Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Prepping

I have the sneaking suspicion that this Halloween is going to be TOTALLY EPIC!!!! (In the words of Michaelangelo, a good friend of Niall's).  It didn't dawn on me until a week ago, but once the brilliant idea popped into my head, I knew it had to be lived...

This, my friends, is the making of a family of ninja turtles.  Not one, not 2, but all of us will be rockin' the turtle shells together this year.  It only makes sense, since we are a family of 4 (and since I secretly really wanted to dress up as something this year).

I made the shells out of roaster pans from the dollar store and used green spray paint to turn them into the real deal.  Then, I used felt and black puffy paint to do the front shell.  The brown ribbon is for tying around the elbows and knees as the shin/elbow guards, and colored ribbon for the "mask" of each of the characters.

Niall designated each of us the turtle of his liking-- Matt is Donatello, I am Raphael, He is Michaelangelo, and Brendan is Leonardo-- which is very fitting because Leo is the leader of the group and B is definitely running the show around here these days.

If there's one thing I've learned about toddlers and Halloween-- well, let's make it 2 things--

a) kids under 3 may decide that they would rather die than get into a costume and the more you try to force the issue, the more likely it is that the kid will never ever get in that costume.

b) kids over 3 generally do want to get in their costume, but they will desperately try to change their mind about what they want to be at the last minute-- after you've already bought what they asked for 2 weeks ago.

I'm choosing to ignore Niall when he tells people that he is now going to be a dinosaur and then looks at me like maybe I will just go with the flow and magically turn his costume into a dinosaur.  I just smile, say "oh that sounds like a great one for next year", and change the subject.  Should be interesting on Halloween day.

This was the first year that Niall got really into decorating, so that was fun.

He loved helping with the spider webs...

And I have to say, when those little spiders fall out of the webs and you see them dangling in the walkway, it really does get me every time.

I'm pretty excited that we didn't rip out these massive overgrown bushes yet, though... turns out they are actually great for the whole Halloween effect.  I thought the bottom of the stairs turned out pretty good ...

...but then I got lazy--

This one was probably not my best parenting choice for decorating a house of less than 4 yr old children, but it had to be done for the sake of all other children wanting a good scare...

And this pumpkin?


Not my best work by any means, but that's what happens when your husband says he is going to carve the pumpkin with the kids and then abandons ship to watch the Redskins game.

Niall did help with carving the pumpkin, so he proved to be more useful than his dad in that department (and by helping, I mean that I begged him to put down the carving utensils that I wasn't using and he continually responded that he knew how to be "gentle with knives").

I will post pix of the real day to see how the costumes actually turn out.  I wouldn't get my hopes up, but hopefully they will slightly resemble turtles in the end.  Happy Early Halloween!

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Festival

For me, it just doesn't get any better than capturing the perfect screaming baby photo... at the peak of the meltdown... when you also get lucky enough to capture the whole story of why the kid is so upset.  The look of utter terror on his face (literally...pun definitely intended) was just priceless.

He warmed up to that sweet old cow eventually... well, not really, but we tried.

Aside from that minor hiccup, we had a blast at the fall festival.  I think one of my favorite things about being a stay-at-home mom is that I can do this kind of stuff on a Tuesday and avoid the apocalypse that I'm sure this place would be on a Saturday or Sunday.

So we enjoyed all of the hayrides, slides, tractors, corn mazes, goat feeding, muddy pig watching and chugging cider out of barrels that we wanted-- without any lines whatsoever.

Feeding the goats was probably pretty close to the top of their favorite things list from that day.

There's something about holding an ice cream cone full of goat feed and then being locked in a pen with 50 animals sporting horns on their heads that just freaks me out a little.  When they all started creeping in on me with that incessant "mehhh-ing", I just let my kids take the lead and kept a comfortable distance.  You're on your own boys; my motherly protective instinct is dwindling these days ;)

... As demonstrated by my 1 1/2 yr old flying down the mile long slide by himself.

I tested the waters first and determined that there was a good chance he would still be alive when he got to the bottom...

It took Niall a few back and forth trips to get rid of those initial jitters.  He would trek to the top, stand there for a minute looking down at the bottom, and then turn around and run back down the hill.  This went on 5 or 6 times before he finally built up the nerve to do it.  But once he did, he was completely addicted.

