Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Coping with Boulder on New Year's Eve

I Dislike Boulder
Driving the Boulder Turnpike
Our last day of 2013 turned out to be an...interesting one. For us, that is, not necessarily interesting for you as you read this, you may find yourself leaving...out of boredom. Or irritation. I warn you now, a senseless rant ensues.

So Justin often makes, like, 1/5 or 1/6 of his annual salary in January, due to Christmas sales and craziness of living on commission. He was able to meet a sales goal for the month--on this the last day of 2013--by delivering a trunk load of products to a really nice customer in Boulder.

It was his day off, there was some lovely weather for this time of year, and we had nothing better to do. So we all piled into the Volvo along with $16,000 worth of audio equipment and made the drive up the Boulder turnpike to the land of hippies, college students, and those who think chocolate milk should be banned from all schools {and they succeeded in that ban, by the way...because it's Boulder}.

Have I mentioned, I hate Boulder? I've never liked Boulder, but after today, I feel like I can really say it: hate.

I know some people find Boulder charming and fun and all that. But me? Hate. Not the people, just the town in general. Can you hate an entire town while not hating people? Um...I think so. Maybe. I don't know.

If you're from Denver, or are familiar with my great hometown, you will understand me when I put it this way: Boulder is like a HUGE, over-sized version of the disorderly Cherry Creek shopping district. Over crowded, with hoity-toity wealth and snobby shops and curvy, confusing streets that are filled to the brim with pedestrians and bicyclists and so, SO much traffic. Yes, take the chaos of the Cherry Creek area and turn it into a full sized city, complete with a crazy party school, tea-making hippies and a cluster of overly-privileged football players smack dab in the middle: that's Boulder.

Oh, but it's charming! All nestled up against the hogbacks like that! There's so many beautiful views and so much fun shopping on Pearl street, blah blah blah--HOLD ON. Cut it out. Boulder--are you getting me here?--it stinks. Even with it's fancy mint room, it stinks. I dislike it. Strongly. You get the idea.

{It's also home to one of the worst late-term abortion clinics in the country, just another black mark in my eyes. Of course Boulder would be home to that sort of place. No chocolate milk, though! We care about our children! BOO!}

So anyway, we should have known better than to pack a car full of three post-Christmas-kids for what was really a business trip up to stupid BOULDER.

Justin had promised the girls we'd take the mountain roads home, through Nederland and Central City and Blackhawk, finally down into Golden and back to Denver. {I love you, Denver! Kiss noise.}

So, of course, alllllll the way up the Boulder turnpike allllllll we heard about was the mountains, mountains, mountains, mountains, mountains...

Except not like that, but in shrill little 5 and 2-year-old voices.


We got to Boulder, drove around their crazy streets {this is part of what growing up in Denver's lovely grid system has done to me, I don't do well with non-grid style city layouts} admiring their views {yes, they're pretty, but so is the rest of Colorado} and their fire hydrants {Boulder paints them seafoam green, but this is really the only good thing about Boulder, if you ask me} and finally found his client's house.

It wasn't as grand as I'd expected--many of Justin's clients are mega-rich and the neighborhood we drove through led me to expect a grand Victorian. It was a cute, tiny house. It was empty; they were still moving in. The owner wasn't home but had instructed Justin to go in the side door and lock it behind him when we left.
I Dislike Boulder

The real highlight of our day was Justin finding a very kind thank you note with a bottle of wine to take with us on the kitchen counter.
I Dislike Boulder

Except Justin got what felt like 50 business calls [Justin would like to note that it was one call from a customer, but whatever] while he was dropping off his products, leaving me in the car with two already wound-up, fighting kids, and Mr. Paxton, who was beginning to get hungry. I yelled at them to quiet down but then stopped when I realized that one of Justin's client's neighbors might call the client to warn him that, "A man with a car full of babies and a screaming woman is burglarizing your house. It looks like all he's stealing is a bottle of wine, though. Oh, and he left a bunch of speakers and expensive things in your hou--wait, is this like SANTA for adults?!"

It took forever and when we finally pulled away from the house I realized I'd missed today's Vine newsletter. By 7 minutes. Sigh...

So, when in Rome, you know...you hit up Rome's thrift stores. A Goodwill and Savers both very close to each other...across town so we made our way allllll the way over there via Boulder's stupid, non-grid streets which are full of rush hour traffic from 24/7 to 24/7.

