Posted by: lizwillard | June 6, 2016

Graduation day!

IMG_2315 Our littlest guy just graduated from kindergarten.  Amazing!

His school holds a graduation ceremony, oddly a week before school actually ends – so the kid graduated and then went back to school the next day.  🙂

Regardless of the strange timing, my parents came up to join us for the ceremony.  I had bid on and won (I was the only bidder!) front-row seats during the winter carnival, so we didn’t even have to get there an hour early to save decent spots.

Charlie had been singing the various songs he and his classmates would perform for months, but it was still tremendous fun to see our dude sing his heart out up on those risers.  We could actually hear him!

Notice there’s a kid blocking our view of Charlie??  He was so proud that he had grown enough since Christmas that he was no loner in the front row!

They sang songs ranging from “This Land is Our Land” to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” recited the pledge of allegiance, and a poem about all the things they’d learned in kindergarten (did you know the white stripes on the American flag represent purity and innocence?).  And then it was time to cross that stage…

A little coaching on where his thumb goes when shaking hands, and he was done!  A kindergarten graduate!

IMG_2481Mrs. Hins 2016 kindergarten class, from left to right:  1 – Megan, Thomas, Molly, Daniel.  2- Evelyn, Charlie, Isabelle, Vincent, Stella.  3 – Anna, Caleb, Ayub, Elias, Kilen.  3 – Tabitha, Margaret, Abubaker, Vienna.  (Charlie talks a lot about who is tallest; according to him Vienna is the tallest person in kindergarten.  And she’s a GIRL!!!)

After these munchkins graduated, they sang the Middleton classic, to the tune of Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”  Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today.  I want to be a part of it – first grade, first grade!

Charlie had a great year with his teacher, Mrs. Hins.  She was everything you need a kindergarten teacher to be – kind, patient and firm.  We enjoyed it when she sent us little notes like these:

  • I had patriotic music playing softly while they worked.  The National Anthem came on and I turned around and Charlie was standing at his table with his hand over his heart, facing the flag!  So stinkin’ cute!!!!IMG_4469
  • I think Charlie is ready to go into public speaking!  He does such a nice job sharing his show and share.  He speaks so his peers can hear him and it seems as though he does practice or know what he’s going to say ahead of time as he is very fluid in his delivery!  So cute!!!!  🙂

After we ate some cookies and took a few pictures, and poor Scott had to go back to work, we headed outside to play on the playground and wait for Zach to return from his field trip.  Then it was time to celebrate with some blizzards!!!

While my parents were here, they got to experience what our life is like these days… Zach’s baseball games Tuesday and Wednesday night, and Charlie’s Thursday night.  And while I didn’t take many pictures, I did get a few of my dad and the boys enjoying their new bubble machine!

Posted by: lizwillard | May 9, 2016

Meet Karl

IMG_4126Charlie has wanted a cat for as long as we can remember, although we have never been sure why, since he’s barely been around cats.  But it’s been a consistent request, so with his birthday coming up, we thought perhaps the time was right.  Koskie is almost 13, and while he’s really healthy other than some arthritis in his hips, we know he won’t be around forever.  And since I can’t fathom not having an animal in the house… happy birthday to Charlie!

I know nothing about cats, so I got advice from all of our cat-loving friends.  We had the perception that cats can be aloof and just hide all the time, which was not what we wanted.  Besides that we felt better about rescuing an adult cat that might otherwise have trouble finding a home, we were told that kittens can be unpredictable – even if you raise them from a young age, they may still turn out to be hiders.  So we settled on finding the right adult cat for our family.

A friend recommended an organization called Secondhand Hounds, which rescues animals and places them in foster homes until they can be adopted.  The website indicates if the cat is kid and dog-friendly, and since they spend time with the fosters before they are adoptable, the foster parents can provide a lot of good information about their personalities. So after some browsing, and with some guidance from the people at Secondhand Hounds, we picked a few to apply for, and eventually got to meet “Baby.” (“Darren” got adopted before we could meet him.)

