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Saturday, December 19, 2015

November 2015 and Landon's 4th Birthday

Let's start off with this lovely (and LARGE) assortment of toys... What's so interesting about these, you might wonder?  Well, I was reaching down into a vent duct to get a small toy that one of the boys dropped through the air slots, and saw there was a car down there, too.  As I reached for it, my hand touched several more cars, and I kept reaching further and further into the vent until I got them all - ELEVEN cars down in the vent!  This is the second such discovery of toys found in places they definitely should not be... you may remember a year or two ago I opened the back of a speaker and found a ton of toys that had been dropped in by little hands through the sound opening on the front of the speaker.  Small and unusual places are sure appealing for little hands and eyes.

Landon turned 4 this month, which he is of course very excited about.  He got to be Star of the Week at preschool during the week leading up to his birthday.  It turned out he was starting to catch a flu bug, which we discovered the next morning, so he looks far less than enthusiastic to be celebrating at school.  

The birthday balloons in the doorway have become a fun tradition for the boys.   It always starts the day of with fun, and keeps them entertained for at least an hour afterward.  

Here is one of those moments when we get to enjoy seeing the closeness these two have with one another... They are buddies, and love each other so much!

We kept things very simple for Landon's birthday party this year - family and one friend of his choice, and we celebrated with dinner together at Rick's Pizza and some homemade Paw Patrol cupcakes.  The kids had fun being together, and it was amazing to not be stressed or rushing around an hour before the party because there was no house to be cleaned or decorations to be hung.  Now I get why people pay the big bucks to have parties outside of their houses!!  We'll have to find more ways to do that in the future!

Oh Beau...  This is SO Beau! :)

With Caleb being in school five days a week this year, and most of Landon's friends going to MWF preschool schedule, he and I spend our MWFs together alone.  On those days he often requests going to the science museum.  We have a membership which makes it easy to drop in for short, frequent visits, and I do mean frequent - we are usually there one or two times each week.  

Bella the lover... she came and put herself right in the middle of the action to get some attention, right on top of the floor puzzle Landon was building. 

The start of our backyard turning red... one of my favorite times of the year!

The boys enjoyed putting together Landon's new puzzles one Saturday morning. 

Baking time with Candace.  Today they were measuring spices for Pumpkin Pie. 

My handsome boys!

Landon's preschool had their Thanksgiving Feast, for which the kids help prepare the food that they will eat.  Landon always loves eating tons of black olives, and this year he actually ate some of the turkey as well as trying Pumpkin Pie for the first time.

For Kindergarten, Caleb got to have a whole day dedicated to Thanksgiving, and they moved from one activity to the next amongst the three Kinder classrooms.  Activities included making butter in a mason jar, crushing cranberries, mashing corn with rocks, and making these indian costumes out of paper bags and the pilgrim hat that Landon borrowed for the picture. 

All was well at Landon's 4 year checkup, with the exception of an ear infection from a cold he had recently (that he hadn't complained about one bit).  He currently weighs 43lbs (92nd percentile) and is 3' 6'' tall (84th percentile)

Landon is into all sorts of puzzles, coloring, writing letters and words that he tries to sound out himself, playing soccer and baseball, riding his bike, building Legos, talking in a high-pitched version of his raspy little voice, and general silliness and goofy facial expressions.   He wants to 'do his homework' like big brother does, and he loves to help cook in the kitchen, both at home and at the shoppe.  He seems to pick up quickly on song lyrics, and recently told me if he could play any instrument he would want to play the guitar and violin. 

This Thanksgiving we did something different - everyone headed down to Newport to spend the holiday with my brothers and their families.  Mom and Dad had enough air miles for themselves and Caleb and Landon, so the boys got to fly down and back from Orange County (which they were very excited about), and also very excited about getting to go with Papa and Nonni and Papa Jack and Nana Dee all by themselves, because Jimmy and I drove down in our car ALL BY OURSELVES.  We had seven and a half hours in the car, with uninterrupted conversations, it was great!  


The boys had SO much fun playing with their cousins.  Caleb is 5, Deacon 4, Landon 4, Delanie 2, and Jackson almost 2, so they all had a blast running around, playing super heroes, Legos, and any other thing they could find to do together.  

Joey and Lindsey hosted Thanksgiving at their house for the first time this year.  Everything was delicious and beautiful, and the kids were excited to have a table all for themselves. They played and played and played some more, while the adults ate and ate and ate some more.  The post-feast walk was much needed, and got out more energy from the kids as they raced each other around the block.  Jackson was so cute trying to keep up with the older kids... he was going as fast as his little legs could take him! 


