November 8, 2015

Mysterious Legends, Mischievious Characters

Another October has come and gone, and with it - Halloween.  I'd been scheming of ways we could bypass Halloween this year with some fun alternative thing instead.  My brainstorming involved a pool for the kids to swim in and a book for me to read.
It was highly appealing.

Then at the last minute, enthusiasm kicked in and I worked impromptu the day of Halloween to create costumes for the kids.

Lilly chose to be Pippi Longstocking. 
We had fun getting her braids to stick out.  Amazingly, they stayed the whole evening.
We rummaged closets for Pippi attire and I sewed a smock in short order, cut from an old denim slipcover.  My sewing is crude.  I don't have the patience to follow a pattern.  But for quick creative hacks on Halloween.. it works!

Beau announced last minute he was going to be a golfer. (All October he'd talked only of being spy.)
Some argyle, his favorite beard, a golf club from the garage (none of us golf.. I have no idea where they came from) and he was set.

Pippi of the North Woods and Golf Legend Man

Some friends had invited us to join them trick-or-treating.  We had a wonderful time!
This was our first time ever trick-or-treating door to door in town.  (The kids' and my own!) 
We'd only gone to rural friends, family and neighbors all our years before. 
We hit up some fun neighborhoods with houses and yards decorated to all degrees.  It was fun seeing the costumes lining the sidewalks.  The kids got a haul of treats.  Only a few people said Golf Legend Man looked too old for trick-or-treating. ;)   All in all - a very family friendly, festive Halloween evening.

Due to timing, we missed Marianne for the first time in our Halloween history as her neighbor.  (17 years!)  She was anxious to see what goblins or get-ups we'd have this year, so we agreed to stop the next day.

Johnathan had decided to sit this Halloween out, but we convinced him to don a little disguise just for Marianne.
We weren't going to attempt Pippi hair again, so improvised once more.  Lilly became an art museum thief, wearing her brother's too-big shoes and all.  Her sneakers are all too brightly colored.

Stoic Aviator, The Mona Lisa Bandit, and the return of Golf Legend Man.

We hopped in the Ranger and were off.  It looked like I was traveling with a bunch of incognito robbers on some great heist this All Hallows Day.

The Aviator in charge of navigation:

Golf Legend Man holds onto his hat.

And the Mona Lisa Bandit rides shotgun as she cooks up a scheme.

Marianne loved it.

These are all phone photos.  I recently took pictures of the kids with my actual camera. Will share soon.

I often wonder why we celebrate Halloween. 
Then I'm reminded once again that I'm pretty sure we do it to have fun. 
And we did.

Peace, Love, and Strange Traditions,

PS:  I just spent some time looking back at Halloweens past.. I'm noticing a definite tend in my last minute enthusiasm and preparation!
Happy Trails in 2014    
An Old Man, a Mummy, and a Pirate, 2013
Moonlighting as a Costume Designer in 2012 (Featuring That Totally Creepy Carrot!) 
A Gnome, Vampire, and Wizard, Last Minute in 2011
Blogger Tricks

October 20, 2015

Wild Sumac, Fall Color Feast

One of my favorite features of fall is the turning of the wild sumac around us.
Sumac are considered shrubs, or rarely small trees.  We're lucky to have them surrounding our home in small tree form, and each day of early fall they are a dramatic sight to watch as their leaves change color.


Sumac gets its name from the word red. 
Our variety is called Staghorn Sumac, for the velvety branches that resemble the velvet on an antler as it grows. 

All that's left on the sumac today are the fuzzy fruit spikes on bare branches.
These turn a bold crimson that stand out against the white of winter, often the only color to be found in our backyard for months.  Come spring, if the robins are hard up for things to eat upon their return, they'll clear the fruit in a matter of a few hours. 

I appreciated this year's fall color feast more than any I remember.  Each day, I woke to the view of a big maple in our backyard framed from our upstairs window and feasted my eyes on the rich colors.
Our fall world is very much a "feast before the famine."  As the last leaves fall, we'll enter a monochromatic landscape for the long winter months ahead.   

I'm thankful to have observed another beautiful season as the sumac turned. 

Peace, Love, and sharing with Our World,

October 14, 2015

The days are too short and for that, I'm thankful.

I had a moment to read a blog post during lunch today (which has now become a couple of weeks ago.. once again time fell short, my words remained in limbo) about bloggers who disappear. 
I felt the urge to peep in and say "Hello! I'm still around!"

There are seasons in life when it takes all I've got to do the things that need to be done, only to wake and start all over again, without ever finding the time to do all of the things I want to do. 
During these years of raising children, preteens and teens, I've often found myself marveling at the fullness of life and hearing the words of John Burroughs in my mind..
"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."
That includes many of you, my modern day pen pals and friends.  I prefer to write and visit much more regularly, but til then - I'm still here!

Speaking of seasons, Fall is here.  We had a beautiful, lingering-summer kind of September. 
First frosts arrived late and gently.  The leaves took their sweet time reaching a colorful peak.  Fall hasn't rushed this year, but taken it easy on us.  I'm thankful for that, and the beauty that sustains me between the typical bustle of the season. 

What's been filling my days?
Two teenagers, two preteens, and the sweetest 8 year old boy I know.  A marriage of nearing 2 decades, something I cherish.  I've always revered that word, cherish.. which means not only to love and adore, but to protect and care for.  A puppy.. There's never a dull moment with a puppy in the house.  

