Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Parade of Halloween

Colin circa 1991
I'm not a major Halloween fanatic.  Well, I was when I was little.  Nothing like a sugar coma that can last for weeks. At some point, though, I realized that since Reese's come in two packs, it was far easier and almost as attractive to simply apply one to each hip.  Sigh.

As I kid, I would spend weeks leading up to the fall fest planning what to wear - AND gathering the parts and making the costume.  I have never worn a "store-bought" costume.  They probably weren't as prevalent when I was a child, but I don't remember lusting after them.  I kind of felt sorry for the poor kids whose parent's couldn't create a costume designed by the heart's desire.

When my boys were in the trick-or-treat age span, they never wore "store-bought" costumes, either.  I enjoyed creating whatever they wanted to be.  In their youngest years, of course, I was able to guide their requests based on ideas and props I had on hand.  There were lions and tigers, crayons and pumpkins, baseball players and maffiosa. In later years, they put me to the test. One year Colin was a baseball.  Another year Corey was a baseball card.  Court made an adorable T-Rex.  But if there is one contume that stands out among the many, it was the year that Colin decided he wanted to be a milk carton.  It seemed an odd request, but not an impossible one.  And, hey, he works in the grocery business now, so maybe it was just foreshadowing...

I thought my costume creating days were over.  Let's face it, now the store-bought can be pretty impressive - expensive, but elaborate.  This Halloween, though, I got "the call!"  I didn't even know I was missing the call, until it came:  costumes for Bryce, Tyler and Bella.  Bryce wanted to be a Pokeball (which I contend looks like a bobber.  I think his father should dress as a fish.  Just a thought.).  Tyler is Mike Wazowski (I'm hoping you guessed that from the picture).  And Bella, well, she is a Southern Bell(a), of course.  Unfortunately, she wasn't available to model for this picture.

So, Happy Halloween, everyone!  Not spooks and goblins, but fun and imagination... and candy!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Falling for Grandboys - Again

Except for the thermometer that registered in the 80s today, we are completely into the fall season.  The fall colors are heading toward breath-taking, though the temps in the early morning can be as well.  I love the fall, especially when I get to take grandboys to the pumpkin farm.

Growing up in rural Iowa, the only pumpkin farms I knew of were the ones in the back yard.  They did not have jumping blobs or apple cider donuts.  Actually, they had weeds - a fact that my parents pointed out to my siblings and I.  Our "play" in the pumpkin patch involved ridding it of said interlopers.  I had to move to the 'burbs of Chicago to make peace with the pumpkins.

A couple of weeks ago, grandboys #1 and 2 were in need of an outing, which was really good timing for this Granma.  We traveled westward about 20 miles to a favorite fall location of mine.  Kuipers - home of the most amazing apple cider donuts!  I have been known to make the trip all by myself, returning home with a half empty donut bag on the seat next to me.  Coincidentally, my seat belt was stretched a bit further, too, around the other half of the donuts...  Back to Bryce and Tyler...

Fresh off a sleepover at Granma's, we headed first to the jumping blob, though we had to play nice since we were not the only autumnal revelers. Then there were the water pump duck races - Bryce won.  Tyler and I had a run off for second, which I diligently tried to lose.  I lost at losing.  As it turned out, the pouting face that acknowledged defeat was only a shadow of the fun to come.

We proceeded to the slide, the spider web and the hay bale jump before wandering into the corn maze.  Just looking at the maze, all three of us had flashbacks to last year, when we got hopelessly lost among the ears.  Feeling slightly brave, but mostly realistic, we opted for the beginner's maze.  Half way into that baby maze, we backed out.  Discretion is the better part of valor.  Besides, the loud speaker told us it was time for the pig races.  Who could pass that up?  The pig nose that Bryce is sporting is proof that he backed the winning pig - Albert Einswine, as I recall.

Next came lunch and an epic Tyler melt down.  Lack of sleep, lack of blog jumping time and lack of pig nose combined to make for whine time as we waited in line.  It may have contributed to the shorter line, too - people were actively avoiding us.  Even apple cider donut promises did not stem the tide of tears.  Nor, in the long run, did it prevent donuts.  I don't threaten with fall's favorite treat!  I wouldn't want to have to make good on the threat!

In the end, it was a good trip.  Tyler brightened up and sugared up, as you can see, and I adjusted my seat belt for the trip home.  I must begrudgingly admit that fall is indeed a wonderful time of year.  And we didn't get swallowed up in the corn maze.  Success!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite...

