I adore everything about October: the gorgeous hues of the changing foliage; the smells of burning leaves and nature’s exhilarating transition; the sounds of football games and spooky seasonal songs filling the air; and, of course, the perfectly temperate climate and cozy dress (that is, until Hurricane Sandy started mucking things up).
October has its share of occasions, one being Gabriel and Zeke’s birthday on 10/16. We didn’t do a party this year. Instead, we opted to do a few special activities and get them a couple quality gifts.
First, Stephen and I took the boys to the NC Zoo on 10/19, along with Christie, Logan, Asher, Jackson and Piper. It was a perfect day: the kids exhibited particularly good behavior and were troopers trekking around the giant park.
This beautiful autumn day offered up the rare treat of having both Stephen and Logan in tow. Yay for daddies! And we owe much of the trip’s success to our friends ’cause I don’t think it would have been near as much fun without our animal-adventure cohorts. Thanks!
Miss Jessie made a pumpkin bunt cake for each birthday boy (chocolate for Zeke and vanilla for Gabe, of course) and the 3 Amigos decorated it on 10/15. They put the two sides together to create a round shape, decorated it with orange icing and … voila! … you have an awesome pumpkin cake. Too cute!
We had CC community on Gabriel and Zeke’s actual birthday. During the morning social, they were summoned to the front of the room and sung the “Happy Birthday” by all the families. Gabe and Zeke seemed to think being the center of attention amongst the throng of kids was pretty cool.
Afterward, our crew went out to eat with Christie and Asher to any restaurant of the twins’ choosing. The winner? A “McDonald’s with a Play Land!” exclaimed the birthday boys. Then we wrapped up the festivities back at the house with more singing, blowing out candles and feasting on cake on this gorgeous fall afternoon.
We recently got Gabe and Zeke Spider-Man bikes, although these were their “big” reward for being potty trained. So, Stephen and I decided that in addition to our zoo outing, signing the twins up for winter basketball would be one more nice and useful birthday gift.
However, Zeke wasn’t at all interested in playing. “Dribbling a ball will be too hard,” he explained, adding that he likes soccer better because “kicking a ball is easy.” This is a strange comment coming from a child who cried during most of his soccer games this past summer.
Nonetheless, Zeke was adamant that basketball wasn’t at all appealing to him, whereas Gabriel’s enthusiasm for playing the sport never wavered. Thus, we signed up Gabe and not Zeke.
I’m sure we’ll find something more in line with Zeke’s tastes. My guess is that it’ll be karate, which he has mentioned before, or some kind of music lessons.
But in the meantime, I think it will be a good opportunity for Gabriel to do a sport totally solo. Houston often gets to do activities by himself, but it’s a pretty rare occasion when one of the twins gets to do something or go somewhere completely independent of a brother.
For example, Gabe and Zeke spent the first weekend of October up at Granny’s. This was a treat, for sure, but it was still a double-trouble adventure; whereas, Houston got an entire weekend by himself (since he couldn’t leave town due to t-ball).
With his final game on 10/25, Houston’s t-ball season has come to an end. He learned a great deal about the game and his skills have also vastly improved. So should he want to, we think he’s ready for pitch ball next time around.
Another interest of Houston’s is archery. And since he wants to be the super-hero Hawkeye for Halloween, we went ahead and bought him a real bow and arrow set as his early Christmas present from Mommy and Daddy. That way, Houston can use it for his Avengers-inspired costume and then to start learning some archery skills.
I decided to give Zeke and Gabe their Christmas gifts from us early, as well. (That way, only Santa presents will be arriving on Christmas morning.) The twins have been asking for Toy Story dolls for about a year now, with Zeke requesting Woody and Gabriel asking for Jessie.
These 13-inch talking dolls are decent quality, so there has been a learning curve since their arrival (i.e., no throwing or dropping, no smashing, etc.) But the twins are doing fairly well in taking care of their new toys … although Jessie’s hat is already lost somewhere in the living room. Sigh.
Houston’s ant farm was not the success we hoped it would be. After their demise, we took it slow on new “pets” for a while, but we’ve since gone critter crazy again.
It started with a woolly worm Zeke found outside Granny’s mountain house in mid-September. Our beloved “Woolly” is still alive and kicking, residing quite contentedly in our old plastic fish bowl.
Houston, who is definitely the most responsible when it comes to tending to critters, has taken over the proper care and feeding of Woolly. He even gave his weekly CC presentation on Woolly back in early October. We love that cute little worm (well, he’s technically a caterpillar) … definitely one of my all-time favorite pets!
The boys are also on a Granddaddy Long Leg kick. We have tons in the back yard and they just collect ’em up while playing outside. Unfortunately for the critters, their habitat isn’t quite as nice as Woolly’s (read: it’s a Glad container).
There have been some casualties; either the weak ones die due to cramped quarters or those seemingly harmless arachnids are cannibals. Not sure, but either way the kids have a blast with them and are doing me a favor cleaning out my dirty windowsills when collecting their food (decomposing bugs).
Of course, Houston is still caring for his earth worms, who have been a part of the family for months now. Who knows if they’re still alive down in that deep, dark, moist pit of dirt at the bottom of a coffee container, but the worms seem to make Houston happy!
We’ve also had our share of critter fun at CC. On 10/16, Houston and his classmates dissected a crayfish. Houston liked it so much that he begged me to bring his chopped-up crustacean home so that he could show brothers and Daddy.
Then on 10/23, the class dissected owl pellets. And wouldn’t you know … those found rodent bones are now adorning the bulletin board in the boys’ room. Nice.
Houston began his tin-whistle music studies in CC. The kids are learning basic musical terms and theory, so I’m hoping it will help motivate Stephen and me to expand upon what we know.
We’re not experts by any means, but we do have more than a median knowledge of music. I bought the twins tin whistles, as well, so perhaps this part of the curriculum will push us to get our piano tuned and also start teaching the boys some basic guitar and ukulele skills.
Last week, I dusted off and tuned Stephen’s Martin guitar, and the kids and I made up some rather creative songs, ranging in topics from bloody elbows to Stanley being a fat cat to boogers. I’m sure if we keep it fun, we might have one (or two or three) budding musicians in a few years.
October is nothing without some Halloween-ish adventures. On 10/18, the boys and I went on a CC field trip to J. Razz & Tazz Farm. It’s an agri-tourism farm with an 11-acre corn maze, hayride, tons of tractors, silos filled with loose corn, and lots of hay creations, like a giant pyramid.
Stephen has been reading the 3 Amigos a book of folklore called Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark, which was passed down from Cousin Rick via Auntie Lisa. It’s so cool to hear the dudes squealing with laughter (and sometimes fright) as Daddy offers up dramatic interpretations of the short stories.
Stephen — who is quite the scary movie fan — is looking forward to the day when he and the kids can watch the frightening flicks together. So, I think these spooky stories are quenching his desire to introduce the boys to the film genre he loves so much.
To help satiate Stephen’s appreciation of horror (and because I owed him for going to see Jason Lewis with me), the two of us went to Woods of Terror last Friday night. Selected as “One of America’s Best Haunts,” I was dreading it, as I have gotten way too apprehensive about anything too scary or gory over the years.
But the hour-plus long haunted adventure actually turned out to be quite entertaining and thrilling, and well worth the money. Thanks for taking me, Stephen, and for being way cool about me clutching your arm the whole time!