Monday, June 19, 2017

Adventureland 2017

Let's play a word association game.  I'll write a word and then you say the first thing that comes to mind.  Ready?  Let's begin.  

48 inches.
Dippin' Dots (sorry, that's two words)

And last but not least....


You know where this is headed, right?  Of course you do.

Last week, we filled water bottles, sprayed on sunscreen, threw snacks in a bag and headed to Adventureland for the day.  Unfortunately, the weather looked a little spotty-- with dark clouds looming and the forecast constantly changing from a 16% chance of rain to a 60% chance of rain in only a matter of minutes.  However, not going was not a possibility. After all, this is probably the single most exciting event of Charlie's life every year-- aside from Christmas morning-- and something that he talks about pretty much every day in between.  Last year, Adventureland revealed their newest thrill ride, The Monster, and Charlie was extremely disappointed that he wasn't tall enough to ride.  We smiled and said, "Maybe next year, Buddy." and went about our business but Charlie took those words and went home and measured his height almost every single day.
"Mom, how tall am I now?"  "How 'bout now?"  "Mom, can you measure me?"  "I'm gonna eat salads only this week because they will help me grow."  "Do you think I grew a little last night?"  Mason and I would roll our eyes, or groan, or sigh because this is not really the first thing a parent wants to hear in the morning. Every morning.  But, sometimes I tried to remember how sweet this stage is and how fun it is to actually see your physical self growing.  For a minute, it looked like he might not actually reach the coveted 48" by summer, but he managed to grow just enough-- and wore his tennis shoes for good measure, ensuring that he was, in fact, the desired height on that particular day.

We arrived on a 60 degree day dressed for 90+ degree weather (which means I now own a super cool "Adventureland" long-sleeved hoodie, which is surprisingly, really nice and something that I will likely wear again....).  Dark clouds loomed overhead and opened up on one or two occasions.  While meandering through an amusement park in the rain is not something that sounds positive, it turned out extremely well.  The cool temps and rainy day kept the crowds away, even after things had cleared up which meant we had the park to ourselves.

Our first stop was to hit the carousel-- of which I declined and Eloise realized she should have.  Then, Charlie and Mason took off to battle The Monster and other roller coasters, while Liz and the girls and I rode a little less thrilling rides.

I love that our Adventureland photo is always the one that Charlie takes to school at the beginning of the year when the teachers request a family photo. 

Liz and I used to dream about this day-- taking our kids to an amusement park and here we are!!
(Too bad our tummies can't handle the rides like they used to)

Kudos to Nora who conquered her fears and tried out the Frog Hopper.  She ended up loved it-- insisting that she go again and again.  Her sister, on the other hand, did not love it so much and cried during the whole ride.  The grown ups got a good chuckle out of the whole thing, but the ride operator felt her grandmotherly heart strings tug and went ahead and pushed the emergency STOP button.  Thus, leaving the ride un-rideable for a few minutes.  As a result, the little Spahn and the big Harris had to wait patiently until it was ready to operate again.  And when it was, they were ready!

Eloise and I had just as much fun watching.

At this point, I would like to draw attention to the little ride in the background of the above picture.  It's a little car ride-- a shady little spot with motorcycles, a fire truck, a Hummer-type-vehicle, (you get the picture).  What you can't see is the comfy benches strategically placed inside the fence.... and right across from a little beer garden with live music.   Did I mention that there were ZERO lines on this day??  Like absolutely none.  As in, the ride would stop and the operator would say, "If you'd like to stay on the ride, please stay in your seats."  So Liz and I took advantage of this-- "allowing" the little girls to ride this ride multiple times while we sat in the shade and sipped a Summer Shandy.  Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.  I'd also like you to notice that Charlie is missing in nearly all the forthcoming photos.  That's because he was too busy riding "The Monster" to be bothered with kiddie rides. 'Tis the life of a seven year old.  

We couldn't get Anna out of these trucks and I'm pretty sure she would have ridden in them all day if we had let her.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a bench next to a beer garden at this ride.

Despite our chilly start, a few rain delays, and Annas monumental tantrum when it was time to go, we had an incredible time.  Our feet were aching by the time the day was over, but it was definitely worth it.  

Oh wait, I almost forgot the best picture...
The top picture is the first time they rode the ride.  I freaking l-o-v-e Charlie's expression.  Cannot get enough.  The bottom picture is from one of the last times they rode the ride.  I also l-o-v-e Charlie's expression in that one too.   Seriously, let me stare at this all day.....

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Let's Snap....

I first heard about Snapchat at a school counselor's conference back in 2012.  I was attending a breakout session having something to do with technology in the classroom and all the evils it held--particularly things like social media.  The main point of the presenter was not to equip us with valuable information and new ways to incorporate social media (and maybe...connect with students?) but rather, to villainize technology and make us grownups scared of and hateful toward it.  I eagerly conformed to my fellow attendees and instantly felt so offended about this new social media platform... Snapchat, that allows kids to post pictures that just magically go away after 24 hours.  There's no camera roll, no gallery, just a photo that disappears.  Which means, that kids would be sharing inappropriate and offensive photos that would then be spammed all over middle schools and high schools across the country world, all while their oblivious adults remain clueless to the photos that had left no trace.

