Halloween Gets More and More Fun With Each Passing Year

Friday, October 31, 2008
I had hoped for another foggy October morning for Halloween, but I was greeted by rain instead. Fortunately, by 1PM this afternoon, the sun arrived and the rain evaporated. By the time it grew dark, a clear fall evening had settled in. Perfect! Sam was a dragon this year, and Juniper was a sweet little bunny rabbit. We walked around our neighborhood with some of our neighborhood friends, and had a great time! I don't think I've seen Sam so happy in his 3 1/2 years. Here are some pictures from our evening this Halloween of 2008:

Never too young to know what candy is.

Homemade votive candle holders and the three pumpkins I carved with Sam.

Here's Sam's dragon costume from Sarah's Silks.

We joined the Wizard of Oz crowd for a walk around the neighborhood.

A little boy with an innocent, but important mission: to find more candy.

The good witch and the bad witch wait with Sam for a neighbor to answer the door.

Here's the trio leaving a house happy. I searched everywhere for Sam's pumpkin candy bucket, but in the end he was forced to use his sand bucket. Oh, well.

You know I'm behind the camera when you get these shots like these of Juniper, with one hand extended.

Sam with the Wizard of Oz group trick-or-treating.

I had been singing Juniper a song that she loves, and she was laughing just in time for a picture.

And then I couldn't help but laugh with her. Nothing beats the laugh of a baby.

Sam and the good witch ring the doorbell for a trick or treat.

My little rabbit at Sam's preschool Halloween party earlier this afternoon. It was a busy day.

And here's the little rabbit standing up.

I can't end this post without telling you about The Cherry Blossom Girl and the rather enchanting witch photos she posted for Halloween--check them out!

Happy Halloween!

A Nature Table for Sam, A Lot of Yelling from Miss Junipier, and New Goals in Mind

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finally a place to put all the special little nature things that Sam finds on walks--a nature table! I have come across this idea in Waldorf books, and have been seeing beautiful pictures on blogs recently, so I finally got a few more silks, bought some wool and roving needles, and set to work at creating Sam a place to bring a little nature indoors and stimulate his imagination. I got the idea for the owl and ghosts on The Little Travelers blog (the bats we came up with on our own), which is what inspired me to finally get this going, and now that I have discovered how easy needle felting is, I plan to create all sorts of little gnomes, creatures, fruits, vegetables, and plants from the various colors of wool that I picked up at the Naked Sheep Knit Shop in N. Portland. I'm thinking of taking a felting class there so I can learn more about it. Then I will hopefully move on to something more complicated like knitting or (gasp!) sewing! My true love is gardening, so whatever new hobbies I take on, I want to make sure that I continue to have time for the ones I already enjoy. I'm starting to throw myself more and more into domestic life and sustainable and environmentally-friendly living, step by step. New goals for me are figuring out a doable system for indoor and outdoor clotheslines (I'm still looking for a blog on this!), continuing to learn and improve at cooking, and hopefully picking up some creative hobbies like sewing. I think it's so important as women with respect to the different roles we play--mothers, wives, friends, daughters, sisters--that we make time for those hobbies that are just for us. It keeps us balanced, which is foundational to everything else, and gives us the energy and focus for others, especially our families. It's so important to me that I achieve balance for myself, my family, and our home.

Having said that, today was a day of significant imbalance. Juniper yelled--yes, yelled--all day long. Sometimes it escalated into screams and tears, but most of the day it was demanding yelling. I really think she's cutting another tooth on the bottom. She has four on top and three on the bottom, and I think that second incisor on the bottom is coming in and she's feeling pretty uncomfortable. She can't sleep, she's irritable, and she yells. Poor Sam. I didn't get to spend nearly the amount of time today with him that I wanted to. The only way I could pacify Juniper was to nurse her. So I nursed and used the computer off and on today. During the few quiet moments today Sam and I made little fall paper votive holders to light up our steps for Halloween tomorrow. We also picked up some Halloween candy and carved pumpkins together after Landon was home to help with Juniper. At least some balance was achieved by the end of the day.

