Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Y'all

Check it out! It's the Wyckoff family version of a Christmas Miracle!

It took the endless patience that only someone like Diane has to get one halfway decent Christmas family photo of the four of us. But we got one! Woohoo!

The children's Christmas Eve service at our church had just concluded, so the boys were rarin' to go. Poor David's still at the church, preparing to sing in the 5 p.m. candlelight service. A service that will be full of nice, quiet adults and youth who can sit in their seats and hold live flames. I know....I can't completely grasp it, either. It sounds like a fairy tale. 

The boys and I are fixing to go drive around look at Christmas lights while David sings. We started doing this the year that William had strep throat--we just piled in the car and drove around to look at lights while listening to Christmas music. And um, eating chicken fingers. (Look, if we're eating, we're all happy.) Hmmm, where's the best place around here to get some chicken fingers?

Hope that you have a merry and meaningful Christmas this year. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Now with extra festive!

Can't get enough of the holiday cheer, can I?

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This was taken at the Dickens of a Christmas festival in Franklin. It was probably the best picture I took all day. I may have to make some Christmas cards after all...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We are festive!

I got the obligatory visit-to-see-Santa out of the way early this holiday season, which was a good thing because Thanksgiving was late, and I feel like we're trying to jam-pack everything into a much smaller window of time. Probably because we are. Even though I've deliberately tried to curate our obligatory holiday cheer into manageable chunks, it still takes time to be festive, you know. 

Festive with Santa!

William asked Santa for a Disney Infinity video game thing. Andrew asked for--and I quote--"surprises." When asked about his response later, he said that he'd just like some surprises that he's never gotten before. Done and done. God, I love him. Thank you, my dear younger son, for making this holiday easy on your weary old mom and dad. This means we can get him anything, and it will satisfy his criteria. 

What other holiday frivolity have we indulged in thus far, you might ask? Well, let's see. Mom, Diane and I took the boys to Franklin for the Dickens of a Christmas festival last Saturday. Very fun. Very crowded, but very fun. William and Andrew sampled pickles, crawled on Civil War cannons, listened to handbells, and were, yes, festive. I took Andrew to the Walk Through Bethlehem event at Woodmont  Christian Church on Sunday afternoon. And we decorated a gingerbread house a couple of weeks ago. We just need to make some cookies now. Cookies TBD. 

Both boys have class parties this Friday, and then they'll be out of school for the two-week (ish) break. Maybe I can whip up some more holiday-themed activities during that time. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome.  

More festive! For reals! Mom didn't even have to
threaten or cajole to get this level of festivity!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cure for a Book Hangover, Kid Edition

A few weeks ago, William read the last page of the final book in Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series. He contemplated the back cover of the book and sighed a deep, shuddery, eight-year-old-in-an-existential-crisis sigh. It was finished.

It's a phenomenon well known to intense readers. He had become deeply immersed in the series of fantasy books, recommended by my friend Erica, whose own son had enjoyed them, and finishing them gave him that sense of melancholy that hangs over us when we grudgingly finish reading a terrific book. Someone referred to it as "a book hangover," which I think is very apt.

But what to read next?

William finished the Harry Potter series over the summer and then tackled the first few books in Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Little House on the Prairie series. He also read Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series. He loved all of those. But he keeps putting the first Fablehaven book on my nightstand and imploring me to read it so he'll have someone to discuss it with. So that should tell you how much he enjoyed Fablehaven--he wants to hold a book club meeting with his mom.

I wanted to find him something awesome to read. Something that would lessen the book hangover. But I wasn't sure what to recommend at that point. He mentioned wanting to start reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Ring series, but David and I both remembered struggling with those books when we were young. (Heck, I struggled with them when I read them as an adult. And I'd already read books like The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.) So we suggested that perhaps he might want to wait on those for another couple of years. But in the meantime, what could he turn to?

