Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Variety is the Spice of Life

There are lots of pictures that I've wanted to blog about but have never gotten to post. In the interest of efficiency (and to make sure that I don't forget altogether or remember a year from now), I'm going to put them all in this post! A quick last quarter of the year in review.

These are just some of the goofy things that went on in our house that made the last few months of 2008 lots of fun!

And she's off! These are "skis" that Gracie fashioned (with a little of Daddy's help). It's a two-for-one; she has Swiffer cloths on the bottom of those skis!

Many thanks to our neighbor, Terry, who put up a really nice new mailbox stand for us (the other one had quite a tilt!). Mike took the girls out to watch the final installation and Terry let them bury some pennies. Check out those outfits on the girls - obviously, I didn't get a look at them before they headed outside (hats & flip-flops? and the hat was pretty much on backwards & not cuffed - good look!)

Look - it's Halloween - no wait, it must be Sesame Street Dress-up Day (November 17th). I suppose I am partially responsible for this one - I got the costumes out for them when they asked. I don't really know why they were dressing up, but they wore the costumes around for quite a while that day (longer than on any Halloween).

Schwind Outdoor Cafe
Things were a little chilly this day, but the girls were sure they wanted to eat outside. Halfway through the meal they wanted gloves, but I explained that it might make eating a little difficult. I think they made it through most of the meal and compromised by having desert inside.

Coloring Night at the Schwind House
A rare chance for us all to do something together. Of course, it only lasted about 2 minutes. Then I had to get up and chase down John Michael. He wasn't really into the whole "coloring" thing, more of the "chewing" thing.

Here's little "boo-bear." She loves her bath time. This night she was having a grand time with her bath dolls. She loves telling stories about her dolls (any kind - not just the bath ones).

Two passions combined - "performing" & scrapbooking. This was scrapbooking night - everyone was supposed to come & share their scrapbook. I love the fact that she got the microphone from the piano and is using it, unplugged. Gotta use those props!

Check out the next 4 photos - all four were taken in December.
Can you say Seasonally Challenged?

And what is up with the chicken hat & mask you ask? Mimi bought that for the girls from Ikea. They have a dog mask also, which isn't nearly as funny looking. They are really into wearing the chicken hat & mask lately. Somehow it has ended up in the van - I can only imagine what the other people on the highway are thinking!

Kind of still looking seasonally challenged her, but this is actually what happens when you don't really pay attention to the older ones because you are too busy trying to get the baby to sleep.
Quite the look - PJs (on Clara) with a poncho, mary janes minus the socks on the feet and garden gloves of course, to keep your hands warm. Gracie is looking oh so sporty in last year's blue outfit combined with this year's boots and of course, garden gloves (it was a little chilly that day!)

And last, but not least, what happens when Dada says "Stick out your tongue!"
I bet next year, we'll be 3 for 3 on that one.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Preparations for Christmas

Yes, yes, I know it is the day *after* Christmas and I am putting up a post about getting ready for Christmas. But we were so busy getting ready, that I didn't have time to write. Also, Mike is home for a few days & I don't have to wait until nighttime to write this! So, here we go.

We finally got the tree up a few weeks after Thanksgiving. In fact, we waited so long that we hadn't decorated it when Uncle Scott came to visit. He was heading up to Amarillo for his Christmas break. We got the tree decorated & also managed to go out one night to look at Christmas lights. We stopped and got ice cream (and I do use that term loosely!) at Dairy Queen before we started driving around. The plan was to let the girls eat the ice cream in the van while looking at lights, hoping that would keep them entertained a little longer than normal. We had only looked at a few lights when Clara was done - "I want to go home - I'm sleepy - no more lights!" I guess she hadn't had a nap that day, because we hadn't really been driving around that long! I tried to convince her she could rest in her car seat, but she didn't really like that plan. And she must really have been tired because when we got home I saw that she had only eaten a few bites of her ice cream.

Our tiniest bear in his Christmas jammies, "helping"
& enjoying time with Uncle Scott

Next, we moved onto Mike's big event of the season - the Making of the Gingerbread (okay, the eating, too!). This had to get done because some of the cookies get shipped to family & friends.

