Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trunk or Treat

With two little sugar baby pumpkins we made a dozen pumpkin muffins, another dozen pumpkin apple streusel muffins (yum!) and a big batch of these pumpkin pancakes. (I think the pomegranates were an even bigger hit with the kids.) And for the record, Libby's canned pumpkin is just fine. It's fun to bake your own pumpkins just to put it on your list of things you've done/made, but I'm here to tell you it's totally optional.

Our church has this crazy "trunk or treat" tradition no matter where we move. I have no idea how it started or why we do this, but along with dinner and games, everyone decorates their trunk and dispenses goodies out the back. In my opinion, a generic Halloween party sans "trunk or treating" would be more than enough. But who am I to be both the party pooper and the sugar Nazi! What do I have against trunk or treating? Due to the small area that is being covered (the church parking lot) the kids can go around multiple times unless you make some arrangement with them in advance which is completely ridiculous since these events are always total mayhem once you hit the time for trunk or treating. My son went around ELEVEN TIMES! I didn't know this until we got home and saw that the grocery sized bag he was carrying was very full. Sigh. The kids love it of course. Two nights to rake it in instead of one AND they get to wear their costume twice! I think the Korean girl scout troop at school collects extra candy and sends it to the troops or something. I'll come up with something, but I've got to get this candy out of my house. Today I surrendered to a Twix, a mini Butterfinger and a Baby Ruth. I'm pathetic.

Kate is making her own mummy costume based on an instructional youtube video. I bought some nasty white pants and turtleneck at Goodwill, she dyed them and an old white sheet in black Earl Grey tea, she cut and tore the sheet into strips, I took the sewing machine in to get fixed, and today she began sewing the strips onto the clothes. There is a reason I buy Halloween costumes, but she really really really wants to do this and who I am to stunt my children's creativity? Since her costume wasn't done yet, she wanted to man the trunk at "trunk or treat".

Hermione or Belle? Hermione or Belle? Hermione or Belle? She decided on Belle. (She thinks holding the flashlight to her face like this makes her look scary. Isn't that funny?)

It's that glorious time of year when we find ourselves at functions in which our toddlers eat candy corn and Sun Chips for dinner . . . isn't she just the cutest, though?

I try not to think about the fact that he'll be a hairy, hormonal teenager someday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sugar Baby vs. Libby

I was lucky enough to go on the kindergarten field trip yesterday to Underwood Family Farms where we enjoyed a hay ride and picked our own "sugar babies" from their patch. Elizabeth helped me scoop out the seeds today and they are baked and cooled on the counter. Tomorrow I hope to find out if there really is a qualitative difference between the real thing and Libby's. I've never been disappointed by Libby so I could be in for a pleasant surprise! I want to make the most of my sugar babies, so I'm hoping to do some chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, a classic pie and hopefully have enough mush leftover for some pumpkin pecan pancakes. Oh yeah . . . Why do I wonder why I can't lose the last ten pounds??

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gum is NOT Food

This picture was taken just moments after I found Rachael in a corner with NINE gum wrappers scattered on the floor around her.

This is what happens when you are helping one child with homework and the other with piano practice while simultaneously making dinner. It was a moderately busy day, the afternoon spent in Elizabeth's kindergarten classroom. I love kindergarten. Not as much as pre-school, but almost.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Tale of Surly Hollow

I had sick children home last week. Fevers that turned into coughs, coughs that made me wonder if it was swine flu. (I'm already tired of worrying about this year's flu season and it's only October.) Luckily the fevers never got that high and the croupy coughs were the only residual sign of illness. Nevertheless, Elizabeth and Will spent several days home from school, and Elizabeth (my five year old kindergartner) was very worried she wouldn't be well enough for the annual daddy-daughter campout on Friday. Thankfully, she was well enough just in the nick of time.

