Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Life is good. This weekend went nothing like we had planned, but it was pretty perfect. God knew we needed a quiet weekend, and He sent rain and cold to keep us inside and cancel the Fall Festival and Boo at the Zoo. The kids didn't even fuss; I think everyone was ready for some quiet family time.

We cleaned Issa's hutch, did manicures, hung out in jammies and ate comfort food. It was glorious. We also carved pumpkins--something we take very seriously at our house.
Issa dove right in this year, even though those pumpkin guts were freezing! Evan was not so sure:

Look at that horrible face! You have to do one scoop if you want to snack on roasted seeds--house rules. He did his one scoop and then found alternate pursuits:

There was much sketching between the pumpkin artists:

And then the carving:

Evan decided to join back in for the carving once the guts were safely stashed:

And the final products:

The Bad Guy and the Angel! These might be the best pumpkins yet!

Today is shaping up to be another banner day! Evan is at school enjoying his all day Halloween party, and Issa has a day off. She and I are headed out to do a little shopping, a little lunching, and a little crafting. Tonight, we will have the traditional pre-trick-or-treat potato cheddar chowder and post hot cocoa. a little icing on the cake, my revise and resubmit was accepted this morning. Yes, my friends, life is good.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How Apropos

Last night was Halloween costume night at ballet. Meet Angelina Ballerina:
Issa really wanted the boys to come see everyone in costume, and she was thoughtful enough to insist Evan got to dress up, too:

"Choo choo! All Aboard!" He will only answer to Thomas when he's in costume.

They had a blast last night! Everyone was in costume--including Miss Paula. She was the wicked witch from Snow White. We didn't get a class picture this year because the class was more interested in dancing with their glow in the dark bracelets, but I did snap one of Angelina and Cowgirl Shelby:

Love those smiles!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This is Real

Because my sister rocks, she sent me some of her pictures from this weekend. She is a far better photographer than I am, and look at these shots:
I thought bubbles like that could only happen in the movies. Apparently you just need the right bubble bath and jets.

That is one happy girl.

Look at that boy! It was more fun than he could handle.

Mr. Independent wanted to cut his own shrimp:

He looks like such a little man.

And proof we really did see dolphins:

That is a phenomenal shot!

Can you tell I'm still a little excited about last weekend? Thanks again, Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Take Two Was a Success!

Last week, Issa's class got less than a half mile from the pumpkin patch before we had to turn around because of rain. Yesterday, we were able to spend a fabulous morning at the pumpkin patch:
They were a very sweet group, and we truly had a great time.

Our morning started in the pumpkin patch where each child picked a pumpkin:

Issa was able to pick one for her brother, too, since I was a chaperone.

Then we all piled into a hay ride to the magic bubble forest:

We had to venture through a maze to find the forest:
Once we found the forest, we stopped several times to hear pieces of the story of how magic bubbles brought the first pumpkin seeds:

At each stop, bubbles poured down from he sky. The kids loved all the bubbles!

Then we learned how to stuff a scarecrow. Issa was one of the models:

But this was the highlight for everyone in my car:

That is a chicken flying. This man taught us all about chickens, and the kids got to pet the chicken before it demonstrated its flight. For some reason, a flying chicken is hysterical!

We also learned about and petted miniature horses, roosters, goats, and this calf:

It really was a great morning, and all of the kids were so well-behaved. It was fun to spend some time with Issa's new friends and laugh with them.

This is what I came home to:

How sweet is that? Evan's allergies flared Monday, and he looked so tired yesterday morning. He convinced Daddy he really needed to stay home, and I don't think Daddy minded the extra snuggle time, either.

To be honest, I came home and took a nap, too! It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and all the fresh air and herding small children wore me out. But after school, I caught a second wind and the kids decorated their pumpkins:

I'll save the big reveal until we carve this weekend. Needless to say, they are interesting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Every once in a while, Brad and I really pull something off. Yesterday was one of those times!

