Sunday, December 16, 2012

NU mini reunion

On our way to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, we detoured through Northbrook to meet Kelly and Dustin's new baby, Brennan, and to see the Simms family. So now not only do we invite ourselves to the Cooks' house, we also invite other friends to hang out there too! :) 
It was wonderful to spend a few hours with friends--with the Simms family living in Colorado, we don't see them very often anymore!

The last time we were all together there were only 2 kids (Zack and Thomas). Now there were 6 kids, and it was a lot louder and a lot more wild! 

 My birthday celebration's so nice having friends that know I love celebrating! I had cupcakes following me from Michigan to Wisconsin. The kids helped blow out the candles (and of course eat the cupcakes!)
 Jojo did NOT like me holding sweet little Brennan. Not at all.

 Jenn reading some of the bigger kids a story.

 These 3 got along great--they played for an hour or so in this box. Ryder and Jojo (both 1) couldn't quite keep up. Maybe next time.

 First photo of the eight of us Cooks and Rubles. We'll be spending New Year's Eve at the Cooks' house, so chances are we'll take another photo then.

With the Simms family. The last time we took this photo, both Ryder and Josiah were small babies.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Uncle Tucker comes to town

We lucked out with beautiful mid-November Saturdays two weekends in a row. The weekend after Di and Matt were here, Uncle Tucker came to visit from St. Louis. Unfortunately, Katie couldn't make it; we hope she can come next time!

Thomas took Tucker on a tour of all his favorites in our yard as well. It was like they'd never been apart--so sweet!
 Thomas' pine tree fort

 Tucker helped him climb a tree

 Stopping for a hug/tackle

 I was massively outnumbered this weekend! Saturday night we had pizza for dinner and the guys all sat at the island. It was so peaceful at the table by myself!

 Sunday night I made my birthday dinner--Italian meatloaf stuffed with ham and cheese, roasted rosemary potatoes, and birthday spinach. Yum!

I also made pumpkin Kahlua cheesecake. Double yum!

The boys helped me blow out my candles. 

See you in February, Uncle Tucker and Katie!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Matt and Di come to visit

Living in Kalamazoo is so convenient when your Chicago friends have tickets to the NU-Michigan football game! Matt and Di, dressed appropriately, stayed Chez Ruble before and after the game at the Big House. Unfortunately, NU couldn't quite pull out the win. Argh!

While Di and Matt were at the game and Ed was doing yardwork (big yard, lots of trees = way too many leaves), I took the boys to Kalamazoo's Christmas parade. 

 Jojo did a lot of dancing!

 The Western Michigan W!

 Thomas made some friends, and they played Ring Around the Rosie during the parade.

The second star of the show! (I guess I didn't get a picture of Santa!)

 On Sunday, the weather got even nicer and we spent the day outside, playing with Matt and Di and the  kids, plus the Kalamazoo usual--lunch at Eccentric Cafe.
 Jojo in his adorable new NU hoodie

 Diane and her date at Eccentric

 Swing time!

The kids put Matt and Di through all the paces--soccer, baseball, bean bag toss, swings, bikes...glad the weather was nice or it would have been a long, cold afternoon!

Me and Diane

We hope they'll come visit again before NU plays in Ann Arbor again!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Trick or Treating

After several years of me being gone during trick or treating, this year Ed has a business trip. Add in the cold and wet weather, and our actual trick or treating time was pretty short.

 The boys in their costumes before we set out. Josiah is wearing the dinosaur/dragon costume that TJ wore around the same age. We called him a Jojosaurus. Thomas insisted from the start that he wanted to be a cowboy scarecrow. Mom still has a scarecrow costume I wore as a kid, so I showed him a photo of that, thinking it might be an easy solution. That particular costume has overalls. TJ took one look at it and said, "No, that is a farmer scarecrow. I want to be a COWBOY scarecrow." Further questioning indicated that a cowboy scarecrow wears a cowboy outfit and then has a stick in his back. Mom and Jenn found cowboys boots as a secondhand store, we had a hat and bandana, I borrowed the holsters from mom and dad, and Thomas wore jeans and a plaid shirt as the base, with a faux leather vest I made him. We had a stick for his back but didn't push it, figuring it would make it harder to walk. He didn't remember day of, so our only nod to the scarecrow aspect was gold yarn "bracelets" so there was hay coming out of his sleeves. He was happy.

Our first trick-or-treat house: the next door neighbors. Thomas knew exactly what to do, and Jojo just followed along.

