Saturday, January 30, 2016

Biscuit in pictures

Here are a few current but random pictures of Biscuit:

This is what Biscuit's hair looks like when Jeff wets and brushes it in the morning.

This is what it looks like about an hour after that! Also, check out
Biscuit's hoodie. One of my friends found it, I think, at a consignment
sale. Biscuit got a big kick out of his name being on a shirt.

We went out to dinner one night this week, and when we left the restaurant,
it was 28 degrees. Biscuit fastened every snap and velcro strip on his coat!

We were walking through a locally based gourmet grocery store, when
Biscuit spotted the containers of Parmesan. There were Parmesan chips,
shredded Parmesan and grated Parmesan. And then he realized that
the whole wheel was Parmesan. You can see his reaction!

On Biscuit's first field trip in kindergarten, he saw some kids with pre-packaged
store-bought lunches. They have several combinations including ham and cheese
with crackers or fixings for tiny pita pizzas. They also have upgraded ones with
cookies, juice pouches and other accessories. Biscuit really liked them, but I thought
they were kind of pricey. So I decided I could make them myself for a lot less
money. And Biscuit has been thrilled! The cupcake holders are silicone, so we can
use them over and over. It's nice when something so simple can make the boy so happy. 

As soon as we got home from Biscuit's swimming lessons, I made him get
straight into the shower. As soon as he stepped in yesterday, my brother called
me. I was getting ready to send him a text telling him to call back in a little
while, but then Biscuit started making faces at me. "Hey, make one for your uncle,"
I told him. And this is what he did. His uncle gave him quite a bit of grief about it.

Jeff had to cover a basketball game one night recently, so
Biscuit and I were on our own. I knew school was going to be
cancelled the next day because of snow, so I let him stay up as
late as he wanted. He played for a long time, then he came over
and asked to snuggle in my rocking chair. He's gotten so big
that it's hard for him to find a comfortable position on my lap, but
he figured it out and sat there long enough to fall asleep. It was
all I could do to stand up with him in my arms and get him onto
the couch. I put a blanket over him and left him there until
Jeff came home, then Jeff took him upstairs to his bed. But
Biscuit just looked SO tall laying there that I had to snap
a picture. I can't believe how fast my boy is growing!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Testing the waters

I think I've mentioned before that I'm afraid of water. And I guess for that reason, I've always wanted Biscuit to learn how to swim.

I remember so many times I could've been more a part of the group if I knew how to swim.

One year, the youth group at the church I grew up in went to a church camp in the mountains. There was a place called Sliding Rock that has a huge slanted rock with terraced steps. You slide all the way down into a pool of water at the bottom.

Now the slide part sounded good, but the pool at the bottom, not quite my cup of tea. So I had to sit on the sidelines and watch my friends have fun without me.

When Biscuit was wee tiny, I thought about taking him to swimming lessons. But when they're that little, the parents have to get in the pool with them. And my fear was that he would sense my apprehension once we were in the water.

So we waited until he was old enough to take the lessons on his own.

There were benches near the area of the pool the class was using. And there were benches near the dressing rooms. Before the first class, I sat down near the dressing rooms. I asked Biscuit if he wanted me to stay where I was or move near his class.

"Mom," he said, "you just stay right here. My class is way over there, but my teacher will be there, and the lifeguard is right there, too."

He's much braver than me! But I stayed where he wanted me to.

His class was called the polliwogs. There were six of them, some more adventurous than others.

I struggled to watch some of what Biscuit had to do. They wore float packs most of the time. They were made of a couple of blocks of foam with a belt to fit around the kids' waists. The foam blocks were on their backs, so they could swim unencumbered, but still have the backup of a flotation device.

The first time the little kids and their teacher made their way from the 3-foot end to the 7-foot end, I literally had to avert my eyes. I couldn't stand to watch it.

I glanced back for just a minute to try to take a picture. The only saving grace is that Biscuit was a good ways away from me.