Baby was being fostered by a college student, after being rescued from a reservation somewhere in North Dakota.  She was currently living with an elderly basset hound, but had also spent significant time with a young golden retriever – and they got along well, even played together.  So we were hopeful she’d adjust well to Koskie.  The question was how she’d do with the kids…

When we met Baby, it didn’t turn out as well as we’d hoped.  All the information from the foster mom (Shelby) indicated that Baby was friendly and playful, even with new people, and didn’t hide at all when she first moved in with Shelby, etc.  But that morning, Shelby began fostering a second cat, and apparently the meeting of the two cats did not go well.  So when we arrived, Baby was hiding not just under the couch, but in it, finding her way through a hole in the lining covering the bottom!  And with the bully cat, as Shelby called it, meowing away in a nearby kennel, Baby was not coming out any time soon.

Shelby locked the bully in another room and enticed Baby out.  She was definitely still nervous, but eventually played a little bit with a feather with us.  We were encouraged by the fact that when we held her, even though she clearly wanted to get away, her claws never came out.  We had a good conversation with Shelby, with her emphasizing that this was not normal behavior for Baby, and headed home.  The next step – we had to decide if Baby was the right cat for us, and Shelby had to decide if we were a good fit for Baby – she was meeting another family the next day.

Long story short – we decided to trust the information from Shelby, and hope that Baby wouldn’t just hide from us constantly!  And fortunately, Shelby chose us too.  But that was not the end of the story… we also had to pass a home visit!  That turned out to be a friendly retiree who volunteers with Secondhand Hounds out of pure love for animals – we had a nice chat as she glanced around our house.  After some paperwork and vet checks, we headed out on a Friday night to pick Baby up.

Wait… Baby?  What kind of name is that?!?!?  We suspect she was named Baby by the SHH volunteers because she’s so small – she only weighs about 7 lbs.  She’s somewhere between 5 and 7 years old, so that’s as big as she’ll get.  But since being called a baby is an insult in this house, we had to come up with a new name.  And you would not believe how long that conversation went on.  We started looooong before we picked Baby up, and she still did not have an official name until I forced a decision on Sunday night!IMG_4215

I don’t know that I can even remember all the names we considered, but here’s my best effort:  Big Kat, Karl, Yoda, Leia, Callie, Carly, Moose, Anna, Meow-meow, Purr-purr (you can guess who suggested those), Alf (you can also probably guess who liked that one), Cici – which started as CC for “Charlie’s cat”… There were more.  Oh well.  We discussed them endlessly; every time we seemed close to a decision someone would throw out more suggestions.  So why Karl, you ask?  For a female cat?  Well, never underestimate Scott’s influence on the boys.  There is a Timberwolves player named Karl Anthony Towns, and according to Scott, his nickname is Big KAT.  So we started with his suggestion of “Big Kat” being our cat’s name, which evolved into Karl.  And Karl was the only name that no one hated… so meet our female cat Karl!

When we brought Karl home, we put Koskie outside, and I let her out of the carrier near her litter box, located by a bathroom.  Straight out of the carrier and into the bathroom she went, hiding behind the toilet.  Our friend Jenny had told me their newest cat hid for two weeks, so I wasn’t terribly surprised.  Scott and the boys headed outside to play, but mostly to get the noise and energy out of the house so the cat might relax a little!  The photo at the top is from that first hour she was home – when I sat on the floor near the bathroom, she came out to greet me, purring away.  But any sort of noise or movement – back behind the toilet!

Eventuallly the boys came in and went to bed; we just left Karl alone to get comfortable.  About an hour after the boys went to bed, two hours since she arrived, she came wandering out.  Still very cautious, but ready to explore.  We took that as a good sign!

Every day got better, as far as her hiding.  She never did go back to that toilet, preferring to hide under our bed.  It got to the point that she’d come out whenever the boys weren’t around, friendly as can be, purring much louder than I thought was possible.  And eventually, she stopped hiding entirely, even when the boys are at their wildest!  Don’t get IMG_4153me wrong, she might run off when something startles her, but she just goes into another room, eventually returning when she thinks the craziness has calmed down.  And at night, if I lay down with Charlie to read books in bed before he goes to sleep, she hops up and joins us, snuggling in.  The first night it happened I think Charlie was in heaven!

