Monday, October 24, 2011

On Saturday I ran another 5K (WHO am I??) this one in Cedar Rapids with a friend from work. It was kind of a goofy affair with a Halloween theme and a few kids activities, so the boys wore their costumes and hung out with John while I ran. It was a cross country course, so a little different than what I've been used to. But a beautiful day and a lovely run through the park and Usher's Ferry Historic Village.

Since we were going to be in the area, we planned a trip to Bloomsbury Farm in nearby Atkins. I'd heard lots of friends talking about it as a great fall family activity. I knew it was an all-day adventure though and in past years we really haven't been "all day" people. Since naps have mostly fallen by the wayside (shedding a tear for those bygone days) we thought this would be a great way to spend the afternoon. Grandma and Grandpa even joined in the fun.

It's hard to describe, but basically, it's a family's working farm where they've carved out a section for a whole host of kiddie entertainment including a big slide made from some sort of agricultural tubing (tiling?), hayrack rides, pumpkin patch, pig races, animal feeding/petting, a big barn of hay for jumping, pedal carts, a corn maze, a haunted house, a fun house (more goofy than scary) and the piece de resistance, a HUGE jumping pillow. Holly was looking up the directions on Google maps and this pillow is big enough that it can be seen in the satellite image.

After a lot of jumping and falling, Daniel discovered that it's even more fun to let others do the work. His giggling was so infectious, you can hear the adults joining in.

Of course, our kids wouldn't be our kids if they didn't eschew a whole new realm of fun activities in favor of playing on the most mundane, everyday item in the area,

but we were able to persuade them to take in the rest of the fun.
We even ran into some friends (it's a popular weekend activity for Iowa Citians) so the boys had friends to play with in addition to each other. Edward has been begging us to take him to a haunted house ever since he missed an opportunity at the county fair when the "ride" operator wouldn't let me send them through without me, and I was unwilling to use all of our tickets for all three of us to go through. I promised him then that I'd take him to a "real" haunted house, and he has not let me forget for a second. The impulse may now be quashed however, as he did not like the loud noises or the uncertainty of finding our way in the dark. And this was a very tame haunted house with no monsters jumping out and with daylight peeking through the cracks in the walls.

If the boys and I have our way, we'll be back next year for another photo:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The boots I ordered the boys from Lands End arrived today, so it seemed like a good opportunity to take inventory of our winter gear. Edward's recent growth spurt probably means the coat I thought would last two years will need a mid-season replacement (which is already in his closet since I ordered it at the end of last season on super clearance,) and Daniel's general bulk means he's wearing the snowpants Ed wore last year (Lord help me if they ever completely catch up in sizing--our family economy is based on hand-me-downs!) But it looks like we're in good shape.

Putting on the snowpants triggered some sort of sense memory though because as soon as I was done with my inspection, they both raced up the stairs to slide down (extra fast) on the slippery pants. This occupied them without need for parental participation for more than an hour this afternoon. They did have to stop at one point due to excessive heat. But they solved this on their own by running upstairs to trade their sweats for shorts and jump back into snowpants action.

I was in the other room, listening in case of fighting or injury, and close enough to veto the idea of sending their large metal Tonka dump truck down the stairs to give their stuffed animals a chance to join the fun. I kept hearing things about "tractor" and "car" but I knew there weren't any actual vehicles involved. It wasn't until John came home, witnessed the spectacle and doubled over with laughter that all was revealed.

I give you

and just for a bonus, here's TUMBLE (unplanned and, ultimately, unscathed)

P.S. I started the season a little annoyed at Lands End for eliminating 2/3 of their kids' boots selection, leaving only the most expensive model. But I emerged victorious when they marked them down 30% for the Fall Sale and my Parents magazine came with a coupon for $10 off next LE purchase plus free shipping. Ended up with quite a steal #pattingselfonback.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Overheard in the bathroom this evening:

Edward: "Awww, COOOL!!! Daniel, come see this!"

Daniel races to the bathroom, "What is it? Oh, cool!"

Edward: "See how great it smells. It's like Gram's!"

Daniel: "Yeah, it smells GOOD! And it's pink!"

We got new soap in our bathroom. Pomegranate Mango hand soap from Target. And people wonder why we don't bother with big events and flashy toys for our children.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy birthday to me! I'm sitting at home waiting for the delivery and installation of my fabulous birthday present...wait for it...a new garage door opener!!! WOO HOO! Man, I know how to party. Whew, just exhausted myself right there.

Before John starts getting blog hate mail, I should specify that it was only coincidence that our ancient opener happened to conk out last week and that the first available time for replacement was today. I was already planning to take the day off with a simple goal of quiet "me" time, so I went ahead and scheduled it. I'm sure there are other lovely presents from my boys in my future. Though the youngest two of those boys did not at all understand why they couldn't stay home from school to help me celebrate. I mean, if you could spend your birthday doing this

why would you choose anything else?

