Friday, November 18, 2016

Happy Halloween!

This year I thought I was going to get off easy. Both Eliot and Peter were determined to dress up in the same costumes they'd used last year. As fate would have it, early in October they discovered a Nickelodeon show called "Paw Patrol" and became obsessed with it. Both chose a character from the show. Peter chose Chase (some people thought he was a mouse, but he's a German Shepherd puppy, thank you very much) and Eliot chose Zuma. It was fun to make their costumes but it was also a lot of work. The night they were finished (just in time for our first Halloween party) the boys were delighted and Peter kept saying "dis is incwedible! I feel like a weel dog!" which was a huge pay-off.

Now that we had costumes it was time to get down to business, and get down to it we did to the tune of 3 trick or treating events in a 24 hour period.

First it was off to the Harvest Festival at church. The Halloween Party at school was on the same night but the boys' chose the church party, much to my relief. The school's party is a good-faith effort--we went last year--but what I remember most about it was standing around in a crowded echoing lunch hall waiting for things to get started and when things finally did get started they consisted of a costume parade, trunk or treat and good night. At the church party there were crafts, games, a costume parade, trunk or treating, a chili cook-off, pot-luck desserts and a train ride. So it really was no contest.

The next morning we were back in business, joining Aunt Rissie at the Milwaukee Public Museum for a special members' only trick or treating event. Trick or Treating while looking at dinosaurs and listening to a Ghost Buster explain the intricacies of the human skeleton? Yes please!

And finally there was Trick or Treating in the neighborhood. The boys were ready to really take this seriously and we went much farther afield than we had last year.

Trick or Treating is hard work for a pair of little legs...

...but so worth it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Summer in Recap: Dad's Visit

While Spencer was here this summer we took advantage of our week with him. I took time off work and the boys took a hiatus from YMCA day camp. It was fun to just hang out as a family but we were also able to fit in some family outings. One was to a Brewers game (the boys' first Major League ball game) and as a special highlight Spencer caught a foul ball. We had been sitting Spencer-Peter-myself-Eliot at the time and when Spencer caught the ball he flopped it over into Peter's lap. Eliot and Peter both instantly recognized this as a sign of possession and Eliot shouted "I want the next one!" I quickly explained that the ball was Dad's, as he had caught it, but that he was happy to share with his two boys. Eliot got a turn to hold it and look is over which satisfied him.

There were all kinds of wonders at the ball park. Ice cream served in little plastic batting helmets, Dippin' Dots--though the boys opted for the ice cream as, in Peter's words, "we can get Dippin's Dots anywhere but we can't get ice cream in helmets anywhere!"--nachos, pretzels, I could go on.

The boys had fun at the game and sat surprisingly well through all nine innings. They watched the score board to help keep track of the game and loved jumping to their feet to cheer, even when they didn't know what they were cheering about.

Spencer explained some of the finer points of the game.

Though the game didn't capture their rapt attention from start to finish, I'd say the fact that they lasted through through to the end and left feeling happy and excited is a mark of success.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back to School!!

I was able to take off work yesterday and today to help the boys celebrate their final day of summer vacation (we had breakfast out and went for an "epic" bike ride) and to get them off to their first day of school. Both Eliot and Peter have been looking forward to this school year as it will be the first time they attend school together.

Eliot is going into 2nd grade and is looking forward to his new adventures there. He still loves math and science as well as anything mechanical. Eliot's 2nd grade teacher comes highly recommended by other teachers at his school and in my brief conversations with her so far she seems like a really nice, down-to-earth lady. I think he's going to have a great year.

Peter is starting Kindergarten and is very excited to be going to Greentree with Eliot. Greentree was the primary venue for their YMCA summer day camp so he's feeling like it's a pretty familiar space. He also has the same teacher that Eliot had for K-5 so we're all enjoying that comfortable feeling of The Known.

Eliot and I got Peter to his classroom and left him standing in line to enter the room before heading off to Eliot's class. Eliot got his things into his locker and then I asked if I could take his picture, smiling in front of his locker. "No Mom. I have to get in there," he replied very importantly. And off he slipped into 2nd grade. There was too much going on for me to feel a twinge for very long. On my way out of the building I happened to pass Peter's classroom again where he still stood patiently in line with the other children. This was the last look I got from him as I waved goodbye and walked past.

When I went to pick them up at the end of the day Eliot's class came out first and I saw him looking around with a worried expression on his face. Assuming it was because he hadn't noticed me yet I waved and called his name. He saw me, waved back in a "yes, yes, I see you" kind of way and continued to search the crowd of children pouring out of the building. It was then that I realized that mine was not the face he was looking for. Finally Peter's class exited the school and together my two boys joined me with exuberant smiles for the walk home.

As we walked home they chatted about their day. I seriously love these guys.

Today wasn't just the first day of school, it was also Dad's birthday!! Though Spencer was not here to physically join in the festivities the boys were happy to blow out the candles for him and have a slice of lemon rosemary yogurt cake in his honor.
It was simply a great day.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A week in Edmonton

Earlier this month the boys and I flew to Edmonton where we met up with Spencer to visit with his family. On the way to our gate the boys found these cheese items. The expressions on their faces not only reflect their delight with their accessories but also with the prospect of seeing Dad.

