Thursday, February 28, 2008

Love, defined by Lucas

Lucas and I have this little game where we write notes to each other and put them into the others' respective mailboxes. Usually, it's like the old AOL ad, Lucas will say to me, "Mommy, you have mail."

Last night he was finishing up his snack in the kitchen and he told me I had some new mail.

Me: What is it? A card?
Lucas: Yeah, it's just a love card.
Me: What do you mean, "just a love card". What does love mean?
Lucas: You know, like "I love you"
Me: Yeah, but what does that mean?
Lucas (after a few seconds of mind-bending contemplation): It means I really really really like you, a lot.
Me: That sounds good to me. Can I read my card now?
Lucas: Yeah, sure. It doesn't matter to me when you read it.

Then he left the kitchen to go play. I guess he's not the sentimental type.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New wheels, new tricks

Lucas got a new, bigger bike over the weekend. It's basically a bigger version of his other bike. Today we took it out to the school across the street. I never saw him go off this big old curb before. It took about five tries for me to capture the exact moment on my iPhone camera.Even though it's new, I think I'm still okay with my Compact February. Why? It's new, not used, but by the good graces of Wheels of Justice, we returned his old bike to them, which they will donate to a local kids' non-profit, and they credited us the full price we paid toward his new bike. So we only had to pay $30, some lucky little kid gets Lucas' well-used bike, and we promote biking as a way to travel about town -- I think even the most compacted Compacters will bless this "purchase".

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Gift

Lucas has been really big on reading for a while now. In his class, they have these little leveled reading books, once they read it with a teacher and read it on their own, they are allowed to bring them home to read to us. He's always very excited when he brings a new one home, especially if it's a new color, which means a higher level.

The other day his teacher said to me how well Lucas reads. She also said that he wants to read all the time and that sometimes she suggests other things for him to do besides reading.

On Sunday he pulled out the "Giving Tree" from his bookshelf, which he has never picked up before. I read it to him once. Then he said he wanted to read it to me.

By bed time, he had read about 3/4 of the book. I was totally blown away:

1) He had the stamina to plow through it, sometimes letter by letter. The first few pages just have one or two lines each, but then there are big chunks of text. He worked his way through every word. I could tell sometimes he was about to get frustrated, and I would tell him that we could take a break, but that seemed to just strengthen his resolve to get through it.

2) If a sentence started with a question word, like "Can you help me?" He knew to make it sound like a question, with the last word higher than the rest.

3) His ability to correctly guess at some of the words, like "would", using the context of the sentence.

And then there was his "analysis" of the story. He felt sad for the tree when the boy was taking the apples and then cutting it down. I asked him how it made the tree feel, to be able to give those things to the boy. "I guess it made the tree happy, but it's still a little bit sad."

Some say "The Giving Tree" demonstrates the relationship between mother and child. How as parents, we give and give to our kids, which makes us happy. And we don't expect anything in return. I discussed this with Lucas, and he said, "But mommy, I make you notes all the time. And remember the other day I gave you one of my crackers..."

I agreed with him that he is a giving boy. I also told him that listening to him read this book was one of the best gifts ever.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lucas skis!

Last weekend we went up to Bear Valley. The conditions were excellent...clear, sunny, no wind, lots of powdery soft snow. It was spring skiing at its best and perfect for a beginning skier.

Lucas' two-day skiing experience started out slowly. He worked out some initial frustration at having skis strapped to his feet and was pretty determined to do it on his own.

He took a ski class the first day, but it was a lot of waiting around, and not much instruction. I think he only went down the little slope 4 or 5 times during the 1.5 hour class.

Under Kevin's tutelage on day two, he worked his way up quickly, with some bumps and crashes along the way.

Afterwards we went to a gas station to load up on snacks for the ride home. Lucas started talking with the 20-something kid working the cash register. I overheard part of their conversation.

Lucas: I knew how to ski without even learning.
Cashier: Dude, that's awesome! Did you do some helicopters and flips?
Lucas: I jumped over some hills. I'll do flips next time.
Cashier: You should have entered the freestyle competition, you would have been the only one in your division. You could have won 500 bucks!
Lucas: Yeah.

Lucas later asked what a "freestyle competition" is. I told him and he said he wanted to do that next time.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Living more compactly - two years later

Just shy of two years ago I wrote about the Compact, the ambitious group folks who vow to not buy anything new for a year, save a few personal items, food and toiletries. And as of February 1st, I'm trying it for a month.

Luckily, I have the support and camaraderie of two of my co-workers, and of course, Kevin, who is always a big proponent of not buying things (He's not officially signing up for the Compact pact, since he is normally pretty frugal. Except for this month, which happens to be his birthday month. He has purchased just the essentials, like two Kendo swords and a Go board).

So, why now? With the possibility of private school in our future, Kevin and I are on a new lower spending program, with a decreased personal monthly spending budget and more accountability. And just like any kind of diet, I'm always eager to see results.

Well, our monthly spending in January was roughly 1/2 of our monthly average from 2007! And that even included some fancy Joe's Jeans for $60 from my favorite new site, Regents Secret (let me know if you want 'in', as you have to be invited to take part) and a couple accessories for my iPhone.

Also, we're constantly going through our stuff and getting rid of it. Clothes, books, you name it. It it always seems like once I clear out stuff, like books, I break down and purchase more, which kind of defeats the purpose of clearing stuff out in the first place.

I've been doing pretty well so far. I borrowed a ton of snow gear for our ski trip. And I purchased some audio books for my iPhone to listen to on the long drive, but, these are okay since they're not physical goods.

