Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween: We Survived

Before I post the obligatory pumpkin and costume pictures I'm wondering... National Blog Posting Month - does anyone care this year? By "anyone" I don't mean the internet at large, I mean the readers of this space. My posting has been so sporadic this fall that I fear many readers have fallen off. I guess I still like the challenge of posting every day and there is usually lots to write about in November, but I'm not sure how motivated I am if only three people are reading (Hi Dad!). If you would read posts every day for a month this might be a good time to leave a comment and let me know - er, or I might have to let this one slide...

So, anyway, here are the pumpkin carving pictures. Which reminds me that I need to find time to roast those seeds! This first picture is included primarily to display Harper's incredible bed head:

Michael was fairly adamant about not touching any of the pumpkin innards, but he loved to look inside:

Harper, on the other hand, dug right in a separated a lot of the seeds. That is, she separated seeds when she wasn't busy playing in the goop.

This was an incredibly lazy year for me in the costume department. Meaning we just went to the costume store one Friday night and let the kids make a choice. (Side note: part of what I don't like about Halloween is the level of sexy in the girls' costumes, even the ones for little girls!)

Poor Harper was very excited about her Toy Story costume, but had a terrible time keeping the hat on her (large) noggin. Michael was a "dragonsaurus" which I guess is a dragon or dinosaur, depending on the mood of your two-year-old or the interpretation of the people handing out candy.

Are there pictures of Jessie posing like this? Because Harper did the exact same thing every time I tried to take a solo picture of her.

This was Michael's first year for actual trick-or-treating and he was a champ. When we noticed it we took unsafe (nutty) candy out of Harper's bucket, but Michael had a fit if we tried to touch his. At each house he'd turn around, hold up what he'd been given, and shout, "Yook!" to us. So precious, it never got old.

By the end of the night it was an hour past his bedtime and he was carrying a bucket way too heavy for him - he was the dragon stumbling along as if he'd just spent a few hours at the pub. He didn't actually give up until about a block from the car when he handed over his bucket and reached out for one of us to carry him.

So yes, we survived Halloween. We even survived Harper's school party where a well-meaning but misguided parent (grandparent?) tried to hand out mini Snickers bars to the kids. (I, uh, intervened, explaining the room was nut free, but had a little moment of panic for sure.)

Aaaand we can close the books on Halloween 2010. Thank goodness!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Talkin' Books

Let me set a scene for you... The children and I are sitting in the living room, just before bedtime, and I've convinced them to stop playing tornado and read some books to settle down. Harper dug into our seasonal book basket and found a few Gail Gibbons books that she recognized from school. Moments later she starts telling me why the books by Gail Gibbons are so wonderful and it seemed like something I might like to record. I stopped her, sent her for the camera, and we resumed. The resulting video is below.

Now I know listening to my kid talk about non-fiction books is probably not the best way you can think of to spend seven minutes. If you know us personally, and have met Harper, you may find it entertaining. My favorite part is at the end when she starts giving tips for parents and husbands. I also think there is something kind of profound to her idea that learning more about your fears helps you not to be afraid of them.

This wasn't scripted or rehearsed in any way - if it was I probably would have thought of better questions to ask her! Perhaps another book talk or two will show up during National Blog Posting Month...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stormy Weather

Last night the dog was acting WEIRD. He was barking at nothing, walking around with his tail pinned down, unsettled. I took him outside to see if he was having an urgent bathroom need and he stood in the center of our driveway, noise pointed upward, tail down, on ALERT. I had to drag him back inside. I told Matt we were either going to be surprised by an earthquake or a HUGE storm was brewing. But I was also kind of waiting to be jumped by a vampire. Dog pacing does not inspire security, you know?

Shortly after taking him outside a weather advisory was issued for high wind through tonight. So no earthquake for now.

It is pretty weird to have the tornado sirens sound at the end of October. Watching the weather on television I actually called Michael's preschool (he eats lunch at school on Tuesdays and Thursdays) to see if I should come and get him early. I was worried, based on the long line of red barreling toward us on the radar, that we might not be able to get him at his regular pick up time. The director said it wasn't like they'd kick him out at 12:31 and we decided to leave well enough alone.

Can you imagine where Harper and I were at the 12:30 pick up time?

Huddled under the table in the basement, listening to the wind howl in the chimney, almost drowning out the wailing of the tornado siren. Harper snuggled up against me, whimpering, and asking when it would be over. Poor girl couldn't even manage to get her lunch down.

So we did retrieve Michael about 1/2 an hour late. The kids and teachers had also done some time in their "safe zone" - a bathroom - but were settling in for naps when we arrived. Michael didn't seem any worse for the wear and maybe now he will believe me when I tell him all his preschool friends (the ones who stay for extended care) take naps when he leaves.

