Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day of the Dead

Ah, Dia de los Muertos.  Doesn't everything sound so much more poetic en Espanol?  This past Saturday, we braved the damp cold to visit Cheekwood and absorb some Latin culture.  
And to get our money's worth out of the Halloween costumes.  

Mostly, it's a chance for me to get my craft on, ostensibly while my children learn something.  

Sarah did work on a calaveras mask.

Will had a snack.
Seriously, will somebody deliver a memo to this kid that toddlers don't eat.  

I'm scared for how much he's going to eat when he's a teenager.

This mask has become her Sistine Chapel. She carts it around, works on it a little bit, adding color here and there.  She's a dedicated perfectionist, that one.

Kite-making was the hit of the day, mainly because it was indoors.  And there were sequins.

Twirling is a mandatory activity when sequins and streamers are involved.

Will decided to enter the thrilling threes a little bit early that day, so there was some drama.

Until we saw this.

All smiles
Thomas the Train just makes him so happy!

Sarah gleaned some fashion inspiration from these guys, and I totally wish that we'd seen them dance.  The peeps have been practicing some new moves to Gangnum Style, and you should see them shake it when Mike puts on the Tropicales music channel.

I don't have any pictures, but we toured the Scarecrows exhibit there as well.  I'm a big fan of cows and scarecrows advertised as "Out standing in their field."  Makes me laugh every time.  

We ended the day by making sugar skulls.  Will devoured his and tried to eat someone else's as well.  

Friendly Calaveras!

Naps were skipped, Las Paletas was coveted, and Sarah's weave fell out.  What a great day! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We've got itchy trigger-fingers around here.  And by trigger-fingers, I mean pumpkin-carving fingers.

I know it's probably too early to carve (especially with the 80 degree temps around here lately), but we can't help ourselves.  My mom got us about 127 pumpkins, and then we have all of the itsy-bitsy punkins from various and sundry patches in the area.  

The temptation was too much.  We had to do something.  

So, the other day, we carved a lil' ol' traditional Jack-o-lantern, complete with snaggle-teeth.  Here's the thing: I don't use those el cheapo kits you can buy at chain stores and such.  Honestly, I could achieve better accuracy and results chewing through the pumpkin rind.

No, no.  I break out the J.A. Henckels machete and get to work.  This type of equipment requires at least a zone coverage for the littles, so our former neighbor stopped by to ensure safety and the retainder of all limbs and digits.  Also, the leaf piles were turned into a maze from which the children failed to emerge for at least 30 minutes.

So, I carved and the kids watched.  But then, I thought I'd try out the whole hammer-and-a-cookie-cutter thing, and let Sarah have a whack at it.  Literally.

My feelings on this method are lukewarm.  We ruined a cookie cutter (which we never actually use for cookies) and it was kind of hard to do, but the end result was rather pretty.  I'm partial to an organic, imperfectly-carved pumpkin, so I think I'll stick with triangle eyes and snuggle-teeth.

Fast-forward to Sunday afternoon and chilly temps, we knew we needed to get the other 37 pumpkins carved.  Mike drew and distracted children, and I hacked away at the gourds.

Mike's drawings were a touch ambitious, so his artistic vision wasn't altogether realized.

Even so, we like our Halloween decor silly not spooky, so a vampire in need of dental work is right up our alley.  

Fortunately, we had our resident artist hard at work drawing on his green glitter pumpkin.  He gave it "lots and lots of warts."  Sigh.  I'll be sad when Halloween is over, but glad that this guy will no longer be sleeping in a bee costume meant for an infant.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Write-in Candidates

Last Tuesday, we made voting a family affair and took the little guys to see what it's all about.  Meaningful conversations, family togetherness, and stickers were the focus of the morning.  

It was mostly about the stickers.  

When Sarah asked what this voting thing was all about, I explained that we had to choose someone to be the leader of our country.  "Like the Special Helper?" she queried.  Yep, he (or she) is just a grown-up line leader.

Her eyes got all big and shiny, and she looked at me with all the gravity of a 4-year-old who has discovered her true calling.  

