Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Thoughts

We love our holiday TV specials, Garfield, Charlie Brown and such.  With this being Halloween, I started to think of my favorite shows and their Halloween episodes.  Most TV shows, that I can think of, have at least one Halloween themed show during their run. 

Right now, as I am writing this, my daughter is watching Blues Clues.  It is the episode where they are trying to find out what Blue is afraid of.  At one point, they enter into an old haunted house that is occupied by a little ghost named Boo.  Every time some one says Boo's name, everyone screams.  It's funny.

My favorite TV show of all time, The Monkees, really didn't have a specific Halloween episode.  They did have four or five shows that took place in haunted mansions with monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies and coffins.  Definitely a couple of great episodes to watch during Halloween.

Another favorite TV show for me is SeaQuest DSV.  They had a Halloween one that if I remember right, aired on Halloween.  It took place on an old sunken ship where tormented souls of ghosts did their best to scare the crew of the SeaQuest.  I've seen the episode three or four times now, but one part of the show still freaks me out.  It's at the beginning.  The crew is watching some old footage of a Titanic-like ship.  They pause the old movie to discuss what to do and while the movie is paused, one of the faces in the movie turns to look at them.  Freaks me out every time.  (Shivers)

I prefer to laugh than be scared, so I'll share a favorite YouTube clip of a not-so-scary witch.  Just a warning - do NOT eat anything while watching this.  I did this morning and about choked on my cereal because I was laughing so hard.

What's your favorite Halloween TV episode?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween movies and music

We love Halloween time here at our house.  Personally, I just love that the weather is cooler and I can bake with pumpkin til my heart's content.

We love watching our favorite holiday movies and shows:
Garfield's Halloween
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Disney's Halloween Special
The Worst Witch

We listen to great music:
"Toccata and Fugue" by Bach (the great classic organ song)
"In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Grieg
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Dukas
"Night on Bald Mountain" by Rimsky-Korsakov
"This is Halloween" from Nightmare Before Christmas by Danny Elfman
Monster Mash

I found this fun list:
Dracula’s top ten favorite songs
10. You’re so vein
9. Fangs for the Memories
8. You’ve got a Fiend
7. You Don’t Bring me Plasma Anymore
6. Bat’s the Way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it
5. You Light up my Crypt
4. Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Casket
3. Don’t Go Stakin’ My Heart
2. Stranglers in the Night
1. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Donor

Getting Ready for Halloween

Today is the first day that it has really felt cool out.  I mean, the kids can and still are running around without jackets or shoes so it's not that cold yet. But, it's the first day that I haven't turned on the A/C in the house.

Tomorrow is the first Halloween carnival we will attend.  Actually, there are three, but we will only attend one.  Just two days ago, my 11 year old son finally told me what he wants to be for Halloween.  So, what do my kids want to dress as for Halloween?

Oldest son wanted to dress as Dr. Who.  He's rather obsessed with that show right now.  Sadly, in this warm climate we live in, dark brown overcoats and matching suits with bow ties aren't to be found (for a cheap price, anyway.)  We found a costume online for Dr. Who, but who wants to spend $300 on a costume for a kid that will grow out of it in five months?  He was disappointed, but decided to be Charlie Brown in his Halloween costume.  So, that is a sheet with a bunch of holes cut out of it.  A $4 sheet from the local used clothing store is definitely doable.

Next son took until 2 days ago to tell me he wants to be a pirate.  Well, he can wear his dark pants and white shirt.  A trip to the used clothing store found a brown scrub-like shirt.  With a little help from the old sewing machine, we turned that brown shirt into a vest.  I've got some strips of cloth we can use as a belt.  OK, we're good.

Seven year old daughter.  If you've never seen the movie called "The Worst Witch," I highly recommend it.  It was filmed in the 80's and is about a young girl at a witches academy.  It's got a lot of Harry Potter elements in it, but this was more than a decade before Harry Potter even showed up on bookshelves.  The main witch student is Mildred Hubble.  This is who my daughter wanted to be for Halloween.  We found a women's sleeveless cocktail dress at the used clothing shop and an orange shirt.  They look like the uniforms the girls in the movie wear.  A green ribbon belt and striped stockings finish the costume off. It's cute!

The five year old son has also waited until the last minute to tell me his costume choice  - a ninja.  Not too tough.  Black pants, black shirt, black socks.  We've got that.  I will sew one more element to his costume this afternoon.

Then there is Peanut.  She wanted to be a ballerina.  We have a leotard already from when her big sister was this age.  Some tulle and an elastic made a tutu.  She spent two days already wearing her costume.  Her tutu is looking pretty sad now.  It's OK.  It makes her happy.