It was a total thrift bust. Nothing good. Boulder, even your thrift stores stink. Okay, so we came home with a cute seafoam {what's with you and seafoam, Boulder???}  tricycle for Violet. There was no tag, but the Goodwill staff said, "It's been sitting here for a few weeks going for $85... but...it hasn't sold so...I guess we'll mark it down to...$9.99?"...


...Huh?! You were trying to sell a cheap used tricycle for EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS??? Then finally, as if that weren't already a bad idea, you mark it down--not a just little, but to $10?! Boulder...go home. You drunk.

I fed Paxton in the car.

By this point, the rest of us are starving so we figure we might as well grab a bite to eat. There are tons of places to eat in Boulder. But you know, when in Rome...so we went to our favorite Colorado eatery: Illegal Pete's.

When we finally located IP's by driving the maze around CU Boulder, we found that we had to pay for metered parking in a lot behind the building. We got all three kids out of the car, paid for a voucher, walked around the building while a nearby pair of homeless men were sharing a joint and yelling at everyone who passed by. Lovely.

We got to the front doors of Illegal Pete's, realized Violet had no shoes on, and also that Illegal Pete's had closed at 2 p.m. due to the holiday. It was 2:15.

We went back to the car, homeless men yelling at us again, packed the kids back into the car, and drove alllll the way back across town to Q-doba. Because, what else? We just needed to sit down and eat.

Now, this post is a total rant already so I'm just going to continue on here and tell you what happened in Q-doba. Not a huge deal, no, but one of my major pet peeves occurred today. I generally try to avoid rant posts. You rant too much and people just start to want to slap you in the face, I get it, I do. I've avoided posting the here's-my-witty-annoying-list-of-pet-peeve posts I've written for you all to enjoy while banging your head against the wall, but here goes...

We're in line ordering our lunch at Q-doba when other patrons start to line-up behind us. Of course, my pet peeve: the middle aged lady behind me decides she'd like to spoon with me in line.

I HATE THIS! When someone in line gets so close to you, you can feel their breath on your neck, you feel their toes at your heels, you basically feel violated. I try, people, I really do, when this happens I try and handle it like an adult. I usually take a step back, hoping that will make them notice just how close they are to me when I can move a mere millimeter and bump into them. Then, if that doesn't work, I re-adjust my huge mom-bag, swinging it back over my shoulder so it hits them {their own fault since they're so close}. Then, finally, if that doesn't work, I'll turn slowly, make eye contact, smile--but look them up and down all like, um hi...I can count your pores right now.

ALL of the above did not get through to this lady. Finally, I stormed up to Justin {with my new parasite following close behind}, he noticed {and folks, this means something when Justin notices, it does}, and so he said, "Why don't you go pick a spot to sit, honey? I'll take care of paying."

Bless him.

"I can't stand when people invade my personal space!" I said, not not loudly, as I walked off with the kids. {I still had to get that in.}

So now you know: major pet peeve, don't stand too close to me. Especially if we've never met. The only person I let that close to the nape of my neck is my husband and my cat.

I suppose when you live in BOULDER you get used to people being packed in next to you like sardines. Over crowded hippie town...grumble grumble, snark, whine, grumble...huff.
I Dislike Boulder
So we ate our lunch and left. Finally, time to get out of there. Look, I know some people just adore Boulder, but me and Boulder...we don't get along. And that's fine. And I'll avoid going back so that I can avoid these rants in the future. I'm sorry. I'm done.
I Dislike Boulder
From there, we moved the girls into the third-row, just since we can't hear them as well from back there for something different, and headed for the Boulder Canyon. It was lovely! It was a winding, single lane high way into the beautiful Rockies. We saw so many pretty sights. We made it to Nederland, we made it to Blackhawk and Central City, finally to Golden, and back to Denver.
I Dislike Boulder
That moment when you glance in the rear view mirror and...

I Dislike Boulder
...you realize the car seat it tipping over.

I Dislike Boulder
For that lovely, winding drive through the mountains, through two National Forests, we so enjoyed ourselves. It was peaceful up there with gorgeous views.

As soon as we hit the metro area again, the girls cranked up the naughty once more. They whined to go back to the mountains, they cried, they told us they hated us {true story}. They were total brats in the car today. They both got themselves disciplined when we got home.

I blame Boulder.

