Friday, October 30, 2009

First Round of Trick or Treating

Last night we went to Trunk or Treat at our church. The idea is kind of like it sounds. An adult stands by or sits in their trunk and hands out candy while the kids walk by. But last night, it was raining. (Shocking. It's only rained about 25 days this month.) So it was moved indoors. So the kids walked across the stage to show their costumes, and then walked around the gym while the parents sat on chairs in a square handing out candy. And then we went home. My kind of easy trick or treating.

I'm very anti-spending much money for costumes, so the grand total for all three costumes was $5. I bought Flower's sandals at the thrift store for $1, and Super's costume at the thrift store was $4. Jelly Bean wore clothes and used accessories that we already had around the house, so I spent $0 on her costume.

Next Up - Montgomery Academy Halloween Party! And then Trick or Treating at Farmer's Market, and then Neighborhood Trick or Treating.

And the funny thing is I don't really like Halloween. Well, that's not totally true. I love it when kids create creative costumes themselves or using costumes from clothes they already have. But I hate all the candy giving, and I really hate all the spooky/gory stuff. Next year, I think I'm going to do a Fall Festival Party at my house. We can do fall activities, you can dress up, but only if you dress up as a real person (either living or dead) but you don't have to. And we will have fall harvest food - apples, pie, muffins, that sort of stuff. It sounds WAY more fun to me.

Flower and her friend during the costume parade.
Flower is Cleopatra and her friend is a Cubs fan.

Jelly Bean dressed up as a detective.
Can't quite tell from this side view.

Super as Spider Man.

A Close Up of Super and his girlfriend. Doesn't she make an adorable Snow White? She normally has light blond hair, but it was super important to his girlfriend to have BLACK hair like the real princess, so that is black hairspray in her hair.

Have I mentioned that they really are going to get married?
I have it all planned out and everything. Just kidding. Mostly.

Now she looks a little more like a detective!

She decided MONTHS ago that she was going to be a detective and what she was going to wear.

I think Spidey needs some sleep!


Flower and her BFF

A pic of the crew - my kids and Flower's friend, and my sister's children. My nieces were a witch and a monkey, and my nephews were a scarecrow and a zombie pizza delivery guy.
(The pizza guy has an actual broken leg. The cast and crutches aren't part of his costume.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Well, it is done . . .

Remember this post?

Well, in case you don't feel like clicking the link, remember this picture?

We bought this playset at the end of August. And then Mr. Simple was gone many weekends, and it rained, and rained, and rained. And only had help one weekend, way back in early September, and that was one guy. But he has kept at it, working on it when he could. By early this October, it was functional. The rock wall, slide, rope wall, and tire swing and the beams for the swings were all up. The only thing left to do was put the roof on. And then it rained. And he was out of town. This weekend, he decided that he was going to finish it, rain or shine. It rained Thursday. It rained Friday. It sprinkled on Saturday. It sprinkled on Sunday. It rained off and on today.

But he decided to do it anyway. He did it when he could. When it wasn't pouring. And today, right before dinner, he finished. He was excited.

So were we. The kids love it. I love it. I'm so glad that we bought it. It will provide many years of fun.
Thank you Mr. Simple for all your hard work!!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Autumnal Celebration, Part 3

This is the weekend for the Big Autumnal Festival. It is our favorite fall festival. I blogged about it last year too. The kids were super excited. And it was a perfect fall day - not too cold/windy/bright, etc. It was sunny with just a slight chill in the air. We got there, listened to music, looked at what the artisans were making, went in the Nature Building, did bubbles, pumpkin bowling and pumpkin bobbing, ate s'mores and drank hot apple cider, and we decorated pumpkins. We had a VERY fun day.

We listened to some music from Todd Carey . . .
Did bubbles . . .

and dropped a marble in the homemade marble run . . .

Talked to a basket weaver . . .

Looked at all the dyed yarn . . .

And Jelly Bean spun some yarn . . .

Super went through the gourd arch . . .

And Jelly Bean grew some horns . . .

They were SO excited to go to the observatory . . .

To look at the moon . . .

Look at those cute kids!

Flower on a covered bridge . . .

And Flower decorating her pumpkin . . .

Jelly Bean sucking on a spider sucker . . .

Jelly Bean's pumpkin

Super's pumpkin - complete with arms and "a blaster."

Flower's pumpkin

Super hauling our loot . . .