Fortunately we didn't have any damage here, just some blown over patio chairs.

And maybe a few shaken nerves.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall Festivities

Ah yes, the Halloween season is again upon us. Do I need to remind you how I detest Halloween? And how having a child with food allergies has not helped matters? I mean please, peanut butter cups were one of the only redeeming qualities Halloween had to offer!

I will admit that I look forward to roasting pumpkin seeds, but the process of cleaning them off... don't get me started!

Friday night, for Family Night, we gussied up a couple of pumpkins, potato head style. My mom gave the kids these kits last year and it was a brilliant choice. Harper clearly loved revisiting her witch kit.

Michael was pretty excited about things as well. As the pirate pieces fell into place he kept exclaiming, "Mah punkeen bootifoo!" (My pumpkin's beautiful!)

Then we made him go to bed and he cried. Sadly every night can't have a happy ending.

Harper, on the other hand, got to stay up a bit later and "help" me make potato soup. She worked on peeling potatoes. She'd never peeled potatoes before. I don't know if you have ever peeled potatoes with a five-year-old, but it is quite a task. I use little baby red potatoes for soup so peeling is probably more difficult.

Maybe I should have started her on carrots.

Harper peeled potatoes at the rate of about one every ten minutes. It. Was. Agonizing. But you can't learn without doing it, right? And all the other tasks involved chopping things with very sharp knives and I wasn't eager to visit the ER.

Harper sticks her tongue out when she concentrates.

Even though things went along a little more slowly than normal I really enjoyed my kitchen time with Harper. She was just so happy to be able to help and she was cracking me up with the things she was saying. At one point she commented, "This (peeling potatoes) is a great thing to do while you're just hanging out and chatting." She also said something about the potato skins being students and she was like the bus driver taking them to school. She followed that comment by reminding me that she has a really big imagination.

Today Harper helped me make a loaf of bread to go with the soup and Michael helped me make brownies. Maybe the two of them will open a restaurant one day!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Hakin. That's Michael-speak for hiking, which is a loose interpretation of what we did Saturday morning.

I've written before about how incredible our metro park system is - we have a glorious assortment of diverse parks to visit and it's pretty shameful how few of them we've actually been to see.

There is one park in particular, that I've been semi-aware of since my college days, that is only minutes away from our house. Saturday was cool and sunny, we had no morning/afternoon plans, and we decided to head out.

To be fair, last year at this time (or even a couple of months ago) we really would have needed a stroller to take any kind of long walk. Neither Matt nor I every had much luck w/ baby wearing and I do think it limited us a bit in where we were able to take the kids. BUT Michael is a hardy explorer these days and Matt agreed in advance to carry him if he really had a difficult time. We decided to drive to a parking area near a "trail head" and just see how things would go.

We could not have picked a better day for our mini-adventure. What is it about being in the woods? The sound of our feet crunching the carpet of leaves, the smell of earth and cool weather, the gentle noise of birds and wind in the trees - it was heavenly.

This is something I want for our kids. To know the particular kind of light that filters through tree tops. To understand what it is to enjoy being outside, to appreciate their surroundings, to delight in the world with out needing other stuff for entertainment. To enjoy walking and talking and laughing together.

Harper stubbornly turned over log after log, searching for slugs. Michael tried to pick up a daddy long legs and jumped about twenty feet when it scurried away. They threw leaves and gathered sticks. They tripped and fell and survived it. Michael actually did a fairly hilarious face-plant into the leaves but carried forth like the trooper that he is. He earned his story to tell, "Me hakin! Me fall down!"

We threw things into the water and watched to see what happened. We marveled - the children at the world, Matt and I at the children.

As we walked there was actually a golf course running along one side of the park and a fairly busy road on the other. It didn't matter. We were in our own little world. When Harper and Michael remember these times, they will think we were in the middle of nowhere.

Lucky for us, nowhere is only about five minutes away. We plan to go back often.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Just for Fun

Okay here are two things for you:

1) Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading

This book was so much fun. I read everything I could get my hands on from about second grade on and this book brought back incredibly fond memories. It's worth checking out if you were reading young adult literature in the 70's and 80's.

2) Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

I thought that video was both adorable and hilarious. It is safe for your kiddos to watch with you. The first time Harper watched she wandered away after about a minute saying she didn't "get it" but has found subsequent viewings highly enjoyable.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Wisdom for a Sibling

Tonight Harper turned to Michael in the bathtub and said, "Michael, you never poop in the bath. If you do that your bath will be over."

It's nice that she can pass this stuff on to him, right?