Given that Finny is over 5 years old, it's sort of surprising that until last night, he'd never spent the night without his constant companion, Leo. As you know, we've spent those 5 years working diligently to ensure that Leo never got lost, which, in fact, worked a little too well and now Finny has 3 Leos in action: the Original Leo, and the two Leomarans, each of which magically appeared at some point.
Even so, there have still been many many cumulative hours logged looking for the various "lost" buddies - at home, in the car, in the basement, at preschool, etc. To prevent buds from being left behind, we've developed a standing rule for ourselves when buddies come with us on outings, which goes a little somethin' like this: "Buds in the car, buds in the car. Lookin' like a FOOL with your buds in the car!"
Well, yesterday, the boys flaunted the "buds in the car" law, and Leo was mistakenly left behind at our nanny's four year-old granddaughter's house. We did not discover his absence until it was almost bedtime, so after Finny had a brief meltdown (but I can't sleep without him! I've never gone to sleep without sucking on his tail!!!), Yvonne called Jessie's mom, who committed to bringing Leo back this morning before we left for school. I told Finny that Jessie would take good care of him, and Leo would get to enjoy his first sleepover, which is pretty exciting when you think about it!
I think Finny was so tired from a big exciting day with Yvonne that he fell asleep as soon as I turned out the light, snuggled amongst his other buddies. I didn't hear a peep about Leo at all! And, as promised, Leo was delivered, well-rested and happy, to his ecstatic and grateful human companion, this morning at 8 a.m.
Will there come a time when the sight of any construction activity doesn't hold our boys in its total thrall? Yeah, and much sooner than we'd like, I'm sure. For now, though, they remain transfixed by things like our neighbors Long & Suzanne getting a new lawn put in. It provided a whole weekend's worth of entertainment, as you can glimpse below:
This past Sunday, the four of us headed out to Santa Cruz to experience something called "Al Smith Day" at the Swanton Pacific Ranch. Our acquaintance from the San Jose History Park, Motorman Erik, hipped us to this special event. Once a year, the Swanton Pacific Railroad, which runs through the ranch (both owned by Cal Poly University), is opened to the public for train rides, tours, live music, and BBQ. As soon as Erik told us about it, we knew we couldn't pass it up. (Turns out Al Smith is the Cal Poly alum who gave the ranch to the school & created the railroad.)
The train & tracks are small-scale, like what you'd expect in a mine. They have both steam and diesel engines at work, and have built a really cute little yellow train station where you board. Cal Poly's got a very active group of train enthusiasts who refurbish engines, and maintain the cars, roundhouse, and sheds. These guys range in age from 13 to late 80's. They were all happy to talk our ears off about the various engines, track machinery, and assorted gear. Needless to say, the boys were fascinated. We spent lots of time in the round house checking things out (including a tiny ore car!) before heading out on the actual train ride.
Finn and Henry had a blast playing "conductor" and "snack man" in our little enclosed car during the ride. After the ride, we watched some guys from the Cal Poly logging program chop wood with various sharp implements. We also toured some parked full-scale cabooses, listened to the live bluegrass music, and enjoyed our BBQ in the beautiful sunshine. It was a great day, and we were thrilled to get in on the secret! Here's a little gallery of our train-tastic adventure.
Oh man... Finny loves to harass me when I try to use my computer, phone, or iPad when he's around (because, naturally, I should be giving him my strict attention 100% of the time!). This weekend, instead of whining, he took a craftier approach.
Knowing that we're proud when the boys read letters and numbers aloud, he started reciting the long (and deliberately silly) string of digits printed on the lid of my computer. By the time I captured the video below, he'd already repeated them over and over for minutes on end:
Soon enough I cried "uncle!" (or was it "son!") and shut my laptop. You win this round, blondie.
Saturday unfortunately marked the guys' last swim lessons with their instructors at the San Jose State Aquatic Center. We signed up for a 4-week session, and were hoping to sign up again, but it sounds like the pool will be closed this summer for repairs.
