Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

The kids had been anxiously anticipating Halloween night for weeks! Ella was a darling Alice in Wonderland and, although Jack called himself a "mean caterpillar", he looked like a super-cute and cuddly one. Our cul-de-sac didn't get much action (seriously, the doorbell rang twice) but as soon as you got out into the main part of the neighborhood Jonathan said it was a party out there! The kids said "Trick or Treat" (with no "smell my feet") and "Thank You" and only took one piece of candy when offered the bowl (I'm so proud!). The kids were very satisfied with their take after only about 1/3 of their pumpkins were filled. After they got home, Jack sat quietly at the table for about 45 minutes eating as much candy as he could. Ella ate a few things (mostly Tootsie Rolls--her absolute fave) but then started passing out her candy, including giving Mitchell (our next door neighbor) her full-sized Twix bar. The kids had fun, got candy, and used their good manners--a Happy Halloween for all! Now if I could just figure out what to do with the huge bowl of candy we have left over....

Halloween: Take 1

The kids' school held its Fall Festival and costume parade today to celebrate Halloween. This festival usually involves powdered donuts and playing on the playground, both very messy things. In light of this, Ella came up with the idea on her own that she should not wear her trick-or-treating costume to the affair just to make sure it was perfect for tonight. Jack, of course, followed suit. Sounds great to me! So, Ella was in the Halloween parade decked out in her Pocahontas costume. She looked great and I got lots of comments on how Ella had perfected her "elbow elbow, wrist wrist" wave to the crowd (beauty pageants, here we come....yeah, that's a no...). Although, Jack was the brave Mr. Incredible he wasn't up to walking in the parade. He stuck to chowing down on the donuts and showing off his fireman's pole skills. It was a fun way to kick off Halloween--and our trick-or-treating costumes stayed perfect for tonight!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Five Little Pumpkins

Jack came home from school yesterday singing this little song. In his version the "first" pumpkin says everything, but otherwise he gets most of it right. I could see how hearing first, fourth, and fifth start sounding the same. It's just so cute that I had to capture it!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What's Up, Doc?


Frustrated with the kids' eating habits over the past month and their general distaste for vegetables, we made a pact with Ella and Jack a few weeks ago that they had to show us that they are healthy eaters or Halloween trick-or-treating was off. There was no real threat that they would fail this challenge because they are pretty good eaters, but the benefit of this has been that it has proved to be an "in" for talking about healthy eating as a lifestyle instead of focusing on it meal by meal. In a stroke of parenting genius (if I do say so myself--and I do, because I don't have these too often), I have come up with the idea of a fun way to get them involved in trying new fruits and veggies. I take them food shopping each week and over the past two weeks I've made a game where we pick something new in the produce section to try together. Last week we chose a pomegranate and even took home a pamphlet on how to cut it. We washed it and pulled it apart together and then tried it. At first they didn't like it much (it's those little seeds that bother us all) but once I told Jack that pomegranates are power food he started packing it away. Ella has eaten quite a bit of it, too, drawn in by that beautiful "reddish-pinkish" color. Today in the produce section we picked out carrots. Ok, so maybe that's not too new and exciting--but, who knew that carrots actually didn't sprout from the ground as smooth, stemless baby carrots? My kids certainly didn't. So we washed and peeled them together and then ate them like Bugs Bunny (of course, they don't know who that is so they didn't get my "What's up, Doc?" joke).

Practice Safe Hex

Yeah, I know this is a family site. Just wanted to tell you about a funny froggy witch we have that comes out along with all of our other Halloween toys each year. This stuffed animal's witch hat says "Practice Safe Hex" and I think it was once a subtle message from my mother that came in a Halloween care package while I was at college. Well, this frog has now become a child's toy--I mean, heck, they can't read and they won't get the joke yet even if they could, right? I'm starting to think that the frog witch might have to disappear for a few years, or fifteen, so as to not bring up any premature conversations or be deemed as some sort of endorsement one day. This week Ella has to bring in a Halloween related show-and-tell item to school. I've been mentioning to her over the past week that she needs to think of something she'd like to bring in to show to her class. The first time I asked she exuberantly said she'd decided on the frog witch. I just sort of nonchalantly said nah, let's bring something else. The second time I asked, thinking I'd already eliminated the frog as an option, she exuberantly said she'd decided on the frog witch. This has gone on all week. Each time I say no she asks why and, you know what, I don't have a good answer--maybe that's why she keeps asking. I guess this frog will be heading back to the attic sooner rather than later...
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

And Still More Pumpkins

We're doing this Halloween right and celebrating it for the full month, just like Target does. The kids finally decorated their pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. Ella made a princess pumpkin (complete with her signature girl lips and a jewel crown) and Jack made a spooky alien pumpkin with five eyes and bats. Is there any better example of the inherent differences in little boys and little girls?

Happy Birthday, Baden!

Today was Baden's actual 5th birthday and we were lucky enough to spend some time with the birthday boy after school. The pictures really speak for themselves, but these kids really are special friends. I'm glad this "relationship" Ella has with Baden has, as Brooke says, lasted longer than most celebrity marriages.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

B.Y.O.P.