Gracie & Clara worked dilligently on decorating the cookies
after Mike & I had a late night frosting marathon!

Next up were the Christmas cookies. I wanted to wait as long as possible for these, so we would still have some on Christmas Day! I like to make the cookies we had growing up - Christmas Trees & Camels. They are both spritz cookies that you make with a cookie press. I remember every year we wondered if the dough would be the right consistency to work in the cookie press. The press I use belonged to my Grandmother Toth (I think - Mom will have to correct me if I am wrong). Clara & I were in charge of making the Christmas Trees this year. They turned out just right - no problems coming out of the cookie press - and light and buttery and almond-tasting!

Clara was really intent on being in charge of the mixer this time & while that made me a little nervous (some of you know why ...), she did a really good job. She liked to lock it down & then turn it on slowly and then click it up to a higher speed.

Next up were the camels & Gracie was my helper for that round. They also turned out great (better knock on wood for next year!) - I like to take them out of the oven before they get too crispy - soft & chocolately, yum!

We were almost ready for Christmas now. Just unload the numerous boxes that kept arriving everyday (thank you family & friends) and keep wrapping, wrapping, wrapping. Mike & I did a lot of ordering online this year and he commented that the delivery people must wonder if we know that you can go out to the store & shop. One day we had six packages arrive by 3 different carriers - FedEx Ground, UPS & USPS. At least they've learned to just drop the packages over the fence & leave them (no waiting on me to straggle out & actually sign for them).

JM loved all the ribbon and colorful packages under the tree!

Thanks to Aunt C for JM's cute Christmas bib!

Finally, it was Christmas Eve. The girls were pretty excited. Mike had taken them out to the park to check on our "treasure box" (geocache), play and then do some shopping. This was in hopes that they would go to bed early. It worked pretty well for Clara, she fell asleep easily at 7pm, but we had a few moments before bedtime (see below). Gracie was too excited to go right to sleep, but after a few visits out to us to tell us how she couldn't sleep, she finally settled down and was asleep by 9pm. Not too bad!

Blowing out the last Advent candle - how sweet, right?

"It was *my* turn, Clara!"


'Twas the Night Before Christmas by the tree

Cookies, milk, pictures and gifts for Santa

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gracie's School Christmas Program

I meant to post about this about a week and a half ago (right after it happened), and I realized when I was looking back at pictures tonight that I had never posted any.

They did a nice little program. They all had a line to speak and did a summary of the nativity that was based on the Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? book. Gracie was Mary & did a great job with her line. Unfortunately, Mom did not do such a great job remembering to capture that on video, so you get a some pictures instead! I did get some of the singing on video, so there is also a snippet of the last song they sang (I lost track of how many they sang, but the last few were sung with the pre-k 3 class, so they are the ones standing in the front in this video).

There's the sweet Mary in blue!

That "I'm concentrating on singing" look

A proud sister, who liked the program, but was glad to be moving on to the party!

Gracie Bear listening intently to Mrs. Brannon for instructions about the gift exchange (they listened to a story & passed the presents to the right (very confusing for 4 & 5-year olds!) every time they heard "Santa")

Finally, I know this is what she would sing for each of you if she had the chance!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Whistle Stop Park - A Christmas Tradition

We took advantage of the nice warm weather we were having and headed down to Cleburne to see one of the neatest displays of Christmas lights I've seen. The city park is decorated with lots of different free-standing light displays and it's been really fun to take the kids there the last couple of years.

This year Gracie & Clara were patient enough to stand next to the van for a few minutes (while we were finishing bundling up JM, getting the camera, etc), but as soon as Mike told them they could go ahead, they took off at full speed! Too bad we didn't get a video of that part...

Anyhow, I enjoyed being able to carry John Michael in my arms instead of my belly. I remember last year I thought this was the most tiring thing ever, & I thought the park was very big. This year I was able to run some and almost keep up with the girls. What a change in a year!

If you live around here and are looking for something fun & free to do, this is it!

Okay - so we did get the running one after all - it was just after they had been there a while!

