Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Waiting for Harry

First - before I get to Harry - I must report a couple of funny Beaver stories:

Beaver wanted me to play chess with him the other day, so I sat down, set up the chess board, and tried explaining to him how to move some of the pieces.  "No, Mommy.  I know how to play.  If I get your king, then I win, and if you get my king, then you win."  He proceeded to take one of his pawns and bonk my king on the crown with it.   "Ha ha!  I got your king!"  From there, the game became some kind of mash-up of Pokemon battling with chess pieces.  "Mommy, you get your guards in the air and use sandstorm attack." Beaver instructed me.  So, I lifted my knights up and shouted, "Sandstorm attack!  Go!"  Beaver: "Ha ha!  You can't stop us because we have eyelashes to get through your sandstorm!"  Thank you, Diego.

Today was a holiday, so the neighborhood kids were all home from school.  The boys and I were walking to a neighbor's house to return something and we passed several of Bear's schoolmates, along with one of Beaver's, playing in a friend's driveway.  Bear immediately asked to go play, and I willingly let him go.  There were no parents in sight, but he is old enough to play with minimal supervision.  As Beaver and I continued on our way, Beaver asked, "Mommy, please can I go play, too?" And then, in a tone of dejected resignation he responded to his own question, "Or not.  Because I am too little."  Well, if he wanted to yank my heart strings, he sure did it.  I would have done anything to let him play after that.  I got a camping chair and the ipad and sat at the end of my neighbor's driveway so that my sweet Beaver could play with the kids, too.

Now, on to Harry.

Bear loves Harry Potter.  At least, he loves the first three books.  That is all he has read so far.  Not because he doesn't want to read further, but because I have told him he is not allowed to read any further at this point.  I haven't read past book 3 myself, but I know the books get darker as the series progresses.  I don't think the books are bad.  I just don't feel like I want to expose him to the death and violence that I know occur in the later books - not just yet.  What I would really like to do is just have him read one each year from this point on, but I don't know if it will really be possible to hold him to that.  One of the problems is that he has a good friend here - one year younger than him - who has read all of the books.  That friend's mother tells me that she let her son read the books, but not watch the movies, because she feels that at his age, his imagination can only take the reading so far - it isn't the same as seeing it in a movie.  I can see her point and I respect it, but I am still not convinced that I want to let Bear read more.

Tonight, Bear was once again pushing to be allowed to read book 4.  I didn't give in, but I can't deny that I am second guessing myself.  I came downstairs after getting him in bed and googled "Should I let my 9-year-old read Harry Potter?"  As I was perusing the results, Bear called to me from the top of the stairs.  "Mom, I can't fall asleep because I keep thinking about dementors."  Hmmmm......maybe that is my answer right there.

Seriously, though.  Does anyone out there have an opinion about this?  I have kind of been thinking that when we go back to the US this summer, I will buy the set and read them myself and then decide.  I don't really want to, though.  I lost interest after the 3rd book.  Probably because they do get darker, and dark books don't interest me.  If anyone has read the series, let me know what you think about a 9-year-old reading it.  Or give me some ideas for other books for him to read.  The poor kid is so desperate, he checked out the 2nd and 3rd books from the school library and re-read them this week.  We have the first one, and he has probably read it five times.  It is times like this that I dearly miss having access to a public library.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Party Central!

It was party central at our house over the weekend.  It started with Member's Night at the club on Friday - a movie for the kids, a free flea market, and dinner.  Saturday morning we were up bright and early because Bear had scouts.  Mike took both kids to scouts so that I could finish up preparations for Bear's birthday party.  He had requested a detective party like we did a couple of years ago, so I have spent the last couple of weeks coming up with a party plan.

The "Birthday Bandits" have infiltrated our neighborhood and have been ruining birthdays by stealing presents and the like.  I needed the help of Bear's friends to stop the thievery.  First thing, we needed to do some secret agent training.  To test their observation skills, we played the game where you put a bunch of objects on a tray, have the kids look, leave the room and remove one object, and then see if they can figure out which thing is missing.  Secret agents need to be handy with a gun, as well, so we did a little target practice.

Once they completed training, the kids were qualified to receive their secret agent packet, which contained a notebook and pen, and one other object that might be helpful as they embarked on their mission.

Then, to our dismay, we discovered that the Birthday Bandits had struck again!  All of Bear's presents were gone!  In their place was a nasty note, and a letter written in code.