I'll wear my purple medieval dress with the huge sleeves.  I'll be Vaire the Weaver from Tolkien's The Silmarillian.

I'm so glad Halloween comes once a year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The digital hybrid


I haven’t said much about school this semester.  We are only beginning our 5th week, so there hasn’t been much to say.  Last week we had a group project to do.  That isn’t easy when the members of the group span 12 time zones.  Most of them are in the UK, but there are a few of us in North America and several in Asia and Africa.  By the time I get all the kids to school and I’m ready to sit down and do school work, it’s around 4pm in the UK.
It’s really amazing, when you think about it, how students from many countries on six of the continents are in one class together.

Also this past week, we discussed “digital natives.”  What are digital natives you ask?  People born since 1993.  They know no life without the Internet.  The rest of us born prior to 1993 are called “digital immigrants.”  An interesting idea, but as I see it, it is not entirely true.  The generation I am from (sounds like a bad sci-fi movie) have lived with computers all of our lives.  We didn’t get the Internet until we were young adults, but we were the first generation to have personal computers, game consoles, and VCRs.
We had an Atari.  I never did get very good at those games.  The joystick was awkward in my small hand, but that didn’t keep my brother and I from trying to get the moving square (the ball) to hit the moving bars (tennis rackets, I think.)

When I was around 8, we got our first computer – an Apple IIe.  Those old things had no memory at all.  They didn’t run unless they had a disk in them.  Yes, the 5 ¼ floppies.  If you turned it on without a disk inside, it made a lot of rude noises.  We had a word processing program.  It was where I wrote all my plays and my first novel.  We also had a couple of great games – Jumpman, Nibbler and Math Blaster. 
We got our first VCR around that same time.  Great fun.  It was such a novelty to go down to the shopping center near our home and pick out videos from the brand new home video rental store.  This is way before Blockbuster.  We recorded TV shows and could watch them whenever we wanted!

Our first cell phone must have weighed about 10 pounds. They weren’t even called cell phones.  They were mobile phones and despite their name, they weren’t very mobile.  It was too heavy to carry around in your bag and your arm would cramp while trying to talk on it.
I think my generation should be called “digital hybrids.”  I don’t think of myself as a technological immigrant.  I grew up with the stuff.  Someday when I’m old, have a purple bouf, and whacking teenagers with a cane, I’ll be able to say, “Back when I was young, you whippersnappers, we didn’t have these smart phones.  Our first cell phone was as long as your arm and weighed more than a newborn baby.”
Oh yes, that will be the day!

Friday, October 21, 2011

I think I need some sunshine

Having a blah day and I have no reason to do so.  I've got several great projects going on.  I love have a projects to work on.  I just can't get myself to work on any of them.  But on the flip side, I don't know what to do with myself either.  Maybe I just need to get outside and soak in some sunshine.

Last night, Hubby was on one computer which is in our bedroom.  The living room was filled with kids.  Several of them were watching cartoons on the TV and the oldest was watching Dr. Who on my computer.  I didn't want to hang out in the living room or the bedroom.  Where else can I go?  I had my oldest son assist me in moving my loom into the kitchen.  Yes, the kitchen.  I took my tablet, which has some of my favorite music.  I put on headphones, and work in the kitchen on my loom.  It was a great little work area.  No one bothered me and I got the loom re-tied so I can start weaving again.

Peanut has been funny, and slightly annoying this morning.  Several times, I've been in various rooms working on something and she comes in and says:
"Mom, can you come with me and get something down?"
"OK, I'll be right there."
"Mom, now."

and just a moment ago I got this:
"Mom, can you come to sister's room and sweep under the bed?"
"Why?  Are there toys under the bed you want me to get?"
"Yeah, can you come now?"

I guess I had better go sweep under the bed before I get the "Now, Mom!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Living in the future

No, this isn't some strange sci-fi experiment.

All week long, I've thought this week is next week.  Understand?  My dear Hubby made arrangements to come home early today because I had an appointment.  I checked the calendar to verify my appointment time and realized that the appointment is next week, not today.  UG!  I couldn't get hold of Hubby for a while and when I finally did, it was too late.  He was one his way home.

Oops.  Sorry.

This week I've done some Mad Libs with my kids.  I love doing those.  My 7 year old, who has recently learned the parts of speech, is really into doing these.  She and I have had many a good laugh in the last week.

You can't help but laugh when you are talking about an orchestra playing Beethoven's "Fifth Flamingo" or Dois Day being elected Choo Choo Train of the Year and receiving a stinky dinosaur as her prize.
AND... did you know that the African Gravel Stone eats fifty pounds of fuzzy cheese a day?

