Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet.

Sorry that I haven't posted anything new lately. Just too busy with Girl Scouts, play practice and various other familial distractions. This week we will be carving pumpkins and putting the finishing touches on the kids' Halloween costumes. I was able, however, to finish my first ever guest post over at Dad of Divas. If you are interested in my take on a fatherly upgrade, go ahead and click on the link and see what you think. Later this week I will hopefully shake some of the dust from our keyboard and post something.
"Come on kids! Do something cute or else!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who Are These Kids?

I was recently, perusing some family albums and came across a bunch of spooks that have shared our house through the years. I'm talking about the kids' Halloween costumes. Each Halloween, we take the kids trick-or-treating. Most years, the kids' have donned home made costumes. This is due to their Mom's amazing creativity and their Dad's amazing frugality.

So now, without further ado, for your consideration, our family's Halloween parade of the ghouls.

This was Number One Son's second Halloween. He was only 1 month old for his first Halloween. But we still put him in baby bib overalls, a straw hat and surrounded him with farmyard Beanie Babies. So his first costume was a farmer. Sorry that I can't locate the picture.
N1S's second Halloween costume kind of took us by surprise. He was only a year and a half old, so we weren't planning on any trick or treating. But when the night came, we through a costume together involving cutting apart and gluing a furry boa and black makeup whiskers. Even today we're not sure what kind of animal he was.

Next year was a little more creative, but just as last minute. On Halloween morning we decided to use black electrical tape and white sweats to create a 'jailbird'. Lady Di made the hat and fashioned a Styrofoam ball and chain. Sorry for the grainy picture. Our camera just didn't want to focus.
The following year saw yet another home made costume. With N1S's build, a scarecrow was inevitable.

We finally got caught up with Halloween the next year and Lady Di outdid herself. She captured, perfectly, the ultimate personification of one of N1S's heroes at the time. She dyed a mop head red, made eyes and a nose and sewed it to N1S's red hooded jacket for a great Elmo. She completed the costume with a giant crayon and Dorothy the goldfish swimming in his candy bucket. Dorothy was another Beanie Baby.

I think I missed a year or so, so this is our next picture. You will notice that Sweet Pea has now made her appearance. She was a Princess Ballerina in pink, of course. You will also notice that N1S wore his first store bought costume. We still have Scooby Doo in the costume box in the basement and SP still puts it on when she is playing dress up.

The following year, SP was still a princess. N1S started to express his own choices for a costume. The mask is bought, but the bones are more electrical tape.

In 2006, SP decided to ditch the princess and be the Corpse Bride. N1S opted for a vampire.

In this picture you will see that N1S finally chose a Star Wars character. He, of course, is Obi Wan Kenobi. And Lady Di, of course, made his cape. Or 'Jedi Robe' as N1S would say. SP went back to being a princess. Although, she is a fairy princess with pink wings that you can't see in the picture.

Last year, the kids went as the Soldier and the Kitty. N1S used an uncle's old Navy uniform and we broke down and bought SP a kitty nose and tail.

Well, that is a mostly complete rundown of the Halloween costumes through the years at our house. I'm sure, in a couple of weeks, the list will be updated with this years choices. I don't know if they will be scary, cute or weird. You will just have to wait for Halloween.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Here's proof that our season is definitely changing. This week our temperatures took a serious dive into the 30's causing our local foliage to accelerate its fall transition. I took pictures in our yard around mid-September and again in mid-October. This is our maple tree in the front yard. Despite my best pruning efforts over the last few years, it still continues to thrive.

Now you can see the tree's true colors shining through.

We also have a hedge of cranberry bushes and burning bushes.

You can see that some leaves are already starting to turn crimson. Still, they are mostly green.

Now it is a row of orange and red. Even the trees in the background are turning yellow. Below, our fledgling oak tree is getting in on the act. My apologies for the poor photo efforts.