Her exploring got very interesting one night… I had heard her messing around with the bag of dog food hidden behind the laundry hamper (most of Koskie’s food is in a plastic container, but this was the stuff that didn’t fit), but didn’t really think much of it.  Until the morning I got up and found both the laundry hamper AND the bag of dog food pushed out of their spots under the counter, with the bag ripped open!  I had no idea that tiny little animal could shove that stuff around like that – she’s stronger than she looks!  She didn’t eat any of the food… maybe she was just trying to help Koskie out?

IMG_4255Speaking of Koskie, you may wonder how he’s handling this.  We weren’t worried; Koskie is a pretty laid-back, gentle guy, and had stayed with friends who had cats recently, so we knew he wouldn’t try to hurt her or anything.  Honestly, I thought he’d love having a buddy around!  The reality has been quite hilarious.  Karl was pretty cautious at first, but that first full day she was here she tried to walk up to a laying-down Koskie and rub her head on his chin.  He jumped about 2 feet in the air, he was so startled!  She hasn’t given up; I still see her trying to rub up against him, but he’s still a little bit confused by it all.  I don’t think it’ll be long before they’re snuggling.  🙂

To summarize a very long story, Karl has been here for a little more than 2 weeks, and she fits right in.  She loves nothing more than sitting in the windows, staring intently at those pesky robins.  Her feather stick is definitely her a favorite toy, but she also loooooves playing with any sort of ball.  She is very much in the right house – we have balls everywhere!!  She gets very playful at about 9:30 PM and 6:30 AM; we’ll start hearing all sorts of thumps and bumps as she races around, either batting a ball around the room or tearing up and down the stairs in some sort of game only she understands.  And if you’re sitting down, particularly under our favorite afghan, you can expect her in your lap, purring and kneading.

Happy birthday Charliebug.  🙂


Posted by: lizwillard | May 2, 2016

Another season opener

Tonight was Zach (and Scott’s) first game of the season; the U10 East Ridge Raptors White team vs Oakdale.  Zach is “playing up” – starting at the traveling level a year earlier than is typical; Scott is coaching again this year.  The entire team is 9 year-olds, so in general they are playing teams that could all be a year older – and most significantly, a year more experienced at kid-pitch baseball.

We’ve heard from other parents that the first year of kid-pitch is tough – lots of walks and wild pitches.  And we definitely saw quite a bit of that tonight!  The other team’s first pitcher looked like he was about a full foot taller than most of our players, and threw some really hard pitches.

Zach started out at second base, but after our first pitcher struggled a bit and got discouraged, Zach took over pitching.  I haven’t been that nervous in a long time…

I know I’m his mom and no baseball expert, but I was impressed with Zach up on the mound.  He seemed cool as a cucumber the entire time, which I have to imagine is tough your first time pitching!  He threw a lot of strikes; striking 4 batters out and only walking 2  in two innings.  To give you a little perspective, in the 5 innings our pitchers walked 16 batters.  He wasn’t happy with how many hits the other team got against him, but we reminded him that accuracy is more important at this level – if there’s a hit at least the defense can do something about it.  There’s nothing you can do about a walk or a wild pitch!

He struggled a bit at the plate, but kept his head and watched some pitches, ultimately getting walked.  He, along with most of the kids, seemed a bit nervous about getting hit by a pitch.  I guess that happens a lot too at this level!

He finished the game at 1st base, seeing a little bit of action…


Safe!  (and see – a head taller than Zach!)

Coach Scott in action – doing his best to keep the boys motivated as the score got more and more lopsided.  And Charlie in action – he found some siblings to play with!

We’ve got a lot of games, including tournaments ahead – it’s going to be fun to watch these boys improve over the season!

Posted by: lizwillard | April 30, 2016

Play ball!

Our baseball season officially kicked off this afternoon with Charlie’s first game (already a make-up game… we’ve had rain, rain, and then more rain lately).

Charlie’s team is called the Jaguars – his suggestion after he got a new stuffed jaguar for his birthday.  There are 11 boys on the team, 2 of whom Charlie knows from school, and one who was on his team last year.

At this level, the coaches pitch to the kids, only bringing out a tee if necessary.  If a player is gotten out, the out is recognized but the player remains on the base.  Half the line-up bats each inning (regardless of the number of outs, although outs remain pretty rare), with each batter taking one base; the final hitter is the “home run hitter” – everybody keeps running until they get home.

Check out the bald eagle soaring above the field!!!

