Friday, October 31, 2014


I read an article recently entitled, "Ways Halloween is Different for Kids Now vs. Halloween in the 70's".  Of course it made Halloween in the 70's sound perfect and nostalgic.  I'm mostly a child of the 80's myself, but I remember homemade costumes, mom's chili and breadsticks, carving pumpkins by myself with sharp instruments in my jammies and sorting through the guts to get the best seeds for roasting, just like the article stated. Guess some things haven't changed...

Joining Mamabyrd and others in their weekly impressions post. Join us and post your own spooky impressions either here or there.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trunk or Treat

What do Sherlock Holmes, a white ninja, and a lady bug all have in common? Their last names, of course.  We had a great time at the ward trunk or treat... here are some of the highlights.

Grandma JoJo came with a ready supply of Pinterest ideas.  I wish we'd had more time and supplies for some of the more elaborate ones.

Pippi Longstocking and Dr Watson.

I have NEVER seen my father in costume.  It's amazing what he'll do for his grandkids.

Investigating one of his besties who came as a pretty cool werewolf.

 Is it just me, or does Sadiebug ALWAYS have a sucker in her mouth?

The sisters came as "Senior Sisters".  They're a GREAT pair.

Boo to you from our Alabama crew!!  May your tricks and treats be sweet!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Elementary, My Dear Watson"

For months Ben had been telling me he wanted to be The Last Airbender for Halloween.  We purchased a women's suit we thought would work when we were in Utah this summer and Ben kept looking on line to decide how to paint a blue arrow on his head.  He was even trying to convince me to let him shave his head.  Then, out of the blue a few weeks ago he became suddenly obsessed with Sherlock Holmes.  He found our copy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and we began reading them as our nightly bedtime story.  When we finished "A Study in Scarlet" Ben was hooked.  He declared that while The Last Airbender was still "way cool", he wanted to be Sherlock Holmes this Halloween.

Cue me, trembling and anxious as I googled "how to make a classic Sherlock Holmes cape-let".  There are various tutorials on line.  Martha Stuart has a lovely rendition and even a doggie version, but all required yards of houndstooth fabric and more time than I was willing to donate.  I still had to figure out a white ninja, and a lady bug, folks.

It came together better than expected.  I altered a woman's suit coat I got at the thrift store for $3.25.  We took in the side seams and arms.  Then, BONUS, the coat came with a skirt.  I cut that baby in half and sewed it around the shoulders and voila!  A cape-let was born.  I caved and ordered the hat on line because it came with the pipe for $4.99.  We already had the magnifying glass and scarf.

One of our favorite songs is by Paul Spring.  He sings, "One was skinny, one was chubby, but they were the best of buddies... Sherlock Holmes and Watson, they were detectives."  All Ben had to do was remind Dean of the song and the next thing I knew he was asking me to "pick up a cane, a vest, a bowler hat, and oh, a pocket watch, because Watson would have had a pocket watch", while I was out and about.  Dean has serious faith in my thrifting abilities.  We cut it close but after visiting every thrift store in town and calling in a few favors we had ourselves a Watson costume.  Bowler hat, $3.99 pocket watch, borrowed, vest, $2.50 cane $5.00.


 A Sherlock and a Watson for less than $20.   I'm convinced Dean will wear any costume that lets him pretend to have facial hair.

Kolomoki State Park

Kolomoki State Park was on the top of Grandpa Blake's to-do list for his most recent trip south.  It's just over the border in Georgia, about a 50 minute drive.  There are ancient mounds throughout the southeast and midwest.  Kolomoki is believed to have been built around 200 AD.  For those of you Book of Mormon scholars, depending on which settlement model you prescribe to (Central America vs. North America), this would have been prime Lamanite territory.

It doesn't look like much from the side.  In fact, the boys kept asking, "what are we looking at?"

There are six mounds in the main plaza and various other mounds around the area.  Some are burial mounds while others contained pottery shards, etc.

They indulged my need to see this covered bridge on the way back.  It's off the beaten path, but someone has gone to great efforts and expense to protect it.  While I am pleased at the preservation efforts, both Ben and I were saddened we couldn't walk through it.  Me because it's beautiful and romantic, Ben because he wanted to reenact Ichabod Crane when he runs away from the Headless Horseman.

Notice the moss on the, so, cool.   I loved the way the wood was laid for your wheels on the inside too.  You can see the green graffiti.  I'm wondering if that's what prompted the new gate out front?

It was a good road trip.  We sang songs and played "would you rather" and saw new things with the people we love most.  I wish they would come more often so we would get out and see more.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Farm Day at Landmark Park

We've been to Landmark Park before.  They have a summer concert series that we really enjoy.  With Grandma in town the Fall Farm Day was something we put on our calendar, especially when Grandma heard they would be harvesting peanuts.  "What do peanuts look like when they come out of the ground?" she asked us.  We didn't know, but we knew Landmark Park would have the answer.

Ben was too cool to sit with us at first.

Alan was so sad to leave the "corn sand".  He kept asking to go back and I totally forgot until I looked at this photo.  Sorry, Alan.

The quilt show was included in our entrance fee.  If I ever get married again I am going to hang old quilts from the rafters of a barn with twinkle lights. :) It was magical.

Grandma JoJo was in her element explaining the way this nine-patch was put together...

Landmark Park has become a refuge for old buildings throughout Southeast Alabama that would have otherwise been torn down.  They move them here and open them up for tourists.  This is an old one room school house from the area.  Ben was so impressed that they had two doors.  A girl door and a boy door, "so that no one gets the cheese touch, mom."

Ringing the bell in the old Headland Presbyterian church.

Looking at tadpoles.

They LOVED the blacksmith.  We learned that a blacksmith keeps a rhythm with his hammer and strikes the anvil while turning the metal because it takes more energy to stop and start hammering than it does to keep a steady rhythm.  I had no idea...

His prized handmade square head nail.

I thought this was fascinating.... and tiring.  It's a lathe. They use a foot pedal attached to a young sapling and then apply pressure with a hand chisel.  He'd been working on the same piece of wood all day. I have so much more appreciation for old furniture.

Sugar cane.  Finally something I had seen before.  I remembered the piles of husks and the smell of burnt sugar from my mission days in El Salvador.

Fresh cane juice.  The boys didn't like it so Sadie finished it for them.

Making sugarcane syrup.

I kept having to remind them that sugar cane was for eating and not to be used as a ninja staff.

Also, I had only ever seen sugar cane harvested on an industrial level with huge fields being burned in one fell swoop and ginormous cane trucks hauling the stalks off to be processed.  It was so interesting to see it done with manual labour and mules.  Along with cotton plantations there were sugar cane and peanut plantations too.  I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like for those who were made to work them.

Grandma JoJo learning all about peanuts...
She managed to get her own little peanut tutorial from a real peanut farmer.  You can see the pods hanging down from the plant if you look closely.  She even sampled a raw peanut and we all decided there is a reason you eat peanuts boiled or roasted.

A fun day, full of sun and learning.

Whether you're harvesting peanuts, cotton and sugarcane, or pumpkins, corn and apples, it's good to know where things come from and learn about how people have lived and worked.  I'm happy we could learn a bit more about the South.  At least now I can finally tell the difference between a peanut field and a cotton field.  (It all used to look the same to me until October when the cotton was ripe).

A few lessons we took away... very few of us like cane juice, the state bird of Alabama is the Yellow Hammer, people used to work really hard to accomplish small things, everything has to come from somewhere, and lastly, when Ben has his own school there will be a girl door and a boy door.