Last, but not least. Here is N1S helping his Grandpa pilot the pontoon this summer.
And here is what the change in seasons has done to him. Some of his 'leaves' seem to have fallen already.
I guess we will have to wait for spring to see things change back again.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halloween Bookworms

When the air gets colder and the days get shorter, you know that Autumn is here. The cold and the darkness also encourage more indoor activities. Tops on the list for me is reading. Last year I posted my favorite reads for October. I usually like to read creepy, scary or other generally Halloween related stories at this time of year. Not only do I like to read for myself, I especially enjoy, reading to the kids. Each of our kids has a veritable library of books. Early on, Lady Di and I thought that books and reading should be important to raising our kids. That's why we just can't say no to any book order forms from school, any book fairs they have or any garage sale practically giving away books. We give books to the kids for gifts and make regular trips to the library. All of these activities have led up to an avalanche of books in our house.

Part of our book organization is to keep some seasonal books separate from the rest. We have Christmas books, Easter books, Thanksgiving books, Spring books and Halloween books each in their own basket. This makes it easier to choose our favorite books during certain times of the year.

Here are the books we are reading for October.

Sweet Pea is starting to read some books herself, but still likes us to read them to her at bedtime. Her list includes, The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything, Spooky Hour, Clifford's Halloween, Kick-a-Lot Shoes and Happy Haunting Amelia Bedelia. Her number one favorites are Pumpkin Soup and Skeleton Hiccups. My favorite part of Skeleton Hiccups is when I get to yell, Boo! , when the ghost is trying to scare the hiccups away. I usually turn the previous page extra slowly to build the suspense and I try my best to jump out of the bed when the explosive Boo! is released.

Most of these books were enjoyed by Number One Son when he was in the single digit age group. Now that he is into his double digits, he has moved on to more challenging and somewhat scarier stories.

This year he has discovered R.L. Stine. He checked out The Haunting Hour from the library and tore right through it. We just finished Scary Stories for Sleepovers and have started the second Harry Potter book. We do have some Goosebump books for later in the month too. Even though he has graduated to chapter books, he will request an old picture book, The Vanishing Pumpkin, every once in a while.

One last family literary tradition is most years, Lady Di will receive a book from her favorite author for our anniversary. She loves to read Nicholas Sparks books and usually finishes them in a few days. For Halloween they are not very scary, but many of his books seem to be released around this time of year. So I will include him in our October reading list.

With the outside weather matching the settings in our Halloween books, it seems to make the dreary days more interesting and fun. It also makes the reading more cozy as we have to cover up with blankets and get close to take turns reading the pages. Well, it's time to start another book. Maybe today we will read in a dining room chair tent or outside in the clubhouse. Wherever we decide, we can't go wrong reading.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gotta Run.

Even though Sunday was cold, windy and rainy, our nephew Kubes (pronounced koobs, not his real name but the nickname of his favorite baseball player) found enough motivation to finish the Twin Cities Marathon. He ran a respectable 4 hours and 5 minutes which was ahead of the average time. I would have trouble beating that time on my bike. It must have been his shaved head that helped him.

Kubes, however, ran tough and was even gracious enough to let a few female runners pass him. That would probably bother most runners, but Kubes is such a gentleman. That was his story anyway.

Lady Di went downtown to be at the finish line to cheer Kubes on. She had never been to a major marathon before so she wasn't ready for the thousands of other spectators with the same idea. Apparently, the finish line is a popular spot to watch a very long road race.
Lady Di started to get a little nervous when she saw a few more mature runners (sixty plus division) finish with no sign of our nephew. Luckily, Lady Di found a good place up front and was in the right place at the right time. Kubes was just walking by close to her and she was able to scream loud enough for him to hear.

Lady Di's plan was to take Kubes out to eat after the race. Little did we know that marathon runners are not very hungry after a big race. In fact, they are not very talkative, are quite weak and spend most of their time catching their breath for some reason. A tearful, Lady Di was giving him major hugs and just about did him in on the second one. He was even too tired to collect all of the freebies that the multiple booths had to give out. Lady Di almost sent him back inside the gate to fill a bag for her. Instead, Lady Di gave Kubes an inspirational sign made by Sweet Pea and drove him to his car. Actually, after running 26 plus miles he had to walk a few more blocks to LD's van and then she drove him to his car. Hopefully, he had enough strength drive himself home.

