Friday, October 28, 2011

All Hallows Eve

We are ready for Halloween around here. 

I have had a fun time decorating our house.

Halloweeen Door 4

First we have hung some gourds from the porch lantern and then we added a metal bucket filled with hay, pumpkins and some black and orange silhouettes I found at Hobby Lobby.

Halloween Door 2

Next, Will planted these marigolds in the planters. I added some candles & picked up some pumpkins. So here is how it looks tonight:


Tomorrow we’ll carve the pumpkins, I can’t wait to see what the kid’s decide to do.  We were lucky to get invited to a Fall event by our homebuilder where we got these pumpkins for free! Woo hoo, I love free.

I have a new buffet, it belonged to Will’s grandmother Mimi in the 50’s and has been all the way to Venezuela and back.  Will’s Mom updated it by painting it black.  It came to my house just in time to get all decorated for Halloween.  I’m not sure yet how I will have it decorated for every day but for right now it looks like this:


On the left is a dollar store skull floating in a vase. At night I light it up with glow sticks. The “Boo” sign is just printed out on regular paper and stuck into a black frame I have.

I took black and white line drawings  (owls, bats, skull etc.) from a free clip art web site and mounted them onto the top row of plates. A tiny plastic skull went into an upside down glass.


On the middle row I used some glass science lab beakers and added corn syrup and food coloring.  Jacob helped with this part and we came up with psuedo-scary names for the potions inside – Worm Blood, Swamp Juice, Krakken Ink and Bat Boogers. We added lizards and a spider and a white stuffed cat – all stuff we had already.  I popped a squishy ball with eyes into the top of the tea pot so it looks like it is peeping out.


I felt like the bottom row “needed something” and I added some tarnished silver platters – they add that perfect bit of spooky sparkle.

I totally love how this little project came out and it only cost me about $3 at the dollar store.  It is the perfect level of spooky/gross/silly fun for kids and yet still has a little bit of a grown up feel (it is my formal dining room after all!)


Some people think that it is un-Christian to celebrate Halloween – I disagree with this. In Christ we have no fear of death.  We have no fear.  Death is natural, it is a part of our lives – everywhere with us, around us, adding urgency and meaning to our time on earth. I stumbled across this quote online recently:

Quote from María Antonieta Sánchez de Escamilla:

Sometimes a child feels squeamish about death

and admits to fearing skulls and skeletons.

"Why are you afraid?", I ask,
"when each of you owns a skull and skeleton.
We all carry death within us."

They feel themselves and they say: "Yes it's true,
we too are made of bones."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Cub Scout Campout

This school year Jacob joined Cub Scout Pack 912. he is a tiger cub (which means First Grade); there are also wolves, bears and Webelos (4th & 5th), after that they graduate to Boy Scouts.


Scouting is FUN. In Cub Scouts everything is very family oriented, parents attend and participate in weekly den meetings and monthly pack meetings. The camping trips and Go See’s (Field trips) are usually open to siblings (called Me Too’s). There are a lot of traditions, prayers and funny songs, it is all about character building and respect and good fun.

Our first camping trip (as a family and with Scouts) was this past Saturday at Brazos Bend State Park. It started Friday night but we got up super early to go on Saturday – we thought one night was just right for our first trip (I was not sure how well Anabel would do).


The first thing we did was go fishing in Lake Hale. Normally there are alligators all over the park but a lot of the smaller bodies of water have dried up so that most of them have moved to the bigger lakes. So we knew our chances of seeing a gator were good.

Bella loved fishing, she didn’t seem to mind that her pole did not have a hook on it.


Jacob put a worm on his hook all by himself and learned all about fishing in a state park. This earned him his fishing belt loop!


A big ole gator crossed from the other shore right over to where we were. I only had my phone to take pictures, so this isn’t very zoomed in. It was more than close enough for kids though! (and me)


This is our decade or more old tent. We found we could just fit a queen and a twin mattress in this tent and we all were able to sleep – but there was not one inch to spare!

I did notice some folks that did not stake their tents and some who did not put on their rain fly. But it has rained EVERY single time that Will and I have ever gone camping, so I took the time to set it up, extra guidelines and all. Which turned out to be a VERY good thing.


While I was setting up the tent the kids were doing their first activity – making Cub Scout Sushi. I don’t have pictures of this but it from what Will describes it is a lot like this:

Basically a Twinkie, cut into short pieces with Mike and Ike’s rolled in fruit rollup and then you roll that in sugar sprinkles and you eat it with chop sticks. HUGELY enjoyed by boys of all ages I assure you. Next the scouts made rockets and played flag football.

I took Anabel over to the playground. This was a cool giant playground, the really fun, towering, not really too worried about safety kind – like what we had when I was a kid.



The main attraction here was this really tall metal slide. The kids would grab handfuls of pea gravel and let them roll down the slide – it was very noisy but not unpleasant– like a rain stick.

