Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

My husband, A, says, "Happy Halloween!" I used our wedding photo as a pattern and carved his face into the pumpkin...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Tried...

Over the past few days I've tried to get a few good shots of the kids in their costumes, but I haven't been very successful. I did get a few cute pictures, but they all include S or K's face. Great for grandma down in Indiana, but not so good for blogging.

Since I'm not posting photos of their faces online, and several good friends has shared with me that my "blurred face" method was creepy*, I just couldn't find a creative yet faceless way to show the outfits and include the head pieces. Which, in the case of K's Gingerbread Man costume, is one of the cutest parts! So, while the the photos may be boring, they do show most of the costumes. Of course, now that the photo is posted I realize I forgot to include the mittens with the Gingerbread Man, but oh well. They're just solid fabric that matches her little suit. It is usually cold here at the end of October, so mittens are very important. I also made the costumes a full size too big. That way both kids can wear warm clothes underneath and people can still tell what they are. There's nothing worse than having to cover up your cool costume with a winter coat. Plus that way the fox costume should still fit S for the costume class competition in the Horse Show next summer...

I also made S and K treat bags. They didn't show up too well in the photos, but the fabric is covered with little gingerbread cookies. (I was so glad JoAnn's put out their Christmas fabric early.) The bags look adorable while the kids are trick-or-treating and then after Halloween they make great storage bags to keep all the parts of the costumes together. I often lend out old costumes, so having a way to keep all the parts together is a good thing.

I hope you all have a wonderful fun-filled Halloween! Let the sugar rush begin...

*Thanks for the input M and A. I really do appreciate it!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Hauntings

The kids, Grandma Crissie and I had a great time trick-or-treating our way through town yesterday. I was amazed how many off-island kids there were! Silly me though it would be mostly locals. Anyway, I still can't get over the haul of stuff my little Gingerbread Man and Mr. Fox brought home - a bag full of candy each plus water bottles, key chains, pens, pencils, fancy chocolates, saltwater taffy, bracelets, necklaces, and a ruffly shower cap ("an old lady hat" for the costume box according to my son.) It was a great idea for the island's Tourism Bureau - what a super way to get people into your town's stores! We had such a good time, I think a thank you note to Chris and Mary over at the Tourism Bureau is in order...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Which Way?

We hike through the State Park on the island's trails a lot. Both my husband and I enjoy telling the kids we'll walk where ever they want to and then going along for the ride. I am regularly surprised at my son's sense of direction. He usually knows right where we are and in which direction home is. Which amazes me because I have to stop and think about it, only to discover he is right. S must have inherited that ability from his father, because he sure didn't get it from me...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Feeling Foxy

It's done and I'm feeling really good about it. OK, to be completely honest, the shoe covers and paws (a.k.a. mittens) aren't finished yet, but S needs his costume for the preschool party tomorrow, so it is done enough. I wish that I could have found some fabric that was a bit more reddish orange, but this was the best I could come up with.

My favorite part of the whole ensemble is the tail. I've never been a really big pattern drafter, but I couldn't find a fox tail pattern anywhere. So after a couple of attempts I came up with a removable tail that I am pretty happy with. (It velcros on and off so the suit can be washed.) One of these days, when I get a minute or two, I'll try to get some pictures of both kids in their costumes. Oh, and if anyone out there ever happens to need a pattern for a size 4T fox tail, let me know - it's yours.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Path #1

Last week Shari over over at the Glass Doorknob hosted a Week of Paths and although I am a week late, I still wanted to join in...

We have so many amazing trails and paths on the island I had to share at least one of them. (Though I hope to get in a few more.) My children and I walk this path often. In fact S would probably say it is his favorite path since this is the way we walk to the park - one of his favorite places. We are lucky to live about a three minute walk from the park, so we end up spending lots of time there.

Not today though. Today, Papa raked the leaves into big piles and all the kids in the neighborhood got in on the jumping fun. Not much beats a big pile of leaves on a nice fall day, does it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Fantastic Friday

Friday was a Professional Development Day for the Entire Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District. So, I spent the day up in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. We got an early start and flew off the island at 7:15 am. I had to wait a few minutes for my friend to pick me up at the airport on the mainland, so I was able to snap a few photos of the island as the sun was beginning to brighten the sky.

The sessions at the PD Day were very worth while. I went to one on preventing teacher burnout and one on teaching without using a textbook. (I don't have a book for my 4th - 5th grade class and I was curious what other teachers do...) The burnout one was great. The medical director of MESSA (a health insurance company) explained that burnout was caused by a buildup of unrelieved stress. It got me thinking again about how much I tend to worry about things over which I have no control and that I need to put in more effort to let things go.

What did I do after the sessions? What else - SHOPPING! I was off the island, had a couple of hours to kill before the plane, and I was in desperate need of groceries. Plus, I kept smelling pizza, so I had to get a couple of those to take home, too.

They say "free delivery," when you live on an island it's "pick up" only...

But that was OK, because my ride was willing to wait.

Flying on and off the island is such a nice treat this time of year. (The airport is "up the hill" so the bike ride home is about 1/4 mile and it is mostly flat- a nice bonus at the end of a long day.)We usually fly only in the winter when the boats aren't running, since the plane costs about three times as much as the boat. But since the PD day started at 8:30, the only way we could get there on time was to fly.

The plane usually seats six - including the pilot, but if three of you are all bringing home tubs of groceries, there is a lot less room.

