October 31, 2010


I have a confession...I actually don't like Halloween. I would love to say that it is because of some deep religious or moral convictions, but the (somewhat embarrassing) truth is that I don't like to be scared. When I was little I HATED trick-or-treating because the houses were decorated scary, and there was one where every year the guy hid (as part of their decorations) and jumped out at the kids who came. By 8 or 9 I was begging my parents to let me stay home. By 10 I prevailed and the terror of trick-or-treating was a thing of the past. Even now I avoid scary costumes and decorations (even in the store), and most hate the dozens of scary movie trailers on tv. Even the commercials give me nightmares.

My other confession...I'm a sucker for an opportunity to dress up. I love costumes. I even love theme parties, candy, games, carving pumpkins. I love the way a neighborhood comes together, welcoming all to their house, giving generously to those who arrive on their doorstep. I get giddy like a kid over all of the non-scary aspects of Halloween.
This is part of the reason I caved and bought some last minute carving pumpkins (they were also $1 each, and who can pass up that price)! Lucas and I held our own carving competition (which I didn't know was a competition until after mine was carved...), and the twins got to watch, play in the goop, and see their very first jack-o-lanterns (they weren't so sure about the glowing faces...).
See if you can tell who carved which pumpkin...
And then it was time for the grand finale of this particular holiday season - trick-or-treating! Our fire station was hosting a "Trunk-or-Treat" where people decorate their cars and hand candy out from the trunks. We were really excited about attending our first real community event (we were sick for the Easter Egg Hunt...). We had some time before we left and tried to get some pictures of them in costume with the pumpkins. But you know how group pictures go around here...
Turns out we should have left early. When we got to Trunk-or-Treat we found this line (the building you see on the left side in the center is where the event was hosted to give you an idea of the length of the line).
We ended up waiting roughly 1/2 hour to even get to the trunks. We had imagined milling around, meeting people in the community, talking with people at their trunks, but because of the long line we were quickly ushered around the circle of trunks while they dropped candy in our bags with barely enough time for us to say "Thank you." We might have been able to be more social in the fire station where they had donuts and cider, but there was another line... Instead, we decided to hit a few houses for trick-or-treating. Including our neighbors across the street (seen in this picture...along with a few kids from church we adopted for the evening)
The best part of the evening? Handing out candy. I think we had at least 5 times the amount of trick-or-treaters last night than we had in all of our 5 years in MA! And we apparently missed the rush! We had helpers to pass out the candy, and they did a fabulous job!

Our trick-or-treating was obviously a night early, so to all of you who are trick-or-treating on actual Halloween, have a safe, fun, and not too scary night!

October 30, 2010

Java Jungle

My triathalon friends and I started a local Moms' Group with alternating weeks of book discussion (with free childcare!) and playgroup. This week our playgroup decided to go on a trip to Java Jungle! I cannot even begin to describe to you how big and awesome this place is, but if you go to their home page you can see some pictures that do a better job! The kids had a BLAST, and were exhausted when we got home!
B saying hi from one of the observation bubbles above.
The twins spent a lot of their time in the toddler area where they were perfectly able to climb up and then go down the slides by themselves! This offered the rare opportunity to get a picture of them together!
The large "jungle" was built for adults to be able to accompany their kids through. This is awesome because only B was really old enough to go through by himself, but ALL of the kids wanted to try the giant maze of tunnels, rope ladders, bridges, slides, zipline, etc.!!
E with her Daddy.
For the most part, the big jungle was a little old for the twins. Although Ryan had mastered the rope ladders by his 3rd time through, neither twin liked them because their feet slipped through. They needed help to navigate the majority of the maze, and Allie had a meltdown her 2nd time through and wanted out immediately...while we were at the top...with no way down but going through some tunnels, across some rope, and down a slide...none of which she wanted to do!
Mommy following Allie.
Daddy checking to see if there is another way out :)
It was still an awesome place and I'm hoping we can make another trip there sometime during the l-o-n-g winter when we need to exert some serious energy!

October 29, 2010

We've Been Booed!

On Sunday we returned from church to find a plastic pumpkin on our doorstep full of all kinds of goodies. We had been Booed! While it contained all kinds of yummy goodies, the twins couldn't have most of it (partly because of allergies, partly because I don't like them to eat a lot of - or any - candy, mostly because it was full of daddy's favorites and he didn't want to share!), it also had this fun, decorative trim inside. As you can see, this provided endless entertainment and took on various forms!

Then we had 24 hours to secretly Boo a few neighbors! So much fun!

Head on over to beenbooed.com to see how you can start some similar fun in your neighborhood. Feel like it's too late? No worries, wait until December and give someone a jingle instead!


