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October, 2004
(Hold your mouse over a picture for its caption.)

October 1, 2004

Happy Birthday, Alex!

Wow - I can't believe we became parents eight years ago.  My oh my, how lives change!

Alex's party isn't until tomorrow, but he still managed to have a terrific day.  He received a package from Aunt Stacie a couple of days ago, and begged and pleaded until we let him open it before school this morning.  It was a science kit.  He was looking it over rather quietly, so I asked him what he thought.  He said, "It's cool!  She always gives the best gifts!"

At school, the class sang Happy Birthday to him, and the teacher did it in sign language.  We did one of the science experiments after school, then Mom and Dad came over for dinner.  Alex picked out the menu and we ate like royalty.  Dad gave him some model airplanes, which they've been discussing lately.  Later on, I told him that Dad invited him over tomorrow to work on the airplanes.  He said, "Tell him I'd be delighted!"

This afternoon, Mom took Patrick to gymnastics.  Shortly after they left, I heard a knock on the door.  When I opened it, there stood Patrick, with his arms wrapped around the neighborhood gopher turtle.  It was absolutely precious!  They'd seen him walking down the road, and when Mom stopped the car so he could see, Patch jumped out, swooped up the turtle and ran home.  Poor Mom hardly knew what happened!

Reading the card from Aunt Stacie Patch handed off the turtle to Alex

Mulling over his experiment

October 2, 2004

Alex spent the afternoon at Grandpa's working on his model airplane.  He's thrilled to be making his own airplane, and it's so special for him and Dad to have this special project to do together.

Showing Alex the angles Alex's turn

Alex reading the instructions to Grandpa

Meanwhile, Mark and I were busy getting things ready for Alex's slumber party.  He had a sea life theme, so we had an ocean cake, played Pin the Fin on the Dolphin, and watched Finding Nemo.  Five boys stayed the night, so that made seven including Alex and Patch.  I was amazed at how well they all did.  Despite the fact that most of the children had never been at a sleepover before, not one wanted to call or go home, and everyone fell asleep between 10:30 and 11:30.

Can't you just hear the waves? All embarrassed at being sung to.

Mark spinning the blindfolded kids for Pin the Fin on the Dolphin Alex got this hysterical oversized golf set - although I think Mark had more fun with it!

All settled in and watching the movie

October 3, 2004

All of the kids woke up as if on cue at 7:00 this morning and played Bey Blades in the play room, while Mark and I hid in bed wondering why on earth children don't sleep in on the weekends.  I got up and made them a slew of pancakes and waffles, which were scarfed down in seconds.  At 9:00 the parents came and picked up their kids, and Poof! all was quiet.  Mark and the kids did some small chores around the house, and I went back to bed until well after lunch!

October 4, 2004

The boys have these incredible toys called Geomags.  They are magnetic rods and marble-sized balls with endless possibilities.  Today they discovered that you could put something between the magnets, and the magnets would still stick.  They used an entire deck of cards to demonstrate their discovery.

A new variation on 52 Pickup Shaped like a heart

October 5, 2004

Alex and Dad had another airplane building session after school today.  They finished the first plane and gave it a few test flies.  Alex was thrilled!

Eyeballing the wings Teamwork

Serious concentration! Ready for liftoff!

October 8, 2004

The kids are off school next week for Fall Break, so we went in search of some fall weather.  As soon as school was out, we headed off for a camping trip in the mountains of Tennessee!

Seasoned travelers

October 9, 2004

We had a gorgeous drive through the mountains, and got to our campsite just in time to set up camp and make dinner before we snuggled in our sleeping bags for the night.  It's chilly up here! 

October 10, 2004

What an incredible day!  Everyone slept great in the cold air, the camp food was good (really!), and we hiked through the woods along a mountain stream.  It just doesn't get any better than this!

It took the boys no time to discover a great climbing tree, a field for football, and two other boys in the campground to play with.  Mark showed his skill at a camp stove and made pancakes for breakfast, then took the boys along a nature trail for a short hike.  Later we all went for a big hike.  When Patch got bored, he and I went and hung out at camp while Mark and Alex continued on for about six miles!  As Mark collapsed by the fire, he kept commenting on how tireless Alex is.  LOL

Master tree climbers . . . . Then again, maybe not!

The view straight up to the sky from our campsite The first hike of the trip

I always said I have the weight of the world on my shoulders The happy hikers

Taking a rest A striking resemblance!  LOL

Nothing like a good book at bedtime Reading with Daddy

October 11, 2004

Mark and Alex went on another marathon hike, while Patch and I stuck to the nature trail.  Patch calls it the "numbers hike" because you go along the trail to different numbers which are described in a brochure you bring along.  He's got an eye for wildlife.  On the nature trail he pointed out a trio of guinea hens.  Later in the day, Mark and I saw some deer and when we called the kids over, Patch was the first to find them again.  When the kids were off playing football, Patch came running back to camp telling us to come see the turkey.  Sure enough, they'd spotted a wild turkey!

The kids also discovered the joy of a pile of leaves.  It was just as special as the first time they played in snow!

We were getting a little tired of roughing it (except Mark - he could camp forever), so we headed into Gatlinburg to be tourists and have someone else cook for us.  Of course, we had to check out the toffee pulling at the candy shop, and what kind of tourists would we be if we didn't buy some toffee?  ;-)

If you look really hard right in the middle, you can see a deer looking straight at us Gobble, gobble

Jumping into the leaves! . . . and landing.  Ouch!