Now that I have all the groceries put away, my to do list for the next two days includes laundry, some time in the garden, more laundry, and designing a pattern for a size 4T fox tail. What are you up to?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Down, One to Go

I have been a sewing machine these last few days. (No pun intended.) Each night, after my papers are graded, I have diligently headed up to my sewing room to work on costumes. And I'm loving every minute of it. As of tonight K's Gingerbread Man costume is done. (I may make shoe covers, but I wanted to get my son's costume done first.) I had hoped to go outside and snap a few pictures tonight, but it was raining so photos will have to wait for another time.

What do you think of my front door? I took down my regular white curtain and put up the webby one last week. It was so easy to make. I just laid the web fabric on top of my old curtain, folded down the ends so they lined up, stitched across the top and bottom to make the casing,s and put it up. I didn't measure a thing and I think it took a grand total of about 10 minutes. I really like the way it looks at night when the door is back lit. K loves the ghosts. When she sees them on her way up to bed she always says, "Boo!" and then giggles.

Halloween is a huge holiday on the island. Since there are only about 500 of us who live here year round, everyone knows everyone else which makes trick-or-treating pretty darn safe. Everyone seems to get in on the fun. We have a community Halloween party, trick-or-treating in town for the little kids, and of course "real" trick-or-treating for bigger kids at night. Every porch light is always on and everyone hands out huge amounts of candy. We even have one lady in town who actually hands out gigantic homemade popcorn balls. Last year my kids (age 1 and 3 then) did about two blocks - that's it. We came home with a pillowcase full of candy - after just two blocks! Now that S is four, I don't think two blocks is going to cut it. Heaven only knows how big the haul will be this year. I'm also guilty of giving out too much - I've got five bags* ready to go. Five bags and we only have 84 kids in our entire school.

*Why do I have my candy already when Halloween is still two weeks away? I never know when I'll get off the island to shop, so I usually get things early - just to be safe in case I can't get off to shop. I tend to do that a lot - you should see my basement. It's a scary place...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Days

So there he is, my little S, on his very first day of school - excited to see the freighter but nervous about what the class will eat for breakfast. (And whether or not he will have to poop... We've been working on S wiping himself since big boys have to take care of themselves at school.) So far he has loved school.

I 'm thrilled that he is excited to go every morning and I love how he runs right over to the sink to wash his hands immediately upon entering the classroom. Then I have to chuckle as he walks over to where he secretly stashed the purple pony (the one with the sparkly mane and tail) and realizes one of the teachers put it back where it belongs and he's going to have to share his favorite toy that day. He's a great little guy but, like all toddlers, he has a lot to learn - preschool is going to be a good thing for him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Costume Giveaway

Photo credit: Grosgrain

I am constantly amazed by Kathleen over at Grosgrain. She makes clothes and costumes and then gives them all away - one giveaway every other week. Usually the outfits are a size 3T-4T and simply incredible - like the little Civil War era taffeta number she is currently offering. I usually just lurk and admire them from afar, but this time I had to share her amazing giveaway, since I would love to win the dress for my little K.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Treasure Hunters

We had family up for a visit recently and we spent lots of time geocaching. Here's A (age six) with our first "treasure" of the visit...

Let me tell you, if you have kids and you have never been geocaching, you need to give it a try. We only hit six of the 70+ caches that are on the island and the kids had a blast. I know what you're thinking...

You're thinking she's kind of techie, kind of geeky, and you're not - so you don't think you can do it. But - you're wrong; geocaching is really easy. My mother-in-law is not a particularly tech-savy person and she loved it! All you need is a GPS, an internet connection, and some little trinkets to leave behind. Oh yeah, having a pen and a good pair of walking shoes helps, too. (The Math and Science Center located at our local Intermediate School District has GPS units that they lend out. Yours might too.)

Just go the the geocaching website and enter your zip code to find out how many caches are in your hometown. Then you download those cache locations into the GPS and away you go.

The kids couldn't wait to get the caches open - They loved looking through all the treasures to find the one they wanted and then deciding which of our things they wanted to leave behind. With older kids it would be a great way to teach latitude, longitude, and map reading skills... ,

I know it is a complete non sequitur, but this is my 100th post. It seems like I just started blogging - and here I've posted 100 times in the past nine months. I know, in reality, 100 posts is nothing compared to many blogs, but I'm pretty excited about it...

Friday, October 3, 2008


I am a total morning person. Given my choice I am up at 5:00 and at work at 6:30 for my morning "coffee klatch" with the school custodians. I've been doing it, every school day, for the past 16 years. (Dear God, can I be old enough to have been doing something that long? It doesn't seem possible.) So after 16 years, it's what you'd call "my routine." Well, it came to a screeching hault this fall.

This year I've been going to work much later because I'm taking my son, S (and his friend T,) down the hill every morning for preschool. Preschool starts at 8:15, so morning coffee has become a thing of the past. I'm still working on building a "new" routine, but it is hard to change after 16 years. Probably the hardest thing about it is the loss of prep time in the mornings. I use to have about an hour every day - before school - to make copies, organize, plan, etc. Now I feel like I'm scrambling just to have things ready for the kids in my class. And I'm taking a lot more work home with me. But I am trying to focus on the positive things in my life... I love getting to see my son every morning, and getting down the hill a bit later in the morning means S, T and I have gotten to enjoy a beautiful sunrise or two.

We even got to see the freight boat before S's first day of school. (Though I must admit I took this picture earlier in August - the first day of preschool was overcast.) Every morning, all season long, the freight boat brings these two trucks over to the island. (Rather funny that they ride together because Sysco and GFS are big competitors.) Since motorized vehicles are illegal in the city and the State Park the trucks just sit on the dock - which is private property, engines running to power the refrigeration units. The trucks are unloaded, the supplies loaded onto horse-drawn drays, and then everything gets delivered to the island businesses.