The bright side--because there is always a bright side--is that they're going to bed early tonight after a long, napless day. Justin and I will stay up and celebrate New Year's with Chinese food {tradition, even though I sort of don't know if I'm up to ordering take-out as I still feel Q-doba-gross} and maybe that bottle of wine.

I Dislike Boulder

Happy New Year's everyone!

Except you, Boulder.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Memories - 2013

Christmas 2013
On December 25, 1987, my family was photographed by a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News and ended up in the paper the next day. Yesterday,  Christmas Eve 26 years later, I took an impromptu trip downtown to the Denver Public Library--their amazing Central location {which is super fancy while also often found crowded with the homeless and police officers}--where I went to the 5th floor and a man who looked very much like Santa helped me use the microfilm machine to find this clip. After searching 1990, 1989, and 1988, I finally found our picture in 1987. Santa printed the page for 10 cents. Except I didn't have 10 cents. How embarrassing. I had just given all my change to one of those bell ringers for the Salvation Army earlier that day. I asked him if he could take a debit card, he said, "Not for ten cents. Just take it and have a Merry Christmas." So I did.
Christmas 2013
Christmas memories are special, precious things. I have lots of them. There is the year my family did a very silly music video to Bob Dylan's Must be Santa. The Christmas I had just found out I was going to have my first baby. The Christmas--Violet's first--where we moved the couch out into the snow for our Christmas card. The Christmas where I was made nauseous again, having recently found out I was expecting what I was sure would be my third daughter--instead, it was my precious Paxton!

Then there are all the childhood memories and the Christmas traditions. Some Christmas memories are bittersweet. The first Christmas without Grandpa Erickson. The first Christmas without Grandma Hartke. The first Christmas without Grandma Erwin. Christmas: a yearly reminder that there is much in life is to be appreciated, be it new babies or grandparents and the memories attached to them.

This Christmas, we might remember fondly that Santa called:

We might remember how Violet's hair briefly caught on fire when she backed into Eisley's candle during the Christmas Eve service at church:
Christmas 2013
We might remember that we got those unicorns we'd been asking for constantly during the past two months.
Christmas 2013
We might remember the joy of Paxton's first Christmas.
Christmas 2013
We may remember that it felt like a part of them were there, as we dined using Grandma Hartke's china and Grandma Erwin's silver.
Christmas 2013
Or maybe we will remember the deliciousness of Justin's crown pork roast! Also, how well it went with the Delmonico potatoes, the parmesan-crusted asparagus, the stuffed mushrooms, and mom's incredible winter salad.
Christmas 2013
I know I will not soon forget the taste of RumChata--this liqueur that my Lutheran friends have been going on and on about {and rightfully so}--especially when we mixed it with the pumpkin pie liqueur that mom brought. Oh. My. Stars.
Christmas 2013
...as well as the maple candied bacon, the port wine cheese, the amazing broccoli dip, the fresh shrimp from Florida...
Christmas 2013
I'm pretty sure we'll remember how--as part of our scaled back Christmas--we enjoyed the one gift a little bit more and felt a lot less stress over gifts, as well as clean up, this year.
Christmas 2013
Of course, we'll remember that Santa still spoiled the children.
Christmas 2013
Because we can never remember every single detail, here is a slideshow of just about every single bit of our Christmas 2013, should you be one of my blog stalkers so inclined:

{Just hover over that there photo of my pecan pie and the magic of Flickr Christmas turns it into a never-ending slideshow. Just stop when you reach the end of Christmas, else you'll be pitched into the abyss of my photo-taking addiction.}

Merry Christmas! I hope you all enjoyed your families and created good memories yesterday. Our Christmas was simple and quiet, but perfect.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

On babies at Christmastime

A couple of weeks ago at church, a sweet elderly lady said, "Isn't it so special to have a new baby around Christmastime?" I agreed with her; I knew exactly what she meant.

It's also been special to me to have been newly pregnant around Christmastime, as I was with both Eisley and Paxton. Unfortunately, as a result I also tend to get a little nauseous when I hear certain Christmas songs or see holiday commercials  Morning sickness has a way of ruining things for you. {If you come carolling and I toss my Christmas cookies, you were warned.}

Yes, I often look stare at my babies or think about my pregnancies in a special way during this time of year. What was it like for Mary to marvel at her darling, precious baby and to know she was looking at the face of God in the flesh?