This post started out on the subject of nature tables. I think they are great. You can change them out as often as you like and create whatever themes your mind conjures up. Sam has already been using his imagination, telling me that "the fairy princess is guarding over the pumpkins, Mommy!" Another great thing is using the silks and figures as settings for stories that can be acted out. I plan to start doing this with Sam once Juniper stops yelling so much. Maybe tomorrow will be a quieter day around here, although I'm keeping my expectations low because of something called the sugar crash, and I know a lot of Halloween candy will be consumed by Sam tomorrow. But maybe Juniper will be a tad quieter. I hope so. Stay tuned for pictures of Sam and Juni in their adorable Halloween costumes.

I also wanted to share with you this great little tutorial by mommychick (place to go for lots of felting ideas & she has a great blog as well) on felting a pumpkin:

Hope you all have a spooky (and memorable) Halloween!

A Blog I Love

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Today was another beautiful fall day, and I spent the morning chatting over coffee with my friends, Lovedrunk and Moments in Color (aka Annagrace and Andrea, respectively). What a fun morning it was, and I look forward to spending more time with them in the future as our babies get older.

It's the end of a long day, so I must keep this post short tonight, but before I go, I just have to share with you the love I have for Design is Mine, a blog I found by chance the other day. Author Summer Allen-Gibson does a few things with her blog: favorite Flickr photos, Etsy finds, design recommendations, etc. She has a way of linking you with artists of all kinds that would not turn up under an ordinary google search. She has a good eye for all things design, and a great design sense for her own blog. I must admit, I already have a few things on their way from sellers on Etsy (current favorite) and one order coming from Indie Fixx Shop, a website I find hard to resist.

Okay, I'm off to bed now, but am taking my ipod touch with me so I can watch this before I fall asleep:


Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I read an excerpt from one of Nancy Wood's poems in Many Winters the other day and thought it was worth sharing here:

Hold on to what is good even if it is
a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it is
a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is
a long way from here . . .

Hope you are all enjoying these beautiful fall days here in Portland. I hear it's snowing on the east coast. I wonder if winter will bring snow to our city this year?

Another Beautiful Day

Monday, October 27, 2008
Yesterday was so beautiful, and it looks like we're in for a treat here in Portland in that today promises to be every bit as beautiful. Landon took this photo in the community gardens a few days ago, and I think it's such a pretty photo that captures the fall days we've had around here lately.

What better way to start this second beautiful day in a row than with a homemade pumpkin spice latte? My friend Allie posted a link on her blog, Eat. Play. Sleep., to a recipe I tried out this morning--delicious!

And now I'm off to book-club to discuss Craig Lesley's memoir, Burning Fence. Finishing this book and preparing for tonight's meeting has kept me from my new-found addiction to Etsy (at least for today)! It's oh so inspirational. I think I might ask for a sewing machine for Christmas!

I surprise even myself sometimes.

A Beautiful October Day

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Days as beautiful as today don't come along too often here in Portland. The sun was warm, a gentle breeze was blowing, and leaves fell from the trees all day long, making scraping sounds as they moved across the sidewalks and streets. I felt happy all day long, spending the first half of the day reading my book at one of my favorite coffee shops, Blue Joe's in Lake Oswego.

Pumpkins from last weekend's excursion to Sauvie Island await carving on our stone bench.

I spotted these Canadian geese starting their Southern migration.

I drank two of these iced vanilla lattes while catching up on reading for book-club tomorrow night (Craig Lesley's "Burning Fence").

I sat at this table for three hours reading.

I walked through these leaves.

I made this tomato soup, sliced up some rosemary and olive bread, and drank this glass of red wine for dinner.

Good dinner, beautiful day--can you really ask for anything more?