Congratulations Kubes. We are all very impressed and proud. In fact Lady Di and I are so inspired by your accomplishment, we are going to give training a try. Who knows? Maybe we will join you for next years race. As long as you graciously let us pass.

Pay no attention to the name on the inspirational sign. SP has a hard time spelling Kubes and spent most of her time picking out the right stickers.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fall Into The Gap

Last week, Sweet Pea had her first grade pictures taken. This is the first year that one of our kids got their school pictures taken while missing teeth. At the end of this summer, one of SP's front teeth got wiggly. Lady Di kept telling her to stop wiggling it. "It needs to stay in for school pictures."

Well, I dare anyone to leave a wiggly tooth alone in their mouth. It is impossible not to exercise your tongue on a tooth that acts like a speed bag in a boxing gym.

Her tooth ended up coming out two weeks before school even started. Followed by her tooth's next door neighbor the next week. So now she can sing, 'All I want for X-mas is my two front teeth.'. I'm sure she'll want more than that for X-mas though.

On the morning of her pictures though, she was as pretty as can be. I got her up and all ready. Then Lady Di corrected what I had done to her outfit and hair.

At school, she received her mandatory school plain black comb. She also asked for another one for her dad. Isn't she sweet? Even though her hair is way too thick for a mere comb and she hasn't seen me use a comb for her entire six years of life, she needed two. So now we can each combine our combs with wax paper for a father daughter kazoo band.
And on an unrelated proud father moment, on Tuesday, Number One Son tried out for the Community Ed. children's play 'Hansel and Gretel'. At work, I joked that N1S was trying out for the part of Gretel. Well, I was close. We got a message from the director on the phone that N1S got the part of Hansel. Lady Di's gasp at the news just about made her inhale the phone. This is N1S's third production, but it is the first with a prominent part. We are all pretty proud of him. I don't know what will be more difficult for him, learning the lines or holding back the 'ham'.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


When the back door slams summer's butt on its way out, that means it's time for fall to come dancing through your front door. Our September weather has been great, but the first day of fall was overcast, cool and wet. It rained most of the day so the kids played inside. So I had to march way back into the archives of my brain to come up with something to occupy the kids for more than 2 minutes. Because 2 minutes is all the time they are willing to allow before their 'I'm bored' alarm goes off.

So what do you do?

You go into the garage and find two shoe boxes. Give them to the kids and tell them to make dioramas. When they stare at you with bewildered faces, you tell them to make a cool display for your Littlest Pet Shop or Star Wars action figures.
That seemed to work better. This is what they came up with.

As you can see, Sweet Pea's Pet Shop pets are enjoying their local playground. Complete with a drinking straw swing and teeter totter. Some pipe cleaner ropes to climb and a few cups of dry macaroni and beans for safety. We wouldn't want any pets to fall and skin their knees. Sweet Pea is pretty creative with art projects. She usually needs more than just crayons. She always asks for extra things like tape, string, glue, marbles, sticks (popcicle and tree branch), soldering iron or a circular saw.

Number One Son decided to use his Lego people instead of his action figures.

I think he did pretty well with the volcano and Jedi fighting in the background. He usually doesn't like to do art projects as much as his sister but he put a lot of effort and creativity into his project and it turned out OK.

Now we have to decide how long to 'display' our artwork. I think after a week on the kitchen counter, we will relocate the exhibit to a shelf in the closet that the kids can visit at any time. In another week, the closet exhibit will hopefully close for lack of interest and be moved to a temporary location at the Cylindrical Museum of Domestic Relics. From there a government official will personally deliver them to their permanent homes at an open air sculpture garden of similar items a few miles out of town. The pets and Legos will have to be removed for historic reasons as they are still being intensely studied by their curators.

How's that for recycling?

Stuff About Me

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.