Halloween Traditions

I went shopping on Thursday, and I used up all of my grocery budget save about $20 which I like to keep on hand for milk runs and whatnot. The thing is: I really only bought junk and some bone-in chicken. It’s true that my list read something like this:

Green apples
Caramels for melting
White chocolate for melting

Halloween Candy

Cookies for witch hat cookies
Hershey’s kisses
Red Frosting in a can

Chocolate pudding

Okay, I’ll stop there. Every year during the Halloween season, we make witch hat cookies. I started doing this when it was just my man and I. As I walked around the grocery store, picking up crap here and crap there, I KNEW I should abandon this tradition this year. The last thing I needed was more junk, and the last thing I needed was to use up time making more junk.
But. I. Couldn’t. Abandon. It.
What can I say? I hate change.

Anyway, I didn’t end up making the cookies. The kids did. The girl made some for her preschool party, and both of the kids got together to make them for our family.

I also bought everything I needed to make homemade hot chocolate mix (including marshmallows) because it’s suddenly cold, and during the cold seasons we must have hot chocolate.

Tonight, just before we trick or treat, we’re going to dunk some apples in caramel and let them sit in the fridge while we go out and gather loot. When we get home, we’re going to dunk our caramel apples in melted white chocolate, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and then EAT them while we watch The Wizard of Oz.
Per tradition.

I was reading through my last few blog posts yesterday and I didn’t realize just how much I enjoy Halloween. I guess I ought to get a few decorations beyond my few fabric pumpkins that last not only through October, but November as well.

Aside from our Halloween parties, we hit up the local Halloween carnival put on by the high school. We were going to skip it, but the temptation of fun, candy, fun, and tradition was just too much for us.
Also: we got to take a long a friend.

We get to get all dressed up AGAIN tonight to go door-to-door.

Cousin Dolly was there for us with “great” JuJu to tie balloons.

What’s better than HeMan with his magical sword? HeMan with TWO magical swords.
This was the Hansen’s baby behind us in line at the fishing booth:

I couldn’t NOT take a picture of that perfect pea.

They had face painting:

And then cousins showed up:

This year they even had a pumpkin decorating booth thanks to the Solomon’s Pumpkin Patch. Their pumpkins have provided the town with pumpkins galore! The younger kids used stickers to decorate.

We stopped on our way out and bought treats from a bake sale and then we all shared big pretzels from the front counter.
I can’t believe we get to have even MORE Halloween fun tonight! Do you think the kids will let me get into their pumpkins and make dinner in a pumpkin tonight? Let’s hope so! It sounds GOOD tonight!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

PS: before I go, I have to share the picture I took of the twins I’ve posted about lately.  
They came to the carnival all snuggled up against their mom, and it was just too cute to pass up.
Also: I think I’m going to spend the better part of my day wondering WHY I took pictures of other people’s babies at the Halloween carnival…

Alone Time

Back in January, I escaped for a two-night stay in a Bed & Breakfast to regain my bearings and save my sanity. I wrote all about it back then. Let me see if I can find that link…


In it, I solemnly swear to myself to getaway at least once a week… to spend a little time on my own and make sure I maintain a sort of balance in my life. Guess whaaat? I finally did it. For the first time. Today. Months and months and months later. I got out of the tub, dried myself off, got dressed and then thought ‘hey. I should blow this joint.’ So I said to my husband who was lounging on the bed, “Hey. I’m going to go spend some time alone this morning, okay?”
He looked up from the computer he had been fixated on not moments before and with a look of bewilderment asked, “Are you okay?”

I told him I was.
And then I told him how important it was to keep promises to ourselves -no matter that the original promise was made in January and it is now the very end of October.

I drove out to where the highway and train noises were distant -where there were no traffic, no cars, and no little people eating their own boogers. I stopped driving when I was tucked far back in my grandpa’s land -the same place we’d gotten our pictures taken a few weeks ago.
The sunflowers? Dead.
The cornfield?

