Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Twas the day of Halloween and all up the coasts
Every creature is stirring, including the ghosts.
The pumpkins are carved into a spooky sight
with candles to light up the eerie night.

The children are jumping up and down on their bed
While visions of candy corn dance in their head.
And I in my fairy wings and him in his cap
Know that by tomorrow we'll all need a long nap.

When darkness falls, in our costumes we'll go
up and down streets in the moon's soft glow.
We'll knock on the doors shouting "Trick or Treat"
'Til the bags have more candy than we can eat.

Then we'll skip back home and settle down
To watch The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
The children will crash from sugar highs
And be carried off to bed with sleepy eyes.

We'll gather up wings, tutus, and boots
Then raid the best chocolate from their loot.
And this brings an end to our fun and fright
Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kindergarten Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday I got to help chaperon the kindergartner's trip to the pumpkin patch. It was incredibly fun and incredibly exhausting!

If you have, have had, or will have a child in kindergarten, give that teacher chocolate and a gift certificate for a massage. Trust me, they deserve it. Five year olds have to be some of the funniest people in the world. They're also a little scatter-brained, which adds to the overall fun of a five year old. Releasing close to 200 five year olds into a field full of pumpkins is chaos waiting to happen. It's like releasing wind up mice. The go in all directions and even loop around a bit. And the adults are the cats frantically trying to catch them. It has to be hysterical for the farmers.

Eventually they all picked a pumpkin and loaded back into the hay ride. Then we headed to the barn to terrorize a few animals before releasing them into a field full of silo's made into playground slides. They all eventually ran out of steam and trudged wearily back to the bus. Thankfully we left with all of the children we came with (I think).

We all rode back to school nearly silently, exhausted from the experience. A lot like this poor terrorized pony.

It was a day well played with the added bonus of an extra pumpkin on the mantel .

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Baby Love

Is there anything better than a baby? I really don't think so. So soft and new. I love the smell of freshly washed baby skin. A baby snuggled to my chest is just about the most comforting feeling in the world for me. Oh, such sweetness.

I got to spend my weekend with a very sweet little one. Little Miss Harlee Kate. She's beautiful. And she is my first niece. We have had the only children on both sides for the last ten years. Finally, there is a baby among us again. And we are all thrilled. Steven and I are especially excited to be a first time aunt and uuncle. We finally get to be the ones doing the spoiling. And the bonus of being the aunt and not the mother is that I get to love on the baby all day and then go home to sleep at night.

Oh my, I've forgotten how demanding a newborn is. I was reminded Saturday night at around 3am. But truthfully I would be lying if I said I didn't love every minute of sitting up with her. Even with the sleep deprivation, the newborn stage is my absolute favorite. It is truly one of the most exhausting things a person will ever do. And it is equally one of the sweetest times in life.

Thanks Hilary and Jon for letting me get my baby fix. You have made a very beautiful baby. Harlee is very love out here in North Carolina. She's a lovely ball of precious.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah...Laundry

Just in case I've given you any illusion of perfection...

Yes, that would be two weeks worth of laundry for a family of five. Yes, there were two more loads added to this. Yes, it took me all night to fold and iron it all. And yes, it probably wouldn't take that long if I did a few loads at a time. But the thing is, I hate doing laundry. Hate. It's such a Sisyphean task. Before the clean clothes are put away there are dirty clothes in the hamper. And don't even get me started on ironing. I have a habit of putting that chore off for so long that by the time the article of clothing gets back in their closets my family has forgotten about it and thinks I've bought them something new. Hate, I tell you.

It's really that way with all chores. Mop the floor and sure enough dirty feet will run across it. Wash the dishes and before they are dry, dirty ones are in the sink. This is how I spend my days. It's a little discouraging at times. But it has to be done. All of it, including the laundry.

But at least I can put that particular chore off for a week or so. Jeans can definitely be worn more than once. Sweatshirts washed after one wear, no way. It's when I get shouts of, "Mom, I'm out of underwear" that I know it's time to give in and wash some clothes. And thus the mountain above.

There you go. That's my weakness. Blah to the laundry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood

I had a five year old looking over my shoulder all weekend saying, "Hurry up there are only two more weeks until Halloween!" Oh my, only two more weeks. So I put the sewing machine in overdrive and finished Little Red Riding Hood's red riding hood.

It was a bit tricky because there aren't many free patterns out there for a child's hooded cape. Most of the patterns that I found were for toddlers or adults. I was also looking for something sturdy. Sicily is lacking a fitting fall jacket for this year and I realized that if I made this well it would be an adequate wrap for our mild southern autumn.

I decided to make my own pattern. This was my first experience with pattern making. It was a little daunting. I'm good at baking because I like to follow the rules. I like having a pattern in hand before I start a sewing project. But I hated to buy a pattern for something that seemed like an easy sew. So I jumped in with what I knew.

I started by tracing out the hood of one of Sicily's hooded sweaters. I traced it out bigger to account for the seams and because we wanted a more fairy tale look. Then after taking some measurements, I made a rough sketch of the half circle that would be the cape. The outer red is flannel and it's lined with a cotton floral print that she picked out. It's very cozy. I had originally planned to make a button closure but there were bound to be mistakes in a roughly estimated pattern. Mine was making the neckline a bit too small. So I improvised and made a tie closure instead. It actually looks a little more story book so it worked out in the end.

