Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

I enjoy Halloween as much as the next ghoul, but I must say, it seemed to really stretch out for a long time this year! :) We got to do several fun things in costume, so I will touch on some of the highlights.

Friday afternoon, the school had a costume parade. This is our first year at Sunnyside, so we weren't sure if it was a big deal or not for the kids to take costumes (they bring them in their backpacks then change into them for the end of the day parade). All of our kids wanted to bring them, and I am glad they did! It was quite the parade and every kid was in costume!

Elise's costume was created by using an $8 sheet I got at Walmart. There was plenty of fabric left over and I decided to try to get another costume out of it for myself that I would wear to the school carnival this same night.

I was a mummy! There was still Elise as the Zombie Bride, but Batman and the Monkey were OUT. Instead we took Jebb as Bumblebee (the Transformer) and Jackson as a Ninja! In case you are wondering, John spoils our kids rotten. He went out and bought costumes for J&J. I guess i can't complain too much as the costumes they wore before were recycled from several Halloweens past. ;) I also have to admit that out of any toys we spend money on, costumes definately give us the most bang for the buck. We keep them in a big container in the closet and the kids use them all year round. Anyhoo. Only the 3 younger kids went with us to the carnival, as Gabe and Seth went to the Francom's to do some scaring in the spooky forest. But I will get to that.

The carnival at the school was a lot of fun. Each room had an activity for the kids to do. There were cake walks, ring tossing, fishing for prizes, and even a spook alley. Jebb was really excited for the spook alley, as it was in his classroom. We asked him if he'd like someone to come with him, but he bravely refused. I tried to convince John to wait until one of the older kids could go through with him, but John poo-pooed the notion, and sent him on. John and I waited at the exit, where Jebb prematurely appeared holding an adult's hand as he was escorted out...crying. It was too spooky for him! Poor guy! Other than that, the whole thing was a big success and our kids had a great time.

After the Halloween Carnival, we headed to our friend's home for a bonfire and a spooky forest. I had been asked to bring a dessert and I was really excited at the time, because I had a recipe I have been wanting to try. I will backtrack on my day, as I had actually started work on the dessert early in the afternoon. In the hours leading up to the carnival, I decided to channel my inner Bakerella! That is the name of a fun cooking blog and the spot where I found these adorable Cake Pops:

I had orange melts (they look kinda like big orange chocolate chips, only they're not chocolate, they are...something else...?) so I grabbed a pack of green tic-tacs and set out to make some pumpkin heads.

I followed the recipe for the basic cake ball. You bake a red velvet cake, then mix it with cream cheese frosting. Take the red blob and shape it into little round cake balls like so:
That part went pretty well, so I was feeling quite confident. In fact, I tasted one of the cake balls, and it was yummaroo! My confidence was building by the second. I referred back to Bakerella's pictures and thought, ya, I can do that.

I got out my orange melts and (as you might guess) I melted them. I went with the microwave method. This may have been where things started to go wrong. The microwave managed to melt my melts, but they weren't super hot and I was afraid that if I microwaved them any more I might burn them. I dipped the first couple of cake balls, and it seemed like the melts were making a really thick coating. Too thick. But at this point, I was starting to feel a little bit of a time crunch, so I continued to dip. I also had a limited number of lollipop sticks, so I decided to just put the pumpkin heads right onto wax paper and skip the stick. Hmm. Maybe another mistake. But on I dipped. This is also the point when I realized that those melts harden quickly and if you don't get that tic-tac in the pumpkin's head right away, it would crack the shell when you tried to force it. But I pressed on.

I dipped and dipped until I had used up all of my orange melts. It only used up half of my cake balls. That didn't seem right. Time was ticking and I didn't have enough treats to bring yet. I kept working.

Although I didn't have an edible pen like Bakerella, I did have some black frosting. Not as precise, but I got out some toothpicks and started frosting on eyes and mouths. It was harder than I thought it would be. I had to compromise on detail quite a bit. Tick, Tock. I finished up the pumpkin heads. They looked like Bakerella's country cousin, backwoods pumpkin heads. Dang it.

