Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sibling Christmas Shopping Trips, 2013 & 2014

My brother Aaron and I have a long-standing tradition of Christmas shopping together. I've written about some of our Christmas shopping trips here and here, in case you need a little background. We always have a great time and once-in-awhile we come away with a gift or two. Usually we just buy each other things, or Aaron deliberates over toiletry and candle scents while I soak in the general freedom that comes from not having three small children to control in public.

Last year I slacked and didn't write about our trip. Our sister Crystal (referred to as Bean from here on) was visiting, so we had the rare opportunity to all three go Sibling Christmas Shopping together (typically called our Non-Shopping Trip). This was something that hadn't happened since going Mom Shopping together when we all lived in Idaho a hundred years ago.

It used to be that Aaron and I would go to a mall for our shopping trip, but as I've done the suburban creep, farther and farther from the Pentagon City Mall that we used to go to, we've switched to the big box stores in shopping centers out here in the 'burbs. Lately it's mostly been World Market, where we stay until we are kicked out at closing time.

Last year it was no different-- mostly World Market. I did come away quite productive once again. I guess with age comes wisdom and knowledge that time is short and Christmastime can be stressful when you wait too long to get gifts. I was RIDICULOUSLY efficient and productive, with my list in hand. It was easy to knock of gifts for Aaron and Bean, since they were with me. The highlight of last year's trip, though, was when we escaped from shopping to have a beer at Red Robin and our waiter's name was Tim, the only missing sibling from our trip. It felt a little weird but we did have someone take a picture of us with Tim. What was even a little weirder was that we asked him to make a funny-face pictures with us. He was a good sport.

2013 trip-- my face says it all

We wondered where Bean went...
and found her on a couch display in the entryway.

At Target, the biggest decision, for some reason, hinged on
which Q-tips were better quality: real ones, or Up and Up

Three-sibling Christmas shopping, with waiter Tim in foreground in slightly
awkward situation
He even made a weird face for us-- what a guy.
This year Aaron and I (mostly me) were super-productive again-- knocking all kinds of things off the list. If I ever lost Aaron I knew to find him smelling candles or deodorant. He spent a lot of time with tree-based and festive scents, settling after much deliberation on spiced cedar and balsam fir. We had our typical stops at Target and World Market, a short one at The Container Store, and one very long one at Home Goods, where Aaron camped in the glassware and stemware section and I was in the seasonal decorations area, daydreaming about having enough room in our house to rationalize buying more Christmas decorations. In World Market, Aaron drooled (Though I've tried, I don't understand this) over Tunisian olive oils and their rich history.

Afterward, we went to a new bar and grill close to my house where we people-watched and had some heart-to-heart-- the essence of sibling shopping. It was our last Sibling Non-Shopping Trip with him as a single man; next year at this time my little brother will be married! I lost my camera and alas have no pictures to share from the shopping trip this year, but it was good to keep the tradition alive for one more year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

All the Boys at 18 Months

It is interesting to see the differences between Teddy's behavior and reactions to things as opposed to Cal and Clark's. Here are some pictures and a comparison.

Teddy at nearly 18 months
Cal and Clark at 18 months

Cal and Clark at 18 months-ish
Teddy at 18 months
Worst thing ever, must scream and cry and wail and run away and throw selves on floor in agony.
Funny! Must chase it around and touch it and let Mom vacuum up my toes with the attachment; need to find it in the closet and touch it; I like to pretend vacuum with my toys.
Ceiling fans
Most interesting object in life so far. Must gaze at them intensely for as long as the grown-ups will let us. Must point out every single one we find. Must arrange all toys and food into ceiling fan shapes.
 Vegetables on my tray
 Must not touch unless it is broccoli and then we can touch it and eat the tops off gingerly.
 Would rather eat them than bread or mac 'n cheese or pizza. Give me more when I grunt. My faves are cucumbers and green peppers.
 Fruit on my tray
 We will eat it all…for another few months when we will decide we don’t like anything except apples, and only without the peels.
 I will eat it all and grunt for more.
 Cars, trucks, trains
 I want to make my food into cars; I love to watch construction equipment and drive toy cars and trucks around.
 We love to throw balls and roll balls and Clark already has a follow-through on his throw.
I sometimes like to throw a ball. I throw it backwards over my shoulder to confuse people/because I’m not sure how to throw it forward.

When I fall down/ am run in to/ am fallen on/ am hit with an object on accident
Shock. Usually we cry, but have learned to read the room and sometimes don’t cry.
Never fazes me. I know no pain. I am knocked in to, stepped on, picked up and moved out of the way every day. Don’t care.

