Friday, November 17, 2017

Tessa is 4

Another month, another kid's birthday...two days ago this little baby turned four.


Dang, was she ever cute.  She always had a pacifier in her mouth, she had no hair for a long time and was often mistaken for a boy and she always had (and still has) a very alert and perplexed look in her eyes which I find endearing.  She even looked like that in her hospital nursery photo taken by the nurses when she was one day old.  

This picture always makes me laugh.  

She happened to have preschool the morning of her birthday and she was very excited to celebrate there and she chose to be the teacher's special helper (they have a brochure with birthday options).  Well, the morning of she was not herself and she didn't seem very happy about school.  As we were about to leave I learned why-she started gagging and we ran to the bathroom where she vomited up all the milk she drank that morning.  It was actually pretty amazing because it all went in the toilet and none got on her clothes.  Oh, the light at the end of the toddler tunnel!  Of course, afterward she was fine and all ready to go to school.  I didn't dare risk it though, so she didn't go.  I had a doctor's appointment for myself and plans to buy a cake for her while she was at school and we had to drive Ben to school so I ended up bringing her everywhere while she constantly asked when she was going to school and said she was missing her birthday.  Ugh.   I hate to make those calls but this one seemed to be a clear case of "something she ate".  Perhaps she accidentally drank a cup of milk that had been left out all night instead of the one I gave her.  It happens sometimes...

She was very excited for her presents.  I was looking at old pictures and it seems I wrapped her gifts with that same pink themed owl Christmas paper last year.  Don't worry, she didn't remember. 

The bros didn't handle watching someone else get presents.  Milo tried to rip them open and Ben wanted to also open them and then unbox and put everything she received together for her.  


Oh, so hard...because they never will get their own birthday!  And of course, Ben would be just fine with someone else ripping open all his gifts and playing with them first!  


She received a set of Frozen Legos, some mini Hatchimals, Glitzi Globes, and a Belle costume.  If you don't know what any of that stuff is...lucky you.  The globes are pretty cute though.  She's been talking about wanting them for a long time.  

Her costume is a major glitter shedder.  There was a trail of it down the hallway.  

There is a lot of criticism out there about buying "plastic junk" for kids and if you read the comments section of any parenting article about gift giving on social media you would think the only acceptable gift anymore is an "experience" such as a zoo pass (thanks for the idea everyone, but we already have one as does pretty much every family in town!) movie tickets or a gift certificate for swimming lessons.  Everyone is very much on the no toys train.  I must have strange kids because they love toys and the seriously play with everything we have all the time.  Yes, it is strewn all over the house and it's annoying to me but when I think about what to so nobly donate to those poor kids at the homeless shelter and then make sure everyone knows about it so we can feel good about ourselves I truly can't find anything.  Space is of course an issue for almost everyone and huge plastic playsets can be troublesome but I can't oppose Legos or Shopkins.  Yesterday afternoon when Milo was sleeping and Ben was at school she was just in her own little world, making up some fantasy world combining her legos, hatchimals and glitzi globes and it was awesome for me.  


Yes, this table looks like a nightmare.  Let me explain...the sock pile was being used as sleeping bags for the Hatchimals, the purple pieces are from the Hatchimal eggs (now in the garbage except for the little base shells, the painters tape was from a derby car Ben and Justin made for cub scouts (more about that in a later post) and the robot...well that's just an odd piece of Happy Meal junk that is having a moment in the sun.  

Then, it got even better...she received a gift in the mail.  


Wow, is she obsessed with this thing.  It's a Barbie head that you can style the hair and use water to change the color of her makeup and nails and it also has fake nails and hair pieces you can add.  


She wanted to wear a piece of fake pink hair to school today, haphazardly clipped in with a barrette.  I said it probably wasn't a good idea but she is wearing a bracelet with a mini snow globe with a Shopkin inside. I tried to discourage that idea because I know the teacher will kindly place it in her cubby shelf right away but she REALLY wanted to show the other kids.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

School Pictures

September and October are standard school portrait months.  This year, Ben and Tessa had different photographers at their schools which is kind of annoying since then you don't have the cohesive look hanging on the wall or sitting in a frame (or languishing in the envelope in a box or pinned to a bulletin board and buried under months of other projects and pictures...not talking about us...just some people who might have that problem...)

So, first up was Ben's picture day.  We ended up having a funeral that day so retake day it would be.  Well, retake day landed during "Red Ribbon Week" which is a standard week of themed dress up days tied in with daily events about positive behavior.  The day of the week that was also retake day was pajama day.  Ugh, seriously.  No kid wants to miss pajama day at school.  It's a great day for all involved.  I was worried about the picture so I emailed the teacher, send a nice shirt for him to put on over his pajama shirt for the picture and chose a pose that was only a head shot (they have an option where you can see their pants).

When Ben came bounding off the bus that afternoon I causally asked if he took his picture.  "Yes!"  Then I asked if he put his blue striped shirt on.  "NO!"  What? Why not?  "We were going to the gym and it took too long!"  Facepalm.  Huge facepalm from me.

So here it is for posterity...in the class composite group photo and in the yearbook if they have one.


A very nice portrait with a kid wearing Lightening McQueen pajamas.  At least it's not his Christmas ones he loves to wear or a pair of zippered foot pajamas.  

So to go next to pajama boy we have Tessa, a girl who should by all indications be very photogenic.  I know she is capable of very cute photos like this:

Well, look what came home a few weeks after picture day:


Oh, Lord help me.  Where do I start.  First, I had chosen a grey background but she forgot to give the teacher the card with the selection on it so her teacher helped her pick what she wanted and of course she picked the girly pink background which would have been fine except I chose that shirt to match the grey background.  It doesn't have any pink in it. 


Slighly better...


Ben was at the same preschool last year and I felt the same way last year as I do this year about that black box...leave it in the 90's.  I think they crop most of it out in the final product but still...


So, I had her hair fixed with a barrette which I hoped could survive the short morning of school but nope.  It's haphazardly stuck on top of her head.  You can kind of see it.  

Now you all can look forward to receiving these to hang on your fridges!  Poor Tessa...she is in a kind of awkward hair phase right now.  I think she needs some shaping but she says she wants a ponytail and the only way to get there is to let it grow.  I think a trim is in her future though.  When the baby comes we will probably get their pictures taken somewhere that doesn't use a black velvet prop and pink tapestry backgrounds.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pumpkin Seeds

The temperature took a drop into real winter territory this last week so over the weekend we decided to harvest seeds from most of the pumpkins before they turned into frost bitten mush and it was too late.  This process is pretty labor intensive although using a full length machete (yes, Justin has one) speeds things up a bit.  The cutting and scooping is the quick part.  The cleaning...yikes.  Justin does it and he has a system but it still requires a lot of soaking and rinsing and picking out orange slime. But when it was all over we had this many seeds.  I feel like a toddler saying "this many" but it really was this many.  Too many to count.



I was up pretty early on Sunday morning.  It was "fall back" remember.  Parents hate time changes and love to complain endlessly about their kids' ruined schedules.  Mine handle it OK.  They didn't get up at 5:00 a.m. They were, however, pretty delirious by about 7 p.m. and we had to really try to keep them awake to avoid a Monday morning 5 a.m. wake-up.  The person in the house who has been getting up at ungodly hours is me.  According to my fitbit I have been getting less than six hours of sleep each night and I wake up earlier than I need to every morning.  Part of it is pregnancy disturbances and part of it is the time change.  But anyway, I had a long morning with an extra hour for roasting pan after pan of seeds on Sunday.  I sampled so many of them I couldn't even eat any for awhile.  I was over it by yesterday afternoon and ate a pretty large portion after school.  I have mentioned before that they are full of nutrition but also high in calories to the tune of 800 calories per 8 oz. cup so it's no surprise that gorging on them like I did on Sunday morning can be sickening.  A little condiment sized bowl is the perfect portion size for them.  

So, if I am coming to visit you in the next few weeks expect a container.  I knew we hoarded cool whip containers, aka redneck Tupperware, for a reason.  


The kids seem to like them.  They all ask for them.  Ben actually eats them.  Milo usually dumps his on the floor which has to stop because they are too much work to sweep into the garbage.  I'm not sure what Tessa does with hers.  I suspect she might not finish her portion and then Milo dumps it on the floor.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

First Snow

I believe in my Halloween post I said that it was a year where we avoided the "snowsuit under the costume" aspect of fall in a Northern climate.  Well, I spoke a few days too soon because later in the week it snowed.  Of course, this time of year the temperatures don't drop too low so it started with some lovely sleet and rain and left a nice ice crust over the streets.  The Friday morning school commute was interesting but I only saw one car that had careened up on the sidewalk.

Fortunately, we had retrieved our duffel bag of skiing clothes from the storage unit where the kids' snow pants had been stashed since March of last year.  I found boots for both boys but...only one of Tessa's.  I love hers too.  They have a Velcro cinch strap so they are really easy to get on and off.  The match is still nowhere to be found weeks later.  We have a pair of boys boots that fit her that are black with camouflage.  Not that it matters if snow boots are "girl" or "boy" but hers are so easy to wear that I hope we can find it.  I'm thinking of her teachers more than anyone!  I don't know how they do it!

Of course, the kids want to be outside all the time in full regalia.  Of course, I DON'T want to be outside all the time because it's cold and boring to watch kids shovel and fight and take off their mittens and get snow in the mittens and have trouble getting them back on because their hands are wet.  Ben and Tessa are finally at the age where I feel like they can be outside by themselves.  They were out with the neighbor for an hour yesterday afternoon.  BUT...Mr. Two Year Old Beast is NOT OK with seeing them walk out the door in their snowsuits while he gets left behind.  He stands there at the door and screams like everyone is a huge traitor then he desperately goes and tries to dress himself to go out too while tears pour out of his eyes.  So, this means that I do indeed have to go out and supervise anyway.  Yay.  I don't mind going outside but at my huge size I'm just not feeling like it right now.  The trudging around and ill fitting coats are bad enough but also my snow boots are in the storage unit and the first thing to freeze for me is always my feet.


They all love to shovel and Ben is actually pretty good at it.  Hopefully this love of manual labor lasts as he gets older.  


This was Milo's first snow adventure since last year and he probably doesn't remember it so he just stood there for a few minutes wondering what to do.  


The piles of hats and mittens that we have really bring out her inner eccentric and she always picks a different one every time. 

These were taken on Saturday evening which was our last evening playing outside in daylight before the time change.  It was six p.m.  See you in March, evening sun.  



She was whining for help getting dressed and I was too busy bundling Milo so she did everything herself and ended up with her snow pants over her jacket and also backwards and rubber rain boots which I know from experience (because they are currently all I have to wear in the snow) do not keep your feet very warm.  But it worked fine and she doesn't care so I don't either. 


Look at that shoveling form!  Tessa's not quite there yet.  Neither am I.  I never did much shoveling when I was young or now.  We had tractors for that when I was growing up and now Justin usually does it because I've either been too pregnant or...he just does it.  Sometimes our neighbor even does it just for fun.  I shoveled one day last winter after I got my Fitbit and it showed that I had like 20,000 steps and 100 minutes of exercise that day (I had already exercised earlier also).  I feel like it should be a workout class based on it.  It would be very effective but not at all fun. 


Here is Mr. Booger Face enjoying the sparse covering of snow.  He is like Ben.  He never wants to go in even when his face looks numb and snot is pouring from his nose.  On this day he kept taking his mitten off one hand to eat snow and his hand was frozen but he didn't want to quit.  

Yes, playing in the snow is fun but now it is necessary to send a huge assortment of crap to school every day.  Tessa's teacher said they will only go outside one day a week, play in the gym on another day and swimming lessons is the third day.  So that is only one day I have to gather her whole ensemble.  Ben needs it every day though.  I thought for the morning on the playground he could just wear boots with his jeans since there is really barely any snow and the grass isn't even covered but no...he had to wear everything.  It took about fifteen minutes for us to get out the door this morning.  



Milo was dragging his snow pants around saying "Outside! Outside!"  Sure...just what I feel like doing at 7:55 a.m. as dawn is breaking.  Ugh...you can see my almost twenty year old Adidas slide sandals that I wear to run out to the dumpster and when I need to go into the garage to dig around in the freezer.  They are my secret shame and I'm sure all my neighbors have seen me wear them. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

It's November, and I'm pretty happy about it because it means I am (hopefully, please Jesus) in the last two months of being pregnant. For-Ev-Er.  I've been swimming laps and the old maternity swimming suit is barely holding it together and the other clothes are not much better.  As anyone in American knows, it was Halloween yesterday and you can't look at the Internet without seeing pictures of kids in costumes.  So, enjoy a few more.  LOOK AT MY KIDS!  LOOK AT THIER COSTUMES!  LOOK AT OUR PUMPKINS!

I should have made a post yesterday and again today but...who has time for that?  So starting on Monday, Tessa had her Halloween party at preschool. Ben doesn't get to have a costume party anymore because...well, I'm not sure.  It's a public school fairness/inclusivity/avoiding controversy thing I guess.  They did have a "fall festival" and he has been bringing home Halloween themed art projects and little prizes so maybe it has to do with not wanting kids to feel left out if they can't afford a costume?  I don't know. Or maybe it's just a big nuisance for the teachers which I can imagine it is.

I was glad Tessa was able to have her school party because for two years she has watched with envy as Ben returned home from Halloween and Valentine parties with bounties of little treats and prizes and party favor junk sent by the other kids.


