Halloween Fun (Was Had)

Posted in family fun, holidays on November 10th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s officially mid-November already, and Halloween is over.  Because Halloween is one of our family’s favorite holidays, we try to take advantage of doing every Halloween-related activity we can, which often stretches the season.  We began on the Tuesday before Halloween at the mall.  They held a weather-proof (good thing too, the weather on Tuesday was so awful our tornado sirens were activated) trick-or-treat event in the mall, with costumed kids going from store to store receiving candy.  Our kids had a blast, and our little guy got the hang of trick-or-treating REALLY quickly!  He would receive his candy, and his way of saying ‘thank you’ was to give a little wave – it was adorable – see for yourself!  He’s the one in the Blue’s Clues costume:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

At first he was afraid of some of the scary masks, but he was quickly over that too.  The rest of the week stayed relatively Halloween-free, until Friday, when we had planned a Halloween-themed game night.  We requested guests to wear costumes (any excuse to dress up in a costume for Halloween – I really like to participate as much as I can!!), and we had quite a variety: from an escaped inmate (Hubby) to Flo the Progressive Insurance nurse, a nerd, a couple of hippies, a professor, a zookeeper on safari (me) – even a few members of the “real” Mafia made an appearance (we frequently play a game called ‘Mafia’ at game night and it’s tons of fun!  A few of the regular game nighters decided to dress up as Mafia as a shout-out to the game).  Fun was had, and we were able to rest up for Saturday, which was the annual community Halloween party.  My kids loved the hayride, complete with monsters that jump out of the brush and chase the wagon, and we rode 3 times.  There are all kinds of things to do at the community party, and it’s all free: from gourmet slushes (best wild berry slush ever!), cotton candy, hot dogs, and popcorn to carnival games, bouncy castles, and a maze for the kids, it’s all so much fun!

After that was time for Trick or Treating, and we had fun even if Hubby wasn’t feeling so well (he is better now – thanks for your thoughts and prayers!).  Let’s see…  don’t think I mentioned the kids’ costumes: my oldest (almost 11 already!) was a cowgirl, 6-year-old Sammie was a princess, 4-year-old Disney was a witch at the mall who switched to Dora for Saturdays’ events, and 2-year-old Christopher was Blue from Blue’s Clues.  We had fun Trick or Treating, and Hubby and I chose an old favorite movie of ours to watch afterward: The Uninvited – not totally scary (we usually try to watch a scary movie together on Halloween), but we both felt like a great thriller more than a horror movie this year.  Here is my little boy dressed as Blue:

Sunday saw church, and we had a blast in Sunday school as usual – except that poor Hubby had to stay home.  Also, we were very tired on Saturday after trick or treating, so we didn’t get a chance to get our annual picture of the kids in their costumes sitting on the couch.  But we got one of all 4 of them in the mall, so here it is:

Overall, a very fun 2010 Halloween, one that I can’t believe came and went so quickly – SO quickly in fact, that it’s already been over for weeks!  Unbelievable!!  Hope your Halloween was safe, fun, and happy, and that your Thanksgiving will be the same!!

Fun On The Farm

Posted in family fun on October 4th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I think most people have fond memories of visiting a special family fun place in the fall.  The pumpkin farms that my husband and I grew up going to are much different now – his has closed down, and mine has expanded beyond the family-owned small operation into a little carnival of sorts; I visited a few years ago.  It was fun, but not the same.  We’ve since moved away from the place of our youth, and we are happy to have found a fun place in NW Ohio to make memories with our own kids: Leader’s Family Farms.

Leader’s has something for every age group: 2 haunted attractions for the older crowd, and for the family: mini-golf, a petting zoo (complete with exotics –  more on that later!), hayrides, a hay maze, slides, chicken coop shooting, and a corn maze.  For the little ones, there are bouncy castles, a moo-train, a hay-climber with tunnel, and a corn box.  The under 5 kids area is really fun, and it’s all free!  My 2-year-old and my 3-year-old had a blast over there for hours, even if my son came home with a diaper full of corn – it was worth it!  Actually, he still had corn coming out of his coat the next morning at church but again, it was well worth it!  Here is a video of him playing in the corn box in case you’re wondering what I’m talking about.  The video pans to the rest of my kids, and finishes with my 3-year-old crawling through the little kids’ tunnel:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

