Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

I'm beginning this post on Halloween evening as I sit in the living room awaiting knocks at the door from little trick-or-treaters.  I like little trick-or-treaters.  They are cute and I enjoy them.

I don't like the big trick-or-treaters.  I don't think they are cute and I don't enjoy them.  And I'm stingy to them.  I think giving a single pixie stick is more than generous of me.  I have been particularly onery to the big kids tonight.  And no, I don't really expect my jack-o-lanterns to make it through the night.  I know the routine:  I'm a stinker to them and then they smash my pumpkins.  It's worth it.   Meanwhile, my big kid (Clark) is home having pizza with a few friends and I am giving them unlimited access to the Halloween candy. 

 Here is the Fox Family of The Un-Dead this Halloween.  This picture was taken Saturday afternoon rather than the actual evening of Halloween.  The fact is, Abe and I couldn't bear the thought of tying me into my mummy costume for the third time.  I thought it would be much simpler and quicker than it turned out to be.
The original plan was for Abe and I to both be mummies, but we both got half way done wrapping ourselves and ran out of wrappings.  So Abe unwound and lovingly let me be a fully wrapped mummy.
We went to a fun Halloween party Friday night.  For as tight as Abe tied me up I still came unraveled. 
Here are scary vampires!
And here are scary vampires meet Donny and Marie Osmond.
Is this a celebration of evil?
Perhaps, but I do think they are cute and George in particular is appropriately attired.  He is two after all.
Years ago when Clark was this age I bought him a little hooded t-shirt that read, "Little Devil" and had horns.  Abe was appalled and did not want Clark to wear it.  Fast forward 12 years and he thinks our devil and she-devil are adorable.  What happened?  I think it has something to do with "parental principle erosion".  It's a very real phenomena that happens in big families.  Why should we be any different?
Bethany, the zombie-bride testing out the mystery boxes at a neighborhood Halloween party we went to.  She loved the idea of being a zombie-bride, but the reality of getting "ugly" and going out in public was uncomfortable for her.  Ugly isn't really her mode of operation.  She regularly and neatly grooms herself and tries to be lovely.  Zombie-bride wasn't lovely.  But I was proud of her for persevering in her ugliness and I'm sure she'll have a pillowcase full of candy to show for her efforts.
Here is my Halloween hero.  Between Friday night and Saturday afternoon he probably spent more than 2 hours getting me into and out of my wrappings.  It's not so often that such skill in knot tying has such practical application.  It was quite a work of art.  Three cheers for scouting!
He was trying to channel Donald Trump but ended up more of an Alec Baldwin vampire.
Monday night was pumpkin carving.  Abe did not feel it was his most artistic year, but that was a lot of pumpkins to carve in one night.   Clark and Elinor were very helpful.
But even still, he worked up quite a sweat.
Earlier today my sister and I took our kiddos to Aunt Allison's and Grandma Barbara's work downtown for office trick-or-treating.  I'll just say that between afternoon trick-or-treating and evening trick-or-treating we are HOOKED UP!  And I'll bet a significant sum of money that somebody in this house will throw up between now and the morning. 
Check out the most awesome pumpkin in the neighborhood!
 Abe headed out with the three little ones.  They were so excited and the perfect age for trick-or-treating.  But I've already been on my soap box about that so I'll move on.
Bethany was off with her friends.  For many years now I have insisted that trick-or-treating be a family affair.  I said if you're too old to trick-or-treat with your family then you're too old to trick-or-treat.  I guess I gave in.  "Parental principle erosion" is a very real thing.
And Elinor headed out with Ben and his dad.
Clark and his friends geeking out on Heroscape and Minecraft at home on Halloween night.  The young man in the green dress and blonde curls was by far the scariest costume of the night:)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Zoo Day

The kids and I went to the zoo yesterday-- finally!  I've been meaning to take them for weeks, but we hadn't had an open day, until yesterday.  It was quite chilly, but it was well worth any discomfort because the zoo was deserted.  We had the place to ourselves!

One of the stressful things about taking my zoo to the zoo (or any place else) is that it can be very challenging to keep track of everyone.  It was a lot simpler when there weren't any other people around. 
We loved, loved, loved the new Rocky Shores exhibits with the sea lions and leopard seals.  We got to watch the trainers working with them and teaching them tricks and feeding them fish.
Everyone's absolute favorite thing was the polar bear who keep swimming right up to the glass, pushing off it and swimming back over and over again.  You can't see Faith's whole face in this picture but it was sheer wonder and delight.

