Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Recap

Getting into the spirit of Halloween, thanks to some "goodies" from my sweet neighbor, Michelle.

Mrs. Borgmann, Headmaster at Caleb's school, kicks off the school Halloween parade in style.

Caleb gears up for his school Halloween parade.

Caleb and pal, Gus, enjoy the school party.

Counting down to Trick or Treat.

Emma shares her Halloween map with Caleb and friends.

Caleb, Emma, and friends enter into a huddle/pep talk seconds before trick or treating.

Cooper and pal, Annika, strike a menacing pose.

The neighborhood kiddos pause for photos before they dash door to door.

It's become a tradition. Every Halloween, the neighborhood kids congregate at the same location for the annual Halloween parade. Kids and parents alike collectively march down the block. The intent is for the parade to be a slow promenade, but it rapidly transforms into a dash. (Who knew Caleb could move so fast when motivated by candy?) Once they arrive at the stop sign, the kids know to pause and humor mom and dad with a few photos. But, the minute the last camera flashes, the group disperses and it because every man for himself when candy's involved.

This year, we let Caleb trick or treat alone with a friend. At the parade, he met up with Emma, his seven-year-old friend. Emma clutched a homemade map of the neighborhood. She held it up, and explained to Caleb and others that it plotted the way to hit every single house in the neighborhood by 7 p.m. Caleb's interest piqued. He listened to her presentation and invited himself along, hoping to reap the benefits of Emma's well-thought out plans. Just for good measure, minutes before the parade, Emma and Caleb gathered neighborhood kids into a huddle. Standing shoulder to shoulder, Emma offered a pep talk and loads of encouragement to her friends. The kids placed their hands in the center and shouted on cue, "Halloween." With that, the parade began.

A little before 7, Caleb strolled into the house, lugging a plastic bag loaded with goodies. He declared their Halloween mission a success, insisting they visited practically every house in the neighborhood. He even recounted which houses (by number, thanks to Emma's map) distributed the best candy. Yes, some houses actually give out king-size candy bars! Caleb was delighted and delirious at the same time.

The other boys made out well too. Connor spent much of his time trick or treating with school friends and their parents. He enjoyed the camaraderie as much as the candy. Cooper treated the evening more as a sport, than a holiday. He spent much of the night dashing between houses with Chris trailing behind. Collin didn't adore the holiday, and much preferred passing out candy with me from the comforts of a warm home.

By 8, we ushered the boys to bed, patting them down to ensure no contraband candy landed in their beds. They went to bed happy, and full.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fantastic Fifth Birthday

Our weekend was full, but with the good stuff, like...

carving pumpkins with Dad, and...

watching Connor play in his first basketball game of the season, and...

enjoying Caleb's fall break with a trip to the Fort Wayne Children's Museum.

But, the best part was....

celebrating Cooper's 5th Birthday.

He opened presents with breakfast.

Then invited a few school and neighbor friends over for a dinosaur birthday party.

They decorated gift bags and..

played dinosaur balloon stomp, then...

walked like dinosaurs in handmade dinosaur feet, while carrying an egg on a spoon.

Finally, Cooper and friends feasted on dinosaur birthday cake.

Cooper insisted on inviting his babysitter, Trisha. He calls her his "big friend" and seems a bit in awe of her teenage status. She was sweet enough to come!

Cooper was heartbroken that his good neighborhood pal, Annika, was not able to attend his party. So, she (and her family) came over for a celebratory pizza birthday dinner. Cooper was so happy to see her.

We're so blessed to have five years with Cooper. He radiates joy with his contagious smiles. He awes us with his sense of adventure. He's sweet spirit melts our heart. Happy Birthday sweet boy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Back to School

Three grandparents attended Grandparent Day at Caleb's school. (My mom wasn't able to attend as my brother had already booked her for his own babysitting needs...bummer!) The proud grandparents beamed as Caleb performed on stage. Then, the group wandered around the school and engaged in such fun activities as making puzzles and answering trivia questions. Caleb seemed pleased that his grandparents spent the morning with him.

We're thankful for each grandparent taking the time to attend. For the Woods, it required time off work and a drive of two plus hours. My Dad also had a commute during morning rush hour traffic. We appreciate all their efforts!

Today, I served as Mystery Reader in Connor's class. I positioned myself in a rocker, clutching a picture book. A slew of first graders huddled around the chair, Connor among them. The book was silly, and I hammed up the nutty parts. My first grade audience exploded in giggles making me feel like the Jay Leno of the classroom.

When the last page was read, Connor's teacher opened up the class for questions..of me. I think the same question was asked about 20 times, "What do you like to do?" Fortunately, I came up with about 20 different answers, my favorite being: spending time with Connor. Upon hearing those words, he beamed.

After reading came lunch. I followed him into the school cafeteria. We plunked down our lunches at an empty table, and slid into our seats. Pretty soon, a team of first graders accompanied us.

The conversation was silly, and age appropriate. I was the most tickled about their discussion of "Say No to Drugs Week." Today, the students could support the cause by wearing caps. One little girl told me, "I can wear a Hello Kitty cap because kitties don't do drugs." I couldn't suppress my smile.

At the end of lunch, Connor was selected as clean up helper. With much enthusiasm, he snagged a wet sponge and doused the tables. I stood there speechless, and wondering why he didn't exhibit that same level of eagerness with household chores.