Language We love it. We use sign language fluently and have quite a few words. I know a few signs but am belligerent about using them because everyone knows what I want when I grunt and point. I know a few words and that's enough for me. Besides, there is too much noise in my house for me to talk anyway. 
Books We love them and have our favorites that Mom reads every day. We also like to eat the board books. I have favorite books and Mom reads them to me over and over. Love them so much I carry them around by the front or back cover all the time so the best ones are broken in half. If Mom or Dad want me to smile they recite the first lines of my favorite book and it gets me every time.

 Not sure how to get up on anything so we don't even think about it.
Everything must be climbed on. Whenever someone doesn't push a chair under the table I am ON that table and I am standing up and I am drinking/eating/throwing/ whatever is on the table.
 Sleeping through the night
Been doing it since we were 3 months old. NBD
What is that? Must wake up once a night unless I am super tired. Must go back to sleep with mom and dad when I wake up because I am a spoiled brat but very cuddly.
The oven is mildly interesting if its light is turned on.
Must be IN them if possible and/or pushing buttons if possible.

 Must not touch it unless it is in a puddle on the ground. Must stay far away from every large body of water.
 Love the water! Put it on my face, dump it on me, let me splash in it, let me throw it at you, throw it at me.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

That Time We Let the Boys Watch Star Wars

We let the boys watch Star Wars. It took us about a week and a half about a month ago, but we got through the three original movies from the 1970's- early '80's. They loved them, though they will confidently and a little condescendingly tell you that movie four was far inferior to movie five, because it, "moved so quickly, not slow like the first one. It was the greatest one." The boys are constantly talking about the characters and the plot and acting out every scene they can think of. This includes doing Jedi training upside down and breathing like Darth Vader.

Here are the best, randomly overheard quotes from our Star Wars binge:

"I'm not going to play with you anymore if you don't stop pretending to be R2D2."

"I'm Yoda and I can break dance and play the piano.”

"I will light sabe you in 4..3..2..1"

"Fine! YOU cut MY hand off!"

"Here’s a picture of the Emperor when he was a football player." (freezes into a still shot) "He was SO tall."

Brian: "What do you guys want for Christmas?" Cal: "Everything Star Wars that talks and is plastic."

They have spent time "flying" in duffle bags with their hockey helmets on and arrows sticking out the sides. They beep and move slowly like R2D2 when I tell them to do things. Clark created Darth Vader out of a mortar board and batman mask. I can't find my camera or I'd post a picture of it. So great. Every day there are light saber wars on the way to and from school, usually with dangerously long sticks.

And then there was the night Calvin drew the characters on the board:


Han Solo, Darth Vader, Princess Leia 

Jobba the Hut

Soldier for the Empire

For some reason my pictures of Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi won't load. It was a fantastic display.

Tonight Cal drew the cover of the DVD case:

Obsession has always been a strong suit of theirs. Ceiling fans, NASA space robots, astronauts, et. al.

I'm going with it and discussing plot with them-- the characters, setting, conflict, and such.

They are getting the newer movies under the Christmas tree next week and there will be a couple little Star Wars Lego sets in their stockings. My favorite is the Star Wars art that I see in my future.

Monday, December 15, 2014

What I've Found

The other day, as I walked into the bathroom and caught Teddy licking the toilet seat, I realized that I need to blog more. The same situation would have been funnier about a year ago when I was still blogging regularly. It's less horrifying to walk in on something like that when I know that I'll write about it. It's material. I will write about it humorously and others will laugh and I will imagine them laughing and it will keep me going. I found some insight there in Teddy's toilet lick. Thanks, Ted.

It was when the twins were about Teddy's age that I started this blog and I feel like I'm about to miss and forget some things that Teddy is up to, and some of what they boys are up to this year if I don't write about them more. I am constantly finding little reminders of these boys who make my life a busy, happy one. Reminders that give me a gag reflex and/or leave me completely baffled, but also make me smile inside.

Just for fun, here are some exciting things I've happened upon the past couple months:

Sunflower seeds in the toilet

Ninja dude/ hatchet-slinging warrior in the garbage disposal

Teddy on my computer
Laptop in the diapers bin

Two boys stealing marshmallows

A bottle in the toilet

Chewing gum on the scale

Basketball in the toilet

Teddy behind his crib

Clark's whiteboard love declaration for Emalyn (butterflies and Komodo dragons)

A modest, long-legged carrot

Teddy eating the begonias after squishing them with the watering can
You can only imagine the more horrifying things I found that I didn't take the time to grab the camera for.

Here's to all the reminders, small or big, clean or dirty, washed or unwashed, of the little lives that are happening right in front of my eyes each day. I will record them here more often.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Making Our Dinosaur Costumes

Last Halloween Brian came up with beat-up hockey player costumes which were the boys' hockey pads and jerseys plus some fake blood and messed-up teeth and scars-- which the boys loved. We considered making ourselves into some sort of joint penalty box, but didn't quite make it. The years before that were the more time-consuming astronaut and ceiling fan costumes.