I think my babies are all pretty special and precious. What mother doesn't? But they're not perfect. They are marvelous, but they are not like baby Jesus.
Today was the third Thursday in the month, which meant I was logged on to my Amazon Vine account at 1 p.m. sharp {when they post the lists, it's like a virtual Black Friday opening at Walmart every time} to pick items to review. My lists to chose from have been sort of boring for the last few months {free diapers and toilet paper are always welcome though, even if you do have to leave a thoughtful review...about toilet paper}, and today I chose a smoke/carbon monoxide detector, a toy for Paxton, and an electric leaf shredder {which has Justin excited, so it wasn't a total loss}.

One additional item I chose from the leftovers list of things nobody wants{which is all books and supplements and the occasional box of feminine products--now that I will NOT ever review} was this book. The title intrigued me. I'm very curious to read what this author has to say. Apparently, he has researched infants and has come to the conclusion that "humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality."

 He goes on, when asked if babies are born good or evil, "Both! We are born with empathy and compassion, the capacity to judge the actions of others, and a rudimentary understanding of justice and fairness. Morality is bred in the bone. But there is a nastier side to our natures as well. There’s a lot of evidence that even the youngest babies carve the world into Us versus Them—and they are strongly biased to favor the Us. We are very tribal beings. Our natures are not just kind; they are also cruel and selfish. We favor those who look like us and are naturally cold-blooded towards strangers."

I'm truly interested to read this book, and I'm approaching it with an open mind, knowing this author isn't trying to make any sort of religious point. The Christian in me, however, can't help but think that this author is possibly inadvertently supporting the Old Adam, sinful by nature, in-need-of-a-savior truth that Christianity maintains.

So, you've found evidence that we are born with a dark side? Well, duh. We've known this since there were only two of us walking the earth. Still, I'm very interested to see what his research says and looking forward to reading it.

I often hear unbelievers point out how awful things were in the Bible {usually in attempt to minimize Biblical arguments when discussing morality with Christians}, they always point to the Old Testament. The Old Testament and all the awful things that went on in our Bible. Of course things were awful! People were damned by the law. There was no Gospel to show us grace. They were waiting for their savior, wondering if God would keep His promise. The Old Testament is important, I believe, because it's a necessary contrast to the New Testament. The Bible, when looked at in it's entirety, points to Christ. The Gospel has little meaning if we cannot see how bad things were without it.

{Basically, that one stand alone verse about slaves or women or whatever in the OT does not make or break the Bible.}

Yes, I do believe we are all born under the disease of sin. All of us were once tiny, seemingly innocent babies in our mother's wombs. There was only one baby who defied human nature--which is inherently sinful--because He was also God. God made man. A humble, tiny little human. I wonder what it was like to be Mary? To hold the one perfect and sinless baby who was ever born? Can you imagine raising a child who never sinned? Did she even need to do much "raising" at all? It's a fascinating thing to think on, as a mother especially.

That's why this time of year has become special to me, even more so since becoming a mother and holding my own tiny babies in my arms. They are precious to me. Curiously, they are even more precious to Him. My sinful nature, and the sinful nature of my babies, does not get me down like one might think. God himself came to us, in the form a tiny baby. We are sinful, but we are also loved so much that our very creator lowered Himself to our depths just to fight for us. He won, our infant King.

So during Christmastime, I like to stare at my babies and think on these things.

I wish you a Merry Christmas. 20131218_21014620131211_15092920131205_194611

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Makeup Philosophy

IMG_20131214_104746 (1)

We are stuck at home today. We were supposed to go out, to get baking supplies to make cookies and fudge for fellowship hour at church tomorrow.

Instead, I woke to the sound of a seal choir this morning and so texted my friend, Jessica: If I buy cookies, can you take over serving for fellowship tomorrow? I have three baking kids...

Whoops! Correction: Lol. Autocorrect. Three barking kids.

I wish I had three baking kids...that sounds like more fun.

They have croup. All three of them. We rarely get sick, but twice now this month {a very mild cold last week}. I  totally blame the Chick-fil-A playground we were at last week. I forgot to grab some of those Purell wipes they always supply, and now--coincidentally? I think not--they're all sick.

With snot hair. It takes me back to my days when I was a children's hairstylist, combing out boogers...but that's a whole other post that you'd probably rather not read. 

The girls have been plopped on the couch all day, barking, sniffling, and watching Toy Story/Mickey Mouse/Little Mermaid. Paxton, bless him, is sleeping it off in his swing. 