Charlie struggled a bit batting at first, especially when Coach Brandon was pitching (underhand, with more arch than Charlie is used to).  But he eventually got some good hits, and never needed the tee!

He started out at second base, where he saw a little bit of action, but not much. The second half of the game he got to play pitcher, so there were a lot more balls for him to field!

Zach entertained himself by playing catch with Scott during much of the game, otherwise commenting on the plays (“that’s an error”).

Charlie isn’t a big fan of playing defense; when he practices with Zach and Scott at home he just wants to hit.  We saw the results of that when a few ground balls went right through Charlie’s legs.  🙂

All in all, it was some pretty good baseball, considering how young these kids are.  Not as much picking the dandelions or sitting down, although we did have to tell Charlie to stop “whip nae nae-ing” and pay attention.  And I never realized until I looked at these pictures how much Charlie sticks his tongue out when he’s playing – he’s the Michael Jordan of kindergarten baseball!

Posted by: lizwillard | April 18, 2016

Celebrating 6

As often happens at our house, we started celebrating Charlie’s birthday a couple weeks before his actual big day.  My parents came up to watch the boys for us while we curled in a bonspiel, so we took the opportunity to celebrate both Charlie’s and my mom’s birthdays. G&G Klicka took Charlie to Toys R Us to let him pick out his gifts, and then I got up some special cupcakes so we could sing and blow out candles.  Charlie’s cupcake, appropriately, was a “kitty litter” cupcake!

He also got a gift in the mail from the Neudecks… just a few Pokemon figures to play with!

The day before his birthday, a Saturday, Charlie got to open one special gift from us.  Do you like the face he makes when you ask him to smile?

The gift was a cat toy.  The look on his face was priceless.  He had no idea why he was receiving a cat toy.  So we had some fun telling him we were going in a couple of hours to meet a cat… and if we liked her and she liked us, we were going to adopt her!  Then he was pretty darn excited… more on that later.  🙂

IMG_4074That night, we booby-trapped his door while he was sleeping, remembering the lessons we learned from Zach’s birthday (don’t use yarn to tie the crepe paper to the doorknob – it’s too stretchy!)  As it turned out, Charlie woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, so he got his surprise balloon shower then!  I’m not sure he even remembered it the next morning; this dude is a heavy sleeper.  🙂

And then, it was April 17th – Charlie’s official 6th biIMG_4076rthday!  He chose doughnuts for his breakfast, and it was a nice enough day we got to sit outside and enjoy our treats.

We headed home and opened his gifts.  He has been asking for a cat for a long time, but other than that there wasn’t a lot he wanted.  He kept saying Legos, but we knew that was something Zach was more interested in than Charlie.  So we did our best to find some fun gifts for our little man!  A new recent interest was Pokemon, so he was pretty excited to see a new card set and figurine.  And a Twins game with dad – awesome!  His reactions were pretty amusing, as are his silly poses.  His personality comes through pretty clearly in these particular photos!

Later that day we headed out to lunch at Applebee’s, Charlie’s choice.  We ended up rushing more than we wanted due to very slow service in order to get to his birthday party in time, so while he got his birthday dessert, they didn’t sing to him.  Poor guy!  But we were off to his party!

He had chosen to have his party in the gym of a local high school, well-stocked with every kind of ball imaginable, floor hockey equipment, jump ropes, bowling pins, a parachute, and last but not least – a bounce house!  Unfortunately when we got there, all the doors to the high school were locked!   Ummmm… after walking around trying all the doors, first just our family, and then the guests who had begun to arrive, I found the appropriate phone number and got someone to come out and let us in!

Other than that rocky start, the party was a lot of fun.  We got lucky that no one else had a birthday party at the same time, so the kids had the run of the ENTIRE gym as well as the overhead running track, and we got to use the bounce house the full two hours.  The kids put it all to good use…

I am not a big fan of party favors at parties (my kids don’t need more candy or small plastic objects!), so I decided to give the guests water bottles, assuming they’d all get hot and sweaty, and had some water they could fill them up with.  I brought along some markers, stickers, and tape to decorate them; some of the kids got into it much more than others!

