Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm on borrowed time here as nap time is extending past the 2.5-hour mark. How does this happen on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, while yesterday's rain and gloom was met with less than 2 hours of sleeping? Oh well, it gave me time to wash windows (inside only) and hose down screens. Plus prep this short video of one of the boys' favorite new games.

This chair was my Christmas present from John (my request!) last year. A place to sit with back support at play level. I don't actually spend much time sitting in it as it now doubles as a ladder (seen here), dentist chair, and running flip toy. This last activity is not for the faint of heart (or Grandparents, apparently.)

We celebrated Will's birthday yesterday with pictures, his tree, a few more tears, and LOTS of questions. Maybe someday the boys will understand that we have as many as they do, but that there are few answers to satisfy any of us.

In the meantime, we tumble through life.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I can't believe I'm still two weeks behind. I thought I could get part-way caught up last time and then close the gap mid-week. Alas, time continues to slip away, but at least we have fun stories and photos to share. (Speaking of which, I have no idea what is going on in this picture. Apparently it has something to do with Daniel putting the drill in his mouth, but John was laughing too hard to really explain.)

Our visitors from the Northwest arrived with a cold snap that resulted in breaking from Geraghty family tradition and turning on the heat in the first week of October. (Mom always said we didn't need it until November, and while I doubt we ever really waited that long, it definitely was delayed as long as humanly possible!) But for guests--heat! Aunt Janet and Uncle Denis arrived just as naps were ending on the first Friday of October. I was hoping to take a walk to the park to mitigate the butt-numbing four-hour drive they'd had, but it was raining, so we played at home. Anticipating the rain, I'd made some Halloween cookies for Ed to decorate. He was enthusiastic about the project for about eight cookies, but used enough frosting and sprinkles for a whole batch!

I thought Daniel might be wary of Denis because of his beard, but he happily trotted off to play with him after finishing snack. A few minutes later however, piercing screams from the play room. I thought maybe he'd gotten hurt, but no, he'd simply looked up at Denis, looked around the room and, unable to locate Edward or me, started freaking out. This did not last long, as Daniel realized he'd found a new cozy lap from which to enjoy his favorite truck book.

The next morning, after we'd waved good-bye as they headed off on the last leg of their Midwestern journey (to Wisconsin) we decided it was finally time for Daniel to meet the scissors. Haircut day. John would have done it months ago, but I was resisting (along with Gram, Grandma, Great-Grandma...are we sensing a pattern here?)

Since he kept trying to climb down from the chair, John ended up holding him. Even so, it was an aerobic endeavor for the stylist, who had to keep moving side to side following Daniel's swiveling head. Finally a pacifier was produced so she could finish the job. He definitely looks older now, but those chubby cheeks remain as a sign that he's still my baby.

The next big event was the University of Iowa Homecoming Parade a week later. Time for Daniel to bust out the Gamebibs, a gift for newborn Edward from Aunt Ann, who lived in Iowa just long enough to witness the insanity that is Hawkeye sports. On the way to our favorite viewing spot, we saw one of Edward's classmates who was with his family in the parade staging area. They gave us the pompoms and we promised to wave if we made it long enough to see them go by. (We did.)

One of the first people in the parade is always the University of Iowa president, who was riding on the t-top of a Corvette. John is serving on a committee with her and we've met her through our work with the March of Dimes, so when her car stopped right in front of us, she waved, pointed to Daniel and said, "Hey, he looks cold!" He'd taken his mittens off...again!

The parade tradition is to pass out heaps of candy and other items to the crowds along the curbs. One group this year was giving out plastic drinking cups. Although they try to hand items out or drop them in the bags the kids hold out, many are dropped. At one point in the parade, a pick-up rolled over one of the plastic cups--a direct hit that made a loud cracking sound and left the cup in smithereens. Edward completely freaked out. He started crying hysterically and John could not figure out what was going on. He finally got Edward to say, "I didn't want the truck to break the cup!" It wasn't that he wanted the cup, just that he couldn't abide such reckless destruction. It took several minutes to calm him down, during which we thought we might just have to leave. He finally pulled himself together and came back to enjoy the rest of the show (and collect even more candy!)

The boys only got to see a bit of the first quarter of the next day's game, as it was a rare 7 p.m. start. Happily, Iowa defeated Michigan in a chilly, 30-28 nail-biter to remain undefeated for the season. (And as I was writing this post, the Hawks were busy defeating Wisconsin!)

So I think that's all for our major activities to date. Some general tidbits and observations. The boys seem to be more and more able to play together without immediate parental supervision. This is not to say that there are no disagreements, just that the time between them is stretching long enough for me to get dinner started or even, (gasp) go to the bathroom without "help."

It's fun to listen to them from the next room as they navigate whatever world they happen to be inhabiting at the moment. Ed's swimming teacher was the lifeguard when we went for a Sunday afternoon family swim last week and ever since then he's been sitting on the edge of the couch playing lifeguard. He uses his stuffed animals as rescue rings and likes it if John or I pretend to swim on the floor so he can rescue us.

Daniel has slowly been adding more words to his performance of "Rock-a-bye baby," and I'd say he's up to about 70%. He may skip a word or phrase along the way, but never misses the chance to clap for himself when he reaches the end.