I broke down over the weekend and purchased new laces for my 17-year old snow boots (I only had one shoelace for some odd reason). However, I think my $8.58 purchase doesn't count against me, as shoes and socks are two of the things you can purchase new.

I want to make a pin board for Lucas, so I will either scrounge for some used cork board and material, or wait until March for my big shopping spree ;) Or maybe I'll have so much fun not buying anything new that I'll keep it up for a while longer.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Superbowl Sunday!

Lucas and Kevin eagerly awaited Superbowl Sunday, but not for the obvious reasons, since none of us are football fans.

We went to a Superbowl party at Bill's house. Bill is not a football fan either. In fact, I don't think anyone at the party was a football fan, or even knew the littlest bit about football, based on snippets of conversations I overheard:

"It's kind of fun to root for a team I chose arbitrarily five minutes ago."
"I didn't realize until today who was playing."
"I know nothing about football. I didn't even know until just a few days ago that the Washington Redskins are from THAT Washington." (I actually forgot what she said, whether they're from DC or the state, and I still don't know.)

The true purpose of the party was to watch the Wall-E commercial, which Bill and some other guests (who all work at Pixar) created specifically for the Superbowl.

But back to Kevin and Lucas. They had another motive altogether for going to this party.

We walked into the party and I reminded Bill of our true purpose. He knelt down and asked Lucas, "Do you like Star Wars?" Lucas nodded emphatically. Bill led us all upstairs.

We walked into this room and Lucas' jaw dropped. He wasn't sure what he was looking at, but he knew it was something "super kewel", as he would say.

You see, Bill has an impressive collection of Star Wars, Star Trek and comic book action figures, models and, well, toys. He picked up a few Star Wars figures and would ask Lucas who they were. Lucas identified Darth Vader. Then Bill asked Lucas, "Do you know who Luke Skywalker is?" Lucas replied, "I know about him, but I've never seen him before." So Bill brought down Luke, Darth Maul, various stormtroopers and a host of other Star Wars characters who I didn't know.Then Kevin began asking Bill questions like, "Is this an X Wing Fighter...?" and "Is that sword _______ from Lord of the Rings?" Yes, yes and yes.Bill was nice enough to let Lucas play with a bunch of the toys. After a while, Bill led us down to his workshop where he showed us some super-impressive models he's working on from Star Wars and Star Trek. The detail on these models was amazing - using stencils to paint intricate patterns on these. Then Kevin started asking technical questions, "Do you use such-and-such type of plastic/epoxy/whatever?", which led to further discussions, which were beyond my comprehension.

We stayed for a couple hours. Lucas found another young Jedi who wanted to fight with Bill's light sabers. Kevin lingered around the food table, and I had some nice conversations with other non-football fans.

Suffice it to say, we had a blast at Lucas' first Superbowl Party.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lucas casts his vote

I told Lucas that I would pick him up early so he could go with me to the polls today.

Lucas said he wanted to vote for Han Solo. I reminded him that Han Solo is not a real person. Then he nominated Luke Skywalker. Again, not a real person.

Then he said, "I'm just joking. I'm going to vote for Obama!"

So when we got home from the polls, he said he wanted to vote too. I made him a ballot and he cast his vote.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Force is strong with him, Episode 1

Little known facts about the Stars Wars mythology, as told by Lucas:
  • Proper pronunciation is "Dark Fagor", not "Darth Vader"
  • Luke Skywalker dies
  • Obi-Wan has a wife who also has a white beard
  • The Jedi forces have an office, it's in a hole in a tree
  • While still the toughest and most powerful Jedi in the whole world, Yoda actually resembles a baby who wears diapers
  • Yoda's good friends can call him "Y-O-D-A", "Y-O", or in its simplest form, "Yo"
  • General Grievous' alter ego is Lightning Shooter of the Moon
Lucas and his cronies at school propagate these truths, semi-truths, and made-up pieces of data about Star Wars. And to my knowledge, none of them have actually seen any of the movies. I assume it's more like a game of telephone where one kid hears something from an older sibling and it's passed on, with the true facts falling away as it makes its way through the playground.

Almost every time I pick up Lucas from school, there's a picture of something like this.
(Hint: DRC = Dark and FAGR = Fagor)

We play with the light sabers quite frequently in our house. Lucas is always Yoda, Luke Skywalker, or Obi-Wan. Kevin and I have played various characters from the Dark Side. My sister gave him a blue bath robe for Christmas, which he wears a lot, since he knows that Jedis wear robes.

At first I was asked to play Count Duku. Then I was asked to be Princess Leia, whose sole purpose seemed to be to cheer for the guys fighting with the light sabers. This was a very complex role for me to play. At first I was asked to cheer just for Lucas' character. Then seeing that this was probably not fair, Lucas would say to me, "Cheer for daddy too, but mostly for me." So I would say, "Go go go! But really go Yoda." Lucas said I wasn't doing it right and did some heavy coaching. I never seemed to strike the perfect balance in my cheering.

Then I was cast as General Grievous from the Dark Side, who I had to look up when Lucas first told me about him (he's in the newer episodes). But Lucas has since allowed me to cross over into the Light Side so I can learn to be a Jedi knight under his tutelage. He has given me a new name to go with my new identity, "Lightning Shooter of the Moon". He's coached me on proper usage of my light saber.

Last I checked, I'm "still human, but just one step away from being a Jedi". According to Lucas (aka "Y-O") once I reach Jedi status, I'll get a piece of paper that says "Jedi". I can't wait!