I feel like I go a little hot and cold with the blog - a week or two of nothing and then a bunch in a row. With apologies for the droughts, I also want to warn you to prepare for the next "bunch" :)
Those who have followed the blog for a while (i.e. since last year...) know that I LOVE fall and I LOVE pumpkins :) Failure to bring home pumpkins to carve/decorate is practically sacriligious (fall is almost a religious holiday for me. The sight of God's creation arrayed in vibrant colors inspires joy and praise in me like no other season). While this year's attempt was slightly less meager than last year's, until the twins are old enough to really appreciate the fun, I'm not willing to pay that much for a pumpkin picking experience at a farm. So, we found a local farmer selling their pumpkins with the honor system by the side of the road ($.50 per small pumpkin!!). Good enough for me! Unlike last year, when Allie screamed and Ryan sat contendedly in the pumpkins, this year Ryan screamed and wouldn't go near them (more the pain of his molars coming in than fear of the pumpkins), while Allie hugged each pumpkin, carefully chose her favorite, and then found a seat in their midst and refused to budge :)
No one here but us pumpkins!
The pumpkins needed to be decorated (of course!), and again I thought they were a little too young to appreciate carving (plus we were too cheap to get the $2 big ones!), so I decided we would paint again! Last year I painted their pumpkins. This year I decided to let them!
Ryan immediately got into the gooey paint.
Allie was a little more dainty.
Note the difference in mess on their respective sides...
Ryan eventually decided that it would be best to just roll the pumpkins in the paint!
Allie thought the paint would look pretty on the floor!

I thought it would be a good idea to use homemade fingerpaint for the pumpkins (because the twins inevitably taste the paint), but it turns out that the flour based fingerpaint, while gorgeous on paper, fades dramatically on a pumpkin and also refuses to stick. So we have drab, flaking pumpkins. Which is ok, because then I'll get another art session out of the pumpkins when we try again with the other paint!

October 23, 2010

The Trip that Almost Didn't Happen

We were planning a trip to spend an early weekend with Uncle Grant and Lala. We were supposed to leave Thursday morning. 8 hours before we were supposed to leave Ryan woke up vomiting - and it didn't stop before it was time to leave. So we called and cancelled. But by the afternoon Ryan had been vomit free since right after breakfast. When I worked at the nursing home, the policy was vomit-free for 24 hours and you were no longer contagious, so we called and said that if no one threw up before the next morning, we'd come for a shorter visit. The twins had one of the best nights of the recent past, and we left the next morning!
One of the biggest highlights of Uncle Grant & Aunt Lala's house is their dog Indy - a Great Dane! The twins had never before met a dog who had to stoop just to be at eye level, and they were thrilled! They loved being so close to such a big dog!
Feeding Indy their graham crackers - these pictures do not do a great job of showing her size...

Another highlight of the trip was going to the Columbus Zoo for "Boo at the Zoo." Not only were we going to see another great zoo, but it was going to be an extra opportunity for the twins to wear their costumes!
Brief tangent to talk about the costumes: I have always wanted to be one of those moms who makes their kids' costumes. I've never been especially crafty or even been able to sew, but I've wanted to have those abilities. Last year it just wasn't feasible, but this year I was determined. I decided they would be Pebbles and Bam bam (because Allie frequently rocks the 1 center ponytail look). My first challenge was figuring out how to make Pebbles and Bam Bam outfits that fit our October climate. So I decided to go with Pebbles and Bam Bam meet the Ice Age :) I sewed the pants and vests (without patterns and using my sewing machine for the first time!), made bones out of clay, glue gunned everything that needed it, even made a little hat for Ryan (that he refused to wear). Previously I would have said that their Christmas pjs were my favorite things I had ever made, but now it is most definitely these costumes! The bonus? The total cost for these costumes was less than $10 for BOTH!!! Ok, that is the end of my brief bragging tangent :)
The best pictures I could get of them together...not sure why they both have 1 leg up...
The zoo was PACKED, but we didn't wait in line long before we were in and having fun! The Columbus Zoo is a really great zoo with some fun, interactive places like the hands-on tide pool where they were able to touch some cool creatures.
The play area was a big hit, and we ended up spending a lot of time there. My favorite part was when the twins got some of the shy-er kids to go down the slide by clapping and getting everyone else to clap for them. It made me happy to see them enthusiastically encouraging others (granted, that was after they pushed them out of the way when said shy kids blocked the slide for too long...always something to work on...)
Ry-guy celebrates another successful slide :)
Another fun stop was the toddler straw maze. Ryan and Allie went through the maze with Uncle Grant and Lala.
Ryan dragging Uncle Grant through.
Allie took forever because she kept wanting to stop and touch the straw.
After the maze they took some time to play in the straw...
Ryan decided to continue throwing handfuls of straw in the air...
While Allie enjoyed Uncle Grant throwing her up so high!
Uncles are awesome.
Of all the animals we saw, the highlight happened to be our last stop: the Polar Bears. They were exceptionally active and the 2 sisters were playing with and fighting over a ball. We got to see each of them jump in the water...
it may not be obvious but this bear is mid-air!
...and they both played in the water right in front of the twins - even bouncing the ball against the window near them! They ran and jumped and stole the ball from each other. It was a blast, and a great way to end the day!
We are so glad we were still able to go and spend some time with Grant & Lala! We had so much fun! Thank you so much!

