Friday, February 09, 2024

He's 4 and 1/2!

My little buddy gets bigger and bigger every day.  I'm amazed by him and his maturity and intelligence. His primary teacher said, "He's just like a little man the way he sits there and stares into your soul."   He's also sometimes truly a crazy little 4 year old who loves to dance naked when he should be getting dressed for bed or who throws fits over the craziest things.  

He celebrated his 1/2 birthday in school because he's a summer birthday.  I got to come in for a few minutes and watch.  He placed paper candles on a paper cake and everyone sang to him.  The teacher said, "Will you smile while we sing?" so he pasted the funniest fake smile on his face and didn't shift the expression the entire time.  I had such a hard time not laughing.  Then he got to "blow out the candles" and be the calendar helper for the day.




Other things we've been doing a lot - swimming and ice skating.  He LOVES to swim and we go twice/week in addition to his swim lessons which he started in December.  He's getting better all the time and its just amazing how fast he makes progress in ability and confidence.  He hasn't figured out how to breath while swimming yet, so he swims, stops, breathes, swims again, etc.  But after only swimming for two months, I'm really impressed with him.  He's always the only kid in the pool without arm floaties.



I'd really hoped he'd like ice skating more because personally I love ice skating but hate swimming.  It's not really his favorite, though but sometimes I can get him to go skating with me after swim lessons.  He's not great at it but he's way better than I thought he'd be starting out.  I think roller skating so much already has really helped.  It's so much fun introducing him to all these new things.  Little kids are so much fun.

The weather has been so warm lately.  It's been amazing to go outside and play in warm sunshine in February.  Also, one of his favorite things has been going to library story time with his favorite librarian, Karen, and his besties from church - Marley, Annie, and Joan.  We four moms come every week and hang out while our kids enjoy story time.  It's perfect for all of us.







Monday, January 22, 2024

Indianapolis

 After Christmas and New Years, all the excitement had passed and yet nothing new had begun.  School didn't start for another week and even then not really because of snow days.  So, just like last year and the year before that, I determined to take a trip the first week of January and get kids away from screens and out doing something fun.  We tossed around a lot of ideas but since I was going to be the sole driver, I needed it to be fairly close.  Indianapolis won out.  It was a great trip.

We got an airbnb apartment in a building directly in the center of town for $50/night because it was off season and it was a wonderful place.  It had a huge common area with a pool table, ping pong, shuffle board, corn hole, bocce ball, and giant movie screen.  It was a great place to hang out in the evening after we were tired of exploring the city.  Indianapolis has more of a Detroit feel than a bigger city like Chicago or New York. It's definitely been through the same rough decades of urban flight that Detroit has but it seems to be recovering very well and it was very walkable and had plenty of fun things to do.

We visited the zoo, the highlight of which was the dolphins and the dolphin show.  Also, the seal enclosure was getting cleaned while we were there so there were scuba divers in the tank and other workers above ground who were interacting with the seals and that was fun to watch.







We visited the Children's Museum which is supposedly one of the best in the world.  It was over-hyped in our opinion and we honestly didn't like it as much as the one in Ann Arbor or the one in Toledo, but it was ok.  It was a fun way to spend a few hours and the space station exhibit and the Terra Cota warriors display and presentation were great.  Christian was the hero on this day because it really wasn't very geared to his age and yet he never complained and made the best of it for many hours.





You can't go to Indianapolis and not visit the Indy 500 Motor Speedway.  That was definitely a highlight.  They drive you out onto the track and drive the whole loop while the tour guide tells you all about it.  We all felt like we were breaking some rule as we drove out onto the track.  I felt like someone was going to come out any moment and yell at us!  Then they took our picture at the famous bricked finish line, with the timing and officials pagoda, and the score board.  The building in the background of the first picture is the museum which, sadly, was closed for renovations.  It says "Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Racing Capital of the World" on it.






We also went to an outdoor evening lightshow at a beautiful place called Newfields.  It has outdoor gardens, a modern art museum, a sculpture garden, etc.  We spent the day exploring the grounds and when the sun went down, went into the light show area.  We found some of the church's Light the World machines there!  That was cool. We'd only ever seen them on the church's website.  So we chatted with the members that were volunteering to help people and we bought chickens and produce for the needy. 


 


The show was spectacular with all sorts of amazing ways of displaying the lights.  Our favorite was a dried up river bed into which they'd placed dozens of lights on posts so they looked like they were floating down the river, all up to a gorgeous giant dome of lights that looked like the moon on the horizon.  The best part was when we came up to the "moon" and discovered that we could go inside.  The boys couldn't get enough of the experience.






Peter's highlight of the day was the escalator.  An up and down one side by side - perfect for endless looping.  He rode it for about 30 minutes non-stop.  Christian discovered the joy of going the wrong way on the escalator.  I was shocked that at 13 he'd never done that before!  My sweet rule-abiding kid.  Another day we found another set of escalators side by side like this in the mall and it was another 30 minutes of riding.  I think that will be the only thing Peter remembers of Indianapolis in the future!


Or maybe playing on the giant numbers in a sculpture in front of the museum.  Not sure that was allowed, but no one stopped us.


We explored a beautiful park area around the river one day and discovered they have the NCAA Hall of Fame there.  We hadn't intended to visit, but it was a lot of fun.  The highlight there was the interactive games where you get to play any sport you want against the computer and cameras which track your movements.  So you throw/kick a real football/baseball/soccerball/etc. at the screen and it acts as if you're playing against real players who catch/hit/block/etc the ball (or don't, if you throw really poorly)  It was a lot of fun.