Also dead.
Thank goodness we took pictures when we did.
But there’s something about that field, isn’t there? There’s something about that land. I sat myself down on a big, flat sandstone and took it all in.
The air was perfect. It was crisp -just like autumn should be.

I prayed.
I prayed because it was silent and I could actually hear myself think.
I prayed because it felt so good to revel in silence and hear God speak.

I read a little, and then I pulled out my handy dandy black poetry book. I meant to finish a cowboy poem I’m started ages ago about a woman named Crafty Cate who dupes the handsome town player into marrying her.

I read all the way through it (which took some time. Turns out, I have a knack to go on and on and on AND ON) before realizing that I had already finished it.
And forgotten about it.

I’m awesome.

I ended my alone time with a quick trip into town where I got lost in Time Magazine’s special issue on organized crime. Did you know Bonnie of Bonnie & Clyde was 4′ 10″ and weighed 85 pounds?! She was also the straight-A daughter of a mason.
I got so wrapped up in the magazine that I didn’t notice a man standing next to me, asking me if I had noticed how quickly the year had passed.
“Yeah,” I nodded, hardly looking up from black and white snapshots of Jesse James and The Dalton Brothers (posthumous!).
“God Bless You,” he replied.
“Yeah,” I nodded, this time really not looking up at all.

I became engrossed in a section dedicated to the women married (or what have you) to the infamous men involved in historical organized crime. It was delicious.
Until the same man snuck up behind me and asked me what I wanted for Christmas.
“Nothing,” I said, “I’m completely happy.”
“God Bless You,” he replied.

This time, I looked up. I didn’t have the best feeling about the guy, and my reliable gut told me Alicia’s Alone Time was officially over.
I needed to get the heck outta there.

So I did.

I drove home, and I realized that while I absolutely love being a wife and I absolutely love watching little people eat their own boogers, I absolutely love having time to just be me.
I love to smell autumn while I crack the blank pages of my poetry book.
I love to watch small flocks of black birds fly in perfect time with each other.
I love to stare at the trees and wonder what they’ve seen that I haven’t.
I love to kick the dust and dream up catchy poems about cowboys who knit and old west widows who get a kick out of dressing incognito as saloon girls.

I am a wife.
I am a mother.

But before that, I was a leasha.
And I’ll always be Alicia.
Thank goodness for Saturday mornings when I can get away and reacquaint myself with her. Every time we get together, something wonderful comes of it -whether it’s learning about bullet-riddled crooks or scribbling lines that make us laugh… it’s worth the few hours away from my to-do list.

You should try it.


Grown-up Halloween Costumes

We went to a costume party last night (more pics to come), and we brought along a big frame I snagged at a yard sale for $2. It used to have art in it.
I took the art out.
Don’t tell the artist.

Props to my husband who took me to the party even though he was going on over 30-something hours of NO sleep.

Doesn’t sleeplessness look good on him?  He’s delish.

The kids sported their costumes yesterday, but I wasn’t able to get a very good picture of them. I’ll take some more when they go trick-or-treating and share them.
The boy is actually still wearing his… he loves being The Master of the Universe.


We didn’t carve pumpkins last year. We wanted to feel bad about it, but we didn’t. Not really. Honestly, we were so tired with two little kids and gardening… we just bagged the idea and focused on the other aspects of Halloween instead. This year, we made SURE that carving pumpkins happened because the girl is old enough to know that if she doesn’t, she’s missing out.
Luckily, I had saved the pumpkin-carving kit that we bought two years ago. I’m not normally a fan of the kits you can buy at the store (like egg dying kits? Who needs ’em?), but I LOVE our pumpkin carving kit!
The kids each picked a pattern and we went to it.

The girl took the camera while she was waiting for her Dad to finish carving her pumpkin and took some pictures:

I looked over and saw her taking pictures of herself. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “I needa take these of me to send to Grammy. She will LOVE them.”