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday night, downtown Portland
golden leaves fill the streets.
Orange lights dangle from tree branches
I pass quickly by trendy stores like Bee and Thistle
and yuppie garden store Dig as I walk to my destination.
A chilling October breeze whips through my hair
and my coat, sending a chill down my spine.
I think back to a time when I walked these park blocks
thinking of thematic elements and je ne sais quoi.
Energy everywhere, couples enthusiastically holding hands,
rushing to their Saturday evening plans, completely absorbed in each other.
I remember spending Saturday evenings with Landon,
just like that.
Feel antithetical.
Can't stop wondering if my Juni-daughter is still crying.
Pass by three adults making their beds on the stone cold sidewalk.
A bitter cold October night it will be and no one should spend it curbside.
I arrive at Life of Riley thinking of the crying baby
I left at home with my dear, dear husband and search for my friend as I enter
the front door, where seemingly every soul drops conversation
to look at me, wonder if I'm single, who I am, if I might be the friend they're waiting for.
I pass hastily to the basement, where I greet my friend.
Tell him how I'll miss him and Portland won't be the same.
Breathe in air heavy with cigarette smoke and wonder if I'll have time to
take a shower when I get home before Juniper wakes up.
I don't want her to smell cigarette smoke on her Mama.
I drink an IPA and no, I don't want to leave my tab open
(there was a day when I always left my tab open).
Listen to cute problems like whether or not
such and such should move to such and such place
with a boyfriend three months in the works.
Quit a job, drop it all, leave. Hmmm, cute problem.
Listen to chatter about how so and so once had a crush
on so and so but never got so lucky. Hmmm.
Tell Miss Cute Problem to move with three month boyfriend
because one day, when she has a couple of little ones
(she laughs and I wonder if she's ever thought of the possibility of little ones)
she'll be glad to have memories of dropping it all for love
that one time, for that one person so long ago
when she's up to her elbows in strawberry jam
and thinking of installing a clothesline.
It's the collision of two worlds on this Saturday October night . . .
and I think I might have whiplash.

A Few Things from our House

Friday, October 24, 2008

I found these great little buckets in the $1.00 bins at Target the other day, so I put Sam to work planting some pepper seeds . . .

which are now on the sunny south window sills of his play corner.

A day's worth of compost, ready to be taken out to the bin . . .

which is steamy and already producing a dark, rich humus for our garden.

Dinner tonight: fajitas. Simple and tasty. The right meal for the week's end.

Peppers and steak, add a little spice, and voila! dinner is ready.

A nearby garden in our neighborhood that I admire and love.

Piles of leaves freshly raked in our backyard.

A small boy digging for worms in a backyard garden bed.

A new pepper plant for the house, which makes me happy.

A new spot for treasured art, painted by my neighbor and friend, Patty, and given to me as a gift by my dear husband, Landon.

A moorfish, "Blackie" (named by Samuel), that is on the mend after a few days of water changes in his aquarium. He nearly died, but it seems as though he's going to be okay now that all is well in his little world.

A vote for Barack Obama. November 4th, please come soon.

A few things I've been thinking about lately:
  1. Waldorf for Sam next year
  2. Design ideas for garden markers and my blog
  3. A new desk for Landon's office
  4. Why I'm afraid to try my hand at sewing
  5. My new love with Etsy
  6. Nature tables
  7. Inspiration
  8. A clothesline
Now I must turn to my glass of red and October's book selection, Burning Fence by Craig Lesley.

My Little Garden Marker

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm in the mood to start using stylized garden markers as an artistic and educational feature to my garden areas. I've always thought it tacky to use the plastic tags from the nursery (no offense to those of you that do!). Does anyone out there know of a resource for garden markers? If I can't find an idea already out there, I'm going to design my own. Must write this on my list of things to do before 2008's end. Meanwhile, what do you think of using this little one as a garden marker for the tulip bed?

A Cobweb for Halloween

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What a beautiful October afternoon today! Juniper and I spent the morning running to Target for miscellaneous household supplies, where I also picked up some cotton for Sam to make a cobweb for Halloween when he got home from preschool. Juniper and I also ran to New Seasons for a couple of sacks of groceries--spaghetti and a 3 seed baguette for dinner tonight. But back to the cotton from Target--Sam has been pretty fascinated by cobwebs in store windows for Halloween, so I thought he might enjoy a cobweb of his own in his play corner at home. Of course, once he got home and the cobweb had been spread out, he wanted me to "trap" every insect in his insect bin, so the spider at the top of the web will have lots of food for weeks to come. There's probably about twenty or so insects trapped in the web, and now he's bringing me other animals like horses, sea turtles, and snakes to trap in the web as well. I told him we can only trap actual insects, and that we have to keep the cobweb looking realistic. Now he just brought me two frogs and said, "These two frogs accidentally jumped in, so can we please put them in the cobweb, too?" I guess to Sam the trapping part is more fun than just looking at it as a decoration. Oh, three-year olds!

