Thursday, October 31, 2013

trick and trunk or treating

 Our village decided to have all of the Halloween festivities last night. I'm not sure why, because in the past it's always been on Halloween (which only makes sense). So the kids did their trick-or-treating last night, right before our ward's trunk-or treat activity. In the above picture, the kids posed with our wonderful friends from Suriname, Iwan and Isabella, who happened to stop by while I was taking the picture.
 This village doesn't have too many people who do trick or treating, so the kids only went to about six homes. Whoever wants to participate hangs a sign on their front door, and most doors were blank. Luckily there was a party afterwards at the church.
I went as Super Frazzled Mom, with a baby pinned to my shirt, mismatched shoes, and ratty hair (which you can't see in this picture). My post-it-notes say, "places to go" and "things to do" and "things to remember." I tried to draw bags under my eyes, but it looked like someone beat me up. I tried to wash it off and it just left real bags under my eyes. It was a nice touch...

 Ashley and Josh jumped in and played all of the games. Ethan Disappeared behind the fishing booth to help put treats on the line. Sorry for all the blurry pictures. Most of the lights were off in the gym, except for a few strings of lights here and there. My camera didn't love that, I guess. But they're great memories anyway!

 Since Ethan decided to go as a missionary, We got pictures with both sets of elders. The men-in-black elders and the sister elders. They all said Ethan needed a companion. But Ethan did use the scriptures he carried around all night to ward off a vampire. Phew...good thing he was carrying them.
 This was a "spook alley" where the kids got to reach into the cauldron and figure out what they were touching. Pretty creepy.
Then it was time for trunk-or-treating. The kids went from car to car, around the parking lot, over and over and over, until everyone's candy ran out and it was time to go home. My kids didn't even go around as many times as other kids did, and we still ended up with a load of candy. And when I ran out, sweet Josh decided to give candy from his own bag of loot away.

There are always so many creative cars. The one right across from us was a hatchback (I think?) and it had a black bag across the entire trunk. Kids had to reach into a hole in the bag to get their treat, and then someone in the car grabbed their hand. It was so funny to watch everyone's reactions.

Since our Halloween festivities are all over now, we might snuggle up, eat all the candy, and watch The Croods tonight. Grandma sent us that movie in Ethan's birthday box and we haven't seen it yet. It will be a fun Halloween.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

some dry cake and an impromptu party

Yesterday I was planning a low-key b-day for Ethan. Chris made him pancakes for breakfast, and then I pulled out the good old Betty Crocker cookbook to make a cake. I'm not sure what I did wrong, since I followed the recipe, but the batter was thick, like dough. The cake came out totally tough and dry. 

But I thought, "Oh well, it's just us. Nobody will care that we're eating dry cake"

Then Ashley came in from playing, about 4:45 pm, and said, "Mom, I invited Aminatu and her family to come to Ethan's party, and she said they'll be here about 5."


We hadn't even eaten dinner yet. I wasn't planning on feeding another family. Ethan asked for Greek pizza and we only had 5 pitas. So I admit it. I got kind of upset. And freaked out that at any minute people were going to knock on our door and eat with us.

Ashley cried because I wasn't happy with her. She was going to knock on her friend's door and tell her they were welcome to come for cake at 6:30, but nobody was home. Then I figured, I'd just make dinner like I'd planned, and if someone showed up, we could make a salad and bring out the chips and salsa and whatever else. It would be fine. And probably even fun. The more the merrier.
I apologized to Ashley, and told her it was nice of her to invite people over. But that I need to know about it in advance next time so I'd have enough food.

We ate our Greek Pizza and nobody knocked on the door until about 6:30. Right in time for cake. Really dry cake. Luckily there was ice cream on the side to make up for the really really dry cake.

The kids played the whisper game around the table, trying to make what the first person said more funny by the time it got to the last person. Aminatu's older brother Abdul told us about Nigeria, where they're from. We looked at a map so they could show us where they lived. The kids hung out and laughed and talked, and then after Ethan opened his presents, they went outside to jump on all the bubble wrap Grandma sent. After we were all eaten by mosquitoes and it was dark outside, the friends went home and the party was over.

Both sets of grandparents gave Ethan money. Chris's mom wrapped Ethan's up like this. Ethan carried it around for a while saying, "I wonder how long it will be before I used this money. Probably a long time." Such a funny guy. I would have whipped out those babies and gone on a shopping spree when I was his age.

For some reason all the pictures Chris took were yellowish and blurry. You can kind of see the smoke all over Ethan's arms and shirt from when he blew the 12 Hanukkah candles (yes, once upon a time we ended up with Hanukkah candles and we use them on our birthday cakes) out.

Later I asked Ethan what he wished for. He just shrugged and said, "Nothing. I don't really need anything."
Except maybe a better cake...

Thanks to Ashley's passion for partying it was a fun, special party, despite the wet tears and the dry cake.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

can we get a woot woot!

This little guy is now a tall, stretched-out, leggy 12-year-old. His feet are as big as mine. He can cook grilled cheese sandwiches and carry heavy laundry baskets all the way across the village to the laundry room. He can hoist all the heavy groceries across the parking lot and up the stairs into the apartment for me.

Ethan gave up a lot to come live in The Swamp with us. He left behind some wonderful friends and neighbors who loved him. He got rid of lots (and lots and lots) of toys. He left behind the rocky mountains and long hikes with Chris. And he rarely complained about any of it. He has grown a lot in The Swamp and I admire the person he is becoming. I'm thankful every day that Heavenly Father sent him to our family, that I get to teach him and learn from him.

This is a big BIG birthday, both for Ethan and Chris and I. In our church, 12-year-old boys become deacons and are given the Aaronic Priesthood. As a deacon, Ethan will get to pass the sacrament at church each Sunday, and go inside the temple to do sacred work there.

