Lately, we’ve been checking out a lot of books from our local library. And just by chance, we were pretty inspired by one: The Berenstain Bears Fly-It! Up, Up, and Away. Along with telling simplified versions of the evolution of flight, it gives simple instructions on how to make your own balloon-powered flyers. We spent an entire afternoon experimenting with them until we found our favorite! And, since it is freezing cold outside, this activity was perfect for indoors, as balloons and paper are sure to please and are easy on your lamps.
First up: The Tiger Shark:
The shape of our cone before rolling/taping
This cylinder ended up way too long and top-heavy, as the balloon could only fit into the base/opening
… so we cut it.
The verdict? Cute, but not a great design. The balloon could not be inflated enough inside the capsule to make it fly well (or maybe our paper was too heavy?).
Next up: Balloon-powered paper plane:
Verdict: Better, but my paper plane skills are lacking. If we had used sturdier paper and a better plane design, I think this would have worked well.
Next and final experiment: Balloon-powered balloon!
Verdict: Hilarious, easy success! The boys enjoyed blowing up the power-balloon and watching it buzz around and around the room. All in all, all of the experiments were fun, we laughed a lot, and we learned a good deal about the difficulties of flight! Plus, it is a bonus if you hit your brother in the head with one.
I took this video the other night and just had to share it. Poor Oliver had been at it for so long, trying to button those blasted jammies, before I even grabbed the camera and started filming. He was just trying so hard.
Sometimes I forget just how little he is. But this, along with some sweet instructions from an infinitely patient older brother, is a good reminder. Every day, he is learning. Every day, growing. How I love him so.
This video clearly needs very little explanation… but I do feel the need to assure you that Oliver is not crippled in some form or another. This is, actually, just the way he “dances.” Apparently, Andrew and I produce some sort of very strong “falling down” gene.
For some reason, I thought it would take longer. He still seems like so much of a baby, too sweet and gentle and chubby to be doing the things his brother does… things like walking. Oliver is walking! And not to be outdone by the stories of his Bossy Bear brother waking up one morning when he was 13 months old and just “deciding” to walk from then on out… Oliver has made the decision just as abruptly. But this decision had more to do with guacamole than anything else.
Half a year ago, before three became four, it was summer. A beautiful, mild-mannered, cooler-than-usual summer when Milo and I took daily trips in the early morning hours to the zoo and routine afternoon visits to the playground as my belly grew fuller and rounder with the promise of a brother. Every day was met with a busy ferocity, almost panicked pace to do and see and JUMP! and explore and play. And Milo, at somewhere around 21 months, was absolutely fearless. Untouchable as he maneuvered through his world. When he ran, he ran like the wind, feet moving so fast we were sure he would either take off flying into the sky or fall so hard he would bounce. But he really never fell. He just ran and ran and ran. He jumped off of the highest benches, boulders, playground equipment and landed on his feet every time with a confident grin and then on to the next. He knew he could do anything… before he knew anything, really.
I first noticed it when we arrived on a warm(ish) day last week at the same playground we frequented all summer long. Milo surveyed the area as soon as we walked through the crooked chain-link gate and headed straight to the sandbox to climb up onto the big table so he could jump off. He told me about his plan, sauntered over, and with some help from a stool, climbed up onto the table. But instead of jumping right off into the sand like he had so many times before, he hesitated. He looked at me. I nodded and smiled, giving him the go-ahead. He looked down and inched closer to the edge, but did not jump. He looked at me again, this time reaching out his hand. “You can do it,” I reassured him. But he wanted help. He waited until I took his hand to jump, then quietly left the sandbox and did not return to his once-favorite activity.
“What happens when you get old?” he asked me today while we were driving down Connecticut Avenue towards the zoo, just the two of us like old times. Two years and four months old. I was floored.
He had just watched a very elderly man crossing the street with help from a younger man and a walker and had pointed them out to me.
“Sometimes nothing happens, your body just gets older and a little more tired. Other people have a little bit of trouble getting around, like their bones are sore and tired, so they need some help. Some people just slow down a bit.” I didn’t know what else to say. Or I did know, but couldn’t tell him yet. Memories of working in a nursing home when I was 17 flooded my mind, thoughts of dementia, and of wonderful stories, and of Parkinson’s, and friendship, of sorrow and of joy and reflection. I wanted to tell him about life and love and everything I know so far of it, and everything that is yet to come. I wanted to tell him about the love he will feel for someone else that will knock him over it will be so strong. I wanted to tell him about parenthood, how nothing, nothing will prepare him for the vulnerability and all-encompassing devotion he will feel towards his children and family should he choose to have one.
I wanted to tell him about a love so strong it actually hurts. A love that grows each and every day I know him. And his brother. And his father.
Instead, I took my Milo to the zoo again, and marveled at the beauty of his newfound caution.
And now, on a different, completely unrelated note… Milo’s “Pants on the Ground, Twinkle Twinkle, Baa Baa Black Sheep Medley.” Please enjoy this little diddy.*
*Lyrics of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” have been changed to pay hommage to the characters in “Kung Foo Panda,” best new little kid’s animated movie out there. That is why you cannot understand a word he is singing… but thanks for the hilarious movie, Gerlyn & Andrea.
Uncle Ryan is currently a hero of the Bum’s. He sees Uncle Ryan as larger than life, driven by a range of colorful stories of Uncle Ryan’s adventures growing up — being attacked by bees, getting stuck in quick mud, jumping out of airplanes, left sleeping on the beach by his family, getting bitten in the head by a German shepherd, having a golf ball driven into his side at close range, and many more.