Now if I can only get Juniper down for a nap, Sam and I will head outdoors for a little gardening this afternoon. If only all fall days could be this beautiful . . .

No More Eating Out, At Least Not for Awhile

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm officially done with eating out until Juniper is a little older. It's become quite the ordeal lately. She wriggles out of those restaurant highchairs, squirms and arches her back if we hold her, and reaches for everything she can get her hands on and throws it to the floor. She's getting to the age where she'll be walking any day now, and that means she only wants one thing: to be on the go, which means she wants to be on the floor. I remember 9 months to 18 months were extremely challenging with Samuel (he started walking just shy of his ten month birthday), because he was so accident-prone, yet insisted on walking everywhere. It seemed like no matter where we were, I was following him around, and even despite this, he still had lots of bruises. Then shortly after his eighteen month birthday, he was verbal. That was a nice reward. But then the tantrums started . . . and now it's the arguing--with anything and everything I say!

Me: "Sam, it's time to go!"
Sam: "No it's not!"

As for dinner tonight, we were finally able to entertain Juniper for five minutes with some rice, at which point I literally scarfed my Thai noodles down and guzzled my coconut juice. We ate out tonight because Sam has swimming lessons on Tuesday nights, and there just isn't enough time to make dinner at home.

Landon getting ready to buckle Sam into his carseat after we were finished with dinner. Oh, was I glad to be finished with dinner!

Most of the time I shop at Target, this is what happens (notice the shark swimming trunks). Just the other day a little girl was wearing the same shirt as Juniper. As for the swimming lessons, Sam seems to love it so far, so I think I'll continue to sign him up. Right now, he's a pre-goldfish. By December, he'll be an actual goldfish. Now that's progress, folks.

Workbooks and the End of Potty Training

Monday, October 20, 2008

I recently picked up a preschool workbook at Target for Sam, and we've been sitting down at the dining room table in the evenings to work on it together. Right now, he's working on circling things that are the same or different. I taught him how to hold his pencil properly, and have given myself a few lessons on how to make it fun and have reminded myself to be more patient.

So far, about fifteen minutes of workbook activity seems to be the right amount for Sam. He is quite fascinated with the pencil sharpener. I'm going to install one eventually upstairs on the wall.

I also want to pass along the great news that Sam is officially daytime potty trained, and most nighttime diapers come back dry in the mornings, so he's getting there as well. The treasure box system we implemented a month ago worked immediately, and he hasn't had an accident at school or at home in a long time. Here is a slinky he picked out of the treasure box the other day. We add to the treasure box off and on so there is always an element of mystery to the box. I was inspired to use this as a reward system from the treasure box at our dentist's office, which Sam was pretty excited to find out about. It's such a relief to move past washing out poopy underwear and the continual asking about whether or not he had to go. And the tantrums! There were many power struggles over going in the toilet! We had many adventures in potty training, and I could write a book about my experiences with Sam in this area, but now that it's done, it already seems like a distant memory. It's so funny how these experiences are so dominating in your life when they are happening, but then you look back one day and can hardly remember them at all.

You Take One, I'll Take the Other

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Juniper seems to be taken with Landon. He is a master at getting her to sleep, and she does so well with him when I'm away. When Sam was a baby, he seemed to have a more difficult time when I was gone, but Juniper seems secure and content to be with Landon for as long as she needs to. If I'm around, however, she's a different baby--more fussy, more clingy, prefers me to Landon. However, hearing about the baby she is when I'm not around has been a huge relief to me, as I really struggled with leaving Sam with Landon, knowing that he might cry the whole time. Another thing that draws Juniper to Landon is his music. She seems to be a lot more interested in watching Landon play the fiddle or guitar than Sam has been (nothing trumps playing great white shark kills seal), and I'm still in wonder at her emerging personality.

Today Juniper and Landon spent most of the afternoon together while Sam and I headed down to McMinnville to celebrate my baby sister Shelly's 27th (27th!) birthday. We had a great time with the family, and nothing says fall more beautifully than the Yamhill valley. Sam was interested in finding gold foliage, so we looked along the way for all the gold leaves we could find in the passing trees.

