Tag Archives: halloween

Carving Pumpkins


This past week, in preparation for Halloween, pumpkins were gathered and knives were sharpened for some gruesome and gross fun…

It was time to carve our jack o’ lanterns!

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Not because I love digging my hands into the cold, slimy guts of a pumpkin, but because it is a tradition that draws my heart to my own childhood memories and the memories of years past with my own children. Like so many of the holiday traditions that are repeated year after year, pumpkin carving serves as a connecting thread that ties us together as a family, builds shared memories, and draws us closer to each other.


I am a huge believer in the importance of family traditions, whether speaking of holiday traditions or day to day traditions. I believe family traditions serve as a glue, connecting us to each other. I believe they are an essential element of family life, but they are even more important when trying to build connection with new family members. We have discovered through our journey of adoptions that shared family traditions can be a catalyst to bonding and building feelings of belonging.


And they are fun!

They force us, as parents, to set aside the urgent tasks of the day for the important things…

Connecting with our children in a lighthearted, silly way.

So, on the Sunday before Halloween we carved lack o’ lanterns with the boys for our family night activity, and while we carved I used the following family home evening lesson from LDS Daily to liken the experience to a spiritual lesson.

One of the most recognized symbols of Halloween is a jack-o-lantern. People love to take pumpkins and make beautiful creations. Many years ago, people from Ireland brought the tradition of making jack-o-lanterns to America. It comes from the story of a man named Jack who roamed the earth after he died and needed a light to see.

But the Irish didn’t have pumpkins! They used turnips, potatoes, and other gourds to make their jack-o-lanterns. When Irish immigrants started coming to America, they discovered the pumpkin was easier to carve and much bigger.

Today, jack-o-lanterns are a part of the Halloween tradition. But did you know we can learn about Jesus Christ from the jack-o-lantern?

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 We are like this pumpkin. God picks us from the patch for a special purpose. He has brought us to Earth and to families where he helps us become clean. All the dirt is washed off of us.


God can ask us to do hard things. Sometimes we are asked to go through trials or illnesses. We make mistakes and need to repent. God wants to change our hearts so we can be more like him. This is like when we cut off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out all the yucky pumpkin goo.

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 There are seeds inside the pumpkin. Inside of us, we have seeds of doubt, fear, or anger. God removes these seeds and instead turns them into seeds of faith, hope, and charity. This is like when we clean off all the seeds and cook them so they’re yummy.

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God wants us to have joy in this life and in the life to come. He helps us have a smiling face of peace.

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With the jack-o-lantern, we carve a smile and put a light inside. We have the light of Jesus Christ inside of us that can shine bright for everyone to see.”

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Happy Halloween from our house to yours!

Snap* Crackle* Pop!


I love Halloween. I love the cool weather, the falling leaves, the smell of bonfires, the itch of wool sweaters. I especially love the opportunity to tap into the joy of creativity as we work to come up with the year’s costumes.

For the past few years we have come up with a group costume for Halloween. In past years we have gone as…

The toys from Toy Story:

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The Wizard of Oz gang:

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The emotional characters from Inside Out:

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And the beloved characters from Disney’s Peter Pan:


It is always a fun process brainstorming as we put our heads together to come up with the group costume for the year. In the past, the girls have spearheaded much of the efforts, so this year the boys had to step up their game and tap into their own creativity.

With smaller numbers this Halloween (being down Molly, Grace and Ozzie) we were looking for a group costume for either 3 or 5 people. Luckily there are many famous trios to pick from. We let our stomachs do the choosing and picked this iconic breakfast trio:

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Rusty dressed as Snap:

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Tyler dressed as Crackle:

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And Braden dressed as Pop:

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It was a blessedly simple set of costumes to pull together which was a blessing as Halloween zoomed up quickly… hot on the tail of the wedding reception.

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Saturday, October 26th was the Trunk or Treat at church, and our first opportunity to take our costumes for a test drive.

In addition to Snap, Crackle, and Pop, our room was also manned by a carton of milk and a spoon.

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The weather outside drove the trunk or treat festivities inside where families decorated classrooms rather than trunks for the trick or treaters roaming the halls.

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As a nod to our theme we handed out Rice Krispie treats.

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We has a wonderful turnout for trunk or treat with many kids dressed up for the event, eager to fill their buckets.

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It was a blast seeing all the costumes.

