Friday, October 29, 2010

Strutting Their Stuff

Today is the day Louie and Benny's school has their Halloween parties and a big part of it is having a parade. The kindergartners walk with the preschoolers through the school, and then first grade on up walks through the neighborhood.

Benny's was in the morning and we stood in the hall, waiting to caught a glimpse of him. There are three kindergarten classes and two preschoolers. He came by so quickly and didn't look at us, so this is the best picture I got!

In the afternoon, we went up for the outdoor parade and to kill time we ran suicides on the basketball court, with Mere chasing Charlie and his buddy; we played line jumper on the court; ate peanut butter crackers and took pictures.

Both Charlie and his friend are fantastic photographers. They took turns posing for each other and got some great shots of Meredith, each other, and the random passing car.

Charlie took this one of Meredith.

Here comes Louie's class! There are four first grade classes and the teachers were Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Louie's teacher was one of the bears, if you couldn't figure that out for yourself.

And here's Rafael! Louie was so excited to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and so was I, as it's one of the many things from my childhood that are making a comeback.

They were mesmerized by all the kids' costumes. Not happy, not scared, just in a trance. Some costumes were rather scary for little kids, I thought. Others seemed a little inappropriate for their age, but most were cute, and typical of elementary school. Most popular costume for boys: ninjas; most popular for girls: old ladies/grannies.

Fortunately for the big kids, it was a gorgeous day!

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Have you ever seen the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy? It was made in the '80s and one of the things I remember about it is that many of the characters spoke to each other using a language where you make clicks and clucks with your tongue. Meredith must be auditioning for the remake.

Charlie had his static-y, broken transistor radio speak and now Mere has this. I'm pretty impressed that she has the ability to make these sounds! As a grown up, I can't even whistle and here she is trying to communicate with us making clicking sounds that only she knows what they mean.

I hope to get it on video, but she is so quick about it I'm not sure if that will happen or not. We'll see. Charlie started out with making his noises just every once in a while and then he moved on to doing it all the time. If you're familiar with the !Kung language, maybe you'll be able to translate for us!

A House Divided

We here at Casa Llena were happy to see that both the Yankees and the Phillies lost out in their bid to go to the World Series (pronounced "Serious" to the boys). Two teams--the Rangers and the Giants--are going into it hoping to win their first ring*.

But that's when things got tricky. Both teams have enduring qualities that make you want to see them win, but obviously they both can't so who do you go with? Well, for Louie, Benny and Meredith, your heart's in San Francisco. For Charlie, Kevin and myself, you're rallying around the Rangers.

It's been nice having the division because it gives us all something to root for, although thus far in the series Giants fans have had a whole lot more to get excited about. When it comes down to it, we just don't want baseball to end. If it goes seven games, we'll be just fine with that, regardless of who wins.

*The Giants have not won since they moved to the west coast.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bustin' Buttons

Just wanted to give a little shout out to Louie. The end of the first quarter is upon us and Louie is taking it all in stride. He was recognized at the awards assembly today for academics, attitude and most importantly, The Principal's Award. One student is recognized in each class as someone who works hard and makes good decisions each day.

The spittin' image of his father, he acted like it wasn't that big of a deal, but I'm really proud of him and I thought you should know.

Parade of Cuteness

It's hard to think of the kids as "spooky" or whatever else they're hoping for when they're so adorable!

Charlie has gotten over his stage of not wanting to go to school--especially today when he was so excited to see what Cole was going to be for Halloween (Batman, a perfect pairing to Charlie's Spiderman), and he participated in all the songs the class sang to the parents, which is a huge step up from where Louie and Benny were in the 3-year-old class.

Miss Sue sat in front of the class on this chilly morning so the kids had confidence to sing their Halloween songs to the parents and grandparents.

This is Miss Cathy. I love her costume of The Cat in the Hat. She even has the little fish in a bowl next to her. She teaches the 4-year-olds and had both Lou and Ben.

The kids then walked through the church offices back to their classes, and with each person they passed they practiced saying "trick or treat!"

Charlie came home proudly displaying the picture he made today: a mixed-media piece using paint, coloring and construction paper that he cut to illustrate the story of "Five Little Pumpkins." He was so happy to share his work.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Catchin' up with Art

I've been trying to take pictures of all the art work the boys have made this fall. I have stacks and stacks of it laying around, so I'm hoping that I'll be soon caught up on the documenting of that. Here is the start:

A few weeks back the boys went to pick out pumpkins with Grandma and Grandpa R. and there they each got an art kit that came with stick-on foam shapes that the boys made pictures with.

Benny's--he was really proud of his headstones and the pumpkin face.