Our friend and firefighter Mike was working while we were in Orange County so all the dads took the boys and Lanie for a visit around the station, as well as a trip down the fire pole.

One of Landon's birthday requests was to have a piñata, but since we celebrated his birthday at Rick's Pizza, it wasn't really possible.  I had bought him one thinking we could maybe do it at home before going to Rick's, but since we ran out of time, we took it to SoCal instead and let the kids have fun with it instead.

Caleb's creation - the start of a unit on Gingerbread man that he made for school.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

October 2015

At the beginning of the month we took a trip up to Fog Willow Farms pumpkin patch to meet our friends, Luke and Shana, from the bay area.  It was the first of three trips to Fog Willow that would happen this month - one for each of the boys' school field trips.  Of course they didn't mind. :)

Our second trip to Camp Faithful in a month's time, so lucky!  And lots more pictures this trip as well :)   This time the whole William's side was there - Joey, Aly, and kids, April, Ben and little Eli, Nana Gigi (Regina), and our family.  

(Left) Uncle Ben is so good about getting down and playing games with the kids.  This time I think it was Go Fish.   (Right) Wren (8 months) and Eli (6 months) happily hanging out in the stroller.

As I mentioned in the September post, the pool here is awesome and huge.  In the picture of airborn Landon you can see the wade in 'beach' area on the left, and below is the kids' favorite, the water slide.  
Water fun with Uncle Joey.... He was launching them each up into the air (which the LOVED), and then everyone hooked up for a train ride, with Beau trying to catch up to them!


Nana Gigi brought lots of fun crafts for the kids to do... masks, spinning pinwheels, cookies to frost...  The pinwheels were the biggest hit I think - they ran back and forth across the backyard a hundred times making them spin in the breeze.

SWAT team reporting for duty!  Caleb Elson loves playing with our spy gear (a periscope and binoculars), and apparently the SWAT uniforms should go along with being spies.  

One of the activities that is currently occupying one afternoon a week is Soccer!  This is the first time we signed the boys up for any sports or team activity, and they are loving it.  Its called Soccer Shots, and they basically just play lots of fun games to teach them the basics of soccer, and for the last few minutes of each thirty-minute practice, they scrimmage against each other to 'practice their skills'.  Coach Emmanuel is great with the kids, and the one time we ran into him at the shoppe, Caleb was so excited he talked about it for a few days afterward.  

This is 'control' position.  They always start here before going into something new.

It has been fun watching the boys' different personalities come out while learning to play soccer.  Caleb wants to be right up front charging toward the ball rather aggressively, similar to Jimmy.  Landon on the other hand is slow and steady when dribbling, more consistent with my personality.  Perhaps part of Landon's behavior could also be due to the fact that he mostly stopped napping a few months ago, so at 4pm he is sometimes pretty tired (see picture below of Landon near the goal net).  I think its a mix of both.

...And their (very unofficial, parents taking with cell phones) team picture :)

In the process of cleaning out their garage this Fall, my mom came across the box with all my old Barbies and clothing.  There are tons of dolls (including several Ken dolls), and Caleb LOVED playing with them and changing their clothes.  Some people might think its weird to let our boys play with Barbies, but in my mind, its just like playing people and dressing them like we get ourselves dressed, and a very different kind of play from all their other toys...trucks, Legos, Ninja Turtles, and puzzles.  Barbie's unrealistically perfect image aside, it has made for some fun and different imaginary play.

We took a visit to Weber's Cabinets with my parents one Monday morning to discuss some cabinets they are having made.  'Miss Melissa' as we call her, who is one of the lead teachers for Cubbies (AWANAS), also works at Weber's Cabinets.  She gave the boys a tour around their workshop, and showed them some of the beautiful cutting boards they make, explaining and demonstrating how they put all the pieces of wood together.  Later that week, Caleb gathered these pieces of wood kindling we had left over from their backyard campout with Jimmy, and he lined them all up and used one stick to tap them together perfectly, pretending to build the way they do at Webers.  Fun to watch him try to recreate it himself. 

On our way to church one week part of Lodi Avenue was blocked off for the A&W car show, so the boys and I returned after church for lunch and to check out the cars...