You'll see from the pictures that Finny has been making great strides on learning what to do with his legs and arms, putting his head underwater, doing some assisted floating, and generally enjoying himself in the pool. I think he's going to be quite the little fish!
And our Henry has made strides in his own way...meaning that once he actually gets in the pool, he usually has a good time. It's the getting in that takes forever and meets with a lot of resistance. He is incredibly slow to warm up to getting into the pool - he hems and haws and stalls to no end, and he usually needs a lot of cajoling from us and/or his super-nice instructor Kiyomi.
This week we showed up 20 minutes early to get Henry warmed up and in the water so we didn't have to waste a bunch of his lesson time doing it. I sat with him on the edge of the pool, we stuck our feet in, we stood on the step, we splashed around a little, and I even got him to step down so most of his legs were in the water by the time Kiyomi came over. I figured he was ready to go, so when she came, I left to go use the ladies' room. When I came out of the bathroom, I witnessed a hilarious low-speed chase, with Henry trying to outwalk Kiyomi around the edge of the pool, and Kiyomi trying to catch him and convince him to get back into the water. Henry kept looking over his shoulder and sped up a bit, heading for my lounge chair. He tried to hide behind it, then decided he would drag the chair behind him in an effort to convince us he would be happy just sitting in the chair near the pool. I laughed and redirected him back towards Kiyomi, who got him back into the pool in short order, where he proceeded to have a great time during his lesson.
Here's the gallery of the guys in action.
Here's wishing a very happy fifth birthday to our pal Cyrus Wiggin! (And yes, Cyrus, Dad-O is wondering whether he can come over and play with the cool Iron Man Lego we got you. )
I'm pleased to announce that the Finnster officially takes after his parents, and particularly his old man, in really liking to snap photos! I came across one of my old iPhones, and he now loves snapping shots of random things (e.g. an extreme close-up of unsuspecting Henry; bikini-clad mannequins at the mall). The only downside is that, like me, he now brings walks to an abrupt halt, pausing out of the blue to line up a shot. Hoisted by my own petard!
I'll try to share some Finnyfotos soon. Meanwhile, here you can see him showing Henry around Dad-O's big cam. As my friend Scott Valentine captioned it, "And the peanut butter goes riiiight here..."!
I asked Henry to quote me his hourly rate. "Sixty bucks!" he replied. In fairness, it's not every 3-year-old who can confidently manhandle a length of fence like that.
Recently the lads had an epic 7-hour outing to Happy Hollow with Yvonne, returning happy, tired, and crusty-faced thanks to a face painter. Henry really got into playing his part: "Dad-O, he was 'hoo-ing' for, like, an hour!" reported a slightly exasperated Finn. The boys even rocked their new look to the mall & Lego Store that evening. Boy was it tough explaining that we had to wash faces before bedtime...
Here's a little gallery featuring our Beasts of the Northern Not-So-Wild.
Finny absolutely loves this cartoon, which came to us courtesy of a New Yorker cartoon-a-day calendar from my mom. My vocal rendition to him consists of an urbane, slightly self-satisfied cat purring, "Hmm, I must say, that was surprisingly easy."
(Historical footnote: At age 2 Finn decided to rebrand his lion as a "looen," just so we could say "What is that looen doin'?")
When we were in cold and snowy Leadville for Finny's birthday, the four of us spent a lovely afternoon at the (very warm!) indoor pool just down the street from my folks' place. We took our pool noodles with us and splashed around for quite some time. Finny was really going for it! With a couple noodles wrapped under his chest, and a supportive Mom-o or Dad-o hand underneath, that kid did lap after lap up and down the pool. We decided that it'd be perfect timing to sign him and Henry up for swim lessons, so that they could get really comfortable with the water and start learning how to swim in time for summer.