We wound up in First Class on our short flight from Milwaukee to Minneapolis (long story) and Peter settled right in to his solo seat by the window.

It was a busy week seeing family and friends. It was great to be able to see everyone (if only briefly) and to catch up.

Toward the end of our visit Peter wrenched his neck in the wee small hours of the morning. After a trip to the ER (before we knew it was a wrenched neck) Peter started his recovery off on the right foot with a batch of watermelon cookies.  He spent most of the rest of the day with a make-shift neck brace.

Though Henry was otherwise engaged Eliot and Peter enjoyed getting an update from Auntie Patti and Uncle Aaron and watching videos of leaping into water to fetch.

Making watermelon cookies (the one chock-a-block seeds was Peter's and he wasn't letting anyone forget it)
Meeting the pilot and making sure everything is ship shape.

Like any siblings Eliot and Peter have their moments of strife, but at the end of the day they're buddies. On the plane ride home Eliot's nose started to bleed just as we started to taxi and the flight attendant provided us with a wad of napkins and a bag of ice. Peter was charged with holding the ice pack against Eliot's neck (to help him cool down) and was happy to help his brother--though it didn't slow him down on the iPad.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Our Little Graduate

This past Thursday we attended a very special event. Peter and his classmates at the YMCA's Early Learning Center were being honored as they finish up the year. A graduation ceremony was held for those who will be moving into Kindergarten next year. Peter has loved the days he has spent with his teachers and friends. He was very excited to have his picture taken with his teacher, Ms Becca. He has learned a lot and is looking forward to starting a new chapter in his education next fall.

Peter was the first to take the stand and accept his certificate. The teachers gave a little blurb about each child and in Peter's case they talked about how he had started out as the quietest child in the class but had blossomed into quite the chatter-box and that they were very proud of him. 

We are proud of him too. He is such a fun, surprising little guy. When he saw us in the audience his face lit up with totally uninhibited delight. He has the best laugh and very expressive hand gestures which he uses to emphasize almost everything he says. His imagination is boundless. The other day he told me that the night before he had had a nightmare that a monster was chasing him a trying to eat him but that he had somehow realized that the monster only wanted to play and be friends. So now they're great friends and meet up every night in Dreamland to play. The monster's name is Max.

Peter and Eliot are excited to be attending the same school next year. I'm sure that Peter will continue to blossom there are well. 

Congratulations Peter!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A hard afternoon's work

My parents are adding a garden to their backyard and in these parts that means a garden fence to protect the harvest from roving herds of deer. My parents hired a crew led by the boys' personal hero--Jim Anderson--to build a fence with a gate. The gate required a frame, which required cement, which required a shortened school-day for Eliot and Peter so that they could watch, help and scavenge cool things like blocks of scrap wood and globs of wet cement. I mean, this was the real deal.

Eliot helps dump cement mix into the wheelbarrow. Peter watches and waits for his chance to add a dandelion to the mix because, well, why not.

Eliot and Peter took turns adding water.

Working together to blend the water with the cement.


And plop. 
Eliot did a pretty good job maneuvering his shovel and Peter got in on the action too.

Peter kicking back with some apple juice and some Winnie the Pooh tunes. A well earned rest.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Peter is 5!!

Last week Peter transformed from his former 4-year-old self to a brand new 5-year-old self! He's just as sweet and feisty as he always was but now it's takes a whole hand-full of fingers to show someone his age. This is pretty exciting.

Eliot wasn't sure what kind of cake he wanted though he knew that he wanted chocolate involved. I'd found a cake recipe on Pinterest that I was wanting to try I Peter is my banana bread junkie, so I made a Brown Butter Banana Cake with Salted Dark Chocolate Ganache. It was a hit.

Making wishes and blowing out candles is big work but Peter paused in his candle-snuffing to pose for a couple of shots.

Eliot was eager to help Peter open his presents. Peter was an excellent sport. Peter's no push-over and it's always fun to see them getting along well.

Peter was delighted with his gifts and cards. His reading skills are coming along and he was able to sound out a lot of the birthday messages.

Peter loves books. If you're going on a long drive and you need Peter to be quiet and good in the car, just hand him a copy of "Lunch Lady" or "Elephant and Piggie" or "Gollie and Bink" or any book that's new to him, and you're looking at a good 30 minutes of peace and quiet while he pours over the pages. I was home from work today and with Eliot attending his last day of school before Spring break Peter and I had the day to spend together. It was a yucky/sleety/snowy/rainy day so Peter I headed to the library. While we're their he likes to play with the Thomas train table and other toys but when we got home it was time to snuggle down with some of the books we brought home and have a good read.

Peter has also been working on expanding his List of Foods He's Willing to Eat. He's caught on to an idea that Eliot picked up from school that if he tries something 8 times he'll like it. This morning he announced that he likes everything, except casserole. Then he added that he has tasted casserole once so if he takes 7 more bites he'll like it! Did mention he also really likes numbers?

He's a sweet, fun little guy and we love him so much!