One funny thing, Bella wanted to climb a tree, I pretty much could tell she wouldn’t get far but told her, “sure go give it a try” – I was on a bench and could see her but didn’t go with her. I just believe in giving kids a little room to explore. She got about two feet off the ground and another parent ran up and pulled her off and carried her back to me! “Your little girl is trying to climb the tree” he says in a worried-what-kind-of-parent-are-you-way. Um, yeah it’s called “playing outdoors!” I thought! People are so weird, I think because she is so small that maybe people think she is younger or something. I don’t know. I just believe in letting kids try stuff, if the risk (or tree limb) is low.


After a yummy chili dog/frito pie lunch we had downtime to just play around camp.

Then we went over to the Observatory and got in line to get tickets to use the giant telescope they have there. We got a 7:30 PM time slot which was perfect, it gave us time to go on the space launch simulation (Bella cried at the end because we weren’t really landed on the moon) , explore the Nature Center and eat our sack supper (which is like a sack lunch only supper, tee hee, I thought that was funny.)

The George Observatory (located inside the park) is built up on a big hill. It was Observatory Day – basically a big free day for the public to come and use the telescopes. They had people there to give lectures and all kinds of kid’s activities like face painting and a space shuttle launch simulation. But seriously all the kids wanted to do was roll down the hill. Just envision like 80 scouts all rolling down the hill, it was hilarious. Even Will tried it out.

The Nature Center was amazing. They had baby alligators and tarantulas and snakes that the kids could touch.


Here the kids are petting a King Snake. Bella wanted to know where the Queen snake was?


Back at camp as were eating out lunch other families were coming back from the Observatory saying it was too cloudy to see anything and that it was really lame. We sort of thought about not going but in the end decided to go. It was amazing, right at our time slot the clouds parted and we had a perfect view of the moon. It was absolutely the most wonderful thing to see it through that huge telescope. The kids loved it and were so excited – we were some of the only people to see it as the clouds came back about a half hour later.

Back at camp we took showers and got settled in for the night. Then it began to rain. And thunder shook the camp. And lightening. And rain and wind and more rain. The old tent did fairly well, considering it is over ten years old and has never been waterproofed. By morning the corners were pretty wet and under the mattress was wet, but for the most part we were all dry enough. It was just a big muddy pain trying to break camp with everything so wet and muddy. Luckily we brought big garbage bags and just sort of threw everything in those to sort out later.

We were all up by 6 AM, it was the Tigers turn to serve the meal, hot chocolate and danishes and then we got the dining hall cleaned up and set up for Scouts Own Service. (basically Sunday morning church service led by the Scouts).

We struck camp shortly afterward – and headed home with one stop at Whataburger. I was muddy, wet and chilled to the bone and that was the BEST coffee and french fries I ever had!

That afternoon we put on rain ponchos and stood out in the pouring rain, using the hose to clean all the mud and leaves off all our gear. Then set everything up in the garage with fans to dry. I am STILL doing laundry! I am sort of glad for the nice sunshiny day and for having the day off Monday!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thoughts About Tents…

I really really wanted to post a picture of our new tent! But alas, after an hour and a half of wrestling with it, I still never got it together. 

Generally speaking I am the calmer, instruction reading, methodical putter-together of-things person in our marriage.  I understand I may not strike folks as the rugged outdoor type, but I know how to put up a tent.  In fact just yesterday I put up our old tent from ten years ago – no problema!  Seriously Bella and I popped it up in about 2 minutes flat.  Seeing that Will and I got it way before we had kids and the advent of blow up air mattresses; we wanted something a bit bigger.

Okay do not buy the Magellan Bryce Canyon II tent. It is NOT good. Right away one of the tent poles broke apart.  No biggie – I thought, we could swing by the store to replace that one part.  Then I got it all set up but…. it wouldn’t stay up. Hmm, I thought – OK, so maybe it isn’t a pop up tent, but rather the kind that makes no sense until you stake it. So I staked it…and it fell over.  Um, okaaaay.

So I finally understand that two of the poles must telescope out (become taller) to create enough tension to prop up the tent, except that the only thing holding the tent pole in the expanded position is a dubious piece of plastic, and no matter what I do – the pole slides back down shorter, causing the entire structure to lean and then fall to one side (like a slinky)

And the instructions were very uh, “English as a fourth language-y” which only furthered my aggravation. I really, totally am very patient in real life with folks that are still leaning English. I am really very NOT happy or patient when it comes to instructions that are not written in proper English. Seriously? OK if you must build the product overseas – so be it – but surely there is a poor college student somewhere that you could pay to write the instructions?? Come on!

By now,  By now it’s been over an hour, by now the kids have asked me 467 times if it’s ready yet and have given up and completely lost interest. It’s past dinner time. It’s getting dark.

So the heck with this tent. If I can’t put it up it in a few minutes in my back yard in dry, non-windy conditions then I am not taking it out on the road where the only thing between me and alligators, raccoons and the Blair Witch is some plastic piece holding up a pole that appears broken right out of the box.

So, yeah, I guess I’ll be buying (and practicing setting up) another tent sometime this week, YAY. 

But seriously – I am over the moon excited about going camping – I can’t wait!!!!  Just need to get this tent thing worked out.

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