Friday, November 27, 2009

The Thankful reveal on Thanksgiving

I know all my blog readers (both of them) have anxiously been awaiting the reveal of my fabulous birthday present. It took a little longer than anticipated to finish it and we still have not finished the painting. As with all projects it is good to double the time you expect it to take. If we do that I really have another 2 weeks and this project should be done ahead of schedule. ha ha.

I am giving you a strange combination of project reveal and Thanksgiving post here since the project was christened yesterday.

First I present the BEFORE pictures:

My lovely kitchen/dining room wall. The many cabinet doors in which to store dishes and other kitchen needs.


watching daddy
The end of day one. My new open kitchen.

John worked all last weekend on the project and by the evening of my birthay I had lights, a new power bar and trim on one side.

Of course into every project a minor problem must fall. So Tuesday night we begin painting the fabulous new color I chose for the walls. A very dark dramatic color with a green tint. The color was gorgeous on the wall. Unfortunately it looked TERRIBLE against my green cabinets. It was the war of the cool color vs the warm color. I was devestated. John finally told me to walk away from the room as I was becoming more depressed the longer I sat staring at it.

I had no idea which direction to go from there. I am terrible at choosing colors. I need an expert. Contractor husband to the rescue! John called a guy he is working with and asked him to swing by our house and choose a new color for us. I would never have chosen it and wasn't even sure I liked it but that is sort of how I felt about our cabinet color when it was chosen for us. Plus, I was having a house full of guests in 1 day and didn't have alot of options so, when John called from Home Depot I gave him the name.

I started painting with a little uncertainty but by the time we had the first coat on all the walls I felt really good about it and now I am excited to spend the next few years looking at it. The color is much greener than I had initially wanted to go but is still dramatic and is beautiful with my cabinets.

The big reveal was yesterday, Thanksgiving, and it performed perfectly. It was so nice to have that extra counter space while preparing and then while serving the meal. And when we went in the kitchen to clean up we didn't seperate ourselves from conversation around the table. We could shoo people out of the kitchen without really sending them away. It was one of my favorite Thanksgivings in a long you think it was because of the new wall? Everyone was in a relaxed good mood because of the beauty of my new wall. It just makes people want to be better people because it is so wonderful. Don't you think?

My men preparing Thanksgiving dinner. I actually did not make a single part of yesterdays meal. Note the new wall color in the background.
Grandma learning a few things from Isabelle.
Cousins. It is so fun that they are all the same age and actually have some very similar interests.

Here are my neices speaking to each other in sign language. Note how functional my new wall is in the background. :)
I set a simple but beautiful table.
Instead of a kids table the kids chose a side of the table and were all lined up long before we were ready to start eating.
I bought a new puzzle for the holiday and every member of the family spent some time working on the 1000 piece puzzle. It was so fun, a shared project just makes you feel like you really spent time together.

And so after a busy couple weeks of construction, with a few days to go, and a wonderful time spent with family I can say that I am thankful for many things including:

A handy husband,
a son (and husband) who likes to cook,
a daughter who can entertain herself all afternoon while I sit in front of a puzzle,
being part of a wonderful family full of faith,
and my beautiful new wall which is sure to bring me joy for years to come.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The not so big 3-9

Tomorrow I turn 39. Really 39 not "and holding" or "forever 39". I will not be staying put, I will gladly move to 40 next year. I enjoy aging, it gives legitimacy to all my bossiness. Ha ha. Anyway...This age has me thinking about 40. I remember when John and I were in our mid 20's and 40 seemed like a life time away. We would talk about goals and say, "by the time we are 40 we will...". With so much time to accomplish whatever followed how could we not reach that goal? All the big things in life fell into this category.

So that has me thinking about some of those things we wanted to accomplish, what can I still do in the next year (or 6 months for John), what have we already accomplished and what do we need to move into our new "by the time we retire..." conversations.

What we didn't accomplish...

Pay off our house. We moved into this house 7 years ago and owe twice as much as we did when we dreamed that dream. Clearly moved backward on this goal but have a plan and will definitely own by the time we retire.

Buy a cabin. If you live or grew up in MN this is likely on your dream list. Considering the prices and responsibilities of cabin ownership we have gone back and forth about this and made some modifications to this dream. None-the-less we still dream it and have moved it into the "in our 40's" conversation.