And for the day to end with these 2 making room for each other to share the one-seater tractor-- and actually smiling while they did it-- means that the day was a total success.  We will be back next year :)

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Friday, October 11, 2013

The First Day

It's been about a month now since Niall started "school" and I can't say that much has changed, aside from me having to get it together a lot earlier than I usually would.

I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting-- I had a little feeling that I wouldn't be too emotional since it's only 3 days a week for 2 1/2 hours;  I also had a feeling that Niall would like it, which he does; and I knew that it would be nice to have a little alone time with Brendan (who has never experienced alone time with me the way that Niall got to).

I was also confident that a stop at the Donut Shop to remedy those first day jitters could never be a bad idea, which is exactly what we did.

What I wasn't expecting was this:

For all of the fighting, not sharing, "he knocked over my tower!!", pushing, screaming and crying about how unfairly each had been treated by the other... these 2 were like bosom buddies on that first day of school, and definitely did not want to part.  It was pretty heart-melting.

And for anyone wondering-- no, that is not a red ribbon tied around Niall's head... it's a Rafael ninja turtle mask.  Just in case you were confused ;)


This one thought that if he blended in, or at least seemed eager enough to learn, that he might be able to stay:

And he was definitely not happy when the playground was locked up on our way out.  The whole day just seemed a little unfair to him-- what gives?? ;)

But now we have gotten into the routine and Brendan kind of knows what's coming.  He likes to hop up onto the stool when we come in to wash his hands just like his big bro, and then helps Niall with his backpack when it's time to go home.   They still typically give each other a hug good-bye in the morning, or at least a little wave, and are happy to see each other again at the end of the day.

They are a team, these two.  And I'm glad to know that one day in the not so distant future, if anybody crosses one of my guys, they will have to answer to the other!

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Blogger Guilt

One of Matt's best friends got married this past weekend and we were lucky enough to find an overnight babysitter (shout-out to one amazing friend and godmother who has a lot more ambition and energy than someone watching 2 small children for 24 hours should). It was really the perfect day-- great weather, great location, everything so beautiful... and while I was sitting there trying to admire all of it and soak everything in, do you know what I couldn't stop thinking about?  How I hadn't blogged in over a month.

I was trying to figure out why it was bothering me so much-- since I am no paid blogger by any means, and I'm pretty sure my audience consists of maybe 20 of my immediate family and friends.  Really, who am I letting down by taking a break from this?  Oh, right, it must be my annoying self.  I'm not sure if it's something where I'm trying to prove to myself that I can contribute to society or just the good old Catholic guilt.  But either way, it's there.

And, to be honest, I'm kind of glad that it is.  When I used to have time to read other blogs, I would often see people writing that if the blogging thing ever became stressful or not fun anymore, they would quit in a heartbeat; that it was simply for their enjoyment.  If that were the case for me, I would have stopped years ago.  But deep down, I like the challenging parts of blogging.  I am constantly facing writer's block, constantly wishing that I had taken a better photo, or had explained the story a little differently.  But even when it's the last thing in the world that I feel like doing, I know that eventually I will figure out something to put up here that I will be grateful to look back and read one day when I can't remember any of this.

The last month, I will admit, writing was the last thing that I wanted to do.  Sometimes it was because I was going through a hard time, others it was because I was having fun and trying to really enjoy the moment. There have been a lot of times when I've ruined a great moment by running away to grab my camera and forcing my kids to try to re-do whatever it is they were doing... so now I'm trying to learn to embrace those moments, knowing that a picture inside my head is the only proof I will ever have that it happened.

But for those moments when I was a paparazzi mom (assuming that anyone is still out there reading this), here's what you missed for the last 45 days or so...

We picked apples.

We ate picnic dinners in the garden park when Matt had to work late.


 We soaked up what was left of the summer.

We hung out.

 We hid out.

We watched airplanes fly over our house (with popsicle juice dripping down our shirts).

We sat in a Tires Plus for 3 hours after our car almost blew up on the side of the road (with no source of entertainment except for this giant balloon).

...and then found out after 3 hours that they weren't able to fix the problem.

We had our only hope of a smidge of exercise stolen right out of our yard.

Ahh, we had some good memories in this stroller.  On the bright side, I joined a gym.  I justify it by telling myself that I didn't spend money on another stroller. So all's well that ends well, I guess.

But mostly, we stopped and smelled the roses (or whatever these things are).  And that is probably my favorite thing to do these days :)

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