This year Cal and Clark both decided they wanted to be dinosaurs-- T-Rex dinosaurs, to be exact. I tried to dissuade them from that decision because I had no idea how I would make a dinosaur costume without a ton of time and no sewing machine or sewing machine skills. They wouldn't budge though. That's what they wanted.

So I looked up some ideas online and got a good idea for a head and made up the rest. They came out better than I thought they would. I hope this is helpful to anyone making dinosaur costumes!

I used the boys' plastic baseball helmets, but I didn't want to
ruin them, so I first covered them with foil.
Taped it underneath

Duct taped some cardboard on the front

And on the top and sides

Blew up balloons about the size of my fists and taped the tied spots down

Taped it all together so the surfaces could be covered in paper mache

Two dinosaur heads!

Here's where the boys start helping: ripping up newspaper for paper mache

Paper mache explosion! I don't measure anything, just add flour and water
until it's a goopy but spreadable paste.

Requires parental involvement :)

The messy hands are the best!

Done! They dried for a couple days.

We spray painted them green and I trimmed out holes for eyes.

I wedged in Styrofoam balls in the "eye sockets" and the boys' painted
the fronts of them yellow.

And added a black pupil in each.. ta-dah! Wide-eyed dino heads!

For claws: I hot glued brown "claws" that the boys cut out of brown foam
onto some old gloves we had. I eventually also put some foam
green and brown spots on them.

For teeth- poster board-- tape it in a few places underneath

I found a pair of women's camouflage tights and cut the legs out for
the tails. 
Unwound clothes hanger and put stuffing inside

I glued the ends almost-closed and let the hook part of the hanger
poke out a little bit so it can attach to the little dinosaur's pants.

For feet: I bought large gray women's fuzzy socks, put them around
the boys' shoes, and hot glued the same brown foam as claws.

I had to trim the toenails several times to make the dinosaurs happy.

Add one exuberant 5 year-old and a pair of $9 camo jammies
and you've got yourself a T-Rex!

...times 2!

Ready for candy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall: Playin' and Pickin' and Farmin' and More

I see that it has been over a month since I last wrote here. I must have three kids and a clean house. Ha! Only the first one is true, I assure you. We've been having a fun fall. I don't have a lot to say about it, or a lot of time before Teddy wakes up and we need to read the same two books over and over...and over, so here are some pictures.

Fall t-ball! Go Mudhens!
Look at that swing.
And the lefty
Hangin' out with Cousin Clara
Big goodbye hug with new friends-- identical twin girls! 
Pizza-makin' with Uncle A
Teddy's feet on a plate, finished pizza...yumm
Before-school astronaut mission with new space suits
Football strategies at the park with Dad
Baby got mulch
Brisk autumn morning walk
Crashing a local pumpkin display
Hockey started!
One of Teddy's first words: hockey! Rink rat watching his brothers
Raspberry pickin'
Mischievous raspberry patch running
Ready to pick some apples!
Everyone knows the best apples are up high.
How many can I eat, Mom?
I picked some good ones, Mom.
All three boys in one shot?! Never mind that none
are looking at the camera-- still an accomplishment
Teddy loves the leaves on his face.
Mommy and Clarky
Any reason to climb a tree is a good one.
Mmmm caramel apples with nuts!
Being pushed around by exuberant friend at the ball field
You have to be secure in your boyhood to be the only boys
at a Frozen princess party. Our Baby Alex turned 4!
Bringing home LOTS of work from kindergarten!
Bein' weird 
Prepping for the big under-the-lights game
Under-the-lights game spectator
Cal's on first-- who's on second?

Little bit muddy...Cal slides into almost every base.

Caught pilfering marshmallows! I really can't explain
Clark's outfit here...
Teddy would like some Cheerios now.
Both boys are obsessed with the same girl. Ironically she is
an identical twin...but that doesn't seem to matter.
(translation: "Clark and Emalyn")
Stealthily, Teddy hides away to dink his milk in peace and quiet.
But he is found out!
Bundled at Mom and Dad's softball game
Snacks on the way home from school
The inevitable noodles with marinara sauce lunch
Operation Destroy Doctor's Room 
I must live with boys.

Checkin' out the sheep with pals Everett and Other Cal
The smell is disconcerting. 

Off to the tractor races!

Best part of the farm for these three: a mobile generator with a hand crank.
Very compelling.

Let's eat this fence while we watch the gigantic cows.

Farmer Ted

Mom, has anyone fed the chickens lately?

Let me just hold down this tractor seat.

Yippee! Fertilizing the crops... or something...
Farming during naptime-- not for the faint of heart.
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