Trick or Treat 2011

     Well, Halloween night 2011 is winding down here.  Things are so different for us now that our kids are getting older.  Gone are the days of my cute little Disney characters and princesses, the classroom parties and parades, the wondering if your son or daughter would actually wear all of their costume or not, worrying about the weather, etc....  Speaking of weather, we did get lucky -- it was about 50 degrees, no rain or snow and not particularly windy.  All good.
     This is what I would call the first year that all three of my kids "costumes" were, for lack of a better word....lame!  LOL!  I'm not really complaining.  Afterall, I am not buying any more wigs, makeup, costumes or props for my 14 year old daughter or even my 11 year old middle schoolers.  Time to get creative.  In fact, nobody had really talked much about a costume except this past week.  They just want candy. 
     Also, our immediate neighborhood has kind of past its' prime when it comes to the ages of kids on our street.  The majority of kids are in high school or older.  Only a handful of kids are in elementary and middle school.  We only had about 25 kids come to our door this year -- an all time low.  When we first moved here in 1996 we had about 125 or more kids.  Part of the reason is that our subdivision does not have sidewalks, and a newer subdivision next to ours does -- so that's where everybody heads because the houses are closer together and they have sidewalks.
     As far as costumes, Kristin was "Fall", and her friend was "Spring", although somebody thought Kristin was "Mother Nature" which is fine, too!??
     Megan was a "Queen" and her friend was a "Bee"....so they were...Queen Bee.
     And, to my "horror", Jacob was a rugby player!!  That one hit a little too close to home.  My husband played rugby when I met him, so Jacob wanted to wear some of his old stuff.  I wish I could say the facial bruising and bandages were not realistic...but they are very reminiscent of a typical rugby game.  A sport I will not be allowing Jacob to play.  I can deal with the fake blood on Halloween, but not in "real life"!
     In the end, fun was had by all.  Halloween on a Monday -- kinda weird.  Maybe mandating trick or treating for Saturdays would be a good idea.
     Either way, unfortunately, it's all about the candy for my kids now.  Last year, we turned a lot of it in for $$ at a local dentist who sends the candy to the troops.  I hope we can find something like that again this year...the sooner the better!!  The kids are looking through their candy right now.  They got a ton!!
Happy Halloween -- hope you had some fun!!

A Treat for Me from my friend, Alyce.... ;)


This Year...Pumpkin Decorating!

     Thanks to Pinterest I was inspired to do things a little differently this Halloween.  My kids are getting older, and we are transitioning to a more simplified Halloween.  I got the kids "ok" to "decorate" our pumpkins this year instead of all the carving process/mess/chaos.  I showed each of my kids an idea for a pumpkin and, as I expected, they were receptive to trying them out. 
     Kristin went with the button "Boo" pumpkin and actually decorated hers a couple of weeks ago. I think it turned out very cute, and it did not take her much time at all.  You know your kids are getting older when they can use a hot glue gun, by themselves, and they do not get injured!  (Ice water was standing by, though.)
     Jacob went with the "mouse motel" look.  His pumpkin is sideways since it was having a hard time standing.  I gave him (with some help from dad) full creative expression, and it it definitely turned out looking like a crazy mouse motel!? 
     Megan went with the ribboned pumpkin, and I think it looks really nice and it did not take too long.  Amazing what some ribbon on a pumpkin can do!!  And, you just know I will try to get that ribbon back off when we are done and "repurpose" it!!
     So, all in all, there was a lot less mess with the non-carving method -- although the mouse motel did cause a bit of chaos because we waited until the last minute.  The kids ended up going to a corn maze with friends the night we were going to do our pumpkins.  I am hoping to leave the same pumpkins on the porch until Thanksgiving to help with my "harvest" look -- minus the mice and "Boo". 
How did your pumpkin carving or decorating go?? 


First Chair

Last night Megan had her first high school band concert.  She is in the Concert Band which is a freshman only band.  The Symphony Band (sophomores, juniors and seniors) also played as well as the school's Wind Ensemble, an invitation only smaller group of excellent players.
A few weeks ago Megan had told me each player was having a private playing test with their director, Mrs. H.  I know she was both excited and nervous about it.  I remember when I asked her how it went she said "not very good, I was really nervous".  I was a little bummed for her but also knew she was a good player and was thinking it might not have been as bad as she thinks.  A few days later, she sent me a text that said "first chair" -- they had posted the results of their test!  For those who do not know, first chair is a good thing in band.  The players are seated by their abilities, starting with first chair in each instrument.  So, allow me these five seconds of fame to brag!  (This is my only "scrapbook", afterall.) 
I am proud that she loves playing, has made many friendships in both marching and concert band, and as a bonus she's a pretty darn good musician.  I might also mention that I can relate to where she is at right now, as I also played clarinet in my high school band and still have very fond memories of being a part of a great group of people...making beautiful music together!  It is a bit surreal to see your daughter participating in something that it seems like I was doing just yesterday!?
The concert was great, and we are very proud! 
 Oh, and there's another concert next week...marching band in the auditorium!

