Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat on a budget

If you know me well, you know that I am...thrifty. I haven't always been this way. Way back in high school and college when my mom used to hand me her credit card and have me do the grocery shopping I wasn't doing much comparison shopping or coupon clipping. In fact, one of our first disagreements as newlyweds between my beloved and me was whether or not the generic brand of a product was as good as a name brand. I insisted that "Tylenol" had a brand investment in pain reliever that Kroger did not and therefore had more to lose if they had a faulty product. We had many heated debates and the winner was whomever happened to do the grocery shopping!

Then I had children and wanted to be a stay at home mom so the bargain hunting began in earnest. There are very few name brands that I will buy these days without a coupon or a sale (two that come to mind, Prego spaghetti sauce and Cottonelle toilet paper-both are really important to me!)

All that being said, I wanted to show you some pictures from trick or treat Thursday night. I wanted to say that while I am thrilled that not a penny was spent on costumes, all three of my children got to go as their first choice!!

Here is Doodle before we left. Even though her character (Pippi Longstocking) is a little rough around the edges due to her unusual upbringing, I'm pretty sure she didn't chew tobacco. No, that is simply chicken from her dinner that it took her 45 mintues to chew and swallow (we were actually at the second house collecting candy when she swallowed it). She was not happy when I took this shot but it does show off her freckles.
This is Mator at the 2nd house. Can you just see it in her eyes as she begins to comprehend the situation..."Wait just a second here. I put on a costume and walk around and people just GIVE ME CANDY! Does anyone else know about this? Why haven't you told me it was this easy to get candy before!" She's a bunny and you can actually see her ears in the next picture of Muffin...
This is kind of hilarious. Can you guess what Muffin is? An ice skater. Going to practice!!! Except instead of carrying ice skates like I suggested, she decided to roller blade the entire night. Guess how many times she's roller bladed before tonight...twice! Also, when she mentioned this idea I said it was fine since we were taking the stroller and I figured I'd just throw her shoes into the bottom for when she'd had enough. But she left the shoes at home so she was committed to doing it for the entire 90 minutes. And you know what, she did OK. She got significantly better and all of her complaining was good natured and self-effacing.
Here's all the loot. This should definitely last until Easter. :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You've Gotta Laugh Sometimes!

Copied From Crabby Fat Guy's Site. Since I don't know where he got it, I can't give props but it gave me a giggle today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mator's "new" clothes

A friend of mine is so generous to give me many of her daughters' beautiful hand me downs for Mator. They really are darling. The older two think it is Christmas when my sister in law brings down a bag of clothes that don't fit them anymore but usually by the time Mator gets to them, they are all but done. So now that she has her own "new" clothes (new to her) she gets in on the fun too. This is my first attempt at video production, rather an experiment. Muffin has an inexpensive camera that does video and stills and this is using hers since our current video camera is VHS.

Thank you Eileen (and Emily and Olivia) for the beautiful clothes and the fun for Mator!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hocking Valley Railroad

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day that we got to spend on a train with some of our favorite people. My mom got some tickets for the Hocking Valley Railroad and we all met in Nelsonville for a ride. My brother Frank, his wife Andrea and their two cute girls went with my parents and our group of five. Pictured above are Andrea, Wilson (3) and Grampy (otherwise known as my dad and who, despite his expression, likes both trains and his grandchildren-the latter a great deal more than the former!)
Once we got on the train we rambled along for about 1 1/2 hours. The kids did a pretty great job. They colored, acted silly, ate snacks, tried to stick body parts out the windows without being caught and only screamed a few times. The picture above shows Annabelle (5) and Muffin acting silly and growling at me. We stopped at Robbin's Crossing for an all too short 30 minute visit around a mini-historical village. There were 8 or 10 buildings to explore and my girls totally DIG this stuff (we went to Colonial Williamsburg this summer too). Here is Mator climbing to a loft in a house.
Here the photographer (that's me) was trying to balance composition and lighting and ended up with some portable toilets in the background. How cute!
Here Doodle is playing with this old fashioned toy-is she happy or what!
Muffin managed the stilts for a moment and even took one step. She practiced this about 100 times at Williamsburg this summer.
Mator taking a break on Daddy's shoulders.
Five of the Eight Foster Grandchildren...Mator (2) Doodle (4) Wilson (3) Annabelle (5) and Muffin (7)
Here everyone was trying to stop the caboose from running over Wilson on the tracks!
We had a great dinner in Logan (I know, that sounds ridiculous but it is true) and had another adventure when we got home but that is for another blog posting!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Punkin' Farm

After school on Tuesday we went on our annual trip to "Pigeon Roost" Pumpkin Farm in Hebron. We've gone there for about the last 6 years (except last year). Here is a shot from 2006. I only took about 15 pictures that year and they were all kind of stinky. Can you guess why I couldn't juggle the camera?