Be able to pay for Jake's college. Now technically Jake has 2 years left of school and we will be 41 when he graduates but the goal should be in reach by the time we are 40. I like to think we have enough to get him through a couple years at community college but if we don't see alot of excitement in the stock market soon I am not even sure of that. I always thought I would just get a job when Jake graduated but then our little mid-life crisis came along and I will be busy with a 1st grader as Jake graduates and not likely to want a job to pay for his college. We are abandoning our poor son to the world of scholarships, grants, public education and a job. (we are discouraging loans in favor the 7-10 year graduation plan.) Actually he is planning to get into ROTC so we are good. That will be like we accomplished the goal only the government will pay for it. Which I guess is still us...

Could still accomplish by 40...

The non-specific "financial stability". (I didn't say we had made well thought out, clearly defined goals) While our 30's started off in the right direction somehow, even before this unfortunate economic time, we got off the path somewhere. John's work that was going great seemed to get derailed for a time during what I call the "mid-life crisis" of his career which ironically occurred amidst adopting the mid-life crisis. Now finally doing something he enjoys and is doing well at I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. Plus we took a personal finance class a couple years ago so we now actually know how to accomplish our goals and have set some specific ones. If we stay focused I feel confident that I will be able to check parts of this one off by this time next year.

Things we can check off the list...

Go to Africa. Actually this goal was "before Jake graduates", another defined time frame we didn't think would ever come. This one goes with "travel more". Although I wouldn't say we have done a ton of traveling over the years, unless you count visiting my sister in Atlanta probably 20+ times, we have done a few things and definitely with this trip have seen the vision for prioritizing travel/vacation in our lives. Already I am thinking of a trip to France "before Isabelle graduates from high school". Will that day every come?

So in conclusion...I am a goal setting nerd that actually finds all this really fun, exciting and motivating, even the stuff I didn't accomplish. I am excited for this next decade of my life. But more than just another decade it is another whole stage. If I am now in "the stage before 40" then next year I will enter "the stage before retirement". So this next year as I am 39 and enjoying these last years of early adulthood I will be busy getting my life in order to launch into my retirement planning years with gusto. Yes I am weird, move on.

Interestingly as I look at the list I see that so many of our dreamas have been financial. While most big goals do require money I am thinking that maybe I should work on some non-financial goals for my retirement. How about...Run/walk a marathon, this is one I am considering for my 40th birthday. Have a greater understanding of theology and various biblical philospophies. Write a book or magazine article or...something, get published. Encourage other women. Learn and grow, stay open to the plans God has for my life. Give more.

There is one more thing that we can check off my dream list, phase one of a very fun remodel project at our house. Tomorrow or Monday will be the big reveal of something very exciting that has been going on at our house. John is working hard today to finish up my birthday present. Can't wait to show you! I love being married to a remodeler! OK, you want a hint. Here are a couple peaks...

And here is the color I am painting the walls...Painted Turtle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

4 year old hormones

I have had a long week with Isabelle. Not that she isn't normally emotional, I am learning to accept this as a part of having a daughter, but it has been exceptionally bad this week and particularly today. As I put her to bed tonight even she commented on the fact that she had been having "a rough day". Yes indeedy she had been.

It started off fairly normal and so I didn't note the usual break downs that go with getting out of the house in the morning and we managed to have a fairly pleasant lunch with my parents (a pre birthday celebration since they will be out of town. I blessed them with a preview of my fabulous birthday present which I will reveal here this weekend.)

Then in the afternoon while spending a little time on my computer hanging out with her friends the Disney princesses she drops some pencil lead she found while rifling through my desk drawers into my keyboard and proceeds to pop off about 7 keys before I came upon this little scenario. I calmly asked her to get off the chair and step away from my computer and then proceeded to calmly assess the damage. She tells me it is an accident and then asks me if I am mad at her. Yes I tell her I am mad at her. Crying and carrying on occurs and she goes to her room for quite a long time. Now you might think it is remorse she is feeling but no in fact she is indignant that I would dare to be mad at her when it was an "accident". Eventually she comes out all red faced and we talk about it and she does seem to understand that she was wrong and apologize. In case you are wondering I did get a couple to pop back on but every time I type a B or V I have to put in a little more effort while J and and Alt key are completely unattached. Which actually seem to work better at times than the loose keys. My husband assures me he will be able to fix it.

Tonight as we are leaving for church she tries to race her 15 year old brother to the car and when he does not let her win I find her crying in the backyard. Move on with your life girlfriend he is 10 years older. Life isn't fair. It won't be the last time you loose. Losing is part of life. And so on as we are pulling out of the driveway toward church. I also made her congratulate Jake for a job well done beating her to the car. I am exhausted from a day of managing her emotions.

