Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

The kids have had two other Halloweens, but this was the first year that they got reeeeeally into it.


No, I didn't make those costumes. I've been asked that a lot, but as I've honestly replied every time, I ordered the darn things from Target, didn't even go to the store.

My mom got some great pictures tonight like the two above.  She and my dad came by to pass out candy while Mike and I took the kids around. 

Garden gnomes!


About a month ago I bought some Halloween and Thanksgiving books through a book order at the kids' child care center.  At that point the words "pumpkin,"monster,"trick-or-treat," and "costumes" were hardly in Michael and Sophie's vocabularies, but that has certainly changed.  While they have enjoyed all the books, one is a stand-out as a new bedtime favorite: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.  I did worry during our first reading of it that the story might be too spooky for my 2.5-year-olds, but they handle it well and love all the "CLOMP CLOMP"s and "WIGGLE WIGGLE"s.

A little game also develped in recent weeks that began with Michael pushing one of his trucks and Sophie running to the lap of the nearest grown-up saying "I'm sceeeaaard!" smiling all the while.  It has evolved into an elaborate game of peek-a-boo in which the "Michael monster" or "Sophie monster" hides in the playroom making monster noises (which to them is yelling "Heh!") and crawling out on hands-and-knees to a "scared" (giggling) sibling.  They swap roles seemlessly, and the routine goes on for quite a while.  I don't want them having nightmares or anything, but I think it's healthy to explore fear a little bit.  And what better time of year?

For the last week or so we've been practicing trick-or-treating.  When the time came to actually trick-or-treat tonight, Sophie was vibrating with excitement.  We went to less than a dozen houses, and I was worried our girl wasn't going to take well to heading home (Michael was getting sleepy and cold), but it turned out that passing out candy was just as exciting to these two as any other part of this event.  They ran those pointy-toed shoes to the door for every bunch of kids that arrived after we returned and got a big kick out of dropping candy into all those pillowcases and grocery bags.

I see you eyeing my pumpkin...
Fortunately Sophie and Michael are still pretty clueless about candy, and I don't intend for that to change this year.  They enjoyed sorting their loot tonight, but when Sophie peeled the wrapper off a Snickers, clearly just for the enjoyment of peeling a wrapper, she happily handed the chocolate over.  Candy just wasn't the point this year.
Seeing Michael and Sophie engage in these traditions and fill with joy again and again has made me pretty eager for Christmas this year.  They're going to love all that hooplah!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


My friend Katie (blogger of  Walks Like Rain) brought Young House Love's recent pumpkin post to my attention a few days ago thinking Michael and Sophie would enjoy the ideas.  As I confessed to her then, I hadn't put much thought yet into what we would do with our pumpkins, partly because I know there are tons of ideas out there.  I knew I would be overwhelmed by the choices the moment I started searching.
As you can see above, we gave all three of the YHL projects a go in one form or another this weekend (please ignore the visibly wet Mod Podge on Michael's pumpkin--I was a little eager to get pictures).  The ideas were age appropriate for my buddies, perfectly cute, and I saw no reason to consider other options.
The projects were also so simple that I didn't even need to look back at the post after reading it on my lunch break a few days ago.  I easily remembered the basics and the helpful details like using a roll of electrical tape to cut two sizes of the tissue paper polka-dots for the Mod Podged pumpkins. 
  I gave Michael plain green and green dotted paper, and Sophie used plain purple and green sparkle paper.  For both of the projects that involved color, I stuck with green and purple (and orange) as the color scheme to tie the bunch together. 

For the painted pumpkins, I tweaked the idea of taping off designs by using some old letter stickers instead of tape and spelled out "Happy Halloween" to be revealed after painting and removing the stickers later on.  I bought a package of paint brush pens for the kids but was a little disappoined that they really aren't a whole lot different from markers.  They were fairly mess free, though! 

We did all three projects nearly simultaneously.  I prepped by washing the pumpkins, gathering the materials, cutting the dots, and sticking on the stickers ahead of time, all within about an hour of bringing the kids out to get started.  While the kids and I Mod Podged, Mike carved our traditional jack-o-lantern and roasted the seeds (I drew the simple face at his request).  We did give both kids a chance to play with the pumpkin guts, of course.  Sophie loved it.  Michael said it was gross and asked to get back to his "stickers." 

I had planned to apply the Mod Podge myself and have the kids just stick the dots where they wanted them, but Michael and Sophie were drawn to the sponge brushes.  In true toddler fashion they insisted on doing most of the project completely by themselves.

Eventually I declared the polka-dot pumpkins done and lured Sophie and Michael away with the painting project.  It was a good thing we had that to move on to because they would have glued and glued forever, I think. It was a hit!

Sophie:  What you doing, Daddy?
Mike: I'm carving our pumpkin.  See?
Sophie:  Oh, yes.  That's very cool.