I turned to my second favorite source of info after Dr. Google: The Facebook. "Help!" I wrote in a desperate post to my Facebook friends and their friends and the friends of their friends. "I neeeeeeeeed book recommendations for William."

And oh boy, did they deliver!

What the Facebook peeps (and their kids) suggested:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  • Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • Books by Andrew Peterson (example: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga)
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society series of books by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Redwall series by Brian Jacques and Gary Chalk
  • Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo
  • 39 Clues series by Rick Riordan
  • The Sisters Grimm series by by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson
  • The Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer
  • Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer
  • The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood and Jon Klassen
  • Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters
  • The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
  • The Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann
  • Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland
  • Keys to the Kingdom books by Garth Nix
  • Gregor The Overlander and the other Underland Chronicles books by Suzanne Collins
  • Peter and the Monsters books by Darren Pillsbury
  • Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage and Mark Zug
  • Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon by S. S. Taylor and Katherine Roy
  • The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy
  • The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
  • The Pendragon books by  D.J. MacHale
  • The Three Investigators books by Robert Arthur
  • Books by Nancy Farmer (example: Sea of Trolls Trilogy)
  • Books by Madeleine L'Engle (example: A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Warriors series by Erin Hunter
  • Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Inheritance Cycle books by Christopher Paolini

As a book nerd, this list makes my heart sing. A long list of books to try! Even if William doesn't respond to some of them, others will surely appeal to him. If your child is looking for new reading material, you might also find some good candidates from this list.

Got any other recommendations? I'd love to add more books to this list. so please let me know.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

A dark and windy Halloween

It was a dark and stormy night.

No. Make that, it was a dark and blustery night.

Oh, and it was cold too. Teeth-rattlingly cold. And blustery. Did I mention the blustery part?

But the Scary Chef and the Ninja would not be deterred. Neither wind nor cold nor dark of night would keep from making their self-appointed trick-of-treating rounds.

Not only that, but William and Andrew and Sammy trick-or-treated for more than an hour and a half during this rather extreme weather situation. Along with hundreds of other kids, of course, their parents, Chewbacca and a host of Darth Vaders, Princess Leias, and Elsas from "Frozen." Bruce and I accompanied them, and we were pretty amazed by how fast our kids could run when motivated by candy. I'm wondering if perhaps we should enter them in the Boston Marathon since they are so good at sprinting in full costume. 

I praised Andrew for saying "trick or treat" AND "thank you" when he went up to the front doors. I added, "And you were very cute, too." Andrew immediately responded, "You mean scary." And I nodded solemnly, "Yes of course." 

Not cute.
Scary. Very very scary.

Andrew, Joseph, William and Sammy.

The Scary Chef and the Ninja.
The grandmothers were not put off by the Scary Chef.
David removed his Darth Vader helmet so he wouldn't compete
with the fierce scariness that was the hallmark of the one and only Scary Chef.
Even ninjas love their mamas.
All in all, we had a lovely Halloween again this year. Even if we lost a few things along the trick-or-treat route, everyone seemed to have fun, and no one got frostbite. I didn't get a good picture of me wearing my giant black-and-purple tutu, which was the focal part of my 40-year-old princess get-up, but that's okay. I was able to drown my sorrow in Twix bars, and really, can you ask for more than that?

Friday, October 17, 2014

San Diego Revisited

Check out these two giddy kids on vacation, sans small people!

We went to San Diego last week and left William and Andrew at home with their grandmothers, who gamely agreed to watch them, feed them, and chauffeur them around to their many important engagements. 

Traveling without the boys was the weirdest thing. I only had to carry my own stuff. I only went to the restroom if I had to actually go to the restroom myself. There were no interruptions at mealtime or showertime or any other time. I never had to hunch over my plate to keep small hands from snatching any of my food. I was able to decide to take in a yoga class or go for a run or head down to a nearby bar for happy hour without making any other arrangements. I just went! And when I sat down to work on my laptop while David was attending a session, I never had to get up and wipe someone's tushy or fetch him a granola bar or find someone's missing shoe or referee an argument. I work done. It was a little disconcerting, actually. 