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Everyone went above and beyond. Some of our favorite costumes were group costumes.

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Dinner brought even more party goers as everyone gathered in the cultural hall for hot soups and yummy desserts.

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At the end of dinner prizes were awarded for best costumes and the boys were thrilled to be one of the winning groups.

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How grateful I am for fun memories made with these three…

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Snap * Crackle* Pop…Rice Krispies!

Time to Catch-up!


Finally, after two months, I feel like I have found my footing. Autumn came in like a tornado with our scheduled stretched thinner than it ever has been before. The addition of another family member and all the appointments and obligations that come with that, in addition to deciding to go back to school to start working towards my degree, coupled with two boys in football,

Well, I never thought we’d be able to manage the chaos…

But life is balancing and we have found our new “normal.” Routines are established and I no longer feel as though I am sinking beneath the waves, which is why there has been a renewed influx of action on the blog. Football season has come to a close and I finally have found the missing moments needed to write and it is so good to be back.

Blogging is my lifeline. It is my therapy. It is the selfish indulgence that grounds me and gives me clarity, and I have missed it.

Here are some of the moments lived this last month.

“Exercising our Right to Vote!”

November 6th was Brandon’s 17th birthday as well as being election day! Miss Molly, having turned 18 this year, was able to exercise her right to have a voice and vote in her first election.

I was so proud of her. She took this responsibility seriously and spent hours researching the different candidates running for various offices, taking notes, making pro/con lists about their platforms, and then choosing the candidates that best reflected her beliefs. For her one-on-one time last week, I was able to join her as she researched candidates and we were able to have a meaningful discussion about how to choose a candidate. As a result of her example and effort I found myself walking into the voting booth better informed that I probably ever have been in past elections.

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Grace, Molly and I went to vote together. What a special experience it was for me to exercise the blessed right to have a voice, with my two daughters.

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“Big Bessie Bit the Dust”

Our big, beautiful 12 passenger van began to show distinct signs of a slipping transmission. Rather than wait for the inevitable, we decided to bite the bullet and begin vehicle shopping, something that is considered a dream evening for Ozzie and a living nightmare for me.

The death of Bessie required us to reevaluate our needs and priorities in a vehicle. As much as I love the space Bessie afforded us, She was killing us in gas consumption. It was finally decided that with the amount of driving I do weekly and the impending winter, that we would sacrifice room to stretch out for all wheel drive and improved gas mileage.

I let Toby take on the car search, with Brandon’s help, happy to remain at home and avoid the wheeling and dealing that comes with car shopping. I assured him that all I needed was a car with an engine, a radio, and a cup holder, and the gift of NOT having to pick out the car would ensure I was grateful for WHATEVER vehicle he brought home.

On a Friday evening after school, Toby and Brandon headed to Ohio to chase down a deal Toby found online. The vehicle was 3 years old, had only 9,000 miles, all wheel drive, got 20 miles to the gallon (compared to Big Bessie’s 10 miles/gallon), and it was an 8 seater. It sounded perfect and it was…

Meet our newest addition…name still to be decided! 🙂


 “A Spooky Date with Tyler”

A few weeks before Halloween I received an invitation to join some of Tyler’s buddies from church and their mothers for a mother/son date to Freddy’s Haunts.


“Freddy’s haunts is a family owned and operated haunted trail that was originally opened in 1993 under the name skull mountain haunted trail. 

We are an immersive, all enclosed haunted trail that is filled with the monsters from your worst nightmares. Our old-school haunted trail operates rain or moonshine with an enclosed waiting area so that you don’t have to endure the elements along with your worst fears.”


I had my reservations, given Tyler’s history of heightened fearfulness and my history of being a weenie, but Tyler begged to go and I thought it sounded like it could be an awesome bonding opportunity for Tyler and I, as well as a fun memory made with friends. I was glad our friends suggested it because I would have never considered it on my own, but it ended up being a blast!


I think next year we will try to talk the entire family into braving Freddy’s!

“Flying High…Drone Style!”

Rusty has been having a blast with his 17th birthday gift…

A high-flyin’ drone!

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Our acreage makes for a perfect flying zone. With each flight Rusty gets stronger and stronger in his skills as a drone pilot and it is fun watching the footage of what he catches on film as the drone flies high above our heads.