We had quite an enjoyable time decorating our family of pumpkins, and I'm pleased with the end results.  However, I might add more dots while the kids are sleeping tonight.  It looked pretty fun.  :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012


From the perspective of a teacher, I know that finding out one of your students has a teacher for a parent can create mixed feelings.  On one hand, that parent is probably going to be very interested in what's happening in the classroom.  On the other, that parent is probably going to be very interested in what's happening in the classroom.  While I have nothing to hide and am proud of (most of) what occurs in my typical work day, scrutiny is always a little unnerving.

As a teacher-mom, I try to keep this in mind with Michael and Sophie, especially when they transition to a new room in their child care center.  It's typically a tougher adjustment for me than them.  I know that.  But with every transition the ratio increases: one teacher to three babies in the infant room, one to four toddlers in the toddler room, and now one teacher to a gazillion preschoolers.  Ok, maybe it's more like one to seven, but it looks like a lot to me right now.

Just as it happened in the toddler room, I tend to pick Sophie and Michael up at snack time, all the kids sleepily moving from nap cots to the tables and chairs, one teacher doling out sliced pears and crackers with cream cheese while the other packs up the blankets and pillows.  The snack teacher in this new room always leads a song before the kids eat, and the kids participate, eagerly singing "Open, shut them, open, shut them, put them in your lap, lap, lap" rasing their hands above their heads and wiggling their fingers, ending with a "Thank you for the snack, snack, snack."  It's all very peaceful, controlled, and fine, but the number of kids (usually around 12) still shakes me up a tad.

As a teacher-mom, I've also discovered that my comfort tends to develop after these moves when I see my kids have learned something new, something bigger than they would have in the last room.  Friday night, that comfort started growing.


My Movie from Shared and Doubled on Vimeo.

Please forgive the jump in the video.  Just before Michael started adding spider legs, I got the dreaded "Camcorder Full" message and had to strategically delete files without getting distracted by videos of them dancing Gangnam style or shaking their baby dolls' booties (perhaps two future posts).  Luckily Michael kept making spiders for quite a while.

Here's what a portion of the kids' classroom email said that day:

We felt like scientists today as we explored pictures of spiders and discussed the types of spiders.  Today for art we enjoyed creating mini spider wind socks using spider cut-outs, streamers, and a little glue to put it all together.  We can't wait until we see them!  During our art project we engaged our math skills as we counted the legs and eyes of a spider.  We enhanced our gross motor skills as we searched for spiders in the gross motor room!

I'm assuming those spiders in the gross motor room were toys?  Hopefully.

Anyway, I believe this was the first time one of the kids' drawings actually looked like something recognizable...on purpose.  Pretty dang cool, I have to say.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I often think of The Giving Tree when playing with the kids out back.  That maple has given us shade for summer play time and now leaves and leaves and leaves...


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Michael and Sophie 2.5

Sophie and Michael turned two and a half this past weekend.  That milestone might have slipped by without much notice, but over the last few weeks the kids have started to seem older, bigger, more preschoolish.  Their teachers have mentioned it, both grandmas have commented, and Mike and I have exchanged a lot of "Did you just hear her?" and "Did he just do that?" looks of amusement.  The kids are even easing into a transitional preschool classroom at their child care center this week.  This moment in their growth deserved some celebration...and pictures.
Our plan was to go to an orchard (a tradition regardless of the 30-month mark), have cider and donuts, and pick out pumpkins.  The weather had other ideas.   We tried Saturday morning, leaving the house with sunny skies and returning minutes later as the rain started.  We attempted it again after naps, and trudged through the inevitable downpour resigning to at least enjoy a cinnamony treat.  That was actually a lovely way to spend some time on a rainy afternoon, despite leaving the pumpkin selection for another day.

We gave our pumpkin hunting mission a shot again on Sunday morning, heading to an orchard to the south based on the radar on the local news.  This time there was no rain, but the orchard didn't open for another hour (we got there at 10:00 A.M.).  Didn't think to Google that one. 
Mike and I were a little annoyed, but Sophie was downright pissed after getting in the wagon and riding up to a few orchard employees to learn the bad news. We soothed her disappointed cries of "Punkin, punkin, punkins!" as we loaded back into the minivan with the promise of "snakes" (bacon). 
On the way home from brunch Mike spotted a sign for a u-pick pumpkin patch.  We chose to sacrifice naptime in the name of fall fun, knowing our own little punkins were sure to sleep that possibility away on the twenty minute drive home.  And they did.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Back to Back Buddies

Last night after dinner, as I ran around straightening up the house, I peeked in the playroom at the kids and saw them sitting back to back together on their bin of plastic dishes.  As I went back by a few more times, I was surprised to see them still playing that way, not fighting over whose bin it was or just losing interest in the arrangement.  When I went in to join them, I brought the camera.

Back to back from Shared and Doubled on Vimeo.

I said nothing to them the whole time, even as they got up to get new books and toys (the cuts in the video were just to shorten it).  They just kept going back to that bin!  It finally ended when Michael got up to ask me to write "ludders" with him on the Magna Doodle.  Just one of those amusing moments in parenting twins!

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