Today it was time for the Solars' 3rd annual pumpkin carving party, where it's Bring Your Own Pumpkin. We're happy to say we've been invited all three years because this party is tons of fun! This year we tried a light brite pumpkin (yes, we are children of the 80s) and it was very easy--the kids can even help. Jonathan carved another pumpkin and the kids painted little pumpkins, so we are all set for Halloween night.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Party Time!

What a day! First, Ella had a birthday party for a classmate to go to, which included furry animals, friends, and, of course, cake. Then, we all went to Baden's must-not-be-missed birthday party. This party had friends, a pinata (with candy), and cake and ice cream. Finally, we were off to the Browns' annual awesome Halloween bash, which involved more fun, more friends, and more goodies! It was a fun and crazy day that might just require a veggie detox!
Ella and Jack both love visiting Baden and Ilse. They both ran in to Baden's backyard yelling for Baden to wish him a happy birthday. When we were leaving, Baden ran over to Ella and gave her a big goodbye hug. He then proceeded to kiss her on the cheek, and then kiss her on the other cheek, and then kiss her on the first cheek again, and then go in for another kiss...by then his mom, a little embarrassed seeing Jonathan watch all of this, swooped in to tug on him and say, "Ok, Baden." For now, it is very sweet--but we've got our eyes on him!
(Ella really enjoyed that icing red balloon on the cake--I think that's actually about all she ate of it!)


After a quick trip home to don our costumes, we were back out for some more partying--and this one was for the kids and the grown ups. I love the family themes when it comes to costumes (in case you haven't noticed) so this year we went for Alice in Wonderland. Ella was Alice (no brainer there, eh?), Jonathan was the Mad Hatter, and I was the cheshire cat. Jack, given his choice of any character from the story, chose to be "the mean caterpillar" who always says "Who R U?" We had loads of fun (and treats) thanks to that
super family, the Browns. To see all the pictures, check out http://picasaweb.google.com/redish76/BrownSHalloweenBash#
.











Friday, October 24, 2008

I Could Just Squeeze You

"I could just squeeze you." You have to imagine that being said with a deep Arkansas accent. It's something my Great Aunt Ethel always said to us because we were so cute she couldn't hug us tight enough. I know the feeling. Ella and Jack (and Gator, too) are just so darn cute that I could just squeeze them so tight.

Here are a few squeeze-worthy moments from the last week:

Jack's finally figured out how to go potty by himself in the early hours of the morning (re-dressing himself was really the issue). He's been sleeping in a zip-up footed sleeper for the past few nights. A couple mornings ago I woke up to some frustrated whimpering sounds. I found Jack in his bathroom trying to figure out how to put his sleeper back on even though the arms were inside out. I asked him why he didn't come ask for my help. He sweetly whispered, "I didn't want to wake you up." We must be doing something right, because that is a thoughtful little boy.

Jack and Ella love their footed sleepers lately (maybe because our house is a bit chilly now and we haven't started using the heat...). Jack was with me when I was shopping and found the pajamas. I picked up a red Santa sleeper and a pink Santa sleeper (how cute would that be on Christmas morning?). Jack looked at me and said, "Mommy, that's not cool." This is my 3-year old! Apparently, however, the jungle animal one is (maybe it's because it has alligators on it and, if so, I'm ok with that distinction).

Last weekend Ella was telling Jonathan to remind her to do something to which Jonathan said, "I can bemember that." (He unfortunately thinks it's funny to gently mock them--but the joke's on him!) Ella said, "Daddy, it's REmember." Barbie 0 Mommy 1

Yesterday Ella was showing Jack how to put his jacket on by laying it on the ground upside down in front of you, putting your arms in the jacket, and then pulling it over your head. She took him through each step and when she had finished pulling it over her head and it was on she said, "And voila, the jacket is on!" I just think it's adorable that she placed and used the word 'voila' appropriately. She constantly surprises me with the words and phrases she knows. Kids truly are sponges. Fortunately she's only picked up one expletive ("Oh my gosh" but it wasn't gosh). Her lessons from Sunday School and children's chapel this year helped her understand why it's not a nice thing to say. We had to give her other options, though, so if you hear her saying "fiddle sticks" or "Jiminy Cricket" in a frustrated moment you'll know why.

Jack is noticeably more mature each day. Yesterday he and I came home while Ella was at school. Jack wanted to do some more spooky artwork so I told him he could once he cleaned up the workbench tools. I set up his paper and stickers at the art table before he started cleaning and then went off to do some cleaning of my own. I came back to find him cleaning up the tools and was honestly surprised. A month ago he would've been putting stickers on that paper simply because it was already out. I love it when I don't have to nag and they do the right thing! What a sweetie!

Yesterday when we were driving back home after picking Ella up from school Ella was trying to say something to Jack. She kept calling his name over and over again and he wasn't responding. Finally, Jack yelled to Ella, "I need some peace and quiet." (I'm guessing this is something I've said to them...) Ella then huffed, "I hate it when Jack needs peace and quiet."