(Pictured in clockwise order:  1. Aura & Catherine; 2. Kasey & Reagan; 3. Kilen & Elias; 4. Tabitha, Stella, Margaret, Kasey, & Reagan)

After an hour or so, the kids were indeed all red-faced and sweaty, so it was time for cake.  Charlie chose the cookie cake from Sam’s, always a family favorite!  He also chose for his guests to sing “happy birthday” underwater style!

Charlie’s guests, pictured above, were primarily friends from school, plus our family friends the Roses.  Pictured above left are:  Margaret, Tabitha, Kilen, Elias, Scott, Charlie, Zach, Lucas, Catherine, Aura, & Stella.  His best buddy Beckett wasn’t able to make it. 😦  And not pictured here – Matt, Jenny, Kasey & Reagan!

After a bit more playing, including several races around the track, the kids kept asking if Charlie could open his gifts.  So we did!

Whew.  We were worn out… time to head home for a BBQ and playing with the Roses, where I didn’t take a single picture.  But needless to say, a fun time was had by all!

Happy birthday Charliebug!  We hope you had a wonderful day!

Posted by: lizwillard | February 27, 2016


Charlie told us in November he wanted to play soccer.  He’d been playing at recess with his buddies at school, and wanted to keep playing.  Since this was the first time Charlie has ever asked to participate in something (he tells us he just likes to be home), we decided we could suffer through 8 AM Saturday games for 8 weeks!

We learned this particular winter session of soccer was set up a bit differently than we expected.  Rather than being on a team, and having traditional practices and games, the kids just showed up en masse twice a week, and were divided into “teams” and sent to a field with a coach.  Then they played a bunch of different games and scrimmaged for an hour.  So it was more like a practice every week, but Charlie loved it!

His favorite game was called “See-ya!”  The coach would throw the ball out on to the field, and the two players who were up would race around their goalposts and out to the ball, and play one-on-one until someone scored or the ball went out of bounds (prompting the coach to yell “See ya!”).

His least-favorite game was anything tag-oriented.  Charlie has never liked tag; I can remember him on the sidelines at pee-wee soccer when he was 3 or 4, refusing to even play (he doesn’t like to play games he thinks he can’t win).  During one of his practices he cried when he was tagged… it became our goal for him to not cry during practice; a goal he managed to achieve!

Turns out our boy is a natural at defense – he’s not the kid who is charging after the ball trying to score.  Not that he never scored a goal, but he seemed to instinctively fall back to protect the goal.  And he made a few awesome saves – even diving to block a shot!

We’ll see what happens in the fall, after baseball season… if soccer turns out to be this boy’s sport!

Posted by: lizwillard | February 24, 2016


Zach tried a new sport this winter – basketball!  And it’s safe to say it became a new obsession; his favorite days of the week were the ones when he had practice or a game. Besides just his love of the game itself, I think it helped he had two great coaches and a lot of good kids on his team.

The season was pretty long; these first few pictures (blurry… ugh) are from their first scrimmage back in November.  There were 9 boys on the team; the format was 8 5-minute periods, which was a good way to sub the kids in and out every 5 minutes, and give the coach a chance to give them a little pep talk in between.

The team was made up of 2nd and 3rd graders; Zach was in the minority as one of the 3rd graders.  The only modifications to the rules were that the defense had to fall back once there was a switch in possession, and there was no double-teaming outside the lane.  The refs were generous about not calling minor traveling or foul violations, so the pace was generally pretty quick.

Zach had never truly played basketball before; he’d been in some community ed programs, and went to a short camp, but this was his first official basketball experience. He took to it the same way he takes to anything he’s interested in – with a lot of diligence and enthusiasm.  The team’s consistent play was a screen play; we noticed that it was often Zach who was running the screen, and came to the conclusion that was because Zach was the most likely to follow directions.  Many of the other boys would be too busy running around, hollering for a pass, to pay attention to what the plan was. Not Zach.  🙂

Zach’s team was neither the tallest nor the fastest, without any particular stand-out player.  As a result, they lost more than they won, although they weren’t terrible.  They improved a lot from the beginning of the year to the end, and really came together as a team in a lot of ways.

