Monday, 31 October 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

I'm just winding down after a fun-filled Halloween evening. Since trick-or-treaters rarely brave our 800 foot driveway, we usually take the boys out as a family. It's actually a great way to catch up on some visiting with neighbours. It's always a fun event in our little community.

What I love most about Halloween is the dressing up, of course! It's a great excuse to make some fun costumes that the boys can enjoy all year long in their imaginative play. Not surprisingly, my bug lover wanted to be a spider this year, and his brother enthusiastically joined in. This was a super fun costume to put together and was also quite easy and inexpensive. The sewing was pretty rough and basic and I didn't even bother hemming the fleece head piece.

I used glow in the dark paint left over from last year's skeleton costume to add some fun to the outfit. The spider legs are made from men's dress socks, stuffed with batting. The little "hood" was made using a Spiderman PJ hood as a template. I think I've used this template for just about everything as it is so versatile and easy (space helmet, knight helmet, skeleton head, Ironman hood, Buzz Lightyear helmet.....etc). I love the googly eyes! Most spiders have eight eyes, dear Muffy tells me. We have to be scientifically accurate around here!

It is always shocking to me how much candy two small boys can collect from visiting less than a dozen homes! As soon as Chi-Chi and Muffy walked in the door, the loot bags were emptied and the tally was taken. As a bit of a last minute decision, I actually decided to try out the "Green Pumpkin" on my boys. They were instructed to leave any unwanted treats on their bedroom doors for the Great Green Pumpkin who would be visiting tonight. The Green Pumpkin exchanges the candy for little surprises. Somewhere in there I mumbled the words, "The more you give, the more you get". Well, I regret that statement just a little! Before I knew it, both boys had decided to give every single piece of remaining candy to the Great Green Pumpkin. I didn't really expect them to give it ALL away. I was really hoping they would give up about two thirds while the remainder would be handed out as dessert treats this week. Now I'm feeling a bit pressured to come up with something slightly impressive from my "stash" of trinkets and goodies. I'm not sure what I will pull together...but I better figure out something very soon as the clock reads 11pm (: As Chi-Chi was falling asleep, he told me he really didn't want all that much candy anyway. I'm sure this might have something to do with the belly ache he most certainly went to bed with!

Have you ever had a visit from the Green Pumpkin or the Candy Fairy? How well did this go over in your house?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Fall Fun

Friday was a PD day at the boys' school, so we were happy to enjoy a bit of a long weekend. I really try take advantage of these free days and plan something fun for the wee ones. This time around, we hit the road for a sleep over at Nanny and Graga's house. My sister and her boys also tagged along. Although the combination of four boys ranging from 4 to 6 is very exhausting, I'm so happy they are able to spend quality time with their little cousins. There was lots of squealing, Halloween crafting, a few soggy science experiments and a vintage Scooby Doo movie. (a moment of peace for the mommies and Nanny).

Chi-Chi, Muffy and I enjoyed some quiet, peaceful time raking leaves in my parents' yard. This might sound silly, but I truly miss raking leaves and the simple act of doing so flooded me with childhood memories. The sounds and scent brought me back to my own experiences hiding under piles of leaves and just enjoying the quiet and peaceful space of the backyard where I grew up. I now live in the land of alders and spruce trees. These trees and shrubs seem to thrive in our harsh, coastal setting. Chi-Chi and Muffy had a great time building piles, and of course thrashing them to bits! When playtime ended, they helped me bag those leaves. I threw them in the trunk and brought them home to serve as mulch on my garden beds this winter.

The boys are super excited about Halloween this year. I'm looking at keeping things pretty simple. Tonight I made up a batch of silly spider whoopie pies for dessert, just to add some fun to Sunday night dinner. I did make a couple of cute spider costumes this year, but they were easy peasy. I'll share them once I get a chance to photograph my little creepy crawlers tomorrow night. Although I love the spooky fun of Halloween, the candy over load that goes hand in hand is tricky to manage! Because the houses are quite spaced apart in our community, we usually have to take the car trick or treating. We only visit a handful of neighbours, which helps limit the amount of candy the boys receive. I allow them to indulge in a handful of treats the evening of Halloween, but the rest are tucked away and served as dessert during the days that follow. I love some of Mary Beth's ideas over at Salt and Chocolate. The "Green Pumpkin" may be visiting my house this year to gobble up the excess candy in exchange for books! Great idea!

The boys have had loads of fun decorating our front door step with their various spooky creations. I gave up coming up with craft ideas, and just let them dream up their own creations. ( I did, however, intervene when I found Muffy drawing scary faces on my lovely wood siding with a permanent market.....ahhhh) I simply could not keep up with the enthusiasm. I pulled out these human skeleton xrays I've had tucked away for over a year! It was fun and educational to assemble the puzzle. Once complete, I posted it on our patio door with sticky tack to serve as a decoration.

Wishing everyone a happy, fun and safe Halloween!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Squirrelling Away

We've been graced with warm temperatures, sunshine and blue skies the last few days. We were even lucky enough to enjoy a late-season campfire on Saturday night. Despite the great weather, I still find my mind shifting inward lately. I've been tinkering away on a few little household projects and repairs I've had on my list for awhile. Perhaps my mind and body are subconsciously preparing for the cold season ahead. I seem to be shifting into a "bunker down" mood, looking for ways to clean up, cozy up and warm up the inside of our home!