These kids crack me up and melt my heart, both several times a day. I say to them quite often, and in an accent of course, "I could just squeeze you." To this they like respond, "Nooo, don't squeeze our eyes out."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gettin' Spooky


Ella and Jack have loved the lead up to Halloween. Every time we cross the threshold of Target or Costco they demand we check out the "spooky stuff", which involves pushing every button and setting off every talking goblin. I think we've gotten a few strange looks in Target because Jack calls all skeletons "pirates", I'm assuming because of the Jolly Roger flag. I'm not about to correct him and go into what a skeleton is.

Tonight we spent some time doing Halloween artwork with stickers. This activity lasted nearly two hours because they each told long, intricate stories about the pieces of art they were creating. Ella made a jack-o-lantern pumpkin patch crawling with spiders. The pumpkin patch was run by a mean witch (balancing a cat and pumpkin on her head) who was mad at her mean wizard "boyfriend" (and I hope she meant a friend who is a boy, otherwise I'm a little concerned considering the previous blog post...). Jack made a village of witches' houses surrounded by bats and ghosts. And, a skeleton (a.k.a. pirate) gave a witch a "bonehead" for her stew (this parallels a library book we've been reading in which spooky things give a witch something for her stew--in the published version the skeletons actually give her a finger bone *yuck!*, as the kids say after every page).

Although they love all of this "spooky stuff" (we've stayed away from the word "scary") their costumes for this year are still cute and sweet. Ella is going to be Alice in Wonderland and Jack is going to be "the mean" caterpillar from the same story/movie. We're going to a family halloween party this weekend so Jonathan and I are joining in on the theme with our costumes, too (I'll post pictures after this weekend). So, the kids will look adorably sweet for trick-or-treating. I'm just hoping they use their good manners, too. Jonathan thinks it's hilarious to teach the kids all of those rude little ditties we all know ("I see London, I see France..." and so on). So of course, these days they're singing, "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat..." Our constant struggle in teaching good manners--one step forward, two steps back. Sigh.
(Ella's new dessert of choice is a fluffernutter sandwich. She's obsessed with them. Since her introduction to them this weekend, she's asked for one several times a day. I am not sending a fluffernutter in to school for lunch, that's for sure!)

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words


Baden's birthday party is coming up this weekend so Ella used some fabric crayons to design a shirt for him as one of his gifts. I guess there's really no need to go in to how much she still cares about him...

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Am Batman


Jack finally got his 20th sticker on his Helping Hands chart and earned his Batman outfit. He's been working on it for months by helping to clean the play room or his room, or by doing other unsolicited helpful things. As Jack still aspires to be Batman when he grows up, he of course loved his new costume. He even kept in on while I brushed his teeth tonight. Ella played up to the whole idea and let her littler brother save the day for her--carrying her heavy bag, getting her a napkin at dinner, capturing the pretend tiny monster in the kitchen. Batman has never been cuter!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Game and a Haircut





My friend Kim took me to the Panthers game today (Go Panthers!) and what a beautiful day it was for a football game. I had a blast! Thanks, Kim!


I came home to find two well-groomed kids. I'm sure you've noticed for a while that they were in serious need of haircuts, but we were holding off for a bit to close in on school picture day. Jack's may need a little shaping in the front (unless of course he wants to be Frankenstein for Halloween) but he looks so handsome. And, somehow Jonathan was able to talk Ella into a cute little bob! We've been telling her for ages how lovely it would be--I think she finally believes us. Thanks, Jonathan!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Miners















Today we went on another adventure with the Miner family and again had an awesome time. We ventured up to Dan Nicholas Park (and don't ask me who Dan Nicholas is), a county park north of us in Salisbury. This place has everything! And what a bargain it is--if the activity wasn't free, it was 50 cents for each kid and a buck for each adult. The kids loved walking through the Rowan Wildlife Adventures zoo with native North Carolina animals, such as black bears, red foxes, a bobcat, white tail deer, a woodchuck, and red wolves. We checked out the petting barn with a donkey, cow, pig, goats, sheep, and various fowl. Ella loved telling the pig what real pigs sound like (she can actually do impressive "real" cow, pig, and horse noises--apparently she's been practicing). Then we saw even more animals at the aquarium and reptile center. Even Jonathan was creeped out by how many poisonous snakes were in one room...







As if all that wasn't enough, there was still more in store for us. The kids really dug the spooky train ride ("suitable for young children", as the sign states) and of course insisted on a carousel ride. One of the most memorable things for them, though, was the Gem Mine. These little miners each got their own buckets of dirt. We took them to a flume and panned for treasure. Each kid came away with a bag full of big gems, including rose quartz, amethyst, fluorite, ruby, aquamarine, and black onyx gemstones. These stones were big and each bucket had a wide variety. The kids were thrilled to come away with such treasures!



















Finally, to top the day off and ensure napping kids for the drive home, the kids played at all four of the playgrounds at this park. Each one offered something different. Ella loved showing everyone her new skill--pumping her legs to swing herself. Jack loves going down the fireman's pole. And, they all loved the spider web climbing contraption. What an awesome day! Sure enough, we had two sleeping cuties on the way home, each snuggled up with a bag full of gems. Check out all of the pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/redish76/DanNicholasPark#.