It was Brad's birthday, but he was a conference in Florida. We have known about this one for a long time, and we knew he was going to be gone Friday until Wednesday. But...last Thursday he found out he was going to be able to come home on his birthday instead. We decided not to tell the kids.

On their own, the kids decided we should decorate the house. Just because Daddy wasn't here didn't mean we shouldn't celebrate. So...we decorated:
Issa did this all by herself:

Look at those proud faces:

Evan was very proud of this idea:

Then the magic happened. About seven o'clock, look who walked through the door unannounced:

We had some super happy kids! Evan declared Daddy, "neaky."

They had also picked out their own gift:

Yep...that's beef jerky.

And I had one more surprise; I had tucked away a pumpkin pie I made earlier in the day:

To end the evening, Issa read us a story:

She read the whole story. I'd say that was a very happy day all around.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Baltimore...also known as a blissful weekend

You might want to grab a cup of coffee; this is a long one. The kids and I had the most perfect weekend in Baltimore visiting Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff. The only way to do it justice is just start at the beginning.

I picked the kids up Friday afternoon, and we headed straight to the airport. We had been talking all week about how we were going to do this since Daddy was at a conference, and they knew the plan. They actually told me the whole thing. We pulled in the parking garage, and no one moved until I had everything unloaded. Evan rode in the front of the double stroller, his carseat rode in Issa's seat, Issa walked, and I pushed the stroller and pulled the suitcase.

This is where it gets amazing. I had been praying for a smooth trip because I was more than a little nervous about flying alone with two small children. Not only did God answer that prayer, but He also did it in a huge way! To my dismay, they are redoing the airport, so we had to walk outside a lot longer and then cross three one-way roads. There was a group of businessmen in front of us, and they generously (along with numerous others) offered to carry something for me. I thanked them, but we were alright. When we came to the first road, I was telling Issa how we were going to cross, when one of them looked back and said, "We've got this." Those strangers made a single file line and walked--at Issa speed--between my kids and oncoming traffic for all three roads. When we got inside, they insisted we go first so they could follow us through security in case I needed extra hands.

There's more: when we got to the ticket counter, my suitcase was a couple of pounds over. When I offered to take Issa's booster out and check it separately, the lady said absolutely not--close enough. (That never happens!) When we got to security, I started to fold the stroller, and TSA told me not to bother and took it through the special gate. When we got to our gate, we sat beside a group of grandmas headed to Batimore for a girls' weekend who were thrilled to talk with Issa and Evan and celebrate every plane that we saw as much as Evan did. I didn't know that gate-checked strollers need a printed tag, and the Southwest gate agent noticed I didn't have one. Instead of telling me to go get one, she came over and took care of it for me. When it came time to board, we were allowed to board even earlier than expected, the plane landed early, we were at the closest gate, and our luggage arrived just as we walked into baggage claim. And...the kids' drinks came with lids on the plane. I will never fly anything besides Southwest again. Every person we interacted with went above and beyond.

All the while, Issa and Evan were perfect travelers. Not a single fuss or whine or why. When we arrived, I was so relaxed and so proud. I would take them anywhere. If that's not an answered prayer, I don't know what is.

Uncle Jeff and Aunt Shannon came and picked us up at the airport, and we headed back to their place. They had pizza crusts waiting, along with a beautiful view of the harbor. The kids actually fell asleep watching the lights on the boats while we adults talked.

We got up Saturday morning and headed out to the aquarium. Issa loved learning about all the sea creatures:
I really think she liked playing with the touch screen, but she did learn a lot.

Evan wanted to be sure I put this on the "bog":

He's a zebra shark and Evan's favorite.

The tanks were just amazing, with some of the biggest fish I've ever seen:

I love this picture:

Thanks for taking us to the aquarium! These two deserve a medal. They did more lifting to see fish and bouncing from tank to tank all to make the day perfect for my kiddos--love them.

Poor Uncle Jeff. He must have lifted Evan up and helped him jump down a million times.

