October 31, 2013


Coming up with costumes was a bit of a challenge this year.  In past years, I simply picked for them.  This year, they had opinions.  Too many, actually.  My mom, with the best intentions, sent them the Wishcraft catalog.  I am not exaggerating when I say that hours were spent pouring over this catalog and dreaming about various costumes.
 Months and months ago, Ryan told me he wanted to be Buzz Lightyear for Halloween.  He actually has never seen the movie (he saw a clip - the part with the creepy kid - and was so freaked out that he refused to watch the movie), but he has always loved Buzz.  Months ago, he decided he wanted to be Buzz for Halloween.  He was so certain that, even though it was May and Halloween was far away, I checked with a friend whose son had been Buzz the year before to see if she had his costume and would be willing to sell...just in case he didn't change his mind over the next 6 months.  In the end, he didn't!  While he considered a few other costumes, his desire to be Buzz was too strong.  While store-bought costumes drive me insane (you pay so much money for the most cheaply made costume you could imagine), I knew I couldn't make a decent Buzz in the amount of time we had left...so we bought a Buzz.  He hung up the costume in his room like a decoration.  He hugged it every day.  And when he put it on he was beyond happy.  Totally worth it.
 Allie had much more trouble deciding.  Every day, she wanted something different.  One day she wanted to be a butterfly, the next Princess Ariel, the next a fairy, the next a bat.  Sometimes, within minutes she would announce 3 different things she was going to be for Halloween.  There were too many options and she wanted to be them all!  Finally, 2 weeks before Halloween, I told her she had to decide. She had to pick 1 costume and that would be it.  Other ideas could be saved for next year.  She thought about it all day and finally settled on an Octopus.  I looked online for a costume to buy, but they were all really expensive, and not even that great.  So I looked for a DIY costume and found this.  Hers is more monochromatic (and definitely looks more like an octopus), but she spent a lot more on it.  I found a hoodie and 4 pairs of women's knee high socks that all matched and ran with it.  Personally, I love the pink polka dot and stripe octopus :)  And so does Allie!  
 Last year, we got to be with Nana.  This year, it didn't work out, so we planned on trick-or-treating around our lake.  One thing I always do is plan for our costumes to work in the cold.  We live in Michigan, and it isn't out of the realm of possibility to have snow on Halloween.  These costumes were all set for a full outfit underneath.  Unfortunately, it didn't snow.  It rained.  I suddenly found myself hitting up the stores for clear rain ponchos, and convincing them that their costumes would look best with rain boots...I was worried our trick-or-treating wasn't going to work out.
 We started at the trunk-or-treat at the Fire Station (which had been moved indoors).  By the time we left there the twins had more candy than they needed (as well as popcorn that they snacked on throughout the night - which was fabulous because then they were too full for much candy by the end).  We went to a few houses of church people, friends, and neighbors, but didn't actually do much traditional trick-or-treating.  Actually, we spent a fair amount of time at each house talking with our friends - so much that even though we only went to 6 houses we were out for well over and hour!
My happy Octopus.
 When we got home, we let them eat a few pieces of candy while we skyped with the grandparents (Nebraska Grandpa and Grandma and Little Grandma, they wanted to skype with you as well, but it was getting way too late.  However, they were thinking of you!).  Despite the rain, they considered the night a HUGE success :)
To infinity and beyond!
While I was a little sad that this was the first year they didn't have costumes that went together, I loved seeing their individual creativity, imagination, and personality come into play.  Allie was thrilled that her costume was homemade, that she would be able to wear the clothes later, and that she got to dress up as a sea creature (she's obsessed with all marine life).  Ryan loved buying a perfect costume, becoming one of his favorite characters, and impersonating Buzz all night long.  So much fun.
We love our costumes.
They were a little sad this morning that Halloween is over.  They couldn't believe there were no more parties or places to wear their costumes.  They couldn't believe there was only 1 night of trick-or-treating.  They didn't want all of the costume fun to end.  But tonight we break out the Thankful Tree fun, and hopefully looking forward to Thanksgiving will make up for the fact that Halloween is over!

October 28, 2013

Catching Up

Of course, there will be at least 1 Halloween/costume post...so I wanted to do a quick catch up before then.

In preschool they have "Practical Living" lessons each week.  Thus far, they have all been cleaning.  The twins have been excited to try their new skills out at home, so one Saturday morning, I set them loose.  I could barely keep up (I was trying to pick up the rooms ahead of them).  We've started to make it a weekly tradition.  My house has never been so clean!

 We attended cousin D's birthday party.  I forgot to charge my camera battery, so I only got a few pictures before it died (wah-wah).

 We carved our pumpkins!  A favorite activity every year.
Ryan was NOT a fan of getting out the goop.
 Allie loved it.
 Ryan ended up enlisting Daddy to get the goop out for him.
 The kids had grand ideas for their pumpkins this year.  Allie wanted an owl and a bat.  Ryan wanted a really silly face.  Lucas and my pumpkin carving skills were definitely pushed to the limit!

 While waiting, Allie played "mad scientist" with the goop.
 The girls' Owl & Bat pumpkin.

The boys' Silly Face

And we are literally, as I type, getting ready for the first of our Halloween festivities.  The twins are so excited about their costumes, and their enthusiasm is contagious!

October 19, 2013

Field Trips

Oh, dear.  I've been really bad about keeping up.  I am fairly confident that about the time we adjust to our new crazy schedule, the semester will be over and it will change (theoretically, it will be less crazy...).  Here are the pictures from our week of field trips...at the end of September!

