Saturday, October 31, 2015


We had a branch ward trunk-or-treat at our church the week before Halloween. It was a chili cook-off and my friend, Shuniqua and I wanted to enter the chili that we've made before together. She came over earlier in the day to put together the chili. Its fun tasting it every now and then thinking... what is it missing?? some oregano?? We threw some cinnamon in last minute and molasses as our secret ingredients.  Turns out... we won 2nd place!! To be honest, I was really surprised, but totally happy. :) 

Charlie wore his cowboy clothes, Alec was a soccer player, Frederick was a lion, Chris was an old school golfer, I was a pioneer and we painted Shuniqua's face to look like a zombie clown.

We invited some of Gwen's friends from her kindergarten class and two of them came, Ashlynne and a cute little boy Ethan and his parents. 

My friend Elizabeth wore her trek clothes too! We had to take a picture together.

I, along with 3 other moms, helped put on the Fall Party for Gwen's kindergarten class: Ashlynne, Malory and Ethan's moms. We had stations and did little crafts and I made a bean bag toss game and we had treats and yummy food after. Their elementary school wasn't wanting kids to wear their costumes to school but it was red ribbon week and it was "wear-red" day, so it was still fun for the kids to be out of their usual dress code clothes. 

We painted pumpkins on Friday, but then it evolved into carving. I've been trying to follow my mom's mantra of "saying 'yes' whenever I can" and just let the kids have free reign as we waited for Chris to come home and do Friday Night Movie Night. 

Frederick remembered going trunk - or - treating and decided to whine at the trunk for some candy. Sometimes I like to wonder what babies must think about the world...

The finished jack-o-lanterns! This night, Alec decided to be Anakin from Star wars, Charlie was a dragon, Gwen was a pirate princess. And Frederick... I don't know, it looks like he wore an orange shirt (I'm writing this post almost 2 months later! AGK! I hate it when I do that)

Actual Halloween night was rainy, super super rainy. Our neighborhood is not the best neighborhood to go trick-or-treating in since the houses are all 3 acres apart and have super long driveways and are all mostly retired couples. We didn't feel like driving somewhere to use umbrellas to knock on a few doors so we decided to have a carnival type party at home and then trick or treat from every door in our house.  Chris led us in a cupcake walk complete with awesome dance moves, we got out the bean bag game I made for Gwen's party, and did our classic donuts on a string game -- which Frederick without any guidance TOTALLY  caught on to! He is so observant!

Even though it had the possibility to be a super lame Halloween, we had a lot of fun. I especially liked playing off with Chris on the trick-or-treating. He would open one door and use some silly accent while I would hide behind the next door, then I would try to think of a different accent/scenario when the kids came knocking while he ran off behind the next door. One time, he pretended a stuffed animal dog was a real dog and had it barking and trying to get out behind the door. Haha.. He's so funny, I love parenting with him. Between all our bedroom doors, and closet doors, and bathroom doors... it was a lot! So fun. Tiring, but fun. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pumpkin Palooza

We thought we'd experience the famous Pumpkin Palooza in downtown Starkville this year. It was raining pretty hard most of the day but cleared up just a bit just in time for it to start. Along both sides of the street the businesses were handing out candy and there was a little pumpkin patch in the street (not free) and some vendors selling candied apples, and such. Also the Mississippi State cheerleaders were there and did a little performance. It was fun, but pretty small/low key and there were sometimes lines to trick or treat. It was fun, though to run into people we knew and the kids loved seeing everything and getting candy. We had a babysitter lined up so we brought her along to help with crowd control and then let her put the sugared up kids to bed while we went out to eat. Perfect! 

Alec as a construction worker, Gwen is Tinkerbell, Charlie (wearing his 4th costume of the day) is the Green Ninja from Ninjago, and Frederick is Robin Hood.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cowboy Charlie turns 7!