All with a smile on is face. And look at that smile on Evan's face!

We got to see the divers feed the sting rays:

They are volunteer divers, and they are amazing! They really interacted with Issa and made her a part of the feeding, even if she was on the other side of glass.

The crowning glory was the dolphin show:

We headed out to lunch and then back to put Evan down for a nap before we girls headed out for some dress shopping! We may have found the dress, and Issa got to try on dresses, too. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share that with my sister. It's one of those moments I will never forget.

We headed back for an amazing Italian dinner, followed by cupcakes and more boat watching.

Sunday morning, we enjoyed a lazy morning playing. The kids took a bubble bath that can only be described as astounding. The bubbles were inches above the top of the tub, and we had to put them in the shower to get the bubbles off after the bath.

Then, we headed out to feed the ducks:

You can't see it in this picture, but there were a ton of ducks and pigeons. The kids loved feeding them, and I am almost breathing again. I just knew one of them was going in that canal.

And I will be forever grateful for the kind stranger who offered to snap this for us:

We ended our trip with tacos, a trip to the candy store, and a mad dash to the airport. (Imagine me literally running through the airport pushing the double stroller with both kids inside clinging to their stuffed animals for dear life. We literally walked right on the plane, but we made it!)

It truly was a perfect weekend. It was such a quick trip, but we were able to make so many, many memories. And I am such a proud mama. I could not have asked for better travelers. They were patient, minded their manners, and rolled with the punches...and I love them so very much.

Thank you, Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff. We love you.

Friday, October 21, 2011


This has been one of those weeks that has been full of randomness, so I thought I would share.

1. We had Issa's parent observation night yesterday for ballet. It's amazing to see how much she has learned since last year. This class is more than a small step up, and I can't wait to see the recital!

2. Best Daddy Ever:
3. The best daddy ever is building me bookshelves--complete with a window seat:

4. Bubbles rock:

5. We did our boo-ing last night! The kids were so thoughtful about what they put in their buckets, and Issa delivered one all by herself. I helped with the other, and I almost bit it running down the very steep driveway trying not to get caught. I could never be a criminal; I am way too clumsy.

6. Evan likes to pretend he's the bad guy:

That's his bad guy face. He's tough...and scary...and really funny.

7. Issa spilled her entire class of juice on herself after she was ready for school. Dress...leggings...socks...all drenched. It required a wardrobe change. The world almost ended. The world was saved by a most unusual outfit consisting of her first day of school dress, purple leggings, and a cream chunky sweater. She was happy and warm; that's all that matters.

8. I am writing this from my office because I had to meet a student early and I have a department meeting in a little bit. My office is freezing. I should be grading, but the temperature would greatly affect the outcome of those grades because it is making me grumpy.

9. I submitted my revise and resubmit this week! And...I only yelled at the editors a few more times. Now we wait. The waiting is no fun.

10. How is that for random? That is all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We've been Boo-ed!

Last night, the doorbell rang and we were boo-ed! The phantom had left us a basket full of goodies, and we had two very excited kiddos:

Boo-ed is a neighborhood tradition. I have no idea who starts it, but around Halloween time it begins. The doorbell rings, treats are left, you hang the sign, and then you deliver two baskets to two neighbors. It is big fun! Issa has already decided who we are delivering to tonight, and giving is more exciting than receiving. Why is ringing a doorbell and running so fun?

This year, being boo-ed was a wondrous thing. Poor Issa had a rough morning. We were supposed to go on a field trip to the pumpkin patch, and the only thing worse than a cancelled field trip is a cancelled field trip when you are only a half mile from your destination. It started pouring shortly after we left the school, and the pumpkin patch in the rain is no fun. I had four sad little people in my van, and Issa was still pretty sad last night. Being boo-ed certainly lifted her spirits.

Although I may occasionally mutter about the HOA and the trials of suburbia, I am so incredibly grateful my kids are growing up in this neighborhood. I love the traditions, and I know this is one of those little things they will always remember. Boo!