Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween practice run

The costumes work! Aren't we all so relieved? Because that had been a top concern of mine. (Or maybe not.)
The kids got to give their costumes a test run Sunday afternoon. Their school holds an annual "Harvest Festival" carnival. The last few years it's been the weekend after Halloween, and so gives the kids one last chance to wear their costumes. But this year, it became the premiere event.
Sydney, chose to be La La Loopsy this year. For anyone whose TV isn't tuned in to kids programming 90 percent of the time, La L aLoopsy is a heavily advertised doll that Sydney wanted for Christmas last year, which I ignored because it looked like something she'd quickly lose interest in. But maybe not.

The above photo shows her playing this brand new game none of the kids had ever heard of before: drop clothes pins in a jar. Was this not a staple game at birthday parties years ago? How has it become such a mystery?
AJ, meanwhile, dressed as "the Scream ghost." The costume actually includes a tube that allows fake blood to run down the mask face. Oh, yeah! I haven't let him use that feature yet and told him he's not allowed to do it at school. Maybe for trick-or-treating.
And then he discovered the mask is hot to wear, so he took it off and had scars painted on his face instead. What happened to my sweet little boy? At least he still smiles nicely when he runs into friends. This is Noah, who just moved to town last summer.

Sydney also visited the face painter. We've done our best to not wash off the paint and glitter heart, but it's just about faded away.

The big day is Wednesday! Sydney gets to wear her costume to school. AJ gets to bring his along and change there. It'll be Jeff's turn to accompany them trick or treating. Which reminds me. I better go find the buckets for the kids to carry their loot, and get the bags of candy ready to hand out. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpking carving

The pumpkin goo was the same, as was Sydney's reaction to it.
And AJ's enthusiasm to create the greatest jack-o-lantern never waned.

But despite the kids' non-stop chatter and excitement, it wasn't quite as fun to carve pumpkins with just the four of us crowded around the table. That's one of the downsides of Halloween falling in the middle of the week. We miss out on carving with the rest of the Larson clan down in the Cities. (And I can't help but wonder, will it be three years before Halloween again reaches a weekend and we can resume the tradition.)

Sydney took this artistic endeavor quite seriously, though was far more interested in coloring than carving. (Which was perfectly fine with me. I'm much happier to hand her a marker than a knife.)
Gus certainly seemed to appreciate us moving our efforts back home. That meant he could be in the middle of the action. (These next two photos were taken by AJ.)

Jeff dubbed mine "the mosquito jack-o-lantern".
I think he was just jealous. His didn't turn out as planned. (It's the one on the chair in the photo below and on the far left of the bottom picture.) His non-gentle hand and serrated knife combined to create a jack-o-lantern with a serious cleft palate.

But it was all good fun. And if our masterpieces survive until Halloween night, mission accomplished.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lions and elephants and pretty girls, oh my!

The greatest show on earth... or at least the greatest show in Esko... has come and gone for another year. And we're all done! No more circus costume stress for this mom! I've sent my two through this annual rite of kindergarten.
Compared to the lion costume I had to make for AJ, Sydney's costume was a piece of cake. No sewing, just searching for the pieces from last year's dance recital costume.
Here they are: the Eskomo class of 2025.
When it was time for Sydney's big moment - a spin across the floor on a hobby horse - she did it with great care. Later, she confessed to being a little bit "stage sick" (I assume she meant she had stage fright.)
At the very end, each child said their name and the part they played. Sydney articulated quite well, and no one can accuse her of rushing her line.

Sydney had a big fan base in the audience. AJ's teacher let him come to the show with us. Plus, Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jo were there, as were Grandpa David and Grandma Elouise, who'd just returned from Florida less than 24 hours before.

