Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ethan's Celebrate Me Day

At Ethan's kindergarten, the month of December is filled with "Celebrate Me" days where one child a day gets to talk all about themselves... basically.

On Ethan's Celebrate Me day, Steve, Grandma Kathy and I attended. Ethan had to fill a shoebox with things that represented his likes, hobbies, favorite things, etc. He also drew a life size image of himself (with daddy's help).

In Ethan's box were... take a wild guess... Star Wars figures and Star Wars Legos... of course. He also brought with him a photo album that I made of family members for him when he was a baby, some other photos, a trophy from soccer, a plastic pizza piece (to say he loves pizza), shells from FL and the map of the Magic Kingdom. After he went through all that, the class got to ask him questions. It's pretty funny to hear the questions (and repeats) that kindergartners ask!

Here are some photos of his moment in the spotlight...

Grammy Kathy, Steve and Ethan right before the spotlight on Ethan.

After he was done, Ethan along with the kids that sit at his table went out to the hall and cut out the life size drawing of him.

And here is the little ham in front of himself... wearing his goofy smile.

Ethan did a great job, especially since he is so shy. What made me laugh was at one point he was asked a question which he needed to ponder apparently. He crossed his legs, put his finger on his chin, rolled his eyes up a little (to ponder), repeated the question and then said "...hmmmmm, let me think about that..." then answered. Maybe you had to see it, but it was so funny/cute/grown up all at the same time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ethan's Sixth Birthday - The Family Party

We had Ethan's family birthday party in mid December; it was, as you might guess, Star Wars themed.

I made a light saber cake for the occasion. Despite my thoughts on just how easy it would be, after all it's just a long thing simple looking thing, it was not easy. I forgot about how cake edges that have been cut do not like icing... or like it so much that it takes huge chunks of cake with it every time you drag the knife of icing across. The remedy? Sending Steve to the store for three more containers of icing *and pronto!*... yep, this baby is one giant slab of green icing, on one little cake. So, yes, it goes against everything I normally stand against with the kids: tons of sugar and food coloring. *Sigh* But you only turn six once.

It's not my best work, as I did not have time for details since I had the icing crisis of 2010, but the birthday boy loved it and that's all that matters.

Here are some photo highlights of the party...
Ethan with his cousin Isaac, whom he adores.

Check out the smile on his face...

Grandma Dee's birthday is right before Ethan's so we always have a dual party. Here is a photo that everyone (who is doing it) hates to have posted... blowing out the candles. Sorry, I love the faces, and have to post those photos!

The birthday people:

Happy boy opening gifts...

Oliver getting some love from Papa, with Aunt Amanda looking on.

Collin helping cousin Samantha rock. He really likes her; it's pretty cute.

The boys putting together a Lego Star Wars ship, with the help of Uncle Kurt.

The cousins, and grandma, playing Star Wars Trouble.
The best photo of all the attempts at a group shot at the very, very end of the night... you know, the best time to try to take a photo, when the kids are tired and coming off a huge sugar high... NOT. If only I would remember such things BEFORE the end of the night (and when the entire family was there). BTW Steve... nice...

The party was a lot of fun and Ethan was very happy to share this day with his family. To our family far away, we wish you could have come too... actually, we just wish you lived closer.
Happy birthday Ethan and Grandma Dee!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ethan's Sixth Birthday - The Kid Party

As you know, Ethan turned six years old in November (yes, I am still blogging in the past... I may even get to Christmas by February!!). This year we had his birthday on location. Ideally, boy parties should be outside where they can run and jump and be boys, but it's typically either snowing or super cold (or both) on Ethan's birthday, so we just decided to find a big place inside where they could do that (as our house is not really a great an option for that... so we have found). After much debate and consideration, we ended up at a bounce/rock climbing/game place.

Here are the highlights...

Super cute R2D2 cake made by a friend of a friend (thanks Michele!).

The first part of the party was in a game room which had shuffleboard, air hockey, some video games (Wii type really), an air nerf gun (for shooting small balls at a target) and a small rock climbing wall.

Then we moved into the party room where they had cake and ice cream and opened gifts.

I could not get Ethan to just look at me while they were singing happy birthday, he was too intent on the juice.

A happy cake eating birthday boy.