Ethan has always been such an obedient, responsible kid with a sweet sweet heart, and I can't wait to watch him grow into the amazing young man he's already becoming!

Monday, October 28, 2013

a DIY paper towel tie

A week ago, on Sunday, we sat down on our bench in the chapel and noticed Ethan forgot his tie. We pointed it out to him, and moved on with our lives. What can you do? Church was about to start. Then we asked if Ethan could run to the bathroom to get a bit of toilet paper for Ashley, who has a little cold.

When Ethan came back, he slipped into his seat all nonchalant, and handed Ashley the TP. I glanced over to see Ethan sitting there, totally content and proud in his new tie. Made of paper towels. He'd even tucked it into his vest like a real tie. Nobody would ever notice he was wearing paper towels around his neck.

I started to laugh, and poked Chris, so he could see the tie, too. It was hard to control our giggles during sacrament meeting, and we asked Ethan to take off the paper towel tie that he'd worked so hard to create (because we're nice parents like that). He started to cry because I guess he didn't like that we were laughing at him (we really are nice parents like that). I put it in my bag and chuckled to myself every time I thought of it during church.

When we got home, I had him put it on so I could take a picture. As you can see from the photo above, he wasn't happy about the fact that Chris and I were still laughing (because we're nice parents like that). It was sweet that he was conscientious enough to want to wear a tie, even if it was made of paper towels.

This is an easy DIY project anyone can do if you find yourself in a bind and really need a tie in a hurry. It would be especially nice at a formal white tie occasion.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

our wild and crazy sorority party

Each year Sorority Row hosts a Halloween party for the community. I don't love crowds, but I decided to brave it this year. The kids really enjoyed the spectacle of costumes and decorations.

 We bumped into the bearded woman, the two-headed woman and an acrobat. Had to get a picture with them.
 The kids played a few circus games and won some candy.
 Then they threw pies in some oompah-loompah's faces when we went to Willy Wonka's place. These girls were really good sports.
Josh was especially excited to go to Monster University and play a few games.
 He also earned his scarer ID badge. Too bad his picture was blurry.
 They had a relay, to make sure they didn't get socks or toys sticking to them when they become real scarers.
 Then we headed over to OZ to throw things at the wicked witch.
We had fun despite the fact that the sorority girls kept running out of pizza before we could get some. So Chris decided to buy a pizza on the way home. It was a good "Fake Friday" (that's what my kids call it whenever they don't have school on Friday, so Thursday is Fake Friday).

Friday, October 25, 2013

one of my favorite things

Whenever I sit on the couch to read or watch TV, Josh always comes and sits on my feet, snuggling against my knees. Or if I'm turned so my knees are off the couch and my feet are on the couch, he sits in the crook of my legs, with his legs draped over mine like a blanket. I know he won't snuggle next to his old mom forever, so I enjoy every minute of it. I love his sweet heart and want to remember these moments forever.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

easiest cookies ever made...with 2 ingredients

 Yes, it's a cookie with only two (okay three, because who wouldn't want chocolate chips in their cookies?) ingredients. I found this recipe on pinterest from The Burlap Bag blog, and my kids wanted me to share it on our blog, just in case you haven't tried them yet. With this batch I also added a teaspoon of real vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon along with my chocolate chips. You can add whatever you want to make them more cookie-ish.

Also, the cookies in this picture are square and flat because I was too lazy to scoop them into individual cookies this time, and just smashed them flat across the pan and cut them into cookie bars when they were done. But they still taste the same.

2 ingredient banana cookies:

3 ripe bananas (That happens to be how many I had on hand. I've also used 4 bananas and 2 cups oats...because I'm daring like that. And I like cookies.)
1 1/2 cup quick oats

That's it. Mash it all together until well mixed (and stir in any extras, like chocolate chips), then plop spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Cook at 350 for about 18-20 minutes. Let it cool enough that it won't burn your mouth, and enjoy!

I know some people aren't into bananas, and I haven't tried these other cookies yet, but I just discovered that this lady also has {this} recipe made with pumpkin, and {this} recipe made with peaches. Very creative and totally healthy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

village halloween crafts

Our village tries to have plenty of activities for families to enjoy. The other night they had pizza and Halloween crafts the kids could make. Lately we've been too busy to come to these activities, so they were really excited Chris was able to take them to this one, and I was glad he took a few pictures of it :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ethan's first scout camp

 I guess technically it's not his first time camping with scouts. When Chris was in the YM program several years ago, they occasionally took Ethan with them.'s his first time as an official/unofficial scout. His birthday is next week, but the scouts let him come on their excursion anyway. Because there were only two scouts going from our ward (they combined with a few boys from another ward). And they're nice like that!
 There's a guy who owns a nice cabin resort near the gulf coast who happens to really like Boy Scouts, so he offers scouts to use his resort to camp out on the lawn, and then loans them his nice canoes. Chris got to go hang out with Ethan, and he said it was hard to sleep because there was a wedding at the resort the next day, so people partied all night. But he said the scenery was beautiful.
Ethan helped make breakfast, and then he was so proud because he helped wash the dishes in the fish gutting sink. I'm glad i wasn't there to watch it happen...sounds gross, washing dishes where smelly fish are dismembered.
They loaded up the canoes and headed to a river that led into the gulf. They rowed 2 miles to a little island in Pepperfish Keys and then 2 miles back.

They made it to the the little island and ate lunch before the two mile trip back to the car.
Ethan said the only scary part was when this storm suddenly blew in as they were paddling away from the island. It made him nervous, but they only got sprinkled on. They came home super tired and eaten up by bugs, but said it was really fun.