Poor John M
ichael! Nothing like too much lovin'

Don't Turn Your Back - even for a minute ...

Well, I knew it was bound to happen. I "lost" John Michael on Thursday morning.

We have a corner kitchen cabinet that we keep some toys in for him. I decided to open the cabinet, pull a few things out and leave the doors open as well since he had been playing with the door the day before. So I got all of that out and then went to do something at the other end of the kitchen (probably fetching something like more food, or a snack for another child).

After a minute or two, I realized I had better check on JM (he's pretty fast these days). I glanced down to that end of the kitchen, expecting him to be sitting chewing on a Little People figure or maybe heading off to explore under the kitchen table. But he wasn't in sight. Oh, I thought, he's already made it to the living room. I walked a few steps further, no John Michael in sight. That's when the "I've lost him" mini-panic set in. But as I turned around to make sure I hadn't missed him in the kitchen, I discovered where that monkey was.

A picture is worth a thousand words!!

Isn't he the happy camper?
The girls thought it was great fun, too!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Follow-Up : He pulls himself to standing!

So - we got out all the Christmas decorations (last week, finally) and got the tree decorated, etc. It's nice to have everything all decorated, but it is also a big baby hazard! Since the girls were 3-4 months old for their first Christmas, I haven't had this experience of the baby getting into all of the holiday decorations. We did pare down on what we put out ((a little, Mike would probably say - I got the polite, "you know, we don't have to put it all out") , but of course there is still plenty for an inquisitive little boy.

One of our "decorations" is an empty popcorn tin that we got several years ago. It's a medium size can, and apparently just the right height for John Michael. Check out the video below.

Today it occurred to me (I'm still clearly in the Mommy-thinking-oh-so-slow mode) that we should get down the toy that's actually made to help little ones learn to stand out. Of course, I remembered it when we were all playing in John Michael's room. Gracie was sure we needed to go get it right away. I tried to put her off, but a few minutes later I heard the inside garage door open and shut. Then she came back and announced, "I remember exactly the cover Daddy put on that toy and it is in the barn." Well, good to have the bigger ones around to help you when your memory fails. This evening, Gracie proceeded to announce to Daddy that we needed him to get that toy for John Michael tonight. Hmmm, good thought except for the sleet and freezing temps! She'll probably have to wait a few days until it's warm enough for a native Texan to venture outside at night!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

He sits. He stands. He climbs?

Yes, John Michael is on the go. Well, not when he is sitting. He's pretty content to sit and play with something for quite awhile if you sit him down with a toy (and there is nothing else too interesting going on around him). One of his favorite toys is the Fisher Price Bus - he loves to take the people out, play with the stop sign and "inspect" (the girls' word) the wheels.

He loves to practice standing. Oh and jumping when you are holding him upright. You pretty much better hang on for dear life if you stand him up on your lap - he likes to do quick deep knee bends and spring up and down (too bad we don't all find that such fun exercise!) I thought he was going to fling himself out of my lap Sunday at church!

So the climbing thing must be one of those "boy things" that everyone has warned me about. I've never seen the girls try and get up on all the things he does. The keyboard on the floor in the living room was a mountain to be conquered until yesterday afternoon (he finally got up and over it). Tonight he had both hands up on Tommy Turtle (maybe the wrong name, but it's a red, round turtle stool that's in the girls' room) and who knows if he would have gotten all the way up if I hadn't dragged him away.

One last thing - he's in the kitchen right now trying to open one of the bottom drawers. There's no end to what he will try - thank goodness I have two extra pairs of eyes to watch him during the day!

Jeans ... finally!

So I've been slow to post lately. John Michael is on his second round of antibiotics for an ear infection and should be getting better but has felt the need to wake up screaming every two hours for the last five nights or so. Needless to say, I haven't been getting a whole lot of uninterrupted sleep. Which makes the brain a little foggy for things like writing. I started to write about our Thanksgivings (yes, plural!), but kept getting stuck and not able to think of the word I wanted to use. So I'll have to finish that one later. But I thought of a much easier topic I have been wanting to write about for a while - Jeans!