And while there is some truth to this (believe me, I could definitely get on my school-counselor soapbox and preach about the slippery slope that is social media....) there's also an incredibly fun and playful side to Snapchat.  Not only that, but social media also plays an important role in connecting with people of all generations-- which in itself is somewhat a miracle.  I don't use it as much as I use my beloved Instagram--- mostly because I haven't figured out all the tricks to it yet, but I have to admit that when I log in, I love it.  This parenting gig just presents so many difficult little challenges-- like, how do I make sure our kids understand that all things are not taken lightly, yet still provide a house that is filled with fun and laughter?  Snapchat brings out a silly side in me that is sometimes a little bit repressed.  Growing up Bomgaarsian (hmmm....future book title??) was not exactly a practice in being silly.  I don't remember my parents letting their guard down and being vulnerable enough to show us their silly side on more than a handful of occasions.  And my initial gut reaction to a lot of things is to take them too seriously (not necessarily the result of my parents).  For years (maybe the last ten?) I've worked consciously on being more playful, more silly, more spontaneous.  I try to remind myself daily to not be defensive, to laugh about little things, and to not take myself and life so seriously-- and believe me, I'm so so so far from where I want to be when it comes to this goal.  But, I practice by hosting kitchen dance parties, singing in the shower (still have trouble with that one), playing 'pretend', "Karaoke" (acapella) wars with Mason at the dinner table, and table-top drum circles during supper.  And now... Snapchat.

It's a favorite in Spahnville-- and one that passes the time in a fun and silly way.   Proof that we Spahns do have a less serious side...and if my children someday forget this, I'll whip out these Snapchat recordings (because it turns out you can, actually, save Snaps) and show them with a smile.

What a Difference a Year Makes

It's strange to me that no matter how intentional you are about experiencing the present moment and savoring a child's new-gap-tooth smile, time somehow manages to sneak past you and leave you surprised when another year has come and gone.  2016-2017 was amazing here in Spahnville.  We seemed to hit our stride--- although I'll be the first to admit that our "stride" involved a crazed morning routine and Anna experimenting with super short amounts of sleep.  But as both kids get older, things seem to get a little easier-- especially as Anna grows out of the "constant by-your-side-watchful-eye" stage.  It's nice to be able to let her play on most playground equipment and not need to climb every ladder and squeeze through every tunnel after her.  And finally I'm actually starting to believe that someday soon I'll be one of those parents watching from the bench.  

Wasn't Charlie just in the middle of this phase?  I distinctly remember chasing him around so many parks, sliding down slides, and pushing him in baby swings-- and it seemed impossible that I would someday be able to sit down and flip through a magazine while he played at the park.  I often tell people that time is this funny warped thing because while it's true that it does go by incredibly fast, it also seems like things are falling into place exactly where and when they need to be.  It seems like Charlie should be seven years old-- and should be doing things like reading books on his own, riding his bike around the block by himself, negotiating for more iPad time, and collecting so much tiny shit like football erasers and keychains and shiny heart shaped rocks.  But it's still a little crazy that that little toddler with a love for all things orange and his imaginary friend, Binga, are a thing of the past. 

A week ago, when I posted the following photo on Instagram, I was shocked with the little changes that have happened over the course of a school year.  I knew he had grown--he checks his height almost daily, making sure that he really has in fact reached the long sought after 48"-- and gaining admittance onto bigger and better roller coasters.  I knew his smile has changed after losing four or five teeth in the past few months, and he's gone through another shoe size since starting school last fall (Crocs excluded). 

But looking at these side by side pictures, the subtle differences suddenly seem pronounced.   The little boy-just-finishing-kindergarten-face looks has been transformed to a true school-age-little-kid face.  Same eyes, same smile, but definitely older and a little more mature.  He's thinned out and shot up and the photo on the right looks like it might be the big brother of the little boy on the left. 

He's come a long way in other ways as well.  We've worked incredibly hard on identifying small/medium/huge 'common sense' problems and then coming up with ways to solve them.  He has a stocked toolbox when it comes to ideas to use when he gets mad or frustrated-- and is still working on using them (aren't we all?).  His patience with frustrating tasks is growing and we are constantly talking 'growth mindset' and trying new things and perseverance and learning from our (much needed) mistakes. 

He's come so far this year.  We truly credit his teacher for much of his growth.  She's the kindest, most genuinely sweet person you might ever meet.  Charlie instantly connected with her and after five days of summer, he has mentioned how much he misses her probably five times.  That being said, this second grader is extremely excited for summer, and all the promises that come with it.

Mason, never one to follow traditions, woke up on the last day of school and fed the kids cereal like every other day.  My heart that beats wildly for all things that can be called tradition couldn't handle this.  So we did what we have done for two other first day of school days and one other last day of school days.... donuts at Casey's.  Tradition. Bam.  

And Charlie's last request: summer buzz haircut for his last day.  Mason + clippers + bright spring day= Super adorable and happy 7 year old.  (With the cutest gappy smile.)