We also spent time just exploring around - the Saints and Soldiers monument to all the military from Indiana, the state capitol building, the 9/11 monument (not pictured) and random funny little things we found like this man on a bench.  No idea who he is, but he seemed very friendly.   We got so lucky with the weather.  It was always sunny and in the 40s so we never froze.





Random extras:

We ate sushi several times, exploring what the city had to offer.  We also ate our weight in gyros and chicken shwarma because I discovered Christian had no idea what they were and I was sure he'd love them.  He did.


We got stymied by the winter season closures in one park which blocked off all the paths we'd intended to take back to the car.  Rather than go all the way back the way we came, Christian suggested going straight up along the freeway overpass and along the free way for 100 meters to get back to the car.  Stupid idea but definitely more fun and adventurous, so that's what we did. 


The apartment building we stayed in.  Other than parking costs, this place was fantastic.  In fairness, though, parking was half what we paid in Chicago.


I have no pictures of the skywalk.  It's a multi-mile glass enclosed walkway that lets you walk all around the downtown center over the streets without going outside and allowed us to go from our apartment building to the mall and a ton of other places without ever needing a jacket.  That was a lot of fun.

I'm so glad this tradition of January trips continues.  I'm sad that Bella and Benjamin couldn't be convinced to come and that Kelly had to work.  Otherwise, it was a great week.




Friday, December 29, 2023

Christmas 2023

This year was another great Christmas.  All the traditions - cookie decorating, gingerbread houses, band concerts,  Detroit symphony concert, light show drives, nativity play, etc.  We also went roller skating a few times, played a TON of monopoly, got sick (Peter), sang/played piano in church, and played at other churches.  It was a full, busy, fun month.

Benjamin's Christmas band concert was wonderful.  He never told me he was doing a song with just the percussion section.  It was so fun to hear him.  As he gets older, it becomes more and more real that every concert is his last of that thing - the last Christmas concert.



He also played at another church nearby.  They did a wonderful concert as part of the church's Christmas program.  I loved all the groups performing that night, especially an all men's barbershop choir.  They were so fun!


Bella being a saxophonist means I can never see her during the concert.  She's always so buried in among the other instruments that she disappears.  So these walking -in shots are all I get.


Bella has been called to be ward assistant pianist.  As such, she plays prelude music on Sundays.  It's so fun to see her up there using her talents....talents for which I've spent so much money finally coming to use. :)


Peter was finally willing to go up and sing with the primary for the first time!  I was so excited.  Up until now he's always refused, but this time he went up and sang "Picture a Christmas."  I wish I'd had a better view of him, rather than him getting lost behind the podium and the scriptures.

My favorite Christmas concert is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's "Home for the Holidays" which they do every year.  This year Benjamin and Bella came along.  It was so wonderful to share that with my two band kids.  I am always in awe of the hard work these musicians put into their craft.

There was a lego version of parts of Detroit in the lobby that Bella and I visited before the concert began.


Bella with the legos and the water that cost me $4.



Sugar Christmas traditions - houses and cookies.  Bella, Peter, and I were the only ones interested in making gingerbread houses.  We had a blast.  The others missed out, the party poopers.  Everything this year was a little different as the kids get older.  They are less and less willing to participate in traditions.  Thank goodness for Peter and Bella who are always willing and up for anything I suggest.



We also decorated cookies on another day and I sadly didn't get a single picture.  So, Bella sent me these from when she invited friends over to decorate cookies at our house.  The scene was similar.  I love that she is always inviting people over and hosting things like this.  I gladly made all the cookies, frosting, and royal icing.  It was fun to the the girls so excited.




Kelly loves to roller skate and the rest of us like skating and love Kelly, so we go and usually have a pretty good time.  This week was peak skating because it was nearly empty.  We had the whole practice floor to ourselves at times!  Peter skated phenomenally well.  He lasted the whole 2.5 hours and was doing it on his own.  What a champ.


Skate dancing and spinning is always fun.



The lights on the skating floor make for some whacky pictures! 


The stake also organized a skating day for the youth.  All the kids had a great time with friends. 



Heinz Drive light show and Perrin Family Light show.  Again, just Bella and Peter.   Luckily Kelly was able to come too.  In fairness, though, Christian would have come to these if he hadn't had robotics.


Christmas Eve always means the nativity play.  I love that my kids are still good sports about doing this.  The older they get, the more lax we get about the costumes, though.  Benjamin's wise man costume was on-point with my Alma the Younger robe slung over his shoulders and Christian was sporting the "Which Joseph am I" with the Joseph Smith vest and his scrap of Christmas fabric while playing Joseph.  :)


Peter was a very reluctant baby Jesus, as usual, and refused a costume but I was able to get him to cuddle with me anyway and it worked.


My mom and our friend Thea also joined us, as usual.  It always makes for a fun evening. 


Peter even serenaded us on the piano. 


Christmas Day - lots of presents, very few pictures. Don't blame me - it was 7am after a very late night. Benjamin decided for the first time to make it more like Hanukkah and only opened two presents a day all week.  Each morning and each evening we've gathered in the living as he opened another until they were gone.  It was very unconventional, but also a lot of fun.


Looking forward to a great 2024!