If you've heard me talk about Gracie & clothes, you probably know about the jeans thing. For the first five years of her life (or at least the part of it where she has had any say), Gracie has not wanted to wear jeans. When she was smaller, I always tried to put her in outfits that looked comfy (not necessarily just cute!) and I guess I started a bad trend. The first time I tried to put jeans on her, she wore them for a little while but then decided they were too tight and uncomfortable. (That was probably around age 2). Since then I've been trying to convince her that jeans are actually great things! But with Gracie, if you work too hard trying to convince her, she will decided she is never going to do what you want!

So when I went to my big consignment sale (JBF - Just Between Friends) this September, I didn't buy any jeans for her and only got things that looked "comfy." But that ended up amounting to mainly skirts and dresses. Since she is in school 3 mornings a week, she didn't need too much clothing this fall. But she didn't really have any pants to wear, and it does actually get a little cold here in Texas. So I told her we had to get her a pair of jeans.

She agreed to getting a pair of jeans, but I wasn't convinced (like mother, like daughter). So naturally, I waited until we went to Dallas and talked Mimi into going to the mall with us. I'm no fool - go to the mall to get a possibly controversial pair of jeans with three kids and no backup? I thought if I couldn't talk her into the jeans, Mimi could! We headed to Dillard's since I wanted plain jeans for Gracie and the department stores seemed a likely place to find them.

At first, I thought we might have gone to the wrong store. When I asked the saleslady to show me some plain jeans, she was a little stumped. On almost every rack were jeans covered with glitter and designs up and down the legs - yikes! But then she found a plain pair - I went over to take a look - hmmm just $55 for a pair of DKNY jeans for a 5 year old! She found a few more pairs, but they all seemed a little pricey to me. Finally, I spotted what we needed - a nice shelf full of Levi's. Just what the Mommy ordered.

So we grabbed a ton of pairs to try on in sizes ranging from 4 slim to 6 regular (Clara had to try something on too, right?) and headed to the dressing room. Thank goodness for Mimi. We would have been in there an hour with me trying to get them both in and out of jeans. Skinny Minny (Gracie) ended up in a 6 slim (which blew me away, I thought she would be a 5 but who knows!) and Clara ended up with no jeans (didn't really need any - she's got a drawerful of clothes) since she is in some limbo size between a 4 and a 5.

Gracie ended up loving her jeans and here she is modeling them. Oh - forgot to mention - she ended up getting 2 pairs! And then a few days later talked me into buying 2 belts (okay, they came 2 for 1) at Target. She's been dying for a belt for a few years, but never had anything with belt loops! She & Clara are currently sharing the two belts (Clara is modeling the second belt).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Airing Out, Church Issues and Pretend Problems

Talk about a good laugh. Saturday morning I had the luxury of sleeping in until 8am! Yee haw! Once I got up and fetched John Michael from his crib, I headed out to see what the rest of the gang was up to. Everyone was in the playroom, the girls watching tv & Mike hanging out with them. But the funniest thing was Gracie. She had worn a sleeper to bed the night before (it went down to the 40s), but apparently had warmed up in the morning. She was stretched out on our green reclining chair "airing out." Which in Gracie-speak means lying naked on our green chair (holding her blankie & sucking her thumb)! Pretty funny sight when you are not expecting it. When I laughed at her she said, "What?. . . I was hot!"

In church, John Michael got a little loud toward the end - he just gave out a waah or two. But Clara thought it was important to speak up in her not so quiet voice and state "Mama, take the screaming baby out." And when I didn't. A little louder now, "Mama, take the screaming baby out now!" We had several comments about it on our way out of church.

Then on the way back from church, the girls started one of their many pretend games. Gracie asked Clara what she wanted to watch on the van tv (we don't really have a tv in the van, this is one of their pretend games - it's amazing. I have no idea why it is so entertaining, but they discuss it & will pretend to watch it for quite a long time considering there is no tv anywhere). So Clara chose something out of the long list that Gracie gave her & then Gracie tuned in the channel. But that's when it all went bad. Apparently, Clara wanted a different channel or wasn't listening or something. But they ended up arguing. Arguing over their pretend tv. Arguing over the program they were watching on their pretend tv. Amazing how siblings have that love/hate relationship.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Yay! - thanks to Laura for the links to more free layouts. Here is the new free layout with my Christmas look. If you saw my in between look, it was a little busy. And Mike didn't like it because it had white text & he can't get the background to load at his work. White text on a white background apparently doesn't make for easy reading!

