Happy Thanksgiving!

Gobble gobble, y’all. The clan is up in the mountains, spending Turkey Day with Granny, Grumps and family, and giving thanks to God for our bountiful blessings.

The 3 Amigos jam out 3-part harmonies … nah, not really … but they are having fun!

We have been bustling about this November. Here’s a lowdown of happenings and activities:

  • We got another beta fish, who Houston named “Yoda-fish II.” He is red and seems to be much healthier from the get go … although I forgot to feed him before we left for Granny’s. Considering that I probably overfed the first Yoda-fish, which caused his untimely demise, I think our current aquatic buddy should fare pretty well.

  • The twins are doing great at combining words to convey more complex thoughts, as well as becoming much more adventurous with new words and confident with old ones. “Gabriel and Zeke make me look good,” says Miss Pat when explaining the quick progress of their language skills. They are also learning their ABCs, numbers and colors with the help of their beloved magnetic letters.

Houston listens intently as Papa reads a Star Wars book to him before bedtime.

  • A nasty cold has been working its way through our house over the past month. Zeke is the only one still fighting a cough, so we took him to see his pediatrician last week. The doc said his lungs, sinuses and ears looked fine, but prescribed him an antihistamine to help curtail the cough. It took a while, but the meds finally seem to be doing their job.

  • Houston is playing basketball at the Y. Stephen took him to meet his coach and teammates two weekends ago, and I took him to his first practice last Saturday. He was extremely shy at first and did not want to participate, but once he saw how much fun the other 3 and 4 year olds were having — not to mention a little urging from Mommy — Houston joined in and had a ball (pun intended).

  • Stephen and I are doing better at giving the twins one-on-one time whenever the opportunity arises, usually taking one on errands while the other stays home. Although sometimes initially confused or concerned as to where his brothers are, Gabriel and Zeke seem to fully enjoy the individualized attention.

  • I came up with an awesome timesaving trick. I cut a bunch of old sheets into tablecloths that I shake outside and then flip over after meals in an effort to cut down on clean up, as well as promote the life of my beat-up kitchen table. Pure genius … why didn’t I think of it sooner?

Gabriel thinks his magnetic letters & numbers are ultra cool.

  • Granny and Grumps watched the kids so Stephen and I could go out to a fancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants (a Brazilian Churrascaria steakhouse) for a belated anniversary celebration. That was one of the best food highs of my life!

  • I gave Gabe and Zeke their first buzz cut with Daddy’s trimmers. I think the new styles make them look incredibly handsome, but a sentimental Granny says the short cuts make them look too old.

  • And speaking of haircuts, I finally got a sassy haircut (a cute, layered bob) and then dyed my increasingly gray hair jet black. I don’t look like such an old fogey anymore!

  • Some other things the boys have been into lately include:

◊ busting out the mat (formerly used when they were learning to crawl) for raucous wrestling matches and perfecting forward rolls;

◊ making music on the piano, with their percussive and wind instruments, and through pure a capella talent;

And Zeke thinks finger paints are way cool.

◊ Houston playing his first board game (Candyland) and 4-game cards set (Spit, Go Fish, Rummy and Crazy 8s);

◊ constructing cities with their wooden blocks and subsequently destroying the talls buildings via screeching, high-speed car;

◊ Hot Wheels, Hot Wheels, Hot Wheels!;

◊ the twins especially enjoying Mr. Potato Head and sidewalk chalk;

◊ everyone making art with finger paints, water colors, crayons, magic markers and stickers, and Houston creating “crafts” (a loose term considering how lame our pinecone turkey turned out) with scissors and glue;

◊ going on many walks/wagon rides;

Gramsey laughs when she sees how excited Gabe (left) and Zeke get when hearing their favorite lift-and-peek book.

◊ spending lots of time outside in the awesome autumn weather, swinging, solo sliding and scaling the side of the play tower (gotta mimmick big bro), crawling on fallen trees in Liberty Loop and climbing up Miss Shawn’s big, steep jungle gym — quite impressive;

◊ helping Daddy rake up leaves and spread them out on our raised-bed garden, and assisting Mommy in gathering wood for nighttime cookouts and campfires;

◊ Houston expertly riding his outgrown trike (Santa will be bringing him a 16″ bike with training wheels) and Gabe diligently trying to follow suit.

Check out all the photos in the October – Part 2 gallery and some more recent shots in November.