Happy Happy Birthday, Charlie Dear! My little cowboy, my tender-hearted, persistent, independent, friendly, ambitious, happy-go-lucky boy.  "Everyone loves Charlie" is teacher told me at our last parent-teacher conference.  One little friend at school actually owns some horses (or so I hear) and so Charlie has turned cowboy. He tucks his shirts into his pants, and wears boots everywhere. He wanted a black cowboy hat for his birthday and spend a good 20 minutes on amazon searching for the one that looked just right.  

We started the day off right with breakfast in bed...or I guess it was more of a breakfast on the floor. He's been wanting to either sleep in the Tepee someone gave us for Christmas 2 years ago, or some other made up bed of blankets and pillows on the ground (even though he has a nice new twin bed).  Maybe its a cowboy thing. :) 

We let him open one present before school and he chose to open his cowboy hat. 

Frederick and I brought treats to his class that Charlie picked out at the store the day before: Red velvet little debbie snacks. He loves the color red, and he LOVED showing Freddy off in his class. 

It was only a 1/2 day at school because of parent-teacher conferences so we had a little party in the afternoon on his actual day. He took the initiative to make invites himself and hand wrote everything and then gave them away at school. I don't think he thought to put a date, or a time, or an address, but he did write my phone number on them all! We printed off some more for him to hand out and he was giving them away like candy, not really paying attention to the names on them, "Oh well, Jalik wasn't there so I gave it to Drew"   

We did a cowboy themed party and Chris and I turned a cardboard box into a pinata, used some rope to create a lasso-the-cow kind of game, drew a big fat sheriff for a pin-the-star-on-the-sheriff game and gave away cowboy hats. 

His request for a cake this year was "A cowboy and a horse with some cactus, on a vanilla circle cake with a small circle on top" He always comes up with fairly detailed requests. Cute kid. Luckily we could just use a playmobile guy and a little plastic horse, I just needed to make a cowboy hat out of construction paper and Chris printed off some pictures of cactus. 

Grandma Dixie gave him some black cowboy boots. They are the REAL thing. I accidentally told her a size too big, and so they're kind big on him, but he doesn't even notice. He says they fit fine and he literally wears them everywhere school and church.  Oh and last minute I made him a little holster for his dart gun, he can really pull off the look.  We are so grateful that Charlie is part of our family. In stressful moments, he often will just keep to himself in his room. He likes to cuddle at night and read Magic Tree House books. He's so focused on what he wants that if he asks for something and I say no, half the time he'll do it anyway and then looks so surprised and abashed when he gets caught at it later... like he legitimately thought I'd said yes. He can't hardly keep his hands or feet or face away from Frederick at meal times, he loves him so much. He's such a joy in our house. We love him!

Freddy was so cute wearing the cowboy hat, but in typical Freddy-fashion I can't hardly get him to stay still long enough to take a picture: 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall Break Camping and Beach

General Conference weekend was also our Fall Break (Mon and Tuesday off from work and school). We listened to the first session of Conference on Sunday and then start driving to the Coast in between and during the 2nd session and stream it over my phone while we drive.  We'd arrive around 5 pm and find a camping spot, set up tent, eat a picnic dinner and then be all ready for a fun day at the beach the next day. At least that was the PLAN.  Despite my best efforts to have everything ready on Saturday, I still ended up packing food and gathering stuff during some of the first Session.  I had to remind myself many times that it was Sunday because it felt more like a Saturday... not the best Sabbath day feeling. I would do things different if we were to repeat this like have the car literally packed on Saturday.  Oh well, we live and we learn. Driving was great and listening to the second session in the car was also great, finding our campsite was easy and fun and we had our tent set up pretty fast and dinner easily assembled.  The weather was PERFECT!!! We played frisbee for a while and still had some time to kill before it was dark so we decided to drive the 20-30 minutes to the beaches at Gulf Port and check it out. 

The beach looked beautiful and with so many easy places to park we were excited for our day of splashing around, making sandcastles and jumping in the waves. 