"I want to be the Line Leader/Prezdent," said my ambitious one in reverent tones.

At first I dismissed the idea, telling her to come back in 30 years.  But then, she started fleshing out her platform, and we really liked her ideas.  Take her campaign slogan, for example: 

You Get What You Get and You Don't Throw a Fit.  

It's catchy, and when you're doling out lollipops or crayons, it's a strong maxim to live by.  Her advisors think we might have a problem in some segments of the population, though.

Laws Sarah would like to pass during her administration:
Always put away your toys.
Say the pledge.

Also, under the Brown administration, space is no longer the final frontier.  "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and the Milky Way."  With one masterful stroke, she claims the galaxy for American governance.  This candidate knows that perception is reality.

I haven't gotten excited about any of the candidates.  

Until now.

And if you think a relatively unknown pre-schooler can't attract celebrity star-power, I have a few words for you:  Elmo.  Abby Cadabby.  Cookie Monster.

So go vote for a candidate you believe in.  We did.

I'm Sarah Brown, and I approve this message.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pile o' Leaves

We have this tree in our yard.  It's a maple that stands on top of a slope, shading our cars in the summer.  In the autumn, though, it goes out in a blaze of butter-yellow and copper.  Our favorite place to be in the fall is sitting underneath this maple.

Two years ago, I took some pictures of the little folks playing in the leaves.  At 9- or 10-months-old, this was Will's first encounter with leaf piles.  (I wish I could post some of the video of Will vs. the leaves, but, alas, our bloggy-storage is running out of space.)

Why didn't I dress him in overalls more often?!
Fast-forward two years, and piles of leaves have proven to be more fun than a swimming pool.  No lie: the kids have come home from school and jumped, rolled, and crawled around in the leaves. 
Every. Single. Day.

Yesterday, they buried themselves in the leaves over and over again.

Today, they pretended to be shipwrecked and tossed overboard and also climbing out of a swamp.  Oh, and they were dogs.  I think.  

Sarah even enjoys raking (or "making piles"), so there's the whole child-labor component that we advocate around here.

Does this remind anyone else of Peeta in the Hunger Games?
They are going to be soooooo mad when we bag up all these leaves this weekend.  Let's all pray for a lot of snow this winter to help these guys get through this rough patch.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Memphis Zoo Boo

This past weekend, we headed over to Memphis for some family time and a Halloween warm-up.

We've had to limit Will's Halloween costume dress-up to 10 minutes a night in an effort to give the Buzz Lightyear costume a fighting chance of making it to Halloween (trust me, this kid can destroy ANYTHING - white spandex and plastic is not going to be a challenge).  Consequently, a certain space-ranger-in-training has been chomping at the bit to test drive his new duds.  Big sister's costume hasn't even been started yet, but she's been remarkably cool about it so far.

Anyway, Saturday night was the big night to head out for some nocturnal zoo fun.  Sarah was such a trooper, she didn't kick up a fuss at all about wearing (gasp!) running shoes with her princess dress.  I took the opportunity to test-drive the good ol' skeleton costume.  Will spent most of the evening alternately taking off and demanding we put back on his cursed gloves.

Here's a pre-game picture:
Skeleton costumes are so slimming.

 My genius mother thought to bring along the wagon, since I forgot the trusty Phil & Ted's

Ready to roll!
 We got down to business right out of the gate with some face painting. 
 Surprisingly, Sarah chose one of the more demure and less-expensive options.
 Not surprisingly, Will didn't 

 And a Skeletor/Buzz Lightyear hybrid is born!
 We got to do a little trick-or-treating, were creeped out a little by the animatronic singing pumpkin patch, and set out to ride the "Ghost Train". 
The consensus was that the Ghost Train was a little scary, but it was nothing that some chocolate couldn't fix.  
The night ended on a MAJOR sugar-high.  It's always hard to do things after dark with the kiddos, so I don't think we'll go to the Nashville version of the zoo boo.  Sarah was such a trooper, but she was pretty disappointed that we couldn't throw our meteor shower party that same night. 

