Monday, July 28, 2008

The Most Happy: Hesperos' Ducky Birthday

It dawned neither bright nor sunny, but Hesperos was all aglow last weekend when we celebrated his second birthday.

Beginning the day with a mighty tear, gifts received from the eastern part of the family were ravaged under Daddy's watchful eye and Helios' encouragement. In the paradoxical way of children everywhere, Hesperos was equally delighted by his small box of Thomas the Tank Engine bandages and birthday card as he was his book, train, airplane, and other toys received. The bandages and card alone occupied Hesperos for a full twenty minutes while Mommy was left to decorate the cake. Licking the frosting off the spatula kept Helios occupied.

Afterward, boys and parents went to the site of Hesperos' birthday celebration, a local farm about three miles away. In keeping with the location, everything was farm-themed from the snacks (chocolate haystacks, rabbit food [carrots and celery sticks], fruits of labor [fruit], piglets in blankets, and juice boxes wrapped in cow print) to the party favors (horse heads on sticks with feed pails containing lollipops).

Although without a nap, Hesperos was in great form, running around on the play structure, slathering his face with chocolate haystack, and posing for a few snapshots with his friends from preschool. Thanks to gift-unwrapping practice earlier in the day, Hesperos was able to rip open gifts with aptitude, aided by his brother and friends. Among the offerings to Hesperos' two-year-old greatness, there were a couple gifts of note such as a Fisher-Price drum thoughtfully provided by Aunt Sully and Uncle Elmo, as well as a truck that plays "Old McDonald" at morning-rooster level decibels, thanks to Aunt Tiffany and Uncle Igor. Dee-light-ful...was not the first thought that came to mind.

Following gifts and cake (Hesperos now will sing happy birthday to himself just for the pleasure of pretending to blow out candles), the festivities ended with a tractor ride on Daddy's lap, and berry picking for all. (The farm we visit only requires weighing the berry container on the way out -- a poor business model, in our opinion. They should be weighing the child!)

The day ended with everyone exhausted...except for Helios, who reminds us daily that his birthday is next!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grillin' Bubbles

Whereas some avid grilling enthusiasts pull out the steaks and corn ears, Helios and Hesperos celebrate the summer outdoor cooking season with a bubble grill, thanks to Grandma Jane and Grandpa Mel. Having not yet mastered the ability to blow bubbles (excluding the saliva kind that are particularly abundant at the most inopportune times), Helios and Hesperos often have to resort to creative antics to coax fragile and elusive iridescent orbs from their tiny wands. These antics include running jerkily at high speeds to generate enough of a wind tunnel to create bubbles (and more often resulting in running into a tree or wall) and standing in front of Mommy and Daddy and demanding repetitively to "blow bubbles, blow bubbles!"

Thanks, though, to the generosity of Grandma Jane and Grandpa Mel, torture of parents and aggressive boy-swatting trees are a thing of the past. Our home was recently graced with a gift that only the Home Shopping Network (and Grandpa Mel's speedy dialing fingers) could give them -- a bubble grill! With a built in fan, the boys can now generate not only the humdrum, pedestrian orbs of old, but also bubbles ostensibly in the shape of tomato slices (circles), pickle slices (circles), burgers (circles), and onions (circles). In short, regardless of the utensil used to create the bubbles, the end result is still ... an orb. (Did the toy designers at Gazillion take any kind of physics classes...ever?)

Creative marketing and packaging aside, it is a great toy that, along with the super concentrated bubble liquid that requires 30-minute long baths to scrub off, is much enjoyed by these little soapy chefs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Crowd Goes Wild for Hesperos' Debut Singing Performance

For Christmas, Santa Claus brought Hesperos a cat electronic piano with keys for teeth, making it appear that the cat is grinning in creepy Cheshire style. It not only has a two-octave range, but it has several stored songs and background instrumentals. Have you ever wanted to hear "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as sung by a cat? How about as sung by a meowing cat? Wait, now...just wait... Have you ever wanted to hear "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as sung by a meowing cat pitched four octaves below its normal 'singing' voice? Well, with this toy, you can! Not only does the musically-inclined child have control over which motley assortment of 18 songs it can play, but the child can listen to the song with either words or "meow, meow, meow" at every note. If that weren't enough, the pace of the song can be increased or decreased with the resulting change in pitch. Have you ever wondered what Satan's cat sounds like singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb?" Come over to our home for your chance!

