Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The lighting of the house

Because I love Scott more than I love the conventional logic which states Christmas decorations should be kept at bay until after Thanksgiving has been given its proper opportunity to shine as a holiday worth celebrating. That's why the outdoor lights went up two weeks ago.
It was also handy that we were having unseasonably wonderful, warm weather. Even once the sun went down we were comfortable outdoors in our short sleeves.
While Scott did most (all) of the actual work involved, the rest of us contributed by singing along to the Christmas music playing on the ipod, experimenting with slow shutter speeds, and having a series of ninja battles in the front yard (see unrecognizable blurs near the bottom of the post). I've never had so much fun putting up Christmas lights, in November or otherwise.


Before:

During:

After:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Because I can't really sew something and not blog about it, can I?

Bean bags!! 25 of them...enough for everyone in Josh's kindergarten class plus a few extra (because you know some of them are going to come apart/get lost/be used as kleenex/get eaten).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More on Ben turning eight...

Ben was baptized in early November. Right afterwards he said to me with the sweetest smile I have ever seen, "I wish I could do that again." I asked him why and he answered, "Because I just feel so good right now."
Then of course he entered the world of Cub Scouting. He has long been anticipating the fun he's about to have. His first question was, "Do you know when the pinewood derby is?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Lydia has been saying lately:

"Totally."
Sometimes as part of the sentence. ("I am totally wearing my pink skirt today.")
Sometimes as an afterthought. ("I love this drawing.......totally.")

And then there's her favorite joke.
"Mom, can you look under there for me?"
"Under where?"
"You said underwear!!" *hysterical laughter*
This whole bit is repeated over and over until I crack...usually four or five times. Once I decided I would outlast her. I would keep going until she got tired of it. Big mistake. It was an exercise in futility. After a full five minutes (that doesn't seem like very long, but seriously get a stopwatch and tell this joke over and over without a single pause for a full five minutes...it's an eternity) I finally cried uncle.

Then just this morning she was sitting on the couch and as I passed by she called out, "Mom! Hurry! Get on the couch! You're standing in the lava-poop!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soccer 2009






Soccer is fun. The season just ended and we'll miss it (though we'll enjoy our freed-up Saturdays). It's been great to see them gain real skills as they get older. They are finally learning to be aggressive. Even Josh scored a goal this season. Sometimes three is a lot of young players to keep up with, but Scott is not coaching this season and that has made a huge difference in our level of joy. We love soccer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good kids

Not just good. Great. Phenomenal. Exceptional. I'm so proud these kids are ours.
Case in point: doughnuts for A's. Luckily I was reminded that Krispy Kreme offers free doughnuts to students who bring in their report cards and show off their good grades. Our three students each volunteered to share with us three non-students too. Yummy.
Case in point the second: Character Counts. Our school (along with the whole county? I'm not actually sure) has this deal going where they have eight pillars of character that they focus on throughout the year--two for each grading period. For the first grading period (the one that ended with these doughnuts) the two pillars were "Responsibility" and "Trustworthiness." Every teacher chooses one girl and one boy in their class to recognize for outstanding achievement in each of these areas. (Emma and Ben have both been picked for one pillar or another every year so far. That's right, they're awesome.)
Josh was the first one home from school on report card day. While he had a snack I looked through his school folder and read the newsletter. They had listed all the students who had won the awards. I skimmed the Responsibility winners in our grades and noticed a few names of kids I know. That's nice, good for them. Then, be still my heart. I looked at the Trustworthiness winners and found the name Cruze three times. These kids are so good and I love them so much and I surely don't deserve them.

But I tell you what, I trust them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More Halloween stuff?

We're a bit behind aren't we? I think this is the last specifically Halloween-related post. Though there will most likely still be many from October.
Look! We put spooky big cobwebs all over the front porch. They became creepier and creepier as they filled with real dead beetles, moths and ladybugs over the weeks. Our neighbor gave us an orange bulb and a black light bulb for our porch lights. We later discovered he also gave two other sets of neighbors various types of Halloween lights for their homes. One man's quest to unify the neighborhood through festive outdoor lighting?
Part of the festivities on Ben's birthday included buying and carving/painting our pumpkins. Try to guess who each one belongs to. Hint: one child went on a field trip to a pumpkin patch and so got two pumpkins this year.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Afton Walks

Beginning of October:

video

End of October:

video

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And then there was the 31st...

Halloween evening we were invited with many other families over to our friends' house for a big party. They fed us a great big dinner and tons of desserts with the UT game on in the background. What could be better? After eating all of the kids hit the streets for good old fashioned trick-or-treating. It had been sprinkling on and off all day, so we were lucky that while we were going door to door the precipitation was limited to a light misting. The kids hardly noticed, so excited they were. Lydia only even asked me to carry her treat-bucket twice. Once all of the kids made it back to the house, they were divided in to age groups to go through the haunted woods behind the back yard. I took Josh and Lydia with the under-7 group and it was great. All of the dads at the party had donned masks and glowing-eye goggles and such, and were hiding along side the path that we walked on through the woods. They did a good job of not being too scary for little kids but still being fun. It was a super-great party, I hope they do it again next year.

