Every year we host a New Year’s Eve party for my kids and their friends. It’s a great system – the kids entertain each other in the playroom and the parents get toasted in the kitchen.
I know what you’re thinking a New Year’s Eve party for three year olds? Don’t knock it, we have a blast.
One of the activities we do to build the excitement with the kids is “Countdown Bags.” Every half hour the kids get to open a brown paper sack to find some new piece of paraphernalia – hats, horns, etc. – to help with the countdown to midnight.
This year one of the bags held beads in hot metallic colors for each of the kids to wear. On the end of each strand of beads was a disco looking ball.
I’m big on pictures and I wanted one of all the kids with their prize. So I liked the kids up and asked them to “show me your balls.”
Honestly, this incident was still early in the night and I had only had one or two drinks.
Luckily, the kids were too young to understand the double entendre. Now the parents they are a different story. They totally understood what I said and I spent the rest of the night trying to live it down.
It’s Halloween on Supernatural and the Winchesters have more to worry about than the raising of Samhain and vengeful angels. They – or specifically Dean – are being tested by God in “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” and they don’t know it.
Dean must kill the dead that Samhain raised. Photo courtsey of CW
How cool is it that God thinks Dean is special enough for angels to heed his decision? It’s not exactly leading an army of angels, but still . . .
I know it was less about faith in Dean and more about testing him, but I’m still glad Dean realized he had a trump card and played it. The whole I’m-special-enough-to pull-from-Hell-so-I’m-not-leaving really pissed off the new angel in town – Uriel (Robert Wisdom of The Wire).
I liked the introduction of another angel. And like Castiel, he’s not all about fluffy goodness. Uriel is a specialist – he purifies towns.
It’s interesting that the line between good and evil was blurred a little more tonight. Are the angels (and God if the order came from him) really good if they are willing to smite a town of 1214? Sure it might save six billion in the end, but is it the righteous thing to do?
I love that Dean – originally a non-believer – comforts Sam – the one who prays regularly – when he’s disappointed after meeting the angels. Sam tells Dean that he thought they’d be different. And Dean tells him not to let a few rotten apples ruin it for him, adding “Babe Ruth was a dick, but baseball is still great.”
But Sam was dealing with his own fine line, which he crossed again by using his demon powers. I was screaming at the TV, “don’t do it Sam.” But apparently he didn’t listen to me. He used his psychic abilities to send Samhain back to Hell. Something that Uriel warns him is very dangerous.
In the end, they save the town (or most of it). But at what cost? Another one of the 66 seals has been broken. Sam used his Demon powers. The Winchesters got on the bad side of Uriel, who already seemed to have it in for the “mud monkeys.” And the Impala got egged!
But the real question is did Dean pass the test?
Dean thinks he failed, but would do it over again. Castiel showed doubt, revealing that he has questions of his own if that plan is just. As for me, I’m not sure – it depends on what the test was for.
If God wanted to know if Dean could sacrifice a few for the greater good, then yes he failed. But if God was testing Dean’s ability to lead and get the job done, then I think he passed
The thought of a large knife and two three-year-olds scares the crap out of me, so we have turned to pumpkin carving alternatives.
Argh Matey! Pirate Pumpkin and Princess Pumpkin
A natural klutz, I’m even worse with sharp objects. Add two overeager preschoolers wanting desperately to get their hands dirty so to speak and you can see where I’m less than willing to take on the challenge of carving not one but two pumpkins.
The year the twins were born we skipped carving all together, going with the natural pumpkin look. The next year, we drew faces on the twin’s pumpkins with markers. Last year, we took it up a notch and broke out the glue. We used string, squiggly eyes, pom poms and pipe cleaners to decorate the pumpkins.
As you can see, I’m building up to (or avoiding) the year we finally carve pumpkins but I’m still not ready this year. However, I had to do something new.