Overall, it was a great learning opportunity for Zach; he’s been on teams that have lost before (especially his flag football team!), but he still learned a few new lessons.  One we had to talk about quite a bit – the time he clearly was giving up when his team was down by an insurmountable deficit.  Needless to say his parents weren’t too thrilled to see his lack of effort on the court!  But he seemed to truly understand our message, so I think future teams will have a stronger, more encouraging teammate in Zach.

(Is it just me or does he look like he is about a year older in these pictures than the ones at the beginning – taken 4 months apart!?!?)

At the end of the year tournament, Zach had a lot of things to say after the game that gave a little insight into how much he’s growing and learning.  The opposing team had two incredibly good players on their team, and while their coach took them out of the game about as equally as the other players, when they were in they were always in the guard positions, which resulted in a lot of scoring.  On the way home, Zach, unprompted, said he was glad that he wasn’t on a team like that, where one person was so much better than the rest.  His logic was that when everybody is equal, everyone gets more of a chance to participate; everybody plays together and scores instead of just passing to the kid who always makes the baskets.  So despite the fact that they were eliminated from the tournament relatively early, he was happy with his team.  And so were we.


(l-r: Zach, Chase, Liam, Graham, Aidan, Coach Chris; bottom row Ian, Tyler, & Reardon.  Coach Tate and Wyatt missed the end of year tournament)

We also got a tremendous kick out of noticing that very few of the kids, and none on Zach’s team, jump.  They would all stand under the basket and stretch their arms and bodies up as high as they could to get the rebound, with their feet firmly planted on the floor.  And it did not improve over the year – no jumping!  We have no idea why, but it was hilarious!


Zach also commented, about a week after basketball ended, that it wasn’t fair that he would never be the fastest at any sport.  True, but a good opportunity to talk about all the ways he could compensate for his natural lack of speed… I reminded him that he can make up for natural talents with good old-fashioned hard work and practice, as well as using his brain.  Earlier in the year, while sitting on the bench, he noticed that his opponents ran the same play every time they came down the court (most of the teams did).  So when it was his turn to go into the game, he was ready for the play – he leapt in front of his man and stole the ball!  That’s our boy.  🙂

Posted by: lizwillard | January 25, 2016

A little more birthday

We tend to let birthdays drag on a bit at our house, and this year was no exception!  We headed out for the dinner of Zach’s choice on Sunday night – he picked Buffalo Wild Wings.  I don’t know that the creators of BWW intended it to be the perfect kid restaurant, but for our kids, being surrounded by tvs, ALL of them showing sports games, is pretty much heaven!  Especially when you add in soft pretzels and popcorn shrimp…


We had, of course, told our server that we were there for Zach’s birthday, and while we ate witnessed how BWW celebrates birthdays – a man comes out with a microphone and a very loud, flashing red siren and announces the birthday to the entire restaurant.  Eventually that man came over and asked Zach if he wanted that to happen or if it was too embarrassing and he just wanted the free dessert.  It was one of those moments when Zach turned into mini-Scott and was nonchalant about it… “nah, you can do the siren.  I don’t care.”


And while that horrible noise was echoing throughout the already loud space, and the young man announced that Zach was turning 9, our big kid just sat there calmly eating his dinner, as if it was all happening to someone else.  Hilarious.  He did love it when the gentleman next to us (seen in the above picture) – leaned over and gave him a dollar in honor of his birthday.  And he scarfed down the ice cream.  🙂

While my parents would much rather be here for Zach’s actual birthday, they have kindly accommodated us by coming the weekend of our favorite mixed bonspiel, which in the last couple years has been the weekend after the 21st.  So they arrived on Friday, ready to watch the boys while we curled, with a great big box in tow…


That’s Ewok Village, the 10,236 piece Lego he had been coveting!  He was VERY excited, and had that thing fully assembled by Tuesday!  A very happy birthday indeed!

(As always, big thanks to Grandma & Grandpa K for watching the boys all weekend while we spiel!)

Posted by: lizwillard | January 24, 2016


When we asked Zach what he wanted to do for his birthday party this year, he never wavered: he wanted to go to SkyZone (a local indoor trampoline park) and play dodgeball. Several of his friends have had their parties there over the last few months (along with sleepovers… we were NOT ready for that!), and he talked about it constantly.  So we invited 8 of his friends, one of whom ended up ill and unable to come, and on Friday night met up at SkyZone:

9 boys, including Charlie.  That’s a LOT of energy.  The antics of these funny boys when we were waiting for everyone to arrive, and I pulled out my camera to try to get a group shot… hilarious.  Fortunately SkyZone is designed for 9 year old boys – off they raced straight to the dodgeball court!

