Saturday, October 24, 2009

Good Golly, Ms. Molly!

While the boys have a life that is replete with trains, planes, and automobiles of all kinds, they do not have any pets. From time to time, Mommy and Daddy thoughtfully ponder whether it is time to get one but always arguments arise to put off that fateful decision. First, the milestone was when both boys were potty trained, but that time passed long ago with barely a hint of pet ownership planning. Now, in spite of all the benefits Mommy and Daddy know go with pet ownership (teaching responsibility, care of animals, reducing risk of allergies later in life, etc.), we still manage to find just as many reasons to not have one (mess, cost, mess, responsibility, mess, and did we mention mess?). Many pets have been considered: fish, frogs, dogs, cats. Presently we're considering an ecoaquarium that requires effectively no maintenance except some food pellets every few days. We'll see. That sounds like a lot of commitment.

Fortunately, the boys still get in some animal time thanks to Aunt Elspeth who owns a little Scotty dog, Ms. Molly. Ms. Molly has been an honorary part of our family for approximately two years, since Aunt Heather acquired her in a sordid backroom deal involving Craigslist and a hastily scheduled road trip some 40 miles away to arrange for pickup. Now, whenever Aunt Elspeth travels (whether to visit the parents for the holidays or to backpack through South America with her bearded gentleman friend, Nord), Ms. Molly stays with us.

All in all, we think Ms. Molly has a good time. Certainly, the boys enjoy playing with her. They both jockey to be the ones to feed her, beg to take her on walks, and rush to be the first to let her out and back in for outdoor breaks. In a nod to the "shortest child chases the chicken" role that some children have on farms, Hesperos regularly leverages his short, stocky stature to terrorize the only creature in the house smaller than he is. Luckily, Ms. Molly is young but should her fur turn grey, it'll be difficult to ascertain whether it's fear of a burly 3-year-old or old age that's done it to her.

Eventually, we'll probably get a pet of our very own (i.e. hermit crab, painted rock, or lady bug) for the boys to care for full-time. In the meanwhile, we enjoy part-time responsibility for Ms. Molly if for no other reason than because it reminds us of the care-free days when we were just an aunt an uncle, before parenthood: all the fun, none of the responsibility, and the convenience of handing the lifeform back whenever it starts to misbehave.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slug Hunting and Pooh Sticks

Daddy's company picnic this past summer offered all of the usual fare: barbecue at a park, huge sheet cakes from CostCo, drawings for a variety of items branded with the corporate logo, and an inflatable bouncy for the children. It also featured a few not so common attributes such as an employee with an uncanny resemblance to the mayor in the cinematic version of The Wizard of Oz who also served as a comedian slash magician. This gent will probably not be giving up his day job any time soon (but possibly could consider it if he could throw in a couple lions or two and if Siegfried and Roy would take him on.

But, most of these entertainments were for adults and didn't keep Helios and Hesperos entertained for long. So, the four of us went to create our own entertainment at the wetlands at which the event was held.

For starters, we absconded with the top halves of several hamburger buns. Ostensibly to feed the ducks, the fact is Mommy and the boys prefer the top halves and we figured we might need a smackerel on our long journey around the park. Privately, Mommy suspects that no one noticed the difference - for those distressed by there being bottom bun halves only, there was beer to comfort.

After feeding the ducks and the resulting Mother Theresa-like rush of benevolence mixed with self-satisfaction at having done a good deed, we walked through the woods where we were beset by slugs. Dozens of slugs, hundreds of slugs! We could not take a step without worrying what living slime might be beneath our shoes. So, the shorter ones in our impromptu troupe (i.e. the children) took it upon themselves to go slug hunting, staring at the ground intently and letting us all know where it was safe to step. To the best of our knowledge, there were no slug fatalities that day as a result of our walk. If you suspect otherwise, it's only fair to tell you that Mommy was wearing flip-flops which have no discernible sole pattern and the boys' shoes have since been donated to Goodwill. Good luck pinning it on us!

Our adventure concluded with a game of Pooh sticks played at the stream. The boys having never played before, it took a tiny bit of explaining. Then, Hesperos' natural competitiveness took over and he decided to win by flinging himself over the bridge's edge to push his stick (also the biggest stick) through. Helios did a little stomping and fitting about how Hesperos wasn't playing fair -- but we all know that Hesperos' casual interpretation of the rules is probably what will make him a corporate success story some day when he's prestigious enough to go only by his initials.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Helios' First Day of School

The first of September dawned bright and busy with Helios' first day of school as a kindergartner. He had previously visited his school the Wednesday before and inspected the room, dropped off his school supplies, and introduced himself to the teacher. This 30-minute experience afforded Helios the opportunity to demonstrate full worldliness and mastery of his environment by the time the Big First Day arrived.

With barely a passing glance, he skipped merrily to his classroom, happy with his (nearly empty) backpack that contained only his beloved German Shepherd beanie baby, Durdle. Upon arriving, we did the important tasks: found Helios' cubby and stored his backpack; checked out the bathroom and ensured the toilet could flush (checked repeatedly); found his flower name tag (to help the teacher remember him - as if she could forget!); and introduced himself to the fish. After that, he explained very solemnly to the teacher that he knows how to read - and that he will help the teacher teach the other kids, if she wants.

The prime activity of the first day (half-days only for the first week) included the creation of a hand-print folded into the American Sign Language gesture for "I love you," which Helios shows proudly here.

No tears, but a little insecure whimpering, and a lot of excitement as Helios' elementary school experience begins.

Soccer x 2

Let me take you back to fall 2007, where days dawned cloudy and full of rain, and the soccer games still started too early for Saturdays. Helios was just starting out in his first year of soccer as a jumpy 3-year-old who liked to run around the court in the same way a cat likes to chase spiders. Hesperos was his older brother's biggest fan, barely a year old, half walking, half stumbling after the soccer balls that he clutched to his chest with all his eager might.

Now in 2009, Hesperos is a stocky 3-year-old, still capering after his older brother but almost fully the same size and able to play soccer in his own right. He's still a little rough on the rules and enjoys carrying the ball -- his natural competitiveness results in him hiding it from his teammates as well as the opposing players. But, according to Daddy, who knows such things, Hesperos has a possible future ahead of his as a forward since he's quite good at running as fast as possible...and happens to kick the ball ahead of him as he goes, a 3-foot tall little blur on the indoor soccer field.

Early September brought a return of soccer season for both boys. Delightfully, each happened to be in a team whose t-shirt color is blue (light blue and dark blue) which minimizes the likelihood of quarreling over who gets to wear what shirt and whose team is best. (Yes, it's all about the color of the jersey.) Both boys are in teams coached by Daddy (resulting in very long Saturdays at the gym) but there's no sense of divided loyalties in this family. Due to the age difference between the boys, there's no risk they'll ever play against each other.

But this doesn't mean that the two brothers won't meet on the field every now and then. And afterward, there's always time for a more-or-less amicable play on the tire swing.