There was a game they played where the teacher held a long stick (called a fireman's pole) down in the water in the 7-foot end. The kids were supposed to take off their float packs, grab the pole with both hands and walk their way hand-over-hand down the pole to the bottom of the pool. When they touch the bottom of the pool, the walk their way back up. It makes my breath shallow just thinking about it.

It was funny to me to see where each of the kids excelled. One little boy could get down the pool and back with a kickboard in no time flat. One little girl would put her face in the water when she was using her kickboard, then she would turn her head and take a breath, just like lap swimmers do. And Biscuit was the only one in his group to touch the bottom of the pool in the fireman's pole game.

Biscuit's right in the middle of the little bunch of kids.
The class was twice a week for three weeks. And at the end, the kids should be able to swim 15 feet unassisted on front, back and side. At least, those are the pre-requisites for the next class. So it stands to reason that those are the things he would learn, right?

Not so much. Sadly, his teacher was not very good. She was very young, and every time one of the kids struggled with something, she would take a quick look over where the parents were sitting, almost as if she expected to get scolded. I would rather her have paid attention to the kids.

At the next-to-the-last lesson, the teacher gave out promotion slips saying all the kids could move on to the next class. But then at the last lesson, she gave out progress reports. I honestly don't think she even read the things. 

The sheets included a list of tasks down the left side and check boxes under "Complete" and "Incomplete." She checked every single task as incomplete. Would the kids really be ready for the next class if they had not completed a single thing on the task list? Including, by the way, "enjoys a game" and "knows pool and class rules." And under water sports and games, Biscuit definitely went under and got rings off the bottom of the pool. I watched him do it. It was one of the few times Biscuit actually looked over at me and waved.

I'm not sure how much Biscuit actually learned in the class, but I certainly don't want to pay for him to take it over again. I was hoping to sign him up for the next level immediately, but since members get to sign up first, the classes filled up, and we didn't get a spot.

But regardless of what his teacher observed or didn't observe, I did see Biscuit becoming brave in the water. He seemed very comfortable out there, so I think the rest is just details!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Frosty the Snow Lump

Despite the fact that the sleet came along and mushed down all our pretty, fluffy snow, we still ventured out to play.

Our first mission was to throw some snowballs, but the snow wouldn't stick together. You'd have to scoop up some snow and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. It was like we were trying to make diamonds from coal! I guess with the combination of the pressure and the heat from our hands, we finally got a few of them to stay together.

But that didn't last long because we immediately pitched them at each other!

Did Biscuit get close enough before he threw it?!

Poor Dad!

Guess who this one hit? I'll give
you a hint. It wasn't Biscuit.

We don't really have many toys just for snow, so we usually just pull out Biscuit's sand toys. Buckets, shovels and sand castle molds work just fine in snow, too!

Then it was time for a snowman. Except with the condition of the snow, it ended up being a small snow lump. He did get stick arms and nandina berry eyes, nose and mouth, but he wasn't much to look at.

Frosty the Snow Lump

Biscuit was fascinated with the huge chunks of snow he could pick up. It was almost like we were breaking the snow when we walked instead of sinking down into it. 

Snow angel.

Jeff's snow castle looks like a sundae with a cherry on top.

The froggies can't see their checkers board.

Jeff looks kind of devious as he gets ready to reveal his castle.

Why are boys so destructive?!

It was a fun play day, but I'll be happy to see the green grass return for a while!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Making ice

Sometimes I forget that common everyday things are still exciting to Biscuit. He is fascinated by things that I've known for 40-something years. And I have to remind myself to be excited with him.

We were coming home from dinner one night a couple of weeks ago, and Jeff and I were talking about how cold it was.

"Man, it's cold!" I said.

"What's the temperature?" Jeff asked.

I looked at the instrument panel on my car and said, "It's officially freezing. It's 30 degrees."

"What is officially freezing?" Biscuit asked.

"Well," I said, "32 degrees is freezing, and 30 degrees is even colder than that. Water will freeze at 32 degrees. It will make ice."

Biscuit was completely intrigued.

"Hey, would you like to put some water in a bowl and leave it on the front porch overnight?" I asked him. "Then we can go out in the morning and see what happens."

