Sunday, January 10, 2016

Volume XI, issue viii, October 2015 HALLOWEEN

The Gang's all here for this year's family costume! One of our favorite comments at a doorstep while trick or treating was "Oh. . . It's the Peanuts Gang. . . and a chicken!" Poor, poor Woodstock. Poor, poor ignorant person on our street who gave us candy.

The choreography for this year wasn't quite as intense as last year's Thriller Dance, but we thought it was pretty charming in a non-aesthetic way.  (Listen closely to hear Eric growling my name through his fangs as I make us dance just a little too long. . . Haw!)

If the video doesn't show up for you, there's a link to our dancing loveliness here

The four oldest helped to sew their costumes this year, which makes me sound so much more maternally responsible than crazy, right? It actually warmed this old bird's feathers to see these little peanuts so willing to help carry the costume load, and I think it made them proud to see how well they could work that overworked sewing machine. 

This is my favorite photo of the bunch. Every boy needs his dog. . . er. . . Dad.

While I was happily speeding through fabric on my sewing machine of terror, Charlie watched the Peanuts Halloween Movie roughly a hundred or so times. After receiving candy at the first few houses on our trick or treating route in Utah, he gleefully exclaimed, "Hey! I got candy and not rocks!"
Here we are as the Odd Couple. My sweet puppy didn't quite know what he was getting himself into when he agreed to be Snoopy. When his costume blossomed from the depths of my craft room late on Halloween Eve,  I rushed into the bedroom to show it to him (and bounce on the bed just a little, little bit). Eric rolled over, looked at me standing above him on the bed with a maniacal grin and grown man-sized dog costume, and he said, "I didn't think this through, did I?"

As we were weaving our way through several Utah neighborhoods with my sister, Emily, and her kids, Eric kept saying he was "dog tired" and telling me he knew he needed to be extra nice so he didn't have to "sleep in the doghouse" and it never got old. Maybe that's because one reaches a certain level of euphoria when one allows oneself to flutter through otherwise normal neighborhoods as a life-sized canary. As I shook my tail-feathers and skipped along next to my beautiful, normally dressed Emily, Eric shook his head and told me that it looked like I had been released from my half-way house for the evening by my big sister. 

One thing that I know for sure is that my beloved Snoop Dog deserves more appreciation from the bird in his life for enduring the costumed frenzy for 17 years straight. He is definitely this woman's best friend. 

For Linus and Schroeder's shirts, we used duct tape and fabric paint to create cartoonish stripes. I was pretty jazzed about how they turned out. 
Pigpen--aka The World's Most Patient Teenager (what other 15-year-old would let you rub dirt on his face just for a photo op?). The look on his face is quintessentially Ethan. 
Since the Peanuts Movie was going to be released only days after Halloween, Peter had the bright idea to go to the movie in our costumes. How could we turn town our brave little Linus?

When we went trick or treating at their house, our dear friends, the Hartvigsens, somehow got roped into the peanutty good idea of coming with us to the movie.  We just happened to sew costumes for them just for our movie outing, and one of them was just slightly more thrilled than the other (I'll let you guess which one is which).

Not only were they good sports, but they made the trip to the movies even more delightful than we could have imagined.

Just looking at this photo makes me love them even more (which I had though was pretty impossible).

Volume XI, issue vii, August 2015

Miss Jackson if You're Nast. . .algic
(See what I did there? Only true children of the 80's will get that allusion. And by the way, I do know how to spell nostalgic correctly.)

We took our annual trip to Jackson Hole during our last few gasps of summer air before school started. It was breathtakingly lovely as it always is. I think there is something in the air there that refreshes and renews. 

There are dozens of other seating options my two teeny-boppers could choose on a lazy Sunday afternoon, including couches, chairs, beds, and floors, and yet there they sat on one of the last days of summer in their two-pea-d pod.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Volume XI, issue viii, September 2015

This issue is dedicated to my smart and spunky niece, Hannah, who "had a bone to pick with me" for falling behind on my publication schedule. THANK YOU, Hannah for being my best and truest fan. (Does this mean that I can call you Hannah Fannah now? I love you!)

Sir Charles of Charlie Land

Our little Chuck inhabits a land of his own creation. Sometimes the rest of us are allowed to visit, but he is the only one who lives there permanently.

Here are a few vignettes that will give you a taste of what it feels like in Charlie's four-year-old world:

A few months ago when the summer sun was finally beaming down on us for the first time after enduring a long, hibernating winter, Eric pulled out some shorts for Charlie to wear. Eric helped Charlie into the shorts, but the poor kid had lived in our winter wonderland for so long that he couldn't remember ever wearing shorts before.

Charlie looked down in shock and yelled, "My pants are broken!"

* * *

 Normally Charlie wakes up long after the other kids have huffed and puffed their way off to school, lugging backpacks and stoic expressions. One morning, though, Charlie woke up before any of the other kids. After eating his breakfast, his lack of beauty sleep crept up and hit him and he whined to me,  "I don't want to be tired!"

* * * 

Charlie drops his shoes wherever it's convenient, and we're constantly scurrying around at the last minute trying to find them. Cramming his tiny tootsies into the shoes once we've located them is only another step in the process of getting him ready. (Step? Huh? Get it?)

The other day Charlie refused to let me put his shoes on, so I asked him, "Do you want to walk in bare feet?"

He looked at me like I'd been taking silly pills and said, "We have people feet, not bear feet!"