I know, many of the pictures are blurry.  What can I say, the boys move fast!  (The bad lighting doesn’t help.)  I’m including them anyway because they capture the competitiveness and goofy antics of this group of boys.  Charlie wasn’t so sure about the dodgeball thing, sticking with regular jumping, the foam pit, and the basketball hoop for a while before ultimately joining in.  The big boys were adorably protective of him.  🙂
And as you can see, since we were short one guest, a really big boy got to join in, and had as much fun as those third-graders!

After expending what turned to be a small amount of their energy, we headed into the party room for pizza and gift-opening.  We learned quickly that going from the dodgeball court to sitting and eating a meal doesn’t work well for 8 and 9-year olds… a lot of hijinks ensued!  Drink a mix of Sprite, Diet Coke, and lemonade?  Sure, why not?  A game of truth or dare, where one dare was “roll a grape on the floor and then eat it?”  Sounds good!

We were relieved that the pizza was consumed quickly, and moved on to gifts…

Guess how long that took?  Yep, about 5 minutes.  We learned that a Target gift card in a bag with full-size candy bars is the way to go, and Zach was delighted with the idea of being able to head to Target to get more Legos!

We had an hour in the party room as part of our package, but it’s safe to say we did not want to use that whole 60 minutes – it was time to set these boys free.  But first crazy me thought a big orange throne-like chair would be fun to use for a group picture…

It was just another perfect example of the energy and goofiness level of these boys!  All I could do was keep clicking away, laughing as they wrestled and “posed.”  Clockwise from the top are: Simon, Charlie (hiding in the back in some), Tommy (gray hood), Zach, Will, Max (bright stripes), Carter, and Chase.  In the picture but unseen is AJ… he’s somewhere underneath that pile of boys.

While we were not willing to have the whole gang sleep over, we did have the boys back to our house, to play for a while and have birthday cake.  We sent them into our unfinished basement, and kept the door partially closed, just listening for scary noises.  They kept themselves very busy for the next 90 minutes, with some combination of various ball games, video games, and more dodgeball.  We had to investigate a few sounds, but for the most part they were great.  The basement was a mess, but only one thing got broken, and they all had fun, so I’ll call it a success!  In fact, they had so much fun down in the basement that not all of them came up for birthday cake (actually, birthday brownies, Zach’s preference)!

Shown on Zach’s right is AJ, the boy missing from the group picture, as well as Chase (blue) and Max.

Whew, what a night.   We had a happy 9-year old boy – hurray!

Posted by: lizwillard | January 23, 2016

Turning 9

IMG_3150January 21st, 2016: Zach turned nine years old.

I’ll try not to make it all about us and how amazed we are that our firstborn is already nine… we have that reaction every year and I know there’s nothing unique in that!

We do count ourselves lucky to have this particular nine year-old.  So we did our best to make turning a year older fun for our third grader. We started with a new birthday morning trick; Zach has been unimpressed with the last few door-decorating efforts.  So this year we went with a pile (9, of course) of balloons that would fall on his head when he opened his door in the morning.  We giggled at the thought of his reaction… he was going to love it!  Did it work??  Nope. turns out yarn is too stretchy; it didn’t tear the crepe paper the way we thought it would.  Darn!  Or as Zach frequently says these days – “crap!”

Zach’s birthday was on a Thursday, and he was scheduled to have both floor hockey for an hour after school and basketball practice that night.  We asked if he wanted to skip basketball practice and go out to dinner to celebrate instead, but he decided he’d rather go to practice (he loooooves basketball!) that night and have his dinner out over the weekend.  Such a perfect example of what a practical, logical kid we have!

But that doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate his birthday that night – we just had to make it fit between his two activities!  So Scott picked up the dinner of Zach’s choice (Arby’s… he loves the mozzarella sticks), and he opened his gifts before practice.  And after practice – time for cookie cake!

So it was a rushed night, but I think that was ok, since Zach was REALLY looking forward to his birthday party the next night…

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