Monday, May 23, 2011

Stormy Weather

Confession: I'm not sure I worry enough at times.

Last Sunday my boys were in a tornado, and I was not there with them.

They were at a friend's birthday party when the tornado hit. I was upstairs on the second-floor of our house. My wife was driving home at the time. It was the first tornado I've heard--though I didn't go to the basement.

I'm not a reckless person. I wasn't trying to be "tough" through the storm and not seek shelter. I grew up on a farm where we watched the weather. When it was clearly threatening, we sought shelter. When I heard the whistle blow, I turned on the television to see what the news was saying and looked out the window. I didn't see much. But I heard it. It was remarkably close.

I confess I was more worried about my wife than my kids. She was in a car driving into it. The boys were with friends. I was trying to call her, but couldn't get through because the lines were busy. So I was mostly worried about her. She was finally able to get through to me and let me know that the boys were okay. Every tree on the block they were on was gone, but the houses were still standing. My wife had to park a few blocks away and climb over trees to get to them (I had to be at church because I was preaching--sometimes I get too "loyal" to my commitments).

A mother of another kid from the party shared after school the other day how she was having nightmares and he was having some PTSD-type symptoms. My boys haven't said much--other than it was fun to climb on the trees and roots afterward. But they went through something major. And I'm proud they handled it well (my almost-seven-year old said his first response was to pray--which I'm proud of him for doing). I'm feeling guilty because I didn't worry enough, I guess.

The boys and I went out the next to try and help with clean-up efforts in our neighborhood after the tornado. We weren't able to do much work since the boys were with me (I was hoping they could help move branches while I moved limbs, but because of liability issues as well as safety concerns with downed power lines, they wouldn't let us--which is understandable), but we were able to help run errands on the bicycle.

It wasn't quite their cup of tea. I don't know if manual labor would have ended up much better. After a while they were acting all tired and not able to do much more. It was a long, tiresome morning. But it was important to be a good example in showing the boys the importance of helping neighbors in need--even if we weren't able to do much. We're still processing the whole thing as the neighborhood slowly gets back to normal.

And they had been at a friend's birthday party when the tornado hit--right in the middle of it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Lego Kids Fest

After several hours of Lego-filled frivolity, the boys are in bed. They were worn out after an evening at the Lego Kids Fest (so am I). We had a lot of fun. It was, after all, around four acres of Lego activities. We didn't even get to everything in the four hours we were there. I know very few kids who don't like playing with Legos. If you're near Minneapolis check it out this weekend (I recommend buying tickets online).

The boys and one of the many incredible Lego models

Playing a game together
Testing out their race cars

My recommendations if you go are to sign up for the Master Builder Academy as soon as you arrive. There were limited spots for this and we didn't realize you had to sign up for it, so we didn't get a chance to sit in on a session taught by a master builder. There are two mystery murals to participate in adding a piece to; by the end of the evening all the pieces had been done, so you may want to plan on doing one of them near the beginning of the time. If you're there right when the doors open, head to the Lego Universe display if you're interested in trying out their online game. There was consistently a long line for this after the first half-hour.

My kids enjoyed the Activity Area. Different games were being played throughout the evening. Prizes were usually given to the winning individual or team. There were plenty of different areas to just stop and build. Some were "monochromatic build" sites where you got to see how creative you could be with just one color and size of brick. Others had all sorts of different bricks at your disposal including the Big Brick Bin--a massive pile of bricks poured out on the floor. One of my kids' favorite parts of the evening was playing a game together in the Lego Games booth. They could have sat and played games or built things the entire night, but they enjoyed taking in all the sites.

There were sites and activities for kids of all ages. Both my boys enjoyed some time in the Duplos area. Anders also had fun talking with one of the adults who was showing their creations. I enjoyed watching them have fun building (of course, I indulged in some creations myself).

Our pieces to the mural
The near-finished mystery mural

Sitting in a sea of Legos (seriously, kids were burying themselves in it)

Friday, May 13, 2011

I've Missed You, Honey

Confession: I couldn't be a single parent. I don't know how those of you who are do it all the time.

My wife just landed at the airport. Friends are picking her up (the boys are in bed). She's been gone since Sunday. It's been a long week. I think mainly because I still had three days of watching my niece and nephew (ages 2 1/2 and almost 1). And I didn't sleep as well--between the 80+ degree day that didn't cool off and same animal scurrying around on the attic beams and just not having her next to me I suppose.

The house isn't as put together as I'd like. Yesterday we had a Kindergarten assessment for Nils, a dentist appointment for Anders and T-ball practice for Nils (plus getting groceries and other errands). Tomorrow we're meeting with a couple whose wedding I'll be doing next month--and I'm not yet fully prepared for that.

And so I'm thankful she'll be home soon. I've missed her. And I've missed "us"--as in what we're able to do together that is so much harder on my own.

I also think that we stay-at-home dads get overlooked when we're on my own. I know when I'm gone my wife often gets invited to other's. And when other women are gone (whose husbands aren't normally with the kids), they often get help extended to them. Not that I'm jealous or blaming anyone for not inviting me over. I could have made some calls if I needed. I say it more to remind myself to offer help to those who need it. There are a lot of single parents are trying to cope on their own every day. So kudos to you who are doing it. And let's remember the importance of community when parenting. We need each other.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Win Free Tickets to Lego Kids Fest!

Enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets (1 adult & 1 child) for the 3-8pm session on Sunday, May 22 at Lego Kids Fest in Minneapolis. (Click here for more information on Lego Kids Fest.) It's a great event for kids of all ages.

To enter, simply post a comment below stating your or your child's favorite thing to build with Legos. I will draw a winner at random at 9pm Central on Monday, May 16. The winner will need to give me their email address to have the tickets emailed to you.

**** Congrats to Bear whose comment was picked at random. Enjoy Lego Kids Fest this weekend!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Free Comic Book Day

It's Free Comic Book Day tomorrow! It's a great chance to introduce your children to the world of comic books. Hey, reading is reading! To find a store near you, click here. And arrive early because quantities are limited.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No Bake Cookies

We were down for making dessert for our small group recently and Anders had been begging for his favorite cookies. He was so excited about making them that he copied down the ingredients list into his notebook so that he could get them himself. We don't make sweets too often (we still have some Halloween candy in the cupboard, I believe); somehow the peanut butter and oatmeal make it a little healthier.

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 c. oatmeal

In a sauce pan bring sugar, cocoa, butter and milk to a rolling boil. Let boil for one minute.
Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. Stir until thick.
Drop mixture by spoonfulls onto waxed paper and let cool.