Enter Mr. Potato Head. Or at least his accessories. Target was selling these Potato Head kits for pumpkins. And I’m a sucker for a gimmick.
But turning pumpkins into potato heads is a little harder than it looks. So we had to turn to Daddy for help.
So on Sunday afternoon, my husband helped the twins decorate their pumpkins for Halloween. My daughter chose a princess kit for her white pumpkin. And my son turned his orange pumpkin into a pirate. Aargh!
The twins are very happy with their creations. My husband had a good time helping the kids. And I’ve put off pumpkin carving for one more year.
To help get my three-year-old twins in the mood for Halloween, I got a couple holiday CDs to listen to in the car on the way to school and other activities.
But they have become obsessed with these CDs. If they aren’t in the car when we get ready to leave, they beg me to go get them before we drive away. If we take Daddy’s car that day, they remind me to get the CDs out of my car. And they want to listen to the CDs over and over and over again.
I have listened to the same two CDs for two weeks straight. I have created Halloween Music Monsters!
But their obsession is nothing compared to their reactions to the songs. They definitely have their favorites. Here’s what’s topping their list:
This song has quickly moved to the top spot considering the twins had probably not heard it very often before this month. But my son will quickly tell you it’s his favorite. He sings it both in and out of the car.
We sat down to dinner the other night and my son looks at Daddy and says “Who you gonna call?” Then he answers his own question with a resounding “Ghostbusters!”
My daughter mostly dances to the song but will pipe up every now and then with a chorus of “Ghostbusters!”
Scooby Doo Theme Song
The kids have watched this show so often that they know the song by heart. Plus they have two plush Scooby Doo dolls – one dressed like a pirate, one dressed like a witch -at home that play these songs.
But more interesting is their reaction when the song comes on. We have the same conversation everytime the song plays.
My son: Mommy, it’s Scooby Doo!
Mommy: Yes, it is.
My son: Can I watch Scooby Doo at home?
Mommy: Sure, when we get home we can watch Scooby Doo
My son: Scooby Doo Vampire?
Mommy: Yes we can watch the Scooby Doo at Vampire Rock
My daughter: I want Scooby Doo Zombies!
Mommy: Yes, we can watch Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.
And by the time we finish this conversation the song is over.
The Witch Doctor
The twins like this song, but they are very specific about which version. They only like the Alvin and the Chipmunk version. If I play any other version, one of them has to tell me Alvin sings this song. Yes, I know, I reply.
But even if it’s not the Alvin version, I see heads bobbing in the backseat and stains of “ooh eee oohh ah ah” coming from the backseat.
Purple People Eater
The fact that neither of the kids knows the words to this song does nothing to deter their enthusiasm for the Purple People Eater. My daughter particularly likes to dance to this song. She bobs and wiggles in her car seat. My son likes to jump in and repeat whatever the purple People Eater say. I think he likes the voice.
But the twins favorite part is at the end, when they shout “tequila”. So my kids are running around going “tequila.”
We are suppose to be working on our “t” sound for speech therapy this week, but I’m not sure this is what their teacher had in mind. And I just know when we go in on Friday and she asks them for a “t” word, they are both going to shout “tequila” and I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do.
The Adams Family
It never fails that when this song comes on one of the kids asks me “what’s this song?” They don’t sing along but they are particularly fascinated with the song. I found out why when I went on their preschool field trip last week. The grace they say this month before snack is to the tune of the Adams Family.
The twins’ only interest in this song is the bubbling at the beginning. They always ask: “is that water?” After I answer yes, they just wait for the next song.
So for the last two weeks, this has been my life – narrowed down to six Halloween songs and the exact same reactions from my kids for each song. I might sound like I’m complaining, but actually I love the fact that my kids are getting into the holiday spirit.
I finally broke down on Saturday and bought a new CD, but it doesn’t have Ghostbusters, so they don’t want to listen to it.
Thank goodness that Friday is Halloween. Then we can move on to music for the next holiday. Anyone know any good Thanksgiving songs?