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“Hocus Pocus”

As a family we dressed at the gang from Peter Pan for Halloween, but Grace also had a Halloween party to attend, independently, with her YSA group. Feeling that her Halloween costume wasn’t strong enough to stand alone, apart from the rest of Peter Pan’s crew, she began exploring options for a second Halloween costume.

She and two girlfriends ended up creating their own group costume and going as the three witches from the classic Halloween flick, ” Hocus Pocus.”

Grace dove into the family dress-up box of past Halloween costumes and emerged as Winifred Sanders:

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“Photo Fun!”

This past month we had the opportunity to capture the beautiful faces of some of our favorite seniors on film. Following Molly’s senior photo shoot we were asked by a few of Molly’s friends if we could take their senior photos as well. October provided the perfect backdrop and Grace, Molly and I have had fun playing “photographers” to these beautiful girls. At one photo shoot Molly couldn’t help but jump in front of the camera for some pictures with one of her best buddies!

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“Saying Farewell to Family Based Therapy”

Well, after nine months of weekly visits, our family based team is saying “good-bye.” Family Based therapy was put in place when Ozzie exited residential care, as an extra layer of support for his transition home. We were blessed with two awesome ladies as our “team.” They quickly became part of our life as they spent hours in our home and many hours sitting beside me in the ER when Ozzie was in crisis.

For nine months their primary objective was to work with our family on goals of increased safety and sibling connection, while our trauma therapist focused on EMDR therapy with Ozzie. This double layer of therapeutic care proved to be just the ticket and we have seen great growth in Ozzie these last 9 months.

Yesterday was our final session. It was with mixed feelings we closed out our file and said good-bye to these gals with a pizza party and celebratory gifts. They have been so good to us and this final session was no different. They brought the family pizza and gifted the kids with their own game of, “Whoonu,”


A game that became a favorite in our therapy sessions!

They also generously gifted me with a gift certificate for a massage at a local spa with a reminder to continue making self care a priority.

What a blessing Lisa and Val have been to our family. I have come to realize, through this challenging walk of adopting kids from hard places, that angels do walk the earth today, and many are simply known as “therapists.”

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Brace Face #5



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This week Brandon joined the ranks of brace-faced kiddos at Patchwork Farm. For the next two years he will wear his orthodontic grill with pride as it moves and molds his smile into the grin of his dreams.

When Brandon moved in two months ago one of our first appointments was to the orthodontist to have him evaluated for braces. The orthodontist confirmed what we already suspected, that Brandon’s bite needed some major adjustment, so plans were made to add him to the ranks of past and present McCleery “Brace Faces.”

Grace and Rusty both needed braces and received orthodontic care through Gulland Orthodontics.

In the last 6 months, Tyler and Ozzie both began their orthodontic care at Spokane Orthodontics, an orthodontist 40 minutes closer to home who also accepts their insurance.

It was at Spokane Orthodontics that Brandon was evaluated for orthodontic care and found to be in need of braces.

Last Wednesday was the big day and he was very excited!


Brandon is self conscious about his smile and was thrilled to find out he was approved for braces. His appointment was scheduled for Halloween. We arrived at the office at 8:00am for his appointment and for the next two hours his teeth were cleaned, dried, glued, and wired until I was called back to see the finished product and we received instructions about the care and cleaning of braces.

Luckily, I am an old hat at the braces thing, having parented 4 other children through the unique dietary restrictions and hygienic care of brushing, flossing and caring for teeth shrouded in metal…

Despite having never worn braces myself.

Brandon was eager to show off his new smile.

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After his appointment, but before returning him back to school, we made a quick stop at the grocery store for soft foods and pain killers. I’ve learned that the days following the application of braces are painful ones and chewing is near impossible, so we loaded up on soups, mashed potatoes, smoothie ingredients and ice cream, and then made sure he had Advil in his system before I took him back to school.

By the time he arrived back home he was hurting but managed to rally enough to enjoy our Halloween festivities,


And he even faced the candy restrictions (that come with braces) with happy acceptance. As the kids dumped their candy and began the beloved tradition of sorting and divvying up the Halloween treats collected during trick-or-treating, Brandon, Tyler and Ozzie laid claimed on the chocolate treats that were braces-friendly.

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It was a monumental day for our newest addition…

His first Halloween at Patchwork Farm AND braces.

It was an October 31st for the memory books!

Drumroll, please….



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For the last few years we have had fun coming up with a themed family costume for Halloween.