By the time we got back to the State Park (which was more like a 40 minute drive) it was dark enough that we could attempt our first night sleeping in the same tent as a family of 6.  We brought our huge memory foam topper for Chris and I to sleep on, and had another couple of pads for the kids and combined they pretty much covered every space on the floor inside our tent... one massive bed. The older kids loved having the flashlights (too much.. some of them lost the privilege of having one for various chunks of time). I did manage to capture this cute moment of Alec reading to Gwen and Charlie out of The Friend magazine. Freddy.... Freddy.... Freddy. He goes to sleep really well when he's at home, in his room, in his crib, in the dark, by myself, without any distractions, by himself, in his crib. But here... he was like that last person to fall asleep besides myself. Poor guy.. it was just too fun. 

I slept HORRIBLY. I woke up every couple of hours wondering if I had even fallen asleep yet, and worried about Freddy who was rolling into and head butting Gwen, then ended up face down in the very corner of the tent with his head off any kind of pad. Then Alec kept kicking Chris and draping his legs across him, who would forcibly fling those annoying little legs off of him and they'd swipe across the side of the tent on their way back down. Freddy woke up only once and jabbered happily to me around 3:00 am and I cuddled him to sleep.  Then the kids all woke up at the same time around 6:00 am with the sun.  Even though it seemed like I had hardly slept I had acquired the biggest knot in my shoulders and a quite painful crick in my neck. I was cranky and worried about ruining the day, but managed to try and look past that and apologize quickly after any cranky remark I would let slip out. Chris had the tent all packed up and put away and I had the kids all breakfasted (previously hard boiled eggs, muffins and fruit) that by the time 8:30 am rolled around we were already on our way to the beach. 

So excited for the beach!

We drove along the coast for quite a while passing perfect parking spot after perfect parking spot for one reason ... We didn't see ANYONE on the beach! We started to worry that maybe there was some wearther warning we didn't know about, or water quality advisory, or SOMETHING.  I felt too conspicuous taking our whole entourage and gear out where everyone could look at the fools trying to play on the beach. But the kids could hardly stand the wait, and Chris wasn't nearly as weird-ed out as I was so I finally deemed a little spot worthy enough because there was a high dune that blocked the view of the beach from the road. :) 

We got all our chairs set up and towels laid out and toys dumped and everything before I even NOTICED the lack of waves.  The water looked like there were lots of plants growing just under the surface and/or big rocks. Turns out there are some barrier islands way off the coast all along the Mississippi coastline that prevent waves and currents from really coming in.  I guess the Mississippi beaches are great for sun bathing and sand play but not really for swimming. I was pretty disappointed at first, but the kids didn't seem to mind and the dark colors in the water that I thought were slimy plants and sharp rocks were mostly just dark/silty sand piles. So we were able to wade out really far and run in the shallow water scaring flocks of birds off of their sandbars. 

Chris and I had the brilliant idea of letting each other take a nap on the calm beach. Chris went first and I took the kids out to explore the sandbars and write in the flat wet sand. 

After Chris' little cat nap, it was close to 11:00am and the kids were hungry so we ate our packed lunches and decided to pack up and drive further down the coast maybe by an hour or two to try and find some beaches with some waves. But by the time we waited for everyone to go to the bathroom and got all packed up and cozy in the car the kids seemed totally happy to be done. Frederick had fallen asleep before we even left the parking lot (He was exhausted) and Gwen even said she was ready to go home now. Ha! So we scrapped the 2nd beach idea (and along with it, my turn for a beachside nap) and just headed home. We got some ice cream on the way and got home before dinner time. It was actually really nice to pick up pizza for dinner and unpack and bathe and everything and still get the kids to bed on time. A quick little 24 hour camping trip to the beach but at least we got out of the house and did something 'fun.'  

BTW - Little Mr. Independent / Always-blurry-picture-kid  loved having his own cup of ice cream in the car. I tried to only give him a spoonful or two at a time, but he still managed to get it just about everywhere. He's talented like that.