I relax briefly during the dinner the church serve while she plays with a friend. When it is time to go the friends mom calls and her daughter obediently comes while Isabelle throws herself on the floor crying because Emily didn't wait for her and she wants to keep playing with Emily and on and on and on. Once I get her moving she then DEMANDS I give her my bottle of water. The only reason I brought her to her class is because I really felt I needed my hour and a half praying with friends tonight. When I returned to pick her up my daughter who charms everyone she meets and so was wonderful during class, immediately started crying because she didn't want to go with me. After a few minutes of sympathetic chatting with the class leaders about having an emotional girl I was able to get her out without too much drama and get home.

More drama into bed where she was apparently feeling my pain as she acknowledged what a rough day she was having. She cried herself to sleep for reasons only she is aware of.

As I have had a few moments spread throughout the day to think about this behavior and how to deal with it and why I feel so overwhelmed by it when I felt so energized by Jake's bad pre-school behavior, I had a thought. It isn't that I can't deal with her impulsive behavior like popping off the keys on my keyboard. It isn't that I don't know how to deal with her selfishness or her sometimes unrepentant heart or her impatience or her competitiveness or her need for control, her bossiness, her demands, her smart mouth and the many other character and behavior issues that come up throughout a day or week. The problem I realized, the thing that is overwhelming me and keeping me frozen in my tracks, is the fact that so many of these issues come up in one day, sometimes in one sitting. How do I put a plan together to deal with every one of these issues?

My revelation is that it isn't one issue, it is many issues. And I can't come up with a plan for all of them but I need to take each one as it comes. As I think of it there are a few behavior themes that I could be thinking on but I guess with an emotional little girl the trick will be to not get stuck in one place but to be ready to switch gears and move from issue to issue. Luckily as a woman I am somewhat familiar with experiencing various emotions from moment to moment without clutching so I am well equipped to handle this parenting challenge. Do you think God planned it that way?


Isabelle and I had the opportunity to preview the new Tinkerbell movie for free the weekend before the video came out. I love free stuff but I don't always love sitting through kids movies. While this movie wasn't the best I had ever seen it kept moving and wasn't too long. The reason I am writing about it is because the lessons I saw in the movie have stuck with me.

When I was little it seems like every movie or TV show had a moral lesson. Something I was supposed to learn from it. As I have raised my children I see fewer and fewer lessons in what they are watching and more and more just pure entertainment. Not that I mind a little entertainment every once in a while but it is refreshing to see a lesson in a movie, especially one that really applies to my daughters stage of life.

In the movie Tinker Bell is chosen to make the fall scepter, a big honor, and her best buddy is there to help her all the way. She is clipping along but is getting increasingly frustrated by the help she is getting and makes up an errand to get rid of him. He returns just as she has finished the scepter, she is immediately irritated by him, the thing he returns with rolls away and breaks the scepter. After he leaves she is fuming and accidentally breaks the rare and important crystal that is supposed to go inside the scepter. She blames her friend who is not even in the room. She tells nobody what has happened and sets off on an adventure to find another crystal and as problems arise from this adventure there is always someone else to blame. In the end when all hope seems lost she sits alone and finally takes responsibility for everything that has gone wrong and realizes she was so busy trying to do everything herself that she missed the opportunity to get help from people who cared about her.

At our house blaming others, usually me, for everything that goes wrong is a big theme in Isabelle's life. She has been known to come out of her room at night to announce to me, "YOU forgot my blanket!" If I am making her walk rather than carry her and she decides to drag her feet and trip that is my fault. If she drops something she wants to give me it is my fault. But not just me, if she colors outside the lines that would be a bad marker. bad paint, bad toy, bad food, bad bed. Everything else is constantly doing her wrong. How great is my life to have a movie like tinker bell to help me illustrate the point that maybe everything isn't someone else's fault and maybe if you would accept a little help and responsibility things wouldn't go so wrong all the time.

Now in all fairness I MIGHT occasionally have a problem with this issue as well. I might want to blame my husband, my children or my mom for things that go wrong in my life. It is SO much easier than taking responsibility. Who wants to acknowledge that they messed up? That they didn't communicate properly and that is why the other person didn't measure up. That my mistake started a chain reaction. It is always so easy to see where the other person went wrong and so much harder to see how we were part of that poor end result. So much easier to be mad at someone else than mad at ourselves.

