Wednesday, October 31, 2007

halloween parts II,III,IV

Halloween part I was the pumpkin patch the other day, I figure. Yesterday Erin's school held one of it's semi-regular "lunch on the lawns" where parents can come to school at lunch time and spread out a blanket and picnic with their kids. And if your kid's friend's parents can't make it they can join you too. So I had Erin's friends Maia and Mary with us for a total girly gang giggle-o-rama on tha grass. The twins really loved being able to be at school. "Are we going to a picnic today? At Erin's school?" they asked me umpteen times all morning. And they especially enjoyed the "big kid" kindergarten playground after eating.

This was a short day at school so a little while after lunch the kids were dismissed and everyone got into costume for a halloween parade on the playground. "Princess" was a very original costume choice in Erin's class.

Erin and Maia, a powerful and now royal team.

This is one of Erin's classmates and I couldn't resist taking his picture. Because his name is Elvis. Really.

Last night I was busy getting our decorations together and John and the girls prepared the pumpkins for carving. John left carving the faces to me. So Erin and I sat down and discussed what kind of jack o lanterns to make.

"I'd like a very pretty girl pumpkin with heart-shaped eyes and beautiful hair," she announced. Good grief, Charlie Brown. "Jack 0 lanterns don't have hair,'" I countered. Kate decided, "I want a scared scary face pumpkin!" I did my best to accommodate all requests. Erin's pumpkin is on the left, she named "her" Emily.

Today Maia's mom picked Erin up after school and took the girls to a halloween party/carnival at a local community center. She came home with a pumpkin balloon and a good amount of candy and stories of a gigantic slide that she and Maia rode down about a hundred times, which was about a hundred fewer times than she wanted to ride it, according to Maia's mom.

Then when it got dark Maia joined us for trick or treating in our neighborhood. People with all signs of willing to participate in this mayhem (by having porch lights on and such) seem slightly more annoyed at this whole process than I remember from my childhood. I think maybe our crowd of four rang the doorbells more than once each time. And when the people opened their doors Kate and Allison always rushed in toward the candy. I guess overall their halloween etiquette needs some work.

And now it's over. And we cut the girls' candy sampling off about an hour ago. And Allison has been in one powerfully bad mood ever since. And I wish they'd fall asleep already.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

the ladybug princess

Busy weekend. Erin had a birthday party to attend yesterday afternoon, Danielle took all the girls to a live show today (it was her birthday present to them, though, really, it felt like a birthday present to us). She had them with her, out of the house, for over 5 hours. The silence around here was deafening. John and I had planned on seeing a movie during our respite but looking over this weekend's options, there wasn't anything we wanted to see. I guess because it's been, well, years since we've been home at the same time and the kids haven't, we just didn't know what to do.

So........we did some yard work. Pathetic, isn't it? Beyond pathetic really. The front of our house needed some attention and with both of us working we did everything that needed doing in about half an hour. Then John suggested we"go to the mall" but I guarantee you that we hadn't been doing yard work long enough nor was it hot enough for him to be suffering from heatstroke. I wondered if there was a catch. Yep, he wanted to go to the Apple store and Palm store and look at the iphone and other new schmancy phones. Well, it was nice to just walk around together for a while and we didn't buy anything except for some leggings for Kate and Allison's costumes. Then we had a leisurely japanese food lunch and went to a couple of furniture stores because I'm interested in a new kitchen table, even though John isn't. We didn't buy a table either.

Later this afternoon, with the normal chaos of the house resumed, we headed to a pumpkin patch to join our friends for a costumed get-together. Erin won "most-enthusiastic to be dressed up for halloween" member of the family:

Kate won "least-enthusiastic":

Events of the afternoon included pumpkin power-lifting:

Ladybug lifting:

Running away from parents:

Taking pumpkins that don't belong to you:

Looking cute on command:

And the annual herding our children onto haystacks for the impossible group photo:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

a day with the boys

Today an outing with John's cousin Brian and his two boys, Jacob and Brayden (ages 6 and 4) to the kids' favorite little amusement park which is having fall/halloween themed weekends this month. First thing this morning when we all found each other all the kids hugged and held hands like they hadn't seen each other in years, and they even (mostly) willingly posed for a group photo. Only one (intentionally) goofy face in the crowd. I'll take it.

The we entered the park and Jake and Erin, the ultimate amusement park veterans and leaders, started planning where we should go and what would be ridden in what order. Usually they paired up on the rides too. Meanwhile Brayden helped corral the twins quite a bit, shared snacks with them, and held their hands sometimes.