Monday, October 22, 2012


Halloween is a BIG deal around here.  Not just because we all like to play dress-up (and I mean ALL of us), but because Mike's birthday is on Halloween.  And we all have raging sweet-tooths (sweet-teeth? I don't know). 

So, it shouldn't surprise you that the kiddos don't have the corner on the market for costume fun.  Here's the thing: one item on my bucket list is to have us all dress as Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.  I thought it was going to happen this year, but it wasn't meant to be.  When I got the kids their skeleton pj's back in September and they've refused to take them off ever since, I thought, "Hey, they might be on to something."

Consequently, I set out to make myself a grown-up skeleton costume to equal theirs.  I checked out this tutorial and combed the Web, but it soon became clear that I would have to freehand my own stencils for this thing.

"No problem", says my confident, it's-only-September self, "Plenty of time."  I grabbed some old black yoga pants and a black long-sleeved T-shirt, and got started.  First, I had to draw out my templates.  Under duress, I might add, as my medical-minded husband chided me for the incorrect number of ribs in the ribcage. 

My next move was to trace everything onto freezer paper and to cut it out with an X-acto knife.  After that, I sponged on 2 coats of white fabric paint and 1 coat of glow-in-the-dark fabric paint, and here are the results:

Sorry for the crummy pictures.  

I think my costume turned out awesome.  So, as a little Halloween treat, I have a link for the stencil patterns for both the kid skeleton and the adult skeleton template that I made.  Trick or Treat!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Down on the Farm

I have a confession: our kids are 2 and 4, and we'd never taken them to a pumpkin patch until today.  Up until now, they thought Home Depot was a pumpkin farm.

I'm proud to say that, thanks to my friend Kathleen, we rectified the situation and took the kids out for a morning at Gentry's Farm.  Yeah, it was just us and the entire population of Davidson and Willamson Counties.
This is what we found upon entering:

 There were a few great set-ups for photo ops.

 None of which panned out perfectly.

 Then it was on to the Munchkin Corn Maze.

It turns out, this maze is constructed out of sorghum, so it's not so scary for the wee ones.  Or something.

A picture of Mike taking a picture of kids.

 This maze was tough.  It felt like an episode of Survivor: there were alliances formed, secret pacts, and I almost got voted off the island for poor snack-procurement skills (and stinginess). 
 After one mid-maze potty break (don't worry, we bring our own potty with us), and a close call with another potty-related incident, we glommed onto a family that knew the way out, and we were free!
 We felt reasonably sure that we could find our way out of the miniature log cabin, so we checked out the digs. Will celebrated his freedom by turning the butter churn into bongos.
 And hanging out in the teepee.

Pretty girl

 A little light housework was in order.

 And then it was off to test our skills at the beanbag toss.
Check out that form.
And it's good!
 Next up, we met up with our friends.

Silly, sweet girls.
Then we had to do a lap of the activity area to get the lay of the land.  Some sliding was in order.

As was some tire swinging.

 The "Crazy Maze" gave us yet another opportunity to get lost.
 And to do some more sliding.
 Sis braved the Mole Hole, but Little Bro preferred to wait anxiously at the other end for her safe exit.
Wringing of hands
 Next, we had to try our hands at rolling an ENORMOUS bale of hay.  Not a whole lot of progress on that one.

 Switching gears, we headed out to play in troughs of dried corn, chase chickens, and ride tractors a tad bit too small.

I love Will.  Will loves his blue cotton candy lollipop.

 I felt a certain kinship with this guy for football-related reasons, but he turned out to be a bit camera-shy.
 The girls were unimpressed with the mules, since they couldn't pet them, so, next up, it was the hayride.
Here are the three hayriders ready for action.

                                          Mike got some nice shots of the scenery on the farm:

 But the new baby calves were the biggest draw for our peeps.  I don't know if the four-legged friends appreciated all the mooing aimed their way as we rode by.

 It was a hard day's work on the farm.

People may or may not have been sleepy, and may or may not have passed out in the car on the way home.  One thing's for sure: you never accuse a toddler of the heinous crime of being ready for a nap.