In the past we have dressed as the crew from Toy Story:

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The emotions from Inside Out:

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and the characters from Wizard of Oz:

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This year we knew we wanted to continue this tradition, especially given the addition of Brandon to the family, and the realization that next year may take the girls away from home, making this possibly our last chance for a full family Halloween costume.

Much debate was put into possible themes as we considered books or movies that had at least 8 primary characters, the right ratio of boys and girls, and contained characters that were “cool” enough to convince the boys to join in.

After much debate the decision was made…


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 Bandon played the role of Peter Pan…

With Rusty as his shadow:

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Toby was Captain Hook:

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Tyler was a Lost Boy:

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I played the role of Wendy Darling:

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Ozzie was John Darling:

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Grace was Michael Darling (with Ellie May as Nana):

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And Molly played the role of Tinker Bell:

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And it was so much fun!!

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I love Halloween!


And I adore this family of mine!

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I’ve Never met a Pumpkin I didn’t like!


I LOVE this time of year.

October has and always will have my heart.

I love the weather, the smells, the changing leaves, and the activities attached to this month…

And I tend to fill those 31 days to capacity as I try to fit in all the fall fun I can before the weather turns, the evenings darken, and the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season comes down upon us.

With the month of October comes my favorite holiday of the year…


It is with great enthusiasm we plan our costumes and decorate the house. One tradition that accompanies this holiday is the annual family pumpkin carving night.


This year I lucked out when I stumbled across an exceptional deal on pumpkins when driving past a country farm. Sitting by the roadside were HUGE pumpkins that were being sold for $2.00/ each, regardless of size. Well, who could pass up a deal like that?! Rather than simply buy the kids each a pumpkin like I usually do, I decided to go ahead and buy 8 so Toby and I could each carve our own pumpkin.


We decided Sunday night was the night.


We have reach the point of life where we rarely have a night where everyone is home together. As much as I hate it, the reality of this season of life is that school schedules, work schedules, church commitments, and social obligations make catching everyone at home, all at one time, a near impossibility. Because of this we have set aside Sunday evening as our family night. After dinner on Sunday we gather in the living room to calendar out our week as a family, hold our weekly family council, and enjoy a lesson, activity or game, and fun treat as a family. Even this commitment has become more challenging with Gracie’s YSA congregation’s meetings now beginning at 3:00 pm each Sunday. This means that Grace isn’t getting home until almost 8:00 on Sundays… but we are making it work. We just save our Family Night activity for 8pm on Sunday nights.

This past Sunday was pumpkin night.

As we prepared for Gracie’s arrival home we cleared the dining room table, covered it in plastic, and carried all the pumpkins in from outside. With the addition of empty bowls carving knives, and metal spoons we had everything we needed to create jack-o’-lantern magic.

When Grace got home we jumped right into the festivities. Everyone chose their pumpkin and began sketching out their design on their pumpkin. I love seeing how creative everyone is with their ideas. And it is always neat to see how reflective the design is of the carver who is creating it.

It was especially neat to watch Brandon as he experienced this family tradition for the first time. He is 16 years old and this was his first time carving a pumpkin, and as his mom this “first” was as delightful as it was watching it with my older kids when they were toddlers experiencing this tradition for the first time…

The only difference: Brandon was a lot less messy and a lot more capable of safely holding a knife.

Everyone jumped in to the task at hand and soon completed pumpkins were scattered across the table.

Tyler created a happy jack-o-lantern.


Ozzie paid homage to Gracie’s automobile with a Kia logo.


Rusty, our Disney fan, carved a delightful Winnie the Pooh pumpkin.

Molly, our rain lover , carved her pumpkin to reflect a personal delight- autumn rain showers!

Gracie’s pumpkin reflected her educational pursuit of sign language with an artistic carving of the sign for “I love you.”

And finally Brandon decided to keep his first jack-o’-lantern traditional, with a carved  face, cutting the eyes into hearts and topping his pumpkin with a crown.

Toby decided to carve his pumpkin into a night scene, complete with a shooting star.

And I transformed my pumpkin into Jack, from the Disney classic, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”


The guts from eight pumpkins were sorted through, as we pulled and rinsed the seeds to prep them for roasting, and then we headed outside to light all the pumpkins from within and watch them glow on the front porch.


Standing back  and looking upon our completed creations made my heart swell with love and gratitude for the simple things in life that brings such joy.