She was also thoughtful enough to take pictures of the house so in 20 years I can remember just how awesome it is to work my tail off cleaning one day and have the house looking like I hadn’t touched in in three months the next day! Yay!
I baked cinnamon rolls while we carved, and we ate them for dinner. I know I should have made something else, but it was a rainy, cold, cinnamon roll day and by the time I got done making the cinnamon rolls, I was done cooking.
The boys made themselves Ramen noodles to go with their cinnamon rolls.
The girls contented themselves with rich gooey deliciousness. Lacy LOVED the gooey cinnamon rolls. The gooey pumpkin guts? Not so much. She burst into tears after I took this and begged to go wash her hands.

That’s my artwork. Lucky for me, the boy chose one of the easiest patterns in the book.

The kids are so excited to have their pumpkins done. I’m glad we didn’t skip it this year -it’s worth it to see how happy they are (after they get over the shock of the nasty pumpkin guts). We laughed as Trent said, “It’s eye is BROKEN!” as I popped out one eye on his pumpkin.
And we laughed as Trent cooed, “Smile, Pumpkins!” as we took pictures of them in the dark.
And yes, we even laughed as Lacy bawled her eyes out because her hands were dirty.
And then I laughed as I took a picture Lacy had taken and made it my own. His eyebrows really make it too easy for me. See how they form points? I realize this is overdone, but you have to understand how much fun it is to turn your husband into a blood-sucking vampire.

We’ve got 2 Halloween parties on the schedule today -one for the kids and one for us. Costume pictures to come!

We Are Family

Before there were digital cameras, there was Sears. I remember getting dressed up that day -my sister and I were in coordinating peach dresses and sporting the beautiful turquoise bracelets that my father always made sure we had at least one of.
The boys were in matching bolo ties.
At the time, there were only 5 children. We were all positioned against the studio background and told to smile.
So we did.
The photographer was NOT pleased.
She asked me not to smile too much, so I tried.
“Even less,” she coaxed, so I tried smiling less.
“Even less,” she continued.
What you’re about to see is the results of that. In the first picture I was smiling like my regular self -you can’t see it very well, but my nose is scrunched up. The photographer didn’t like it. She didn’t believe noses SHOULD scrunch, especially not in Sears.
The second picture is me trying my hardest to smile but not scrunch.  You can almost hear a woman’s voice saying, “Even less… even less…”

See my Steve behind me? His smile was fine, I guess.
Lucky jerk.
See my Ju beside me? Wasn’t she just the most adorable little red head you’ve ever seen? I just want to pick her up and smooch her… but she’s too big now. And she’s in Utah.

ANYWAY, I bring this up for one reason only. Check this out:
When first I saw this picture, I noticed my scrunched up nose, and I cheered for the little 8 year old girl who was forced to stifle her scrunch all those years ago in Sears.
We scheduled a photography shoot with my sister-in-law a few months ago. She told us she would be up in this country for a wedding that day, so it would work out perfectly. When it came right down to it, my sister-in-law wasn’t going to be able to do both a wedding and our family pictures, so she sent my brother to take pictures for us.
My brother is awesome at whatever he does. I bet if he took up crocheting, he’d master it. No foolin’.