So, here it is & I'm done "sprucing" things up for now. Heavens knows the house needs more sprucing up than my blog!! I can go back to all the fun things I want to blog about now. I have some things I've been wanting to write about for a few days now, so I'm hoping the weekend will give me the chance to catch up. Check back on Monday and see!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trying for a new look

Okay - so I changed the background on my blog, but I really wanted to have something winter-like or Christmas-ey. The only catch is I'm using free blog layouts & don't know how to make these fancy designs myself. Well, beggars can't be choosers. So until I get the time to learn all about HTML and fancy layouts, it will have to do. Just imagine that it looks fancy & puts you in the Christmas mood...ha, ha!

And yes, yes, there are other things that should probably take precedence over my blog ... dishes to be done, laundry to be dried and folded, husbands to chat with. So, those are all the updates for now. Too much updating & there won't be time for blogging!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boys & Trains

While I was putting the girls to bed the other week, Mike was trying to keep John Michael happy until I was free to put him to bed. It wasn't the easiest bedtime, and I had to take Clara out to see the moon to try and calm her down. When we came in, I heard a whoo-whoo. I thought - what is going on? Has Gracie gotten up and is playing with the trains? Then I realized - how silly of me - it's the boys playing trains! We had a big Geotrax layout in the playroom last week and Mike discovered that John Michael loves to watch the trains.

So when I was done with the girls, I headed in to watch the boys and the trains. I'm not sure who likes them more. Check out the look on JM's face:

He couldn't get enough of those trains. I think someone else was enjoying himself as well...

Here's some video of the boys playing.

Okay, so JM's attention is taken by the *fascinating* cardboard tube instead of the train. Meanwhile, Mike continues to man the train station. JM continues with his exploration of the cardboard tube...

Then, (the part I didn't get in the video, of course) John Michael continues playing with his new favorite toy and Mike continues to act as train engineer. His trains kept getting stuck on various parts of the track & he was sending out "helper" trains. So involved was he with this rescue operation that he failed to notice what John Michael was doing. A dangerous thing at this age. So, helpful Mommy that I am, I speak up with: "Umm, honey - do you think maybe you should take a moment to look at the baby? Is he supposed to be putting the cardboard tube in his mouth and gnawing on it?" Needless to say, the train engineer had to put off the train rescue and conduct a different rescue operation!

Clara's Future?

Last Friday night, we had a great time watching the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor. There wasn't any coverage on tv (on the channels we get), so we watched it on the internet. I haven't ever really talked to the girls about space shuttles, so what little they know about it comes from Curious George Gets a Medal (George goes into outer space & then launches himself out of the rocket to return to earth by parachute). We ate dinner & the girls had baths while we were waiting for the launch time to arrive. It ended up being quite a countdown for us - we made it to the computer with a minute to spare.

It was really neat watching the girls excitement about it, particularly Clara. She just loves the idea of an "asgra-naut". Here are two short videos from that night. The first is prior to the launch & the second is just after watching the shuttle launch.

We told the girls we could watch some of the video while the astronauts are in space, so that should be neat as well. It's amazing how many things there are for them to learn about in the world and how the internet makes it all so accessible.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's new in John Michael's World

Mosquito Bites (see video below!)

So - lots of new things for a little guy. Just last week he started babbling up a storm. It's pretty funny. Here's a snippet of it:

We're up to 5 (yes, five!) teeth now. Apparently, he thought it was a good idea to have three teeth come in on the top all at once. The two front teeth are just barely coming through. But he must be feeling better. After last week's lovely schedule of waking up every 1-3 hours at night, he's gone back to a much nicer schedule of just being up twice in the night. You wouldn't think that just getting 4 hours of straight sleep could make such a big difference, but it definitely does! Anyhow, his crankiness and inability to sleep last week were also due to the fact that he had an ear infection. He's happily taking his amoxicillin (that stuff is sickeningly sweet!) and hopefully healing up. I think it was all a ploy to try and get out of his second dose of the flu shot. Little does he know - we're going back next week to get it!