Ghoulish Good Times

Houston picked out everyone’s costumes for Halloween this year. He wanted to be a scary skeleton and requested that the twins be Super Mario Brothers, with Gabriel as Mario and Zeke as Luigi. (He plays the “Mario Cart” game on Daddy’s Nintendo DS, as well as sometimes watches a cheesy show about the video-game brothers from the late ’80s.)

Intrigued as always, Gabriel (left) & Zeke help Granny, Mommy & big bro carve the jack-o-lantern.

Granny & Grumps couldn’t stay for all the fun, but they helped us get the boys into their costumes. After hot chocolate, we hit the streets with some of our closest neighbors.

Very soon after the festivities began, Luigi (Zeke) only wanted to eat the few pieces of candy he’d gotten and wasn’t at all interested in continuing with the trick-or-treating nonsense. So Daddy and a stubborn Zeke headed home to hand out treats and eat sweets.

“If I could only ride a trike, surely I could score more candy in a shorter time,” contemplates Mario (Gabriel).

Houston the skeleton, who was sticking with the some of the faster, older kids (led by Miss Heather from next door) eventually got ahead of Mario (Gabriel) and Pocahontas (the boys’ good pal, Maddie), who I was pulling in our new wagon. As we made our way up an incline and farther away from home, we inevitably caught up to an increasingly slower, tired Houston.

That’s about the happiest skeleton I’ve ever seen & that was just the first house!

By that time, Gabe was pretty pooped, so I took him home, where we helped Daddy and Zeke with candy duty, and Miss Ruth and Mr. Kevin (Maddie’s folks) took Houston and Maddie around the hood for more trick-or-treating via wagon.

Even though the Houston, Gabriel and Zeke were on totally different schedules that night, it turned out to be a great Halloween, thanks to awesome neighbors, friends and family, as well as perfect autumn weather.

“Hey, pisan … waddya lookin’ at?!?” says Luigi (Zeke), conjuring his inner Italian machismo.

Click the top photo to check out Part 1 pics, which include trunk-or-treating a few days before Halloween at Uncle Greg and Auntie Merdy’s church, and the above shot to view Part 2.

Gabriel & Zeke Turn 2!

The biggest news of October was that Gabe and Zeke had their 2nd birthday on 10/16. We kicked things off by visiting Steeple Hill Farm, which featured hayrides, pumpkins galore, plenty of farm critters to pet and/or feed, a corn maze, and both an “enchanted” and “butterfly” forest. It was a gorgeous morning and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the seasonal festivities.

Gabe & Zeke start their birthday morning off by hunting for woolly worms on the corn maze.

Then later that afternoon, we had folks over to the house for some more outdoor recreation, including an impressive campfire (built by Stephen) in our newly constructed fire ring (built by me). We toasted s’mores and hot dogs, pigged out on cupcakes and ice cream cones, and just vegged out while we celebrated the twins first two years. They might be double trouble, but Gabriel and Zeke are such a blessing, and this fun-filled day was a perfect reflection of that fact.

The birthday boys wreak havoc in the “enchanted forest.”

The twins had their two-year check-up on 10/18. Zeke weighed 30 pounds and measured at 33 3/4″ high. Gabe was just shy of those numbers, coming in at 29 1/2 pounds and 33 1/4″ tall. We also started them on their alternative vaccine schedule with the doc giving them one shot that day. He also notified me that there are a few vaccines Gabe and Zeke can skip since those particular ailments no longer pose a risk to them by age 2. Very cool.

“I hope I can build campfires as good as Daddy,” thinks Zeke.

The rest of the month consisted of an overnight visit from Gramsey and Papa; our weekly constructive appointments with Miss Pat; hitting the Y on Fridays; trunk-or-treating at Greg and Meredith’s church on 10/27; and then trick-or-treating in the neighborhood on Halloween (more details about those ghoulish good times when I get the pics edited and into gallery).

And we’re kicking off November by taking the kids with us to vote in the oh-so-important midterm elections tomorrow. Yee haw!

A chilly Gabriel warms up around the campfire w/ Mommy.

Starting at the top and moving your way down, click each photo to check out all the pics from Gabriel and Zeke’s birthday. (Thanks to Granny for snapping shots while my hands were full, as well as our neighbor, Miss Heather, for sharing her photos.) Be sure to also check out the three cute additions at the end of the October gallery.