Once and a while the smaller cousins would override Jake's plans and make a run for, say, the the irresistible merry-go-round, which was way too uncool and unchallenging an experience for the big first grader, so he sometimes sat out these indiscretions.

Jake persuaded Erin to try a new roller coaster, one that she was just tall enough to ride, and she said it was fun but I could tell it scared her a little and when Jake immediately went on for a second ride she didn't go. But there is another, larger, faster, longer coaster on the other side of the park that she's ridden on several times and when we got over there she tried to persuade Jake to try it but he backed out and she rode it with me. There's no telling what scares her these days.

Not long ago at all she was always afraid to go into the tall rocky maze in the park, which this month they had all decorated for halloween and for once actually looked like something worthy of being scared of. There were cobwebs and skeletons and spiders everywhere and they were playing really loud, spooky, creaking, screaming, roaring animals, etc. sound effects. Yet when Jake headed into it she went right in with him, and I decided I'd follow along and get some of their reactions on video. And just when I thought she might be getting a little scared of all of this, she turned to me and gave me a smile:

Erin and Jake in the little kids' maze of hay bales:

Kate should do milk commercials:

In the carnival games area Jake wanted to try breaking plates with baseballs. He hit one plate, on this third (last) ball. Erin studied this carefully and when his game was over and we were walking away Erin was slightly ticked off that she didn't get a turn too. I should have asked. I just never noticed her having much interest in throwing or catching a ball so far. So Erin stepped up and with every one of her three balls she hit a plate and was awarded a large prize to Jake's small consolation prize. She threw those balls so quickly and I was so surprised by her performance that I forgot to take a picture of her. We might be looking into little league next spring.

And at the end of the day, with five tired kids with visibly tired faces, I brilliantly decided to try another group photo at the pumpkin display and sale, but only eternally-sweet Brayden would actually sit still and give me his attention. What a cutie.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

back seat drivers

We have three mini magna-doodle boards in the car for the kids to play with. Yesterday in the car:

Kate: "Mama, will you draw a zebra for me?"
Me: "I can't Kate, I'm driving."
Kate: "Can you draw me a letter Z for zebra?"
Me: "I can't Kate, I'm driving. Ask Erin to help you."

A minute later...
Kate: "Mama, can you draw a doggie for me?"
Me: "Kate, I can't draw things when I'm driving. I have to watch the road."
Kate: "You have to watch the road? Why?"
Me: "Because if I don't I might crash."

Everyone, alternating:
"Oh, no, mama! Don't crash!"
"Don't crash into that green car, mama!"
"Don't crash into that black car, mama!"
"Mama, watch out for the truck for don't crash!"
"Don't crash that tree, mama!"
"Mama's gonna crash into the bushes!"
"Don't crash into the bushes, mama!"
"There's mooooooooore trees, don't crash!"
"We're gonna craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash!"
"There's a red car, mama, watch that red car!"
"Do you see a bus, mama? I see it! Don't crash the bus, mama!"
"Don't craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash!"
Singing, first Allison, then all: "Mama will crash into the bushes, mama will crash into the bushes"
"Don't crash into the bushes, mama, that would hurt!"

This morning in the car:
Kate: "Mama, will you draw a zebra for me?"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

the cleanest lawn in town

Erin's school is on a modified year-around schedule so they have a very short summer break and instead take short breaks throughout the year. We are in the middle of a two week break now and during these break times her school offers optional sessions to attend. Basically, if the parents have to work there is someplace for the kids to be and they'll learn and have fun but what they do isn't part of the mandatory curriculum. So Erin is taking the session these two weeks and she spends her day doing reading and making crafts, playing outdoor sports and games, learning a bit of German, dance, and even classes on manners. I wish they would add in a class on leaving your little sisters alone and the evils of whining.

Today, a rarity. After we all got home from the YMCA this morning, Erin asked to go for a bike ride. She got the exact bike she spent about 4 months talking about before christmas last year, and she started riding it (with training wheels). Then she fell a couple of times and totally lost all enthusiasm for bikes. Every so often I ask her if she wants to go out and ride her bike but I haven't had her accept that offer in a long, long time. So John went with Erin while she biked around the block and according to him she did "ok". Didn't pedal all that well, didn't fall, tried to practice a bit about leaning uphill when you are going across a slope (driveway) so that you won't fall. Not very confident about any of it though.

Yesterday I worked all day and when I got home the twins were in the backyard. I went out there and trimmed a few bushes and came back in as Kate was dipping her bubble wand into a huge gallon of bubble solution that John opened for her. As I attended to something else in the house I heard John yelling something and Kate saying she "needs new clothes".