They were simply magical!

For dinner we enjoyed Molly’s dinner creation of stuffed pumpkins. This is a recipe that was passed down from Toby’s mom after she made it for the kids one Halloween weekend when they were little.

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We felt it was time to resurrect this recipe and Molly took on the job of gutting eight pie pumpkins and helping me make the rice and ground beef filler that gets cooked inside. The finish result was delicious and festive…


A perfect ending to our fun, fall, family night!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road


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I LOVE Halloween. October is my favorite month of the year, and Halloween is my favorite night of the year. I find it holds a special bit of childhood magic. I am not a fan of spooks and the horror that is often associated with the day…I’m too much a scaredy cat for that…but I love that for one day we are all given permission to play dress-up and be someone else. On what other day of the year will you see your favorite book characters, super heroes, and barnyard animals all walking hand and hand through your neighborhood? It is awesome!

With the magic of Halloween comes the opportunity to be creative, another thing I love. I love looking for the pieces needed to create each costume, crafting parts of the outfits, and then finally revealing all the hard work with a big, “Ta-Da!”

This year, as was revealed in my previous blog, the kids decided to go for another group costume and came up with the theme of the Wizard of Oz. Much thought was given to who would be each character, weighing both physical stature and personality. The end result was magical!

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Tyler dressed up as the scarecrow:


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Grace dressed as the Tin Man:

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Rusty dressed as the Cowardly Lion:

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And Molly dressed up as Dorothy:

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It was a perfect Halloween evening, chilly but nice. I love that my kids still embrace the magic of Halloween and cherish this special family tradition as much as I do.

They received many compliments from children and adults alike, with this year’s them being recognizable to all ages, whether 9 or 99. Their efforts were praised by various home owners that commented on how much they like seeing teens trick or treating who actually dress up, and they were even asked to pose for pictures at multiple houses.

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We ended our evening with our traditional stop at Al’s Corner Store. This local convenience store goes above and beyond for the community every Halloween, offering free hot chocolate and amazing goody bags to trick or treaters, and coffee or cocoa to chilled parents. This is always our last stop of the evening and the kids’ favorite part of Halloween.

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Dinner was a special treat. My parents surprised me with the awesome gift of pizza money so that I wouldn’t have to cook dinner on Halloween. This was a thoughtful gift given by a mother who understands the chaos and challenge of getting everyone dressed and fed before trick or treating. Having lived it for years she now gifts my sister and I with a night off of cooking on Halloween. And I am so grateful!

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Since we couldn’t get our act together before 6:00 trick or treating, we headed over to Dominoes following trick or treating to order pizzas for dinner. While there we discovered that Dominoes was handing out free slices of pizza to trick or treaters, so everyone was able to enjoy a slice while waiting on our pizzas to be baked.

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Then it was back home for dinner and candy sorting. Candy was inspected, traded, and chosen a piece at a time, with the customary candy tax being handed over to Mom and Dad.


I LOVE Halloween!



Trunk or Treat



This past Saturday was our church’s annual Truck or Treat and Fall Social. Saturday morning we woke to the sound of wind and rain against the window and knew the day wasn’t going to go as planned. The trunk or treat, which is normally held outdoors with families decorating their cars and children trick or treating among the vehicles, would need to be moved indoors. When we heard the news that Trunk or Treat would be happening in the hallways of church and that each family would occupy a classroom, we planned accordingly and began working on our room decorations.

This year we chose the costume theme of The Wizard of Oz. As the kids were debating what theme to choose for their costumes, they struggled a bit knowing Ozzie wouldn’t be with them this Halloween. As a result they sought out themed costumes that had only 4 primary characters and eventually landed on the decision to go as the Wizard of Oz gang.

Toby was also gone for the weekend. He was at a weekend Boy Scout training about 2 1/2 hours away. In February Toby and Rusty will be joining 6 other members of their troop for Florida Sea Base, a scouting adventure that involves a week on sailboat off the coast of Florida. As part of the qualifications for the experience one of the leaders must attend a mandatory wilderness survival workshop and get certified before the trip. Toby spent the weekend learning everything he could possibly learn about safety and survival. As a result we were down to five of us.

Saturday was spent working on our “OZ” decorations and adding finally details to our costumes.

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An hour before we had to leave, Grace began doing everyone’s make-up. She had a tin man mask for her costume that we found online, but because masks are not allowed at Trunk or Treat she had to come up with a plan B for her tin man look.