The zoo was definitely a better outing for a two year-old than Walmart.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bigger Fish to Fry

Things I am knowingly abusing but continue to do so because I've got bigger fish to fry:

1.  The Magic School Bus. 
 As part of Faith's science curriculum this year we got the complete collection of every Magic School Bus episode ever produced.  I think there are 52.  They are wonderful and hands-down the best science instructional shows for children ever.

I have no proof to back that up.  I just made it up.

But actually they are really great and Clark LOVED this show when he was little and it was actually on TV.  Now Faith, Cannon, and George watch them.

A lot.

I let them watch WAAAY too much.  Even if they are "educational".  George has thrown some doosey tantrums when denied his precious "school bus!"   There is no question, I am abusing our Magic School Bus DVDs.  But truth be told, I don't really have intentions of cutting back the screen time.  I've got bigger fish to fry.

2.  Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
They were on sale at the grocery store this week.  $1.39 for a box of 12.  Woo-hoo!  Let's stock up!

They were a good deal and if I only let the kids have them for a quick snack occasionally then that would be fine and they would last a long time.  But no.  The granola bars are being consumed at an alarming rate by children who would prefer them to the food I make.  They have figured out that I am only a stickler for meal times 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after meals.  If they ask for a snack in that window I will for sure say no.

But any other time I am so busy frying big fish that I forget that regular snacking makes for nightmare mealtimes with toddlers and preschoolers... and tweens and teens.

3.  Trips to Walmart
George likes to be in on any action.  And since trips to Walmart constitute big action on my part, he loves to go with me.  If the car heads in the direction of the local Walmart he cheers.  If I then turn the car in another direction he cries.  It took me a little while to figure out why he yelled, "Airplane!" when I was driving toward Walmart.  I realized he liked some toy airplanes he saw there and I finally put the two together.

I mean seriously.  Does anyone else find it tragic that rather than trips to the dinosaur museum and park and petting zoo, I take my cheering 2 year old to Walmart.

Big sigh... I don't think I'm doing so well.  That's it... we're going to the zoo tomorrow.

4.  Peanut Butter and Jelly and Bread and Honey
I serve peanut butter and jelly and bread and honey in different combinations many, many times a week.  I think I've finally got it down.

Cannon wants jelly only.
Faith wants peanut butter only.
Elinor wants peanut butter and honey.
Bethany wants just plain bread.
Clark wants to just cook up his own eggs.
I love a good PB and J.

We go through at least a loaf a day.  No, that's conservative.  A loaf a meal.  It's just too much.  We must expand our culinary horizons.  But I suppose since they're all full up on granola bars, it satisfies them.

I don't know, I guess sandwiches day after day still beats frying up fish.  I don't like fish.

5.  The Stash of Piano Candy
Earlier this week I was outraged to discover that little hands had been pilfering my collection of piano treat candy.  By little hands I mean every single person who lives in this house other than myself.  If my students do an acceptable amount of practicing they get to pick out a treat from the basket on the piano.  My supplies have been stashed in the coat closet, and much like the granola bars they were disappearing at an alarming rate.  I was ticked.

I took the bag and secured it in my bedroom closet.  Surely if I could control myself when the candy was downstairs I could control myself in the privacy of my own room.

I was wrong.  I've been naughty.  I've been abusing the piano candy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Look At Me, Mom!

I made a fort with the couch cushions!
I'm a ninja!
I'm going to a Fancy Nancy party!
It's my violin recital.
I'm Captain America riding a motorcycle!
We're dressing up for a Halloween D&D night.
I like being their biggest fan.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Knock, Knock, Who's There?

Saturday night the door started knocking and the ladies started arriving for Lady Bug Dinner Club.  This is the girls' monthly dinner club with several of their homeschool friends.  They take turns hosting dinner and games at each other's houses.

It had already been a very enjoyable day searching out Halloween costume parts and getting the house and food ready and watching the BYU game on TV.
There are so many clever ideas for fun Halloween food out there, but this was the most effort we were willing to exert-- little mummy dogs.

But then... suddenly there was another knock at the door.  Who could it be?  All the guests had already arrived... or had they?
A TOTAL SURPRISE!!  My brother Matt had come down from Washington state for the BYU football game and he stopped completely unexpectedly for a visit.
We love Uncle Matt and we were SO excited to see him!!
Freakishly happy to see him!
Clark loved talking football with Uncle Matt.  His visit was the perfect ending to an already great day.
The girls played spoons and then headed outside for loud screaming games.  Girls this age scream a lot.  Not so much with the boys.   Clark's friends don't really squeal anymore.