"Yes, yes I would," Biscuit said in a typical Biscuit answer.

So we did exactly that.

We put some water in a little plastic bowl and left it on the front porch railing.

The next morning, imagine our surprise to find that the water had turned to ice!

"It's really cold!" Biscuit said.

I love that Biscuit is curious and interested in how things work. I hope Jeff and I can remember that.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hunkered down

Where we live, there's a common saying: If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes. And sometimes I think that statement is very true.

Yesterday evening, I took Biscuit to his last swimming lesson, and this is what the sky looked like.

Then by 10 o'clock last night, we were getting big, fat flakes of snow.

We got maybe an inch or two, then today, the sleet started. And it's still going. The snow out there now has the consistency of a snow cone. And it has completely flattened out all that pretty snow!

It went from pretty, fluffy snow to flat, crystallized pellets.

Jeff and I both worked from home today because school was cancelled. And we're hoping to hunker down through the weekend. So if anybody needs us, we'll be drinking hot chocolate in the living room!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Keeping up traditions

Okay, this is the last beach post.

There's a souvenir shop that has been in Myrtle Beach as long as I've been alive. Longer, actually. The store opened in 1946 and claims to be "the nation's largest gift shop." It has 26,000 square feet of ... stuff. The stock includes novelty gifts, such as brushes for bald men or whoopy cushions, an Elvis corner, tons of sea shells and things made out of sea shells, ocean-themed home decor and of course postcards and toys. 

The front door is on the Grand Strand, and the back door opens onto a boardwalk just across the dunes from the ocean. The store is built on all kinds of levels. They're not really floors or stories, but sort of half-story platforms - each one about eight steps up or down from each other.

I got my fill of the store when I was a kid, but since Jeff has only been there one time, it's still quite the novelty for him. And of course, he wanted to share this kitschy goodness with his parents.

Biscuit and I walked around for a while, then we met up with my mother-in-law. All three of us were ready to wrap up our tour of the store, so we walked out the back door onto the boardwalk.

Jeff and his dad wandered around for quite a while, but Biscuit, Grandma and I just enjoyed the nice ocean view.

Biscuit looked down onto the beach and started calling me, "Mom! Mom!" he shouted. "Come look! It's a wedding!"

I went over and looked and saw a bunch of bridesmaids and groomsmen being arranged by a photographer.

"I see her! I see her!" Biscuit yelled.

I knew who he was talking about, but of course I had to play along.

"Who do you see?" I asked.

"The bride, Mom!" he said. 

"How do you know she's the bride?" I asked him.

"Moooooom," he said. "She's the one wearing the white dress."

"Oh yeah," I said. "Of course."

"I don't see the groom, though." he said. "All the boys are wearing the same color suits. I think the groom should have to wear a different color like the bride does."

"That's a good idea," I told him. "You'll have to remember that when you get married one day."

"Yeah," he said, "because you just can't tell which one of those guys she married. ... Of course, I guess she'll just latch on to one of them."

I wish I had thought to ask him to explain what he meant by that comment, but I realized that if the photographer was taking pictures toward the sunset using a flash, that I might get a good picture of Biscuit in the same light.

I think I've said it before, but Biscuit doesn't offer tooth smiles much anymore. He thinks his teeth look weird. He's crazy, of course, but I don't want to push him if he's feeling self-conscious.

I said something that made him smile and snapped away. And I got this cute shot. The thing is, he smiles and laughs the majority of the time, but I just haven't been able to capture that in pictures a lot lately.

And then, as he usually does, he found a way to be a daredevil!

When I was making our Christmas card this year, I spent a lot of time looking for a picture of Jeff, Biscuit and me together. The only ones I could find were selfies with all three of our faces squished up. So this year, I vowed that we would have some real pictures of the three of us together.

Grandpa got us in focus and everything.

The sun was going down and so was the temperature, so we took a quick stroll farther down the boardwalk and headed back to the car. Then off to dinner.

We had a really good trip, despite some clouds and rain. Like they say, a rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home!