Each year they add new attractions but the price has been $4 for a long time. What I really love is how everything is so simple but clever. Hay bales and tarp f0rm a fort / tunnel. PVC pipe and water pumps form a rubber duck race. There are things to climb on, in and through, there are animals to pet (and chase - although I try to discourage that it seems that I always turn around to see a child of mine running after a loose rooster or turkey. This year it was a rabbit), a corn maze to race through against Daddy, teepees, a cornbox (instead of a sandbox) cornstalks and on and on. The best part - nothing is plugged in. I mean that everything is just old fashioned fun. We also picked out one pumpkin for carving. Hopefully we will get to that part this weekend.

This last one I loved how the kids are making the sounds of their animals. Mator is making a moo, can you see Muffin's lips forming her, "neigh!" and of course Doodle's sheep is also saying, "MOOOOOO!" I guess we need to work on that last one!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Muffin's "Deep Thoughts"

I have been really excited lately to have some great conversations with my almost 8 year old daughter. Andy and I discovered that our airbags in the front seat of our cars are not activated when her tiny heiney is in them so when possible, we let her ride up front. Our normally quiet child becomes a chatterbox full of stories and questions.

It started when she asked me, "Why doesn't everyone just go to the same church?" thus starting a long conversation about theology, worship styles and the freedom God, and our country allows. I wish I had thought of my brother Jason's response though- "Because there isn't enough parking!" When faced with these difficult questions I try to take the simplest answer first. Then, if that isn't enough information, the child will ask another question. I never try to withold any information but rather just answer the question that was asked.

Next, a long series of conversations about politics. Why does one person like McCain and another Obama? How come we are still friends with someone who doesn't like our candidate? Who will raise taxes? What are we paying in taxes? My goal with this conversation is to plant the seed that not everything in politics is black and white. We don't hate the other candidate. In fact, they are probably a good hearted person whose motivations are good. We just believe that the results of our candidate's platform will be better than the results of the other candidate's.

Then yesterday came the series of question I just couldn't answer. Why does the man with the yellow hat always have a yellow hat? And he always wears yellow clothes so does he wash them every night or does he have many outfits that look alike? Alas, I am stumped on this one. Perhaps this is why George is so curious?

The repurcussions of this conversation will haunt us for some time. This morning, I heard Muffin inform Doodle, "Sometimes Mommy is wrong." Ouch!! My armor has a chink! :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mator's Vision Improves

I did it. Eight years after the birth of my first daughter, I cut some hair. Although I was chastised by a friend (jokingly) for not taking her to a salon for this momentous occasion, I decided to do it myself. I just couldn't see spending ten dollars on a haircut for a two year old that would take a total of 84 seconds to complete. And if there is one thing I learned growing up in the age of big hair, teasing and perms, it's that hair grows back. So here is her "before" picture (notice the slightly raised chin in an attempt to see under the hair):

And here she is "after". Andy held her arms down and snip - snip it was done! It is funny how much older she suddenly looks. Later, when asked by Pop and Sue where she got her haircut, she replied, "At the fair!"

Yes, I saved the hair but I have no idea why. Has anyone else ever looked at their own baby hair as an adult and thought, "Wow. This is gross. What am I going to do with this?" When I find this in the shower I put on rubber gloves, close my eyes and throw it away. Why do we keep things like this? Is this strictly an American tradition? But, like a good traditionalist, I kept my own children's hair, too. If for no other reason so that they can ask, "Why?" when they are adults!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sisterly Love / Sibling Rivalry

We sometimes let the big girls (who share a room) sleep in the same bunk. I tend to think it increases closeness but I really had no idea how much! Doodle likes to sleep without a shirt on hot nights but she does have bottoms on!

This picture is really metaphorical for their relationship at this point. Doodle, always desiring to "catch up" with Muffin, would do anything for her. She can be convinced to do just about anything for Muffin's entertainment or as an experiment. Fortunately, Muffin doesn't often take advantage of this fact but I could almost hear their conversation if they had talked about this sleeping position:

Muffin: My leg is really crowded back here.
Doodle: Here, I'll scoot over.
Muffin: It's STILL crowded. And it is soooo hot!
Doodle: Here, just put it on me. I don't mind, I was too comfortable anyway!