And thank goodness for digital cameras and professional photographers who don’t tell their clients NOT to smile. I mean, unless serious is what they’re going for:
Which we’re not very good at.
Kissing, though? Kissing is something we are VERY good at.
My brother has a polaroid camera that takes wallet-size polaroids. Isn’t it awesome?!?! I love it! Even better: I got to take two pictures home with me RIGHT away. I think I showed them to just about everyone. I’m working on making a display for them. They’re so great!
We sort of had to rush the polaroid portion of the shoot because the mosquitoes were THICK. It was insane! My brother was bravely snapping pictures while sweat beaded down his forehead and mosquitoes buzzed around his face/lens/legs/everything.
If you look at the girl’s hand in this one, you can see she’s focusing on a mosquito:
Don’t you love her big poofy dress?
We brought two outfits to take pictures in. We tried to coordinate in these:
ALL of these pictures were taken on my grandpa’s land just outside of town. We ventured down to where he keeps his silage. It was empty, obviously.
He uses the tires to hold down the tarp that covers the silage. Something in me wants to end that sentence with “in the house that Jack built” but it’s probably just because I’m crazy.
Mike gave the kids pieces of the corn stalks and told them they were swords. Look how proud the boy is of his sword:
Did I mention that he’s going to be HeMan for Halloween? The Master of the Universe!
I know I don’t say it enough, so I’ll say it.
I’m so glad he let me have his babies (even though that isn’t exactly what I was saying while I was actually in the process of having them, but still).
Ah, Lacy.
Ahhhh, Trenton. My laid-back boy.
Everything about this picture is great except for my backside. HOWEVER, I’ve yet to meet a woman who looks at a picture of her backside after she’s had two babies and says “I love it!”
We changed into our “regoolar” clothes for a few more pictures. We took this picture by grandpa’s OLD feed truck. I told him we’d used it as a photo prop and he laughed out loud. Then he told me that when my cousin, Sam, was really little he had straight up asked Grandpa if he could have the truck when Grandpa was done with it.
Here we are standing in front of Grandpa’s shed.
Have I ever told you that sunflowers are my very favorite?
My husband presented me with a bouquet on Saturday. They’re perched on my piana, and they really make my day every time I look at them. I think that’s why I was born on August 16th -so I could come down just as the sunflowers were coming out.
I’m sorry. Are you getting sick of pictures? I just can’t seem to get enough of them because Mike did such a good job! I love the colors and lighting and their faces:
And I love that my children are allowed to have bucket-loads of personality without someone telling them they were ruining the picture:

I am 100% happy with how our shoot went and with how our photos turned out! Brittany sent Mike with a few props (like the “Deets” banner), and we were able to use a few that we brought (like the gold frame that I snagged for $3 at a yard sale).
Mike and Brit work as a TEAM and they always do a great job.
I’ve linked up to their site before, but they’re always adding more pictures… especially lately because they have been BOOKED!
Click HERE for their main page.
Click HERE for their blog. Feel free to get lost in all of the pictures (especially the Laguna beach and Wright House pictures)!
Thanks again, Mike and Brit! We couldn’t be happier!
You guys are the best.

How To Overcome Fears

The snake incident really affected my daughter.  She’s been asking questions about it ever since.  It didn’t help that last night she snuggled up to me as I watched a movie before bed and just happened to come in RIGHT when the main character was bit in the hand by a rattlesnake.

She’s terrified.

“I’m scared about snakes,” she told me yesterday.
“Sometimes we’re scared of things because we don’t know enough about them,” I explained, “If we learn more about snakes we’ll be less afraid of them and more smart about them.”
“Okay,” she nodded.
“So… what do you want to learn about snakes?” I asked.
“How to hide from them,” she replied.

Come to think of it… that just might be the best thing I could ever teach my child about snakes.


The kids got their doggy doo doo Grandpa promised to give them (I know you were up all night wondering).

The boy ate half of it and took the other half outside. He decided to climb a fence but needed both of his hands, so using 3 year old logic, he tucked his rice krispie treat under his chin and climbed. But it fell. And then the neighbor’s dog gobbled it up.
You should have seen the tears on that kid. I felt so bad. All I could do was hug him and tell him that I was sorry he lost his doggy doo doo.
He told me he needed to go outside and tell the doggy “NO!” I set him down, he ran outside, and I listened.
“You don’t EVER eat my doggy doo doo b’cuz I will hafta get MAD AT YOU!”

Having told the dog off, he came inside completely satisfied.