Of course, we did miss the boys. We wondered what they would have thought about dipping their toes in the icy-cold Pacific.

David, right before the water washed over his feet and instantly froze his toes. Del Mar, CA.

And I feel reasonably confident that they would have looooved the food.

Shrimp burrito and fish taco at El Zarape. Oh my God, so good. University Heights, San Diego, CA.
But we knew that their grandmothers were taking good care of them. And we knew that it was good for us to get away for a little while.  David enjoyed the educational sessions that he attended, as well as seeing some old friends, and I did, too. I even ran in a race...on vacation! Aren't you proud of me? I even ran really fast (okay, so "fast" is a relative term here).

It was a really nice trip. But as always, we were glad to get home. And glad to hug and kiss Andrew and William and tell them all about our trip. As we predicted, Andrew was interested in hearing more about how we rode on a train and a trolley, while William was interested in the food. Love my boys.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Couple of quick October photos

Okay, just a couple of quick photos before I leave town for a few days.

Here's one of William and me at the new Zaxby's. Andrew was the one eagerly awaiting the opening of the place, so we took him there the day it opened. I promised William that we'd get him there soon, and so today, that's where the two of us had lunch.

At Cheekwood with Andrew a week or so ago. Love taking him there. We often take a picnic lunch at eat it by the ponds, and then I let him play Julie the Cruise Director and lead me all over the place. 

For example, he took me on a tour of the scarecrows. It wouldn't be autumn in Nashville without a visit to see the scarecrows at Cheekwood, after all.

Oh, and you know how I mentioned that the boys are both playing soccer? Guess who scored his first goal this past Saturday? This guy!

And it was even on purpose! First, I was in total disbelief, and then I was so excited that I was literally jumping up and down. A very red letter day for Andrew and his dear old unathletic mom who's never scored a goal in her entire life. 

Early October Update

How is it that I have gotten so woefully behind on this blog? Ack. Well, I did write a nice little post featuring William and Andrew on my other blog a month or so ago, if you want to go check that out sometime: The Joy of Small Stuff

What can I tell you? We've been busy this fall, per usual. Both kids are playing soccer, and William is busy with a blue streak of other activities, namely piano lessons, church choir, Scouts, and tennis lessons. Andrew gets to tag along to many of those. It can be exhausting sometimes, but they're the kind of kids who thrive on Doing Stuff.

William started the third grade, which is utterly amazing to me, given that I remember very clearly being in third grade myself. He is reading up an absolute storm. He finished the entire Harry Potter series this summer, read the first few Little House on the Prairie books, and now he's happily reading his way through a series called Fablehaven. He's my little bookworm. Er, or my not-so-little-anymore bookworm. I love love love that he's become such an enthusiastic reader.

Andrew started his....get ready....last year of preschool this fall. Gulp. I know! As one of my friends remarked in disbelief, "But he's your BABY." I KNOW. It is utterly astonishing to me, too. He loves his class, loves his new friends, loves his teachers, and is having a ball. His classroom has a bulletin board with a calendar, and a weather chart, and other information, and Andrew is recreating all those things on his own bedroom wall, next to his beloved world map.  He is also making sign-in lists for the entire house, since he signs in each morning when he gets to his classroom. So don't be surprised if you come to our house and see purple pieces of paper taped all over the place. Just sign your name, right underneath where Andrew has signed his own name. It's very important to him. He's so earnest about it, and it's so, so adorable.

It's easy to not notice incremental change, but then sometimes I look at them carefully and really notice them. And I think, "Wow, they really are getting so big!" I recently cleaned out a bunch of old clothes from Andrew's room to sell in a consignment sale, and he's already wearing clothes that William wore in kindergarten. It doesn't really seem like that long ago that William was in kindergarten, and yet....

Hope you are all having a good October! I adore autumn and Halloween and so do the boys. I'll try to get some good autumnal photos to post soon.