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:

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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!!

Furry Babies Sucks!!!

Posted in animals, Pets, Travel on July 2nd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We began our trip to Chicago last Saturday, and the 3-state, 4-kid, mini-van trip went pretty smoothly.  At some point, we achieved the quadruple-kid-pass-out which is never anything short of a great thing!

We arrived at our hotel in Naperville, Illinois on Saturday afternoon, and we decided to take the girls swimming in the outdoor pool which was really refreshing on an 80°+ day.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been swimming outdoors, and it was nice of my mom to meet us there for a swim instead of us driving the girls to her house for their week of fun with Grandma.  After the girls left with her, we wanted to meet with a friend, but we were staying in the west ‘burbs rather than the north ‘burbs this time.  Both parties had just endured long car rides, so we settled on a halfway point – a mall in the west ‘burbs.  Not really knowing what to plan on doing, we ended up finding such a great parking space at the mall that we just ended up going in to bumble.  And it was fun!  Partly because I haven’t been in a real mall for years, so it was really interesting to see the different techniques that have evolved to try and entice shoppers to buy and visit…  But I also enjoyed my mall visit because of the company we were keeping; it was nice to chat and catch up.  And as you might have read in derek’s blog, we happened upon a glow-in-the-dark indoor mini-golf course that was less than a week old!  It had 56 holes, but I don’t think I could ever play that much mini-golf at once, so we stuck with the traditional 18 holes.  I guess I should add in that I won the round and also had a lucky day with two holes-in-1 😉  And I must comment on how good the baby was – he just sat in the shopping cart and watched the glow-in-the-dark golf balls throughout ALL 18 holes!  There were these small contraptions sprinkled throughout the golfing space – you put your ball in, and it rolls around and comes out glowing brighter – those were fun!  And it was fun to see the mall again.  It wasn’t the same mall I hung out in all the time as a teenager, but I had still been to this one a lot growing up, and it was neat to see how much (or how little, compared to most things in the area) it had changed over the past decade and a half.  That reminds me, speaking of change…  when we arrived in Chicago, err Naperville on Saturday, we took the Naperville Road exit off of I-88 which is an area with which I am used to be very familiar.  Back in the day (did I really just say that?), I would commute through that same intersection to work and back every single day, yuck…  but apparently they’ve completely re-done the entire area in the past few years because the intersection was unrecognizable.  I mean, they added new roads and everything – it was the most bizarre feeling, it felt like I had gotten dropped into the middle of the twilight zone.  We exited I-88, and all of a sudden, we were on Freedom Drive.  Where now?  Freedom Drive?  I had literally never heard of Freedom Drive, they created the street from scratch and plopped it down into this area where I worked and played so many years ago.  As much as I thought I knew where we were going, Jill the GPS was actually quite helpful during this twilight zone adventure, and she got us to our hotel, even though I knew where it was –  WAS being the key word here.  But back to the mall…  we bumbled around some more after getting some pretzel dogs (yummier in Chicagoland, of course, what isn’t?) at the food court.  I heard some lady talking on a cell phone about the “puppy store”, and sure enough, we happened across it.  I’m an animal lover, so I love to see and visit with animals, but I think a side effect of my tenderness toward animals is my loathing of pet stores.  And the pet store in the Stratford Mall in Bloomingdale Illinois is just about the worst I’ve ever seen.  It’s no secret that many of the major chains of pet stores get their “wares” from puppy mills; ie dog breeding facilities with cramped quarters, little food, and animal abuse.  The huge chain famous for bad press, Petland, just closed a bunch of stores, which I believe is a good thing for dogs and dog lovers everywhere.  I strongly believe that people should adopt animals, namely dogs and cats, from humane societies and other animal shelters.  There are so  many homeless pets, so how can it be justified to buy a puppy who is bred for selling when there are so many others bred accidentally who are also looking for love?  I strongly support spay/neuter programs as well, fyi…
So anyway, the new pet store at the mall is called “Furry Babies”.  Their website calls it an “upscale puppy boutique, not just a pet store”, but I call it disgusting.  The puppies were in cribs, for goodness sakes, and along the walls they had a large variety of dog clothes for sale, no doubt at prices that I wouldn’t pay to clothe my human kids.  We inquired about one particular puppy, who was cute but looked to be slightly cross-eyed.  We found out that she was a “designer dog” –  they pretend like they meant to mix two breeds together (in this case a golden retriever and a poodle, thus giving us a “Goldendoodle”), but where I come from (the reality land of logic), we would call it a “mutt”.  And mutts tend to be better with kids, live longer, and are cheaper than purebreds – at least they were until  a few years ago.  Now mutts are these “designer dogs” and they cost a lot of money – in the case of the furry baby Goldendoodle – a cool $1600.  I cannot denounce this place loud enough!  I  also don’t want to spend a ton of time going off about animal welfare nor lose readers by getting political.  This just happens to be an issue I feel strongly about, and I plead that if you are in the market for a family pet, you consider adopting your animal companion from a shelter and also realize that you are entering into  a life-long committment!  That being said, Furry Babies sucks, but the good news is that I can’t see them lasting that long.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the employees wear mock scrubs, in order to imitate delivery room nurses, I guess, which  to me is even more sickening.  But there I  go again…  get me going and I will never stop…  so if you want to read more, here is a link to the forums about Furry Babies on the bestfriends.org website, which is an awesome organization – the country’s largest animal sanctuary for homeless pets of all kinds!  I hope to visit them someday in Utah, but until I get over my fear of flying I will just persue their website and I  suggest you do the same…