Sometimes sick kids--mildly sick, of course--can free up some time for mom and dad: I had time to do my makeup this morning!

Last night, after a long and dirty day, I finally found time to take a shower at 7 p.m. Justin was on his way out the door with the three kids in tow, heading to the grocery store for a few last-minute dinner ingredients. {This is what happens when I don't meal plan: we end up heading the the grocery store every day.} As he kissed me and turned to leave, I looked at myself in the mirror. I cringed at my naked, freshly showered face at first. Then I took another long look at the real me. 

"Dare me to post a photo of myself without makeup?" I asked. 

"I totally dare you!" he said. 

I was surprised to check my phone an hour later to see so many really nice comments from friends--and also from strangers--on Instagram. I'd posted that photo honestly thinking that people would say, "Wow! You look really strange/different without makeup." or "You must wear a lot because you look completely different!" And I was okay with them saying those things, because that's what I think of un-preened me: that strange, beady-eyed, blotchy pink skinned version of myself.

Perhaps sadly, a version of myself that I avoid looking at very often.

Instead, a lot of people said a lot of really nice things. Then I was embarrassed. Justin always says I don't take compliments well and it's true. That's not to say I'm really humble, it's more that I don't know how to respond when people say nice things to me. A simple thank you never seems like enough.

Anyway, I'd expected shock. Why? Because I'm always shocked to see myself without makeup--a testament of how long I've worn it. {I was maybe 12 when I started?} And I realized that how I see me is a lot different from how others see me. Well, duh...

Try as we might, we don't have complete control over how others see us, the assumptions they might make, and what past experiences they carry with them which might skew their view away from what you want them to see.

Years ago, I posted a photo of myself with a goofy expression on this blog. Someone said to me, "Why did you post that ridiculous photo of yourself?" I just laughed, but what I was thinking, honestly, is that I like people to know that I don't take myself too seriously. I did look ridiculous; I found it amusing and I'm okay with poking fun at myself. That's a trait I appreciate in others too, a little self-deprecating humor, it helps lighten the mood.

My personality clashes pretty severely with people who are very serious. {Which, by the way, is exactly what made my philosophy class in college a living hell for me. Not just with my professor, with the entire class. See, class clowns don't do well in philosophy classes. The only thing I really learned in that class was that we shouldn't try to make jokes off of Nietzsche quotes.} I'm glad some people are serious: it's always reassuring to see doctors, lawyers, and--ugh--philosophers with a serious streak--but I don't often get along with them. 

Speaking of school, in beauty school I took a lot of different classes. Coloring and cutting, obviously. Also business, chemistry, sanitation, health {as a result, I have images of fingernail fungi forever burned into my memory}, and even some electrical stuff was covered. As a cosmetology student, I also took skin and nail courses. 

Our makeup teacher was different from all the other instructors at cosmetology school. Her name was Willow, she dressed like a teenager {she was probably in her 30s}, and she had a platinum blonde pixie cut. She sat on the teacher's desk, Indian-style, and talked to us like we were all girlfriends at a sleepover. We'd paint our nails and do each other's makeup while Willow pranced around the room being nice to everyone {I say that because it's a rare thing in cosmetology school}. 

She taught us some basics for makeup application, but she also stressed to us that when it comes to beauty, there is no right or wrong. 

"Your face and your makeup are your story, and you can tell any story you want to with it," she said. "There are really no rules when it comes to makeup. It's how we express ourselves."

{She said a lot of things like that. Now, I can handle a little bit of beauty school philosophy.}

As schmaltzy as that sounds, I really do agree with it. We all get to choose how to present ourselves to the world. As strange as it is for me to look at the side-by-side photo of myself before and after makeup, I'm completely accepting of it, really. This is who I am and this is how I choose to "tell my story". I really don't care if others don't like it. So when people replied to my post by saying, "You don't need makeup!" I was truly flattered, but I didn't care if they thought I looked better that way or not. I like wearing makeup. I will probably always wear makeup. 

I like my eyes lined and defined. I like my skin tone evened. I like my under-eye brightener, even if I do go overboard with it some days. I also like my fresh face too, I've decided. 

"Makeup isn't about creating beauty. It's about enhancing your natural beauty," Willow would say. "You can enhance as much or as little as you like."

She was a trip. But I do agree with what she said. 

