Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

This feels like what was possibly the longest Halloween lead-up ever.  We did the Count's Spooktacular at Sesame Place, Boo at the Zoo at the Philadelphia Zoo, two different costume parties at two different friends', and a Halloween party and parade at school- all before the main event.

Here are some photos of them at our various events in their various costumes:
Boo at the Zoo, Saturday, October 24
The panda contemplating the lion
The Banana in a flower with a pumpkin
Daddy with Benjamin on the carousel
Charlotte on the carousel yelling, "Hello, Mommy!"
In a set of 10 pictures, I couldn't find a single one where all 3 kids were smiling
 Costume party at a friend's, October 25:
Benjamin in a panda costume, with a Home Depot worker's costume on top 
Even Queen Elsa likes crafting
A very serious Mr Incredible with his candy trail mix
 And, in non-Halloween news, we got the boys' school photos from kindergarten:
Benjamin. We are debating a retake, with a haircut, and without the batman sweatshirt.
Asher. I'm sorry, is he 5? Or 15?
 School Halloween parade, October 30
Asher was the last person from his class. The 2 girls on the left are in another class
Benjamin whispering sweet nothings to his girlfriend, Lexie.

The parade underway

Mrs. Damico is Benjamin's teacher 
This tired-looking panda later refused to nap.
And finally, the main event- trick or treating with friends on Halloween night!  We had friends over for an early pizza dinner, and then we hit the streets. If it were up to Asher, we could cover A LOT of territory, but Benjamin and Charlotte are less motivated and not as quick.

Posing for Meema
Benjamin begged for face paint and then hated it.

I added some flair to Asher's store-bought costume 

With our friends as we set out
At our first trick-or-treat house
At the end of the evening. Benjamin now looks like a zombie panda.
It is so much fun to go out with kids who enjoy it, no complaints, just fun. They didn't whine about eating all their candy, either!  We got home and Asher kept trying to steal from our candy bowl- I told him if he wants candy he better go out and trick-or-treat for it. So he got his bucket and the 2 of us together hit up 2 more streets, and he raked it in. His pumpkin is now full to the top!  

Goodbye to another Halloween- I like it so much more as a parent than I did in the 2 decades prior!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sesame Place

We have thoroughly enjoyed our season passes to Sesame Place this year.  We recently went on 2 trips, 4 weeks apart- the first to get in our last day on the water attractions, and the second for their Halloween themed weekend, complete with costumes and trick-or-treat.  Here are some of our photos-
Benjamin is not asleep, merely zen
Summer clothes, fall decor 
The following pictures are at the Count's Splash Castle, which we have mixed feelings about. Benjamin and Charlotte (and mommy) don't like the splashing and spraying, but Asher loves it. And the water slides are pretty fun if you can get past the spraying.

 I texted this picture to my sister:
and said, "Look! Ran into Mom at Sesame Place!" Which got a laugh out of her.

We picked up a useful hint from our friends- go to one of the live shows during lunch time so that no time is wasted. We eat lunch while watching the show.  The kids love the show, and I find myself clapping along and dancing, too. (I am such a dork. Having kids makes me think it is ok to behave like my inner 4 year-old in public.)

Over the course of the summer the boys got increasingly brave, and would ride this tube ride without me, repeatedly.

Charlotte refused to ride it and instead went into the little kid splash pool. I won't post a picture, but her favorite thing to do is to sit on top of a water jet.  Smart girl.

I bribed them with Elmo face-shaped soft pretzels

We almost didn't make it, because we had plans on Sunday to see a friend, but he had to cancel due to illness. So, kind mommy that I am, I packed everyone up and drove them to Sesame Place.  It was COLD- in the 40s or low 50s and I definitely felt very begrudging in my mind.  But the kids had fun.  I only hope that I didn't negate their enjoyment by later getting exhausted and slightly snappish in frustration- but there is only so much Sesame Place I can take.
Asher is a banana, Charlotte is a princess or ballerina, and Benjamin is a panda
I love Asher's little boy profile. In the back is the dried up Count's Splash Castle

Benjamin doesn't like costumed characters and sat this one out on a bench.  
The next day I had to meet with Asher's teacher before school to plan the Halloween party for his class (in a moment of idiocy, I volunteered to be a room parent, hahaha!).  We got our first frost overnight, and I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the fallen leaves were.  Despite my best attempts at denial, fall is certainly here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tales from School

So far, it's been a great year.  The boys love kindergarten and their "enrichment" program that they attend 3 afternoons a week.  Eric said that they are learning to play chess!  I also signed them up for an art class where they have learned about cubism, pointilism, and possibly dada-ism.

Benjamin seems to have gravitated toward making friends who are girls.  In addition, he told us he has a "girlfriend"!  Her name is Lexie, and he cries on the days I pick him up at lunch time because he won't get to play with her at Explorers (their enrichment program).  He has asked that I not put any nut products in his lunch because Lexie is allergic and he wants to eat with her.  So sweet.

I, in a moment of delusional optimism, signed up to be a homeroom parent in Asher's room.  I am now responsible, along with another mom, for planning the Halloween party 2 weeks from now. Why did I take on another responsibility?  Now the pressure is on to plan an amazing party. Thank goodness for Pinterest.

Asher has taken to dressing himself very stylishly- he wears a lot of button-down shirts and chino-type pants. He looks quite handsome in his grown up clothes, and I swear he has grown so much.

Both boys have started to notice classmates with differences- not cultural or ethnic differences, but behavioral and size differences.  Benjamin told me one of his classmates was "fat," which I HATE that word (having had it applied to me many times in elementary and middle school in addition to just not liking any derogatory language like that), and that there were other strange aspects to his appearance.  Asher told me about a classmate who has a special behavior chart and possibly an aide with him- and that this boy often chooses to roll on the carpet rather than participate in the activity the rest of the class is doing.  I have tried to treat these conversations with empathy- I told Benjamin that it must be hard for his classmate to look so different from everyone else; and I told Asher that it was great his friend had someone to help him make good choices.  But who really knows what I'm supposed to say or what is really going on there.

Charlotte also loves school and cries when her brothers go and she doesn't (she is only in school 3 days a week).  For some reason she seems to have a block against her head teacher's name and calls her teachers "Miss Jen and the other one. What's her name?" She comes home with all kind of interesting tidbits and they will come out at random times- like, "stop drop and roll!" for fire safety month.

She's also enjoying her dance class, which Meema takes her to on Wednesdays while I work.  Meema reports that she participates and follows instructions.  She also runs around the house yelling, "sauté! Plié! Point your toe!"  I have always dreaded watching the videos people post of their kids in dance recital, but I can't wait to see my girl in hers at the end of the year.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Trip to Virginia

Two weeks ago, we took a weekend trip to Northern Virginia to visit our friends.  We were scared out of town due to all the hype around the pope, and how many roads would be closed, in addition to expected crowds and who knows what else.  So rather than find ourselves trapped in the house with nowhere to go for a weekend, we got out of town.

We drove down on Friday afternoon, and made great time til we hit the beltway outside of DC. It took 1 hour for us to go the last 30 or so miles of our trip- rush hour on Friday!  We had a nice dinner on Friday night, then managed to get the kids down to bed and the grown ups had time to play games- trivia and Pictionary-style games that you play through your phone.

On Saturday we got ourselves together and went out to Cox's farms, which was like a fall festival wonderland.  There were animals, slides, hay rides, kettle corn, apples and apple cider, pumpkins...  Eric said he felt like he had 4 kids, because I was always off and running to find the next thing to do.  There was a big slide that we went down on a burlap sack that I loved more than the kids did!
My 3 and my friend's oldest on the hay bales

Hay ride

Mommy and Benjamin on the hay ride

our Christmas card?

Charlotte posing with a goat...

Who loved her very much!

Baby girl with a baby goat
It was the start of fall weather- for which I am unprepared and in denial.  But it was cool and gray, and the leaves were starting to change.

Saturday afternoon we attempted to get the kids to nap, and totally failed.  So we ended up with the husbands taking the big kids to the playground, and my friend and I went on a long walk around the neighborhood with her baby.  Then we cooked dinner and ate at our friends' house- they had suggested eating out but I worried what kind of behavior we would get from the kids after no naps.

On Sunday, we went out to breakfast, which was a disaster!  Charlotte asked for eggs and then refused to eat them and threw a tantrum on the floor.  I ordered oatmeal, which came with sliced bananas, and Asher (who was 2 people away from me at the table) pulled his "My tummy doesn't feel so good!" nonsense and stood by the table gagging because he saw the bananas.

Fortunately for my sanity, my sister and I coordinated a run in Arlington, VA, and DC- we met in Arlington, but ran back and forth over the bridges into DC and back again.  Over the course of our run, it turned into a beautiful day.  We did a little loop on Roosevelt Island, which is hard to believe is mere feet from the Capitol.
Roosevelt Island
We then got in the car and drove home, with no problems at all.  It turned out that things had been quiet and pleasant in our neighborhood while we were gone- so no real reason to flee, but we had a wonderful weekend away as a family.  It's rare that we get to spend a weekend together, since Eric and I are always engaged in individual tasks on the weekends.  We were together, and we had a great time- we hadn't seen our friends in ages, and they had just bought a beautiful new home with plenty of room for all of us.  It was relaxing just to be away from our house and all the chores we always do, and we enjoyed the ease of being in the company of old friends.