On Saturday, my family and I went to an Autumn Harvest Festival at Meadow Farm Park. Meadow Farm is a historical park centered around an 1860 living historical farm and museum in Richmond, Virginia.
The corn going into the sheller.
Because of the historical nature of the park, a lot the activities during the festival are actual chores that would have been done on the farm during the 19th century and all new things to a 21st century family.
First my kids got to try out a corn shelling machine. They each got to put in an ear of corn, then turn the wheel to shell the corn. I’m not quite sure they understood what they were doing or why, but they sure had fun turning that wheel. The man working the machine offered to let them keep their shelled ear of corn, but they just looked at it like what am I suppose to do with this. I told them it was okay to throw it away.
The sorham press
Next door was the Sorghum Press. With a little help the costumed interpreter, the twins pressed sorghum actually grown on the property. Normally their part is done by a horse, but today the kids turned the press. They even got to try some molasses made from sorghum. My son declined with a polite “no, thanks.” However, my daughter was finally coaxed into sampling some. But one taste and she was spitting out the cracker. Daddy had to eat the rest of their sample.
We also got to see the Tobacco barn, sheep out to pasture, a blacksmithing demonstration and some woodworking before we found another hands out demonstration.
My daughter got to turn a piece of flax into a bracelet. For some reason my son didn’t feel the need for a bracelet, so he watched. First she had to break the flax. It’s rough and looks a bit like straw. Then she had to soften it on scutching board with a wooden knife. Then she put the flax through the hackle to take off the rough parts before it was put on the flax wheel and spun into linen. Then the lady there helped her tie into a bracelet. Afterwards we saw where the ladies would take then linen and dye it.
We also got to see a bee keeper demonstration. He didn’t have any real bees with him, but there were plenty out there visiting the festival.
The Flax Wheel.
Next the kids got to see samples of a cobbler’s shoe making skills. Then they got to test out their own leathering skills by adding an imprint to a piece of leather and then stringing it into a necklace. My daughter added a butterfly to her piece of leather. My son enjoyed adding a worm to his leather piece, but didn’t care for a necklace. So Mommy wore it.
After that, the kids moved on to rope making. They each picked out a color of yarn – my daughter purple and my son yellow. Then Daddy and the costumed interpreter helped them make it into a piece of rope. My daughter used her piece of rope as a bracelet. My son gave his to Mommy to use tie on my purse as a souvenir.
The apple press
Then it was time for Apple Stringing. What’s that, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like, you string pieces of apples. My daughter was stringing her applies faster than I could get them out of the bowl and my son and husband teamed up to make nice long apples string. But what do you do with it now, I asked? You hang them in the kitchen until they dry out and then it acts as potpourri.
The kids were starting to get a little hungry so we just watched the cornhusk doll and scarecrow making before heading over to the apple cider press for a sample. Mmmmm, nothing better than fresh apple cider. My only complaint, given the nip in the air that day, is that the cider wasn’t hot.
We stopped for Daddy’s favorite snack – kettle corn. The whole family munched down on it while we waited in line for pony rides. My daughter couldn’t wait to get on a horse again. She’s been trying to coax us into riding lessons all summer – she’s three. She rode Oreo around like a champ while my husband and son cheered her on from the sidelines.
For anyone of you that think I’m brave running around with three-year-old twins, I had nothing on the lady in front of us in line. She had one older daughter (12-14ish), triplet girls about three and infant boy/girl twins!
The Natural Dye Demonstration
Anyway, next up for us was a little decorating. First the kids decorated faces on mini pumpkins. Then my daughter got her own face painted like a cat. She had been asking since we got to the festival – before any of us even knew there was face painting – if she could get her face painted like a cat.
Later, we got to try something I’d never done – candle dipping. Each of the kids got a stick with a piece of string on it. Then we made a line. We went up one side dipping our string in the big kettle full of wax over an open flame and then came back on the other side for another dip. After about four dips, the twins had had enough. So Daddy took them to see the sheep while Mommy finished the candles.