 Best of all, I might never have to listen to the song Melvin the Magnificent ever again. Sydney started singing it a couple weeks ago. AJ, who of course remembers the song, started singing along. And it was absolutely adorable the first few times they sang a duet. And it was sweet the couple times after that because at least they were getting along. And then it was just tolerable because at least they weren't fighting. And now, that song has reached the status of "if I hear it one more time, so help me..."
I tried loading video of it here, so you could share my pain. But for some reason I can't get it to post. I'm taking it as a sign that the good and loving Lord agrees I've been tested enough.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fit to be tied - the princess edition

To this day, the ability to tie his shoes is not one of AJ's strengths. He can do it, but not well, and not tightly.
Determined to not repeat this with Sydney, I found a book I thought could help. It has Disney Princesses and laces with which she can practice. Sydney was excited to listen to the story, but not so excited to do the tying part.
"Princesses don't wear tie shoes," she rationalized.
"Oh, I'm sure Princess Kate wears tennis shoes sometimes," I countered.
And so we began.
I had no idea there were so many ways you could tie shoe laces. Scuttle, the seagull in the Little Mermaid taught to make two wings, and then cross one wing over the other.
On the next page, Snow White's forest friends taught to "make a tree" with one lace, and then have a bunny friend hop around the tree and through the hole.
I give them points for creativity.
Sydney and I tried working as a team. I was the tree. She was the bunny. It worked well, so I left her to practice on her own, reminding her to leave a long root dangling off the tree.
It didn't take long until I heard frustrated cries from her room.
"I can't find the bunny hole!"
We moved on to Cinderella's. Even I didn't understand the instructions of weaving loops together.
We went back to Snow White's tree and rabbit friends.
She's still not quite got it on her own, but with my help, she regained her enthusiasm. 

Here's Sydney's version of how to tie shoes:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fit to be tied

AJ has been quite disappointed by this week's drizzly weather. Rain means no outside recess. On Wednesdays, that's particularly bad because it's the one day a week when he doesn't have gym. "I don't want to get fat, Mom," he worried yesterday morning. "I want to get physical."
And thus I was stuck with Olivia Newton John singing in my head the rest of the day.
AJ's always been a healthy eater. Maybe because he still accepts so much of what he's told without question. A preschool teacher told him chocolate milk wasn't as good for him as white milk, and he's been drinking white milk ever since.
He also apparently pays close attention to infomercials, that he's asked me charming questions such as, "Do you have abs?" 
In the past, I've explained that everyone has abs, just some of us cover those abs up with fat. But for the last two months, I've been working out with a group of women from work, and am actually starting to see a rather toned tummy. Last Friday's workout was particularly tough, and I was whining over the weekend about how sore I was. AJ again asked,"Do you have abs?"
 I pulled up my shirt just enough for him to see the lines that now run down my belly.
"Wow, Mom! You DO have abs."
And that was enough to inspire him more than ever.
Playing downstairs, he asked if he could use the treadmill. (He knows not to go on it without an adult present.) Of course, I agreed, and helped him get it started.   
Looking at the display panel a few seconds later, which showed he'd run .06 miles, he exclaimed, "I've already wasted six calories!"

"You don't waste calories," I corrected his terminology, "You burn calories. And that shows distance, not calories."
"Now I've burned seven calories," he updated me. "I'm going to keep doing this until I have abs."
Good luck with that! At least I know we're setting a good example for him.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Going for gold in the foam block competition

Admittedly, I didn't watch the Summer Olympics all that closely year. I didn't get caught up in the drama like I did when Mary Lou Retton won all around gold, or when Kerri Strug landed that incredible vault despite her injured ankle.
Despite my lack of attention, I'm pretty sure they've stuck with the same four categories: floor, vault, uneven parallel bars and balance beam. So why, at a birthday party at the Gymnastics Academy, are the kids directed to spend their time either jumping into a pit of foam blocks or playing on an inflatable slide?
Sydney was invited to her friend Hannah's birthday party last weekend (Hannah is the one in black/white bouncing next to Sydney in the above photo.) Conveniently, the party was right after Sydney's gymnastic class at the Y, so she was already in her leotard. And she had a lot of fun. I just couldn't figure out what it had to do with gymnastics.
The kids lined up on a long trampoline, then took turns running and jumping.
Sydney was nervous at first. When she got to the end, she stopped and then carefully climb down. Once she discovered how soft the foam blocks were, THEN she wanted to do it again.

And again...

And again...