After that, the last half of the party was in the big inflatable room with the giant rock wall. I'll be honest, it was hard to get good photos as there were kids running all over the place at lightening speed. I have a ton of photos from this portion of the party showing blurs of children, literally, blurs. I was really disappointed when I got home and looked at the photos and saw this, especially since I found I had hardly any good ones of the birthday boy himself. Steve reminded me though, that just because there aren't photos, it doesn't mean he didn't have a good time. And he's right, they all had a great time, especially Ethan.
The giant rock wall. The kids had to have harness and an employee supervised. This was a big hit with the kids, however Ethan had no interest.

Oliver and Collin on the slide - notice Oliver going head first (a no no by the way).

My attempt to get a photo of the room. The rock wall was to my left side. There were four inflatables, you can't see them all.

Ethan and Andy coming down the giant slide. One of the few photos of I have of Ethan, as he didn't stand still for one second. I love this photo though, it is of pure joy.

Steve and Collin on the slide at the end of the obstacle course (Steve had to help Collin through it).

Oliver getting some help from David in the obstacle course. Oliver did really well, as you know he thinks he is six years old, but towards the end he was getting really tired.

Andy, Ethan and Jayden... I begged him to sit for one moment so I could get a photo! LOL

The whole happy group.

The party was a success based on the smiles and laughter, as well as some tears when it was time to go.

I asked Ethan on the way home if he had a good time. He said, "I had the best time ever and it was all because of you. Thank you mommy, you are the bestest mommy ever. I love you."
Uh, wow... *warm fuzzy*... I think I got the best gift of all.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The case of the missing muffins...

The scene of the crime:

Two missing applesauce multigrain muffins (okay, you'll notice another half missing from an earlier crime).

  • Mother reports she heard suspicious, but strangely quiet, clinking and then the thunder of small feet.
  • One known felon resides in home, along with known accomplice.
  • Trail of crumbs leading to family room.

Case solved:


Mastermind (hiding behind ottoman):

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My future's so bright...

I've got to wear shades...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Oh no they didn't!"

I almost forgot to share a story from our trip home from vacation. Which, now, makes me laugh... but not so much at the time.

We were at the airport for about two and half hours waiting for our flight. Some of that was just trying to get there early, some of that was a flight delay. The boys did well during this time but started to get really antsy towards the end of this wait. I don't think I need to tell anyone who has small children what happens when you put antsy children in very small quarters where they can't move much and there are a lot of people surrounding them. And so my story begins...

We got on the plane... a very, very hot plane. Found our seats at the back of the plane (Southwest seats families after handicapped and Group A, so to find five seats in a row you are in the back of the plane at that point). Immediately the twins, start asking for the DVD player, as they now knew (going home) that we had one. I start searching for it, knowing that they couldn't even watch it until we took off. The sweat began... I couldn't find it anywhere. I started to panic that I left it at Grandpa and Grandma's house... I started sweating even more as the twins started upping the volume of their inquiry to an angry demand. Finally I found it. Whew!

The next issue, the twins wanted to watch it then and there. Steve thought, incorrectly, that showing them all the movies we had so that they could pick on and thus waste some time would be a good idea. Not so much. Turns out Collin was insistent on Thomas and Oliver wanted Rescue Heroes. At this point it became a tired, wound-up, pinned-in debate between them:

Collin: "Homas! We watch Homas!"
Oliver: "No! I want Rescue Heroes!"
Collin: "Homas!"
Oliver "Rescue Heroes!"
Repeat another 20 times.

We tried to intervene and suggest others and at some point, I am not sure when or how, they both calmed down for a mere millisecond to ask for Scooby Doo. There was no Scooby Doo option. That lead to both scream crying for Scooby Doo.

Collin: "Hooby Doo!"
Oliver: "We want Scooby Doo!"
Repeat 50 times

Yes, it was that bad. I was a pool of sweat at this point. No snacks, drinks, toys or anything could stop it.

So the not-so-helpful male flight attendant goes over to them and says, to two clearly tired, spent, too far gone twin three years olds, "Boys... what seems to be the problem here?" Seriously? Then "Will you please stop crying?" Seriously boy wonder... do you have children? Then, "Lookie, I brought you these coloring books and a colored pencil! Yipee!" People, it was a sheet of paper folded in half with Shamu on it and a colored pencil the same size as the ones by the computers at the library. No, didn't work. Shocker. Ticked them off more actually. Screaming continued.