I continue the weekly challenge of taking the boys to church. Some weeks are better than others. Heavy bribery is employed. We have, on occasion, been known to leave early. However, the experience did produce this gem from Edward last week when we welcomed four new babies to the church: "Mom, how many babies are getting 'bath-tized?' " At least he's paying attention...somewhat. It's not what anyone might call a spiritual experience, but I see older kids sitting with their families and know there is a tiny glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.

This week we are (finally) getting new windows installed in our bedroom. We knew when we bought the house last year that they needed to be replaced, but considered it a second year project since we had some major issues to tackle right away. It took more than a month this summer to collect bids and then additional information to make them comparable. Then it turned out that window manufacturers were backed up because there are tax rebates for energy efficiency improvements (like windows.) But we're finally ready, and not a moment too soon. The current windows are so bad they don't actually close all the way--a breeze most unwelcome in the coming months. It's more than a standard replacement because our old windows did not meet egress for the bedroom so we have to have a larger opening cut. We have been promised that the actual installation will be done in one day. Finishing the interior and exterior will take longer, but at least we we're not expecting a plastic tarp window.

Now that I'm back up to date, maybe I can stay on track for a few weeks. Look for the home improvement pics next time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This is a blog time machine, taking you back to where we last left our fearless family, enjoying a warm, dry September: busy, busy, busy. The last weekend in September we took a trip to Boone in central Iowa, for the annual Day Out With Thomas at the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad. This event travels around the country and we'd heard about it from friends who had gone in previous years. Our boys are both fans of Thomas the Tank Engine and of trains in general, so we decided this would be the year for our excursion. Everything I read said you had to reserve tickets in advance or risk not getting a seat on the train, even though it ran hourly Fri-Sun for two weekends in a row. We didn't tell them a thing about it until the morning we were leaving, and even then, we made a grave error in telling them about an hour before we were due to leave. That was a LONG hour. We had an early lunch at home Saturday and then loaded up hoping the kids would sleep for the 2.5 hour drive. We are lucky they are both good car sleepers. Daniel woke a bit early, but ended up entertaining himself with books and crackers for about an hour.

We arrived to a full scale Thomas extravaganza. There was a tent full of train tables with plenty of trains for the hoards of kids there. There was a Thomas story time on an old train car. There were inflatables to crawl and bounce in. There was a huge gift shop/tent, which we managed to steer clear of. But most of all, there was Thomas. Edward's breathless reaction upon seeing the train pull into the station: "I didn't know there was a REAL LIVE Thomas!!!"

We completely lucked into being in the right spot for pictures at the exact moment the train pulled up. We got the train shots with no trouble at all, but then discovered that the other photo-op--with Sir Topham Hatt, who "runs the railroad"--would not be as easy. We tried to show Edward how long the line was and discourage the visit, but he would not be deterred. It turned out to be much quicker than we expected and the kids were enthralled with the larger than life character.

We boarded the train and waited for the ride to begin. Short-attention-span Daniel, called out "All done Thomas" just as we were pulling out of the station for the 25-minute trip. Luckily he was distracted with the scenery and other trains rolling by outside the window. It was a very slow-moving train that just went away from the station for about 10-12 minutes, stopped and then went back along the same track. It sounds bad to say that the train ride itself was the least exciting part of the adventure, but they still had fun.We played trains for a bit longer and then left for an overnight in Des Moines (about 45 minutes away.) We got to have dinner with our good friends and let the kids play together, which was great. We wish it were easier to arrange get togethers like that!
Our hotel in Des Moines was a bit of a disappointment. I'd selected it (at a premium price) because it was an all suites hotel (Spring Hill Suites by Marriott) but we discovered upon arrival, that the suite did not include any separation between the living room and bedroom. We'd been planning to put the kids to sleep, close the door and then enjoy some adult time, including the big game between Iowa and Penn State. The hotel management could do nothing to help us, as the only truly separate suite in the hotel was the Presidential Suite (to which they did not offer to upgrade us!) Note to self: double check the definition of "suite" when booking hotels online. Also, steer clear of Spring Hill Suites due to unsuitable accommodations and unhelpful staff! With some effort we got the kids to sleep and then watched the (exciting!!) game on about volume 2. Victory was no less sweet in silence!

In the morning, we took a swim in the hotel pool and then headed out to Des Moines' Blank Park Zoo. It's a nice, small zoo where the animals come close enough for the kids to actually see them. Even so, it's hard to get zoo pictures with kids because the animals are so big and they are so little. Newly interested in swimming due to taking his first lessons this fall, Edward was quite intrigued by these speedy penguins. The zoo also had a children's area with petting holes in the fences. Daniel walked right up with his hand out, but recoiled at the moment of nose-to-hand contact and wouldn't have anything to do with animals after that. He was quite happy to play on the playground. Edward saw the goats using this bridge to get from one enclosure to another and plopped himself down underneath to shout, "Who's that tramping on my bridge!" Our little troll.

Exhaustion set in for the drive home. Both boys slept the entire 2 hour trip. I drove for about an hour, but then had to wake John to drive the rest of the way. It was a fun weekend, but what you might call restful or rejuvenating!

Tune in next time when we catch up with stories of magical visitors from the Northwest, a "hair-raising" incident, and black and gold glory days.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A real post is forthcoming once I complete my midterm (it's a take-home exam due at class time, 6 p.m. Wed.)

Here are some pictures to tide you over:

Day Out With Thomas, Sept. 26, Boone, Iowa

Saturday morning, Oct. 3

Later the same morning, post-haircut

Sunday morning, Oct. 4, dressed for church