Saturday, April 18, 2015

Day With Kids

Heidi is at our church women’s retreat this weekend.  I’m just coming off my first busy season at the new job as well as having started my own side business of doing tax returns, so I was exhausted.  I wasn’t up to making a lot of plans in advance.

So I reverted back quite a bit to my single days and just made a lot of “are you free now?” invites.  The one I did plan in advance was hanging out with my nephew Michael.  My alma mater, FPU, was having a kids’ athletics day this morning, so I had reached out to my sister-in-law Heather about taking her and her three kids.  Heather wasn’t feeling well and didn’t feel up to coming along.  When I offered to take the kids myself, she asked me to just take my nephew Michael for some guy bonding time.  Since Michael wouldn’t know anyone there if his sisters weren’t going, I decided to ditch the event and just have us hang out together.

I had planned to run with Amy and Alicia before getting Michael, but Alicia bailed and a glitch with a phone upgrade caused my alarm to not go off, so none of us ran.  So I used my time for some breakfast, Bible reading and prayer.  I went and picked up Michael around 9:30.

Our first stop was Target for a basketball pump, because my basketball was pretty flat.  I gave him the money and had him count out the cash we’d need to pay for it.  I’ll save counting and checking change for another day (he’s 7).

We got back to my house and went out to do a little gardening first.  I had him water Heidi’s garden and help me cut off some dead roses.  The roses are in full bloom now, so he enjoyed getting to smell and admire them.

Then I changed from jeans into basketball shorts and we went over to the nearest school and found the way in to the outdoor basketball hoops.  We were just taking turns shooting and dribbling and passing, but Michael really wanted to play “Around the World,” which is where you try to make baskets from various spots around the key.  Now, I’m no basketball player, so I knew this would not be the most productive use of our time on the court, but that’s what he really wanted to play, so we played.  And since we’re both pretty lousy at shooting, it took FOREVER.  I am so grateful to two people in my life for the skills to finish that horrid game: Leroy, my high school basketball coach and Alicia, my running friend who gave me some shooting coaching three years ago when I agreed to be the kindergarten coach for our church’s basketball outreach program.

We had a kid show up on a scooter who was just hanging around, so I started talking to him and introduced Michael and myself.  His name was Jordan, and he was 10 years old.  I invited him to join us.  Michael suggested we start over (he was at position 3 and I was at 7, out of 13), but I told him Jordan could catch up.  And catch up Jordan did.  I just barely stayed ahead of him.  After Jordan finished, Michael was still at position 4 and getting nowhere near the basket, so I told him we had to go.  At some point during the hour plus we were on the court, he told me he has never made a basket from that point, and that’s always where he gets stuck when he plays at recess.  Horrible game, but I did have fun getting out on the court again and playing some ball with my nephew.

We came back to the house and I cut up some watermelon for us since he was drooling over it.  Then I had him help me cook up some quesadillas for lunch.  He was super excited to get to help dole out the cheese and flip the quesadilla.  My crowning moment was when he told me that mine were better than his mom’s!  I also loved how polite but serious he was in having no interest in trying mine when I doctored it up with some spices and fancier cheese.

Heidi had made some quinoa-based chocolate brownies.  I like them, but kids can tell they’re healthy, so Michael wasn’t a fan.  But I had some cherry tomatoes and he was crazy about those, so those counted for dessert in his mind.

Then I introduced him to the game of Qwirkle.  He was just barely able to mentally get his head around the rules.  We didn’t keep score, because I figured I’d cream him, but he held his own in getting Qwirkles.  I should have kept score, though, because he was certain he one just by nature of using up his last tiles before I used mine.

I took him home around 2:30 and sent a bags of cut-up watermelon and cherry tomatoes for him to share with his sisters.  When I got back, I realized that I could use some more exercise, so I sent my friend Amy a text message asking about taking her 10yo son Noah out to play some basketball.  As the youngest and least-coordinated of three boys, he would definitely appreciate it.

As it turns out, Noah was off getting a haircut with his grandpa, but his sister Aislynn was available.  So I told Amy I’d pick her up to do a craft project at my house.  Amy hates the mess of crafts, and Aislynn is in a major craft craze these days.  I decided to also invite Katelyn, one of Aislynn’s church friends (who’s also like another niece to me) to join us, so I picked up both girls and brought them back to the house.  I cut up some poster board and showed them what we were doing.  We cut out dozens of small pieces of construction paper and started gluing them to the poster board to make various pictures (combination of Picasso and mod podge).  Katelyn made an American flag, Aislynn made a park scene and I made a flower.  They were both a little stumped on creativity, so before we started our second one, I took them outside to look at my roses and to let them each pick one to take home.

Then we headed back inside where they each made their own flowers and I made an “I [heart] U” sign to welcome Heidi home tomorrow.  I was really happy with how all the artwork turned out.  I had done a craft like this in elementary school and had been wanting to try it again.

Then I had the girls go outside again with some paper and colored pencils to draw a few flowers until I had to take them home.  We dropped Katelyn off and then I stayed and had dinner at Aislynn’s house.

It was a fun and full day.  Each of the kids said so many ridiculous and funny things that just made me smile at their innocence, but my favorite had to be one of Aislynn’s.  Upon seeing my guest room where I keep craft supplies, Aislynn blurts out: "We don't have a guest room.  But we will when Jaden [oldest brother, 14yo] moves out, and that will be so great!"  So glad having the cool-factor of having a guest room trumps having her brother around, and that she's already planning his exit.  It was all I could do not to bust up laughing.