Saturday, November 20, 2010

Family Game Night - TV Show

We have recently gotten a new channel on Direct TV called "The Hub" (channel 294). It plays the most random shows during the day, but at night it runs things like Family Ties, The Wonder Years, Happy Days, Growing pains, etc. We have noticed, that on Friday nights, it runs a new game show hosted by Todd Newton called Family Game Night. It's sponsored by Hasbro and has families of 4 or 5 competing against each other in life-sized games such as Sorry, Boggle, Guesstures, Cranium, Connect 4, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Simon Says, Bop It, etc.

It this generation's Double Dare, but without the slime! We absolutely love it and have started watching it every Friday night while we eat pizza and play board games. The boys really look forward to it and we have the most fun cheering on the families. We always split up into two teams and each root for a team. I'm so glad they still make fun family shows like this.

The boys have already started asking when they will be old enough to compete on this show! :)

Child Craft Books

Because you know I love all things 1950's, you may not be surprised that I have a love and appreciation for the Child Craft books of that time.

My mother had these when she was a child and she has passed them on to me. I have volumes 1-15 from the early '50s and I read to the boys from them almost every night.

Right now we're reading from Once Upon a Time and Poems and Rhymes. I just love the old fairytales, some of which are almost impossible to find anymore. I adore the old illustrations, the smell of the 60-year-old book, and the simplicity of the poems. The boys are really enjoying it and we've had the most fun reading from them.

We can't wait to dive into some of the other books like: The World of Animals, The World of Planets, and See the World. I highly recommend adding these to your children's libraries. You can find that at garage sales, on Ebay, used book stores, and other online places. I have seen them at used bookstores for only $3 each.

Our Willow Tree

We have the most beautiful willow tree in our front yard. It has grown so much the past 4 years that you almost can't see our front door anymore when you're coming down the street. We live in an area that gets it's fair share of rain, so the willow tree is great in soaking up all of the excess water.

My favorite thing about the tree is that it never stops moving. Even when the air seems still, the long branches seems to move ever so slightly. When it's very windy or during the storm, the branches flop all over the place whip through the air. The boys love to walk through the branches and pretend they're in the jungle.

I absolutely love our tree in late afternoons. We have 27 windows in this house and I keep the blinds open on every one of them every day to let the natural light in. In the late afternoon, we get the most beautiful shadows from those branches blowing in the wind all over our floors and walls. It's so relaxing and peaceful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I love fall baking, and each year I have a few standards my family can always expect. One of my favorites is Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. They always remind me of fall and I can't wait to bite into them when the weather gets cooler!

The boys got out of school a little early today, so we set off making these as soon as they got home from school. It took us about 2 hours from start to finish, but little Beaver was with me the entire time in his little apron, totally enjoying himself. He even served one warm to Ward, who was patiently waiting in the living room while the sweet pumpkiny smells swirled all around.

We're having family game night tonight with pizza, so this is the perfect dessert to go along with our night of fun!

Holiday Music

Like most people, this is my absolute FAVORITE time of year. The weather has FINALLY cooled down and the highs are in the upper 50's, where they should be for this time of year. The leaves are still falling (but not for much longer) and the grasses have finally turned almost completely brown. Yea! Fall is finally here in all it's glory.

As a rule for myself, I try not to "rush the seasons". In the fall, I like to bake pies, make "pumpkin-y" things, put orange and yellow and brown decorations out, and watch Thanksgiving movies. But mid-November gets a little overlappy for me. I know Thanksgiving is only a week away, but the day after Thanksgiving is when we typically start decorating for Christmas, so there's virtually no time to downshift between Thanksgiving warm and fuzzies and Christmas Wonderland.

This year, we're going to be out of town for Thanksgiving and won't be home until November 30th, so we'll miss our traditional "decorate on Friday" fanfare. I can't help but get in the Christmas spirit just knowing that we're going to decorate THIS weekend instead of next. I can hardly wait to get everything down from the attic tomorrow! It's like discovering my dishes, blankets, trinkets, and ornaments all over again.

