27 October 2009

summer fun: darien lake

One of the perks of all the car shopping we did this summer was that a local chain of dealerships gave away tickets to a local amusement park for taking a test drive. Two test drives got us four free admission tickets to Darien Lake, which is about a 45-minute drive from our house. We'd never taken the kids to an amusement park, at least not at ages where they could fully enjoy everything the park had to offer, so we prepared ourselves for a day full of fun.

One of the first things we did at the park was to go on the ferris wheel. It's a pretty big ferris wheel, and poor Evan was terrified:

The top of the ferris wheel gave us a great view of the park, which even Evan eventually admitted was pretty cool, once we convinced him to open his eyes a little bit:

After the ferris wheel, Evan had no qualms about any of the rides. In fact, he was often disappointed because he didn't meet the height requirement for a lot of the rides. He was so eager to go on rides that while James and Greg did something for tall people, he opted to do a few rides by himself. I was told in no uncertain terms that I did not need to ride with him:

The favorite ride of both kids turned out to be the bumper cars, which they rode several times:

That is, the bumper cars were their favorite until we got to the water park. Thanks to an unusually cool summer, the day was not as warm as you'd ordinarily find in upstate New York in July, but that didn't stop our water monkeys. James spent a long time trying to master this climbing course over the water, and nearly made it:

Most of the time they just played in the water, climbing and splashing:

After about 8 hours of sun and water and play, we took the scenic route home and discovered a great pizza place in a small town along the way:

This pizza place had amazing deep-dish pizza loaded with delicious goodness:

Three-quarters of the family fell asleep on the ride home, full and exhausted and happy. We'll definitely be going back again, and hopefully Evan will be tall enough next time that none of us will have any disappointment in an otherwise perfect day.


19 October 2009

my life as a chauffeur

It turns out that having both kids in school really hasn't changed much around here. A month into Evan's school year, we've settled into a routine that's working out pretty well for us. The only snag in our scheduling so far is a small one, but rather annoying: my free time during Evan's school time is not nearly as much as I expected it would be.

See, he's in school for two and a half hours. Great, I thought at first, that's seven and a half hours a week! But as it turns out, once I factor in the time I spend driving Evan to school and then Greg to work and then picking Evan up again, I'm left with a little under two hours, which is hardly enough time to do anything.

Examples of ways I've spent my less-than-two-hours on preschool days: grocery shopping and checking email; running and showering. And... that's it. On mornings I grocery shop I have very little time once I've gotten home and put everything away, and on mornings I run I have a little time afterward to stretch and cool down and shower.

I don't mean to complain, though, I really don't. It's so nice having time to run, and being able to go to the grocery store without kids in tow. I guess my problem is just that I saw those free hours as an endless expanse of time which I could fill with any number of productive activities, and I'm quickly finding, to my dismay, that my time is not infinite at all, but still pretty limited. Before Evan started school I told everyone that my fall project during my new-found free time was going to be to make a quilt, but I've hardly had time to think about it, let alone start one!

I'm spending a lot more time in the car these days as well, between driving both Greg and Evan three times a week, plus the driving I need to do for errands. That's partly due to the lousy weather we've been having though -- rain and unusually cold temperatures have been preventing Greg from riding his bike much this fall. Hopefully spring will be a little better for that.

So, to answer everyone who's been asking what I'm doing with all my free time: the same stuff I always do, but also driving other people around a little more. Not a bad way to spend my mornings, though.


01 October 2009

stories of preschoolers

Even though Evan is in preschool now, he's only there three mornings a week, so we're still going to one of the community play classes for preschoolers on one of his off days. The main reason I decided to continue with this class in addition to preschool is because of how much Evan loves his teacher.

She's not a real teacher; she's a Parks Department employee who leads the kids in some activities and supervises them while they play, makes sure they're using the equipment and toys properly, that sort of thing. It's a really unstructured environment, held in a school cafeteria covered with big mats and active toys. The teacher really enjoys the kids, though, and she spends a lot of time just playing with them, for which they all love her too.

I'm about to tell more snobby parenting stories here, by the way. Because these classes are free or really cheap, you get a lot of different types of people attending. Let's just say that my bleeding-heart granola sensibilities are even more unusual here than they are at Suburban Preschool. I frequently find myself boggling over some of the things I overhear from other parents there.

There was the grandmother who told her grandson to be nice to Evan or Evan's mommy would get mad at him and yell at him. Then she looked at me and whispered, "Really, yell at him." Whuh? Sorry, Grandma, but it's not my job to discipline your grandson for you!

Then there was the father complaining that his daughter wouldn't go to sleep before 10 or 11 pm. They'd tried everything, he said, but it was no use, because his two-and-a-half year old daughter knew how to turn on the television in her bedroom and put on a DVD by herself, so despite their best efforts she still stayed up late watching DVDs. (The other parents listening to his complaint, by the way, responded with variations of, "Kids these days! They're so smart and technologically advanced!")

This morning there was another grandmother, playing with her grandson on the mats. Five-year-old grandson picks up a block and Grandma says, "You can pretend it's a gun." Five-year-old points his "gun" at the teacher and starts yelling, "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" Teacher keels over, groaning. Little boy laughs: "Ha ha! I killed you!" Grandma suddenly gets very sharp with grandson: "That's not nice! We don't say that!" Little boy asks, "What?" all innocent-like. Grandma says, "We don't use the word 'kill'. That's not nice." Oh, okay, gotcha -- pretending to shoot a teacher with a gun is fine and dandy, but don't call it killing! We wouldn't want to be inappropriate!

There are a lot of cute kids and normal people who attend these things, but some of these people are just so very different from me in their basic fundamental values and principles that I can't even comprehend what's happening inside their heads. Evan and I get along really well with the teacher, but some of these people make me wonder how she stands it sometimes. She was telling stories this morning too, of some of the more colorful kids saying things to her that just make her jaw drop at the rudeness of them.

I worry, sometimes, about whether my kids are going to grow up to be good people (and these worries are based more in my own paranoia and lack of parenting confidence than they are in any signs from my kids that they're becoming sociopaths or something) but then sometimes, when I spend time with my kids' peers, I figure, even if my kids aren't Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., at least they'll be better than the obnoxious jerks these kids' parents are setting them up to be.

And then I feel guilty for thinking kids are jerks, and this is when I start to feel like a judgy snob. But I guess... I'm not really sure what my point is here. I'm not even sure I have one, really, so I suppose this is a good place to end the rambling.