Concert Band
Megan is on the far left
Sorry for the pathetic blurred pics from my cell
The Symphony Band
No idea why the dress looks purplely....it's black
(and the girls hate them...they call them their Amish dresses)


FALL-ing Out of Summer

     As I mentioned in Monday's post, on Sunday we ended up In Lexington.  Lexington, Michigan, that is.  It is a cute little harbor town located on Lake Huron, and where we have a little place we try to getaway to during the summer as I wrote about here, here, and here.
     I don't think we have ever all been up there at the same time during the Fall.  I think the only reason we were able to do so this year is because we have freed ourselves from Kristin's intense select soccer schedule.
     It was a nice change to be up there when things are so quiet.  Most of the people near our place only go up there as a summer getaway, and many of them head for Florida (the snowbirds) as the winter months approach.  
    We split up the work and got a lot done with yard work, cleaning out the frig, cupboards and packing away the outdoor furniture.  We wish our summer had allowed for more time to spend up north relaxing.  We often think about selling our place, as it is difficult to justify the expense for the couple of weekends and one week of vacation time that we typically spend up there during the summer.  In the meantime, we enjoy it when we can.
      After a few hours of getting our work done, we took one last walk down to the beach and  said our goodbyes to Summer 2011 in Michigan. 
     Our morning Cider Mill visit and afternoon trip to Lexington were family time well spent.

Those are my girls down there...
Trying to be serious...not working.
Trying to catch them in the air...with my cell phone camera

Not too bad...
Little brother making a getaway from the girls
LOVE this picture of my Jake


Apples and Donuts and Cider (Oh My!)

     Like many of you, we like to go to the cider mill as a family every Fall.  We are lucky to have several to choose from within 20-30 minutes of where we live.  We even have one local family orchard about 10 minutes away that we frequent every Fall and drive by on a regular basis (we still might make a stop there sometme soon).  This year, however, I thought it would be nice to "change things up" and take the kids somewhere different.  Blake's is a very big orchard that my family used to go to when I was a kid and it is about an hour away.  Nothing like a good old-fashioned Sunday drive. 
      It was one of our kids few non-sporting event days and the weather was supposed to be nice!  We decided to get there early to "beat the rush" so we arrived in the morning before the big crowds.  We were happy to find out that my cousin and her family were going to be there at the same time.  So, we met up and had cider and donuts (what else?) for breakfast, walked around a bit, took some pictures, got some yummy Honeycrisp apples, watched the cider being made and then we had to part ways. 
     Our little cousin Lucas is a total cutie and it was fun to watch him show us around.  We think he is the greatest and wish we lived closer to that little guy!  Everything he does is mesmerizing and hilarious to my kids...they don't get to see the little ones in our families very often, and there aren't too many of them anymore.
     We did not stay too long as we had decided ahead of time to continue another hour north to our summer place in Lexington and do some fall cleanup and prep for.... w-i-n-t-e-r (more on that later).
      For now, we are loving this crisp Fall weather and all of the activities that go along with it!!

Armada, Michigan

Pressing the Apples for Cider

Now That's Fresh!

My Big Kids...By the Big Scarecrow

Megan (babysitter wannabe) with Lucas!


Give them donuts and carmel apples...
they will do anything!!

Monday "Memories" With My Mom

      Another week has gone by and things are still going well for my mom.  What continues to be a great relief is that my mom is walking pretty well.  Obviously, mobility is critical to maintaining some independence.  I can now better understand how a "fall" can be so disastrous as you get older.   It is also making me aware that with the winter months coming, we will have to be extra vigilant in fall prevention.
     My mom had a podiatrist appointment last week and since it does not do much good to tell her in advance (she doesn't remember...even with notes and calendars), I just show up and she is always surprised.  I found her in the dining room enjoying her breakfast.  It was nice to see that she was socializing with the other ladies at the table.  I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat with them for a few minutes while my mom finished up her breakfast.
      We then headed off to the podiatrist who, unfortunately, was about 25 miles away from my mom's new place, but I know how important it is for my mom to get out even it's only for a drive.  Once at the doctor's office, I entertained myself by making fun of my mom's feet.  Let's just say that diabetes, age, and feet don't mix.  (Note to Self:  Going to the foot doctor might be a good way to get a free pedicure (if insurance pays)...minus the polish!?)  The good news is, my mom has the ability to laugh at herself, too.  So the doctor, who happens to be very nice and funny, got my mom all fixed up and we were on our way. 