At this point I heard a passenger mutter "Do you have a Scooby Doo DVD you could give them for the love of ..."

Gulp. Sweat. Sink in seat.

Thankfully, about five minutes after that, the plane took off. At that point we had something real and exciting to show them that actually interested them. They slowly stopped crying as soon as we started moving and altogether stopped when we took off as they were mesmerized looking out the window. At that point, when they became silent for the first time since we sat down five hours... er, I mean, 20 minutes earlier, the ENTIRE back half of the plane broke into loud applause and cheers... including the male fight attendant.

After the thought, "Oh no they didn't", came a lot more sweat. Red face. Sink in seat. Start praying it lasts the entire trip, and that if it doesn't that they don't ban together as a group, open up an emergency exit and throw the twins out.

And luckily the view from the window of the plane and everything getting smaller below excited them. They actually were cute little three year olds again, talking about the sky, sun, clouds and small houses and cars. When they were just starting to loose interest, Steve quickly popped in a DVD (that he picked) and turned it on. They happily affixed their attention to the screen and didn't say another word the rest of the flight. I have never been so grateful... or sweaty.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lunch with heroes...

Super Heroes that is.

We took the boys to have lunch with Batman and friends the Saturday before Halloween. This event was at the zoo. It was lunch and also a little skit put on by Batman, Robin and the Joker. It was a little, well, cheesy. But the kids seemed to enjoy it.

After the skit, we were able to get photos with Batman and Robin, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. They had a blast! And I got a little treat too... read on...

Batman and Robin:

It cracks me up because we have a couple photos of this and in all Ethan's head is held high... like he is among those of his own stature.

Face caricatures were included and super cute:

Wonder Woman:
I think I have six photos of them with Wonder Women (bless the patient people waiting) because I could not get Collin to stop looking at her lasso... I'm pretty sure that's what he was looking at...

Green Lantern:

Funny story on Green Lantern: Backing up to coming to the lunch - it was kind of a hectic morning and I might have forgot a couple things... little things... you know, like the tickets and um, my zoo pass. No big deal. AUGH! Though time was tight given the extra steps to get in, we still made it in time. As we approached the entrance of the lunch, I was a little panicked about not having the tickets and told the lady that when it was our turn. She told me not to worry, that they had a list, we were on it and to "Enjoy! Green Lantern is for you." I didn't think anything of what she said as my sole mission was getting us in and getting decent seats. However, once Green Lantern came out, after the show... her words repeated in my head. "Uh wow... ohhhh, now I get it... and... W.O.W."

I'm sorry boys, it is clear mommy's head was other places... Oliver's mask is all askew in all the photos (in this one his left eye is completely under the mask and the bottom of the mask is midway through his right eye) and Ethan's bow is in his face... both are things I would always fix before photos... um, when there isn't a ... well just look at him!
And this one was clearly not taken of the kids at all... and I didn't realize I had even done that... consciously at least... honest...

Well... the lady at the entrance did say "Enjoy! Green Lantern is for you".

Monday, January 10, 2011

Trick or Treat

The boys were super heroes again this year. They also all picked their costumes this year, which I thought was pretty cute.

Oliver was Wolverine. I am not sure why he picked this, but he loves his Superhero Squad guys and he's a part of the squad.

Collin was Spiderman. It's the only Super Hero he has really taken to and I think it's because his outfit is red (Collin's favorite color).

Ethan picked Hawkeye. Now, you super hero fans might know who he is, but us novices would not. He's one of the Avengers from the Marvel series (all three boys were actually Avengers - see Steve, I did learn something). As you might guess, there are no costumes for him out there. Enter: Daddy. Daddy found all the pieces, modified them or made them and created Hawkeye. I was a little nervous (okay, a lot) especially when I saw the purple outfit, but it turned out okay. And Ethan was proud. We are certain his reasoning for wanting to be him was the bow and arrows he would get to have. (the arrows were without points)

We went with the neighborhood kids again this year, which was fun. Oliver was able to keep with the big kids most of the time, as you know, he thinks he is six years old. Collin hung back with us (or, really, we hung back with him). He was all for the candy though, completely understood it. Just went at his normal "Collin pace."

