Helen had been playing Mario Kart Wii at her after-school care program, and was excited to learn that we had it at home, too! And everyone rediscovered Double Dash. These titles have been in pretty heavy rotation recently. Helen mostly just likes to play time trials (perhaps so that no one beats her). Arthur can't really steer a kart very well in either game, but loves watching Helen play, and really likes being the 'thrower' in Double Dash.
Uncle Gus came into town, and it was a great excuse to meet up with Grandma and Grandpa and go see a movie! We saw 'The Secret World of Arrietty,' which was fantastic. It was also the opening weekend of 'The Lorax,' and we saw people lined up to get into the theater. The kids asked what they were doing, and Gus said, "You've learned an important lesson: people with bad taste are punished, and people with good taste get to go straight to their movie." There was also a tour through various mall attractions and window shopping. This activity is relatively novel for the kids, since both Rachel and I dislike "going shopping" and malls in particular.
Several months ago, Helen was invited to a friend's birthday party at a Laser Quest place. Beyond the noisy lobby, you must go through a steam-punk-looking door to the 'briefing room.' This glimpse into the dark, black-light-lit briefing room is as close as Helen got the last time. She abjectly refused to enter.
Today, there was a Girl Scout event there, and one of Helen's friends told her about how she went in with her mom. The adult wore the target vest, and the kid held the gun. This was the strategy that Helen planned to execute, and she agreed to go. She was pretty positive about it, but as we pulled up, I could hear her breathing get a little labored in the back seat. We arrived, had some snacks with her friends, and then lined up to enter the briefing room. One of Helen's friends was feeling uncertain about the whole thing, and Helen valiantly tried to cheer her up and encourage her to go in. Of course, as soon as the door opened, Helen herself had second thoughts. We crossed the threshhold, and Helen's flight reflex immediately kicked in--she bodily moved towards the door and freedom. I held on to her and reassured her to buy some time before the briefing started, as I was sure that once things 'started' she'd be okay.
We made it through the briefing, and made our way to the staging area, where we geared up. I wore the vest, and Helen hefted the gun. She was still a little iffy about the whole thing, especially with the smoke-machine fog. However, we moved into the maze, and the laser shooting began. After a little while Helen got the hang of it, and was dragging me along.
And then the craziest thing happened: she started rallying a squad. We ran into some of her friends individually and in pairs, and Helen immediately started grouping up with them, and kept telling them to 'stay together.' We moved up into one of the upper levels, and she basically tried to set up a defensive perimeter. Since we were kind of off in a corner, that got boring quickly, and she had them move back into the main part of the arena.
It was at this point that I asked if she wanted to wear the vest, which she immediately and without hesitation said yes to, as if she had just been dragging me around this dark maze by a short cord for my benefit somehow.
She proceeded to have a great time ('it was the best time ever').
The kids planned a birthday for their mother, including a chocolate cake and a more traditional pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
Since Helen gets out of school early on Fridays, Rachel started instituting Friday afternoon movies, wherein she makes Helen watch movies from our library that Helen might not choose on her own, but once she watches them, she likes them. Rachel makes popcorn, and they have a good time. Here is Helen preparing to watch the Wizard of Oz, with her Dorothy doll in hand, and an apprehensive look on her face:
She ended up loving it, and I believe the movie even became a semi-regular request in the week afterwards.