Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I Spy Something Christmasy

The Advent Calendar chocolates are almost gone and Christmas is nearly here. The other day I found that Eliot had been using my phone to capture some fun pictures of the Christmas tree. There were easily 20 or so nearly identical pictures. He and Peter can hardly contain their excitement.

Eliot has been re-arranging the Nativity figurines in the stable that my mother's father built out of one of their Christmas trees when she was a child. They are the same figurines that we used when I was a child. It's amazing to me that none of the pieces are lost or broken.

Several weeks ago my mother and I took the boys out to a Christmas tree farm where we cut down our Christmas tree. It's a cute little family-run farm that included a wagon ride through the woods and a bonfire. We decided that we would have to return one evening after nightfall to enjoy the lights.

Handmade snacks were on offer along with hot apple cider and hot chocolate.

Eliot brought Freckles the Dog along. Freckles was a little listless that evening, but he didn't make a peep of complaint.

The workers were pretty good sports as well.

After the wagon ride we settled in around the bonfire. Eliot and Peter ran back and forth gathering fallen pine boughs to toss into the flames to hear them crackle and pop.

Peter tries on the stockings for size and cries out "HO HO HO!"

At school Eliot's class got a fun surprise for all the good work they've been doing. They got to decorate Graham cracker "gingerbread" houses. Eliot had positioned a licorice dog in the backyard of his little house and informed me that it was supposed to be Henry.

They had extra houses and supplies so Eliot brought one home for Peter.

This is another photo from a series taken by Eliot. Peter with a smile on his face and jingle bells in his hand. It says it all.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


On Thanksgiving morning the boys and I made a paper chain with things and people that we are thankful for. Alongside the names of our family, more workaday blessings cropped up like Eliot's "toilet plunger." Peter came up with "love" and the chain also included snow, books, snuggles, and buses.

For breakfast we made Grandma's granola.

It was the perfect recipe for the boys to help chop, scoop, pour, and mix.

Enjoying an eclectic holiday breakfast. We were off to a good start.

Eliot helped get the turkey prepped for the oven and was fascinated with all of the different bits and pieces that involved.

To help the boys pass the time between putting the turkey into the oven and eating it, Rissie and I took them for a walk. It was a rainy day but that didn't hold us back. Along the way we found little signs of preparation for the next big holiday.

The best part of the walk, by far, was when we reached the little stream running through Regner Park. 

It was the perfect day to return to a cozy house filled with the smells of a roasting turkey. I'm so thankful for these sweet boys. They brighten every part of my life.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"It's Chwissmas!!"

Last weekend Spencer surprised the boys with a short visit. Spencer pulled in to West Bend on Friday afternoon and since Peter spends Fridays at home he was the first of the two to see him.

After the initial greetings were over Peter said, "I'm so happy! It's Chwissmas!" As far as he and Eliot knew, Christmas was the next time they were going to see Daddy. So for Peter it followed: Daddy was here so it was Christmas. Tears were shed when we explained that wouldn't be Christmas for another month.

He recovered though and was happy to show Daddy some of the new things he has learned with reading and numbers.
Peter has recently become very interested in reading and math. He loves being given addition problems to solve so long as it's adding 0 or 1 to another number. His imagination has also blossomed into a force of nature and he spends most of his energy pretending to be characters from his and Eliot's new favorite show "The Odd Squad." This usually involves him approaching us and saying, "what's your odd problem?" and then fixing the problem with some kind of -inator. As in fun-inator or de-pumpkin-inator.

We surprised Eliot by picking him up at school. He and Spencer chatted all the way back to the car. Eliot's conversational skills continue to expand and he and Spencer had some interesting discussions during his visit about black holes and other topics that six-year-old boys are apt to find interesting. He loves playing Uno right now and will sit down anytime, anywhere, with anyone. He's a gracious winner and loser and is able to hold his own, though still working on holding a hand of cards.

While Spencer was here we took the boys out, with my parents, for some Hibachi. It was a first for the boys and they were pretty impressed.

Peter wasn't so sure about having food thrown into his mouth, thank you very much.

Both boys were willing to catch a jet of water though.

They both did really well.
They had a wonderful time with Daddy. We took him swimming at the YMCA, and hiking of the Ice Age trail. We visited the library and got in some good story reading time. We're all looking forward to seeing him again in December.

Now jump ahead to this weekend. Saturday morning Peter came running in to wake me up. "Mummy! Come quick! There's a surprise!" I followed him to the kitchen where he threw up his arms at the window--through which we could see the backyard blanketed in snowy white with large flakes continuing to fall fast--and declared, "Look! It's Chwissmas!!"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy Halloween!

The boys were very excited about Halloween this year.  This was first year that Eliot really took pumpkin carving into his own hands (literally).  Though supervised the creations on the right and left were his very own work.  The one in the middle was commissioned and supervised by Peter.

Last week we went to Sendiks (a local grocery store) where they had all sorts of harvest/Halloween activities going on including face painting.

Peter wanted to be a blue cat and was very pleased with the results.  When I take pictures with my phone he's never sure where to look, which is why he seems to be staring off into space.

Eliot wanted to be a cheetah.  Though "cheetah" was not part of the face painter's official repetoire she very obligingly adapted her tiger face to come up with a close approximation.  He asked for "the lines down the face" but when she didn't seem to know what he meant he was a good sport and thanked her anyway. 

The night before Halloween we attended the Harvest Festival at church which of course included costumes and Trunk-or-Treating.  After Eliot's face painting was done he painted Yellow Bear's face so she wouldn't feel left out.

While Eliot chose to be a cheetah, Peter chose to be an Australian redback spider (which was a costume that I'd made for him last Halloween).  The two of them had a great time crawling around and really getting into character.  Eliot kept telling Peter that cheetahs eat redback spiders and that Peter should give him a "venomous bite."

They both won on the cake walk (thank goodness!!) and were very pleased.

They each won a doughnut in the bean bag toss.

They settled in for spooky story telling.

The spooky stories included the standard grapes for eyeballs, spaghetti for guts, wet sponge for brain etc.  They thought it was delightfully yucky.

Saturday was Trick-or-Treating in the neighborhood and Eliot donned his cheetah outfit again, it's fun to be able to use your costume more than just once.

Fifteen minutes before Trick-or-Treating was to begin Peter announced that he wanted to go as a black cat instead of a spider.  This seemed simple enough--and what's the point of all this anyway if it's not to have fun?--so I whipped together some ears and a tail with the boys' "help" (which eventually meant their being shut out of the sewing room so that I could get it done without also sewing pieces of elastic to scraps of fabric for Yellow Bear).  Peter didn't want me to take his picture so this one was taken on the sly while he was describing how full he was.  All the last-minute costume making meant that we had only one of the two hours allotted to Trick-or-Treat.  This was just as well since their patience could only stand going down one street and back up the other side.

Once they were done they settled down on my parents' porch and stuffed themselves with candy while passing out candy to the Trick-or-Treaters that came along.

Peter dumped his candy onto the table to sort through it.  In the picture I asked him to say "Happy Halloween" in order to get a good smile but he wanted it to look like he was just beginning to say "Halloween" so he froze in the midst of saying the first syllable.  He's certainly one for doing things his own way.

Eliot was over the moon.  His dream of being a "real" cheetah had come true as far as he was concerned and on top of it all he had a bucket of candy.