Prepare To Be Frightened

It has been many years since I have purchased any kind of Halloween decor.  But if I may say so, I think we have the best decorations in the world.  

Yes, THE WORLD! Well, I think they're the best.

For many years, under Clark's leadership and creative direction, my people have made all sorts of homemade decorations for the interior and exterior of the house.
This year I was fearing that Clark might not want to participate because he's getting older and has more on his schedule.  I hoped that the girls would carry on the tradition even if he was out.

But to my great mother-joy, Clark not only participated, but led the creative charge like never before. 
Our (modestly sized) playroom has been transformed into a very respectable spook alley to delight the young and old alike.
The view from the outside (the family room).
The hanging ghost that is rigged up to drop down when someone passes by.
The werewolf claw that reaches out from behind the mirror.
Fat, ugly spider in the spider web section you have to climb through.
I don't like this part.  It's disturbing.
The centerpiece of the spook alley is this old organ that belonged to my grandparents and then my uncle and now has finally made it's way to our house.  We're only keeping it until Halloween and then we'll try to sell it, but it works and adds a nice touch to the spook alley with creepy organ music.
This is my favorite part.  This skeleton is made from a Luv's diaper box and is tied together with yellow yard and a bit of tape.
 Clark plays his role well.  
There are little bats hanging down everywhere and piles of bones on the ground.

I don't have a picture of it, but he also built a homemade smoke machine out of a #10 can, hot water, and dry ice.  We did have to buy the dry ice-- didn't have that just lying around the house.

And the only real price to pay is that there is a sizeable mess of paper snippets and cardboard, string, tape and markers strewn around the house.  And nobody wants to do what they are "supposed to be doing".  Small price to pay.

Several neighbors and friends have already gone through the spook alley and have been sufficiently frightened to declare their efforts a success!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Help Yourself

Help yourself!
George wanted some peanut butter so I put some on bread for him.  That's not what he meant.
He wanted the peanut butter straight, so he climbed onto the counter and helped himself.  You can see the rejected peanut butter bread in the bowl.  Where was I when this was happening?  I have no idea.
He also helped himself to the apple.  But what good manners he has-- he is offering to share with me.  Truth be told, even though he's messy at times I quite like that he takes matters into his own hands.  If he wants a drink he'll bring me the cup.  Okay, I lied.  He doesn't bring a cup-- he brings a bottle.  Yes, he's two and he still drinks from a bottle.
George can be rather demanding, but at least I can rest easy that no need of his will be overlooked.  He won't let that happen.  If he needs something he will try to do it himself or go from person to person until someone will help him.  I guess the youngest child in a big family needs to be resourceful.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I, Robot

Faith is taking a beginning robotics class as part of her home school this year.  She is working with the Lego WeDo.  It is a kit of Legos with several books worth of models she can build  and software for programming a motor and a couple of sensors.  Amazingly, she can actually do it by herself and she is loving it.  She has a lot of determination and patience.
This picture isn't so great, but Faith and her friend, Anders were working together to program an alligator they built.  They were making it open and close it's mouth and say "yummy" as it ate a Lego guy inside its mouth.  They were SO cute it was painful.
But Faith is not the only girl around here expanding her robotic horizons! Elinor is taking an Introduction to Robotics class that works with the Lego Mindstorm NXT.  These are the same robots Clark's PiPod team programmed.  This is pretty challenging for her but she is enjoying it.  She and I stayed up late on Friday night building "Alpha Rex" the humanoid robot.  It was a long process but we had to get it finished and operating by Saturday at noon.
The girls were invited to join Clark and his Pi Pod team representing Utah's First Lego League downtown for Salt Lake City's first Maker Faire.  The boys were going to show off their Battle-Bots and the girls were showing off their creations.
Another super junkie picture, but it kind of shows their creations.  They are not doing a FLL team this year, but they still enjoy playing around with the robots.  Clark and another teammate are mentoring Elinor's class.  
Here's my favorite moment of the day.   Faith was sitting at her computer showing how she'd programmed the alligator.  Faith can be painfully shy at times, especially when it comes to talking to people she doesn't know well.  They were asking her questions and I could tell she was so scared, but she stayed there and tried to talk to them and explain what she was doing.  Hooray for doing hard things!!