Only a short time left until we were to leave for the carnival, then straight on to the party where I would have to present my cake creations. It was getting spooky. Oh Bakerella, why were my pumpkins so globby compared to yours and why oh why didn't Walmart have an edible pen like the one you use?

I decided to press on and use up my other undipped cake balls. I got out some white morsels that I had in my pantry. (Morsels are a lot like melts, only smaller.) I melted my morsels in my microwave. Then I tried to think of some other words starting with M so I could include them in that last sentence, but I drew a blank. So I started dipping with the melted morsels.

Because they were white, I went for 'ghost pops.' As I mentioned before, I had a few popsicle sticks and I tried to dip and stick. After I had 3 white pops, I realized I could not just hold on to them all day, I would need somewhere to put them while they dried. I looked around my kitchen for some sort of foam block. I didn't really think I had a foam block laying around, but I thought maybe I would come across one and it would be like a Halloween Pop Melted Morsel Miracle.

Not so much.

There was no foam to be found. But I did have a loaf of a french bread on the counter. I decided to give it a try and I ripped off the end and inserted my pops.

It seemed like it was going to work and I reached for another cake ball to dip. It was only a matter of moments before my dipped and top heavy cake balls overthrew the french bread. Dangity Dang it.

I quickly abandoned the whole 'stick' thing and just started dropping balls into the bowl of melted morsels. Another thing Bakerella didn't mention is the fact that crumbs from the cake balls inevitably get into the melted morsels. Red cake in white frosting. It wasn't pretty, but I decided to embrace it near the end and instead of ghosts, I tried to create creepy, bloodshot eyeballs. Sort of. More like white eyeballs with red crumbs stuck in them. Dangity Dang Dang it!

At this point I was out of morsels and out of time. I just had to call it good.

OK, I am really spending a lot of time on these cake pops... Moving on. I threw what I had on a plate, put on my last few mummy wraps, took a few pics, loaded up the kids and went to the before mentioned carnival.

Skipping forward again, we left the carnival and were off to the Francom's. It was a low key gathering of some of our friends and several families I didn't know. I guess we had just missed quite the Halloween moment when one of the kids at the party cut his head open and actually got stitched up right on the kitchen table (there was an ER doc in attendance).

I felt a little conspicuous with a strip of a bed sheet tied around my head, as no other adult was in costume, but tried to relax and enjoy the guy playing the guitar. John snapped a few pictures. I apparently take my hot chocolate drinking very seriously as evidenced by the next picture.

The Francoms also had worked up a great 'spooky forest' through their trees. Gabe and Seth had gone over earlier with some scary costumes bought (of course) for them by John. I am super not into scary stuff and the whole 'Scream' and 'Jason' masks are a little too creepy for me. But the boys loved them and it turned out to be a lot of fun for all of the kids. The big boys hid in the woods ready to scare all who dared to follow the string which marked the trail through the woods. My favorite part was when one of the boys jumped out and started up a leaf blower!

There was some good food and nice company and it was great to hang out and enjoy the fire. Several people even braved trying my spooky Halloween Cake Pops (minus the sticks). Luckily, even though they looked goopy, they tasted pretty dang good (OK, no more cake pop talk!!) :) I think all of the kids had a fun time scaring and being scared and it was fun to hang around the fire.

Did I mention that Halloween seemed to stretch out forever this year--kind of like this blog post! I am not done yet!

Saturday was our ward party and it was more Halloween fun over at the Farley's barn. I seem to be off with my costume wearing. Friday I was the only adult with a costume and tonight I was the only adult without one. John even wore a pink bobbed wig!! There was a chili contest that I someday hope to win. There were lots of games and our family was in charge of the donut bobbing on a string thingy. There was also a terrific haunted forest. Those Farleys really love to do up Halloween and they had all kinds of spooky decorations. Somehow Gabe and Seth were involved in scaring people there too. They loved it. There was a long and beautiful hay ride. You could look up and see every star in the sky and it was a clear and unseasonably warm night. Lots of people pitched in to make it a really fun ward party. I have to admit, by the time the party finally got here, I was feeling a little bah-humbug about Halloween, but it was really terrific.