This kinda sums up my love of the fall season

Spinning the floating ball outside Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Gatlinburg

October 12, 2004

We've been expecting rain, and it started this morning.  The rain is supposed to hang around for about three days, so we decided to pack up and keep our happy memories dry.  We stopped in Cherokee and did the tourist thing for a while and stocked up on fudge.   I think sweets might be our biggest expense of the trip!

Our soggy home sweet home The beautiful Smokies

October 13, 2004

We had planned to take our time on the drive home and perhaps make a few stops, but thoughts of home tugged us along, and we were back home this afternoon.  The poor washer and dryer may never get a break!  What an awesome trip, but as always, there's no place like home.

October 14, 2004

Mark tried his best to enjoy the time off for the rest of the week, but he just couldn't let that business phone ring.  He did manage to get in a little golf while on the phone - well, sort of!  I caught him playing with Alex's jumbo golf game in the back yard while he talked on the phone!


October 15, 2004

Mom and I took the boys to a trading card store they've been begging to check out.  The store is divided into two parts - one half is for selling the merchandise, and the other has tables and chairs set up for card trades and playing the trading card games.  It was really neat, and the kids found someone to trade cards with right away.

Veterans already

October 16, 2004

When I got out of bed this morning, this is how I found the kids watching TV.  Awwwwww.

Maybe they like each other after all

October 17, 2004

Alex and Patrick's best friend, Justin, celebrated his birthday today with a trip to Universal Studios.  Justin's mom, Mark and I went with five kids.  The weather couldn't have been better - warm enough to enjoy the water rides, but not too hot.  Alex has grown since our last visit there, and can finally ride the Fear Fall ride.  Thank God Mark was there to go with him, because there ain't a chance in the world I'm going up that thing!  Mark and I did get to ride the Hulk roller coast together, though, and it was incredible! 

Crazy monkeys Mark got this shot of us on the log ride - Alex is in front, I'm in back and Patch is in front of me

October 18, 2004

With the weather cooling off a bit, we're finally starting to play out front with the neighbors again.

Playing marbles with acorns

October 20, 2004

I play Bunko with a fabulous group of moms from the elementary school.  It's a mindless dice game that gives us an excuse to get together once a month, just us girls, and let loose a little.  Tonight's game had a Halloween theme, so we had all kinds of wacky costumes!

Me, Mary (Jacob's mom) and Karon (Kori's mom)

October 23, 2004

We've had a busy day!  Alex had two football games, one as a hurricane make-up.  They tied both games and played beautifully.  Immediately after the second game, we were off to the piano teacher's house for a recital and music party.  Patrick played a song way beyond his current level, and did great!  It involves moving up and down the keyboard, crossing your hands as you go.  I never noticed before, but he uses his entire body to lean and move around the keyboard, crossing his legs as he crosses his hands!  Alex and I played a duet, which was tons of fun!  After the recital, we played music-related games in the yard.  She had painted a huge music staff in the grass, and as she called out notes, the kids had to jump onto the right spot on the staff, as if they were notes.  We also made "musicians" by stuffing clothes - just like a scare crow.

Me and my buddy Full body piano playing

Sitting on the music staff listening to instructions The boys and their musician

October 24, 2004

There's nothing like a brand new jar of play dough to reignite a child's interest in the squishy stuff!

Playing nicely together!  :)

October 26, 2004

Patch saw on Zoom that you can make a tornado by taping two bottles together with water in them and flipping them over.  It didn't work all that well for us, but he sure had a good time getting soaked!

We finally made it to the pumpkin patch!

Me and my guys It's a sea of pumpkins!

Farmer Patch and his sidekick, Mr. Grins

October 30, 2004

Alex had another big day of two football games.  His team is playing very well, and - at the risk of sounding like a proud Mama - Alex is doing awesome!  His team tied one game 6-6 and won the other 6-0.  Alex was involved in both of his team's touchdowns - making the winning score with only a few minutes left in the game!

We've also got Halloween coming up fast.  Mark and I have an adults-only Halloween party tonight, so the kids are staying the night at Anthony's.  (Free at last!)  Alex and Patrick are going as Bionicles, for which they have store-bought costumes.  The costumes didn't come with the Bionicle's sword, so Mark and Patch made one today.  Mark and I also made our Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumes, in between football games.

Cutting out the blades for Patrick's sword

This is what happens to parents when their children are away! Showing the whole custume

It was 88 degrees outside, so we ended up ditching the hot costumes.  We have t-shirts from the blood bank with Halloween themes, so we transformed into blood donors for the rest of the evening.
Looking way too normal I doubt the Blood Bank will touch Mark's blood for awhile!

October 31, 2004

OMG - we're too old for parties!  Last night was a rare and special time when the neighborhood crew got together without children, but boy, oh boy, are we paying!  ;-)

The boys had a great time at Anthony's last night, although a neighbor of theirs was having a party (the nerve!) and kept them up until midnight.  At least the boys are blaming their late night on the party.  I dragged my sorry butt out to pick them up at the crack of dawn (okay, okay, it was 9:30) to take Patrick to a birthday party at the bowling alley.  The party was for a girl in his class, and he was the only boy, which he wasn't thrilled about, but managed to have fun nonetheless.  I guess Patch is a hit with the ladies in his class, being the only boy invited!

The kids wore their costumes to the party, which is a good thing because I completely forgot to take pictures of the boys tonight trick-or-treating.  :-(  At least I got Patch in his costume at the party.

As usual, the neighborhood kids all went trick-or-treating as a group and raked it in.  They must have been exhausted after last night, because I didn't get any argument when I said it was time to head home.

Patch surrounded by beautiful girls!