Scooter waving Good-bye!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pretty As A Picture

Last Sunday was the annual children's program at church and I took some pictures of the kids when we got home. It has been cool and rainy for, uh, forever, and Sunday was a nice, warm, fall day. Our leaves haven't turned colors yet, but there is finally some color on most of the trees in the area. Click on the pictures if you want to see them larger.

Look at that sweetness between the girls.

As always, The Silly Face Picture.

Super. I asked him what he was doing.
He said "Relaxing in the sun."
I like relaxing in the sun too, little dude.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas??

Well, it's not snowing here, in case that's what you are worried about.

We have made the decision to buy one present for the whole family.

However, that doesn't mean that everybody is just getting one present. It just can't be purchased. Or, ideally, you can't need to buy additional supplies either. And we are shooting to have presents done by November 30th, so that gives us just over a month to finish. Which really isn't much time.

So there has been the scheming of what to create, and the beginnings of present-making. I need to sit down with the children and have them help me come up with ideas, because they are all infinitely more creative than I am. I do have a couple ideas though, and I'll post some partial pictures here as I go along (but not the whole thing because I don't want anyone finding out ahead of time!)

Sometimes, I think it would be nicer if we celebrated Christmas in March or April though. It would be nice to have all this excitement of craft-making to keep us busy through the dreary winter months.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Seasonal Notebooks

O.K., O.K., Notebooks is just another way of me saying binders. What can I say - I'm slightly obsessed.

I shared in this post that I sort of fell off the Simple wagon. I slowly started climbing back on, and I've recently decided to jump all the way back on. I decided that it would just be easier to jump back on cold turkey style. Except for coupons. I will use them, but not much. I'll keep the coupon blogs links for now, but I may delete them at some point, so if you are using them, you may want to add them to your own blog/favorite lists, etc.

So I have gone back to the Simple Life, or at least my version of it. No more soda (is it sad that this is what I think I will miss most???), no more eating "fast food", no more food that comes in a box or pre-prepared. No more TV, no more two or three times a week trips to the store. No more spending money unless it is budgeted for. More games, more music, more reading. More free time. More Peace. More Listening. More Walking. Much More Laughing.

A little bit of why I fell off the wagon was that our life changed in the summer. We ate different kinds of food in different sort of places at different sort of times. And I didn't change with it. My menus didn't change. My summer recipes were in cookbooks that I had to search through. My grocery list was based on my stockpile items. Which is good, but my grocery list was also based on the idea that I would be using the same menu all year. My menus and grocery lists for this summer also didn't plan on things like eating the kind of food that is easy to eat in camping chairs while sitting at swim meets or sitting on bleachers watching baseball games. My menus didn't include food that I could grab quickly and head over to the garden. And my menus didn't take into consideration that there were places that we always went in the summer, or special things that we celebrated in the summer.

And then I saw a post on this blog - the woman is Orthodox Catholic, and has several children, but the idea of creating seasonal notebooks is something that made so much sense to me, and something that I was fairly certain that will still work in my life, even though my life is probably much different than hers. I am in the process of creating similar notebooks.

Notebook 1 covers the time from September 1st to the beginning of Advent (this year Advent begins on November 29). I'll be using a 1" binder that has a clear front and I will be inserting some leaf scrapbook paper.

The notebook will have the following sections:

Fall Menus - I will list 4 weeks of menus listing some of our stand bys, but some of our fall only favorites. I will also use as many local, in season foods as I can.

Fall Recipes - In this section, I will have a number of page protectors and the recipes for the foods that I will be using during the fall. I'm really looking forward to having the menus and the recipes in the same place.

Fall Grocery List - The grocery list will change per season, although many of the stockpile items will remain constant during the year, although their amounts may fluctuate (for example, I bake MUCH less during the summer, but MUCH more during the fall, so my flour amounts will vary from summer to fall).

Fall Calendar - This section will list any festivals, birthdays, holidays, church activities, etc. that typically occur during this season. This section will also contain my Themes And Plans pages for the months of September, October and November, with updates made each year.

Fall Planning to Prepare - This section will list any tasks that need to be done before the next season, particularly for any events/holidays. My goal is so that things can be done a month or two ahead of time so that I can enjoy the event/holiday, etc. without having to be rushed into finishing the small details or so that things are not done haphazardly. This will also allow me to create more homemade details to our celebrations, something that I really want to add to our special moments.