Little Red Riding Hood is very pleased. She spent most of yesterday afternoon twirling in it. (Girls will twirl in anything that resembles a skirt.) Then she stopped and reminded me that Little Red Riding Hood can't run the streets naked. She wants a dress and an apron just like the one in the book. Yes ma'am, I'll get right on that. Tomorrow. Today, I promised the boy that we could walk down to the creek and get started on his costume by destroying a dress shirt and some khakis. If that messes with your mind a little, don't worry. It will make more sense later.

No rest for the weary. Oh well. After all, there are only two more weeks until Halloween.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Like Him

" The course of true love never did run smooth."
- Shakespeare, A Midsu
mmer Night's Dream

We went out this weekend to celebrate twelve years. My date almost fell asleep in his etouffee. He's been working so hard lately. Have I told you that he's working three jobs to help make ends meet? We cut the date short and came home so that he could crash. I wasn't upset. It made me laugh. He is a good man. And even if we don't get as much time together as we'd like sometimes, at the end of the day we fall into the same bed. Our toes touch and it's enough.

Our's is a story in which the above quote is certainly fitting. We have run a hard course in so many ways. Maybe getting grounded for breaking curfew after our first date was an omen we should have given more weight. But that porch swing kiss stole my heart. And I've never gotten it back. No matter our trials or our joys, I'm just simply his. Because after all these years he's still the person I run to when I'm excited and when I'm sad. I still love to bury my head in his chest. I still look forward to him coming home at the end of the day. I still want to go on dates with him. He still makes me laugh. He takes care of me and our kids. He taught each of our children to ride a bike. My children love him and I love him for that. He is still my very best friend.

As much as I am his, he is mine. And though our course may never run smoothly, it will continue.

Last night we curled up on the couch to watch Food Network after experimenting with different ways to cook mushrooms. The whole scene made us the picture of an old married couple. But we're an old married couple that still finds great companionship in the other. It's one thing to say that I still love him, but I think it means more to say that I still like him. And I do. I like him a lot.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekends Are For...

...a trip to the pumpkin patch. For exploring a farm, taking a hayride, and petting some goats. For climbing to the top of an old silo that's been turned into a slide. For taking in acres of autumnal landscape. And, most importantly, for picking the perfect pumpkin.


My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl early this morning. Harlee Kate. She is lovely and perfect. I can't wait to kiss her beautiful little face. And as soon as I get a picture there will be a baby on this blog again. Oooo, a baby. Is there anything better?

Congratulations Hilary and Jon! And welcome little miss Harlee! We send you much love.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Comfort Food

We have had a very busy week full of emotions. Hard homework that brought tears. Bad attitudes that needed readjusting. Hard homework that brought bad attitudes that brought tears. The parents around here are tired and overworked. The older two kids are grumpy and completely over school. And the little one, well what can I say, she's a mischievous little sprite.

Oh, well. The weekend is upon us. But first a little pick-me-up in the form of a platter of chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Preserving Days

I disappeared into the kitchen a few days ago. I finally came out this morning smelling of cinnamon, cloves, and tart apples. I've been apple preserving.

I love preserving. It connects me to the generations that have come before me. I'm going through the same motions that hundreds of women before me have gone through. I love the beauty is such tradition.

When I start setting out mason jars, I am instantly in a hundred year old farm house. I can see the linens on the clothes line out of the window. A chicken coop stands behind it and a fishing pond beyond that. Of course there's a vegetable garden. And everywhere there are wildflowers. Very old school, I know. But this daydream sings deeply to my spirit. I love to let myself sink into it.

Preserving seems daunting to some people but it's really quiet simple. It goes a little something like this. First you open the last jar of apple butter from last season and realize it time to go apple picking.

Then when you get your wagon load of apples home and once you've tired of tripping over the bags, it's time to get out the Ball jars. I find rows of steaming clear jars to be very beautiful sight.

Then you spend the next two days peeling and cutting up apples. Alright, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But just a bit.

Then you start to cook them into whatever form you like. The whole house starts to smell delicious.

You stir until your arm threatens to fall off. After all, you spent two previous days peeling and chopping. So you bribe your daughter with candy corn to get some help. Oh, like you don't bribe your kids with candy. (Note how fast her arm is moving. She's obviously much better at it anyways.)

If you're making apple butter or apple sauce, eventually your apples start to look something like this. If you're just canning apples, you're already done. I recommend just canning apples. Then again, apple butter is so very good for your soul.

Once your jars are steamed, filled, and processed you are left with all kinds of sweet, apple goodness. We have apple butter, apple sauce, apple pie filling, and cinnamon apples. Mmmm. Can you taste it? Nothing daunting about it. Just a little work with a big pay off. And if your like me, you'll have a lovely little daydream to carry you through.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October First

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Oh, October. My soul breathes a deeply, contented sigh on October 1. I love this month. I love the soft, cool breeze blowing through my open windows. I love the swish of the trees in the wind and the way leaves fall lazily to the ground. I love the produce of this season. The pumpkin, the squash, the apples. I love the anticipation of the holiday season that starts to build during this month. I love the cool mornings and evenings. I love the hikes that take us by shades of yellow, red, and orange. Yes, my spirit breathes peace during this lovely month.

And my children, they love October 1 as well. And I believe this comic strip sums up why.

Dog eat Doug by Brian Anderson
Dog eat Doug

Happy October to you all!