Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Thanksgiving weekend is (almost) in the books, and I can honestly say we've had a great weekend. This has not always been the case. But this year, I was determined not to let the long weekend get the better of us. I actually made a 5x3 chart with Wed-Sun. down the left column followed by columns for morning and afternoon each day. In this way I sketched out some ideas of activities to fill the days. And, yes, I felt a little silly making a chart about my holiday weekend, but it really helped to have planned ahead, knowing which friends were in town for the boys to play with, and which activities such as movies or roller skating were limited to certain times.

Here's how Ed came home from school on Tuesday (should have taken the picture sooner--the beard didn't start out quite so bedraggled. Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a kid in a paper pilgrim hat.

On Wednesday we made pies for Thursday. Ever since we read Amelia Bedelia for the first time, the boys have been asking for lemon meringue pie. And of course they had to have pumpkin too. Both pies were consumed with gusto after Grandma's delicious Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. (P.S. we skipped the meringue and went with Cool Whip instead, which led to Daniel's hilarious quip when I was persuading Holly to keep some of the leftover pie as we were leaving. "We don't need all this pie," I said. Daniel didn't miss a beat: "But we DO need all the Cool Whip!")

On Friday we took a trip to Davenport to visit the Putnam Museum, where our membership gives us free entry and also included four IMAX movie tickets. After spending the afternoon exploring the permanent exhibits, we took in a late afternoon showing of Puss in Boots in 3D.

This part of the museum was focused on the river. We were a little worried that there wouldn't be enough to occupy them until the movie started. Little did we know they'd spend an hour climbing in and out of this boat and attempting to walk around wearing the flippers, pretending to be sea divers.

We didn't know if Daniel would look up from his slushee long enough to see the movie, but in the end it did hold his attention. The kids didn't really like wearing the glasses, but still enjoyed the show. We also managed to get our outdoor lights hung and take a family bike ride on Thursday morning, since it was a 60-degree Thanksgiving day in Iowa this year. What a treat!

Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon we had friends over to play. Two words can be used to describe foul-weather playdates for boys: loud and messy. OK, three words--add "fun." Saturday evening the whole family went roller skating at the community center. At dinner before skating, Daniel was being quite squirmy and ended up tumbling out of his chair. He seemed  quite perplexed when he landed on the floor and declared, "These are NOT my good falling-down pants!" We attempted to stifle our guffaws enough to inquire as to what the qualities of good falling down pants were. He said he thought his sweatpants would be better because they're soft. (He was wearing jeans, which is unusual, as the button/zipper is problematic for someone who ALWAYS waits until the very last possible second before dashing to the bathroom to take care of his personal business.)

We will have to remember to wear "good falling-down pants" for the next roller skating adventure, as you can see in this video John prepped. Be sure to stick around for the grand finale of our holiday weekend: Edward's first loose tooth falling out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scene in a grocery store during a quick after-school run for milk, bread, bananas and the first clementines of the year

Edward bites into a banana (store offers kids free bananas while parents are shopping) and exclaims, "Mom, my tooth is crooked! This one right here on the bottom!"

"Oh, really? Is it loose?"

(feels with fingers) "No, it's not loose, but it's slanting back." (begins mild panic)
"And it hurts!" (wailing, loudly, middle of store bakery)

"Edward, I think you might just have a loose tooth, let me see." Teeth appear to be in alignment, but further exploration with finger ( banana mouth) reveals that one is indeed out of alignment from the tongue side of the tooth (insert appropriate dental term if you must.)

Gently pinch tooth with thumb and forefinger to demonstrate wiggle. "See, Edward. It's a loose tooth. It's your first loose tooth, isn't that great?!" (Attempting to shift panic to joy. Maneuver successful.)

Continue through rest of brief trip discussing how weird it feels to have a loose tooth. And, of course, when Daniel can expect his first loose tooth. (Sorry, buddy. Gotta wait about two more years on that one. Blame the "borner.")

Sunday, November 13, 2011

When we moved into this house, I hated the kitchen color, but we had other priorities, like preventing rain in our living room, eliminating floods from the basement and keeping the screen porch attached to the house. Not to mention, we had an eight-month-old & a two-year-old, I was taking the most difficult course of my MBA and working half time. So in the grand scheme of things, a hospital-green kitchen just didn't make the project list. 

A few times since then I've thought, "Maybe I should tackle that," but inertia is a powerful force, my friends. I loved my sunny yellow kitchen in the old house, but sometime in the last year I read that orange hues are good for kitchens as it is an "appetizing" color that makes people feel like eating. So when I decided this would be the weekend for the project, I went searching for an "orangey-yellow." 

The boys had the day off Friday for teacher conferences (more on those reports later) and we thought it was a good opportunity for a sleep-over at Grandma and Grandpa's. Nearly every time we're there to visit the boys ask if they can stay overnight. However, they simply have not been good company in the evenings since starting school. Exhaustion is not a good playmate. But without a full day of school to suck up all their good behavior, we thought they might be acceptable house guests.

I dropped them off Friday morning, went to the conferences, and came home to paint (John had a conference to attend in town.) The first coat went on well with no major mishaps or spills. But it clearly would not be enough to cover the evil green. So after a lovely dinner & movie date Friday night, I steeled myself to do it all over again on Saturday. John headed off to Daniel's school for a fall clean-up day, and I got started on the second coat. By the time I was done, the gallon of paint was gone (truth be told, it was gone before I was done, but I really scraped the bucket, hoping against hope that it would be enough.)

