Friday, November 8, 2013

Halloween Fun

Halloween has been over for a week, and I think I have recovered sufficiently from the chaos of it all.  My house is back in order with costumes all tucked away until next year, and my children have eaten their weight in candy.
The truth is, I have a serious love/hate relationship with that holiday we call Halloween. I mean, it is just one night, right?  But is is? Over the years, it seems that Halloween has morphed from one fun filled day of costume parades at school and an evening of candy gathering to trunk-or-treats for weeks leading up to it, several candy gathering events on the actual day and plenty of parties to attend.  Whew!
It is still fun, but it is by far more exhausting to me than even all of the preparations for Christmas.  It's just as much work but all crammed into a smaller span of time.
We try to choose our participation in all of these activities carefully and we simply have to say "no" to much of it, but we have several activities that have become tradition that we all look forward to.

Pumpkin Carving

We always grew up carving pumpkins together as a family, and it's something we have continued with.  We grow our own pumpkins each year, and the boys pick which will be theirs long before the night we get to cut them open.  We even bought the little carving kit this year, mostly for the cheap knives that made it so the boys could be more involved in their own carving, but each of them still opted to design their own face, rather than choose a template from the accompanying book. 

Dave is so good to help each one, although Chad pretty much did his on his own this year. 
 Jenna had to be right there with us, standing at the table trying to peer up at what were doing. 

 The finished products! 


Each of my boys picked what they wanted to be this year.  I used to love doing family themed costumes where we all coordinated, but that was a TON of work and often, my kids would rather be something else.  Not worth the battle!  Chad chose Harry Potter.  Thankfully, we were able to borrow nearly all of what we needed from a generous neighbor.  That was a blessing!   He made a great Harry Potter! 

Tyler wanted to be a zombie from Minecraft.   After many mistakes, we got the costume complete, and it looked great!, but it was impossible to wear and him be able to see well.  We tried a handful of fixes, but none seemed to work well enough for trick or treating in the dark.  In the end, (after all that work) he opted to wear . . .
a dog costume instead.  Oh well.  On the bright side, it was probably significantly warmer than the zombie costume. 
 Greyson spotted his costume a while back when were shopping at Costco.  He LOVES firemen, and he has a fireman hat he wears everywhere!!!  So when he asked if we could buy it. I couldn't say no.  It was a perfect costume for him, and so easy to wear over clothes. 
We borrowed this little butterfly costume from Dave's sister.  I eyed a handful of darling costumes at Costco for her as well, but ultimately, she hardly even wore the one we had.  She totally hated the hat and the wings-drove her crazy!  But she was darling non the less.  Dave took the boys around the neighborhood while Jenna and I held down the fort here and passed out the goods.
 Probably my favorite part of Halloween is watching my kids sort their candy.  Maybe it's because I always did the same thing as a kid, but it totally melts my heart.  Here's Tyler with his loot.  He even made the effort to show Greyson, "Look, you can sort your candy into piles." and showed him how to do it as well. 

After trick or treating, we have a tradition to go over to my parents house and trick or treat there.  Chad's two teachers from school live on either side of their house, and that was extra fun for him to visit them as well.  One of his teachers sets up a spook alley in her garage each year.  It's pretty well done with full costumes and no one talking.  You could totally get scared if you let yourself.  Chad has never gone through it, and this year was no different.  Both his teachers offered to hold his hand and walk him through it, but he wouldn't have it.  Ultimately, I think it took a lot of courage for him to tell them both "no" and stand his ground that he didn't want to go through.  Tyler and I went through it and had a fun time.  Then, at like 9:30, when we were back home and all ready for bed, Chad decided he wanted to go into the  haunted house.  I was tempted, but, um, no.  Next year. 

In all, we had a great time, and a lot of fun! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Fall!

Fall is in full swing around here.  I do think it is one of my favorite holidays, simply because life seems to slow down a little (although the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of craziness, so maybe that 'slowing down' stuff is all in my head).  Chad has been working hard on his cub scout achievements, and one he had to complete was called Family Fun.  Two of the requirements for it were to lead his family on a hike or nature walk, and to teach his family a game.  He decided to take us up to Cherry Springs, a nature area nearby.  It is beautiful up there, and this is the first time I had ever visited in the fall.  Breathtaking!!!  Mostly, we walked the trails, gathered walking sticks, raced, laughed and just enjoyed being together as a family. 

Chad had to teach us a game, so while were up there, he taught us how to play a bean bag target game.  Pretty simple-one person throws a bean bag and where it lands becomes the target.  Each other person throws a bean bag and tries to hit the target.   We had fun playing that for a bit before heading off on the trail again. 
 It was nearly dark before we made it back to the car where we enjoyed some cookies.  And this little lady was a gem, never complaining while we strolled along.  Oh, how I love those eyes!!! 
For us, fall also means soccer.  This was Tyler's first season playing, and he gave it a good effort.  He spent a lot of his time on the field in dreamland, but the important part was that he enjoyed it.  

Reality Check Moment
In my attempt to encourage Tyler to focus on the game, I told him at the beginning of each game that I wanted to see him make a goal.  Little did I realize that his desire to please me would be so great that he would resort to lying about making goals to get my praise.  Twice, he ran over during a time out to tell me that when I wasn't watching, he made two goals.  Hmmm.  I guess I need to work on finding things to really praise him for.  He's even done the same thing when he gets home from school and Chad tells me that he earned a blue ticket for being good, or a sucker for the same reason, Tyler will tell me that he earned a sucker too, but he already ate it.  So, rather than praise him for what I know are untruths, we have started to call these "tall tales" and move on.  Tyler has definitely been my most challenging lately, with major tantrums and serious attempts to get attention, even when we have been heaping it on in large doses.  I got to thinking that simply his placement as second in our family probably is the cause for some of that.  He has a big brother to try to live up to, and two littler siblings that seem to take a lot of time and attention and often, he kind of gets overlooked.  We're working on changing that, and hopefully, we'll see some improvement in behavior and attitude. 
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