Louie brings home very little art, compared to the past three years. For this, I am sad, but I was extremely impressed with still art. Maybe once they hit first grade they focus on their art for a little longer, rather then turning it out like a factory.

Lou made this when we were at Aunt Jill and Uncle Nick's earlier this month. Aunt Jill always gets the neatest craft supplies for the kids to make stuff with.

Charlie's connect-the-dot bug

Lou's--sorry, it's sideways

Another of Louie's. Not sure why it's sideways again. This is a good representation of how he's changed about Halloween. It's definitely getting scarier!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Everybody Counts

On Monday I volunteered at the boys' school to be a part of the Everybody Counts program. I was excited to do this because I have great memories of it when I was little. My job was to help the kindergarten classes learn about people who are blind, deaf or who have physical disabilities. Basically, it was a basic overview for kids who are probably learning about this for the first time.

Kindergartners are so darn cute. They have so much to share, even if it has nothing to do with what we're talking about. It's nice that they like to share bits of their lives with me. There were three classes and with each one we started off with a book talking about differences between people's parts (i.e. different shaped noses), but understanding that we're basically the same (e.g. they all breath, sneeze, etc.).

Then there were three activities where the kids learned about braille, sign language, and how difficult it would be to do the things we take for granted if we had trouble using a body part (e.g. they had to pick up cheerios with a sock over their hand).

It wasn't overwhelming for them, just a taste that will be built upon in the coming years. I think it's great that schools have programs like this because I wouldn't even know what to do in approaching subjects like this at home with my kids (e.g. the smoking debacle).

On another note, one of the classes was Benny's and I loved meeting all his friends, and seeing how he interacts with them. It's great now to be able to put a face to the names in the stories he tells.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Never too much fall fun

On Sunday we headed up to Columbus for more fun on a farm. They had these cute cut-outs of Halloween costumes and Kevin snapped some shots of the boys.

They had tractor rides out into the field so that we could each pick out a pumpkin. It was a gorgeous, warm day to be outside, but very windy!

When the tractor dropped us off we had to go through a corn maze to get to the field.

We saw some pretty experiment-type pumpkins, seeing as it was the end of the season, but we each found our perfect gourd.

Afterward, the boys all rode on ponies. They each had really cute names that I can't remember now. I think one might have been Bo and another Bronco. You'll have to ask the boys!

Meredith loved the animals. There were bunnies and kittens as well and a sign that said that they were giving them away for free!

When we left the farm we headed back to Grandma and Grandpa's where Uncle Jay and Daddy's aunt, uncle and cousins were meeting us. Lots of fun was had playing with toys in the basement and playing football with the "big" cousins, Nick and Mitch. The boys absolutely love having big kids to play sports with and hopefully Nick and Mitch don't mind!

Carving o' the pumpkins

I have to apologize right off the bat. This may be the worst posting of picture known to the world of blogger. The lighting wasn't great for taking pictures and...I really have no excuse for why they are bad, but I wanted to show you what went on Friday night, not just tell you.

Benny had his last game. It was a great season, although I'm not sure how many games they actually won. He made a good buddy who goes to the other school in our neighborhood, but I'm sure they will remain friends since they both love sports.

Afterward, they had a little banquet where the kids got a piece of pizza, a Caprisun and a trophy. I'm sure I've posted about my dislike of kids getting a trophy for everytime they sneeze, but if they're going to get them anyway, the one that Benny got was pretty cute. It's a soccer ball sans face, but has arms and legs. In one of the hands is a mini trophy. It's kind of ridiculous, but so is getting a trophy for just showing up. Ok, I'll stop with it.

Then we went back to our house to carve pumpkins. We've been accumulating quite a few of them and with Halloween around the corner we needed to get down to business!

It was kind of a cool night, but we had a bonfire going and there was enough running around by the kids for them to stay warm. They had a good time designing their pumpkin faces and they had lots of help with carving and de-gooping.

Below are the fruits of their efforts (along with Grandpa's and their aunts' and uncles'). The boys have entered the "spooky" stage of childhood, I guess you could say. They really like making scary faces now, with sharp teeth and mean eyes.

But right now, we have a lion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and a Spiderman for Halloween. Not exactly the spookiest, but things could change before Sunday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mr. Burger had a Farm

Today was a gorgeous fall day, just right for heading out to the farm to pick out a pumpkin. Too often the little ones (a.k.a. Charlie and Meredith) don't get to do the fun stuff that Lou and Ben did when they were little. There's always something else to do or we just forget about the things that Charlie and Meredith haven't done yet.

