Sunday, October 27, 2013

Overachieving Pumpkin Carvers

Sitting around our kitchen table late into the October night, carving our carefully picked pumpkins, Hubster and I started wondering how we got to this point.  How did we become a family of super competitive, overachieving pumpkin carvers?

We think it began with Hubster's brother, about a year after Hubster and I got married. Hubster's brother, Roo, had bought a carving kit and carved a bat or a wolf or something other than a traditional grinning jack-o-lantern.  And Hubster and I, being the naturally competitive people we are, were like, "Challenge accepted."

And we've been doing it every year since.

This year, our porch will be decked in four pumpkins.

We have a more traditional jack-o-lantern from Monkey, drawn and traced and in part cut out by him.

We have Bug's first solo attempt at a shaded pattern (which means he picked out the pattern he thought was the coolest - Harry Potter - and then transferred the pattern onto the pumpkin, instantly became overwhelmed by the detail, and left Hubster to finish it.)

We have my Wicked Witch of the West.

And we have Hubster's Joker.

Witches, and wizards, and villains, oh my. 

There are times, when we are still cutting and shading and putting the final details on the pumpkins in the middle of the night, that we think we might be taking this whole pumpkin carving a little too far. That maybe we should lighten up, carve a couple of triangle eyes and a toothy grin and call it good. But then we light the candle, turn off the lights, and step back. Every time, the result is amazing and we know that next year, we'll be doing again.

(See previous year's pumpkins here: 2005-2006, 2008 (probably my favorite ones), 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

11 Months

At 11 months old, Duck now...

Finally sleeps in his own crib, in his own room, instead of the Pack-n-Play in my room
Has branched out in food, eating practically everything
Stands very well
Takes the occasional steps.  But only when he wants to
Has two teeth
Gets into cupboards
Smiles at everyone
Is starting to be able to take off his clothes (much to the dismay of the daycare)
Still only says one word (Mama)
Loves books, snuggles, wrestling with his brothers, and shopping with Mom
Dislikes potatoes, baby gates, getting his face washed,and getting dressed

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Keep Marching, My Child

Dear Monkey,

The one thing that has become apparent as you continue on this path to growing up is that you march to the beat of your own drum. You always dance like no one is watching, even though you are perfectly aware that everyone is watching. You are creative and imaginative and not afraid of new things.

The only thing you ask me to buy at the grocery store is a cucumber and you name it Cucumber Justice and then eat the entire thing for a snack.

You spend whole Saturdays dressed as a ninja or a pirate or a cowboy.

You spend months at a time sleeping in a teepee in your bedroom.

You never want to play by the established rules, but rather turn everything from tag to Candy Land to Lego Heroica into your own version with new goals, new rules, new everything.

Sometimes it's hard being different, both for you the child and for me the parent.

I often just want you to do what everyone else is doing.  Why do you insist on wearing socks with your sandals, or goggles to the store, or shirt inside out?  Why won't you wear the clothes I laid out for you instead of making your own outfits?  Why can't we just walk normally down the sidewalk, instead of insisting that I have to go back because I didn't skip three times between each driveway?  When life, as it often does, gets busy and crowded, your different approach to things becomes frustrating, an extra step in an already packed schedule.

But I see how much you need to be appreciated for being different. How much you crave it. And I'm learning to appreciate that we will never play board games how other families play them and you will always be the kid wearing red socks to school and you will always be the one making funny faces in our family pictures.

 And I wouldn't want you to be any other way.

I want you to continue to dance like crazy in the back seat of the van when Owl City comes on.  I want you to continue to try crazy inventions with no preconceived notions of the outcome. I want you to continue to express yourself with no concern for how others view you. I want you to continue to live loud and happy and completely yourself.

As your mother, I will do my best not to let the world or my own adult, world weary views silence that drum beat inside of you. 

And you, my child, keep marching.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Run For Fun

When I set a goal to run a 5K earlier this year, it felt insurmountable. I'm not an athlete by any definition.  I've started a large variety of exercise plans over the years and never been able to stick with any.  I've never had a gym membership in my life.  I knew I wasn't in shape and I knew that eventually it was going to catch up with me.

This year, I became determined to change all that. When trying to decide what I would do, I needed something that didn't require expensive equipment, ridiculous amounts of time, or a gym/personal trainer. With my tight budget and tight schedule, flexibility and affordability was essential. So what better than running? Hubster had bought me a jogging stroller early this year, and this meant that Duck could come with me. I could run whenever I had time, with no addition expense or childcare. It seemed perfect.

There was only one problem with my plan.

I hated running.

I had tried running a couple times before and had quit because I just didn't like it.

This time, things were going to be different. I had a goal - a 5K at the end of summer. I convinced my family it would be fun if we ran one all together and they patiently, as they do with most of my ideas, agreed.

I started a Couch-2-5K program and stuck with it.

Slowly, slowly, I made progress. 

I ran by myself.  I ran with music.  I ran without music.  I ran pushing a stroller. I ran with Monkey and Duck. I ran in the dark early mornings and in the dark late evenings.  I ran on muggy afternoons and rainy weekends.

And this last weekend, we ran our first 5K as a family

And it was awesome!

We decided that in order to make it fun for everyone, including 7 year old Monkey, we would do a color festival type run. Color Me Rad in Des Moines fit all our criteria.

Our only goal for this was that we all have fun and we all finish on our own two feet.  Both goals were met. Everyone, even Monkey, who had never really enjoyed our family runs, had a blast.

We started bright shiny white and over the 3.1 mile course, became covered in bright happy colors.

After that race, I had such a sense of accomplishment. I didn't run the entire time, having stop and walk with Monkey several times. But I ran most of it. I went from running a minute at a time to running a 5K.

Somewhere over the last several months, something changed.

I enjoy running. It helps with my stress level, my energy level.  I sleep better.

I haven't lost weight, which I was hoping would happen. But most the time, I don't care.  I feel better about myself. I don't run fast. I know there are people that run marathons and that a little 5K isn't much. But most the time, I don't care. I've made improvements, I'm changing myself for the better.

I've already signed up for another 5K later this month.  And I'm going to keep going after that.

Who would have imagined a future where people run for fun...and that I would be one of them?

This is the start of something awesome.