We visited about 10 houses, but by then it was starting to drizzle and get dark, and Josiah refused to ride in the wagon while Thomas refused to not ride in the wagon, so we headed home. You'll have to go with the mental image here: We're walking up the hill to our house and I've got a squirming Jojo in one arm, and I'm lugging a TJ-filled wagon behind me. We were done.

I think the boys had more fun handing out candy anyway.

Watching for trick or treaters and/or guarding the candy bowl.

I finally moved the little table into the foyer, as trying to keep the boys at the table for dinner while trick or treaters were coming wasn't working.

 TJ was very concerned that Jojo kept hovering over the candy bowl. I tried to explain that a) he had mittens on and b) he didn't understand how to open candy anyway, so it was probably okay.

Sampling the treats. Thomas ditched his costume the minute we walked in the door. :( But Jojo kept his on. I really didn't give him a choice.

Thomas was really funny while we were handing out candy. He kept coming up with these one-liners, and I had to write them down since I was the only one home to appreciate them!

A couple classic TJ quotes from the night: 
1. "What costume are you in?" (to high school boys)
2. And after they leave "They were dressed up as boys who like candy."
3. After an 8-year-old witch leaves: "She was adorable."
4. To the unsuspecting candy-giver (during the 30 minutes we trick or treated): "No! I don't like those (Reese's PB cups). Mama, take it out of my bag!" Great manners, kid. 
5. To a middle school girl dressed as a slasher/bloody mummy/who knows what: "Oh, a silly clown!"
6. To a 2-year-old at our door, after handing him candy: "What do you say? Say thank you!" 
I love 3 year olds. They're hysterical.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pumpkin Carving

...aka My kids don't like the guts

Since the kids really aren't old enough to carve yet, we decided that doing one jack o lantern would be plenty. 

I encouraged both of them to help me scoop out the gunk inside.

 They weren't interested.

Although Josiah may have had a change of heart later. Here he is trying to scoop out an uncut pumpkin.

 Thomas directed me as to what the face should look like. My ideas, such as having the nose be an upside-down triangle, were vehemently vetoed.

Our completed jack o lantern! TJ was very protective of him. Halloween night, I wanted to put him outside and I had to fight TJ to do that. He wanted him to stay inside where it was warm.

 Two nights later we went the cannibalistic route and had a pumpkin for dinner, following a recipe I found online. The pumpkin is stuffed with brown rice, sausage, mushrooms, and a little bit of curry powder. It was a hit with all four of us!

Jojo in an old shirt of TJ's.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

40 Years = 1 Big Party

Tom and Alice celebrated their 40th anniversary this year, and that, combined with the reaching of retirement age, meant that a party was in order. The entire family (40ish people?) gathered at Jim and Kathy's house outside of Cleveland for a Saturday full of family food, fun, and a little football watching. 

 All 3 kids gave speeches/toasts.

Mary's girls had memorized a poem that tied in with her speech.

Tom and Alice, married 40 years!
Re-enacting the cutting of the cake

Two days before the party, the weather had been in the 60s and sunny. The day of the party? 40 and rainy. Thank goodness for a tent and some space heaters! 

 Aidan and Jojo

The medium-sized kids really liked the treadmill in the basement.

Aidan had so much fun that at the end of the night, he passed out on Mary Beth.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NU game

Mark and Karen invited us to the Northwestern-Nebraska game in October. We happily accepted, and finally worked out the babysitting details after multiple attempts. 12 hours=tag team babysitters!
We headed to the Knoepke-Kutheis tailgate for a taste of old times! The weather was beautiful, the food and beer delicious; the only drawback was that traffic had delayed us, so we had to squeeze our tailgate fun into about 20 minutes.

At the game with Mark, Karen, and Niki. Niki is a freshmen at NU this year--we're so glad the Wildcat tradition is continuing in the family--so it was fun to sit with her and cheer on the Cats. We had great seats and almost saw a great game. If only they could have hung on at the end, we'd be playing in the Big Ten Championship game this weekend. Sigh...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Playing in the leaves

The day after the pumpkin patch, we enjoyed another beautiful Indian summer day, so we decided to rake some leaves. Since our house in St. Louis had a very small, fairly tree-free yard, we didn't have any rakes! We borrowed one from the neighbors, which quickly turned into three, because both boys wanted to help. 

All of the neighbors were blowing leaves, which, with the size of the yards and number of trees made sense, but it just seemed wrong to blow leaves for a leaf pile to jump in. Old school leaf pile jumping requires old school raking. 

Our leaf pile was huge, and it only used leaves from part of our front yard. (We ultimately used two leaf blower...our smaller electric one and our neighbor's high-powered gas clear our yard of leaves.)

I had a great time playing in the leaves too!
 (look closely in this photo and you can see TJ riding his bike in the background!)