We said our farewells after lunch. Connor pulled me into a bear hug and planted a kiss on my cheek. I smiled, grateful for the memories.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Karaoke Machine

Cooper still enjoying new beloved hand-me-downs from our tween neighbor.

Connor had his very first sleepover with his friend, Ethan.

The boys spent Connor's last day of fall break frolicking around a playground in 70 degree weather!

Karaoke Machine: Day Two

The moment the boys awoke, they made a beeline for the karaoke machine. Before I had a chance to snatch the microphone, Cooper was belted out tunes at a volume only appropriate for a crowded nightclub. My poor husband, slumbering away upstairs, awoke with quite a jolt. I snagged the microphone and explained to the boys the karaoke machine's appropriate hours, in the least after breakfast. Forlornly, they separated but not without a great deal of protests.

As the day progressed, I allowed them back on the machine. The boys soon discovered echo mode and realized it would be "super fun" to say all those taboo terms/phrases into the microphone. With the added volume and cool sound effects, saying things like "stinky head" and "fluffer head" seemed so much funnier to the boys. To me, it sounded much like nails sliding down a chalkboard.

They also discovered, they could utter their demands/wants of their mother into the microphone, and I'd hear it anywhere around the house. They quickly concluded the karaoke machine was much more effective in getting my attention than simply shouting it out, or maybe even ringing a bell. Throughout the day, I would be peacefully be performing some form of housework around the house, when I'd hear things like, "Mom, where's my snack? " or "When's dinner?" At the volume the words were disseminated, it almost sounded like the voice of God booming through the rafters. But then I realized, it was merely the karaoke machine..again.

I finally concluded as owners of the karaoke machine, additional rules would have to be set on the content disseminated from the machine (via the boys). We established the house rules for speech and actions applied with or without a microphone. Enough said.

As much as I initially loathed the karaoke machine, I'm developed a warmth for our new electronic addition. Watching the boys playing with one another and giggling uncontrollably makes me smile. Perhaps I can live with the noise as long as the laughter comes with it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall Break Fun

The weather hovered in the 60s today, swimsuit season for the Wood boys. The two middle boys easily shed more season appropriate attire for barely there swim trunks. Then, they dug into the pool toys and pulled out the garden hose. It was a party, and they enjoyed every minute of it.

I watched the spectacle from the kitchen, pondering whether I should insist they pull on more practical garments. My physician husband pushed my concerns aside and advised me to let "boys be boys." And so, they continued to frolic.

Just as the outdoor play peaked, my generous neighbor, Michelle, approached the boys clutching loaded trash bags. She placed the bags on our deck, and let the boys peruse the contents. They squealed with delight when they discovered the bags were packed with toys donated by Michelle's rapidly growing son.

To the boys, it was as if St. Nicholas himself had descended on our house, and they treated the rest of the day like Christmas morning. They were having so much fun, I barely heard a peep out of them the rest of the afternoon. That is, until the karaoke machine was unearthed.

Among the cars and games nestled a karaoke machine. Cooper was in love. He soon realized by using the microphone, his voice got EVEN LOUDER. Genius, he thought. He clutched the microphone and belted out "We will Rock You" and "Break Your Heart." He'd alternate between solo performances and duets (Chris being his most frequent vocal partner). As deafening the sound, I couldn't help but giggle. Cooper threw so much gusto into his performances, pairing his vocal talents with some shimmies, wiggles, and twists. A star was born, at least in his mind.

The boys ended the day happy, and Cooper had a twinkle in his eye that wouldn't go away.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Muncie Children's Museum

The boys selected another fall break excursion. Today, we headed to Muncie and hit the Muncie Children's Museum. The boys really loved the museum, but specifically the Garfield exhibit (Jim Davis was a Ball State grad after all).

On the way back from Muncie, I noticed Cooper tugging on his ear. Then, he began to whimper. Soon, the truth came tumbling out of the backseat (with all the brothers providing additional information). Cooper stuck a pebble in his ear that became lodged within the ear canal.

We drove immediately to the ER where Chris plopped him on the gurney and handed him a sucker. Just as Chris pulled out a long metal instrument and moved towards the gurney, Cooper was able to wiggle the pebble free.

As we left the room, I told the nurses Cooper could turn into an ER regular. They laughed, but I didn't.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Beginning of Fall Break

It's fall break for Connor. We're planning to make it a staycation, filling our days with dear friends and local fun.

Last night, we headed over to our friends, the Maxwells, to enjoy a pizza dinner topped off with s'mores for dessert. In between bites, the boys had a ball jumping on a bounce house rented by the Maxwells (the Dads even got in on the fun).

We finished the evening with the kids nestled on the couches watching a movie. The adults snuggled under blankets, huddled around their outdoor fireplace. We enjoyed spending the evening catching up with such dear friends.

Day two of fall break was spent with our friends, the Brinkruffs. We attended Mia Brinkruff's first birthday party. The boys adored running around with the other kids, and I loved catching up with Claudia. It was fun watching Mia daintily graze on our birthday cake (no huge fistfuls for Mia, just ladylike bites). After cake, I squeezed in a few hugs and snuggles with my little friend, Mia.

Where I found Cooper.

After the party, the boys and I stopped by Fort Harrison State Park. The glorious weather and multicolored foliage provided an excellent backdrop for lots of outdoor play.

The boys ended the day tired, but happy.

More to come....