Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treating

Forgive the blurriness of these pictures, I realized I should have been using my camera about half way through our adventure - I opted to avoid the flash, and that's what you get. Anyhow... it shows some of the fun that we had of taking THAT many adults and THAT many kids (11) all out to go trick or treating together. I love the area where we live, the further you go down the street, the nicer the houses get, and since it's not a thoroughway - you don't have to worry (hardly ever) about traffic. We always start out early, and then get back in time so we're able to indulge in the chili feed back home. This year, the Quigleys, Whites, Johnsons, Meyers, Lisa's parents, Leona, and my mom and dad joined us...

Another table spread this week (no, not the same apples, just so you know...) - I forgot to take a picture on Monday of the punch we made. It's made with 2 liters of orange soda, a gallon of orange sherbet/vanilla icecream combo, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and one can of orange juice concentrate - and it's SOOOOO GOOOOD!

Costume Parade

This year's costumes for our kiddos were not the most original, but, trust me, I'm not complaining. Brayden's choice in going as a football player saved us at least $30....

Unbeknownst to Mikayla and Christina, they both dressed up in the same kind of costumes - as Snow Queens. While it was cute for picture sake, sadly it made Erica feel a little left out. We'll have to plan more accordingly in the future to avoid this sort of drama. Don't want any princesses feeling left out-

Mark and Amy's dog, Champ, dressed up as a jail inmate - this pic is so cute as you can actually see his leash which looks even more like he's locked in chains...

But, the image gets even better when we see him and Jackson posed together, as jailer and inmate! Oh so cute!

And, here's the majority of the group - I think two of the kiddos were missing...

Feeling Yucky

Nope, this isn't a physical thing, (outside of the spare tire around my middle steadily inflating - love that Halloween candy!) - it's an emotional thing.

Yesterday, I found myself joining the bandwagon in at least three different circumstances of "standing up for what's right", "defending the REAL truth", or simply "enlightening people to what they ought to know". I got a little fired up in a couple of circumstances because I found that people I know and care about were hurt by insensitive statements and therefore I took it upon myself to strive for vindication. And, in doing so, I ended up just as bad as the original perpetrator.

By the time John came home, I was in a slump. He kept asking what was wrong and I kept giving rather empty answers until finally I just said, "The Holy Spirit is really doing a number on my right now, and I'm feeling pretty sad about it". Then, it turned into a dialogue demonstrating why I might be feeling convicted that ended up with a few laughs...

As crummy as I felt about all this - I find myself rejoicing for a number of reasons:

1.) It was the Holy Spirit at work in my heart, illuminating my mistakes instead of someone else. It hadn't yet gotten to that place where anyone was directly affected by my attitude, so there wasn't a need for confrontation. (Either that, or folks just held their tongues). I crumble under confrontation, it is such a hurting experience for me, so for the Holy Spirit to take care of the job and me come to internal realizations - that's a big deal.

2.) God loves me that much to step in. How HUGE is that!?! He knew I was walking down the wrong direction and sent His Loving Counselor to redirect. Recently we discussed the passage in the Bible at church about the pruning of the vines. (John 15:1-11). The second verse has always confused me, regarding the vinedresser "cutting away" the branch if it's not bearing fruit. However, Pastor Ben explained that if you take the words back to their original language and discover the context, the probable reading of the text would indicate that the vines are being "re-arranged" so that they would become more fruitful - draped out so that they would get sunlight and bear fruit. Wow! I walked away from that service with such a great feeling that 1) a passage of scripture finally made sense and 2) it is never God's intent to give up on us - He desperately wants our relationship and what is best for us.

3.) I am not so far off in my Christian walk that I wasn't able to hear the Counselor. This is very reassuring, as I'm sure I've done a lot of ignoring in the past. I know the Enemy would not want me to feel bummed out last night - he'd have wanted me to disregard that whole feeling of conviction and continue hurting others. In the end, it was a victory.

So, there you go. Today is a new day, I've been made clean all over again - as white as snow - and I get to start fresh. Praise God! Today my new college buddy comes over and we get to make cookies with the kids, and then of course comes the Trick or Treating (apparently with umbrellas in hand!) and great chili feed (with corn bread and apple pie - I can feel that tire inflating already....) so it should be a super day. I'll certainly be much more mindful of making the kind of choices that won't derail that goal...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doin' Some Carvin'

The goal of Monday's night was to actually carve the pumpkins we got, but we (blessedly) ran out of time. We realized just how glad we were about this when we proceeded to carve the pumpkins with Michele and kids - and our kids, as well as Tanner (whose parents were a bit late due to their daughter's volleyball tourney). The ratio was two kids to one adult and even with that much attention, we were still being called to help every which way. I can't imagine how hard it would have been particularly with the younger girls... If we ever do that in the future, we'll have to employ all of the great college students we've befriended so that everyone has a carving buddy...