But I have found that when I admit my mistakes and am willing to look honestly at a situation seeing my role in a problem, I really feel better about it and often can see the resolution to the problem much quicker than when I focus on blaming others. And in learning to see my own faults and forgive myself I am becoming much more forgiving of others faults. We are a sinful people living in a fallen world. We make wrong choices, make mistakes and hurt those we love. But if Christ can forgive me when it really never was his fault, then certainly I can see to forgive others when tomorrow I will probably make the same mistake.

Amazing, I found the lesson of Christ's forgiveness in a Disney movie. Life is good.

Friday, November 13, 2009

documenting his life

A little trivia about me...I like to think ahead. Especially where my son and his education is concerned. So following the tradition of where he should go to elementary school, jr high and high school, I have spent way more time than necessary considering where he should/will go to college. I do realize however that I am not totally in control of this issue and also that it is slightly premature to make inquiries so I have told myself that I cannot start trying to micromanage this part of Jake's life until next summer. I did however come up with something related to his graduation that is all about me and my responsibility...the graduation party!

Before my graduation open house my parents laid sod in the backyard after years of dirt. And old neighbor re-sided her house and put in new landscaping before her daughters graduation. This always seemed silly but I am already thinking about what we need to do. Next summer we will be getting the house painting out of the way and have been talking about a few other projects that should keep us busy over the next few years. Keep watching this blog for an exciting one that will be happening after the holidays...:)

I have decided that the graduation party is not really about your child. It is really about you, it is a representation of all that you have accomplished over the last 18 years raising him. It reflects your journey of maturing in parenting, as a person and a successful member of society. It says I have been doing stuff during the last 18 years, I have been keeping up my home, my family. I have been finishing projects!

Therefore, I must present my child to everyone from birth through high school in photographic form. I must prove that during the years I was responsible for him I documented it, I did things with him, he was involved in sports, took piano lessons, had birthday parties, "won" awards, went to Disneyland and in general lived a full life under my guidance.

While the full life must be represented at graduation I have attended a few Eagle Scout ceremonies that have me realizing I need to at least complete the scouting portion of his childhood within the next year. Something that indicates he actually did go on all those camping trips, earn all those badges and do all those service projects.

The great news is that we live in a digital world. I have learned to make photo books with relative ease. The bad news is that Jake was not born in a digital world. The first 10 years of his life sit next to me in only vaguely organized albums. I will need to go through and determine age and choose the relevant photos from his life and then learn to use my scanner and scan all the pictures in.

The next question is how do I organize them? One big book like my grandma made for us that has a birthday and Christmas picture from every year of my life and maybe a couple others just to fill the page? Simple and shows my growth throughout the years. She even put in a few captions. But really she mainly saw me at Christmas and birthday parties, I see Jake every day. I have thousands of pictures of him. I have documented everything he has done over the years that had even minor significance. I have 2 book shelves and a full memory drive on my computer to prove it!

Should I do a book for each major activity? One for each year? One for pre-school years, one for primary school years and one for high school (this is how I am leaning) A giant book of all 18 years?

So much to think about! Good thing the thinking is my favorite part. I love to think about these projects, consider how they should go and imagine them completed. Now if I could only find someone to do all the actual work for me...

OH I just started thinking about all the open houses I will go to and the gifts I will need to bring. Shopping now that is something I could enjoy starting right away...

The Man-Child

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Anne of Green Gables

I have a birthday before a big birthday coming up in a couple weeks. I am not actually one those people who doesn't like to age or admit their age so I will tell you, I will be 39. I am looking forward to being 40, I love the wisdom of experience that comes with age. You couldn't get me back into my 20's for anything. I have been contemplating a post on my life to go with my pre-big birthday so I won't say too much on this subject but I have been doing some reading lately that is sort of related to life, aging and the experiences that go with it.

I recently re-read Anne of Green Gables. I have been excited to read it with Isabelle, somehow the book came up recently and so I pulled it out. She let me read about 2 chapters before she told me to stop and wanted to move on with her life. Of course I was hooked and had to read the whole thing.

It was probably my favorite book of childhood. I loved reading it and imaging I was Anne. I always wished to have her creative, romantic imagination and the energy to go out and do all those crazy things she came up with. I wished I was smart and driven like she was. I wished for a best bosom friend like Diana. I wished there was a boy crazy about me for years even after I treated him terribly. And I have always loved the idea of the simpler time of life that Anne grew up in.

