Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Month of Fright

We have had a lot of fun celebrating Halloween in our family this year, and it's only October 30! We get one more day. A few of the fun things we've done:

1. Carve Pumpkins with Aunt Shauri and Uncle James. The Betrothed were really, really nice and brought us dinner and pumpkins to carve last Sunday. (Which was nice, because we had been in Charlottesville for the baptism of our niece Katie -- Hurray for Katie!!!) And then they helped us carve some wicked scary pumpkins:

There really is never a good way to carve a pumpkin. It's gross, and dirty and messy. But there is a good company with which to carve a pumpkin. And never was there better pumpkin carving company than Uncle James and Aunt Shauri.

2. Max and Aviva had a Halloween parade at school. You can't tell from Aviva's pictures, but she chose to be Olivia the Pig, one of her favorite literary characters. Aviva refused to wear her piggy ears for the parade. Max was rocking the Mummy costume and was more than willing to do a mummy walk and groan upon demand.

3. We had a Halloween party at church. Max and Aviva stuck with their original costumes, and we stuffed Leo into the gorilla costume. It really is the best costume for that age group because Leo looks like a mini-King Kong with his shaking walking (see below for walking update).

We had a lot of fun at the party. Aviva and Max both won cupcakes in the cupcake walk. They also loaded up on treats in the trunk-or-treat. Sadly, Kristin's chili did not win the cook-off. I was pissed. I don't want to talk about it.

4. Leo is walking. He's only taking a few steps at a time, but it's cute. At first, he would only walk to Kristin. But then he started walking to Grandma Delsa. And finally, he now walks to me. He also runs from Aviva.

This video is a few days old. He's already much better and can walk across a room if being chased by Aviva or if he's walking to Grandma or Kristin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Abram Jeremy Ellis Salon

When Aviva is mad at me, she insists that Abram does her hair.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Max's Birthday Party

I read design blogs. And I know very well that most of you reading this do too, so I am making myself very vulnerable by posting pictures of my child's birthday party sans Amy Atlas treat table and matching labels for the food, birthday banner, etc.

Anyway, here they are. Max wanted a camping party, so we had a fishing hole, where they caught their party favors, including a flashlight they used to go on a rock hunt in our basement. We had a tent set up in the dark basement and I brought them down there to tell ghost stories. At the perfect moment, the werewolf from last year's party showed up. Their screams were so satisfying. It made the whole party worth it.


A few thoughts on my favorite Second Son of a Second Son of a Second Son of a Second Son (yes, Leo is at least the 4th in a line of second sons):

1. He recently started pulling himself up and walking along furniture. He will also take a few unassisted steps if -- and only if -- he's walking to Kristin. He will not walk to me, Max or Aviva, only Kristin. He has always had a special place in his heart for Kristin. Like the other kids, he likes me, and he likes to play with me, but he absolutely beams with light when he see his mom.

2. He is so sweet. So much of his personality reminds me of Max as a little boy, except that Max used to be so aggressive. It's like if you took all of Max, took away Max's aggressiveness, and put everything back in, you would get Leo. Leo cuddles (at least with Kristin), smiles all the time, is generally happy to be anywhere and do anything (other than be the subject of Aviva's affection). Just pure sweetness.

3. Leo loves Max with all his heart. Leo gets to pull Max's hair, which hurts Max, but Leo loves it. And you can tell that Leo loves Max for it. Max will also scare Leo -- Max will hide behind something than jump out and scream at Leo. I think it's annoying; Leo loves it. Even though he's also a little bit scared at first, when Leo realizes it's just his big brother Max, he starts smiling and laughing.

4. He is the only one of our three kids who wakes up talking to himself (and not screaming bloody murder to get out of the crib). And for that, I will pay for him to go to any college he wants. The others are going to BYU.


A few thoughts on my favorite little girl in the whole world:

1. Aviva is absolutely unrelenting. Were she a stallion, she would never be broken. Were she the queen of France, she would say "Let them eat cake." But she's a little girl. And when she wants something, she uses all the tools at her disposal: smiling, crying, fighting, tempers and tantrums, sweetness, etc. Redirection is difficult with her because she herself is a master at it, and has used it to her advantage. It is impressive to be in the presence of someone who knows what she wants, and often gets it through the sheer force of her will.