Still, we were able to get that "seasonal chore" out of the way, and get some more great pictures. Dad bought us a "power carver" that doesn't do such a hot job cutting all the way through the pumpkin, but carves the surface beautifully. (It's perfect for creating your design, and then using the mini-saw to cut it out). I may just find myself doing a little bit of etching - JUST FOR FUN - with the remaining pumpkins we have out front because that aspect of the carving adventure was quite fun! Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monster Mouths

Ah shucks, guys - thanks for all of the compliments. However, in my effort to strive for the "Mom of the Year" award with my kids, I admit I've really neglected reading and commenting to many of my blog-friends. I'll catch up, I promise!

Hollie, funny that you should mention the "Monster Mouths" as a classroom "food-craft". Last week, I offered to Brayden's teacher to do something Halloween-related, food-related - as a math time activity. (I'm really not sure what I was thinking-). So, last night, while I lay in bed, (still amped up), I decided to try the Monster Mouth activity with them - and discuss fractions (how to divide up the apples), measuring (how many ounces in a cup, etc.), and even the difference between an acute and obtuse angle in terms of how to place the apple slices to create the "monster lips". I had about a half hour, and while I won't say it was the most controlled lesson in the world, Brayden said I didn't embarass him at all which is always a plus. The benefit of Brayden having a teacher that is not quite a veteran at the school is that she is willing to let others step in, and seemed quite happy to let me be creative and get a little bit of that teaching urge out of my system. (And, as a sidenote, I can really tell that she's been seeking out ideas and trying hard as she's implemented some new classroom management techniques and the whole atmosphere in the room is much more positive).

Hollie, for your benefit - here's what I did-

I used one of those 8 slice chopper/corer tools to split 4 Gala apples into 8 pieces each - and then split each slice again (with a knife)- so each apple netted 16 slices. I brought all of the apples to school in a "bath" of water and some lemon juice so they didn't brown.

While I was at the school (as I didn't think they'd let me prepare the food ahead of time) - I combined one 8oz container of softened cream cheese, and one 7 oz jar of marshmallow cream with a hand mixer. I then added enough red food coloring to make the mixture pinkish-red. Another parent dispersed the mixture into cups (Dixie cups would work best, you only need about a teaspoon), and eventually each student was given a napkin, plastic knife (to spread), 2 apple slices, a toothpick, and the pink stuff in a cup. Finally, each child was given 5 marshmallows to use as teeth. The kids struggled a bit in figuring out how to position the apples with the toothpick, you just kind of have to look at the picture and figure it out (at least that's what I did). It works best if you position the apples first with the toothpick, and then add the pink stuff.

Outside of the greed for more marshmallows and sugar rush - it did all work out. Fortunately, they only had ten minutes left of school by the time we were done.

If there aren't any food allergy issues, peanut butter can be used instead (although, the color would be different) - and I've seen candy corn and slivered almonds also used as the teeth. I think marshmallows are the easiest and looked "friendliest" when the kids and I were playing around with the idea this last weekend.

So, there you go, certainly not my own creative idea, but I will take credit for using the cream cheese/marshmallow cream as filling and turning it red. (The recipe for the dip originally came from Jodi's mom....).

I'm not going to give Martha Stewart any run for her money, but my kids were impressed enough, and for sure, that's all that counts to me.

(P.S. - Let it be known, with all of these efforts towards festivity, the responsibility factor in this mom has WAY digressed. The guilt of being the "bad mom" was felt big-time when the orthodontist called a couple of minutes after our scheduled appointment time today wondering if Brayden was going to make it.... Oh, good one. And, regarding the kids' homework.... well, it's a good thing they are done as of 11:30 tomorrow with school for the rest of the week, because Mom's efforts at contributing to the education - not so hot either!)

A Whole Lot of Pictures

Get ready for a picture-laden post - full of lots of shots of a very fun evening.

Albeit it a little late, here we are, having boarded the crazy wagon train - Mikayla's girlfriends all lined up, looking gorgeous:
And, there is the crazy driver, Walt - he is so NOT kidding when he tells you to hold on tight. You know that if a ride is entertaining to the hilt seven 9-10 year old boys - it is reckless!
Walt, executing a sharp turn:
Here's a picture to prove I was part of the festivities - with Jackson at my side, who participated on the wagon ride with his mom, Amy:

Once safely deposited at the pumpkin patch (on solid ground) the kids looked for pumpkins and Mikayla posed with her "Gilham Girls":
Jack, proudly hoisting his prize:
And, Ellie, looking quite pleased with her choice as well:
This is a pic of us pulling back into the shop area - such a great location:
And, could I have dreamed of a better day to plan this event?
Once back at our house, we tried to get the kids to be patient as we got 14 of them fed:
This is the table spread complete with "Witch Fingers" (Taquitos), "Frankenstein Fingers" (Cheesesticks), "Broken Broomsticks" (Pretzel Sticks), and "Monster Mouths" (Apple Wedges)
These "Monster Mouths" are made with red-food-coloring added to cream cheese and marshmallow cream to make the inside mouth, red apple wedges tooth-picked together to form the lips, and marshmallows as the teeth.
Traig, sporting his own Monster Mouth:While the boys were in the garage dunking for apples, we did a quick spider craft with the girls - here's Mom helping Ellie. Bless Mom and Dad's hearts for helping - I think the noise and energy level were a little overwhelming to them, but just having them there was wonderful for me.
And, Erica - showing off her Balloon Spider:
Here's a shot of some of the garage decor - I covered the fluorescent light panels with an orange vinyl tablecloth to cast an orange glow.
When we let the kids come in to eat their meal, we had the Fog Machine going, so the whole the whole place was filled with a ghostly orange mist... Once we got the kids settled down in the garage to eat, we played a corny ghost story on the CD "Stop the Coffin" - if you ever find it on a Halloween CD, it's a good one for all age levels - not too scary, and a funny punch-line ending.
We had planned to do carving in the garage, but with everything else going on, we chose to just run the apple dunking out there. Despite the order of the pictures, the boys went first. They nabbed their apples in record-breaking, competitive times, while the girls went at their own place, with lots of encouragement given to each "dunker". Here's a pic of Christina with her prize:
This is Kyle - I love the water dripping off his face as well as the apple:
I love this shot of Brayden, with Andrew and Carson looking in - Brayden took the longest to get his apple - let it be said that "speed" is really not Brayden's strength...
One for the scrapbooks:
Tanner is just so photogenic!
A final parting shot of the girls in the garage:

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Blur That Was Today

Today was one of those non-stop, ever-in-motion days, that as I am just now stepping off the ride, my body feels like it needs to keep going (which is a shame, as it's late, I'm tired and I really need the sleep).

Some of the highlights of the day included:

- Finding the store that carried 15 52x104 inch black vinyl tablecloths for $1 each
- Listening to the Halloween Party CD that I purchased for the kids and totally rocking out in my car to "Monster Mash", "Ghostbusters", "Move It Like That" (with just me and Syd)
- Some really fun i-chats with John as we tried to figure out how to make tonight work out right
- The look on the my kids' faces when they came home from school and saw what I had unexpectedly done to the garage
- Michele's advice to consider a stapler when trying to figure out how to keep the tablecloths stuck to the ceiling (and discovering it totally worked)
- The ride in the hay trailer with "Crazy Walt" at Johnson Farms
- Hearing one of Brayden's friends say "It was a totally sweet party"

Some of the challenges of the day included:
- Realizing the Tooth Fairy wasn't prepared for the note left under Mikayla's pillow (despite having helped her write it) - and having to scrounge through my kids' wallets (and then hide them, so they wouldn't notice the loss) to compensate.
- Hitting five different stores to find the above mentioned vinyl tablecloths
- Coming home from GOING BACK for more tablecloths to discover the duct tape didn't hold and the draping had fallen from the ceiling (hence, the joy of Michele's stapler idea)
- Finding out we arrived five minutes late to the Pumpkin Patch and the hay ride had taken off without us - (this turned out to work out just fine, but, nonetheless - created stress)
- Discovering that my cell phone was located with the friendly Customer Service Department at Walmart (I hadn't realized I was missing it yet)
- The clean- up!

So, if you hadn't gathered by now, the kids had a special Pumpkin-Carving Party, that didn't actually result in any pumpkin carving.... (it was supposed to, but we ran out of time). Brayden and Mikayla each got to pick 6 kids (including their cousins), as we knew we could only accommodate so much. We tried to keep the girls and boys separate for as much as we could as combining 14 was more than I wanted to deal with - not to mention the vast energy and noise level difference between the two groups.

I'll wait for tomorrow to post the pictures and some captions of some of the more special moments, but suffice to say, I'm very happy with not only the results, but that it's done! (Sorry to rub it in, Hollie!) After preparing and hosting this tonite, it will make hosting Halloween Night with our "Core Chili Group" feel like a total piece of cake...!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I know, I'm never going to live this down, but I'm a bit bummed. We just went and saw the last "official" installment of "High School Musical" at the theater. I'm sure there will be more HSM of some form or another - but, from what I'm lead to believe, no more including Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Sharpay, and Ryan. Sigh...

I won't give anything anyway, (I'd be very bothered if someone did that to me), but I was very happy with the movie. Stick around in the theater to watch all through the credits - there's some cute bloopers, followed by a video done by "Stan", the winner of "Get in the Picture" - the High School Musical reality show that ABC aired over the summer.