Luckily, one of the kids had a key in his packet to crack the code.  The message said to go to the sandbox.  In the sandbox was a letter X made with two sticks.  Of course, everyone knows that X marks the spot, and one girl had a shovel in her packet, so they dug into the sand and found another clue.  Unfortunately, the writing was so small, it was impossible to read!  Good thing one of our secret agents had a magnifying glass.  Next were two notecards taped back to back with four letters on each side.  One agent had instructions to make a thaumatrope.  By punching a hole in each side and inserting rubber bands, they could spin the cards to make a rudimentary motion picture and were able to see that, when put together, the eight letters spelled "back gate."  At the back gate was another clue with compass directions, so the agent with a compass in his packet led us to a tree, where another clue was written in backward writing.

Our agent with a mirror was able to decipher that clue, which led us to the mailbox, where there was a blank piece of paper.  Bear had instructions for revealing invisible ink in his packet, so it didn't take them long to figure out what was up.  Once revealed the invisible ink said "toolbox" so they ran to the garage, only to find the toolbox locked.  Our last agent pulled a key out of her packet, and discovered the final clue that led to the place where the presents were hidden!  Success!

After the presents were opened, we had Bear's favorite cake - an ice cream cake roll.  The only problem was that it was frozen so solid we couldn't get candles to stick into it.  Oh well.

Most of the friends left after the party, but we had Bear's friend from church stay to spend the night.  Since my birthday was Sunday, we went out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant that Mike knew about.  It was good, but Beaver cried because he didn't want to try any of the food.  Sunday we had some friends over for dinner.  They had spent the week in Australia on vacation and gotten back late Saturday night, so I thought it would be nice for them to have a dinner to come to on Sunday.  My friend was so sweet and brought me flowers that she had gotten at 10:30 the night before because she knew that my birthday was Sunday.  The rest of us had forgotten about it all morning.  By the time we get to my birthday, I'm about birthdayed out.

It was a fun, but busy weekend.  Today I am relaxing at home and not going anywhere!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Birthday Boy

Happy 9th birthday to my first and honored son today!

We are so happy to have this boy in our family.  
He was hoping for a Nerf gun for his birthday.  He got it.

I tried the chocolate chip cookie cake idea again.

Opening the card from Ben & Brooke that happened to arrive today.  Good timing!

It was an awesome treasure map card.  Inside - a pirate treasure chest with two Sacajawea coins!  He was delighted!  B & B, which of you made the card?  I love it!

From Grandma & Grandpa: A bear sling-shot for Bear!

I've said it before, I'll say it again.  How do these kids grow up so fast?!

A few things about Bear as we celebrate 9 years:  Bear is a joy to have in our home.  He is intelligent, curious, intense, passionate, and energetic.  He can be reserved at times, so people often think he is quiet, but we know better!  One thing that I have always admired about Bear is that he is interested in so many different things and loves to learn about many subjects.  Whether it is art, music, science, nature, machines, mechanics, or computers, he is happy to learn about it and share what he learns with anyone who is willing to listen.  That said, when he is into something, he is really into it.  From age two until about six, it was trains.  Around age six, he discovered Pokemon, and the next three years were all about Pokemon.  Just the past few months, his interests have begun to diverge.  He loves to read, and has recently been reading the How to Train Your Dragon series, as well as Harry Potter.  Nerf guns and other weapons are another recent interest.  He really enjoys math, and came home from school a couple of days ago all excited about triangles, because they are beginning to do some geometry.  The only subject in school that he doesn't really like is writing.  He has a hard time slowing himself down and writing legibly.  He has never been that into sports, although he would willingly play if the opportunity arose, but lately he has even been getting more interested in various sports and is enjoying learning new things in his PE classes.

Bear loves playing with his friends, and so far he is still just as happy to play with girls as with boys.  I have been waiting for this to change for a few years now, but I'm beginning to think maybe it isn't going to.  Some of his best friends are girls, and I think it's great that he is so unconcerned about it.  He has even mentioned to me that he has been teased, but it hasn't seemed to bother him, and since he doesn't let it get to him, the teasing doesn't last.

I don't have so many digital pictures of baby Bear, and the ones I have aren't great quality, but we'll see what we can do.  Bear through the years:

My precious baby Bear

2nd birthday

Even now, he still loves to snuggle!

3rd birthday


 4th birthday
(eating his favorite food for breakfast - refried beans and cheese)

5th birthday

6th birthday

 The 7th and 8th birthday pictures were out of order in my files and I didn't feel like hunting them up , but he hasn't changed all that much since then!

Happy Birthday, Bear!  We sure do love you!