Did I mention there were signs posted everywhere saying "no flipping". Because that would be too much like gymnastics.

But as mentioned, Sydney had a lot of fun. Her next birthday can't get here fast enough. She has such big plans.

She'd already decided she wanted to invite her friends to a birthday party at our house so they can have a treasure hunt, PLUS she wants a rollerskating party at World of Wheels. Now she wants to cap it off with a gymnastics party.
Sounds like a busy day. And considering she has eight more months to wait... eight more months that will no doubt include additional ideas inspired by other birthday parties she attends... it's only going to get busier.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Are you ready for some football?

More pictures from this past Sunday, because jumping in leaves holds my attention for only so long:
What else is fun about fall? Front yard football! I love the expression on AJ's face as he catches the ball. Worth noting: I threw the ball and still had time to focus the camera and get the shot!
Alternate name for the game: slime ball, because that's what the football was covered in any time Gus managed an interception.

And intercept he did. Often. He pegged Sydney as an easy target.

When the Vikings game ended, Jeff joined us. With similar slime-covered results. 

Total interception! Check out the expression on Jeff's face as Gus grabbed it away from him.

These are the days, the moments and the memories I will forever treasure. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sunday leaves me happy

Our trees are now pretty much leafless. And they'll remain that way for the next six to seven months. (Sigh.)
On the bright side, that means our lawn is covered with leaves. Something the children noted and made the best of when sent outside to play Sunday afternoon.

By children, I meant all three of mine.

Isn't it amazing how the same two individuals who have spent just about every waking moment antagonizing and tattling on each other, can suddenly work together when they recognize a common goal?

I wish I had a soundtrack of their laughter. Pictures may speak a thousand words, but the sound of their giggles are what complete the memories from this perfect fall afternoon. As I was taking these photos and now as I look at them, the top thought running through my head is, "I love my life."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Basement hockey season

The NHL season remains in question. The UMD Bulldogs just lost to Notre Dame (a game I was quite proud to figure out AJ could watch online since it wasn't shown on TV). And it's too dark to play in the driveway after dinner.
What's a hockey-obsessed fan to do? Recruit Dad to join him downstairs for some intense one-on-one action.
For goals, they use furniture. Jeff defends the opening under my old white desk, while AJ protects the opening under the kids picnic table. (When I play against AJ, we switch sides. The desk is a far bigger space, making it easier for me to score.)

The tongue should give you a clue. AJ takes this very seriously.

Every so often, the game gets interrupted by "the Zamboni".

And what was the final score? According to AJ, "Let's just say I won 8-7. I was losing 7-6, but then Dad said 'next goal wins' because his neck was hurting, and I scored so I won."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The next stage in school performances

Alas, I am once again unable to upload video on this site. So imagine if you can these kids singing a slightly modified (so there are no references to Christmas in October) version of Over the River and Through the Woods.
The elementary school performed its annual Grandparents Program yesterday. This was Sydney's first time performing in front of a gym full of people.
Did you find her in the above photo? It took me a moment to spot her in the front row. AJ has always been in the back row. Not because of his height but because - according to him - "my class is the best behaved."
That's the incentive the music teacher uses. Behave yourself and you don't have to stand in front. Of course, Sydney instantly took great offense at this suggestion. Her class is good! So we assured her that maybe it was just for AJ's grade that they figured it out that way.

Back to the program... here she is singing Deep in the Heart of Texas. It was her favorite by far since she has two grandparents who spend their winter in Texas. And she got to sing it and clap for them.

AJ's an old pro by now. And yes, his class again got to stand in the back row.

He's now a fan of John Denver after singing City of New Orleans. (Have you figured it out by now? This year's theme was "On the Road with our Grandparents".

Sydney admitted she was a little scared to sing in front of all those people. But both kids did just fine. And by fine, I mean that neither of them knocked over a microphone or tripped walking on or off the risers. It's pretty much impossible to pick out their individual voices when they're singing with 80-90 other kids.

But if any other grandparents want to check out the video the next time they're visiting, I've got it. As an added bonus, I'll bet the kids would be happy to sing along and give you a live performance.