* * * 

For most of the year, we've had to sit with Charlie in Primary at church to get him to be a little "Sunbeam" with the rest of his class of fourteen three-year olds. (You heard me right. Fourteen squirmy, restless, three-year-olds who are expected to sit still for three hours of church. That's twenty-eight arms and twenty-eight legs just itching to reach out and smack each other while learning about Jesus.) After almost nine months of cajoling Charlie to go to Primary, one week Charlie decided he was ready to face the music-time as a solo.

To communicate his decision, Charlie looked up at Eric and said simply: "I don't want to see you anymore."

Then he just marched over and sat by his teacher and the rest of his class without even looking back.

Eric came out in the hallway and said to me, "I think Charlie just broke up with me."

* * *
Marie and Charlie were racing and rumbling up the stairs together. When Charlie reached the top, he triumphantly declared, "You didn't win and I didn't win. We BOTH win!"
Charlie's favorite part of preschool isn't the friends at school or the snacks or learning about the alphabet. It's being able to wear a backpack that is so big on him that he could live inside it.

He enjoys hiding all sorts of household items in his beloved backpack.

He said to me one day, "You can put Mom's phone in your backpack. It's nice."

It's a Treat to Be Our Pete

Our Sweet Pete turned nine this year. He's quite charming when he puts his mind to it, and tries to be a friend to the underdog.

One of Peter's best friends at school has been a little boy name Keagan. I didn't know Keegan had any social struggles because Peter never talked about him with anything other than glowing terms. Peter often told me after-school stories about Keegan, but they were always full of admiration and laughter.

Keegan's family moved this fall, and a few days after they left, Keegan's grandmother approached me at church and grabbed my hand and said, "Thank you for raising Peter to be such a sweet boy." She cried as she told me how much Keegan had struggled at school because of being Autistic, and was constantly being bullied by the other kids. She said, "Peter was the only one at school who was nice to him."

I looked into his ocean-blue eyes and told him how proud I was of him, but I think those eyes have a natural gift for seeing the best in people. I don't think it occurred to him to think of his friend as being different. He seemed a little surprised at the big deal these teary women were making of the whole thing. He just missed his friend.

* * *

Peter's first piano lesson was on 8/4/15. He had been waiting so patiently for his first lesson and could hardly wait to get his hands on the keys as an official piano student. We got out his hand-me-down books and his legs swung back and forth with quick excitement as he sat on the edge of the piano bench, waiting for his lesson to start. 
We saw some scribbles in the well-used level one piano book and I said, "You very well could have been the one who scribbled in this book!"
Peter replied, "I ruined it for my future self!"

* * *
Peter saw his five-year-old cousin, Matthew, on facetime, and Matthew was wearing his favorite superhero mask and looking into the phone seriously.

Peter said dramatically, "So that's Batman's secret identity!"

Our Golden Boy's Golden Birthday

Ethan had his golden birthday this year, turning 15 on the 15th in 2015. When some girls turn fifteen they get to have a "Quinceanera," so we decided that we could call it Ethan's "Quinceanero." Ethan requested hamburgers at a new joint in town called "The Burg" with ice cream cake for dessert.

Before school started, one of Ethan's friends prodded him unto trying out for the freshman soccer team. To try out, he had to go to practices at 6:00 am, and we assumed that the early hour during the summer would deter him significantly. We were surprised when he not only got up for practices, but didn't complain about having to get up for practices. He made the team and committed himself to two-hour-long practices every day after school, and games every weekend. Although most of our kids played on recreational sports teams when they were younger, this was my foray into the world of real Soccer Mom-ness and it felt a little strange to be applauding a high school athlete rather than going to a recital or listening to a debate. We haven't had much experience with having a true high school jock in our house.

Despite his busy soccer schedule, Ethan kept up with practicing his music and completing his homework, and Eric and I found ourselves looking at each other with raised eyebrows. Ethan had somehow transformed himself into the golden child for his golden birthday.

In our first parents' meeting with Ethan's soccer coach, he told all of the parents that if the boys worked hard and came to practices, they would all have a chance to play at every game. Even though Ethan had less experience than some of his seasoned teammates, his coach seemed to appreciate his loyalty, determination, and his growing skill. After several practices, we could see that he was an equal to his more experienced teammates. We loved watching him play, and we cheered him on as he tore across the soccer field, even performing impressive head shots when the opportunity arose.

Several games into the season, Ethan's team had the opportunity to enter a tournament that would eventually lead them to the finals. All eight of his biggest fans piled into the car and headed down to the water-logged and wind-swept field. We kept waiting for Ethan to play. And we waited. And we waited some more. Finally Charlie piped up, "Where's Ethan?"

Ethan sat on the bench the entire game, which his team won. As I watched him walk towards us after the game, I expected him to mutter or moan about not being able to play in the game. We tiptoed towards him, ready to offer him condolences or at the very least offer to take him to get some ice cream to ease his pain. I tentatively asked him, "How are you doing?

He squared his strong soccer-player's shoulders and said with a sincere smile, "Great!"


He went on to tell me how much he had learned by sitting on the bench. As I listened to him in stunned silence, he happily explained that sitting on the bench allowed him to be able to listen to what his coach was saying to his teammates the entire game. He smiled as he described enjoying the opportunity to carefully watch the game through his coach's eyes, and to think about what he could do better during the next game.

Do you see what I mean about my golden birthday boy?

Holden Comes Home
Our Holden is all grown up and taking girls to dances. After asking a friend from Orchestra to the Homecoming dance, he went to the spy-themed shindig with a group of friends. . . and he even danced at the dance! My favorite line in his uncharacteristically bubbly, chattering report about the events of the evening when he practically skipped in the door late that night was, "You know what the best part of going to date dances is? You get to know other people's dates!" I think he had a good, good time.

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