Later on, the kids asked if they could play outside and I told them it was fine, but they needed to stay on the lawn.
They hopped out the door, and instantly I could hear them talking to someone. I went outside and saw them talking to my sister-in-law, their Aunt.
I asked her what she was up to.
“We went for a walk,” she said, motioning to her two kids in her stroller, “And then we saw this rattlesnake, so we stopped.”

I just sent my children out to frolic in rattlesnake infested territory?!

My brother JC was on scene in a matter of minutes, and the snake had it’s head blown clean off.

It was a small rattlesnake, but a rattlesnake is a rattlesnake.
Just typing the word makes me shudder. The thought of my kids getting bitten is more than I can stand.
JC is a pro at pretty much everything. Whenever I have any questions, I know between him and Dad I’ll get the right answer. It’s such a blessing, as a bit of a air head, to have such smart men around.
Having skinned many-a-snake in his life, my brother set right to skinning the rattlesnake. He had blown it’s head off, see, for TWO purposes.
#1) To get rid of the fangs.
#2) To spare the skin.

He’s going to mount it on a board. He’s done it before, I know. Pictures to come on that -it’s really something to see.

The body of snake was too small to anything with but toss it in the bushes -which is what we did (thank goodness).

Dear children,
Mommy is going to invest in a giant plastic bubble which you will be required to wear anytime you walk out the door. I’ll get rid of it only after cold and flu season, when the threat of the rattlesnake will be something of a distant memory and all the contagious sickness have died down.
Aren’t you glad you have someone who CARES so much for you?

Grandpa’s Shop. Grandpa’s Horses. Grandpa’s Awesome.

I dropped my jeep off at Dad’s shop this morning for a service. The kids and I had the opportunity to walk home. I always sort of dread that walk (no stroller!) until I’m in the middle of it.
Isn’t life kind of like that? When Dad would wake us up in the early mornings to go work in the garden, we would always moan and groan until we were smack dab in the middle of the cornfield singing, “Daddy won’t sell the farm” at the top of our lungs… then we were laughing.
There are exceptions to that rule (labor and delivery, for instance), but today was not one of them. The kids and I hopped over cracks in the sidewalk. We counted ants. I told them lies about how naughty children get tossed in the cement wells over the irrigation ditch and they giggled because their mother is just SO GOOD at lying.
I even got to teach them that the artsy looking white splats on the sidewalk were, in very fact, bird poopies. It made their day.
The walk home has other treats. We stopped of at great-grandma’s house for a quick hello, and then we stopped off at the Grandpa’s horses to feed them weeds (every horses dream, right?).

Cousin Dolly came running by and we got to have some laughs with her. She walked with us a while, and just as she left, GRANDPA HIMSELF came cruising up. The kids went bonkers as grandpa promised them doggy doo-doo (which, if you’re a frequent blog reader, you know is actually Rice Krispie Treats) (Grandpa is a much better liar than I).
He promised me half a bag of squeaky cheese that he’d picked up on his drive home from Utah this week.

So to recap, today’s walk went something like this:

Grandpa’s shop
Grandpa’s mom
Grandpa’s horses
Grandpa’s niece

And we all walked home as visions of doggy doo doo and squeaky cheese danced in our heads.
Thanks for the laughs (and the oil and the horses), Dad!


I live in Joseph City.

It’s small, and when I say “small” I mean that I was part of one of the biggest graduating classes of Joseph City Junior/Senior High School and I ranked #3 (or 4? Whatever. I didn’t get a cool title to slap on a resume) of 43.
It’s a sort of joke to people who have passed through, and we chuckle along when they say “Joe City? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!”
Har, har.

The fact is: our town was built on courage, faith, and devotion. The settlers’ devotion to this dusty area knows NO bounds. Our community was one of four settled in this area, and it is the only one to have survived -thrived, even. We’ve built on their foundations of courage, faith, and devotion. Over the years, we’ve added beams of love, loyalty, and support. Our community is bound by strong threads of friendship, and we can pull together in a matter of hours.