Alas, as it dried, it was clear there were still places where that blasted green was showing through. So I picked up another can of paint on the way to retrieve the boys from Grandma and Grandpa's (where all reports indicate a good time was had by all.) It was a lovely day for mid-November, so we decided to hit the park before going home (also allowing John some much-needed down time after his morning work.)

John graciously agreed to pinch hit on the project, as I clearly could not face the prospect of a three-peat. In return, I kept the boys out for four hours today (church, followed by the Children's Museum and lunch), giving John time to himself after he finished the paint. So that's probably more than you ever wanted to know about how our kitchen went from this:

To this:

My photography skills are apparently as lacking as my painting skills, so the lighting isn't really helping to showcase the two colors. Trust me, it's a big improvement.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

We managed to come out on the other side of all the Halloween hoopla without a picture of just our kids in their costumes. It was just that kind of year. Edward's school celebrated on the Friday before Halloween with K-2nd graders participating in a costume parade through the school hallways before retiring to their classrooms for treats. (Older kids had the party without the parade, but a highlight of the parade for Ed was getting "high fives" from the older kids lining the hallways as observers.) Here he is in his classroom, lining up to start the parade. You'll note the "hose," which was only determined to be an integral part of his firefighter costume the moment we were attempting to leave the house that morning. The nozzle alone just did not suffice. He had to have a jump rope taped to it for total verisimilitude. A frantic two minutes led to a happy firefighter.

Daniel's school celebrated on Halloween itself (Monday) also with an in-school parade and treats. How thoughtful of the schools not to expect me to be in two places at once! Here is Daniel with his friend Opal, whose mother spent more than two minutes on her firefighter costume--fashioning it from sweats and reflective tape.

For trick-or-treating, Ed opted for his knight costume, which was just as well, since we had another little firefighter with us--Daniel's friend Xander from school. His mother created a hilarious moment in the parking lot the week before when she breathlessly came up to me saying, "Did I talk to you about trick-or-treating, or did I just dream that whole conversation." So, we hadn't previously discussed it, but apparently the idea was deep in her subconscious. It hadn't occurred to me to gather a posse for trick-or-treating, but it turned out to be a great idea. Along with our neighbors, whose son is a year younger than Daniel, we had four kids and six parents strolling through the neighborhood. Well, parents strolling, kids dashing. They collected an impressive haul in just under an hour and three blocks (both sides of the street.)

Over the weekend in between the school celebrations, we traveled to Evanston for the occasion of my 20th high school reunion.Our class had never quite gotten it together to organize a reunion before, so for most of us this truly was the first time we'd seen each other in 20 years. It was shocking how easy it was to recognize these adult women whom I'd last seen when we were teens. It was a fun night, although not much chance to get into conversation any deeper than "Married or not? Kids or not? Employed or staying home?" with most. I was one of the few to travel from out of state. Most of those who attended still live in the area. Several out of town classmates wrote to say they couldn't make it back.

Since the reunion was only Saturday evening, we took the opportunity to use our reciprocal member benefits at the Field Museum on Saturday morning. Thank goodness for our membership at the Putnam Museum in Davenport. Without it, it would have cost our family $100 to go to the Field, in which case we would not have gone, since we knew at the outset that we had about a one-hour attention span to work with. Here are the boys, dwarfed by "Sue," the Field's famous T-Rex.

We learned right away that while most of the bones here are real, the actual head is too heavy to be supported in this display, so we had to look for it elsewhere in the museum. By the time we got there, Daniel was in over-stimulation mode, but Ed was still interested.
They actually were really into exploring the permanent collection of mammals and birds (shudder) though at first it was all a bit too real for Daniel. He went dashing ahead of us into a display that included some large bears, stopped dead in his tracks and turned around to run back to cover when he heard what he thought were real birds chirping overhead. That made him think all the animals were alive. It's nice to know that he still thinks we'd offer some sort of protection against a 9-foot brown bear.

Even though I laughed about the absurdity of taking our Iowa kids to Chicago to play with corn, this "Kid Zone" activity was a favorite. It was a mock-up of a Pueblo where the kids could "plant" and "harvest" corn and then take it in the hut to "cook" in a large pot for meal.

Our strategy of arriving when the doors opened at 9 a.m. worked well so that we never felt crowded. We left by 11 or so and headed back to Gram and PopPop's for lunch, where Aunt Nora joined us in between two social engagements that day. Then the boys and my parents went across the street to the fall festival at the local elementary school, and John and I sneaked in a quick run to the mall. (And I do mean quick--we were gone less than 2 hours and it takes 20 min. each way to get there. I do hate shopping, but sometimes it's a necessary evil.) When we got home, the boys and PopPop were vegging out to some SpongeBob Squarepants. Life can certainly be exhausting when you're three and still physically need a nap, but are stubborn enough to refuse at all costs. (Note he's not actually sleeping here, just watching TV.)
Surprisingly, he took not one, but TWO naps this weekend, but as I did not join in his slumber, I'm losing steam so will wait 'til the next blog post for the exhausting details.