The cat keyboard also comes with a microphone, allowing for baby-style karaoke. It is conveniently shaped like an ice cream cone, which encourages Hesperos to occasionally lick it, but more often shove it in his mouth while singing. We wonder if Steve Tyler or Mick Jagger started out this way.

Without further ado, we bring to you, direct from our home, Hesperos singing his own lyrics to the cat keyboard version of La Cucaracha.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We Love Pillows

Generally, when we take weekend trips involving a hotel, we get a room with two queen beds, figuring that each parent can share a bed with a child. This was really more of a necessity when the boys were younger because it helped ensure they would be less likely to roll out of bed and we don't tend to trust hotel rental cribs. It's minimal inconvenience to us. After all, they're small and the beds are large. It's just for a couple nights, and really no biggie.

However, now they're older and that's less likely to happen. And we're beginning to think that it's time that the boys sleep with each other. For one thing, we don't want them to get used to sleeping with Mommy or Daddy.

For another, we're tired of trying to catch our zzzz's with Mr. Bed Hog and his brother Mr. Bed Piglet who enjoy lolling amongst pillowed splendor in what has become their queen-sized beds.

Recent Developments

Often, as little people grow up, changes are so gradual that they escape notice until one pauses to look back on pictures of last year, or even a month or two previous, and realizes the changes.

Then, there are the milestone accomplishments that tend to be pretty memorable -- taking a first crawl, first word, first meal, etc. These require little to bring them to mind...unless you have multiple kids, which may result in one child's feats blending into the next child's. (It's not too hard to understand...both boys are blonde and light-eyed, a bit on the stocky side, and love to fling food...who can remember which child is underneath all that pureed sweet potato?)

Helios and Hesperos have had a few recent developments, none on the scale of first laugh or first step quality, but still pretty cute.

Doo-dah. Hesperos has started referencing Helios consistently as Doo-dah (which is a bit closer to his name than Helios calling Hesperos "Poo-haf" when Helios was two). Hesperos will walk around, calling for his brother and best bud, saying "Doo-dah, doo-dah" in a sing-song voice that always sounds like the minor third of a doorbell ring.

I weigh 40 pounds! Lately, Helios has become obsessed with the scale in the downstairs utility room, climbing on top after he uses the potty. He doesn't really weigh 40 lbs. The scale gives too low a reading so it's been adjusted upward. Helios will jump on the scale and shout out, "I still weigh 40 pounds, Mommy!" followed rapidly with questions like, "How much does Daddy weigh?" and, my favorite, "How much do you weigh, Mommy?" Uh, yeah.

Wack, wack, wack, ribbit. Hesperos has become unashamedly obsessed with ducks and frogs. His nightly bath has about a dozen little pond-life creatures in it. We don't begrudge Hesperos his ducks and frogs. We're happy for the momentary reprieve from obsession train adoration. Also new is Hesperos' obsession with Elmo and his blue cousin, Cookie Monster. What is it about fluffy hand puppets who talk about themselves in the third person that appeals so much to toddlers? It's a mystery that only the genius of Jim Henson could understand.

Mommy, I don't want to be big. On the "awwww, how sad!" side of things, there's Helios' recent concern about growing up and becoming a big boy. Apparently, he doesn't want to do that any more. Okay, okay, that could be due to Mommy once saying how sad it makes her to see her boys getting bigger. That appears to have really upset Helios. Most recently, he went into Mommy's room, gave her a hug and said, "Mommy, I don't want to grow up because then I wouldn't be your little boy any more and I'd have to move away from home and not live with you any more." Yes, that was heart-wrenching and sad. But at the thought of a 28-year-old Helios living with Mommy and Daddy some day, Mommy suddenly got over any wistfulness about babies growing up. We know that Helios will always be the little boy who risked life and limb on a train track just to pick Mommy a flower.