My husband took my two oldest girls and their friend into the haunted corn maze.  This was a big deal because this thing is SCARY!  It is the best (read: scariest) haunted house in the area, and my daughter’s friend wanted to go in it, so we convinced our daughter to go as well (they’re both 10).  Thrill-seeker little sis (age 6) really wanted to check it out, so she went too.  They might have been REALLY scared, but they all made it out, and no one cried or tried to back out at the last minute!  I wish I could have seen them in there, but the little ones were WAY too young for something like that, so I stayed out with them.  I didn’t mind too much since the exotic petting zoo was free – I hung out there for the hour and a half or so that it took my family to get through the haunted house.  They had goats, sheep, alpacas, a teeny-tiny little pig, a camel (just a fuzzy baby, not his full height even though he was taller than I…  I was wondering how old he was, and I found out he shares a February birthday with a fellow tangenteer…), and some kangaroos.  They also had some other baby animals (a fox for one) and some parrots, but they could not bring them out because the weather was terrible – windy, cold, and rainy.  But I got to pet some kangaroos and even feed them – I think it was the first time I’ve ever touched a kangaroo!  They were good-tempered, soft, and really interesting to see up close and personal.   I  think the petting zoo people got sick of me, and I would have hung out more by the country band which I also liked, except that the weather was so terrible that it was hard to even enjoy the band – we all just wanted to  stay out of the wind and rain.  Look how little this pig is:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

And here is more of the kangaroos and of the camel:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

The hayride goes out way back into the forest, and luckily we rode it in between rain showers.  The tractor even drove through a small creek bed that was partially filled – it looked like we were going to get stuck in the water:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

My kids all liked it, even if there were some concerns about tipping on the steep hills going down into the forest – but we didn’t tip.  I can’t wait to take my  son on the hayride in our town in a few weeks -there are spooks that jump out from behind the trees there, and given his fascination with monsters lately, I know he’ll have a blast!  I brought out the Halloween costumes last night for the kids to pick through to find what they’re going to be for Halloween, and my son found a Friday the 13th Jason hockey mask and insisted on going to bed with  it.  😉

I must also add that Leader’s is a family-owned farm; we struck up several  conversations with the owners,  and they are extremely nice and caring for their customers.  The farm opened a little late when we visited because of  the rain, so they gave us free passes to come back again – as busy as our Octobers are (this one being no exception), I think going back to Leader’s when the weather is better is a MUST!!  By the way, I was this close to taking home a straggler from the petting zoo.  Only time will tell if I am able to resist next time we visit…  😉

My men on the hayride:

And my girls…  note the beautiful NW Ohio countryside in the background.  The scenery will only get better as the leaves change a little more and the sun comes out:

A Not-So-Perfect End To A Perfect Day

Posted in holidays on November 1st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WHEW!  I have to admit that we totally overdid it on Halloween, but in a good way – at one point in the evening, my 5-year-old said “how many parties are we going to?!?  We threw a Halloween-themed game night on Friday, complete with things like spider venom, truth serum, and rat vomit for drinks and snacks.  Most guests wore costumes, and there was a wide collection of characters, from witches to fishes to Star Wars characters and a vampire – we even had a gay construction worker!  Fun was had, but as usual, we stayed up too late and failed to rest up for our huge day ahead –  HALLOWEEN!

We began Saturday by making the rats costumes and taking them to the pet store for a costume contest.  No word yet how they placed in the contest, but Bobby Jack dressed as a zebra while Oreo was a Pink Lady from Grease – the kids had a blast!  We took  the rats home and headed out to the ice rink for the annual community Halloween party – one of my favorite things about living here.  We get there right when it opens and head straight for the hayride, where we are driven around the huge park.  Occasionally, creepy creatures run from hideouts among the trees and chase the wagon!  Not as many people were in line this year, so we got to ride the hayride twice, and then the kids tried some of the games, the maze, and the bouncy castles, while Mom and Dad chatted with long-lost friends and sipped slushies and hot chocolate (everything at this party is free and donated by local businesses and organizations!)  We got our hot dogs to go this year, and they told us to take a huge pumpkin home – we still have to carve our pumpkins, so we were more than happy to get one more!

We were able to rest for about an hour, then it was time for trick-or-treating.  We moved into our neighborhood 3 years ago, and we learned the first year that it’s not good for trick-or-treating.  We love where we live, but come Halloween, it seems like many neighbors aren’t home, so we’d have to make the kids walk blocks for only a few houses with porch lights on.  So we drive across town and trick-or-treat in a friendly neighborhood where some friends live, and we started with  their house.  Our little guy dressed as Barney, Disney was Dora the Explorer, Sammie was a princess, and Taylor was a bloody prom girl.