Finally, with our hands full of hand-made goodies, our bellies full of kettle corn and apple cider and two tired kids in tow, we headed back to the car.
I love festivals where we get to do lots of hands off crafts and I would say the twins did too. And it doesn’t hurt that the festival and most of the activities were free.
They still aren’t quite old enough to understand why they were doing some of these activities, but that’s okay, we’ll be back next year.
Feeling kind of grumpy today? Not your usual happy self? Or maybe you’re always like this? Either way, you are in the holiday spirit because today – October 15 – is National Grouch Day.
Sure it’s a fictitious holiday, but who doesn’t need a day where it’s okay to grumble – especially with the slew of stressful holidays heading our way. So put on your best grumpy face and celebrate.
While you busy being irritable and cantankerous, tell us who is your favorite grouch? It can be a character from TV, the movies, your favorite book or even a real life person (be careful here this one could come back and bite you in the butt).
And what is your best remedy to get your self out of a grumpy day funk?
Think about your day so far – you had to get the kids up and off to school, you’ve got more deadlines than time at work, there are dishes and laundry piling up at home and let’s not even talk about what you are going to fix for dinner tonight. You’re lucky you found a spare moment to read this article.
Wouldn’t you like more time for your favorite hobby? How about some time to do something fun with family and friends? What would you be willing to do to get make your life simpler?
Well TLC has some answers for you and all you have to do is spend an hour relaxing in front on the television on Friday night.
So pour yourself a glass of wine, put the kids to bed (or better yet send them to a friends or Grandma’s for a sleep over), curl up on the couch and turn the channel to TLC at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Because this Friday TLC partners with Real Simple to premiere its brand new hour-long show – Real Simple. Real Life. - that promises to find solutions to make life easier.
And who doesn’t want an easier life? Count me in!
Think of the show as a realistic makeover for the average busy woman – or man. Instead of promises of perfection, Real Simple. Real Life. is offering simple solutions and tips for everyday folks.
People today have lives full of demands and expectations. I know my list of to dos start when I get up and is often still clogging up my list at the end of the day.
Real Simple. Real Life will help people like you and me identify the frustrations that zap our time and keep our plates full. The show then offers personalized tips to end the chaos and give us back more fun time.
“Each week we’ll feature a comprehensive, 360-degree lifestyle makeover, using best-in-class experts in a variety of areas to help our real women identify with their day-to-day challenges, and offer realistic solutions and ‘aha’ tips to help them live an even better life. Viewers at home will identify with these women and be impacted by the makeovers” Executive Producer Jude Weng said. “We embrace the reality that it’s not about making the perfect meal or having the most organized closet; we’re working with them to make time-saving changes that will let them ad more of the fun ‘me’ time they’re craving back into their lives.”
Obviously the show’s target audience is women. But these are issues that everyone deals with – men and women – anyone who runs a home, has a job, raises kids or keeps a busy schedule. I know that my husband spends just as much time on the house and with the kids as I do (and sometimes more). So these solutions are for everyone.
Expect solutions to cover everything from smart organization tips to ideas for quick and simple dinners to decoration ideas to fun ways to make entertaining easier.
The show will also include a website – realsimplereallife.com – to go into more detail on the solutions offered in the weekly show. The show and its tips will also be featured in the monthly magazine Real Simple.
I know that I am always in a state of disorganization so I’m really looking forward to seeing what tips the show can offer to get me organized and give me more time to spend with my kids.
So I have reserved my seat on the couch for Friday night at 8 p.m. My bottle of wine is already chilling. Let the help start.
What area do you need the most help? What tip/solution did some give you that made your life easier?
It seems like just yesterday we were playing around in the pool in the hot sun. But alas, the dog days of summer are behind us, school has started and fall is here.