Our first was our annual Moms Group trip to see the cows.  Always a favorite.
Petting the baby cows.  These were less than a week old!
 A new highlight this year was catching them cleaning out some of the pens.  They moved all the cows over to the other side of the barn, and then used a Bobcat to scoop and dump all of the (pardon my french) poop.  The boys all thought it was awesome.
This picture was my favorite.  Notice Ryan in the back with his eyes covered.  You can't hear it, but he was screaming, "Nooooo!"  He thought the Bobcat was going to keep coming through the gate and run over his friends.  When he discovered the gate stopped the Bobcat, he went and joined them for a closer look!
 Climbing the hay bales, always a favorite!
 This picture is completely overexposed, but I love how D is trying to balance her juice in her dress!
 H sitting so ladylike...in the hay :)
 Because some of the kids were in direct sun while the others were in shade, the group pictures did not turn out.  As a backup, I took pictures of each cluster of kids with my camera settings adjusted for the different lighting.  Look at the group at the top of the hay...
 The next field trip was with their preschool.  It just happened to be at our local orchard, one of our favorite places on earth (or at least one of our favorite local places).  We got to see it in a whole new way during the field trip!
The whole group walking out to the orchard...and the twinners holding hands - to make sure they stuck together :)
 Being taught how they pick the apples.
 Each child (and adult!) got to pick their own apple.  The twins were super fast picking theirs.  So fast that I didn't get a chance to adjust my camera settings...so the pictures are way overexposed.

 Notice Allie's sad face?  Look closer at her apple.  The bees LOVED the apples and came around as soon as the kids bit into theirs.  Having recently discovered she is allergic, Allie was bummed that she could not finish her apple without fear of the bees.  She ended up giving it to me.
 On the hay ride!!
 I'm sure the highlight of the day was the donuts and cider they all got at the end.  This is not a new experience for the twinners (in fact, we've been going there every Friday morning for donuts since the beginning of the summer), but donuts are always amazing.

While it was slightly unfortunate that these two amazing field trips ended up happening a few days apart, it made for an amazing, adventure-filled week!

October 10, 2013

Bits of Tid: Preschool Edition

There has been a lot happening lately - including some major decisions about which I will probably write more later.  And I have 2 posts worth of pictures edited and ready to go.  But I decided to throw together some random bits and pieces of preschool first - since that is the main story around here most of the time.  But since the twins and I made some videos today (I'm sick, and it was a great way to review what they've learned without draining much of my energy), I decided to post a few.

They started singing some preschool songs.  Now, they have learned a lot of songs at preschool - songs about the planets and geography.  I'm pretty sure they have even learned at least 1 song in French.  But I don't know these songs, I just catch bits and pieces of them as the twins sing them while they play.  And the twins, apparently, can't remember them without some prompting.  So, these are the songs from school that they could remember.  Ryan sings "Flag of America" and "Muffin Man" (listen to his pronunciation of "Drury Lane"  I love it!).  Allie sings "Ring Around the Rosey"...and a song she made up.  It was actually difficult to get her to sing any real songs...she only wanted to sing ones she made up!

Their preschool teacher has told me stories of the kids at school.  She told me about one day when Ryan was determined to master the counting station.  There are 3 shelves and each shelf is a level.  They have to pass one level before going on to the next.  He was desperate to get to the third level.  He passed the first shelf easily and was working on the second shelf.  After about 20 minutes, he came to the teacher very dejected.  "I made a mistake," he told her.  She looked at the worksheet he had been working on and saw that he had indeed made a mistake.  She showed him how to correct the mistake and told him he could try again the next day.  35 minutes later he came running up to her shouting, "I did it!  I did it all right!"  She was confused for a moment because she didn't know what he was talking about and then she realized...he spent almost an entire hour mastering the project so he could move on to the third shelf.  She said she had never seen a student spend so long on one thing completely un-distracted by everything happen around him.  She has been amazed by his focus and determination.

Allie, on the other hand, is creative and social.  The teacher says she flits around the classroom, checking in with other students, seeing if anyone might need her "help." And she loves the art corner.  For the first 2 weeks, I'm not sure she did anything but paint.  Even now it is her favorite (and we have a growing collection of artwork to send out to friends and family).
Not artwork from school, but we thought this magna-doodle creation was pretty impressive.  She calls it her angel fish.
 A crucial component of the Montessori philosophy is independence.  Their school reinforces this constantly.  In fact, parents aren't even allowed past the vestibule so that we don't get sucked into helping the children put on their shoes and jacket or put their things in their backpack.  My children have really embraced this "No parents in my school space" thing and started applying it to other situations.  Like swim lessons.  I used to sit in the chairs by the pool - just feet from their lesson in case one of them needed to use the restroom or ditch their goggles.  But now they have demanded I sit in the observation room - high above the pool - because they are fine on their own.  While I don't doubt that they are fine, I do miss the time talking with the other moms with whom I've become friends over the past year of hanging out by the pool during swim lessons!
My new view at swim lessons.
And finally, although we have worked on letters and their sounds intermittently in the past, in preschool they are really getting them started on reading.  They are constantly sounding out words and trying to spell the words they hear.  This week, Ryan made a little book of his first reading words.  Now, he pretty much has it memorized, but he had to sound it out in the beginning.  I thought you might enjoy hearing him read his first words :)
While Allie has not yet made a book of words (it involves no coloring or painting...), she did make a counting book.  She wanted a video of her with her counting book...but since it had no words, she decided to make up a story.  It gets a little long, but watching her "read" cracks me up.  
Warning for Nana:  There is a picture of your least favorite animal in the book.  I, honestly, watched it 3 times thinking that you couldn't even see the picture (she only says the word twice), but then paid attention to the picture and discovered you could.  I was just so distracted watching her face during previous viewings.  All that to say, if you just watch her, you might not even notice, but if you are worried and still want to watch at 1:03 skip ahead to 1:43 and you will skip the part with that animal!
As you can see, preschool is going very well.  They are having a blast and learning so much!