Halloween is not my favorite. It is fine, but not a big deal to me.
In 1999, Halloween was on a Sunday. We did costumes and candy on Saturday, and imagined that we were finished with the thing. Well, I had restless kids on Sunday. Ryan was 13, Ally was 12, Kaitie was 6, and Emilee was 3. We keep things pretty church and family oriented on Sunday, and I wondered what I could do to help the kids get through the afternoon at home. And, what could we do together that they would all enjoy? A game was born, called Halloween in the Hallway.
Jeff and I took the candy into our room, and the kids could knock on the door to "trick or treat." That doesn't sound too exciting, does it? The real trick was, that they had to be dressed as something different each time they knocked. It turned out to be so fun!
I wish I could find more pictures from 1999. I can only find these two:
I can't remember what everyone was trying to "be" here, except Ryan was a blind man, with a dog.
There should be sound effects for this picture. I know you don't recognize this group as The Backstreet Boys. They were singing, "I Want it That Way." The game turned out better than I imagined, because the kids got into it together, and helped each other have a really good time.
When Halloween fell on a Sunday again in 2004, the kids were older, and even more creative. Here are a few examples of what I saw when I opened my bedroom door. (Riley had come along by then, but we were mean and did it during her nap time.)
(Right here Kaitie is saying, ".. harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.")
Even though Halloween is not my favorite, I am really looking forward to October 31 this year.
Six months ago, I went with Kaitie to audition for two plays. She and I sat nervously watching people deliver monologues and sing without accompaniment. I don't think she knew how nervous I was. After all, I didn't have to do anything. As for her, she also appeared very calm on the exterior. I just know her.
At the first audition, when it was her turn, she went through her short, cute monologue pretty quickly. The directors looked pleasant enough during it, but I couldn't judge any reaction. Then, she sang. Both directors started scribbling notes down, while hardly taking their eyes off of her. She prepared a song that sounded amazing. For her singing, I would say she got the best reaction of the evening. Remember, I watched the whole thing. Kaitie had a similar experience in the second audition. She ended up singing a solo in the play connected with the second audition. That was in May.
The first play was "Once Upon a Mattress," which was put on out at the college. Kaitie did not play a main part, but was in the chorus as a lady in waiting.....Lady Lucille. I didn't even know that was her name until I read the program.
I was proud of Kaitie as I watched the play these last two weekends. She delivered her lines well. I expected that she would. I could hear her specifically, and know that she can stay on the music even on stage. I knew she could do that. Watching her dance was a highlight for me. I told her that was the best of all, because it is well outside her comfort zone. It is impressive to me that she had the courage to do what does not come naturally to her. She did a great job.
Here is Kaitie joined on both sides by the other lovely ladies in waiting....
Emilee started dancing with a nearby studio about three years ago. It has been hard work, being a little bit older of a beginner. (Well, she danced when she was little too, but back then it wasn't about dancing, it was about cuteness. She missed lots of years in between.) One Friday evening in September, Emilee got the news she has been waiting for. She was finally allowed to get her pointe shoes!
Those shoes are not available locally. We didn't waste time though. The next day, Emilee and I took a quick trip to the Chandler Mall. I am not much of a shopper, but if I have to go to a mall, this is the one to go to.
I took this picture outside of the dance store, with my phone.
Ally lives over there, so she met us that day at the mall. After Emilee was fitted for her shoes, we looked around for "missionary wear" for Ally. Emilee and I had all kinds of opinions to share.
Em was horrified when she found out how few outfits Ally was going to be able to take. Here she is, offering Ally some comfort. (It is not that bad at all....like 8-12. Do I even have that many?)
For a little stretch in August, we went from one birthday to another. Here are the quick highlights:
Riley was thrilled to turn eight!
We had just a small party, as we knew we would have a bigger celebration for her baptism.
Kaitie had one friend over to help her make the cake. I loved having this particular friend over, because she jumped up and down with Kaitie the day that Riley was born. They were fourth graders when they received the news at school. They screamed and chanted, "Riley Rebekah, Riley Rebekah...." It was fun to hear them reminiscing about that.
A couple of days after Riley's birthday, we had Ally's birthday. She was excited a few days before when she and I exchanged texts about what she wanted for dinner and dessert. Real home food! She placed her order for brownies, instead of cake.
Ally also got her sisters to stand together for a picture. This is not easy. They agreed to do it because it was her birthday.