But just because the days are getting shorter and temperatures are starting to drop doesn’t mean that the outdoor fun has to stop.
One great way to enjoy the autumn weather and expend some energy is to get lost.
I’m not suggesting you wander aimlessly. Instead take in a maze. You can find them everywhere if you know where to look. They come in all shapes and sizes.
My twins taking on a hay maze.
My kids started as toddlers playing in a hay maze the vegetable stand near our house puts up every fall. You can also find hay mazes at festivals and neighborhood events.
I went through the maze with the twins the first couple of times. But it wasn’t long before they were taking on the maze solo.
Hay mazes are great for younger kids for several reasons. They are usually small enough that the children don’t get discouraged trying to find the exit.
The hay is also often stacked short enough that as a parent you can look over the top of it and feel comfortable letting your child go through alone, but still tall enough for it to be a challenge for the kids.
But what I like most about hay mazes is when the kids come to a crossroads in the path, watching them make a decision about which path to take. Can’t you just hear Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” being recited in the background?
What’s even more interesting is watching their reaction when they come to a dead end. How do they react? Do they retrace their steps? Can they find the right path? I’m always amazed to watch their reasoning skills in action.
An aerial view of Cherry Crest Farm the year I went through it.
But if you and your family are looking for more of a challenger, I recommend trying a corn maze.
My first experience with a corn maze was at Cherry Crest Farm in Pennsylvania. To truly appreciate this maze you have to see an aerial view. But the real fun is when you try to manipulate your way through the stalks.
We also frequent the maze at the Chesterfield Berry Farm in Virginia. Among the corn your challenge doubles. You must not only find your way out, but you must also find certain checkpoints along the way (and they aren’t necessarily on the direct exit route) and get your ticket punched. If you get your card punched at every station you get a prize at the end.
And for those of you more adventuresome, hit the maze after dark (where allowed) and try your luck among the stalks by flashlight. My twins very first maze experience when they were still in carriers was at the West Nursery at night with only a flashlight to guide us. At this maze, to help us along the way, at critical intersections were trivia questions about the area’s history. It’s very help if you know your history.
But the maze fun doesn’t have to end with Halloween. A maze of lights is the perfect addition to your Christmas light tour. Lewis Botanical Gardens in Virginia adds two light mazes (of varying levels) to their Garden of Lights. And let me tell you that the lights add a degree of difficulty I didn’t expect.
But like the hay mazes, light mazes are usually low enough for parents to allow children to test out their skills solo.
Saturday my three-year-old twins were in a community parade with their preschool. But to be in the parade you needed a float. Here’s where mom duty becomes real challenging.
Before: The red wagon before we started.
My kids are very, very into pirates. Last year they took a pirate class (think art class with pirate theme). My son even likes to talk like a pirate. I’ll ask him to do something and he’ll respond with “aye, aye captain.” When he flushes the toilet he hollers “fire in the hole.”
The twins even pretend to be pirates when they play. One day they lined up all their chairs in the living room to make a pirate ship. My son used his sister’s princess keys to “start” the ship and when she asked to get in, he said sure, but make sure you put your seat belt on! What can I say, at least they are safe pirates.
Needless to say when it came time to come up with ideas for a float, one idea stood out – Pirates! But then the real dilemma started – how to turn a red wagon into a pirate ship?
Well this mommy’s no dummy. The first thing I did was recruit help from my mother and her two foster daughters.
After: The wagon transformed.
So the Saturday before the parade we set out to work. My twins were on hand to supervise. Three trips to the craft store and 10 hours later, we finally had a pirate ship.
We used cardboard boxes for the aft and bow. We spray painted Styrofoam brown and then wrapped it in burlap to create wooded sides.
We topped the boxes with Styrofoam wrapped in brown duct tape to create front and rear decks.
We added cannons with cannon balls, an anchor and a mast and voila!
And now I can add pirate ship builder to my resume.