Mason & Eric have entered their senior year of high school and many are asking, "What are their plans? What will they do next?"  There is a lot to be considered at this time.  I think young people often feel pressure to have adult life all figured out before they've even been out there to live it a little.  There are so many options and directions to go.  
I wanted to soak up this final summer with all of our "kids", before they begin leaving the nest.  Of course, there were things that borrowed our attention, and it was too short for all the trips I wanted to take.  But it was good. 
As Mason & Eric near their 18th birthday, I'm adapting to the idea of adult children.  The value of each day is known to me.  We carved a little time out of an afternoon recently to take some senior photos of them.. it's a start.

Two pre-teens.
  Lilly, 11 and Johnathan, 12.  As Johnathan nears his 13th birthday, he's changed so rapidly that my brain is still thinking.. weren't you just a little boy a few months ago?  While he's an incredibly thoughtful and easy kid to be around, this is a trying time at certain moments.  His moods aren't as predictable as they've been all his life prior.  I know that if I made it through in one piece with twins, the others should be a piece of cake.. I learned much from Mason & Eric.  Raising twin infants, toddlers, and adventurous MacGyver/Davy Crockett-like little boys was a lot of work, but a breeze in comparison to the days when their voices began to change and they started to shave.  These were the years that both challenged and worried me most. 
Lilly is right at Johnathan's heels in these joys of adolescence.  Our doctor told us not to be surprised if she were to pass Johnathan up for a while.  She's still most part little girl, but we see glimpses of the teenage years to come and the young lady she's becoming.
We made changes in school environments this fall that we feel are best for both of these two as they grow and learn in today's changing world.  The long hours of weighing decisions have been rewarded.. We're off to a fantastic new school year.


Beau.  The most charming, caring, and intuitive 8 year old I know.  He had some health issues beginning Memorial weekend, which has been at the top of our concerns in life. 
It's hard for me to put into words - that it was the worst scare I've ever had in my life, his first collapse, his body gone cold in my arms, and that race to the emergency room trying to keep him awake, my world flashing before my eyes. 
Over the next 4 months, Beau went through all kinds of tests.. multiple electrocardiograms, echo-cardiogram, an MRI on his brain.. he was a calm, sweet champ through them all and I'm happy to say he's doing very well.  His last appointment was just a couple of weeks ago and we hope our worries are behind us.  When your child's life flashes before your eyes, it takes quite a while to become fully at ease again.  We spent our summer close to home, enjoying simple things, his wellness never far from my mind. 
I'm so thankful that Beau is doing well.
He's enjoying fall immensely and invited me to take a nap in the leaves and sunshine the other day.

As for the puppy, Wookie is doing great.  She'll be 6 months old tomorrow.  She is indeed a bird dog, already in her puppy months her instincts are sharp and she's doing super in her training.  She keeps our senses tuned in, too.. Our ears are sharp to catch when she's tip toeing downstairs in hopes of finding one of the boys' socks to eat.  Aside from eating socks (which she has a penchant for), she doesn't chew things, but likes to carry them around proudly, one thing to the next.  She grabs a shoe, brings it to a bedroom, grabs pajamas from said bedroom, carries them to the living room, grabs a dish towel that's hanging in the kitchen, takes another shoe to the front yard, and so on.  Wookie is kind of like having half a dozen toddlers in the house.  Our current conundrum is the case of Mitch's Missing Hat.  He set it on a kitchen stool so I could give him a haircut on the back deck Sunday, and it hasn't been seen since.

Could this cute face be the culprit?

A big change in the hours of my days is that we are doing 3rd and 7th grade education in our home this year.  This is a huge new endeavor for me, one I don't take lightly, demanding of me in new ways.  There have been days when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel.  (Day 2, for instance.)  But beginning with week 4, we'd found our stride and something amazing began to happen.  Not only are we accomplishing our objectives, we are reaping rewards that go above and beyond what I'd hoped.  We are being challenged, particularly Johnathan and I.  But the silver lining is showing itself. 
There are days it may look like I've gotten nothing done, yet I feel at the end of the day like I'm accomplishing more than ever.  Truly, amazing things are happening.   Today begins a five day weekend, a welcome break that I feel we've earned! 

I've spent many evening and weekend hours over the past month shooting senior photos of kids other than my own.  The 1 a.m. nights of editing have begun, and I hope to be caught up and complete soon.  I've decided that next year I'm taking the fall off! 

Yes, during these years raising children, preteens, and teens, I've often found myself marveling at the fullness of life and hearing John Burroughs in my mind.. "I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."  

I'm gaining understanding that the days will always be too short, as long as there are so many things to love.  The more places I go, the more I want to go.  The more books I read, the more I want to read. There is always someone I wish to catch up with. So many more photos I'd like to take.  More things I'd like to learn about and share about. (I've never had as many posts left in draft mode as I have this year!)  I'll always wish to have a few more minutes in a day with my family.

Thank you friends, if you're taking time to read this.  I'm thankful for the inspiration I find when I visit each of you. I hope to visit more often now as the leaves have fallen, school is in stride, and life, doing what it does best, goes on!   

Peace, Love, and Sock Eating Puppies,