Halloween 09

Oh wait, you need to see Barney with his tail 😉

Halloween 09 (5)

I absolutely love Halloween – of course I think my own kids were the cutest, but I  love seeing all the kids dressed up.  An honorable mention goes to the 4 teenage boys who were dressed as the Teletubbies – my 3-year-old daughter was asking where the Teletubbies were all night, but we never did catch up to them…

Halloween 09 (15)

We took in quite a haul with the 4 kids, and after the second house, our 15½-month-old had the hang of taking candy from strangers.  Ok, that sounds really bad, but Halloween is a unique event, he was allowed, and it was really cute!  We got in the car after we were done trick-or-treating and headed over to a party at our friends’ church.  The kids had a blast there as always, and we made out like bandits in the raffle!  Years of not winning anything we entered apparently caught up with us on Halloween night because a few bucks in raffle tickets won us 2 value meals at Burger King and 3 really cool brand new toys for the kids!

But here is where things start to change from perfect to overwhelming – at the church we ran into my Kindergartner’s friend Hannah from preschool.  This child has many medical issues, and she’s been in and out of the hospital her entire life for brain surgeries.  Her mother was telling us how she doesn’t like her preschool anymore and how she’s been depressed because she doesn’t have any friends.  So who could possible tell this little girl “no” when she asked if she could come sleep over again?  Certainly not us, no matter how exhausted we were from the weekend’s activities…

After the church, we headed over to the community theater where they were having a Wizard of Oz party.  I  was completely exhausted, and we had to hurry home to meet up with my daughter’s little friend, but I really enjoyed the Wizard of Oz party during the short time we were there.  They did an AWESOME job with the decorations, and there were so many neat Oz-themed games and activities – even a yellow brick road! -that I will forgive the inclusion of some things from Wicked.  I guess I should say for any readers who don’t know – I’m a huge Wizard of Oz fan, but it’s the movie that I really enjoy.  I don’t remember the book much, and what I’ve seen of Wicked did not impress me, to say the least, but that’s another blog post altogether…

So FINALLY we get home, and Hannah is waiting for us.  At this point, I was SO incredibly tired, not to mention my car full of garbage, pieces of costume, and spilled candy.  All I wanted to do was end Halloween my favorite way –  watching a scary movie with Hubby.  So we got the kids (all SIX of them, since two daughters had friends over) as settled as was humanly possible after I-don’t-even-want-to-think-about how much candy and were about to  start our movie when Hannah comes down the stairs.  We sent her back up, and checked email and basically killed some time until we felt confident we could start a movie without any kids coming downstairs or calling for us.  Well, that never happened.  Somehow, we had forgotten that Hannah is a friend who is very needy and also one who outright REFUSES to go to bed.  We started the movie anyway, and we only had to interrupt it like 5 times (a late 80’s thriller called I,Madman – both hubby and I recommend it!).  But Hannah began one of her many descents down the stairs right during a climatic moment in the movie, which made my husband jump a mile high, which in turn made my heart stop and stomach drop.  And that was when I  knew I wouldn’t be falling asleep for hours.  Hannah finally fell asleep when there was only 15 minutes left in the movie, but she outlasted every one of the other kids, and by then, it was 2 am!  I guess you could say I put my extra daylight savings hour to good use; I think it’s the only hour of sleep I got!  I had trouble falling asleep, then I had terrible nightmares all night and kept waking up –  one was about Hannah; I’m not even kidding!  I woke up early to the sounds of kids playing and couldn’t fall back asleep.  So here we are, the Sunday after Halloween, dead tired with a messy Halloween-themed house and a trashed car.  But at least our house once again contains only the 4 kids who live here, and the main trouble-maker has been sacked out all day – told you we overdid it!

Hope you had a GREAT Halloween!!!

A Twisted Episode of Survivor

Posted in Kids, Travel on September 29th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had a wonderful weekend.  It all started with another visit to a haunted house on Friday night.  Although I enjoyed my previous haunted house experience at Ghostly Manor earlier this year, I just wasn’t feeling the Halloween vibe enough to subject myself to scariness – I didn’t sleep well the night before and little sleep makes me feel claustrophobic – weird.  But anyway, the haunted house was actually a haunted corn maze and they had other things to do at the farm, so I enjoyed myself immensely hanging out with my kids and the coolest teenager I know.  There is just something about farms that make me feel an inner peace; something that was illustrated again during the weekend – more on that in my next post.

