The holiday craziness is upon us! This is always such a hectic time of year. I feel pressure to make sure the holidays are fun and meaningful, while trying to manage my health and well-being. Having Finn in school has added to the craziness as there are special, holiday-related activities to participate in as well. (And I am fully aware that this isn't the half of it! I hear the older mothers chiming in with, "wait until he has concerts, games, etc." Don't worry. I see the apocalypse coming.) I just wish all the joy was spread out over the entire four weeks instead of just the one.
First off, we visited a pumpkin patch. This required some prior research on my part since we are new to the area. I searched community Facebook pages to see which were the best "patches" in the area. There was MUCH agreement that one of the best ones was an hour away at the tip of the Hood Canal. The day started out very much like a badly written and cliche' sitcom. The kids were misbehaving beforehand and Mr. F. was super sick and cranky, but it was the last second to last weekend in October and it was slotted to be a gorgeous PNW day, and by jingo, we were going, and we were going to ENJOY it, even if it killed us all. On the ride down, the kids tried our patience even more by complaining about how long it was taking, even though I had mentioned repeatedly that it was going to be a long drive. *Sigh*. However, once we got there, despite it being PACKED and having to move around the mass of humanity, we enjoyed ourselves. The place was extremely well run which made the mass of humanity a bit less soul-sucking than I would normally find such things. It was the first pumpkin patch I had been to where you actually went out into the fields and picked pumpkins! My kids decided to pick the biggest pumpkins they could find, and Mr. F. had to manage hauling both of them to and from the wagon and car. (I had my own pumpkin, of course, so I couldn't help.)
Enna loved looking at all the animals, and both kids enjoyed sliding down the black tube tunnel slide set up in part of the hay maze. I might try something closer next year and not quite so commercial. We will see.
Finn had parent teacher conferences the last few days the week prior to Halloween. I originally played around with taking the opportunity to visit Seattle, but the cost of everything (ferries, said activity, etc.) started tallying up. A friend suggested we go with her and her daughters to the Children's Museum in Tacoma. There is free parking, a free train ride, and the museum itself is by donation. Perfect! The kids loved every single part of the experience and were asking me as we left when we could go again. I loved it because I didn't have to deal with my two kids destroying a very small space for the entire day. Win/win!
Trick or Treat Street
Finn's school hosts a Trick or Treat Street for the community each year. The PTSA decorates the school and the teachers dress up and pass out candy. It was really fun. However, it was also very popular. About 1000 people come. They are good about letting people in slowly so that it isn't too crowded in the school. I couldn't really take a lot of pictures because most of it was rather dark, lighted only by strings of lights, etc.
Salmon Viewing Days
So the county has salmon viewing days at different river locations in October/November since this is when a lot of the chum salmon return. Obviously, I had to go, because once a Salmon Girl, always a Salmon Girl. I saw one listed at a park near our house and decided it would be perfect. In theory, yes. However, it was 1) raining and 2) no salmon were swimming upstream to view. Honestly, it was the second one that bothered me the most. I asked which creek/river was the best to view returning salmon, so I will use that information for later/next time. (And of course, this is the time to plug the necessity of restoring salmon habitat!) Grandma and Grandpa had arrived by then and came with us, and Grandpa was there to take pictures. I love the break from being the family photographer. It is also the only time we get shots of us all as a family.
Both Mr. F. and I got sick right when Grandma and Grandpa came. I guess that was convenient. Anyway, it was nice to take a break and to "delegate" the job of carving pumpkins to Grandma and Grandpa. (O.k., I sort of planned that when I saw the GIGANTIC pumpkins that kids picked out at the patch.) Finn carved his pumpkin almost entirely by himself. Grandma was saying how his arms were shaking as he was sawing away. Enna showed Grandpa how she wanted the face to look on paper. Despite the success of the carving, I dropped the ball because we didn't have any candles to put in the pumpkins once carved, and we never got any in time before the pumpkins rotted and had to be tossed. There were tears. Weeping and wailing. And once I again, I was reminded about how I routinely fail as a mother. *Sigh*
Trick or Treating
Downtown hosts trick or treating for two hours (4-6) on Halloween. All the shops hand out candy, it is light enough and early enough for young kids, and it is PACKED! However, everyone is super nice and considerate so it isn't too bad. I loved seeing all the kids in costume, and there was such a feeling of small-town camaraderie. We were done in about an hour, we came home and had dinner, and the kids were in bed close to the time they normally are. Trick or treating for the win! There are a lot of fun pictures that Grandpa took, so check out the rest of the pictures on flickr (along with all the other pictures from all the other activities that I didn't share.)
I decided to try the Switch Witch this year. Due to all our allergies (Enna is allergic to nuts, and I have Celiac), we are left with very little candy for us to eat. The candy that is left is all full-sugar, nothing remotely healthy, full of dyes, etc. Gag. Anyway, it is always depressing. So I decided that it would be the best for everyone just to let the kids keep a few pieces (Six. I let them keep six) and the rest would be left for the Switch Witch. In return for the candy, a toy would be left in the bag for the kids. This kids loved the toys and were happy with the few pieces of candy left for them. Parenting win!
Not pictured, is the cookie decorating. I decided that it would be awesome to decorate sugar cookies (which I never make), and so I ordered some halloween cookie cutters online. Well, it was craziness before Halloween, so we made them the day afterwards. It was a hit. I actually used only half the dough. (I used this recipe for the dough with modifications and this for the icing.) And guys, I am so lame. I just can't bring myself to use regular food dye. I need to buy some natural ones. The kids are always so sad when I say with fake cheerfulness that we will just be using one color! (In retrospect, I should have made chocolate icing, since that would have been great for the faces on pumpkin, ghosts, etc. Instead, I just left it white.)