It turns out Kate dumped out the whole gallon of soap on the lawn and somehow managed to get mostly soaked in it herself with main concentrations in her hair and her pants while her shirt and shoes were relatively dry. Go figure that one out. I just threw both Kate and Allison in the bath. Here is our green lawn which I photographed for posterity since it will be an entirely different color very soon, I'm sure. And a post-bath photo of the happy lawn-killing culprit and her crazy-faced twin.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

and the three bears

John's Aunt Pat from Missouri is in town this week and on sunday she presented the girls with personalized huge soft bears, each with a custom-made scarf, and the girls love them. They've been in their beds and at their sides most of the past two days.

kate the contrarian

It doesn't matter what the action is, exchanges with Kate always go like this:

Me: C'mon Kate, time to take Erin to school.
Kate: I don't WANT to take Erin to school!

Me: Bath time, girls.
Kate: I don't WANT to take a bath!

Me: Time to go to the park, girls.
Kate: I don't WANT to go to the park!

And, each time, if John or I reverse the task and say, "ok, we won't go to the park," she says, "But I WANT to go to the park!"

"Jammies time."
"I don't WANT to wear my jammies."
"Ok, no jammies."
"I WANT them!"

It's entirely like the arguments between Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd on the many episodes where Bugs and Daffy would debate whether it was "wabbit season" or "duck season". And it's good to know my excessive childhood cartoon-watching has come in handy as a parenting tool.

John sometimes asks her, "Kate, are you a contrarian?"
"No, I'm NOT!" she replies as John giggles. But this morning when he asked her this she thought about it a second and responded slowly, "Yes, I'm a con-trar-i-an." And a cute one at that.

Monday, October 8, 2007

sugar and spice and...

It's a good thing we have this house full of sweet, charming little ladies and we don't have to endure night after night of testosterone-fueled rough-housing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

together again

I was carpool mom today so I had to pick up Erin and two friends and take the friends to their after-school care, and then we had just enough time to go to a nearby park to meet up with Quinton and his mom for a few minutes before Q had to leave for a swimming lesson. Erin was excited to see him. Since starting school the two haven't spent much time together and she's missed him.

Monday, October 1, 2007

it's all about the cake

We've been eating cake for the better part of three weeks. We had a cake for the twins on their actual birthday, then we had cake leftovers from our celebration last week that was far too yummy to throw out, then last night we attended another birthday party, and tonight the latest chocolate incarnation--for Miss Erin's big 5.

Yesterday I told Erin I'd make her a birthday cake and let her choose the flavors but she asked to help with it and in the afternoon we made her cake together--a chocolate layer cake with vanilla frosting, and flower sprinkles on top, as per her specifications and under Kate's constant supervision. She said she wanted it to have her name and "a big number five" written on it, so here it is.

Last night we had a late afternoon birthday celebration for Brad's fiance's sister's son's second birthday. All together now. It was a big crazy crowd and the girls had a great time exploring a kids' gymnasium, otherwise known as a place where acting like a wild monkey is actually encouraged.

They served persian food which was really, really delicious, and I'd be glad to specify which dishes we had except that I'm way too uncultured to remember the names. But my favorite was the lamb&beef/fresh cilantro, basil, onion/tomato assemble yourself thingy you wrap up in not-exactly-pita bread. Y'all know which one I mean.

This family was at our girls' party last weekend and was so impressed with our cake that they hired the same woman to bake the cake for their party. Another really incredible and delicious creation, each of the balls on the top were made of different cakes:

Erin spent her birthday at school, sorta. Her class had a field trip to a state beach which is known for its monarch butterfly preserve, since they've been studying the butterfly life cycle in science recently. Bringing cupcakes or cookies for the class to share on your child's birthday is apparently soooooooo 1970's. These days such things will not be welcomed, what with the children and their food allergies paranoia that permeates all the schools. But Erin did get to wear a special birthday hat all day which was provided by her teacher. I say a damn hat is no substitute for a cupcake.

Tonight we enjoyed Erin's cake and then we gave the birthday girl her last present, the horsie quilt to go along with the horsie sheets she received a couple of weeks ago when we set up a real big girl bed for her. She already opened a whole bunch of presents last week after her party. I guess we could have set a few aside for tonight but Erin has gotten very efficient and determined about opening something she knows is for her. She's also very efficient at distributing to and assisting her sisters in opening the gifts that aren't for her, and she often takes charge of those contents too.

Well, a few more days and this cake will be gone too and maybe we can take a cake break for a while. At least for a week, until my friend's baby shower, where that same great cake baker will provide yet another floury, sugary work of art.