Thanks to our friends the Wiggins, we found a good deal on individual swim lessons at the San Jose State campus aquatic center. We go every Saturday morning, and each guy has a half-our, one-on-one lesson with an instructor. Finny's instructor is Jess (who has a small, terrific dinosaur skeleton tattoo on her arm), and Henry's is Kiyomi. Finny is having a ball and has already made really good progress. He's practicing "torpedo arms" and kicking, putting his face in the water, holding his breath, and floating. Henry is a little more hesitant, and a little less cooperative - he likes to hang out in a little closed-off area called "the cave" on the side of the pool, but Kiyomi does a great job cajoling him further out into the big pool for practice. He floats and half-heartedly kicks, but mostly he lets Kiyomi haul him and his noodle around the pool.
The real game-changer for both guys has been goggles! Finn spent a lot of time wiping water out of his face during the first lesson, and Henry's not a big fan of anything in his eyes, either. John ran out and got a 3-pack of goggles before their second lesson and both guys were much happier with them on. We'll keep doing the lessons until the guys are feeling comfortable splashing around and nailing some of the swimming basics, and we plan on visiting our neighborhood pool a lot this summer!
We are really happy to announce that Finnegan is enrolled in the Two-Way Bilingual Immersion program at our neighborhood elementary school, Willow Glen Elementary. He already knows and understands a ton of Spanish thanks to his 2 years at Pasitos bilingual preschool, and is very excited about continuing to learn and speak Spanish in kindergarten. He can stay in the bilingual program through 5th grade at Willow Glen, and there are middle- and high school options for continuing in the bilingual program until graduation.
The bilingual programs are very popular where we live, and you have to be chosen by a lottery system to get a slot. The ratio of children in the programs is always 50% native English speakers to 50% native Spanish speakers - so even though there may be 60 slots available, only 30 of them will go to your native language group. And the competition for slots is fierce, making us all the more excited that Finny actually got selected. His preschool teachers (maestras) were also thrilled to hear that he got in, and they know he will do extremely well in the program. He's a pretty verbal kid (suprise, surprise) in both languages!
Whether it's the warm air or something in the proverbial water, our lads have taken a real shine to shedding their shirts and putting on "muscle shows." Finn's been captaining the "fighter team" of preschool superheroes, with G-Man as his able lieutenant. The other evening they asked whether they could do a muscle show involving some tug-of-war the back yard. When I asked whether Finn was sure he could compete with me, he was quick to retort, "Hey! I'm the boss of the fighter team! I do this every day of my life!" :-p Enjoy the pics.
I'm kinda charmed that the lads remain just as enamored of all things construction-related as they ever were. Yesterday Henry decided to try jousting me with a pair of tiny orange safety cones, declaring, "These are my hand-not-getting-hurt-ers, Dad-O."
As for Finny, we dig him the most.
On Saturday evening as I put him to bed, Finn asked (for the first time, mind you), "Hey, did we remember to put out Easter baskets?" Shortly thereafter I joined the ranks of the other dead-eyed, deadbeat parents trudging through the picked-over aisle at Target, ladling Peeps & nuclear-green "grass" into my bucket. Ay carumba.
Ah, but it was worth it as I scored a bunch of Cadbury Creme Eggs—a rare treat from my childhood. Here's a gallery of the sweet, sticky action as the boys wolfed them down the next day. And the hollow plastic eggs I found proved to be a smash: Margot loaded them up for the dudes to do a morning egg hunt, after which they hid eggs for us to find! I don't think I'd hunted eggs in 30 years.
It's another case where I must warn you: Not much happens in this video! Yet it's still fun to watch the dudes teaming up—something we see more & more these days.
Downside: A blizzard leaves you flightless & stuck in Denver for an extra day.
Upside: Bonus trampoline mayhem with cousins!!
Late last year the boys took a real shine to a video in which Prof. Walter Tschinkel used molten metal to create casts of ant colonies. Now, through the imponderable power of little-kid free association, the name "Walter Tschinkel" popped up in a new ant-related story Finn's devised.
I suggested to Dr. Tschinkel that Finn's novel hypothesis that "10 ants equal 1 dog" is largely unproven. We'll see what he says.
[Update: Well, we didn't have to wait long. He writes, "Mighty cute kid you got there! And now I have a hypothesis to test---- 10 ants equal 1 dog. Should keep me busy for a while."]