October 22, 2010

All Boy

Conversely, Ryan has, since birth, been all boy. He was born with a bottomless stomach (a trait that I hear tends to be very prevalent among the male population).
While his sister loves accessories, his favorite toy and first word (other than "mama" & "dada") is a ball. Any ball. He loves to throw balls and kick balls and is working on catching balls. He distinguishes between a football ("fball"), baseball ("b-ball"), and our myriad of beach balls (simply "ball").

While his sister loves to dance and twirl, he loves to jump, tackle, and climb. This isn't to say he doesn't enjoy dancing, he does, but his sister could dance all day, and he'd rather spend some of that time jumping on her. Occasionally she likes being tackled and tickled (as he says, "ticka-ticka!"), usually she is upset that he interrupted her dancing. This tends to be why Ryan loves the penguin (who lets him jump on him all he wasts), and why I love our friends who have children who are just enough older than Ryan to know to be careful so he doesn't get hurt, but young enough that even if something happened accidentally, they aren't strong enough to hurt him badly! It is the time he spends with these friends (especially B, who is his favorite "older" guy to hang out with), that helps him get out all of that pent up need to wrestle that is apparently innate...

We play "Ring Around the Rosey" and Allie never stops twirling, while Ryan only wants to fall down...over and over and over. In fact, he loves anything that falls down, and frequently throws things (his bowl when he's finished eating, his stuffed animals, and once mommy's computer) just to see the delightful crash...

Ryan's favorite noises to make our low and grunty. He is constantly growling, grunting, or doing this low, throaty laugh that (in all honesty) sounds like the laugh of an evil villain. Granted, he doesn't know that as he has never heard an "evil villain" laugh. He just likes it because it sounds funny!

The biggest thing that completely shocks me, though, is his sense of humor. I know people often use the term "guy" humor, but I thought it was sort of peer driven. Guys get to a certain age and suddenly find potty jokes funny. But Ryan thinks that burps and toots are the funniest thing (and I swear Lucas and I have never laughed at them), and will try to recreate the sound to keep laughing. All someone has to do is look at him and say "poo-poo. pee-pee" and he will fall over laughing. At first I thought it was the face or the funny voice Lucas made, but he tried it with other words and they didn't work! I'm so shocked by the innate attraction to such low comedy, but Lucas reassures me that it's perfectly normal. He is just All Boy!

All Girl

When the twins were in the NICU I made the comment one day that Allie was surprisingly "girlish." I had just assumed that all babies came out characteristically the same and then sort of evolve into being "boyish" or "girlish" as they get older, but every noise she made was soft and sweet while Ryan made lots of loud grunts. She loved to throw her hand up against her forehead like a damsel in distress and purse her little lips. There were so many, some indescribable, attributes that were so incredibly "girlish" - especially compared to Ryan's similar "boyish" characteristics - that I was dumbfounded. The nurse just commented to me "You would be surprised how much of that is innate." She was right.
Friends, I am not the girliest girl. My clothes are not what anyone could consider fashionable. In fact I often stick to neutrals (a.k.a. black & khaki) with a few pops of color so I don't have to worry about matching. I don't often wear accessories (I LIKE them, I just don't often have time for them), or makeup, or do my hair. I don't necessarily like shopping. I can't figure out what I would possibly do with more than 1 or 2 handbags (and have 6 or so in my closet that I try to remember to rotate through, but often forget). I do love shoes, but have never had the money to spend and so generally avoid their siren call. And this is how I can attest to the fact that my daughter has not had a particularly fashionable or accessory laden example to emulate.
This said, my daughter has an intense love of all things accessory. The first thing she does in the morning is find shoes to wear (usually her rain boots or her new boot-like slippers since her few other pairs are kept in the mudroom). She is convinced that just about everything can be turned into a hat, and (in fact) her very first sentence was "isa hat!" Mixing bowls, building blocks, felt shapes, and even her almost empty oatmeal bowl all become hats on a daily basis. And bracelets are the new thing. The links that were once purely practical, and primarily used for me to attach toys, snack traps, or sippy cups to the stroller are now purely ornamental as they make perfect bracelets. Daily she brings me headbands and bows to put in her hair. She will choose shoes over toys in a heartbeat, carrying them around and hugging them. Necklaces, scarves, even stickers ornament my daughter daily.
"But," as the Cat in the Hat would say "That is not all, oh, no! That is not all..." She loves to dance
and twirl - often on dainty tiptoes. She loves to sing in a soft, high voice. Her sounds of excitement are squeals and trills. She is drawn to all things sparkly, and the other day she got so excited when she saw a picture of Tinkerbell and some other fairies (although, as far as I know, she had never seen a picture of Tinkerbell, or any fairy, before). I certainly wasn't keeping her from these things, I just didn't think she would have an interest quite yet, but now I'm wondering if I should be suggesting princess dresses and play jewelry for her for Christmas... She is, most definitely, ALL girl!
I must confess that her love for accessories has made me want to wear them more often, and she certainly has begun to influence my daily appearance...slightly...and for the better. But, I'm not sure that I will ever be able to keep up with her intense love for accessories. I think we may be calling on auntie Min for backup in the future :)