.....Meanwhile Jimmy, Joey, Jim, and Jim's friend were having a great time at the 9ers game :)

During Lodi Unified's two week fall break, Caleb got to participate in Junior Jazzercise, which he loved.  The kids, ages 4-10, got to dance, play tons of games, learn about nutrition, exercise, and healthy living.  I stayed to help out one of the days and loved seeing all of the kids having tons of fun.

This was super cute - the kids used stuffed animals as their 'weights' for the strength songs...

Caleb with his weights.  He insisted on choosing his two largest stuffed animals to bring from home.

Baker and Caleb Elson also participated in the Junior Jazzercise camp.  Meanwhile, since Landon and Eli were too young and on one of the days I stayed to help April, Amy took L and E to Micke Grove and out for a treat.  

In the past year or so, several young families have started moving into our neighborhood, which is so much fun.  One of the neighbors has started hosting get-togethers for the families with young kids so we can get to know each other.  The last one was during the summer, and this was the second annual Halloween party, hence the kids all in costumes.  Nearly all of the new neighbors have little boys, ages infant to six years - about a dozen boys and maybe two or three girls.  This time a lot of them were old enough to really play together and have fun together.  Landon's R2D2 costume wasn't ready yet, so we pieced together this Yoda costume from dress-up items we already had, which was perfect, and Caleb was Darth Vader. :)


Trip #2 to Fog Willow Farms - this time for Landon's preschool field trip.  He got to brush the sheep, and learned that Alpaca's have the warmest fur out of any other animal! 

(Left) Tired boy before lunch.    (Right) Back to himself after lunch!

Stands just like his daddy :)

Learning about bees...

This is the first time we went into the mining area at Fog Willow.  I bought a bag of sand and gemstones and Landon got to sift through all of it to find some pretty cool and colorful stones.  

Preschool group picture at Fog Willow.

The third weekend of October I was one of ten moms blessed to go out of town, child-free, for a girls weekend to celebrate Aly's 30th Birthday!  We went up to Camp Faithful (the Truckee cabin).   It was so much fun talking, hanging out, going for walks, doing a Jazzercise class together, and getting to know some of them better - without any kind of agenda, or kids to bathe, feed, and put to bed! We had an amazing weekend!

The clubhouse at the cabin has an awesome gym and fully loaded workout room, so we took advantage of our big group and I got to teach a Jazzercise class to them!  Aside from the added challenge of being at a high altitude (at one point I thought I was going puke!), and not having a mic to cue into (ie voice nearly gone after an hour)!, we had the room's sound system to connect to and it was a ton of fun! 

While I was in Truckee with all the girls, Jimmy was in Atlanta at an annual produce conference, and the boys spent the weekend with my mom and dad.  They went to Caleb's school's Halloween/Fall Festival, dressed in costumes, and danced, played and had a ton of fun with his classmates.

These are funny... I feel like I can see a lot of my dad in both boys in these pictures!  The glasses and mustache do the trick. 

During the same week as Landon's school got to wear their pajamas (in place of a Halloween party), Caleb had his turn for a class field trip to Fog Willow.  It fell on a day I was teaching Spanish so I wasn't able to go with him, but Caleb was very excited about their class t-shirts (each of them drew a self-portrait that was put onto the shirts), about his friend Sebastián, and especially about riding a big yellow school bus for the first time!  As a parent, it felt weird to just send him off and assume he would be fine riding on the school bus without me there.  Small, but big, parenting moment letting him go with his teacher and me not being there! 


In September I picked up a Darth Vader costume for Caleb to wear for Halloween, but didn't find anything that day in Landon's size.  A few days later, Jimmy told me he was going to make an R2-D2 costume for Landon to go along with Caleb's Vader.   It seemed a bit crazy to me, but it was his thing, and I wasn't going to try to stop him.  It took quite a lot of time....we estimated maybe 12-14 hours over a course of a few weeks.   Jimmy was very proud of the finished product, and Landon was thrilled at the idea of it.  Wearing it was another thing...

At the last minute (ie Friday morning the day before Halloween) Jimmy decided that he and I should dress up with the boys' Star Wars theme.  I scrambled around Friday morning to find components for our costumes and was able to pull off my Princess Leia and his Jedi.  It turned out to be really fun to have the whole family dressed with one theme. :) 

We went for the annual Halloween get-together at Tameem and Deanna's house, ate some chili, did some very brief trick-or-treating, during which Landon insisted on taking his costume off after every house, and then handed out candy at their house.  Several familiar faces came knocking on the door, but it was a fun surprise to see the Mettler family, dressed all as Star Wars characters as well!