2. She has recently started being very chatty. When I picked Max up from the school the other day, with Aviva and Leo in tow, Aviva ran up and hugged Max, grabbed his hand and asked, "How was your day, Max?" Another student's mother was there and turned and looked at me and put her hand on heart. I agreed. I heart when Aviva asks Max about his day. And she does it a lot. She asks me about my day at the end of the day too. And she listens to my answers.

One day a few weeks ago after asking Max how his day was, she turned and said, "Don't you want to hear about my day?"

3. She has also recently started to give appreciative thanks. For the first 3 years of her life, I'm not sure I ever heard her give a sincere thanks. Mostly, I think, because she thinks she earned everything she ever got (see #1 above). But recently, she started being grateful without prompting. One day after school: "Mom, thanks for putting that yogurt in my lunch. It was so good." And from there, she's been thankful for a whole host of things: thanks for remembering to bring water on the trip, thanks for bringing a sweater, thank your for getting us cheese pizza you're the best mom in the whole world, thank you for taking us to the park, etc.

4. She loves our nameless neighbors the "bike neighbors." (They're obviously not nameless, and Aviva knows their names, I think, but only ever calls them "bike neighbors.") One of their favorite games -- and Max loves it too -- is Cops and Robbers. All of the kids but one are robbers, and the other kid is a cop. The cop is supposed to chase the robbers and put them in jail. Aviva loves to be the cop. She never catches any of the robbers, which suits the robbers just fine, but she loves to have people run from her in fear. She just loves it.

5. She tries to force Leo to like her. She used to do this by straddling Leo as Leo lay on the ground and Aviva said with a sweet voice (but forceful) voice: "You love me, yes you do." Over and over and over. It was clear to everyone that Leo hated it. When we would ask Aviva to stop, she would glare at us and say, "Leo likes it."

Leo now has a wary look on his face when Aviva approaches. They've reached a sort of detente, but he better always let her think he loves her or I'm worried about him.

6. We recently introduced Max and Aviva to the Wizard of Oz, mainly because I got tired of making up stories and decided to start borrowing fro Disney and other sources. When we first started watching the movie, she was so scared of the wicked witch. And she never remembered Dorothy's name. "What's that girl's name who's with Toto," she'd ask.

Now, she loves the wicked witch. Yesterday I asked her what she likes about the Wizard of Oz and she said, "The wicked witch." She said I could be one of her flying monkeys.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A few things I love about my oldest:

1. Max is full of enthusiasm and he cannot help but put his whole soul into the things he does. This often means he's screaming with happiness at 6:00 am. A few of the things that make him scream with happiness: watching dolphins at the Baltimore aquarium, watching the lollipop guild sing to Dorothy with their mouths in a crooked way, wrestling (which means him running at me full steam from the other room and ramming me with his huge and hard-as-rock noggin'), playing with cousins, and eating crepes with nutella.

2. Max is so affable. People everywhere love him. I picked Max up from school the other day and ran into his old teacher at the playground while I was waiting for Max's class to finish up. She took one look at me and said, "You must be Max's dad. You look just like him. I love Max. He's always so happy and the kids just loved being around him." That's the way I feel.

3. He cares for his family. Whenever his friends are being mean to Aviva (by, for example, not letting Aviva play), Max always sticks up for her. Always. He'll tell his friends that that's not how he plays, and then he'll go and grab Aviva's hand and say, "Come on Aviva. Come play with us."

And with Leo, he is always so quick to make Leo happy when Leo is crying. One of Max's favorites is to let Leo pull Max's hair. Max cries and laughs at the same time.

4. He hates homework. His homework consists of doing things like "writing the number 4 four times" and "learn the first three digits of your phone number" -- it's not that complicated, even for beginning kindergartners. But he hates it. When I asked him the other day if he was ready for his homework, he said, "I hate homework. I have to do it every day. Every day, dad!" Other things that he hates to do every day: put on clothes, brush his teeth, and go to bed.

5. A few cute stories about Max recently:
  • Last night while praying: "Please bless daddy to go to work tomorrow and makes lots of money."
  • Max said to Kristin the other day, while driving back from Michigan after a week-long trip there, "I can't wait to jump into daddy's arms."
  • Max sings in primary at the top of his lungs. He loves him some singing time.