While she did make-up I finished up our “Ding-dong the witch is dead” treats for trunk or treating and our spider cookies for the potluck dinner that would follow.

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And now for your viewing pleasure…

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Our Scarecrow:

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Our Cowardly Lion:

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Our Tin Man:

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And Dorothy:

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We arrived at church early enough to turn our classroom into OZ and prepare for Trunk or Treat.

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The turnout was awesome, as was the huge amount of creativity found in the costumes that were roaming the hall!

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My personal favorite of the night: The AMAZING Nelson family as characters from the original Ghostbusters movie!

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Trunk or Treating was followed by dinner. Families had all contributed soup, bread or a dessert to the meal, creating a scrumptious feast. It was a perfect meal for a cold, grey, autumn evening.

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Despite the rain, the grey skies didn’t put a damper on the evening. We found our rainbow…

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And in the process were reminded of the lesson found at the heart of this beloved story…

Which is,

Often a change of plans can led to a magnificent detour with new friends!

And isn’t that what this journey is all about?


Halloween came early this year…

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Tyler…our resident goof ball!


(I’m still a week behind in my blogging. Here is my final blog about last weekend’s festivities…)

This past weekend was a tough one. The knowledge that Ozzie was leaving on Monday morning and would be gone for four months left everyone feeling unsettled and emotional. We tried to move through the days as normally as possible, but it was challenging with that big grey cloud hanging over our heads.

Everyone was dealing with a muddy mess of emotions. We were grateful that Ozzie was accepted to this awesome facility where he will finally get the intensive therapeutic help he needs to heal from past trauma, but were also mourning this upcoming shift in our life, upset and grieving that this step needs to happen.

My mother summed it up beautifully when I shared the news with her. She said, “It is like finding out someone you love has cancer, and the prognosis is not good. And then soon after, receiving the news that your loved one has secured the last bed at the Cancer Treatment Center of America and will be working with the best doctor in that field.”

You don’t know whether to be angry that treatment is needed or grateful that treatment is available for a once hopeless diagnoses.

It is hard to verbalize the hard mix of emotions that come with this journey. I know I struggle to filter through the jumble of thoughts and feelings that knot in my stomach, so I can appreciate the struggles Ozzie and the other children are suffering though during this hard season.

This weekend was particularly hard. We knew what was coming, and with that knowledge there were feelings of relief and great grief. It felt like the weekend was a series of good-byes to life as we knew it. It was painful on so many levels and I didn’t know whether to wish for time to stand still, so as to avoid the inevitable, or to pray for time to speed up so we could rip this band-aid off and begin facing our new normal. Mostly I just felt numb, like a shell of my real self, moving through the motions of living but weirdly detached.

We packed up Ozzie’s bag, filling it with clothes, winter gear, books, comfort items, therapy tools, and photos…everything he could possibly need for the next four months.

We cleaned his room. Preparing it for his absence so that when he returns home it would be ready for him.

Then we tried to fit in some fun and family bonding. Our weekend was filled with horseback riding lessons, “Gotcha Day” fun, and lots of low key, quiet moments as a family.

One of Ozzie’s primary disappointments about going away was his concern about missing out on holiday traditions. He will most likely be able to return home for holidays but is sad to miss out on our families traditions leading up to holidays…like pumpkin carving for Halloween. I couldn’t address all his worries, but that was a concern I could address, and did so gladly.

On Saturday we went pumpkin shopping, allowing each of the kids to pick out a pumpkin for carving and then came home and carved Jack-O-Lanterns a month early.

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Everyone got into the spirit of the evening, seeking out creative carving ideas and jumping into the task of gutting their pumpkins.

The result was an evening of fun for Ozzie and the rest of the family. We were all taking part in a cherished family tradition. Who cares if it was 90 degrees outside while we were doing it. Yes, the finished results will probably wither and mold by next Saturday, but this activity wasn’t about the finished results. Like so many aspects of our life it is not about the ending, it is about the journey.

The kids are now all old enough to be left to their own devices as they turn a pumpkin into something more magical, allowing Toby and I to just sit back and watch the fun.

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I did spend time digging through their pumpkin guts as the kids carved, picking out pumpkin seeds to roast. I found a recipe for dill pickle flavored roasted pumpkin seeds that I wanted to try. The results were delicious!