Sometimes I see other women and I start to judge their appearance. She should wear a little more makeup, I might catch myself thinking. Or sometimes, it's the opposite, Wow, is that much makeup really necessary? or Why in the world would you want rainbow-striped hair?

Then I remind myself of Willow's words, they are telling their story. I am telling mine. I am glad we are not the same. 

Oh, I sometimes I feel a pang of jealousy when I see beautiful women who wear little or no makeup. How easy their morning routine must be! Sometimes I have women say to me, "Wow, I love your bright green eye-shadow. I wish I could pull that off, but it looks ridiculous when I try bright colors!"

That's what I've realized: I feel ridiculous without all my makeup, and some women feel ridiculous wearing makeup like I do, or as much as I do. It's more than just how we're used to seeing ourselves, I think. I think it's because--as corny as this sounds, do forgive me--it's not my story. Just as bright green eye-shadow might not be a part of your story. We each have our own story, we present ourselves as we wish to, and throughout life we might continue to morph. 

Last year, for example, I put a pink streak in my hair. My mom hated it, but I was able to check "pink hair" off my bucket list. {I might cross it off again someday, mom. Just a warning.}

In fact, while I was writing this very post, Miss Violet approached me with a little bit of her story written all over her face. She loves my makeup, and gets into it whenever she can. {Because of threats from my husband, I will be discouraging her from wearing it until she is a teenager.} For a two-year-old, you have to admit, she's already pretty good with a mascara wand.


Now, I can't believe I just wrote a post this size about how I feel about makeup. Is this really any better than a post about the strange and gross things I've combed out of children's hair? Let's ask Nietzsche! He said if my post didn't kill you, then it only made you stronger.





Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent by Candlelight

Advent by Candlelight
When my pastor's wife told me about this "Advent by Candlelight" service tradition that goes on at some churches, I was immediately all game. Basically, it's a ladies' service at church where each table has a hostess who invites her own guests, and the hostess provides decor and dessert for those guests. Not only is it a great fellowship and outreach event, it is also a creative outlet. So when our church decided to try holding Advent by Candlelight this year, I was excited to think of a way to decorate my table.
Advent by Candlelight
Of course I toyed with a lot of ideas--classic Christmas, vintage Christmas, woodland Christmas--I finally settled on a sugar land Christmas. This is how, my friends, I ended up with the ridiculously pink table in a collection of classic red, green, and gold tables. Oh well. It might have been over the top, but I had fun doing it!Advent by Candlelight
I used some of my jadite bowls to hold vintage ornaments and cookie cutters. Some of the yard and felt decor was from Hobby Lobby. I used a pink tablecloth and a candy cane striped runner.
Advent by Candlelight
I was worried about having enough decor for my table, though in the end I think I almost had too much.
Advent by Candlelight
At the last minute, I remembered it was called Advent by Candlelight for a reason. My table needed candles. I figured some of these vintage metal Jell-O molds would work for cute tea lights.
Advent by Candlelight
I made this chocolate raspberry torte for a dessert for my table. It was very rich! I served small slices and nut cups.
Advent by Candlelight
I had also been concerned that no one would sit at my table, but I had the perfect turnout. Every spot was taken with a seat left for me. I was also really happy that Justin was able to drive down to Castle Rock to pick up his grandmother to join us. She is at a retirement home and doesn't get out much, and I think having a home-made dessert made her day.
Advent by Candlelight
There was live music, handbells, Advent themed skits, and devotions. Prayer and fellowship. The sweetest part was that men from our congregation provided the music and served drinks to all the ladies for the event. There is talk of making this an annual thing and I sincerely hope it is.

I also made an ornament for each guest at my table to take home.
Advent by Candlelight
So that was my candy land table for Advent by Candlelight. You can see other photos from the event as well as some of the other tables here at my Flickr page, if you like.
Advent by Candlelight

Oh, and that chocolate rasperry torte? You can make one too! I've posted a detailed tutorial over at Lark & Lola.

Chocolate Raspberry Torte


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013
I'm a little behind on the Halloween post this year. As we prepare for tonight's Advent service at church, it feels almost unholy to be posting about Halloween. 

But my blog is like a scrapbook for our family, and I can't not post what Halloween looked like for our family this year!
Our family - Halloween 2013
Party of five on Halloween night!