I think Ally's favorite birthday moment was when she beat her dad in a game of ping pong. He doesn't let people win. The kids work really hard for their rare victories.
Just a few days later, we traveled to Phoenix for another birthday. My niece was turning two years old.
My sister put on a really cute Minnie Mouse party for her. This was the moment she almost didn't blow out her candles. It only took a tiny bit of convincing, and she did it.
This isn't the birthday girl, but another two year old niece, having a little chat with Ally. Don't you love those little Minnie cupcakes?
This is just an idea of how crazy the Cousin Pool was, later on that afternoon. Everyone had such a great time! Riley was so unhappy with me when we had to leave.
Kaitie and Emilee did not come to Phoenix with us that day. They were a bit vague when I asked them what they had done all day. I didn't have to wonder long....
The day before my birthday, which was the day after the Phoenix trip, they had me stay in my room for awhile. After a long wait, Kaitie came in and told me to close my eyes. She handed me a shirt and told me to put it on without looking. You have no idea how funny it is to do that! Then she led me to the family room, where I was issued a necklace and sunglasses. "Birthday" by the Beatles was playing in the background. My family was having a 60's party for me.
The day before, they tie dyed a shirt for me. They also walked (in August heat) to get me an amazing carrot cake. They made posters and plans. It is a good thing I didn't get mad about the being vague thing. I would have felt terrible!
A truck loaded with pears from Oregon arrived locally awhile back. Since then, I have heard much talk of preserving pears. I have seen beautiful displays of shining jars lined up, and ready to take their places in the Museum of Preserved Pears. I wanted to join in somehow.
Well, the half a box we ate fresh is just a distant memory now. They were really good.
I preserved the remaining half box, and now it looks like this:
So, I didn't pay enough dues to be a Gold Club Member, or whatever that highest membership is called, but I hope this gets me "in" on some level.....;)
School started this year for Riley on August 9th. These two months have flown by, leaving me feeling almost confused. I remember when time felt like it dragged on, each minute making itself fully known to me. Now it swishes by, and I have to consciously register it, or it will just be gone. Strange.
Anyway, it seems that every year, the weekend before school starts we are out of town. My kids have missed school open houses often. They have had to dig at least a thing or two out of a suitcase to be ready for the first day of school. This year, we went to a quick family reunion in California.
The reunion was for my dad's family...his brothers and sisters and their families. That would be quite a group, if the total would come together. Even a fraction of the group added up to quite a few people!
This was one of those quick road trips where the drive time is almost equal to the time actually spent visiting with family. What do we do to make drive time bearable?
Well, we stopped for a little bit of shopping....just a little bit. Riley got these new shoes for school. Then she spent a long time in the car learning to tie them. I know she is a little old for that, but she never had tie shoes before.
When I took a picture of this little tunnel, Emilee was frantically trying to call Ally on her cell phone. My kids hold their breath when we pass through tunnels. Do yours? Mine have taken it up a notch, and try to get someone on the phone to hold their breath too. Ally didn't answer, so she didn't get the pleasure this time....
I started drawing faces on toes when Ryan and Ally were little. I know it is weird. This is a very entertaining activity though. It is very hard for feet to stay still while a different face is being drawn on each toe. This becomes especially difficult in the car. Riley and Emilee really wanted me to do it though. One time I said, "Don't look now, but I think I just drew a picture of Grandpa." (Just kidding, Dad!)
Once we got there, we had a nice time catching up with family we hadn't seen in awhile. We ate good food. Jeff, Kaitie and Emilee played some volleyball. I should have taken a better variety of pictures. It seems I mostly took my camera out at the beach.
The beach was definitely a highlight for us.
My fun cousin, just younger than I am, got all decked out in her wetsuit so she could play with the kids in the freezing cold water. Notice the kids don't mind the cold. That is Riley out there on the right, getting some boogie board instruction. She and her second cousin, who is on the left had a blast out there!
Although Riley was nervous at the beginning, it didn't take long to get going!
It was cousin time for me too. These are two of the best in the world!
I loved seeing my cousin as an adorable grandma.
Emilee and Kaitie stayed on the shore for awhile....
....but soon they got some boogie board time too.
There is always a talent show at our family reunions. This picture is blurry, but not so much that you can't tell what the "accessories" are in this picture! I love these girls. I said to my own girls, "Now maybe you understand my family a little better....."