The irony is that less than 24 hours later, they had one of their worst fights ever including name calling and hitting. It makes me sad because I can tell when one hits the other the feelings of the hit one are hurt worse than the skin. It's as if they are saying, "I can't believe you just hurt me!" even though they did the exact same thing to the other one 5 minutes earlier. Having never had a sister, it makes it a little hard for me to understand but we've tried different strategies ranging from serving one another to letting them duke it out. The latter is not as bad as it seems since Doodle, although younger and slower, is pretty tough.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whose Bedroom is This?

When I was in 6th or 7th grade, my parents allowed me to stay home while they went out to a party. This is not so unusual except that they let me have a friend over too. This was one of those friends with whom I always managed to get into some kind of trouble when we were together. Perhaps many of my childhood friends would say that I was that friend in their life but from my perspective, this friend was Angie Moore. We always had so much fun but frequently made bad decisions. On this particular evening we had been playing outside when we thought we heard some noises coming from inside my house. If you've never been there, let me explain that my parents' house sat in the middle of 22 acres and backed into a farm so we were pretty far "out there". Angie and I nobly grabbed some weapons (heavy sticks) and crept toward the house, both insisting that we heard voices from within. Skipping over the long details, and remembering that this was an era before cell phones, we ended up walking to a neighbor that I hardly knew, calling my parents at the yacht club (where they were at a party) and who finally decided to have the sheriff come over and check it out.

Did I mention that we were "swimming" in a watering trough that had earlier been used for watering our sheep? We had spent much of the day emptying, cleaning and refilling it before our brief (freezing cold) swim had been interrupted by the possible intruders and left walking to a near stranger/neighbor while soaking wet? So when the sheriff deputy came by to pick us up and head to our house, we were already a little embarrassed. We sat in the cruiser while the deputies searched inside and outside the house, and although it isn't important to the point of my story, I'm sure you're dying to know-they did not find anyone or anything inside. There was speculation that the sounds we had heard were actually a nearby party that had carried to our house.

ANYWAY, the actual point of the story in this telling was that one of the deputies had pulled me aside after searching the house and asked if I knew that there was jewelry and clothing strewn about the upstairs bedroom? Even to my 12 year old brain I knew that the question was meant to determine whether someone had ransacked my bedroom looking for valuables. I had to sheepishly admit that no, that was a quite normal condition for my bedroom to be in - especially when the clothes were dress up and the jewelry was costume and my friend was over.

This memory came flooding back to me today as I sat in my bed looking at the current condition of my bedroom some 22 or so years later. My initial shame (and irrational fear that a sheriff deputy might one day step in there and wonder if a crime had taken place) was replaced with indignation. A good 3/4 of the stuff out of place was neither mine nor my husbands! So, I collected all of the things that weren't ours and made a pile. And, of course, took a picture. I estimate that there are enough little girls' underwear, socks, clothing and nightgowns to outfit the entire cast of "The Facts of Life" (at least if they were smaller). There were enough toys and books to make all of Annie's orphan friends happy for a few days.

This is just in MY room. How does everything end up in there? While I was collecting things for the picture, Muffin was creating a fort with my chaise, my lamp and Doodle's blanket. My kids always seem to want to be where we are and on the one hand, that's nice. I know the day will come when the last thing they want to do is hang out with mom and dad. I just wish that they could travel lighter!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fairfield County Fair - 2008

The Fairfield County Fair (always the second full week in October) was the earliest in October it could ever be held and consequently, one of the most beautiful weather-wise that I can remember. Our family went on Thursday and battled the crowds and two sicknesses but still had a great time. I asked the older kids before we got there, "Besides the rides, what do you REALLY want to see or do at the fair." Muffin said rabbits and Doodle said pigs and thankfully, we got to see both. One barn at the fair we always make a point to see is the baby animal barn. In here were 8 or 10 baby pigs, a calf, some goats and chicks.

Doodle was so tender with the chicks and loved to handle them and teach the other kids how to do it safely.

Mator, being one of the sick ones, was only with us for a couple hours before Grandma Sue rescued her and gave her a nap. But she did get to ride two rides including this one moment of bliss on the big slide. She also loved the animals and repeated my warning that there would be "poop on the floor" about 100 times.
Here is my beautiful Muffin, a budding photographer, who posed this one herself as well as a more serious pose where she is looking off into the distance with a thoughtful expression. She was very content on the kiddie rides which makes it easier for us as we can keep everyone in one area that way.