Here are some of the neighborhood kids, before heading out for Trick or Treating...
Overall, a good night!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vacation - Part Two

Part two of our vacation to the sunny Orlando area to see Grandpa Ron and Grandma Lorrie and the local sights.

On our third day we ventured to Downtown Disney, basically shops and restaurants. The two main attractions, as far as the kids were concerned, were the Lego store and the HUGE Disney store.

Ethan standing with one of the Lego statues. When he saw this photo he said he thought he looked like he was a wearing a "Mexican hat" (sombrero) because of the round sign behind his head.

In front of the giant Lego sea serpent in the river... pretty cool.

I've been to Disney several times in my life, but never during the fall season. The decorations were great! Here are the boys in front of a giant Mickey pumpkin.

Just a fun photo opportunity...

Ethan with his R2 D2 Mickey ears. He said to me as we were walking through Downtown Disney, "mom, I saw someone with a Mickey Mouse hat but it looked like R2 D2... it was cool." And he was right, it was.

Collin with the Lego statue.

Oliver was occupied for a very long time just building with Grandma Lorrie.

Ethan playing Lego games, Oliver building.

Day four was Sea World... a birthday/Christmas gift to us from Grandpa and Grandma - Thank you!!! Sea World was a lot of fun, very, very crowded, but fun. We used to have a Sea World in northeast Ohio which I loved going to and was sad when it shut down, so I was pretty excited to go to Sea World Orlando. Photos here were few and far between as we rushed to each show and tried to occupy the tired, very stimulated boys while waiting for the shows to start. They really did enjoy the shows, which was great. I think the Clyde and Seamore show was the favorite for all of them, though they enjoyed Shamu and also the Blue Horizons shows. At the beginning of the Clyde and Seamore show there is a mime that comes out to entertain you while you wait for the show to start. He interacts with the people coming in, it's quite humorous. At our show, he had been having a lot of "fun" with people and they were clearly newbies and didn't realize it. At one point though, a lady coming for the show who he was "having fun with" goosed him (as if to put him in his place). It was clearly not planned and very much a surprise and oh so funny... especially to little kids. Ethan STILL (like just this week even) talks about how funny that was and how much he wants to go again. The only disappointment was, since it was VERY crowded, we weren't able to feed the dolphins... really I am the only one (in relation to the kids) who knew just how cool that was, so it wasn't a major issue.

Oliver with Shamu. He was a fun Shamu who hugged, then tickled the kids. They LOVED that.

Ethan with Shamu (getting tickled).

One of the few photos I have with Collin, Mr. Grumpy pants. We were looking at the stingrays.

Day five we took "off", which was good because I woke up with bad vertigo for some reason (and visited an urgent care - thank you Grandma Lorrie!). We took the boys to Lake Jesup, which is where all the alligators they find, in places they shouldn't be, are taken. Unfortunately we did not see any alligators.
On a little pier at Lake Jesup.

After that, we headed over to park just up the road from Grandpa and Grandma's house where the boys expended a lot of energy.

There was a small group of women and their children there and one of the women was dressed up as a witch. She had a big cauldron and told all the kids (theirs and others in the park) to find her all kinds of stuff to put in the cauldron for their magic potion. Our kids happily joined in, grabbing twigs, grass, leaves, rocks and dirt... as you can see by Collin's dirt covered face above. After the gathered everything, she distracted the kids off somewhere and then another lady emptied it and filled it with candy... which again they shared with everyone. The kids, all of them, thought this was very cool.

Day six was... drum roll please... Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. We chose a Monday and it was October, both usually spell low attendance days... not so on this particular day... it was a zoo. Just as crowded as any peak season I had been in. Regardless of the crowd, it was still a lot of fun and we had Grandpa and Grandma, seasoned Disney vets, to guide us through the crowds. This was another gift from Grandpa and Grandma, who had held onto some old press passes from Grandpa's radio days for us. AWESOME!!!

Tell me, in all those commercials for Disney and the ads in magazines... how exactly do they get that great photo of their family in front of the castle? How? This was shot six and the best of all of them... sadly.

Ethan and Steve shooting some aliens in the Buzz Lightyear ride. This was definitely one of Ethan's favorite things at Disney.