And Juniper, who is still wearing her brother's old winter coat, spent an afternoon downtown with Daddy doing fun things like taking pictures, shopping for clothes, and going out for lunch and coffee. Landon and I often split up, each taking one of the kids, and we both love spending one-on-one time with them. I think it's an important part of parenting and shows them that they are loved and appreciated as individuals.

Happy 27th Birthday, Shelly! I hope you get that degree by your 29th birthday!

An Evening at Kruger's Farm

Saturday, October 18, 2008
We had so much fun last year visiting the pumpkin patch at Kruger's Farm that we headed there again this afternoon, glad to see the sun shining, and looking forward to an evening full of fun on the farm. Each year, Kruger's Farm has one, sometimes several, evenings which include nighttime hayrides, live music, a huge bonfire, lots of good food, and hot coffee and cider. A little taste of rural life only minutes from our urban doorstep. We truly have the best of both worlds here in Portland, and that's one reason I love this city like I do.

I took this picture of one of the two Kruger pigs. I don't even want to think of her fate, because she looks like such a little personality in this photo. When we left the farm around 9PM, she and another pig in the pen were sleeping side by side, keeping each other warm on a chilly October night.

Me with Sam and Juniper, loving the October sunshine.

Sam found his pumpkin without too much effort.

I took this photo, because I loved the trees in the background. Sauvie Island is such a beautiful place, and one I hope to visit more next summer for biking and hiking, since next summer will be the first in awhile where I am not either pregnant or caring for a small baby.

Poor Juniper is still getting over her cold. Not long after this picture was taken, I bundled her up from head to toe.

We had fun riding on a flatbed pulled by a tractor out to the pumpkin patch. I don't know about this technically being a hayride, as there was only a small amount of loose hay, but it's no matter--to Sam, it was most definitely a hayride!

Landon, ever the devoted husband and father--we love you!

Juniper lost no time in selecting her pumpkin as well. She might be ten months old, but she knows how to pick her pumpkins.

Juniper carefully weighed her options.

Yes, it was as she had thought. This was certainly the one worth taking home.

My friend Miriam knitted this hat for Juniper, and even though it's still a bit large for her, I brought it along to keep her warm. Some of you might remember that she likes to make birdseed from bread. It's still a source of entertainment for her, though these days, she keeps some of it for herself.

A little girl in a big garden.

Canadian geese flying South for the winter overhead made me realize today that the winter months are just around the corner.

Only minutes before the sun set, we did the corn maze with Sam. In the middle of the corn maze is a platform, which we climbed. I haven't bought Juniper a winter coat yet, but I pulled one of Sam's out of a bin in the basement that he wore when he was one. It sure brings back memories putting it on Juniper, which as a second-born baby in this family is bound to have hand-me-downs, even though her older sibling is a boy, and not a girl.

Sam loved the corn maze, and after about thirty minutes, I took Juniper and headed out, but Landon followed Sam around that maze for a good hour.

And then it was time for the bonfire. Landon took some good pictures of the flames. I feel hot just looking at them. Juniper had never seen fire before, and stared transfixed on the flames. Sam, too.

Thanks to the zoom lens for getting this shot, but when I look at it, something in my brain tells me to move back, but I can't! Somehow, it makes me feel trapped too close to the burning flames.

There were hay bales all arond the fire, which burned long into the night.

Last year, they had a small building's worth of wood near the pumpkin patch, so there were nighttime hayrides to that end of the property as well. This year, they had only the one bonfire, and even though the insurance company won't insure it, Farmer Don said they still do it, because they don't want insurance companies running their lives. I love that they have a bonfire.

The look of one staring at a large fire.

Burning pallets.

After we'd had enough of the bonfire, we walked into the barn to hear the live music and eat some roasted corn. Juniper loved it, and worked on her ear for some time.

We stayed until about 9PM, but that was after getting there around 3:30. By the time I took this picture, we were nearly ready to go.

But not before letting Juniper finish that ear of corn.

It was a great October evening full of good times and good memories, and I look forward to many more years of pumpkin patches and hayrides with our family in the future.
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