Kinda like this post, it went on and on, and it wasn't even the actual day of Halloween! And just like Halloween, there came a time to say it was enough. So, Happy Halloween! The End.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elise is 11!

Tonight we celebrated Elise's 11th Birthday. She has been pushing for a big party all week, so she was a little slow to warm to our early, small, family gathering.

She tried to muster up some enthusiasm for opening presents. It struck me that it must be a little irritating sometimes as an 11 year old girl to have a house full of boys singing Happy Birthday. But who can resist this crowd with all their charm?:

Thank heaven Lanae agreed to let Afton and Karver come over for dinner tonight. I think they saved the night for our Elise-she sure loves these two.

And I'll be honest, the night got better and better as she opened her presents. She was mildly excited about new shampoo and a pink razor. But leave it to John to kick it up a notch.

Everyone was excited for her. This is her first bike. Of course she has ridden others, but they were all Gabe or Seth's old bikes. She felt pretty cool to have one JUST for her.

She was finally ready to take some pictures with us-with a real smile! :)

Because it was a school night, we wasted no time shifting into the activity portion of the evening. A huge thanks to John for pre-scraping out several pumpkins for the girls to carve. Jebb and I decided to scrape out our own. By the way-whoever invented those little plastic scraping tools...pure genius. It has revolutionalized pumpkin gut removal!!

The girls happily and quietly worked on their gourd carving. They did a fabulous job! Hank helped Jackson carve his pumpkin.

Everyone took a picture with their masterpieces before it was time to take Elise's friend's home. Overall, I think it turned out pretty darn good for our getting-older-by-the-day Elise. We love the heck out of her and are so glad to have such a beautiful and kind hearted daughter. Happy Birthday Elise!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10... Great day for a 14th Birthday

10-10-10 doesn't roll around every day! Today is Gabe's 14th birthday and although I felt some pressure to make it ten-tastic, we laid pretty low with it being the Sabbath and all.

Grandma bought these big balloons for Gabe. He was a good sport and posed for a brief picture. Being 14 now, he has an image to maintain. ;)

He got a package from G&G Ross that they left when they were here last weekend. Gabe resisted the temptation to open it early and is really happy that he now has one of Papa's famous handmade treasure chests. (Thanks Dad!)

I left Gabe's gift up to John this of course he got a .22 for his oldest son. It looks quite intimidating. Gabe was thrilled!

Gabe is such a good son. We have had the opportunity to talk a lot lately about choices and obedience with him (yes, it has to do with girls....heaven help me). He has pleasantly surprised me often. I think I will keep him at least 14 more years!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Football Championships

Today was the Middle School A-team Championship game. Gabe's team was playing the Pagosa Pirates. Last time they met the Pirates, Escalante squeaked out a rainy win against them as a torrential rain poured and poured in Pagosa. So this time, Pagosa had a score to settle (I guess that is where that phrase comes from...some sort of sporting event where a score would be kept....anyhoo).

Gabe played really well and I was thrilled that the weather was much more pleasant this time around. In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a more perfect football watching day. Cool fall day, blue sunny skies, little kids playing on the sidelines as they cheer on their big brothers on the local team. Delightful! Gabe is #13. Thanks to Seth for taking some fun pictures.

One thing that I really admire about Gabe is his work ethic. He gives every play his best effort and ends up on the ground in most every play. He plays offense and defense (he thinks D is more fun). I like this next pic that Seth took--very artsy! :)

Gabe had some great tackles--here he is sacking the QB! We told him we would pay him $20 for any QB sack he made this year, so after this play, he stood up, smiled and pointed at John to remind us. I think that is the only time I have seen him look over and communicate with us overtly from the field. He is typically quite focused, so I thought it was adorable (although I am sure he would be horrified at my word choice)!

We also got this cool shot of him catching a pass.

He played his heart out, but sadly, it was not enough as the Pirates beat us this year. Tough way to end the season, but it didn't dampen my enjoyment of the game much. It is really fun to see your boys learning new skills. I loved watching Gabe and Seth play on their teams this year and I really loved seeing them work HARD! I would rather watch my boys play football than go see a professional team play. It really is fun! :)