The twins with sitting with me, so it was hard to photograph them, but I did...

In jail with Zurg.

Ethan and Steve driving the cars... that is Ethan at the wheel... he thought that was so cool.

Ethan peeking through the back window of his car as we were waiting to get out of the cars, I was with the twins behind them.

Mickey's Garden was full of Mickey shaped pumpkins... so fun!

Some of you may know this and some don't. Collin loves Mickey. I mean he LOVES him. Therefore we were really excited to have him meet Mickey in person. I have to tell you, I was a little nervous about it... with his sensory issues and also just seeing a bigger than you Mickey can be scary. When we entered the room with Mickey and Minnie, behind another family and were waiting our turn, Collin was ALL smiles and kind of antsy (excited like). He patiently waited though and when it was his turn, he ran up and hugged Mickey. Now, it was really hard to take that all in and also photograph it... so I missed "the moment" but did get some good ones of the kids with Mickey and Minnie. Collin couldn't have been more excited or happy, and Ethan and Oliver enjoyed it too. There is a cute photo of all seven of us with M & M, but you know I have the "no photos of Wendy" rule for the blog... I may add it later... I don't know... maybe after I figure out a way to photoshop a younger, hipper, better looking me. After we left Mickey, Grandpa Ron said "I think we just made Collin's three year old life." To this day if I ask him who we met at Disney he gets a big smile on his face and says "Mickey!!"

Ethan had spotted some people with Mickey ice cream treats as we walked through he park and kept asking if he could have one. When we got in place for the parade, I decided to get him some to pass the time while we waited for the parade (great advice from a fellow mom of twins, Carrie - thank you!).
Ethan with his Mickey treat.

Collin with his Mickey treat... it was hot out and as you might imagine... there was melted chocolate and ice cream EVERYWHERE, but he thoroughly enjoyed it. (notice the Mickey shirt, the little stuffed Mickey - which is in every photo, the Mickey funtainer, the Mickey sticker on his shirt and the Mickey ice cream was the sprinkles of the day - meeting Mickey was the icing... and maybe the cake too... for this Mickey LOVING child)

Oliver was content just holding his. I think there was so much going on around him and to that point that he was still processing (I've noticed a lot of sensory processing issues with him in the last couple months, and so has his OT person, more on that in another post). He did eventually start eating it, but it was so melted that it took a dive on the concrete before he had more than a few bites.

Mickey and friends show at the castle.

Collin and Oliver seemed to really enjoy everything we did, as did Ethan. When Ethan had his "Celebrate Me" day at school in December and got to bring in a box of his favorite stuff, amoung the many different items he brought was vacation memorbilia - shells, the Sea Word brochure and the Disney brochure - and he talked about his vacation. When he was asked what was his favorite he said he liked all of it, though he does bring up the Haunted Mansion and the Buzz Lightyear rides a lot to this day (along with the mime at Sea World, the beach and the 'really cool giant Lego store').

One other kind of fun or maybe funny part of vacation... while we were driving around I kept seeing billboards for IHOP, which we do not have in our area of the country. When we lived in Maine (when I was Ethan's age and up), we used to frequent the IHOP on the weekends and seriously, what is cooler than pancakes with a ton of different sryups on a turntable on your table when you are a young kid? Feeling nostalgic, I asked if there was one close so we could go for dinner one night and sure enough there was. We didn't tell the kids where we were going because again, I was feeling all nostalgic and knew that they would get a kick out of a pancake restaruant and just wanted to build the surprise. As we drove up, Ethan spotted the big sign in the window which was a huge stack of pancakes with the word "Boo!" at the top (some Halloween special) and he knew instantly. To say he was excited by the fact that we were eating at a pancake restaurant for dinner would be an understatement... actually all three were very excited. Now the ambiance was not quite as I remember... but the pancakes were still good and the boys were oh so very happy. That in and of itself was worth it.

Though we had some bumps along the week with tired kids in a new place, different beds and with no routines, it was a really fun time with Grandpa and Grandma. We are very glad we were able to make it down there before they moved (though Fort Myers will be nice to visit too) and got to share all the 'kid fun' of the parks and beach with them. It's certainly a vacation that we will all remember for a long time. Thank you!!!!
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