We can count on each other, and you can’t really say that about anything anymore -we know the value of hard work, tears, and hard work. We’ve seen each other through struggles the likes of which we wish we hadn’t seen.
Our children have been known to leave us early.
Our senior citizens have been known to forget us, though we fight to never forget them.
Our mothers have been in accidents.
Our fathers have lost their jobs.
There have been miscarriages, births of twins, divorces, marriages, sorrows and celebrations. Through it all, we’ve all been there.

Word travels fast in a small town -even faster now, thanks to facebook and cell phones. It’s almost true that we don’t have to follow the ambulances that fly through town because we know all we have to do is refresh our facebook homepage until we find out WHERE that ambulance was going and WHY and WHO was going to be the recipient of a casserole that very night.

It’s true.

Word about Austin Bushman traveled faster than the speed of lightening.

One of our high school boys was on his way to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing. Before he could even make it out of town, he had a severe asthma attack.
As a child, my mother had told me several times if ever I was walking on the street and had someone follow me or chase me or make me feel uncomfortable, it was okay to run into the nearest house without knocking.
“Just tell them who your mom is,” she would say.

Everybody knows everybody.
That’s why Austin’s mother was able to take him straight to Dev’s house. Dev was one of the first on-scene when I went unexpectedly into labor a month early with my son. I can say with firm certainty that I felt safer with her than I did with the nurses in the hospital. Dev would have caught my child. The nurses begged me to hold that baby in so they wouldn’t have to.
But I knew my son would be safe with Dev.
Jennifer knew her son, Austin, would be safe with Dev.

Using the training she has worked so tirelessly to obtain, Dev saved Austin’s life. They were able to get him to the hospital in the city in a helicopter, and there he remains today. Since then, Austin has had more close calls than any high school boy should ever have. In the meantime, virtually the entire town has been on bended knee.

We know we are not helpless.

Recent town research has brought to light a simple fact: GREY is the color of asthma awareness. Our children have been wearing grey wherever they might be: in school, at college, at home… and it’s got me thinking we ought to make grey t-shirts for everyone that say:
Austin: the boy who brought an entire town to their knees in just one {asthma} attack.
Wouldn’t it look great printed on top of the silhouette of a ninja? A ninja with a cowboy hat on?

Okay, so maybe my ideas aren’t the greatest which is why I have a great husband who DOES have amazing ideas. He texted me a few days ago asking if we might be able to put on a benefit dinner for Austin. I texted some of Austin’s family (see? cell phones!), and we now have it in the works.

A few phone calls later, I had a date and place fixed. AS I WAS TYPING THE INFORMATION about the benefit into my facebook status, my cell phone rang.
It was someone in town calling to offer up a donation for the dinner they’d heard rumor of.
It turns out word still travels faster than the speed of lightening in small towns even WITHOUT the help of facebook. It made me grin from ear to ear.

At this point, I should be posting the copy of a cool-looking flyer, embellished with pictures, dates, times, and all manner of merriment. But you all know how “awesome” I am at cool-looking anything.
So, um, flyer to come.
Just as soon as I find someone with photoshop skills. And photoshop, for that matter.

Austin’s Auction and Benefit Dinner will be held at the firehouse from 4-7 pm on the second Saturday in November -the 12th.
Any help or donations you can contribute will be put to use! Pull out your sewing machines! Your crochet hooks! Your wood working skills! Your gift certificates! Your skills! Your pocketbooks!
I’m going to be stitching up a handmade sock monkey for your auctioning pleasure.
Austin needs our help, and as I said before: We know we are not helpless.

Please spread the word any way you can, whether you know Austin or not. Feel free to link up to this post.


I’m ready for the world to end. I’m tired of natural disasters and addictions and murders and innocent people getting hurt.  I’m ready for everything to burn and I’m ready to be done with it all, rising gas, home, and food prices included.

“On the other hand…”

I want time to stop right where it is.  Right now.

Wouldn’t you?