I also always thought that Marilla and most of the other grown-ups in the story were up-tight old ladies that did not get Anne or appreciate her. Then I read it again as an adult, an adult with my own adopted child whom I adore. And suddenly I am in love with Marilla. This time through she was a woman of compassion who deeply loved this little girl who had come into her life but struggled to know how to show it. She wanted more than anything to help her grow into a beautiful God honoring woman capable of becoming anything she wanted to be. She was full of pride over Anne's accomplishments but tried not to be prideful about them.

When I was younger I thought Marilla was too hard on "poor Anne" but as a mother I see how necessary and important the discipline was. I even gleaned a little nugget for my own parenting--Anne had let her imagination run a little too wild and created a made up story that a wooded area between her house and Diana's house was haunted. Although she had run through many times in the dark suddenly she was terrified to go into the woods because of her own made up stories. Marilla made her go through alone as punishment and it was a lesson well learned in controlling her imagination--Seems like there is a lesson in there both for me as I might want to let my imagination run a little wild even as an adult and, as a parent in disciplining my child with the natural consequences of her actions.

One thing about the book did not change for me. The most profound part of the book, to me, is toward the end and throughout my life I have thought of it often. Anne says, "When I left Queen's (school) my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes--what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows--what new landscapes--what new beauties--what curves and hills and valleys further on."

Throughout my life as I have encountered many a bend in the road I have thought of Anne and her bend and her typical optimistic view that something wonderful was before her and I could continue on the path God had set before me with expectation and wonder rather than fear and dread.

Right now my life seems like Anne's did before Matthew's death, "stretched out before me like a straight road". But experience tells me that there is a bend ahead. A bend that will come at an unexpected time or in an unexpected way and once again completely change the course of our lives. Africa was a bit of a bend in our road and has definitely changed us in both big and small ways. Infertility was a huge sharp bend in the road. Homeschooling, adoption, getting married young, career many twist and turns in our life so far, so many more to come. Throughout them all I look for the "facination" in the road and "wonder how the road beyond goes".

What does the road before you look like right now? Stretched out like a straight road or have you come to a bend?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hearts at Home

Ah, a weekend away with girlfriends. What could be better? Maybe a weekend away with girlfriends at a conference designed to encourage stay at home moms! For more years than any of us care to admit we have been meeting up in Rochester for the annual Hearts at Home conference. The conference is Friday night and Saturday but we try to sneak in extra by heading out early Friday morning and staying an extra night. Some years we have other friends and some years it is just us. It is fun to introduce new friends to Hearts at Home but it is special when it is just us. Unfortunately one of our usual group had to cancel at the last minute so our group of 5 turned into a little group of 4 for the weekend. And unfortunately, between me being sick all week and going to the doctor Friday morning to be told I had strep and the other two having kids home from school, we didn't leave very early Friday morning or even early Friday afternoon. We got into town with just enough time to meet up with our 4th Nebraska friend, check into our hotel and have dinner before we had to race over to the conference.

Friday night is always a concert often with a big name Christian artist. Go Fish was the musical entertainment this year. Now I realize I have a 4 year old but apparently I missed something in the gap between Jake and Isabelle. I had loved the group years ago and saw them in concert at the state fair when Jake was a pre-teen. Then I was vaguely aware they had done a kids album and then they disappeared, I thought, off the face of the earth. Nope, it turns out they were so successful with the kids album they turned into a kids group! They have been busy making several kids albums and it was fun to hear them sing. I have been wanting to know what new music was out there for Isabelle and the answer was right in front of me. I bought 2 of their albums. Wishing I bought more already!

Every year the conference is great, I go to 3 or 4 classes and then they have a big name key note speaker Saturday afternoon. This year was Dr. Kevin Leman, writer of the Birth Order Book among others, speaking on his book, "Have a new kid by Friday". He was hilarious and real.

Most years I find myself feeling a little "full" about half way through the day. So much new information that I need to immediately stop and get home to implement or at least digest. But I keep going and they stuff me to the top the rest of the day and then roll me home. This is another reason that second night stay with the girlfriends is helpful. Processing. This year I didn't get that full feeling. I didn't walk out of any of my classes with some inspirational nugget I couldn't wait to get home and use. Not that my classes were bad, they were good. I liked the speakers and agreed with everything they were saying, as a matter of fact I wrote a blog post recently on almost the same subject the morning keynote speaker addressed. She said what I would have written if I was going to write a 30 minute talk and speak from much more experience than I actually have.