Okay, onto the crawling. I'm a skeptic on this one, but Mike & Gracie both say he is crawling. I have yet to see *true* crawling. Which I consider to be up on hands and knees and going forwards (or backwards, I guess). He's definitely doing the "army crawl" (as my friend Katherine termed it) and can slither around on his belly (and pivot really well!). But he's not really in that - whoa, where did he go? if you turn your back for a second. I'm looking forward to it, but also a little worried. I know there was at least one time where I "lost" Clara. We were in our house, but she was so fast and I'm sure I was distracted.... so therein ensued a frantic search for a crawling baby. It's amazing how many places a baby could be! And not helpful that they don't understand to answer you when you call. So, I imagine JM will be a baby on the loose at least once, if not several times. At least this time I can enlist two helpers when I am hunting for him...

Since I don't have any video of the "crawling" that is supposedly going on, here's a sample of one of his favorite activities. And yes, the background noise is annoying. And yes, it's a Tootle golden book computer game that we bought for Clara. (have to work on checking these things out better before buying...)

Finally, hats. The hats are only new because it is finally "cold" here in the mornings. When we head out to take Gracie to school on MTW, it's still very chilly in the mornings. So in an effort to be a "good" mommy, I pop a hat on JM's head. What we have is basically just a step above the newborn hat - it's a a blue velour number that just fits snuggly on his head and you cuff it up. Just like a normal ski hat for a boy. Except that it is a very bad design for a newborn. Clara informed me on the way home today (when I asked if he as asleep) "no, but he can't see anymore." When we got home, I discovered that the cuff was now acting as a blinder. Hmmm, so much for the "good" mommy effort.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What is JM doing? Clara-isms! Gracie's future occupation

What is JM doing?
  • He's trying so hard to crawl! He's not there yet, but he can sure rock back and forth on those knees. He's doing pretty well at getting around even without the crawling though. He just pulls himself along on his belly (it's made easier by the wood and cork floors)!
  • He's also into chewing on everything. He's got two sharp little teeth on the bottom, so you have to watch him. He tried to chew on my leg the other night. He settled for the cuff of my jeans. I've got a good story about him chewing on things & trains - I'll post some pix and a video soon.
  • Now we know that JM loves socks - his "look" (as Gracie would call it) is to wear them hanging about an inch off his toes. Then he likes to suck on that extra bit until it is thoroughly drenched. Dee-sgusting as the girls would say! When we are out with him, people are constantly warning us that his socks are about to fall off. Little do they know - you don't want to touch those suckers (ha, ha) once they are cold and soggy!
  • Apparently the fascination with socks can be hereditary. When we were in Amarillo for John Michael's baptism, Joe was telling us about how Mike always loved to chew on his (Joe's) socks. Well, the other night, Mike was in his socks and JM was on the floor and guess what??? Mike ended up with wet socks.
  • Starting to eat more foods - loves green beans (sampled tonight for the first time), does not love zucchini (horrible shudders, followed by raspberries to get that horrible flavor out of the mouth), loves peaches, pears and probably any other fruit I get around to pureeing.
  • "Ligging" Room - this is where we spend lots of our time so we get to hear lots of references to this!
  • "Oak" - the best part of the poached egg
  • In a "jippy"- the way Mommy would always like you to pick up your toys, instead of dragging it out so it takes an hour
  • "Noggie" - most people call these little blankets with ribbons "taggies", but Clara decided this was a good name for JM's (who is our first baby to really like it - he seems to find it endlessly fascinating)
Gracie's future occupation
  • Event/Party Planner - If you were to spend more than a day at our house, you would come to this conclusion as well. At least several times a week we have some sort of celebration or event at our house, all orchestrated by Gracie. About a year ago, the fascination was with holding birthday parties for her various stuffed animals. She has since added more variety into her schedule. In the last few weeks we have had: a fall carnival & festival, a fall parade, Elvis's birthday party (with actual presents - even though we have no idea when her real birthday is and we usually celebrate it in April), an afternoon at Texas Hot Tubs (the restaurant that Gracie & Clara run from the kitchen in the living room), a tea party complete with water and M&Ms, a piano concert last night (she used her song book from the library and "played" and sang about six songs for us - we were warned several times about no talking), another parade, and the list could go on & on if I could remember it all! Sometimes you can get worn out with all the celebrating.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Monster Madness