     I had also mentioned to my mom that the American House has a podiatrist on staff and that next time we should probably see that doctor.  She thought that it was sooooo amazing that they had a podiatrist who comes in and asked me several times how I found out about that.  My mom was also very excited about that and very receptive to visit their doctor next time. 
     I then took her to lunch at Big Boy.  Although she forgets a lot of things, she does remember that she likes certain foods, and Big Boy is one of them.   
     I told her I am glad she is liking her new apartment and she always says "what's not to like"!?  I am grateful she is still able to recognize a good thing when she sees it!!!! 


Finally Feeling Fall

     It's a beautiful Fall weekend here in Michigan, blue skies, sunny, bright, fall colors and about 55 degrees!!!!  Seems our weekends have been one extreme or the other...either in the 80s (which is nice, but not "Fallish") or rainy, windy and chilly.  Today, well, it's "just right"!
     Today our kids have played in two baseball and two soccer games, but tomorrow we are finally hoping to get to the cider mill and take in some Fall activities as a family.  Only one more weekend of outdoor Fall sports (insert mom doing the "happy dance").
     Thought I would take a minute to share my front porch.  This year, I have decorated my front porch the way I like it.  Less (no) Halloween and more Fall.  Now that my kids are 11 (x2) and 14, I am phasing out the Halloween decor.  No worries, my light up pumpkins, skeletons and ghosts are still around, just not on the porch this year.  I'll probably move them around for Halloween night, but for now mom's taking back "the porch"
     Hope you are enjoying your Fall weekend, too!!


Freebies 101

Well, I was looking back and it appears I started requesting "freebies" over the summer sometime, as inspired by my cousin.  I still like getting suprises in the mail and think it's pretty neat that you can get all this stuff to try for free.  Sure, some things are more exciting than others, but you don't have to request the ones you don't want.  My favorite this month was my cute little Target makeup bag loaded with lots of good samples and Target coupons.  The only site I check for deals and freebies is http://www.hip2save.com/.
 So, for verrrrrry little effort the goodies keep coming in.  In fact, I got a fun one today, but I'll share it next time!!  Has anyone else tried any of these products or received any fun surprises like these in the mail?? 


"I" am Feeling Crafty

     I don't know why, but I think because I'm making a conscious effort for more "me" time (yay, me!?), I have been feeling "crafty".  Now when I say crafty, it's a bit "tongue in cheek", but I've found myself at JoAnns (craft store) a few times lately and it inspires me in all kinds of ways.  For now, I'm focusing on the "easy" stuff.  I also think dabbling in Pinterest makes my little brain think of things I want to try... 
     I've noticed the block wood and other letters people are putting on shelves, mantles, or spelling names, etc... with them.  I saw the brown cardboard letters were $3 and I found their block "I" was halfway normal looking, i.e. not the kind that looks like a straight line, or number "1".  Craft paint was like 2/$1 so I found a brown and a beige, having no idea really what my plan was except maybe to make it appear to look like wood.
     So, here's how it went....check it out!

My cardboard colored "I" (yes, my married last name starts with an "I") -- newspapers, brush, water, paints, and disposable cups.

As you can see on the right, the beige/paint color looks almost the same as the cardboard color.  This did not excite me, but I kept on going since it looked more "finished".  Also, my mantle wall is dark, so I thought the beige would stand out more.

A finished side with paint still wet.  Then, for whatever reason I stopped taking pictures.  I put the dark brown on all the sides/edges because I thought that would give it dimension.  Then, last night, I leaned my finished "I" on my mantle and this morning decided I didn't like it.  It was too beige and still too cardboard looking.  So, in my haste, I whipped out that brown paint again and streaked it on my "I" with a paper towel  hoping to keep a little beige showing through and making it look more "wooden"...

Voila!  I think it turned out ok.  Maybe not exactly what I envisioned, but for 20-30 minutes (paint dries quickly on the cardboard) and $4, not bad!