Today was the day that we went to Burger Farm. It's been around for a while now. I remember going there when I was in grade school and Alice has been going since at least when she was in high school.

They have all sorts of farm animals for the kids to see. Charlie and Meredith saw the 8-day-old chicks and I wish I got pictures because the excitement on Mere's face is indescribable! She's such a lover of animals.

They have a little pumpkin village where characters from fairy tales have pumpkin heads. I'm sure they've been around since Alice was younger. They're kind of creepy, but the kids enjoyed it!

On the weekends there's more for the kids to do. I'm thinking that there must be a little go-cart race or something where we let our kiddies run around in circles. It was a great place for them to run around until the puppet show. That is, until Meredith got a hold of the bottle of Purel and put the pump in her mouth. Yuck.

Here's our gang, waiting for the famous puppet show--Charlie, Mere, Eva and Jay.

It's kind of corny, but the show teaches the kids a bit and they get to sing songs and laugh. And it's really cute to see how much Mr. Burger gets into it. You can tell he really enjoys having the kids there.

After the puppet show we all board the wagons for the hayride. It was tight this year!

Meredith wanted to test drive each pumpkin before she picked the one we were going to take home. Luckily, the rejects didn't smash when they hit the ground.

Ah, the perfect pumpkin for Mere.

Charlie had two requirements: it had to have a stem and it had to be squat. Not his words, exactly, but everyone he looked at had these qualities.

It was fun to get to hang out with just the little guys this time. As fall turns into winter, expect more outings with Grandma Alice, Eva and Jay!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Much ado about Charlie

Ah, Charlie.

The kid who was pump-pump-pumped about going to school, just like his brothers. Time sure does change a person. Now, I have to fight him every day to go to preschool. Not that he doesn't like it. Not that he doesn't have friends. Not that he doesn't love his teachers. He's just content to be at home.

At home, he can eat when he wants to, play whatever whenever he wants to and, his mommy and sister are there. Each morning he nervously asks if it's the day he goes to school. I don't want to go to school! he pleads. When we get there, he holds onto my leg until his teacher takes him in her arms for a hug and says, "Charlie! I'm so glad you're here!" I walk away and he's always fine once he's in the room.

It's heartbreaking. I'm so glad this didn't happen with Louie! Or with Benny. It's so strange. Those two didn't start participating until late in the school year, but loved it regardless of how much they did when they were there. Charlie, on the other hand, was so excited for the first two weeks and then decided he was finished with it.

I know he's going to be fine, and he really does love it. And the plus side is that I get super-duper hugs from him, and almost all his art work is of me, him and Mere. And he has his teachers write things on the paintings like, "I miss Mommy" and "This is Mommy" and "I love Mommy." It's nice to be loved, but I am not trying to have him be a grown man who still lives with me and Kevin!

Fun Fall Weekend

On Saturday, Louie had a soccer game and then we went to Dayton for a fall family birthday celebration. All the ladies (except for Meredith) have fall birthdays on Kevin's side and we were able to enjoy the gorgeous day up at Aunt Jill and Uncle Nick's.

Jill had plenty for the kids to do with an incredibly creative scavenger hunt and Halloween crafts galore! There was lots of college football watched (a big let-down for these Buckeye fans, though), a delicious dinner of lasagna followed up by everyone's favorite--pumpkin roll!

The next day we drove up north a couple of hours to visit friends of ours and to enjoy seasonal activities out in the country. If all we did was go up there to play in their yard, the kids would have been more than content. But, they planned a great day for us that consisted of a hayride through their "yard" and a bonfire where the kids roasted their dinner (wieners and s'mores)!

Here are some of the pictures from the city kids' venture out into more rural parts.

Learning how to drive the John Deere

I promise, we don't make her do only "boy" things :)

They all got to ride around the circa 1944 Army Jeep.

Nick and Trent have the coolest playhouse that looks just like their house! To get up there you have to climb a slide and the inside of the club is decorated with old license plates and spark plugs!

Time for the hayride!

Mere enjoyed this a lot.

It's easier to see her reactions without the paci.

We probably didn't have to go anywhere because they were having a blast just digging around in the hay.

Me and Jenni with our youngin's

Out in the field, going over bumps

All that riding around got the boys hungry. They fixed themselves some hot dogs and s'mores as a side dish. They were in heaven.

One last picture on the tractor before the battery gave out. The tractor had a flat so it could putter us around in the wagon. Our friends promised that we could back next year for a ride!

I know I said this last year when we went to visit them (Meredith was still in my belly!), but it is so neat to see my kids play so well with my good friend's kids. We have gone through so much together, so many stages of our lives, and now we are going through one more together. It was a really good day, with many more to come.