Monday, June 20

UNO, Chores, Monies, Masters and Nuggos

Last winter we took a trip to Berlin and I'd remembered the UNO cards which proved great family fun in the evenings. Easton understood the game pretty well and McKay was beginning to grasp it but felt more comfortable teaming up with me or Ryan. Well, no longer baby! McKay is a full-flegded UNO master! Since winter, I will often arrive to pick him up from his German kindergarten and have to wait as he finishes an UNO game with his teachers or classmates. I have loved watching him play there because he uses his German quite freely! I love that it has built his confidence in the language and helped him play with kids outside his usual circle.

Recently McKay's brought his love of the game home and every day last week while Ryan was stateside, the boys would quietly go off to their room for unlimited rounds of UNO. I heard them plotting to wake up early to play together, they'd play after we brought Easton home from school before dinner, but mostly they'd forsake story time to go and play in the evenings before I confiscated the cards and mandated lights out. First thing the kids did with Ryan when he got home today was to play UNO while I finished up dinner. UNO and riding bikes have become McKay's great equalizers with Easton these past couple months. I love to see him beam with pride in his new-found abilities. I'm hoping to add reading on his own by the end of summer - he's real close and seeing pride on that face lights up my days!

We had a golden moment last weekend. On Friday night before bed, I mentioned to the boys that before any video game time happened on Saturday, they had to have their room, the play room and living/dining room picked up, sorted, and vacuumed. There was a little moaning, but not too much. The next morning they woke up and did their breakfast and a couple cartoons letting me sleep in. I got up and began buzzing around doing chores when the boys saw 10am approaching - video game time. They told each other it was time to get their work done and went to it. I didn't have to ask them or remind them even once and they worked on the rooms for a little over an hour before finishing. They goofed off here and there as always but I just let them go at their own pace. The boys really did a good thorough job for their ages and I was so impressed by their attitude! It had me rethinking how I frame their chores a little.

For all the griping I do about video games, it is seriously the one thing I can threaten or advocate if I need something to happen! (I'm still a bigger advocate of xBox than the Wii because of the family timer feature where the game shuts off when the time's up.) I must also admit that I had to let them know we had no plans to go anywhere that day either so they didn't feel under a time crunch to finish. Timed deadlines don't work well for them yet unless I'm working right with them and we're working in 2 minute increments to see how much we can accomplish.

The boys are eagerly using some little coin purses / wallets we got them in Greece. With trips to the store and now the pool or other places, the boys are seeing all sorts of opportunities to buy things they'd like. Last summer I posted an extra money job list, but I have a feeling this year's list might actually get some usage. It cracks me up that McKay denotes a coin's worth by it's size. He'll trade a euro for a 50 cent euro or a US quarter. Easton's always willing to help him count out his money and it's a favorite past time especially if they know a trip to the commissary is eminent. So far we haven't had any blatant stealing - PHEW! But we've had plenty of coinage left out and not put away when reminded followed by tears flowing when Morgan refuses to hand over her new found treasures.

Easton's class when to a prehistoric museum and fossil dig last week. He has proudly shared his fossil that he hammered and chiseled down to a manageable size. When gifts were being exchanged tonight for Father's Day and Ryan gave them their surprises from his travels, Easton decided he wanted to give the fossil rock to Ryan. The best, however, was when McKay said, "Dad, you can show it to your Master, do you think your Master will like it?" The boys are always asking Ryan if he'll tell his boss at work this or that and it's just really funny as they try to relate and understand Ryan's days at the office and who he interacts with. Ryan's real fortunate right now to have great bosses that let him work for their clients with very little micromanaging. In fact, Ryan's recently been recognized at different levels within his work for his contributions which is great, but it's even better that he's really enjoying his work and seeing it have an impact!

I wish I video'd the kids more often at Morgan's age because their conversations are just so darn cute! She asks to snuggle and tells you exactly where and how. "Mom, I 'nuggo you a bed a pee-yo a wankie a ticko" = snuggle on the bed with a pillow, a blanket and tickles. "Dad, I sit a p'ay a you a chair a suggo" = sit and play with you in your chair and snuggle. Morgan loves to rattle off recently seen animals and family members who love her. "A cat a love me. A seep (sheep) a love me, Baaaa. A Kay a love me . . . " -- we don't have any pets yet but they are begging for them! But oh heavens, her car demands! If she's bored, I am told, "A mommy talk a me!" or I am commanded to listen to her sing or talk to me. She hollers out song requests, but usually for "Sitto Souts" = Scripture Scouts. If I roll down my window, she'll demand hers to be down too and to a certain level. I really don't think she'll mind being the only girl of the family for however long that might be! Queen of the roost!

As for me, this pregnancy has been the kindest to me of them yet and I feel so blessed. He's baking away and measuring up as he should. We may have come up with a name but more research and seeing the little guy upon arrival will tell if it sticks. When walking for any stretch, I often laugh at how my posture must accommodate my growing proportions and unavoidably I waddle like a duck. There's just no way around it! I've taken a liking to being able to gently nudge or bounce the kids in the head with my belly and telling them the baby just wanted to say "Hi." It always puts a grin on their face.

While Ryan was stateside for a recent conference (his third this year which is rather astounding as a contractor), I had trouble putting myself to bed. By mid-week, naps were required. My favorite was the afternoon I put Morgan down for a nap and then laid down on the couch to offset gravity and rest. As I was setting my timer for the inevitable nap, McKay asked to snuggle me and we napped for an hour like two peas in a pod! I'm amazed he could fit on our small love seat with me but the closer the better in his book! The other kids are too wiggly, but McKay is the best napping buddy to be found!

We're now gearing up for our final trip before the baby - a full week in Provence, France, with Ryan's brother's family. In my few quiet moments of the day I've been struggling with whether to research the trip or begin writing up our trip to Ireland here. Provence will be hot and dry, but we'll have a pool at the house we're renting. As I've been reading Peter Mayle's book, "A Year in Provence," I've been dreaming of the food and pool accessories to beat the heat as the resident beached whale. In any case, there's no doubt the UNO cards will be a must-pack item!