Thursday, November 1

Halloween 2012

I've really enjoyed our Halloween traditions this year! McKay had to do a presentation on a holiday that our family celebrates and he picked Halloween. Yeah, presentations in 1st grade! I love it! He did a great job and I liked being reminded that we actually do have traditions with intentions, even for Halloween.

Sometimes traditions feel binding and overwhelming for us moms, but I'm trying to retrain myself. I'm trying to analyze holidays for what I want our family to get out of them: traditions that create memories as a family, time to serve others and share our blessings, and outings to celebrate with our communities. I'm finding that if I approach holidays like this, I don't get as overwhelmed/resentful and can find the joy of holidays.

Pumpkin Carving
In preparation for Halloween, we carved pumpkins for Family Home Evening last week. We had Ryan's coworker Helen Garza, a.k.a. Garbonzo, over to enjoy dinner and carving with us. Little did we know, she had NEVER carved a pumpkin before! No time like the present to learn, right? She was such a good sport as we pretty much handed her a pumpkin and a kitty face Morgan wanted and put her to work. 
Your big debut here, Helen!
Working your kitty magic!
Ryan enjoyed his carving tradition where he put the hand mixer's beater on his drill and whips all the pumpkin guts away from the edges for easy scooping out. The kids checked on our carving progress now and then, but were mostly interested in watching Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin movie.

Easton had to use all his might to carve part of his and it was hard work - such a thick pumpkin!

I love all the faces they make below! My cute kids!

Serving Others

I love ding-dong-ditching around holidays! I love how it makes me feel good to be thinking of these friends while I prepare it and imagining their joy at being thought of. Who doesn't like a yummy surprise?!

We boo'd five neighbors this year (underlined link is to last year's experience/explanation). Usually I like this to be an anonymous service, but this time I put a Happy Halloween tag with our names on the pumpkin bread loaves because one American neighbor family won't eat stuff from people they don't know. Since I can't always remember some of these neighbors' names, I thought perhaps they were the same and having our names would be nice. The kids were ecstatic the next day when we found a bag of Haribo gummy candies tied to our van door from a thankful neighbor! That's a first! Easton said, "Mom, I'm so glad you put our names on the bread so they knew who to give treats to!" HaHaHa!

Community Activities

The kids are out of school this week for fall break - a tradition in Germany. Most of the kids' best buddies are away on vacation and their church friends who go to school on base don't have it off. We've enjoyed laying low during the day because our evenings were full: the "boo-ing" for Family Home Evening on Monday night, a ward Trunk-or-Treat activity on Tuesday, and traditional Trick-or-Treating on base Wednesday. So each morning this week, the kids have raced to get their chores done so they can have some video game time in the morning. They are loving their school break!

I wish I had taken some pictures before and at the ward Trunk-or-Treat family night. Easton was Batman, McKay was Darth Vadar, Morgan a tiger, and Jake a frog. Hurray for costumes already in the box! The ward activity was a lot of fun with a yummy pot luck soup buffet spread and we invited the Frikken family from school. They are such a great family, we love being with them!

All day Wednesday the kids changed their costume ideas every half hour it seemed. I will seriously have to be on the look out for some more versatile costumes in bigger sizes for next year! I am not as crafty as others yet, but the kids seemed happy with the selection and their choices.

We went to Ryan's office to show off the kids and then Ryan took them to the movie theater where there were some children's activities. I had to run back to the security gate to sign in a friend's family but we all met up to do our trick-or-treating. I'm really grateful for those families who live on base and supply all that candy and decorate their spaces for the event! It's a fun tradition and we are always running into friends the whole time because it is such a small community.

The reality of trying to take a picture with my four kids.
It's "like herding cats!" 

Jake couldn't be bothered to pose for pictures when there was a ball to kick in sight.
He is nuts about playing soccer and tests every item he comes across for kick-ability.
If it rolls, it passes the test - even cups with no handles roll well enough he thinks.
She insisted all afternoon to her big brothers, to the point of screams and tears, that she is a lion not a tiger!
She regularly brings out the ogre in me, but I love her as fiercely as a tiger!
Look at that sweet face!

With all the action of getting out the door for trick-or-treating,
Jake here embodies what I'd rather be doing for the rest of the evening. 
He so badly wanted to be out walking with his siblings but they were too fast and the footings too unsure. Last weekend's big snowfall has been creating mud bogs that are too much for his little legs to conquer.
But look at that smile! We make cute babies, no?
You can barely see our stealthy ninja, McKay.
He was pretty excited to see this picture!
If you're a kid, what's not to love about costumes and candy?!
We headed for Indian food afterward and were happy to find ourselves the lone customers. Good food, fun conversations, fun holiday! The icing on the cake? An episode of Downton Abbey while hearing snippets of what McKay called, The Treat Trading Convention. He made a haul, just like Easter!

Side Note:
I recently read on a blog about wards that celebrate Reformation Day instead of Trunk or Treat! How cool is that?! In northern Germany on October 31, 1517 is the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door which ignited the Reformation and has shaped world history. Having recently listened to a book about the building of the magnificent St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, the costs of which were creatively covered by selling indulgences - I just can't help myself! I told Ryan I might have to do my research and come up with a 20 minute simple multi-media/faceted presentation to pitch for a ward party idea. I'm such a nerd, this is such an exciting idea to me! The one friend I did pitch this too said I would be laughed out the door and I'd have to agree. Our trunk-or-treat pot luck was such a perfect laid back family activity that everyone seemed to enjoy, I'd hate to mess with a good thing. But we're in Europe! It's a German holiday! Most everyone in attendance will have recently visited and heard about these places and people in their travels. Any takers? Anyone??

Side Side Note:
We're so grateful our friends and family seemed to have fared alright through Hurricane Sandy!!!