In my Fall Notebook, I will be preparing for Advent. We do many activities during Advent, and many of them require some preparation before hand to run smoothly. I also would like to have all gifts made/purchased by November 30th so that we can concentrate more fully on Advent.

Fall Household Tasks - This section contains household jobs that need to be done that are specific to that season. Cleaning tasks will be broken down by weeks. This section will also include the planting/harvesting/preserving schedule for that season.

There is much cleaning that needs to be done in the fall, both inside and out, and there is bulb planting to be done, and preserving that needs to be finished, and the garden needs to be "put to bed" until the spring.

Fall Books - This section will include children books and adult books that I enjoy reading during this time of year, noting books that we have at our home and ones that I want to check from the library and ones that I would like to buy.

I have lots of fall books, but there are several books about scarecrows and geese that I like to check out from the library and it is easier for me to find the books I need if I look for the 2 or 3 weeks before I really need them.


The other notebooks will have the same sections. Notebook 2 will go from Beginning of Advent - January 6th. Notebook 3 will go from January 7th - Easter (In 2009, it will be April 4th), Notebook 4 will go from After Easter - June 1st. Notebook 5 will go from June 1st - September 1st.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eating Seasonally

When I started on this journey of self-reliance, simple living, being frugal, etc., one of the first things that I focused on was trying to eat seasonally. In an ideal world, I would eat seasonally from food that I grew on my very own, but I'm not there yet. So the next best thing is try and eat things local that are growing in my area at that time.

I've got a chart in my document section that shows what foods are in season for Illinois, but I just found this GREAT website that allows you to pick your state, and the time of year (it's toward the bottom of the page.)

Here is a copy of the information that I found when I looked at Illinois for Late October.

What's Fresh
Illinois: Late October

  • Apples
  • Bell Pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Greens
  • Herbs
  • Horseradish
  • Lettuce
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
(If you click on the links, it will take you to a recipe using that food.)

This makes it easier for me so that I can take a short list from this website when I go shopping. Because of course, you can buy any food at any time at the grocery store. Or at least most of the time. I do try and buy things from the local farmers market when I can or from the local health food store, but there are certainly times when I buy at a major grocery store and the foods I buy aren't necessarily local. But at least if they aren't local, I'm eating foods that are in season at that time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumnal Celebration, Part 2

This celebration was held at a local Park, that is also home to the local zoo. All of the activities and refreshments were free, as well as admission to the Zoo. It was a little cool, but we had a really fun time. It has been SO rainy here lately, that we were just glad to get out!
A bird in the Rainforest area at the Zoo

Some scary tigers in front of the tiger cage

A couple of posers

Jelly Bean doing pumpkin bowling

Super doing bubbles

Jelly Bean warming up with some cider

Flower taking a ride down the big slide

Some rosy cheeks at the end of the day!
We also went on a hayrack ride and roasted some marshmellows. We had lots of fun!

Oh, just in case you thought I had slacked off . . .

on thrifting, well, I have and I haven't. The kids have much of what they need, but I have still bought things here and there.

In fact, almost everything that the kids have on in the Autumnal Celebration, Part 1 post is thrifted, although I bought most of it last year - Super's raincoat, Flower's windbreaker, Jelly Bean's sweater and from this year, those awesome Land's End boots. Seriously, how could I not buy them - they fit her with room to grow, they were practically new, they are Land's End, they were $2, and they are Magenta! What's not to love??????

Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumnal Celebration, Part 1

One of the things that we have done the past 3 or 4 years is that we go to a BUNCH of autumn festivals. It is something that the children have really started to look forward to. We actually usually start our Autumn Festivities with a trip to an apple orchard, and we did that this year too, but since we generally do it as part of a field trip for the homeschoolers/preschoolers, I put those pictures over at Montgomery Academy.

So the first Autumnal Celebration we attended this year was at the University's Horticultural Center. The weather was cool for so early in Autumn. Of course, it was a cooler summer here than we had had in years too. And it was misting/raining, and so it was wet and muddy too. I debated about going, but when I asked the children, they still really wanted to go. So off we went.

Drawing on a spinning gourd

Jelly Bean's gourd

Super's gourd

Trying to warm up with some cider

Jelly Bean slipped in the mud just before this shot was taken. You can't see the mud in this picture.

But you can in this one!

Standing in/by a landscape sculpture. It reminds me of something in a Dr. Seuss book.