Friday, August 29, 2014

Traveling with Kids

Every evening after supper.
We try to take a vacation every year, usually in the summer except for The Year of Cancer. This summer we made two trips with the kids and I realized something: traveling with kids is so much easier than traveling with babies and toddlers.

I didn't pack a single diaper. Not one.

No one cried because riding in the car sucks.

I actually got to face forward in my seat for the majority of the ride.

There was still vomit, but since we've learned some things over the years, we were so prepared that we didn't even have to stop the car.

They like our music now. Maybe a little too much.

We stayed in a hotel for our big vacation and with the Foley grands for a weekend, and they acted like small people instead of a pack of howler monkeys. Mostly.

Dessert for 4.

They have the stamina to stay up later while also keeping themselves together. Mostly. That meant no naps and late nights of playing mini-golf and then eating ridiculous amounts of dessert right before bed. There was the one melt down at 4:30 in the afternoon at the side of the wave pool on the 4th day of vacation, which resulted in me holding Man Cub in my arms, rocking, and singing our time-tested lullaby until he passed out. At which point I continued to hold him for an hour and 15 minutes while he slept. It was okay with me. It might have been the last time I'll ever rock him to sleep. I don't remember the last time before that. The fact that it happened while lounging in a low chair with my feet in the water just makes it sweeter. Lord knows I used to hold them on the beach like that.

All of our stuff fit in our car with space left over. I just knew we wouldn't have room based on the amount of crap I've had to pack in the past and the fact that we downsized my Honda Pilot to a CR-V. I was wrong.

Ear buds because our music was too loud.
They can use an iPad 99% of the time with zero adult assistance. That one is a bit ironic seeing as how we dramatically reduced the amount of technology we use at home this summer, and then we bought an iPad. Within 12 hours of the kids first touching it, we were saying things like, "If you ask to play with the iPad again, I'm taking it back." Rules were established, but it did make the driving more peaceful.

It's so liberating to be able to just throw clothes in a bag and go. To not have to plan for diaper changing and feeding outside of normal meal times. To not have to take bags of toys to entertain them in the down time (they packed one backpack each and were very content with what they brought). I feel like we've passed some kind of parenting milestone where vacationing with the kids has finally become more fun than work. It was lovely.

I can't wait to plan our next trip.

Monday, August 18, 2014


From this... this... just four short years. The first few years of life are truly astonishing.

By the way, that last picture was taken just a few days ago. In August. He wasn't cold; he just has no time for things like weather when creating a character. 

Luke is four today. He has grown exponentially over the summer. Nearly every stitch of clothing I bought for him in April is too little. We had to replace his entire warm weather wardrobe, down to the socks, before school started. I suppose all that growing is a direct result of all the eating he's been doing, or vice versa. At any rate, he's been starving all summer no matter what we feed him.

Recently he has learned to swim, discovered The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (circa 1995), and started playing with his "guys" (his superhero toys) with the kind of focus that I've only seen him give to puzzles. He still acts out his favorite movies, and he's still stubborn and easily distracted from the task at hand, but he has finally quit throwing himself into the floor in a fit of rage when he doesn't like our answers to his requests. Now, he just asks repeatedly, hoping I'll change my answer, until I lose my cool. I've had to re-employ the, "I've already answered that question, please don't ask me again" response. It's more effective than yelling. 

Speaking of yelling, he has a most annoying habit of yelling "Mamaaaaa! Mamaaa!" all through the house, over and over again until I'm half nuts. Alot of the time I adopt the "If I can't see you, I can't hear you" policy. Other times I just yell back. I did start to feel a little better about this when I heard him bellow for his Sunday school teacher across the party room during a church party at Pump it Up. It was incredibly rude, but so refreshing to hear someone else's name coming out of his loud mouth. 

Occasional rudeness aside, he has a sweet spirit and a vivid imagination that makes parenting him a daily adventure. I can't believe he's already four. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Last First Day of Preschool

This is a mer-man.
It's Luke's last first day of preschool, and OUR last first day of preschool. Next year he'll go to kindergarten.

His rapid physical growth, athletic development, and increasingly logical arguments have already hinted at the big kid he is becoming, but this first day of school marks the beginning of the end of a season in our lives. We're going to live it.

He was also ready for school to start. There's only so much swimming a kid can do in one summer, and he did it. We told him at the beginning that his Puddle Jumper will not fit him next year (because he's just 2 lbs. shy of the weight limit now and I had to work to get his arms in it), so he had to learn to swim this year. He took us seriously. By July, when his actual swim lessons started, he was already mostly swimming by himself (thanks to Gigi's coaching). By the end of swim lessons, he was jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side by himself. Oh, and he had taught himself to do underwater forward and back flips like it's no thing. He just rolls and rolls and rolls under the water until he needs to take a breath. This summer's pool progress was amazing.

First day of 4K.
Now we're looking forward to a time when he counts to 20 and actually includes 15 and 16 together, in order.

He has been telling me for the last couple of weeks that he doesn't want to go to school. I knew it wasn't true. As usual, when we met his teacher last night, we had to drag him out of there when we were ready to leave. He got up at six this morning and gave no resistance to dressing himself and brushing his teeth. Those are pretty big school morning milestones.

And, if that wasn't enough to convince me, "I can't wait to play with those Legos!" did.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Summer's Over

Did you hear that this is the first day of school? Probably not.
First day of 1st grade.

We summered all the way until 9:15 last night. None of that going to bed early and getting back on schedule a week before school business for The Ropers. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

(In truth, they never really get off schedule because I have to go to work all summer even if they don't, so they get up at the same time every day. And, usually before the alarm because apparently ain't nobody got time for sleeping when the sun is up, either. Except me, but I don't count.)

See those snazzy new shoes she's wearing? She earned them by learning to tie them herself this summer. Praise the Lord. Ya'll know how I hate little shoes. Hers aren't little anymore, so it was high time she tied them herself. We gave her a choice: Learn to tie your shoes and you can pick out the craziest, sparkling, pink ones you can find, or don't and we will make you wear gray velcro shoes. It worked like a charm.

I was surprised that she wanted us to walk her in.
She got the teacher she really wanted, the one she met and loved at reading camp this summer. She has been ready for school to start since camp ended two weeks ago. She even put away her Palace Pets and broke out her classroom supplies to teach her dolls yesterday. I haven't seen her teach in a long time. Now she can read the names of the states on her map and the days of the week on the calendar, so it was pretty neat to listen to her class while I worked. 

She's going to be exhausted when I pick her up today. For as much as she protests napping when we make her do it (Yes, we still make her nap often. I will milk that for as long as possible.), she has been sleeping long and hard most afternoons. That's one schedule adjustment I probably should have made before school started, but I didn't because sleep improves us. She'll adjust and we'll make up the naps on the weekend. Oh, yes we will.

Little brother starts his last year of preschool next week, but that's another post.