Travis and Stephanie came with us, and pretended our kids were their's so there would be a purpose for them to be there too. (Since we came separately, we debated ditching them and seeing if they'd still attend).

While I'm on the subject of those two - I'd like to solicit some prayers for Stephie. She went in for a MRI last week to rule out other concerns as she's begun having migraines. The MRI showed either a bleed or calcification of her pineal gland. This is the gland that regulates sleep - which would make a lot of sense as even top sleep specialists shake their head at just how bad Steph's body is in terms of being incapable of getting to sleep or reaching the proper REM state. Stephanie and Travis are pretty sure it's a calcification issue as her body produces too much calcium, hence the very frequent kidney stones she has. But, as for what is done if that is the case... that's a big mystery.

Stephanie goes in for a CAT scan to get more clarification on Wednesday, so please pray for her anxiety between now and when the results come back and for an easy-to-solve diagnosis.

Thank you everyone, and enjoy another crisp, beautiful weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Northern Lights Pumpkin Patch (and Tree Farm)

Yesterday, Mikayla and I set off for the pumpkin patch (again!). This time, it was with Mikayla's first grade class and we set off for Northern Light's Christmas Tree Farm/Pumpkin Patch. As the fog cleared within the hour that we were there, it was a beautiful day - perfect for the occasion.

This first picture shows an overview of the buildings gracing the area - the spider house in which the owner talks about spiders, the "Hay Mayflower" (which you can't see) which is the exact size of the real ship, and a building in which she talks about owls and shows them a real owl pellet. The husband, Bob, drives the tractor for the hayride and the wife, Lynn used to be a kindergarten teacher, so she definitely knows what she's doing as she conducts a very organized, educational and captivating field trip experience.

This is Mikayla's teacher, Ms. Beitz - who, as you can tell by the way Mikayla and the other girls are clinging to her - is very loved.

On their property, GIANT pumpkins are grown - here's a picture of one topping the scales just above 1000 pounds.

I loved this goat! And, he loved me. He reminded me of Sydney as I scratched behind his ears and he kept leaning in and bending his head - in bliss- When I went to pet the other goat, he came right over again and used the back of the other goat to lay his head on as I scratched behind his ears once more-

Here is a picture of Mikayla's new buddy, Kenady, and her mom, Johnna, that accompanied me in my car on the way to and from the pumpkin patch (along with five kiddos). I'm enjoying getting to know her and her daughter!
It's so crazy for me to think that it really was back in 2005 since I've been here last with Brayden's class - it seem's like yesterday. If you go back and look at that post, Brayden seems so little (part of it was his haircut and smile-expressions) - and, it makes me wonder if that is the same goat...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sydney Needs a New Bed

On Friday, John and I committed one of those terrible crimes we get really bothered when other people do to us. We made a last minute request to our best friends to dump our dog with them. YES, we were some of THOSE people, who pretend to be so self-important that advance notice isn't necessary when asking a big favor, and seem to expect that our friends are simply sitting around waiting for us to request their service, effort, and time! Our bads, but bless the Whites' hearts, they took Sydney anyway, despite Syd's very inconsiderate owners.

Not only did they sweetly house our doggy, but they sent us an email that said this on Saturday night:

Hey Mom and Dad! I think I need a bigger bed over at the White's house........

She's having fun; we're having fun; and we'll see you when you get home.


Don't you just love her rear end hanging over the back of a bed made for a dog the size of a beagle? And that put off look on her face that says, "The accommodations here are just not what I am accustomed to!"

At our house, she loves our old big blue bean bags. Last year, at Christmas, we purchased some crimson colored ones that I pulled out when I decorated for Harvest. She is so offended by these smaller, less cushy ones. When the blue beanbags aren't out, she just paces around staring at us, bothered at our lack of consideration in accommodating her. What a goofball!

Thanks again, Whites! And, yes, now we know what Syd will be asking for on her letter to Santa this year!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm Not Partial or Anything...

But, once this guest arrived, I pretty much ignored everyone else. Perhaps you can see why:This is Kallahan, the daughter of one of the ladies in my Bible Study - and yes, the very little baby that kept me going to that Bible Study. Now, you can see why! I'm so pleased, Dawn, her mom, chose to come over and hang with the ladies and myself as we did our little projects.

Here is a final picture of her other daugther, Killian, giving Kallahan a kiss - what beautiful children!I'm adding on to this post with great news, my new friend, Dawn - mom of these kiddos, has decided to launch her very own blog. She is an amazing person that exudes encouragement and godliness - and I'm excited to follow her very inspiring story as she begins chronicalling her family's life. Please join me in welcoming Dawn to our blogging family!