While the boys don't totally grasp the concept of "someone else's birthday" yet, they sure are into the other approaching October holiday. I may have fed the frenzy a bit when a trip to the consignment store turned up the fabulous viking hat along with another set of plate armor so they can now both be fully outfitted for battle.
Edward is definitely a multi-purposer when it comes to costume items, as seen below where the knight helmet doubles as a fire fighter's air mask and construction goggles are added for extra protection. I'm surprised he hasn't figured out how to add the Harry Potter cape to this ensemble.

The only downside from the consignment treasure trove was that the 5T frog costume doesn't quite fit both boys. I thought it would be a little big for Daniel, a little small for Ed, enabling them to share it. However, it's basically a perfect fit for Daniel and a pants-splitter for Edward (literally--it's already required repair, though I can't say for sure it wasn't like that when I got it.) Ed has a bit of costume envy on this one, but luckily he has plenty of other items to distract him.

And while we're looking at that cookie picture, let me just say that allowing Daniel to handle the food coloring for the frosting was a serious rookie mistake. I can't believe I could have fallen for it. I mean he so earnestly wanted to help, and I thought, "What a great lesson in color mixing--red and yellow make orange!" So, subtle and delicate are two words I would never use to describe either of my boys, but especially Daniel. And after all, I did neglect to specify that the dropper should be pointed down when squeezing out those three drops. He may have squeezed hard enough to empty about half the bottle all over the table and my hands thrown up in self defense against the onslaught of red dye. And it may be three days later and my hands are still stained, but  you know, they had a great time and they love deliberating over which shape to choose at dessert time. So we'll chart this one as a qualified success.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

 My sister Nora inspired me to start running late last spring when she ran her first 5K on her 32nd birthday. I've always loathed running, never could fathom the concept of a "runner's high" since it always made me feel like I had a knife in my gut and a constrictor around my lungs. But I followed her footsteps through the "Couch to 5K" training regimen that starts you out slowly and then builds on your strength and endurance each week. All along I had the annual Run for Schools as my goal. I actually snuck another race in at the end of August, but this was the first timed race and the one I was really ready for. I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but it did feel great to be out there with all those other runners (and walkers, whose leagues I've joined many times for this event) and to know I could do it.

 John and the boys were busy handing out water at mile marker 1, and I waved as I passed, but didn't stop. They were done with their work in time to get back to the finish line just after I crossed, but my parents, who were visiting for the weekend, were there to cheer as I crossed. My running mantra is "slow and steady finishes the race." Today's time: 36 minutes. The men's 10K winner finished about three blocks ahead of me, and at one point while I was running, I got passed by a guy pushing a double stroller. Well, we all have our own strengths.

Daniel needed a fall picture to share at school this week, so on Tuesday after dinner we raked a small pile of available leaves for jumping. Looking up, we knew it was an exercise in futility.

 By Saturday, the entire back yard tree was bare and almost no grass was visible beneath the carpet of leaves. This kind of surprised me since we've had an extremely warm week (high 70s and 80s--beautiful!) and I usually think of leaves falling in response to cooler temperatures. Guess our overnight lows have been enough to prompt the cycle.

I've mentioned before that we often stop on our way home from school to play on the playground at one or both of the boys' schools. I am amazed a their abilities and determination NOT to use the equipment as the designers intended. Not just climbing up slides instead of sliding down, but attempting to shimmy up over the top of a covered tube-type slide and climbing up over the tops of the railings. These are things that are against the rules during school hours, but we allow a bit of flexibility after hours. I never have a camera to document the acrobatics, but I remembered to grab one for a trip to our downtown playground on Friday afternoon. My brother-in-law who teaches elementary school music and pitches in with playground duty says it's the monkey bars that "separate the men from the boys" in kindergarten.

  Well, let's just say that Ed is still a croaky-voiced adolescent. This set was particularly challenging as it did not go straight across, but had some vertical variance as well. He couldn't quite swing himself up when the next bar was higher, but even as recently as August, he couldn't move from one bar to another in a straight horizontal swing, so there's some progress.

We're looking forward to another beautiful fall week here in Iowa, soaking up every last ray of sunshine and ounce of warmth. The boys are starting another four-week session of swimming lessons, which they love, but have noted the contrast to their summer experience: much colder getting out of the pool these days (even though it's an indoor pool and heated to the point of serious discomfort for the fully clothed and dry!)

Another major milestone for Edward: he's nearly up to current in our reading of his favorite series of books, The Magic Treehouse. With the extra reading brought on by a visit from Gram and PopPop he's now down to just two published books to read. (It takes us about 4-5 days reading aloud 2 or 3 chapters a day to finish one of these books.) After that, the next book won't be published until December, so we'll be on the hunt for a new series.  He really loves the historical characters and time periods he's been introduced to through Jack and Annie's adventures. I wonder if he'll re-read the series when he's a fully independent reader? Right now he can read simple books and will ask about certain words on the page as we're reading to him, but he's not ready to dive in solo just yet.