Mad Libs are so funny. Oh yes, the next time you visit a zoo, watch out for the wild chocolate chips and recycle bins running around in large pens.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Auntie M's Children's Theater is back

Check out Auntie M's Children's Theater!  There are two audition announcements.

I'm also planning next year's season.  If we can work it out, there will be three productions next year, spring, summer and fall!  It should be a ton of fun. Check out the Upcoming Performances page.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Whirlwind


My three year old is a whirlwind.  She’s as sweet as they come, but a complete whirlwind. 
Each day for the last few weeks, she has taken to sorting through all of our movies.  She pulls each one out and asks me what it is.  Aside from watching a lot of Blues Clues lately, she has also been into watching The NeverEnding Story, Mr. Bean, The Berenstain Bears and Baby Einstien.  The problem is she doesn’t put any of the movies back.  I find them all over the floor.

She does the same with all of the kid books.  This last week, we’ve read Fancy Nancy’s Halloween many times.  There have been a lot of other books we’ve read, too.  They are all over the floor.
She loves to wear shoes that are not her own.  So, all over the living room and dining room I’ll find everyone’s shoes.  Then, when we need to go somewhere, I can’t find her shoes because she took them off in some odd place so she could put on her brother’s shoes.

She can make a mess of toys in her room faster than a desert dust devil.  It’s a talent.
She loves to tell knock, knock jokes.  Some of them are quite funny.  Most of them don’t make sense, but you laugh anyway because her delivery of the joke is fantastic.

She cut some of her hair this week.  It’s never good when a three year old cuts their own hair, but she didn’t do a bad job, surprisingly.  They are almost like bangs.  I don’t mind bangs, but when the rest of her hair reaches the middle of her back, a small section of above the eyebrow bangs is very short.
She thinks that she is going to grow up into a baby.  Nothing you can say will change her mind on this.  She often tells me that when she grows up into a baby, she will have a bottle, wear baby clothes, and play with baby toys.  You just have to agree with her.  She can’t be swayed in her idea.

She climbed into some of the cupboards recently to get food coloring.  She applied it very well and didn’t make a mess of it.  I just wish she had not done that.
My little Peanut, what a gal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Halloween Fountain


Thirteen or so years ago, the Hubby and I bought a little Halloween decoration.  It’s a small fountain in the shape of a tombstone with a pool of stones at the bottom.  When you turn it on, it played spooky music and a small pump within the tombstone kept a stream of red blood-like liquid pouring from the top into the pool.
It was a fun decoration and we enjoyed it for several years.  Then, we moved and half of our belongings went into storage and remained there for 10 years before we were finally able to retrieve all of our things.  Last year, we opened one of our storage boxes to find our spooky fountain.  You can imagine my children’s thrill when we filled the pool with water and red food coloring.  It didn’t play the spooky music anymore, but it was still fun to watch the fountain flow it a most spooky way.

Towards the end of October we started to notice that we could, very faintly, hear Christmas music coming from the fountain.  Odd.

Now this year is here and we’ve pulled out our Halloween decorations, including the fountain.  I addedsome water and turned it on.  Very distinctly we heard Christmas tunes coming from our fountain.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town and We Wish You a Merry Christmas played while the water poured from the top of the fountain to the skulls and stones below.  It took away all spookiness and made the fountain quite comical. 

I wasn’t ready to add the food coloring just at that moment, even though the kids were asking me to do it.  Really, it’s quite a mess and I didn’t want to deal with it quite yet.   Well, Peanut, my ever busy 3 year old, decided to take matters into her own hands.  She climbed up onto the counter, opened the cupboard with the food coloring and added it herself.  She added blue.  I haven’t changed it.  So, our spooky skull Halloween fountain plays Christmas music and has lovely blue water flowing over the tombstone.  Happy Halloween or Merry Christmas!
I don't know why Blogger keeps turning the picture sideways, but you get the idea of what the fountain looks like.
Are you spooked out yet?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Almost empty: a family tradition

There's a joke in my family among my parents and siblings that when it comes to food you can not finish anything.

Imagine a plate with pancakes on it.  The family eats the pancakes, but then as dinner is finishing, there is one pancake left on the plate.  Who gets it?  Well, it's not polite to take the last one, so everyone just leaves it and dinner is over.

What do you do with the one pancake?  Do you just eat it?  Do you throw it out, even though it is good food?  Do you save it?  Saving it would involve using a baggie or a Tupperware for just one item.  Is it worth it?