Okay, in my Mimi & Pap visit post, I promised to follow up with the monster story, so here it is.

It was the day before Halloween, so we had put on a Halloween "parade" so Mimi & Pap could see the kiddos costumes (and honestly, so I could make sure I had all parts & pieces required and everything fit!) They did that & it was pretty fun and then we sat down to another good dinner (what can be better than having your mother's cooking?? Oh, and to be fair, your dad's grilling?) Then while the girls were having desert & I was gathering up the rest of our things to load into the van, I asked Pap to tell the girls about what he used to do on Halloween to scare me & my sisters.

I wasn't paying too much attention since I was trying to focus on not leaving behind one of the million "necessities" we had brought with us. I certainly didn't want to drive home without a special blankie, friend, slippers, cup, etc... So, while I thought Pap was merely telling the girls a story he must have decided the real thing in action would be better. Now, this isn't the same mask from when we were growing up (Dad says that was an ape with part of the furry chest), but of course the effect was just as good. The video doesn't really capture it all because by the time I heard the shrieks and the giggles and grabbed the camera, it was hard to capture everyone in the same room!

Anyhow, everyone had a good time. At least for the first few minutes. Clara got overwhelmed and started crying. But never fear - we convinced her to try on the mask & all was well. Gracie even overcame her fear & put the mask on herself!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy (Belated) Halloween

The Wizard of Oz Gang
The Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion & (taking the pix) Scarecrow

Trick-or-Treating was a blast for the girls this year. They are both old enough to get the concept, last long enough to make it around our 1-mile loop and actually eat the candy themselves. JM was really just along for the ride. A few people decided he needed candy, but he mostly just got a walk around the block (and boy is he getting heavy - I decided to indulge in a few treats that night after that workout!).

We headed out early this year because the girls were really looking forward to handing out candy as well as trick-or-treating. So it was light when we started out and you could barely contain the girls' excitement. Gracie was skipping around the driveway singing "we're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of oz..." We knew that kind of energy couldn't last though, so we decided to take along the jogging stroller. After we got about 1/4 of the way around, it started getting put to good use! Although pushing 80 lbs of girls isn't a lot of fun - especially when you forget to fully inflate the tires (think no turning at all!). But Mike soldiered on, faithful tin man that he was. Do you like his hat? We got lucky and had silver spray paint leftover from Gracie's trike painting. That was one of the many things we did in the two hours after he got home from MS before we went trick-or-treating.

When we got home, the girls handed out some candy and then got down to business - examining the haul. They both got an unbelievable amount of candy for the number of houses we went to! It's hard to tell here (I think half the candy is behind Clara on the chair), but they each had enough to fill up the bowl that you hand the candy out in! They've been really enjoying their candy this year. They went through it that night (well, Gracie really did) and separated it into likes, don't likes and maybes. Mike & I were the benefactors of the don't likes (Kit Kats, can you believe it???? My favorite!).

Then the next fun part of the evening started - hanging out on the porch swing waiting for trick-or-treaters. We had left one bowl of candy out while we went around the block and most of that was gone, but we still had a second bowl of goodies to give out. We got a few trick-or-treaters, but not enough to satisfy the girls! They started up a chant "we need more trick-or-treaters" and would get especially excited when a car went by, trying to wave them down for treats. Around 9:00 we finally convinced them that all the trick-or-treaters were done. And that was that for Halloween 2008. Oh, except for the constant candy eating that is going on now. So far, they are managing to get a piece in the morning, afternoon and a couple in the evening!