I was feeling a little disappointed as I chatted with my girlfriends who all did have some nugget of inspiration to keep them going on their motherhood journey but, as we talked I realized that my big take away from the conference wasn't necessarily a nugget but I was feeling very validated. Like I really am walking down the right path, making good choices and being the wife and mother God wants me to be at this stage of my life. Not perfect but moving in the right direction. It feels good. Of course next year I could be having a crisis about something and really need that encouragement in some area of my life but this year things are going smoothly and that pat on the back was exactly what I needed to keep me going.

2 years ago when we were at the conference (OK we skipped last year) I go downstairs on Sunday morning for my leisurely continental breakfast at the hotel and find 2 of my girlfriends sitting with Jill Savage! Jill is the founder of the Hearts at Home conference, Saturday mornings key note and has written several books. We were all pretty excited and a little star struck. She was great, we chatted away like we had been friends for years. Well the outgoing one in our group, Kimberlee, emailed her a picture we had taken and they kept in contact for the past 2 years and made plans for us all to meet up again this year for breakfast. So this morning we had a chance to once again share a meal with our "good friend" Jill and chat about life.

Among our group a little joke has developed out of this breakfast. That first Christmas after we met Jill, Kimberlee bought us all frame ornaments for Christmas and put a picture of her and Jill in it. We all laughed and added it to our tree. The following year Heidi went on a cruise with the hearts at home team and got a picture with Jill which she surprised us by also framing and giving to us. So after breakfast I told Jill it was my turn and we had to have a picture together so we could add it to all our trees. She laughed about it and posed with me. Our families are a little confused by who this woman is taking over our Christmas trees but we all smile each time we see it.

Now back home, back to dishes, laundry, dirty bathrooms and a whiny pre-schooler along with the many, many, many other responsibilities you have as a stay at home mom I am feeling great. I am excited for Monday to come, excited to take pride in what I do and do it the best I know how. I love being at mom!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Like thousands of other bloggers around the country I am doing a blog post today on Halloween and how cute my darling was. Our first task of the day was carving the pumpkin. I had read in this post about reading the "Pumpkin Patch Parable" while carving and discussing it. I have had that book since Jake was little and read it to him many, many times but never thought to put it with carving the pumpkin. What a great idea and great tradition to start. I didn't go into the spiritual significance of each item in the book this year but hope I started a tradition that will give me the opportunity next year to bring up a few points from the book.

Since Halloween landed on a Saturday this year I thought it would be a piece of cake to find some sort of Halloween carnival/festival for us to attend. I knew vaguely of one going on in the area but couldn't find any details online about it or any others. We ended up deciding to go over to the arboretum near my parents house where they were doing a few activities. It wasn't quite what I was looking for but we had a fun time anyway. I had never walked down to the learning center building they have there so all the activities we did were new. They have a "please touch" green house full of fun plants to see and touch which Isabelle thoroughly enjoyed. She played with all the displays. And we were able to decorate a pumpkin with veggies. While they were fun for decorating she reiterated her objection to eating vegetables a couple times just in case we got any ideas. The gift shop also passed out apples to everyone in costume. We tried to get some good pictures of her in front of all the pumpkins but she would not sit still. Too excited about the day.

Then it was back home for trick or treating.

She and John went around the neighborhood getting candy and socializing while I enjoyed a few moments home alone reading a pile of fall magazines my mom had finished and passed on to me.

Jake on the other and passed a new milestone. He did not put a costume together. He hasn't really trick or treated for a couple years but has gone to parties or something requiring a costume. This year he had play rehearsal all day and then just wandered over to a friends afterward to hand out. Actually he did end up getting in costume as he was recruited to pass out candy while everyone else was preparing for the parents Halloween party, he created an impromptu ninja costume with a black shirt over his head and a sword. Then downstairs to watch movies and hang with the friends. And although he didn't personally trick or treat he did manage to eat more than half of his sisters candy yesterday when left alone too long with the candy bucket. Good thing she isn't old enough to notice yet!

All in all it was a nice weekend spent with John and Isabelle (Jake was also gone Friday night and then spent most of Sunday doing homework). I felt like I was able to relax a little (I finished a book), get the house picked up so that I can start Monday on the right foot, and even think ahead a little about my life and goals. Good stuff.