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!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkin Patch Part Deux

Since Mother Nature hadn't cooperated on our family pumpkin patch trip, and since I was bound and determined that we would go on a hayride this year, one beautiful Wednesday afternoon we tried again.

I took TJ, Jojo, and our friend Rowan to Gull Meadow Farms, a pumpkin patch/cider mill/fall activity place. Gull Meadow Farms and Rowan's house are both on the opposite side of town from where we live, and I was trying to maximize our time, so we picked Rowan up about 2 pm. The tricky part: the hayrides don't start until 4 pm on weekdays. I knew that going in, but I was counting on donuts, the pumpkin patch and lots of room to run around to hold everyone's attention until 4. Eh, not so much. 

 The donuts were a hit though!

 The boys soon grew tired of the pumpkin patch and started gazing longingly at the play area. I was determined we were only doing the hayride, as the play area was not cheap, but ultimately I had to give in, if for no other reason than my own sanity. It was so worth it--they had a blast! And really, I would have loved some of the activities too!

 Even Jojo wants to go in the play area.

We started out small, at the water pumps. 

Then the big boys discovered the bouncy pads. I couldn't get them off.

Jojo was not happy that he wasn't big enough for the bouncy pads.

The big boys also did a cornstalk slide (stacks of cornstalks created steps; the slide was a big tube), and we tried out the labyrinth. TJ ran ahead, Rowan lagged behind, and Jojo wanted to be carried. I spent half of the time in the labyrinth planning for how I could signal to some Good Samaritan to stop TJ if he left the maze while we were still deep inside. Happily, he got to the end and decided to run back to join us!

TJ also got a ride in the barrel train while Rowan bounced some more. At this point, Ed had joined us to go on the hay ride as well. 

Where are the hayride photos, you ask? 
Well, TJ had a meltdown, the line was really long, and we just decided to skip it. Maybe next year? 

We headed home, ate a quick dinner, and put on costumes to go to a trunk or treat. If you're not familiar with the concept, people with decorated trunks and lots of candy park in a parking lot (ours happened to be the parking lot of the church where TJ goes to preschool and was put on by the church), and kids walk through the parking lot in a (fairly organized) line, trick or treating. I was skeptical at first, but it was great, especially with little kids who don't want to walk far! We'll be going next year for sure!
 TJ's cowboy scarecrow (more on this later), with a cameo from Ed as Duff Man in the background.

 A side view of the Jojo-saurus, showing off his cute back spikes.

Rowan the mummy

Friday, November 16, 2012

TJ on a pedal bike!

Thomas has been gliding around on his Strider bike since his birthday last February, and we began thinking that he was ready to try a bike with pedals (and no training wheels). Ed's boss had a bike his son had outgrown that looked to be just about the right size, so Ed brought it home, cleaned it up, and we tried it out one beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Here was his first attempt:
Pretty cool, isn't it?! His balance was right on; it just seemed he'd forgotten how to steer! :)

Within 10 minutes, he was zooming about like a pro, even starting on his own. We are so proud of him! The only part he doesn't get yet is the brakes. He still stops by dragging his feet (time for new shoes, maybe?).

Of course, Jojo wanted in on the fun. He rode on:


the tricycle

and TJ's bike.

Next spring we'll let him try the Strider, but for now he'll have to use Lightning and the tricycle!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A little more September and August

The drawback of being a bit behind on a chronological blog is that sometimes you forget things.

Like this fairly major event:
Thomas started preschool!

Ed and I got to attend as well the first day, and it was fun to see how excited he was! The preschool is at a church a couple miles from our house, and he goes two mornings a week. He continues to love it, literally bouncing in his car seat on the way there. He has come home with some neat art projects and new songs, and is learning to write his numbers and practice writing his name.
Is this the face of excitement or what?!?!

Also in September, Ed's Uncle Dennis and Aunt Donna came to visit while on a tour of Michigan. We took them to Eccentric, where Dennis tried out a flight of beer.

Aunt Donna made the boys personalized foam jack o lanterns. (Their names are carved into the mouths.) The pumpkins were a huge hit, but the little battery-operated votives that go inside were arguably an even bigger hit. The boys drag the votives (and sometimes the pumpkins) under blanket forts, and I frequently find a random votive light turned on and stashed under a bookshelf or in some other hiding place. Amazing battery power on those things!

And we had a cupcake redo for Jojo's birthday back in August. It wasn't all because I was dissatisfied with the turnout of the original cupcakes--I also wanted to invite the neighbors over, and this seemed like a great excuse! Spreading a little Jojo love...
 Jojo liked these cupcakes too!

 I decided to decorate a bit, and continued the fish theme from the cupcakes.

These were simpler, but so much cuter!