It was a busy morning and the preschool mornings are crazy because we have to be about 30 minutes earlier than the non preschool days and I didn't remember to take her picture before her jacket was on.  And even then...it was tough.  


Notice the glitter shoes-a Wal-Mart impulse purchase by me because she asked and looked so desperate to have those beautiful things.  Don't worry, they cost a few dollars since they basically made of cardboard.  


She can really pull off the "Elsa" look except for the hair style.  She'll have that braid one day if she can ever keep her scissors away from her head.  

She exited the school victorious with her full bucket.  


It's always fun to see what the other kids bring for their treats to share.  


None of these assorted variety bags were provided by me.  This was:


I made those for Ben for his two years of preschool. I've made them since I was a little kid.  They look a bit lame compared to the cellophane bagged assortments but I think they are fun.  



Milo has just turned into a candy fiend.  He's terrible. He loves suckers and he knows where to find them.  I had some stashed in our travel bag for a distraction and he found those this weekend and I caught him ripping open Tessa's from her bucket.  

We carved pumpkins later that night.  We had two very large ones to carve.  Tessa said she wanted an owl like our neighbor had so Justin found some pictures and helped her pick an attainable design.  














Thanks, Internet, for always being there!

I helped Ben which was kind of exhausting because he wanted to do it ALL himself.  It was a very large and deep pumpkin to scrape out and very stringy.


He wanted his design to match the face on his candy bucket.  I thought that sounded like the best idea EVER! Triangle eyes and nose with a smile...perfect.  I drew the face and he ended up cutting the whole thing himself with the little carving tool that comes with the carving kits you can buy.  


Milo was feeling a big overlooked during this time since he wasn't part of the action and at one point he ran into the kitchen with his blanket over his head pretending to be a ghost.    


Too quick for a picture but it was pretty funny.  He was saying "woooo".  

All done!



Ben was crying about something here having to do with being too wild and acting crazy.  We had to come back for another round of pictures later.


Tessa and Daddy's special pumpkin. 


They really are huge pumpkins.  They are still sitting on the kitchen floor and are holding up quite well.  Last year we had one last for weeks into November on our front step but some years they start getting soft after a day.  We (Justin) cleaned and dried the seeds from these two so we can plant them in our patch next year.  They produced enough to plant a whole patch of the size we had this year.  Plants are so cool...all that from just two pumpkins.


It's been hard not baking and eating these plump and perfect seeds but we can harvest from the other ones we have on the front step later.

Milo had to have his moment of attention on this night too.


He was pretty intrigued with the candles.  


I got him to pose and look cute for a few seconds.  

Then came the big event...Trick or Treating.  It was freezing this year.  Last year was really nice and we hardly needed to wear jackets before the sun went down and the year before that was horribly windy.  I was looking at old pictures and Ben's first Halloween was very warm and we were outside without coats and took many pictures outside with him.  This year it was not windy or snowy but it was just cold.  So, behold, the stereotypical Midwestern "snowsuits under the costume" look.  They weren't exactly wearing snowsuits but had winter hats and mittens and Milo is wearing his snow boots because that costume was like capri pants on him.



Tessa reprised the Elsa dress, Ben was a fisherman and Milo was Spider-Man.  




He made me laugh all night.  He looked so funny.  We went to our neighbors' houses on our cul de sac and then drove to our old street to see our old neighbors.  We walked a few blocks around there.  It's nice because Ben's school is right there and he saw a few kids he knew and the houses are small and close together.  Then we drove to a friend's house and walked their street for a block and decided we were done.  And we ended up with 12 POUNDS of candy.  From walking up and down three blocks.  I can't imagine the haul a kid who was at it for a few hours would end up with.  

The kids had their own buckets and we transferred it all into this huge bucket in the back of the vehicle because their buckets were heavy to carry.  


The kids were in a candy frenzy.  Milo, especially, was going nuts.  He got a very appealing purple sucker-one of the big round flat ones as opposed to a dum dum or tootsie roll pop-and he would not let it out of his sticky little grip.  We got them all to bed and then I poured the candy out and we sorted it and partitioned it and applied the "parent tax" which equals approximately 50 percent.  In the case of Heath bars, it equals 100 percent.  



Allan is up there in the corner thinking, "gross, where is the turkey?  Where is the yogurt?  Where are the hot dogs?"


Milo cannot see that pile of suckers.

Also, we made time to take Allan's annual costume photo.  He looks downright obese.  I had to crop myself out because so did I.



And finally, I have to show my favorite Halloween picture beyond my ridiculous college and drinking years because there are some GOOD ones out there from those days.  I have favorites pre-2011 and post-2011.  This was 2012 on Ben's first Halloween.

I love the look on his face!