My Eisley wanted to be a doctor, of all things. She is such a funny kid. I have no idea where she got that idea but she talked about it for months. Violet--despite being our little bruiser--loves all things girly. So she wanted to be a princess. 
The girls and me on Halloween night
I didn't make their costumes this year. Despite telling myself I'd always make their costumes--as a craft-loving stay-at-home-mom I just thought I should--this year I just couldn't get to it. Eisley's costume was an easy white lab coat + a $5 stethoscope off Amazon {she wanted the real thing, not a cheap toy} and I made her cute little badge. Violet picked this dress by a company that specializes in soft, washable costumes {and it IS soft and good quality for kiddie dress-up clothes}. I was going to buy her a nice tiara from Hobby Lobby's wedding section, but when she saw a paper crown I crafted a long time ago, she insisted on wearing that. I was so happy she liked it!

I took this photo of Paxton in his cute skeleton outfit...
I did NOT photoshop that picture! I downloaded it off my cell phone that way. Isn't that funny? Do you see it? If not, take another look.
Something strange about that photo.

This one is better:
Mr. Pax & Me
I take a lot of photos of this kid, have you noticed? Of course you have.
Here's one of us, together, judging you:
One day in late October, we came home to find we had been booed!
We've been booed!
There was a bag for the kids and a bag for me. I didn't get a photo of the kids' treats before they ripped into the goodies.
But here's a shot of what was in my Boo Bag:
Inside the Boo! bag 
In case you don't know already, this is all from my mom. She booed us. As you can see, she went overboard. All so cute! But wow. My mom's love language is totally gift giving. She loves putting goodie bags together. If we have my parents over for dinner, she usually comes with a "hostess goodie bag" for me. If we go to their house for dinner, then there is usually some sort of "guest goodie bag". 

Oh mom! You spoil us. 
And thank you!
She included some of her amazing handmade soaps. They smell incredible too, apple cinnamon or something. They're black because have charcoal in them, which helps remove toxins from your body, no joke. The "Vampire Repellent"--haha--is dried garlic.

This Halloween I found a new favorite pumpkin beer. Random, but true.
Speaking of my mom, every year her work holds a huge trick or treat event for all the employees and their families. It's quite the event. Every department decorates and has their own theme. My mom's department had a graveyard theme this year. Some departments had Monsters Inc., one had a Disneyland theme, Alice in Wonderland, and these people go ALL out. Each department has tons of trick or treat stations, and they give out handfuls of candy. It's all over-the-top. In the lobby there was a bounce house this year, a free hot dog dinner station, and just too much to take in. 
Trick or treat with Grandma
Mom did a really good job decorating her office.
My mom's Hallowen office
She decorated every corner. 
Mom's office decor
And put up some crafts made by yours truly!
My crafts in mom's office
Next year, we've realized--instead of buying our own candy to give out--we just need to save the candy we get from mom's work to give out. 
{It was SO. MUCH. CANDY!}
Trick or treating at Grandma's work
Halloween candy is so expensive, don't you think?
It looks good in Pyrex though.
Candy bowl 
On Halloween, it has become a tradition for a few years now to have my parents over to watch the door while we trick or treat. Then we have pumpkin soup after we get back home, cold and hungry for real food. 
Table settings for Halloween
So I set the table before we headed out. 

I carved all these pumpkins myself--they are all pumpkins from our church garden.
{Sadly we didn't get as many pumpkins as we'd hoped, as our pumpkin patch got a fungus that killed them prematurely. Oh well, next year we know to treat the fungus!}
Our porch
Time to trick or treat! 
The girls in costume
Here's a close-up of Eisley's doctor badge that I made to complete her look.
She loved it. Still wears it.  
Dr. Eisley's badge
I know I say this every year, but our neighborhood is seriously the best to trick or treat in. 
Our neighborhoodHalloween night
Something about Halloween in our neighborhood is just wonderful. I think it's a combination of the wide sidewalks, the cathedral streets with old trees, the old homes...

Like this creepy Victorian home down the street. They go all out every year. 
Scary house
This year their display included two coffins, a spinning head in a mad scientist's laboratory on the porch, and this spider...
Scary spider
...who jumped at you when you walked by! Ick. 
Spider jump
With our bags full of candy, it was time to head home...
Time to head home
...for some spicy pumpkin soup. Yum!
Pumpkin soup
And that was what Halloween 2013 looked like for us.
Jack O Lanterns

Now, time to go get ready for Advent!

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