To get myself in the Christmas spirit, I LOVE to turn my TV to the radio station channels. Direct TV has the Holidays and Happenings channel. The TV screen goes blank after a few minutes, so no one would ever know the music was coming from the TV. Most of the songs on this channel are old Christmas standards sung by Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, etc.

I LOVE to have a perfectly clean house, a fire in the fireplace, all the blinds open, and Ray Charles singing "Winter Wonderland" in the background. When they kids come home from school, they throw their backpacks in the couch and lay on the floor in front of the fire place and play with the cars and trucks and sing along to 50 year-old songs without a care in the world. What could be better than that???

Monday, November 15, 2010

Playing at the local park

I am sure, all over America, cities small and large have local parks. Kids have been going to parks for many many years and I'm sure this tradition will continue on for the foreseeable future. We have a couple of parks in our city and we've visited them from time to time, but we definitely have a favorite park that we visit 90% of the time.

We found this park about 3 years ago and it's located 7 miles from our home. The park has 4 separate play areas. The main play area is a pirate ship with a set of swings. Not far from that is a jungle gym (with no benches for the parents). This playground doesn't get near the traffic that the pirate area does, but it butts up against a field of goats and horses and the kids love to try to woo them over to the fence. The third area is located about half a mile away (all within the big park) and is on the other side of a pavilion, so it's not noticeable from the road. This one RARELY has any traffic and is a small area with just a slide and some swings. Our favorite area is across the river on the least visited part of the park and it's a playground made of a wooden jungle gym with two slides. There's also two swing sets and two see-saws. Near the play area is a pavilion. In the 3 years we've visited this area, we have never once seen another child playing on this playground.

The area has many pine trees, so there are always a lot of dried pine needles on the ground, which the boys love to use for building forts. It's so wonderful to go there because they always have the entire area to themselves. We see people drive into the park and pass right by it to go to other areas, but no one ever stops to play here.

I took the boys there one day last week after school and we stayed for 2 hours until it got dark and had the most fun.

I hope no one else ever discovers our secret park :).

Church Chili Supper

We attended our church's annual Chili Supper for the first time last night and had a great time. This is the biggest fund-raiser for our youth each year. Each youth member makes a batch of chili and the church members come to taste test and give donations to eat there. While we're eating, there's also a silent auction bake sale going on. After the meal, there is a live auction for things such as car details, vacations, helicopter rides, romantic dinners, etc.

Beaver and Wally went down to the church playroom and stayed down there for 2.5 hours while Ward and I hung out for the dinner and auction. We had an absolute blast and the auctioneer was a hoot. Overall, the youth raised $3500, which was just wonderful.

I made 4 loaves of my challah bread, and each loaf went for around $16. I just love our church and I hope it continues to grow!

A day of hiking!

Last weekend, Ward and I took the boys to hike at a nearby State Park. We love going to state parks and decided a couple of years ago to make that our family hobby. We started in the fall of 2008 when the boys were 3 and 5 and have since taken them to 6 state parks in our area. We've been cabin-camping once and tent camping once and we've had so much time.

Since Ward spent the summer recovering from his knee surgery, we haven't done much in the past 7 months, but we finally got to go hiking about 9 days ago. We went to a park we hadn't been to in about a year and a half and had lunch at the lodge there (which we had never done before). Ward's knee wasn't quite up to the hike, so he drove around and visited the look-outs while I took the boys on a short hike to see some caves. The lunch was delicious and we were surprised to find out they were rebuilding the lodge and the restaurant would soon be closed down for a year and a half.

We were lucky to get to eat there when we did. We went to see a waterfall that the park is famous for, but since it's been so dry around here lately, there was no water! We let the boys play on the playground for a bit and then headed home after spending about 4 hours at the park. They were exhausted and slept the whole way home. Great day!