Now: the evening's attire. Even though all of the kids love Harry Potter and enjoyed their trunk-or-treat costumes, none of them had any interest in wearing them again when it was the big night. Not a problem, I assured them, you can be whatever you want that we can put together with what we have in the house.
It was really interesting to see what they came up with. Given the restrictions I had given them and the fact that we didn't start assembling things until Saturday afternoon I had my doubts about how these costumes would turn out. I ended up being very pleasantly surprised though.
Ben and Josh each changed their minds several times in the days leading up to Halloween. Mummy, werewolf, Darth Mahl (spelling?), ghost, Jedi, vampire, Darth Vader, and so forth...round and round their indecision went. Finally, on Saturday morning they knew what they wanted to be.
[Regular white church shirt and dark pants, red ribbon around neck, dark red paint-blood, plastic fangs and look, it's Scott's Prof. Snape wizard robe cut off to be a Ben-sized vampire cape! Perfect!]

[Painted on nose and whiskers, and dark brown fleece wolfy features (fuzzy chest, eyebrows and sideburns, knee showing through hole in jeans, and fuzzy hands...faux-fur would have looked much better, but we didn't have any. But brown fleece; yes. The same fleece used for Ben's scarecrow hat last year.), and a brown sock tail in the back. He's howling, by the way...he's a werewolf by the way.]
Now Emma on the other hand decided on her costume literally the day after Halloween last year. I don't know where the idea came from or why it stuck, but for whatever reason she did not waver once on her choice to be...a bat. [Black tights and legging under a black skirt and long-sleeved black shirt. We made her wings with scraps from making the original Snape-robe. It was Emma's own clever idea to hot glue some pieces of yarn on them to look a little more wingy. She also asked if I could add some pink felt scraps to Lydia's Dobby-ears. Voila.]

Lydia was less creative. All week she talked about being Tinkerbell (which she did in fact dress as for her preschool Halloween party), then at the last minute threw on a pink-barbie-fairy type dress-up thing and called it good. Sorry, I didn't even take her picture in it. Afton we dressed in the same ducky costume that baby-Cruzes have been wearing for the past nine years.
Here's our four trick-or-treaters with one of their friends. I edited out everyone's red-eyes in the photo, but now I realize that with the exception of Lydia, everyone's look might have actually been enhanced by leaving them in.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trunk or Treat

The Wednesday before Halloween we always have a fun trunk-or-treat at church. This year was enhanced with a chili cook-off dinner...Scott got to be a judge.
As we've discussed, the coolest families always dress up together with a theme. Luckily, this truth has been solidified in our children's young, impressionable minds. This year the idea of Mario Kart characters was tossed around, but after considering the difficulty of costumes (beyond Mario and Luigi) and the fact that most people probably wouldn't know who Baby Daisy and Dry Bones were, the kids decided very enthusiastically on Harry Potter characters.
Handy reference guide:
Lori = Prof. Trelawny
Josh = Ron
Ben = Harry
Lydia = Dobby (before his freedom)
Emma = Hermione
Scott = Prof. Snape
Afton =Golden Snitch
I loved this theme because most of what we used we had around the house or we borrowed. The only two real projects were fashioning some Dobby-ears from an old headband and some felt and sewing up a quick Snape-robe. A big shout-out and thanks goes to the Sextons for loaning us their Harry Potter costume (we divided up the robe, scarf and hat among our three Hogwarts students) and to Cally's sister, Cassy, who invented and created the snitch costume for her daughter last year then was so kind as to let Afton wear it this year.
We turned our van into Gryffindor Hall:

We drank spooky lemonade:
We found another Hermione (many years ago these two were both Cinderella):
And the kids wound up the evening in their friends' trunk eating their bounty:
Lydia was very enthusiastic about being Dobby even though she had no idea who he was:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Afton...


...has discovered her tongue. Turns out it's cute.

Ben = 8

How can this be? I have got to figure out how to stop this kid from growing up.
Ben is kind. He is earnest, smart (smart, smart), athletic, creative, and compassionate. A defining moment for Ben came when he was two years old. Josh was a very new baby at that time and still a novelty. One day I had just changed his diaper and laid him on a blanket on the floor while I went to wash my hands. From the moment I put him there he started crying. I wasn't too concerned (you know...third born...he'll be fine if he cries for 30 seconds). But Ben was concerned. As I came back into the room I found little Ben standing over our crying baby just looking down at him and crying big alligator tears of his own. That image has come back in to my mind time and time again in the years since. When I see him being protective of his younger siblings, comforting them, or giving up something to make someone else happy. He has that ability to feel what others feel, I think. He's a really great friend to have, and the kind of son that makes me proud every day.
For his birthday he requested a Yoda cake. Hmmm. I did not have as much time to devote as I would have liked. I warned him it may or may not look very much like Yoda but promised I'd do my best and it would be delicious no matter what.