Despite his fastidious preparations, my wannabe-die-hard-ultra-light-backpacker husband forgot one important item for the campout that night: the tent. Being the resourceful Eagle Scout that he is, he went to the campground store and bought a box of heavy duty trash bags which he cut and taped into a tarp for he and our two older daughters to sleep on under the stars that night at the beach in Malibu. (Very backpackerish - I think subconsciously he did it on purpose.)

Dad and said daughters got home around 1pm the next day after a late night, lots of smores, early morning, lots of pastries, and goofing around at the beach. When he told me all the details I wondered if Elizabeth wasn't going to be too worn out for that night's highly anticipated family outing of the season: Sleepy Hollow dinner and program at Riley's Farm. I say highly anticipated because I first caught wind of this event last year and have been looking forward to it ever since. I hadn't put together the two big activities (campout and Riley's) being on the same weekend until I had already purchased the tickets for Riley's. It was a little much. I was glad when Elizabeth fell asleep on the two hour drive there and hoped it would be enough to make up for the lost sleep of the night before.

We arrived at Riley's just in time to catch a hayride around the farm before dinner. The evening would be just like I had envisioned for so many months: all of us together enjoying a fun and festive evening in the country with good food, games, dancing and a spooky program. What could be more "family friendly"? Surely this was one of those activities that all of our children could enjoy.

Right after the hay ride we got our seats in the 1880's barn for dinner and the program. There were several long tables running through the barn with people sitting pretty close to each other. That had me a little worried. The kids weren't interested in the folksy little family band providing entertainment, so they played happily with the the farm dogs outside while waiting for dinner to begin. That was okay, I thought, they had been sitting in the car for a long time after all. But then dinner began.

I will leave the details of our family dinner to your imagination. Brandon and I took turns standing in line for heaping plates of super messy BBQ, beans, corn on the cob, etc. and then took turns holding Rachael on our laps and passing her back and forth across the table while occasionally shoving mouthfuls of food into our faces. Nary a highchair to be found. The highlight for me was when I had Rachael in one arm on my lap trying to keep her from making too big of a mess while frantically searching in my purse with the other hand for one of those little packets of wet ones. I pulled out a mini pad instead. (So glad my neighbor was a woman!) Dinner aside, things started to really break down for Elizabeth when the games began.

Now I have thought long and hard about some of the challenges that come with a group of four children ages 2-12. What, for instance, does a family do for fun when you have both a toddler and a preteen? The next stage is possibly tougher: preschooler and teenager. You can't take them all to a children's museum. (Too babyish for the teen.) Lasar tag? (Not happening for the younger ones.) While there are many things that are fun for all ages, I know the next few years may prove challenging at times when certain activities just aren't well suited for some of the children in our family. Despite what I had expected, this was one of those times.

The first activity planned was dancing. Colonial Hoedown kind of dancing. This was not easy for Elizabeth to pick up and the crying began. Dad was chasing Rachael around outside at this point so I was trying to dance with Will (who was having a great time) while simultaneously appease Elizabeth (who was NOT having a great time). Next was apple bobbing. This version required three people. One to hold the apple attached to the string, and two to eat the apple with their hands behind their backs. Still utilizing the "divide and conquer" method, Brandon was outside carving a pumpkin with Kate and Rachael so I held the string while Elizabeth and Will got ready to munch. The poor child couldn't even get her teeth into the skin of the apple! And that was the straw that broke the over tired, over stimulated camel's back.

And that's when my behavior went bad.

I took her outside and told her to stop crying because she was ruining everyone else's fun. (Ahem, my fun.) Can you believe that?! I sounded like one of those moms I sniff at! Brandon said I needed to give her a break because she was probably tired and still not feeling that good and I immediately knew he was right. Now my evening had really and truly gone to pot. Brandon kindly took the two younger children to the van (he was getting tired of the hassle amid the crowds anyway) and I mildly enjoyed the third act of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with Kate and Will. It ended with everyone going outside to watch Ichabod walk home and the headless horseman come tearing down the lane on a large horse, flaming pumpkin and all! I knew I should be enjoying myself more now that the little ones were "out of my hair" so to speak, but I felt so badly about making poor Elizabeth feel even worse than she already did that I lost all my enthusiasm. I was tired too.