When I was growing up, so many, many moons ago, groups of girls used to gather for sleepovers.  The more bodies you could talk your parents into, the better - never an easy sell  I suspect the parents on the other end of the equation were happy for the night off, though.  Not having raised any girls, I'm not 100% certain of that.  Boys had sleepovers, too, which involved much pizza, soda, belching, and shouting that generally had to be corralled when it oozes into hear-shot of the neighbors.  But that's another story all together.

I remember on certain sleepover at Polly's house.  We were in the basement, two stories away from others hoping for some sleep.  Monika fell asleep first, which is never a good thing.  Better to stay up all night.  Anyway, someone got the bright idea to wake her up while shining two flashlights in her eyes and yelling "truck!"  She had nightmares the rest of the night.  Apparently girl sleepovers are as squirrely as boy sleepovers, minus the belching.  Sorry, Monika...

Saturday night, I took part in another sleepover.  We slept in the basement, well, some of us did, and the exact number of souls sleeping there changed over the course of the night.  Aidan (5), Josiah (3), and Elijah (2) started the adventure.  Trying to be considerate, I plugged in a night light.  However, the shadows it cast were scarier than the darkness - a problem easily solved.  Having spend a napless afternoon keeping up with his brothers, Elijah was the first to fall asleep.  I protected him from even the slightest suggestion of a flashlight, and waited for his brothers to join him in slumber before finding a bed of my own.

My motherhood ears did not let me down, alerting me to a coughing child in the middle of the night.  I spend a very long half hour or so sitting in bed holding a weezy child until he drained properly.  Gratefully, he settled into a peaceful slumber.  Just as I was about to join him, Josiah announced his presence to the neighborhood, He was never able to articulate between his sobs just why he was crying.  But eventually, he settled down to sleep.  The sudden silence prompted Aidan to turn to me and ask "what's that sound?"  2:00 am is not a good time to explain a water softener.  Fortunately, he wasn't really that interested in the answer.

Back to bed next to a two year old, who was blissfully and animatedly sleeping.  That made one of us.  I spent much of the rest of the wee hours removing toddler hands and feet from various parts of my body.  6:30 arrived WAY ahead of schedule, ushered in by our barking dogs.  The little boy eyes laying next to me popped open.  I know this, because I'm not sure mine ever closed entirely the whole night.

What a great, exhausting, incoheriently comical night it turned out to be.  By 7:30 everyone was happily munching on Pop Tarts (breakfast of champions) and making plans for the rest of the morning.  Their mom and dad arrived in the early afternoon, refreshed after a quiet, restorative night together. 

By 2:00 pm, all the toys (and boys) had been returned to their designated locations.  I took a nap to ward off the feeling of having been hit by a truck, sans flashlights.  And just like sleepovers of old, I can't shake the feeling that I want to do it again!  Sleep tight, grandboys of mine!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Belt and Suspenders

One of the things I love most about those ages represented by the fingers on one hand only is watching them learn.  You can almost watch things click into place in their growing, absorbing, curious minds.

"Were does yogurt come from?"


"No, Granma, you can drink milk, but not yogurt."

"Yes, really!  Yogurt comes from milk and milk comes from cows."

"Wow!  Where do shoes come from?"

"Well, leather comes from cows."

"TWO things come from cows?!"

Should I blow his mind that hamburger has bovine origins, too?

Aidan is also quite the reader, and speller, too.  He wants to know how to spell everything, which is good reason to stick to cow rather than bovine or Guernsey.  The other day, after spelling things out on scratch paper, he came and flopped down on the couch by me.  I started making letters on his back with my finger.  He told me the letters and then the word.  L-O-V-E  (easy and a natural, of course), and then A-I-D-A-N.

Recovering his five-year-old energy quickly, he announced that he could write on my back.  I bent over to give him better access to the intended writing surface.  C-E-I-L-I-N-G.  A bit random, I must say, making it harder to guess.  Fortunately, I had just spelled it out for him when he was using more conventional writing implements, so it wasn't completely from left field.

I was pretty sure the next word would be E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T, another word I had helped him spell earlier, and on the list he held in his hand.  I was right, which made un-refined back-writing easier to decipher.  However, midway though the word, he stopped.  "You have a bump on your back, Granma."  And with that, he pushed up my shirt up my back to investigate.

"Oh, I see," he announced.  "It's your belt."

No, I did not correct him.  I just did my best to stifle my laughter so as to not to shake his writing surface too much as he continued with the letters.  Excellent.  Yes, indeed, Aidan, you are!