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The kids all came up with creative creations this year.

Rusty went with a tongue-in-cheek math joke:  Rusty’s pumpkin “Pi”

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Grace created the “Fly Away to Neverland “scene from Peter Pan:

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Ozzie went traditional with an awesome pumpkin face:

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Molly carved a Harry Potter pumpkin:


And Tyler did a dollar sign face:

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Once everyone was done carving we took their pumpkins out to the porch.

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We lit them, turned off the lights, and watched them glow, enjoying the magic of the moment. It meant a lot to Ozzie that he was able to participate in this beloved family tradition and it meant the world to this Momma to have all my chicks with me on that beautiful September night, as we stood beneath the stars watching their pumpkins glow bright.


We ended Family Night with the movie, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” while we munched on pumpkin seeds and enjoyed our last evening together for a while.

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This hard transition is a blessing,

but it still hurts like crazy…

Halloween Fun



This Halloween played out a bit differently that Halloweens of the past. In fact there was little that was the same. Traditions that we have enjoyed for years were set on the back burner as we enjoyed some new holiday fun. I’m still on the fence as to how I feel about the changes, but whether I would choose to keep with the new ways of celebrating this favorite holiday, or whether I would go back to our old traditions if given the choice, it was still  a fun Halloween weekend.

The holiday festivities began on the Saturday before Halloween with our church’s fall party. This was our first time of the season donning our costumes since our church didn’t participate in the  “trunk or treat for seniors” activity that we have traditionally done in the past. Since we were gone for the month of September and the first part of October we were out of the loop as to why it didn’t happen this year. I do hope it is a tradition that will return in the future as it is a favorite service activity of our family.

We also didn’t host the church’s  “Trunk or Treat” and Halloween party this year. We have played host to this event for quite a few years but were uncertain as to how it would play out with our family returning from vacation in mid-October. No one had contacted us about hosting it so I thought perhaps they had changed things up this year. They had. And it was good that it worked out that way since Toby had to leave for Michigan and it would have been a tall order to try to pull off such a large scale activity without his help.

This year the party was held at church. It was a chili/soup dinner with some fall activities for the kids. It was nice to be able to show up without any responsibility, but the night ended up being bittersweet as we were missing Toby.

Everyone dressed in their Halloween costumes as the characters from the Disney movie, “Inside Out.”


Dinner was yummy.


They girls helped out by working the face painting table.


Our next opportunity to wear our costumes came on Monday evening. After Gracie’s senior portrait photo session we raced home to transform from this:


to this:


We decided to forgo our usual trick or treating route in Koppel, and trick or treat with the Hudak family instead. We were missing Toby and not having him with us for what is most likely Gracie’s last time trick or treating with the family was hard, so rather than feel Toby’s absence by walking the same streets we have as a family for 8 years, we decided to spend the evening enjoying the company of friends.


We met at Lana’s parents’ house to trick or treat in their neighborhood.

The Hudak kids were also dressed as characters from a Disney movie. They went as the crew from  “The Emperor’s New Groove.”


But the character that received the most attention was Woody. who dressed as Donald Trump. Playing up the character well, he drew a lot of attention as people stopped him in the streets to take selfies with him. 🙂


After a fun night of trick or treating we returned to Lana’s parents’ home for dinner and so the kids could enjoy the best part of trick or treating… the sorting and trading of candy!


Round 3 of Halloween took place on Wednesday. Once again, this Halloween celebration was different than years past. We opted to forgo the traditional Halloween party. As the average age of the co-op kids gets older the way we celebrate the holidays seems to be changing as well. It is a bittersweet transition.

The kids did want to wear costumes though. So despite the fact it was now November many of the kids showed up to co-op on Wednesday wearing costumes.

At our house things switched up a bit when Ozzie opted to not wear a costume and Tyler and Rusty wore something different than their “Inside Out” costumes. It worked out better that way since we found it took us around 90 minutes to get everyone’s hair and make-up done in their “Inside Out” looks. Since we leave early on Wednesday mornings it was probably a good thing we only had half of us to “make-up.”


Rusty wore his Disney gear and went as Mickey Mouse.


Tyler wore his football uniform and went as a football player.


The kids at co-op had fun showing off their costumes and exchanging candy.


The 3rd and 4th graders had a movie day and watch “The Thief Lord.”


It was a very different Halloween for us

but in the end, although not traditional, it was nice.