Valentine Box

Valentine’s Day is approaching. An exciting time for a five-year-old. The Boy asked K to help him make a box for his cards when the magical day arrives. It had to be “boyish” — his favorite term these days.

At first, he wanted to make a Batman box.

“No, too difficult,” said K. “We only have this evening to work on it while Daddy and L are at gymnastics.” So they settled on a robot.

But what to do about the neck? In the picture online, the neck was a different color than the rest, so they were reticent to cover the neck — made from an old empty matchbox — in foil as well. L, just before we left, remembered she had some red tape in her craft supplies. She brought it down, but K wasn’t initially thrilled about it.

“It’s got sparkles on it. I don’t think he’ll want sparkes.”

The Boy, standing right there, looked at it, thought for a moment, then said, “No, it’s great. It makes it very Valentine-ish.”

Monday Afternoon

Monday afternoon. We’ve all survived work and school. The first day back is behind us.

We run down to the new trampoline and start bouncing like mad.

Clover, too, is ready for some fun.

And then, when it’s time to put the Boy to bed, I fall asleep with him, and Monday afternoon doesn’t get recorded until Tuesday evening.

Baking for the Kids

Theodor Seuss Geisel said it best:

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All [this] cold, cold, wet day.

We were stuck in the house all day. Rain, rain, rain. The Boy entertained himself with making fans through most of the afternoon.

In the evening, the Girl made molassas cookies. The recipe came from a book about the Great Depression she’s reading in class, and she’s been keen on making them all week. Of course E wanted to help, but what is true for many things is doubly true for baking: his help doesn’t.

The Girl, though, has reached a point that she needs little to no help when baking. With experience comes confidence.

“Maybe I could take some to school tomorrow,” she chimed in the midst of the baking. K emailed her teacher quickly, and L got the go-ahead.

So tomorrow she’ll be taking one cookie each — twenty-four total — for her classmates.

The thoughtfulness of that gesture — a proud little moment for us.

Out with the Old

The day began as all Saturdays do: a conversation with Babcia via Skype. The Boy took to showing Babcia several cars, explaining their significance in halting Polish. Babcia speaks no English, and the Boy speaks no Russian, so he has to use Polish if he’s going to speak with Babcia, which he is really motivated to do. It’s a good way, then, to get him using the language.

I spent the morning working on class materials. I’ve decided to use Quizet to hit vocabulary really hard in the second semester to make up for negligence in the first quarter. I’ve always struggled teaching vocabulary, but I’ve discovered a few online tools sure to make my students’ life more interesting.

In the afternoon, we finally got to work on the new trampoline. The first step was to take the old one down. The plan was originally to try to pass it on to someone else via Craigslist: “Free trampoline! All you have to do is come and disassemble it and get it out of your yard!” But I saw how that would end up: it would sit there forever, looking stupid — two trampolines in the backyard = a decidedly redneck feel. So I borrowed our neighbors’ truck, and the Boy and I ripped the thing apart and hauled it to the dump. He was terribly excited at the prospect of throwing so many pieces of metal into the huge dumpsters at the local dump station, and he was just as frustrated to realize that we wouldn’t be tossing them down into the dumpster below us but up into the dumpster. Still, he tossed a few pieces out of the truck with loud clattering, attention-grabbing style.

Once it was gone, the backyard looked so huge. The fence we had installed for Clover closed everything in quite a bit, and there was a moment when I thought about the time years from now when we’ll finally get rid of the trampoline because the kids are too big for it or not interested in it or — gulp — gone, and I smiled at the thought, but only briefly. Who wants to wish away one’s life for such a silly thing?

The kids came down to help out with the assembly of the new trampoline, which took a lot longer than I really anticipated. We all pulled together, though, and got it done more or less as a family. K was in the house, cleaning and cooking most of the the time, but she came down from time to time to check on our progress, help us out with getting the net up, and take some pictures.

And play with the dog a bit. Which, truth be told, was its own form of help: Clover can be really needy when we’re outside but not playing with her. She wants attention. She craves attention. And when the Girl and I were fighting with the springs and canvas, figuring out how exactly the next support system worked, and keeping the Boy from wondering off with pieces and parts, a worrisome dog was just that.

We finaly got it all together and the expected happened: it began raining.

Still, a great day overall.


We’ve actually had a winter this year, and we’re all sick of it. We’re all sick of being cold. We’re all sick of being inside. We’re all sick of clouds. (We wouldn’t survive in Poland with this mentality.) Every chance we get, now, we head outside.

I arrived home today to find K with the kids and the dog down at the trampoline. They’d invented a new game of double-keep-away: keep away from the Dog and keep away from the Boy. Usually, I would expect E to get frustrated with such a game, but he seemed to be enjoying it quite a bit. Until the falling started. And the crying. Which was fake crying.

Which is the only reason I would have taken a picture of it. He was laughing within seconds of this shot, and I was laughing at the thought of how similar L was at this age.

The Dog’s new ball has proved a challenge. We just gave her the Boy’s old size-three soccer ball, which is slick and shiny — almost impossible for her to get enough of a grip on to bite down in any meaningful way. She ends up chasing the ball all over the yard as she lunges at it to bite it.

When the Girl tired of the game, she joined K inside, and the Boy and I went to the front yard for some more soccer. Occasionally he would kick it off to the side, and as it rolled down the yard and into the road, he called out, “I’ll get it. It’s my responsibility.”


Living in South Carolina means that one Wednesday we can be out sledding in the afternoon and the next Wednesday, playing soccer and trying out a new sport.

Stopping by the thrift store today for some thing or another, K let the Boy make some purchases of his own: a golf club. Why a golf club? I don’t play golf; I don’t watch golf; I don’t talk or even think about golf. But there it is — the Boy has a golf club and some balls now.

We headed out to the front yard for some initial swings.

“Let’s get you going this direction,” I said when I saw the neighbors’ cars in their driveway just beside our lawn. The other neighbors’ car was out, too, but the chances of him hitting that car, with the ground sloping upward and the additional barrier of our own driveway and second patch of ground, seemed significantly lower.

After dinner, soccer. He’s going to be playing again this spring, and he’s eager to get some practice — so eager that we have to go through the whole routine he and his team went through, with warm-ups, some passing practice, and finally a game. We don’t have a goal anymore, so it amounted to a game of keep-away — good practice in and of itself.