The next morning I had a nice long talk with Elizabeth about how even grown ups make mistakes. I apologized, hugged and kissed her until I felt better. (Of course, being a child, she was over it long before I was. Another topic entirely!)

Isn't it funny how we have to keep learning the same lessons over and over again? Forcing children to have fun and be happy when they didn't even ask for whatever you're shoving down their throat is never a good idea. And having certain expectations (especially high ones) for how something is going to turn out when there are small children in the mix is one of the ultimate no-no's of parenting that I thought I had learned long, long ago. Apparently not.

The moral of this story?

Minimum age for dinner programs: 8.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Going Back

I couldn't resist going back and posting some of my favorite pictures from the last month and a half.

This first one was taken on the drive home from our family reunion at Aspen Grove Family Camp in Utah in a little podunk town where we stopped to get some migraine medication at a pharmacy for Brandon. (The after effects of a family "vacation"?) Don't you love the generous offer?
Also on the drive home.
Last day. Isn't this place beautiful?
My favorite part about this family camp was the cafeteria style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not the greatest food by any stretch, but I didn't make or clean up a scrap of it! Ahhhh.
They had a "family dance" the last night we were there. So cute! So fun! The Numa Numa song rocked.
The kids put on a show the last night, and for some reason this little boy on the left was torturing poor Ty the entire program! Elizabeth was oblivious to it all. All she saw were hundreds of eyes on her.
Kate rappelling after the ropes course.

Elizabeth feeling proud of herself.

Don't you love the look on his face?
We ate the fish Will caught for breakfast the next morning.

Shauna and I taking a little stress reliever from the kids!
Kate and Nicole
What boy can resist a giant water balloon sling?
The Aspen Follies
One of the many parks near our lodge.
Trent and Laura - the newlyweds. Aw.
Ready for the ropes course.
I think this was taken right after I bashed into a tree from goofing around while rappelling.
Go Mom!
My in-laws are the proud parents of 6 sons, and the youngest (20 years younger than my husband) just received his Eagle so they really wanted to get a picture of them while they were all together.
Here they are making fun of themselves. They are going to hate that I posted these pictures.

Could this be any cuter?
Too bad we didn't think about matching for this picture!
This one tells the story of many moments I live through on a regular basis.
Cousin Paige!
I finally got together with my dear friend Tiffany after almost 15 years! We met up with our cumulative seven kids at a beach between her home in San Diego and mine in Los Angeles. We were friends in high school and roommates in college. This was the last beach trip before school started. We couldn't stop talking!
The infamous "Station Fire". This is the freeway exit to our house and we live straight ahead. I took this a day or two before our evacuation.
Two blocks from our house.
What should have been the first day of school, I took the kids downtown to the Science Center to escape the smoke smell.

Hurricane simulator.

First day of kindergarten!

This is the only time I will have three children in one school.
New shoes!
Memorial Day weekend we had our last family BBQ and swim at my in-laws and celebrated my and Ty's birthdays.
Will and Ty
Dad and his girls.
Dinner? Who needs dinner!
Cousins are some of the best friends.
Thanks, Brent! You made her day.
In our church, once you are 12 you can enter the temples. We took Kate to the Los Angeles Temple where Brandon and I were married almost 15 years ago.
Brent, Mom, Brandon, Kate, Me, Laura and Trenton
Is this so funny how Kate and I are moving in exactly the same way? And how cute is Brandon playing with Kate's hair while talking to her? (He is such a good dad. He is at a "daddy/daughter campout" with Kate and Elizabeth tonight.)
I've told Kate for years she could pierce her ears when she turned 12, but as it got closer she said she didn't want to. The morning before her birthday I casually mentioned that if she wanted to I would still take her to get her ears pierced. Here she is 24 hours later.
Back to the present. Just another darling picture of Rachael on her 2nd birthday.
Tomorrow night we are going to Riley's Farm Sleepy Hollow event! Can't wait!

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