Literally a cornfield in the middle of nowhere, Leader’s Family Farms has things to do to keep all ages entertained.  There were even a few things we didn’t even get a chance to try after spending so much time being lost in the corn maze.  Next time I will have to check out the hayride and the coop shoot – I have a special affinity for hayrides because they remind me of the week-long vacations to a dude ranch I took with my family as a kid.  But one thing about Leader’s that really impressed me was their ability to make appealing and fun attractions without the large budget or the mechanical reliance that a major theme park would have.  The “Barnyard” or family area had several things for the kids to play with: bouncy castles, a zip line, haystacks to climb on, a hay maze, slides – all physical activities which would guarrantee kids’ exhaustion giving the parents some “mommy-daddy time” at the end of the evening – the problem is everything was physical for Mommy and Daddy too, and like the DJ noted, “I don’t know who is getting tired out more – the parents or the kids!”  But that illustrates my point about the ability to entertain every age group without spending big bucks – and that is true for both the patron and the establishment.  Actually, let me back up for a minute and go off on a tangent – the purpose of the site, right?  🙂  Why do they call it a hayride when you’re actually sitting on straw?  I learned from a display at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo that hay is green and made from grass.  Straw is yellow and made from wheat.  So the kids were climbing on straw stacks, they played in a straw maze, and people were enjoying straw rides…  doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as hayrides, I guess…

But back to Leader’s – they had a DJ, who hosted Karaoke and played wedding-style audience-interactive songs like Hokey-Pokey, The Chicken Dance, YMCA, and Shout.  I was trying to teach Disney (my almost 2 year old) the YMCA, but she only liked the part where we clapped.  Maybe next time we will get down on the dance floor – this time my other girls were too shy and tired was I.  My insanely brave (or psychotic, depending upon who you ask) 4-year-old Sammie was intent on going into the haunted house, and my husband was actually going to take her in, but before she could even enter, she was frightened away from the experience by the scary music alone.  We got a cell phone call just as we were entering the corn maze, and so we retreived Sammie and let her enjoy the experience of the corn maze, which ended up being what I would describe as a twisted game of Survivor.  Take 4 kids, all under the age of 9, into a corn maze and wander around in the dark for over an hour.  No bathrooms, no snacks, and you only have enough stroller for two of them, so the other two have to walk.  It was fun, but also quite an experience.  I would love to go back and explore the maze – without kids though.  And when I got home, I looked at an aerial photo of the thing, and now it all makes more sense.  Here is where I spent my Friday night:

You enter at the small white building at the bottom of the picture and go left.  Where we really started losing it was around the back tire and the spoiler of the race car.  You can see how many forks and circles there are in the paths in that area.  And again, while in the thing, I had no idea what it looked like because I didn’t think to check a map before going in.  I would also bring a flashlight next time; well, maybe not if I didn’t have kids to worry about.  We were using our cell phones for light, but then the other half of our group who went into the haunted house called to see where we were and when I said I didn’t know, the cell phone lost service – adding to the stranded feeling we were experiencing.  I must have stashed my cell phone on top of the stroller really quick because my daughter had turned backwards in her seat and was falling out, so after I fixed her, I frantically searched for the cell phone with no luck – apparently it had fallen off the stroller in the corn maze.  So when we finally got out, I had to tell the staff that I lost my cell phone in there.  As they laughed at me, they asked if it was on vibrate or silence mode – “Of course it is!”  I said, because it would have been too easy to find it otherwise, and let’s face it – a lost cell phone in a corn maze wouldn’t be funny if you could call it and hear it ring.  So a small black silent cell phone lost in a corn maze in the dark?  Forget it.  They did call me the next day though, saying that they did eventually find it, probably with the light of day.  Well, anyway, the corn maze with 4 little children in the dark was quite an experience.  Not horrible, but not recommended…  quite an experience – I can only describe it as having felt like I came through an ordeal after we got out…  it was kind of like being stranded in the wilderness, not knowing when rescue would arrive.  Sure, there are “corn cops” and all you have to do is yell, but I don’t know how they’d hear you and I honestly didn’t want to be the group that yelled for help.  We did it on our own, and for that, we got the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Well, I’ve rambled about that long enough…  I had fun.  I loved the serenity of the farm at night, and it was a beautiful night weather-wise.  It was cool but not cold, and being in rural Ohio meant that we were navigating the maze under a canopy of thousands of stars…  I would love to go back and explore the maze without worrying about the kids being hungry, thirsty, having sore feet or having to go to the bathroom.  And someone remind me that if I have any more kids, a corn maze is NOT a good activity for a pregnant woman – too much walking and not enough bathrooms.  This post is so lengthy I’ll have to save our alpaca farm adventure for the next post…  stay tuned!