Our last ride is always with Mommy on the BIG ferris wheel. This year, Doodle was big enough to join us too! Some other highlights of the day: Daddy winning the two older girls canes at the ring toss, running into friends all over, cotton candy and french fries, fried cheese, a clown making balloon animals, sitting on tractors and 4 wheelers, and playing in a prefab play house that was for sale. We always joke that this week Lancaster becomes a redneck Disneyworld but we say that with affection for some of Andy's and my fondest memories were childhood days at the fair. Can't wait until next year!

Bend It Like Jill...

I am so excited to be able to write about my niece Jill today since I finally got to take some pictures at one of her games! First, I'll make two admissions:

1. Until a couple years ago I hated soccer. I think I considered it the step mother of sports. Trying so hard to look fun and pretty and taking the attention away from real sports like football and baseball and volleyball. Then, my niece started playing in 7th grade which leads me to my second point.

2. I'm kind of biased. If you knew me in the winter and spring of 1994, you know that besides Andy, my life revolved around the upcoming birth of my niece / nephew. As way of example, I made everyone on the college of education van listen to the audio tape of her fetal heartbeat that my brother had sent to me while I was at OU. So for Jill's sake, I gave soccer a try. And though I still don't understand it, I do find it fun to watch her play.

Now, disregarding number 2 for a second, let me tell you that Jill is darn good. This is a girl that never played an organized sport until she decided to try out for the soccer team in 7th grade at her former school, FCA. It is quite a small school so everyone from 7-12 plays on the same team and it didn't take long for Jill to be a starter! When she transferred to a much larger (Division II) school this year as a freshman (my alma mater- Fairfield Union) she not only decided to play soccer but also be in the Marching Band (YEH!) And guess what- she is excelling at both! She made the Varsity as a freshman and sometimes even starts!

Unfortunately for Jill, my lack of expertise in the sport makes it hard for me to take very good pictures. But I figure that by the time she's a senior, I'll have some good ones for her if I keep practicing! Here are my favorites from their 9-0 drubbing of Alexander High School today in their first round of tournament action.

This is one step before the kick that scored a goal (this was her fourth goal this year).

I love this picture because it points out that many of the girls are much (ah-HEM) "bigger" than Jill (14) but I've seen her take on big girls like this one all year!

I liked this shot because it looks pretty cool and even though it looks like she's just warming up and everyone is watching her, this is actually during the game.

In all honesty, Jill is on a fantastic team lead by 11 or 12 seniors and they have only lost one game and tied one other this year. The older girls seem to have done a great job of encouraging and teaching the younger ones. An extra fun thing for me is that many of the girls on her team were my former students from when I taught at Bremen!

Oh, and a little FYI- I have no idea what it means to "bend it like..." but I'm pretty sure it is a good thing-just let me know if it is not!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Mator is frequently expressing her desire to attend school, just like her big sisters. I am frequently expressing my desire to pull my hair out because of Mator's antics. In the spirit of "Back to School Essays", I think this is what Mator would have to say...

Well, I spent a lot of time naked, as you can see from my pictures. That's only partly because I was making an honest attempt at using the potty. Additionally, I'm doing some research on "non-traditional fashion". The picture above is shows my swimwear line. It's pretty low budget and functional too! [Here is the part where mom interjects the"rest of the story"... while all the kids are playing in the sprinkler/yard, Mator sneaks into the garage, takes off her clothes and puts these on]

This picture shows my cosmetic line, it's a little "tribal" but I think it will catch on! [Mator gets into the face paint crayons!]

I'm trying out this sticker ensemble but it still seems like a work in progress. [No real story hear, this is what I get for constantly saying, "Stickers go on paper and people ONLY]

Got clean laundry in a basket? Let me help with that...

We went to Williamsburg, Virginia this summer and all I got was this lousy water bottle (and a minor black eye!) [Yeh, so this happened in June and I really can't remember how!]

My big sisters played softball and sometimes I liked to hang out in the van. Especially when I could find some random candy under a seat. MMMMM! Tastes like carpet! This lip color is really more for fall though! [Andy coached and the setting is not really conducive to letting a 2 year old run around. So a lot of the time I let her climb around in the van while I stood outside and watched as much of the game as possible. This was one of those times I regretted that.]

This is my experiment with green permanent marker. Notice that it is NOT to be worn in conjunction with a diaper. I mean, permanent marker stains, I don't want that on my DIAPER! [I was more concerned with getting the stains out of the vinyl flooring. Tried hairspray and that worked pretty well, the rest came up with a Mr. Clean Magic eraser-just a little FYI!]