Thursday, August 29, 2013

Paradise à la lake, preschool version

Luke and Eleanor’s Lake Wentworth enthusiasm is so passionate that I try to keep the trip’s imminence a secret until just before departure, in hopes of minimizing the sleepless nights of anticipation. So a few days before the trip, Luke came out of his room after bedtime moaning, “Our trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s is never going to get here!” When I told him that in fact it was just two days away he beamed and bounded back to bed. I was trying to finish painting the playroom and (foolishly) hoped that the blissful news would send him off to sleep content. But a sudden wail from Eleanor’s room assured me otherwise. Our generous boy couldn’t keep the joyous news to himself and had shared it with his previously-sleeping sister. She bolted up in bed and wanted to be removed from her crib at once for immediate plane boarding!

Needless to say, we didn’t leave for the airport that night, but no happier kiddos could be found on our flights to NH a few days later. Here they are, happily ensconced and preparing a trifle for dessert with Grandma a few hours after arrival.

The fun continued nonstop for the rest of the week. There was always time for a little rough housing with Uncle Travis,

And this year we visited the natural history museum where they learned about animals with Uncle Bryan.

They honed their sand and water construction skills daily with lovely Grandma,

and the magically-stocked toy room never failed to delight.

Walking down to the beach there were lots of stops to look for frogs with Grandpa,

And finding some!

A lake trip is never complete without a voyage on Grandpa’s boat and this year Luke was talking about learning to sail himself!

We all came home happy and full with love, care, and fun times from the Nielsen clan. Thank you so much Grandma and Grandpa for another wonderful visit!!

{Many, many more pics and videos here.}

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Paradise à la lake

Really, what prettier beach is there on a New England lake? Each year we all look forward to a week at Erik’s parents’ lovely lake house for a sweet time of rest and relaxation for me and Erik, and jubilant play on the beach with much-missed relatives for the kids!

This year, my highlights included kitchen renovation planning with Dad via sand diagrams on the beach,

Darling beach ensembles for the Ellabelle,

A little friendly competition playing a new board game with Erik and his brothers,

Motoring around the lake spying bald eagles from Dad’s boat,

Sweet cuddles with our super-happy vacation-loving kids,

Seeing my hardworking hubbie get some time to relax,

Sunrise walks to the dock with delicious coffee made ready by Mom,

And sunset ones too,

And lots of time off while grandparents and uncles played with our kiddos! Erik and I even were able to continue our tradition of an overnight getaway to the coast, this year visiting Portsmouth, NH.

The kids of course have their own list of lake favorites, but I’ll save those and their cutie-pie pics for another post, hopefully tomorrow!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Preschool starts & other kiddo activities

I swing back and forth on the topic of preschool-age activities. Sometimes a twinge of alarm hits me as I realize that L & E aren’t mastering any musical instruments, competitive sports or foreign languages, and their brains are quickly moving past the sponge-like stage of early development. Other times I value our activity-free days at home and want to comb through our schedule to determine what we can cancel to give us more open space for low-key play and exploration.

In an effort to balance these competing goals, we’ve fallen into a few activities that seem to work for us. The most regular one is preschool two mornings a week. The school year starts super-early in New Mexico, so the kids have been in for two weeks now and what fun it’s been! This was Eleanor’s first year in preschool and both kids were so excited to attend together. The two-year-old and four-year-old classrooms connect with an open doorway and so Eleanor enjoys the added security of knowing Luke is close by and Luke loves watching out for little sis. Since we find it easier to teach more academic lessons at home, we chose a school that focuses on play and socialization and feel that this has been a terrific asset for our kids’ growth in those areas.

We’ve also done some indoor soccer classes, our own swimming ‘lessons’, and gymnastics classes on and off over the last couple years. And this summer we added something new, BMX riding!

Both kids have always loved being on their bikes, and last summer Luke first learned to ride his bike without training wheels and Eleanor started gliding well on her balance bike. So this year a friend introduced us to the two terrific tracks here in Albuquerque where all ages can ride bikes BMX style! Both are dirt tracks with an elevated start or ‘launch pad’, banked turns, and ‘berms’ – successive hills for you to ride up and down.

We’re still novices when it come to most things BMX, but one thing we learned early on is that a full-face helmet and good pads are essential. And what could be cuter than an Ella princess geared up to ride!

It’s a fun multi-generational activity and is a great extension of the lifelong skill of bike-riding. We’ve also been trying to use it to teach lessons about not giving up when something is hard or you’re not the best, and it’s been stretching my impulse to shelter the kids from any and all potential injury scenarios. When the kids succeed it’s such a thrill for them to conquer those hills and feel the rush of acceleration and accomplishment. We’re so proud of our little bike racing dynamo team!