Now that I’m actually leaving the homeless pet tangent behind…  we left the mall at a decent hour since we wanted a good night’s sleep to rest up for the Cubs / Sox game the following day – the entire reason  we were in town to begin with.  Poor us – that did not happen!  We got back to the hotel (which was pretty crappy for a Naperville Hampton Inn – see my Small Separate Side Post), and the baby decided he was going to go nuts and stay up until midnight.  Then the little booger awoke at 6 the next morning, and he crawled around and caused mischief like dipping my drying bathing suit into the toilet, thanks for THAT.  My husband was nice enough to take him in the bath for awhile and do other various quiet activities with him in the small room so that I could get a little more sleep, and then we all went down  to breakfast – my poor husband was a zombie.  I decided for us (he could not make decisions at that point) that he would go back up to the room while I drove our son over to my mom’s for the day while we went to the Cubs game.  We did that, and it took me about an hour to get all the way out to Aurora (not much traffic on a Sunday morning, but SOOO many stoplights!) and back.  I thought we had plenty of time, but if you read my “A Patch of Blue In A  Sea Of Black And White” post, you’ll see why I  should  have stepped on the gas a little…

The Haunting In Connecticut

Posted in Movies on March 31st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

We saw The Haunting in Connecticut at the movie theater for date night (after refusing pizza from “Carlos Zambrano” at the mall pizza shop – seriously, the guy looks just like the famously hot-headed Chicago Cubs pitcher!) and the movie made for a pretty good ghost story.  I had heard it was based upon a true story, but after seeing it, here is my guess on what about the movie is true:  a teenage boy has cancer, his family rents a house (a former mortuary) near the hospital where he is receiving treatments, and they had strange happenings while staying there; probably due to stress or lack of sleep or even just plain exaggerations but not hauntings, is my guess.  This is the basic plot of the movie, but I left out many events that could not have possibly happened in real life and would also be considered spoilers, so I will not go into details.  I will say that the movie opens with all kinds of vintage photographs of deceased people – I know this because of my friend who attended a lecture on the subject.  I had wanted to go with her, but we found out about it last minute and I relunctantly had to pass.  But my friend went and came back with all kinds of interesting info which is how I knew what the pictures were that opened the movie.  For instance, many people back then (the movie takes place in the 80’s, but the pictures were from the early 1900’s) didn’t have their photograph taken often, so when a loved one passed away, they would get their family portrait taken with the deceased – better late than never, I guess?  Not only that, sometimes they would pose as if the person was still alive – kind of morbid by our standards today, but then again, things are very different and taking pictures is so much more common; it’s difficult to imagine past attitudes about this.

But The Haunting in Connecticut is a very entertaining, edge-of-your seat nailbiter with plenty of startles.  To its credit, it’s scary and creepy without the gore.  Worth checking out, if you like that sort of thing, but not one of my favorites – it did give me some ideas for a haunted house though…  Now if I can just remember them until 2010 when we actually have the time to DO the haunted house…

A Family Easter

Posted in Kids on March 24th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , ,

With 3 wonderful kids, how could we not have a good Easter?  We started by coloring eggs on Saturday afternoon, and it went so well that I even bought a spare coloring kit at the easter clearance sales today, figuring we can do it again in a few weeks.  If colored eggs will entice the kids to eat them, then coloring eggs doesn’t only have to be for Easter, I say!  Actually, we started our Easter celebration with a visit to the Easter Bunny at the mall on Friday.  There was no line, but at those prices, I can see why!  But I begged Hubby to buy me a picture of the girls with the Easter Bunny and said it could be my Mother’s Day present this year because when we went to do our community egg hunt (candy clean-up), the batteries on the camera died before we could get a picture with the Easter Bunny.  It’s just something I like to do every year along with taking pictures with Santa because it’s a good way to get them all to sit down together and track how they grow from year to year.

So anyway, back to hiding eggs…  I got so tired on Saturday night that I forgot to play Easter Bunny and hide the eggs (can hard-boiled eggs even stay out of the fridge overnight?), but I woke up a little on the way up to bed and did remember to set the alarm.  Except that when it went off Sunday morning, we heard the kids were already up, so Hubby and I scrambled downstairs and hid everything in a hurry so we wouldn’t get caught.  And we had to leave our dogs outside during the hunt, otherwise they would do some easter egg hunting of their own!  And of course – every year this happens somehow – there was the one egg that slipped away somehow only to be lost until weeks later when its rotten smell gives away its hiding place.  But, learning from the past, we counted how many eggs we had hidden and didn’t give up until the lost egg was found!  Overall, it was a GREAT Easter.  The kids did have some candy comedown, but that is to be expected.  Disney – she is 17 mos. – woke up today by asking for candy for breakfast.  I think they’ll get back to normal soon…  just in time to get candy at the summer parades coming up!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and were able to share in the love of family and friends!