around here. Today I wanted to post about some other things we've been into that we haven't documented with photos.

Taisim has been growing increasingly more independent and wanting to do things herself - from using the mouse on the computer to carrying her plate to the table to putting her clothes on. It catches me off-guard sometimes because she still wants our involvement quite a bit. But she definitely lets us know when she wants to do something on her own. I think some of it is hard for Taipan to adjust to - just this morning she was playing a game and Taipan was watching over her shoulder and advising her on what to do next and she let out a super-loud scream at him "No! I'm doing it" or something like that. And it wasn't like he was butting in and trying to do it for her. And there are other times when she doesn't even want him to do the same activity that she's doing ... I know Taipan did that for a bit (and still does sometimes), but I seem to have forgotten it.

She continues to really enjoy coloring and princesses and some pretend play. This morning the first thing she and Taipan did was set up a tea party. She also has started giving us presents every now and again (this morning she gifted me a magnet).

A couple of weeks ago things clicked for her and now she's able to independently use the mouse on the computer - she loves it! She used to really enjoy watching Taipan use the computer and choose the games and music ... no longer! So one of our laptops now has a semi-permanent position on the kitchen table so that she can use that one while Taipan is on the desktop in the living room.

Speaking of Taipan and the desktop ... a friend recommended a computer game she thought he would enjoy, and we finally picked it up a week or two ago. Oh, my does he love it. It's one in the series of The Incredible Machine games. You can either solve contraptions or build your own. Yuta is a whiz at the solving part - and fortunately for me he found a web site with cheats so that I can solve them now too. There are gears and fans and lasers and switches and plugs and balls and I could go on and on. It's a pretty cool game, and right up Taipan's alley. I can't recommend this game highly enough.

We've also been playing a lot of Rock Band lately. Sometimes Taipan by himself, sometimes Yuta by himself, and sometimes as a family. Taipan has a playlist of songs that he likes to play - he puts the game in practice mode, sometimes slows it down to half speed, and then plays the song off of iTunes and plays either drums, guitar or bass ... the last two are mostly with his small acoustic guitar, but last weekend he began experimenting with the Rock Band guitar. He does the strumming, and I push the buttons when he does that.

This is his set list:
Baba O'Riley by The Who (Teenage Wasteland)
Buddy Holly by Weezer
Here It Goes Again by OK Go
Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash
My Sharona by The Knack (this is a recent addition)
Taisim is the self appointed dancer most of the time, and sometimes she'll grab our spare mic and sing along. Yuta, of course, is proficient on drums, guitar, bass and singing. I used to stick only to signing, but over the past week I've been brave enough to give guitar & drums a try. I haven't gotten us booed off stage yet (as long as it's set to "easy").

For those who haven't heard, Yuta is now an ordained member of the clergy. He has been asked to officiate his sister's wedding, so he got an online ordination from the Universal Life Church. I know he's honored to have been asked, and I suspect a little nervous (though he hasn't said so).

I've just completed two pretty good books - the first is In The Woods by Tana French. I really enjoyed it, but it spooked me out a bit, and was partially responsible for my insomnia in Atlanta. The other one was first novel in the Twilight saga. I've got the second one already from the library and will probably begin reading it tonight. I like that I just found out about this series, so I can read them all back to back and not have to wait for the next release.

Oh, and Yuta and I just watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog yesterday - pretty damn funny.

That's it for now. I can hear that Yuta and the kids are doing another contraption/concoction from that book while I'm blogging/working. Maybe we'll have more pics of that soon!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Last week

I spent a couple of days last week on a business trip to Atlanta. For me the trip was ok (two nights of insomnia), and the kids and Yuta seemed to have a great time. I think I've been away from them three times now over the past seven months, and this was the first time I've left and had both kids cheerfully say good-bye (vs. one or both being sad or upset).

The night before I left for Atlanta I came across some glow sticks in our pantry and the kids and I went outside to play with them as soon as it got dark. We also heard some fireworks that someone was doing nearby - we saw one firework, but the others were too low for us to see from our house.

Before I left for Atlanta I ordered a fruit bouquet to come for the kids and Yuta was out of town. I wanted for them to have a surprise, and also maybe help Yuta out by sending fresh, ready to eat fruit. Yuta took the pictures below and sent them to me - I really appreciated getting the pics while I was out of town. Even Cooper was interested!

Seven Hills Homedays, July 27

Last Sunday the kids and I went to the Seven Hills Home Days.  Yuta had gotten up super early to work the opening shift at SBux, so we left him at home to take a nap.

The Friday before we went to watch the Home Days fireworks in our friend's in-laws' backyard (great seats!!), and we wanted to go back and check out the rest of the stuff.

Based on our experience in Strongsville a week or two prior, I didn't really expect the kids to want to do any rides or many activities.  I thought we'd mostly be spectators again, but I was wrong.  When we first got there we found a place to sit under a tree and watched the rides for a bit.  Then we decided to go see what games were there - they had the typical balloon/dart, basketball shooting and water pistol games.  But the one that the kids were most interested in was the strong man game - the one where you swing a mallet to try to ring a bell.  Each of them was able to take a few swings.  Taisim was just able to lift the mallet.   Here they are taking their turns:

After that we came across the funhouse, and the kids were eager to give that a try, so we went to buy tickets.  We went through the funhouse three or four times.  At the end was big spinning wheel, and Taipan would go thru it first, then push the emergency stop button (as directed by the ride operator) for me and Taisim to come through.  Here they are at the funhouse mirrors:

After the funhouse we went to a kid-oriented thing called Adventure Land (or something like that), where they could climb a ramp, jump into a ball pit, climb out via a rope-net ladder, go across a bridge and down a slide.  They wanted to do this quite a few times - we spent the rest of our cash on some more tickets and went through that as many times as our tickets allowed (and then a couple more thanks to a generous ride operator).  I knew they'd be disappointed to leave, but I'd spotted a balloon artist, and used that to transition out of Adventure Land.  

Taipan requested a blue monkey, and Taisim asked for a pink flower:

After Home Days, we went to Handel's for some ice cream and milkshakes.  They had blast climbing through the rock garden, but I'd left my camera in the van, so no pics of that.