Both boys' rooms are a bit of a work in progress. I'm not really into a "decorated look" when it comes to kid's rooms and prefer a more mismatched, homey feel. Hand making quilts takes time, as does shopping for deals at antique stores! I'm always looking for ways to add a little handmade touch to these special rooms in our homes. The walls are rather bare and stark, so I've made it my mission to add a bit of character in this department. I've intentionally tried to keep their rooms uncluttered in an effort to provide a soothing, relaxing atmosphere. I believe keeping the toys and clutter out gives the little ones room to breathe and think.

Some clutter, however, is inevitable. Chi-chi in particular is a bit of a pack rat. He likes to "squirrel away" the various trinkets, treasures and trash he collects on his adventures. I was recently flipping through my copy of The Children's Year, seeking out a bit of crafty inspiration. I came across the idea to create a set of wall pockets for the boys - a perfect storage solution for all those miscellaneous little bits and pieces. I'm in love with this sweet squirrel fabric! It's a nice heavy weight and provided a good, strong backing for the pockets. I love that the pockets are both decorative and functional! What a fun little space to hide treasures and various other important items. Unknowingly, I actually sized them perfectly for hockey cards! Another related idea I simply love are these pocket curtains. So fun! They make great hiding spots. I might have to try these as well.

I struggled a bit when determining how to hang the pockets. My husband suggested I use drywall screws as they would provide the necessary support. That sounded great...except that they are extremely ugly! I came up with a great little cover up trick that I'm pretty proud off! I glued a couple of acorn caps over the screws using my glue gun. Not only do they do the trick, they are super cute and even tie in with the squirrel theme. Loving my new idea, I used the same trick when hanging Muffy's little caterpillar he received for his birthday.

As tiny as this project was, it felt great to get something done from start to finish. I'm happy with the fun, warm touch they add to the bedrooms. Chi-Chi and Muffy love their new organizers and have been busy squirrelling away.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Oh Canada!

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my camera. Lately the scale has definitely tilted to the "hate" end of the spectrum! Anyway, it seems to be back in working order so I find myself returning to this space. It is funny, but I don't seem inspired to write unless I can enhance my words with some snapshots.

Today was a perfect fall day! The boys and I grabbed a quick snack after school and hit the trail to enjoy the fleeting autumn beauty. Deciduous trees are pretty hard to come by on our property, so it was certainly a feast for the senses today. We absorbed it all - the sight of the rich hues, the sound of rustling leaves, the earthy scent of decay and the pleasant crunch beneath our shoes.

We all enjoyed gathering a variety of leaves for some fall-inspired art projects. I picked up some recycled clay at the Wolfville Farmer's Market a few weeks ago, and have been wanting to create leaf impressions with the boys. My plan was to work on this project later this afternoon....but plans change when little ones find their own source of inspiration. The boys were so excited to discover many bright red maple leaves..."just like on the Canada flag!!". Of course, as soon as we got home, I found them digging through their art supplies. In no time, flags were waving and little lungs were belting out the national anthem. I do so love their great ideas!

I am loving Muffy's new tote bag! It was a gift from my parents for his birthday. Mom picked it up from "Say it with Stitches" at the Wolfville market. It is simply adorable and quite perfect for my little bug lover. I actually purchased a matching pencil case and wall hanging for him as well. I'm thinking Chi-Chi's plastic bag needs to be replaced by something much cuter! Ok, I think I just added a quick little weekend project to my to do list (:

According to the forecast, we are in store for a wonderful weekend! Looking forward to yard work, another trip to the trails and perhaps a bit of crafty goodness. What are your plans?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Parlez Vous Francais?

We had such a lovely birthday weekend around here. Muffy was on cloud 9...or should I say cloud 5. Despite the rain, the outdoor treasure hunt took place, and was a hit! Now that the busy month of September is behind us, I feel like we are finally settling into a bit of a groove. The boys seem genuinely happy in school! I was expecting Muffy, in particular, to be tired out at the end of the day, but that is not the case! I'm finding them both bursting with energy and ideas when they hop off the bus.

After a busy and fairly focused day in the classroom, I want to offer a home environment that is relaxing and fun for the remainder of the afternoon. I do, however, think it is important for parents to remain connected and aware of what learning is taking place in the classroom, offering support at home that complements and enhances the curriculum. Since both boys are in French Immersion, I'm trying to help nurture the learning of a new language. The last thing they need right now is more time behind the desk. I'm therefore seeking out fun ways to sneak in learning opportunities.

Muffy is currently learning the names of the colors in French. One afternoon last week, while puttering around the yard, we decided to embark on a color scavenger hunt. In no time, I had them seeking out bits and pieces from nature - screaming out "rouge, jaune, vert!!". This turned out to be a lot of fun for everyone!

As painful as it is on my brain, Chi-Chi and I have decided to have "French Hour" each day. This involves us conversing in French for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes every day. He gets giddy about it! I'm definitely dusting off the cobwebs inside this head of mine. I'm starting to volunteer in his Grade 1 classroom today and I really need to get up to speed on my conversational French. I was shocked at how much French the boy can speak!

We've also been up to some colorful fall crafts. I recently picked up a copy of the lastest Chirp magazine. The boys are really enjoying magazines lately and I love that this is a home-grown Canadian publication. We made a few of these rainbow spider webs, inspired by suggestions in Chirp.

Chi-Chi is in the process of making a "haunted closet" so I'm expecting lots of silly, scary and spooky crafts in our near future! Any other fun ideas?? Pass them along please (: