Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween 2011

We started off our 4-day Halloween extravaganza with a little pumpkin painting on Friday. Well, some of us painted pumpkins.
And others of us painted our FACES! Such a boy. 
The Saturday evening before Halloween we went to a special Halloween dance recital being put on by another dance school in town. It was terrific and everybody watched with rapt attention!
I made way too many pretzel and white chocolate ghosts for a bake sale at Sterling's school and no doubt spent more money on purchasing supplies than they made selling them. Oh well, it was for a good cause, right? 
On the Sunday night before Halloween we attended a trunk-or-treat hosted by our church. 
The kids had great fun seeing their friends and even some classmates dressed up for the festivities! 
It was a great safe way for the kids to load up on some loot. You know, in case they weren't already going to be in a sugar coma by the end of Halloween. 
Of course, there was a petting zoo with some little Shetland ponies. Or hey, that's what I think they are. I could be totally wrong. They could be overgrown dogs, I suppose.  
Sterling found another horse to sit atop. Must find therapeutic riding for that boy. 
Not to be outdone, Ella had to sit on the horse too.
Two pretty princesses in their dresses and tennis shoes. Love it.
I'm so sad I didn't get a single good picture of Ella and Sterling with their besties, Maddox and Lucy. This picture will have to do with half of my duo. 
Ugh, apple bobbing. In cold and flu season. Who thinks this is a good idea? Surely not anyone over the age of five. 

Yuck, yuck, yuck. I can just see the chills and fevers coming on. 
On stage for the annual costume contest. 
Oh my word, this may have been the funniest moment of the entire night. The church had a chili dinner for all in attendance at the trunk-or-treat. After everyone had finished eating, Sterling quietly slipped away. I watched from afar as he made his way back to the serving tables, not for more oreos, but for bags and bags of chips. We were in stitches when he came back to the table with arms loaded with chips.
On Halloween my good friend Tracy and I (I'm linking her blog because I think she should post more and enlighten the world with her humor and her kid) prepared a special Halloween snack with the kids in Sterling's class. We made Frankenstein cups with green pudding and crushed oreos. We let all the kids have at it with a meat tenderizer and a bag of cookies. A true Halloween fright, trust me. ***edited: Ugh, I was just viewing this post to make sure it looked okay, and I saw Sterling's left hand in the picture. When I describe how seizures destroy muscle tone, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Notice how the hand not being used curls up very unnaturally in an attempt to provide strength to his opposite side? I always describe his weakness and low muscle tone to people by comparing it to when you pick up a heavy suitcase you may list to the opposite side in an attempt to balance yourself. That's basically what Sterling's muscles do for even minimal tasks like coloring. Sorry to be a downer, I just wanted to make sure I noted that, so perhaps one day, when his epilepsy nightmare is nothing but a faded memory, if I look back on this blog, I'll remember my poor boy's struggles. And know just how far he's come. 
I think the finished product was a hit. 
By the time the actual evening arrived, it felt like we'd been living Halloween for months! Off we went to beg for treats from the neighbors. Such sweeties!
I love this picture. I love how the light is falling just on Sterling. 
He loved his "race car driver clothes". These pictures actually depict the fourth day in a row wearing his costume. He adored it. 
Finally, a nice picture of the foursome!
Storming the neighbor's house.
We'll take it by force if necessary! 
Onward my friends! There is more candy to be had!
After trick-or-treating our block, we joined some friends across town in their neighborhood for a group trick-or-treating. Chaos. 
They warned us that their neighborhood went all out for Halloween, and they weren't kidding! Seriously, lines for candy? What? I have never seen so many trick-or-treaters in my life! And the homeowners were insane! Seriously, we're talking sound systems, runways for costume contests, haunted house (or garages), you name it! Craziness! The kids had fun. Then they were over it. Now we have candy pouring out of our ears. Please no one offer my children anything sweet for at least another 6 months.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Michael's Retirement

Michael retired from the Army on September 22nd at Redstone Arsenal, but the retirement festivities continued into October. In some ways I think it was fitting that Michael retired at Redstone, as that is where he attended AIT all those many years ago. 

Accepting his certificate of retirement. Isn't this the one that all soldiers wait for? 
Accepting a flag. Thank you, Michael, for your 20+ years of dedicated service to this country. You are a true American hero. 
How nice, the Army even gave me a certificate of appreciation. 
On October 2nd we gathered with loved ones for a retirement party at our home. 

Even Uncle Billy, Grand-mere and Grandma drove over to celebrate with us.

As soon as Sterling saw Michael's cake he exclaimed "a Daddy cake!" He was just tickled to see Michael's picture on the cake.
 The man of the hour and his matching son.
It was a lovely evening and I couldn't have asked for it to be more perfect. We were surrounded by friends and family who love and support our family and were happy to celebrate Michael's huge accomplishment. The weather was just perfect, the food was plentiful and all and all it was a fantastic night for a retirement party.
Ella and Sterling helped Michael cut the cake with a saber. All the children in attendance thought that was very cool. 

October 2011

October, October, you were so busy! What does this mean for the coming holiday season?

 First off, it was school picture month. So sad, it's the last of their preschool pictures. How can they possibly be ready for kindergarten next year? Sob!

 Sterling also had soccer pictures this month. Every time we turned around it felt like someone was taking some kind of a picture! I'm so glad Ella won't take her dance pictures until May, it gives us time to recuperate from all these pictures!
And his team picture.
 Goooooo Yellow Jackets!
(green sweat shirt)
We also started October with our annual church picnic. This year the children's choir sang at the picnic. 

Since we were about to experience a very  big change in the kid's lives, we decided to let them play hooky and miss school for the day. We took them to every kid's favorite place....Chuck E. Cheese. Yes, Michael and I braved the frenzied children, loud games and singing mouse for a day of fun for them. They're not really old enough to make any progress with most of the games, but that didn't matter to Sterling. He rode the truck until he was out of tokens!

And this was Ella's favorite ride. Every time you ride it, it takes a picture of you with Chuck E. that prints out when the ride is finished. Ella kept stuffing coins in it and walked away with a stack of pictures. It's a good thing she's not vain or anything.

Pizza with Daddy.

Sterling and Chuck E. (I can't believe Ella vacated the ride long enough for Sterling to have a turn!)

They were so proud of their tickets, can you tell? And of course, all those tickets bought them each a two cent trinket that is long since lost or broken.

Making Sterling's favorite treat in the whole world, brownies, on a Saturday morning. They've both discovered the joys of licking the bowl.

And of course, what Saturday morning would be complete without a soccer game? Did you read the sarcasm in my voice. I am over soccer. It consumes our one and only morning of the week to lounge around and do NOTHING! Sigh, this too shall pass, right?

There's my #23!

Two monkeys.

Cheering on the team from the sidelines.

The very saddest day of the month...Daddy left for work in Kuwait. He's taken a job with a government contract agency and will spend the next year working just outside of Kuwait City. While it's a great career and we're so blessed he was able to find work immediately after getting out of the Army, it was still heartbreaking to say goodbye. One of the upsides to him going to Kuwait as a civilian contractor versus as a soldier is the opportunity for the kids and I to go over there and stay with him for long periods of time. We're hoping to go as soon as Christmas, once he gets settled in.

But in the meantime, goodbyes are always hard.

One more picture with Daddy to keep until our next happy reunion. Godspeed, Michael.

Ella is a victim of the newest trend amongst little girls, the hair feather. Several little girls we know have gotten feathers and I knew it would only be a matter of time before she was asking for one.

Sterling also got a much needed haircut! It's so nice to see his eyes and ears again!

It just so happened that my very good friend, Tracy, was working for a weekend outside of Atlanta, not too far from grand-mere's house. When I heard where she'd be working, I knew we should make it a road trip. I hadn't taken the kids to visit grand-mere in months, and I knew she wouldn't mind having an extra "grandchild" running around. So, while Tracy worked that Saturday I took Ella, Sterling and Ollie to another Chuck E. Cheese. My kids have been begging to go back since Michael and I took them, and I knew it would be an easy way to kill time.

While in Atlanta there happened to be an underground_food_market going on. Can you say "yum"? Seriously, delish! And what a fun way to spend an evening!

Ella tries what would become Sterling's favorite food of the night, meat loaf topped with Gruyere mashed potatoes. He seriously was obsessed with these little hearty bites. He spent the whole night asking for more and we actually bought the last portion from the vendor!

Before leaving Atlanta, Tracy and I made the spur of the moment decision to take the kids to the Georgia Aquarium. Ouch, that's an expensive decision, but in the end, I think it was very worth it. The kids loved it equally as much as the adults.

Our ragtag crew.

I think the best exhibit at the aquarium has to be the Ocean Voyager exhibit. I'm always just as mesmerized as the kids when going through the underwater tunnel.

It truly is awe inspiring!

I love the aquarium. How many other times in your life do most people get the chance to get this up close and personal with the beasts of the deep sea?

Ella says the Tropical Diver exhibit is her favorite because it had "pink fish". What. a. surprise.

Petting sting rays in a hands on exhibit.

This was Sterling's very favorite part of the aquarium. He absolutely loved touching the sting rays and we had to make several return trips to the tank to do it again and again.

I'm amazed no one ended up in the tank, aren't you?

Ella was so excited to see this picture of the two of us together. I'll have to hold on to that memory when she's a teenager and rolls her eyes at the very mention of taking a picture with her mom!

Ella's class went on a field trip to the pumpkin patch. Sadly, I had to work in my own classroom that day, but I was fortunate enough to know another mother who was chaperoning and offered to take some pictures for me. Look at all those platinum blond girls in her class! It's amazing the teacher can keep their names straight! There must have been something in the water that year.

They all had so much fun picking cotton, feeding chickens, playing in hay stacks, and running corn mazes.

Oh, and of course, picking pumpkins too! When I picked her up from school that afternoon, her teacher told me she worked very hard to find the very smallest pumpkin in the patch. I'd believe it, that thing was tiny!

I did get to attend Sterling's farm field trip with his class.

They had a hay bale the children could all play in.

All the kids loved climbing to the top of the hay and sliding back down.

This was Sterling's very favorite part of the whole day. As soon as he got off the bus and spotted the horse it was all he could do to wait his turn. I didn't know if he might become intimidated after getting up on the horse's back, but he didn't. He really and truly loved riding horseback. Maybe we should we ask Santa for a pony for Christmas?

Giddy up, cowboy.

The owner's of the horse were so kind. They let Sterling take a while looking the horse over after his ride examining his teeth and horse shoes. Sterling is still talking about the horse's "big teeth". 

These two are just trouble, look at them!

We also roasted hot dogs the old fashion way.

And of course, what campfire would be complete without s'mores to top it all off?

This year Ella had the opportunity to dance with her dance studio at the Renaissance Fair.

Her ballet class preformed their "rays of sunshine" dance for onlookers.

Prima ballerina.

Sterling's school had a fall festival party the Friday before Halloween. All the children attended in costume and by the pictures I'd believe they all had a wonderful time.

I had to work the day of their party so I couldn't attend, but again I was lucky enough to have someone on the "inside" snapping pics for me! What would I do without my friends?