Tuesday, October 31, 2017


If you've been reading this blog for more than a year, you know that we don't celebrate Halloween in the traditional manner. We don't have neighbors to speak of, so going door to door for candy is a hassle. A few years ago, together with the Farmboy's sister and her family, we started a new tradition that has made our kids completely over-the-moon-happy.

It starts as you would expect, with costumes.

If I thought my girl's costume choice was great last year, then this year was the most incredible, proud-Mom worthy costume of all time. Laura Ingalls, complete with braids, a basket for gathering eggs, and some old school books. Be still my beating heart. The eleven year old couldn't decide on a specific character, but fell in love with a couple of plastic things from Goodwill, and therefore became Gladiator Warrior Guy.

And that is where the similarities to a traditional Halloween celebration stop. This being our Fifth Annual Halloween Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt and Pinata Party, it now feels totally normal and we have to remind ourselves that this isn't the way it's supposed to be. But we shrug our shoulders and carry on, because our way is amazing and fun and memorable in all the best ways. I hope my kids carry on with this tradition when they have kids, because that would be a true parenting success. :D

Gladiator Warrior Guy and Laura Ingalls were happy to find Pokemon Storm Trooper and Fashion Diva at their Aunt and Uncle's house when we arrived. The weather wasn't rainy for the first time in a couple of years, so the egg hunt ranged all over the dark yard, with the pinata strike zone safely held under the porch roof where there was plenty of light and a concrete floor for easy scooping up of candy.

But the highlight this year was probably the addition of watching Thriller. What we thought was a music video, the one we remember from our teen years, was actually the full version, including a young Michael transforming into a werewolf, much to the horror of our poor children, who thought we were intentionally giving them nightmares. I don't think I've laughed that hard in a really, really long time.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Anniversary Tree 2017

This tradition has been going on in our front yard since 1999. Click here to see the progression of changes in our little family (and yard and pets) over that time.

The Rest of October

When we left for vacation, our Oregon world was still very unseasonably green, but when we returned, it was in a blaze of Autumn glory. The pumpkin patch awaited, the air had turned crisp, even the angle of light seemed to have shifted. Fall at last.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Our California Adventure

Five years ago we said that we'd return in two. Life got in the way, but this October, we finally made another family trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. This time with kids old enough to not fall asleep multiple times during the day, with kids tall enough to go on every single ride (with the exception of a few at Universal Studios), with kids who's brains are developed enough that they will actually remember this vacation for the rest of their lives.

If I were to tell you everything that happened in detail, I'd bore you to tears, so I'll instead focus on the things that are still resonating with me as I type this post.

The feeling of puffy eyes from lack of sleep, coupled with excitement and energy for a new day of fun; tired and wired, but in a good way.

Meeting several Uber drivers, all with different cultures and stories to tell, all with kind and compassionate hearts for mankind.

The feeling of euphoria as my body was unpredictably rocketed up and plummeted down over and over on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

Standing in lines, holding my kids hands, laughing and joking together because there is nothing else to do. Counting all of the different styles of Minnie and Micky Mouse ears worn by people. Laughing about the things the people were wearing there, on that one place on earth where it seemed totally normal, but elsewhere would certainly draw incredulous stares.

Multiple times through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Multiple times Soarin' Around the World, going on Star Tours, on Grizzly River Run, and Radiator Springs Racers. All favorites, all on repeat, and each time still laughing and yelling and letting go of normal life stress.

That feeling of being at the front of the car, heading over Splash Mountain, knowing I was going to get soaked, and laughing for the next hour about just how soaked I really did get (thank goodness it was hot outside or else I would have caught a chill).

The feeling of triumph each time I was able to secure a FastPass using the Disney app, heading straight to the front of lines that we knew people would be waiting in for 1-2 hours, but getting on the ride in less than 20 minutes; I was Master of the FastPass!

Being with the three very best people in the entire world for days on end, even sleeping in the same room, and still not getting tired of any of them.

Walking into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and wishing it wasn't nearly 100 degrees outside so that I could truly enjoy the amazing spectacle (seriously close to heat exhaustion that day; too much concrete and not enough shade; Disney is much better suited for hot weather). All of the buildings and props and costumes were amazing in their attention to detail.

That person at the end of the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios that raced to the railing to hand us some tissue to help stop a nosebleed. Bless that kind soul; the littlest's nose was at just the wrong height and bashed into the crash bar. I couldn't find her to say thank you afterward, but her kindness was just what we all needed at that moment.

Blessed shade and fabulous entertainment at the Water World show at Universal Studios (totally need to watch that movie again).

The lone gardener on our last day at Disneyland, quietly tending his beautiful flower bed in the midst of crowds and chaos.

So much money spent on bottled water because California city water tastes like poison.

Walking through bubble clouds being sent into the air by happy pre-schoolers and toddlers and grandmas, churro cinnamon and cotton candy scents wafting through the air.

Conversation with a lovely couple while waiting in line at the Disney Main Street Starbucks.

Reaching 21,000 steps in one single day. But having good shoes, and therefore only having minimal foot soreness (so much love for Keen walking shoes).

My kids choosing light sabers as their souvenir of choice. Even though it was exactly the same thing they chose five years ago. Or maybe because it was the thing that they chose five years ago.

Knowing that when the California adventure came to an end, that there was still a few days in Arizona to look forward to.