During that same meal, everyone has a drink of milk.  But, the tradition is, you must leave a tiny bit of milk in the jug.  You must leave too much milk in the jug just to throw out, so you have to save it.  An entirely empty jug, except for about 1/8 of a cup is stored back into the fridge.

Do you see how this is going?  The family tradition of leaving just the tiniest amount, but too much to throw out has managed to be passed onto my own children.
It's too much food left to throw the container away, but it seems so ridiculous to store an almost completely empty container.

Same with the syrup here.
Must leave a little in the jar.  Now the entire jar must be stored until the next time we eat pancakes.

I have learned over the years that the next time we eat these foods or drinks, I put the mostly empty container out first.  If I set that jug of syrup out AND a brand new jug of syrup, the family will open the new jug and use it, never touching the jug that is almost empty.

Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just my family?
Just some food for thought.  :)

PS: Check out my son, Stonehelm the Wise's, latest blog entry.

An update on the almost empty situation in our house:
Last night we had pickles as a part of our dinner.  There was one lonely pickle slice the size of a nickle left floating in the jar.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

School chats

School has been going for two weeks for me.  Some of it is interesting, some, not so interesting, but I guess that's the way school goes.  Of course, it's only been two weeks.  Today we had two "chats" in a chatroom.  The first one was at 10am, Scotland time.  That was 3am for me.  I was awake and alert and participated and towards the end, I thought of a good question and decided to save the it for the next chat session later in the day.  I got to go back to sleep for about 2 hours after the chat finished and before it was time to wake kids up for school.  When the second chat started, it was 8pm Scotland time, one in the afternoon for me.  I sat down to participate in the chat and couldn't remember anymore the question I had so brilliantly devised at 3:50am.

The next chat is next month and will be at 7am for me.  That will be hard as that is the hour I'm getting kids out the door for school, but it's better than 3 in the morning.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Scary Hotel

A favorite blog inspired me to write this little story:

A little over a year ago I got to go to Detroit.  I spent four days and three nights there.  I was several blocks away from the downtown area.  Now, I’ve heard a lot of bad stories about downtown Detroit, but I have to say, the actual downtown area was very nice.  The skyscrapers were impressive and the streets were nice.  Now, you leave the immediate downtown area and things get pretty scary pretty fast.
I was about three blocks away from the downtown in a cheap hotel. 

There is no way to really describe the hotel and do it justice. I didn’t feel entirely safe.  The room was quite large, painted pink and had one 60 watt light-bulb in it.  It was dark.  In one corner of the room was, from what the manager told me, a Jacuzzi.  Yes, a Jacuzzi right in my room!  However, as I checked in, he told me the Jacuzzi didn’t work.  It was in a corner of the room and it was so dark in that corner, I couldn’t even see the bottom of the dark green tub. For all I knew, there could have been a dead body in there.  Even though the Jacuzzi didn’t work, I was probably charged extra just for the pleasure of having the view of one in my room.

There were bugs in the shower and I saw several on the bed.  Thankfully for me, the room had a couch.  I prefer to sleep on couches anyway, but after seeing the bugs in the bed, I wasn’t sleeping there.  The couch probably wasn’t much better, but I never actually saw a bug on it.

The last night I was there, there was a lot of activity going on in the halls.  I didn’t sleep well.  I kept the door locked and bolted, but someone tried to get into my room about three in the morning.  I think the people were quite drunk because I finally heard one of them say, “oops, wrong door!”
The only thing that room had going for it was Wi Fi.  I was able to hook up to the Internet and write a bad review of the hotel.  Stay Away!
The super pink hotel room

The dark corner with the mysterious Jacuzzi.  The flash from the
camera makes it look lighter than it actually was in the room.

This summer, as a family, we ended up stopping quite late one night in Flagstaff on our way to see extended family.  Some huge motorcycle convention must have been going on.  Every hotel we stopped at was full and the parking lots were filled with motorcycles.  We finally found a motel that was probably built in the 50’s.  Judging from the d├ęcor in the room, it still had its original furnishings.  I think the bedding and pillows were original too.  Our entire family slept in one room on the beds, and all over the floor.  Now, this was in July and the window A/C didn’t work.  As Flagstaff is high elevation, the outside air did cool down, but not in our room.  I hardly slept.  It was too hot.  I should have slept outside in the open air, but I was afraid of some motorcycle gang from the hotel next door might see me sleeping on the patio.  Hubby wasn’t impressed with the room at all, but I have to say, I never saw a bug in the room during our 10 hours in the motel. (Except for the dead one smashed on the bathroom wall next to the toilet, but hey, at least it was dead.)