Friday, October 30, 2015

Trick-or-Treat Traditions


Just the word makes me smile.  Takes me back to fond memories of the past.
From my childhood and early years with the boys.  It reminds me of comfort, of HOME.

With a growing teenager, we're at a crossroads of change.  And as such, a tweaking of our traditions. Gone are the days of creating fun costumes and trick-or-treating with my little guy.

Noah was always such a good sport, letting me be creative and make homemade costumes.

 These were two of my faves.  
He chuckled remembering them this afternoon, 
naming some I had forgotten about like the "Cereal" Killer and mummy.

Things have changed so much, we aren't even able to participate in Trunk or Treat at church this year, which has at least allowed Noah to still dress up and hand out candy.

Because, this year, my little guy is so big he has to work the holiday.  He was a tad disappointed, although I think he was uncertain what he would even do, if he were off.  It's tough growing up.  I see the realization in his face as childhood traditions start to slip away.

Our children are forced to grow up so quickly.  So often we wish our childhood away and then spend decades wishing it back.  While I'm proud that Noah's responsible and mature, I also love seeing him enjoy just being a kid.

Noah was going to walk my sister's kiddos around the park today to collect candy from local businesses, until we noticed the massive line and the time.  Instead, he ended up hugging them goodbye and walking to work.  (Big momma heart tug moment!)

My sweetheart niece, Bryanna, thought of her cousin and carried a bag around for him too.  Not everyone gave her candy for both, but I'd watch her peek in her bag, dip in her little hand and drop some over in his bag.  Hopefully it'll put a smile on his face when he gets home tonight.  It sure did mine.

Instead of what we've grown used to for this holiday, we find ourselves rearranging and adjusting, figuring out new traditions along the way.  I'm sure it is the beginning of many more to come, as our boy grows older.

Since he doesn't clock in until the afternoon, we've decided to spend the day cooking and watching spooky movies.  We've not yet had a pot of Noah's award-winning chili so it seems fitting to start a memory of making it on Halloween.  It was difficult for him to give me his "secret ingredient" list to shop today but I promised to never share!

With the crazy schedule our family has, our pumpkins haven't even been carved yet so that will also be new for us.  At least our creations won't be soggy and caving in!

And for the first time maybe.....ever? Tim and I will be home on Halloween.  I realized this morning we better get some candy, if kiddos even come to our neighborhood.  If not, I'm sure my guys will have no problem putting it away.

What are your Halloween traditions?
...And what do you sneak out of the candy bowl?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Still Standing: October

Life sure has a way of knocking you down, while you're down.  At least that's how it feels around here sometimes.

Before we've even had a chance to catch our breath from a bumpy summer and unexpected change in our family, we receive more unsettling news this week.

We're really not at a place where we can share just yet, but prayers are appreciated, especially for my husband.

Though the future is uncertain we're holding on to the One who holds our future.

October is among my most favorite of months, but I'm realizing a trend that makes it difficult to love it fully as I used to.  It's very much a month of before...

I captured what I called the "Calm Before the Storm" in my first post as a contributing author for Still Standing Magazine.

Thanks to Timehop, I was reminded that I've had the honor of writing for this beautiful place of support for those facing child loss exactly two years ago.

My latest post with them has received a response I wasn't expecting.  Often it is those pieces I pour out quickly, which seem to resonate the most.  While the loss of a child is as unique as the person grieving, whatever my heart shared a few days ago met and matched many.

If you've faced such a loss, perhaps you'll find comfort that however you're feeling, you're not alone.

All that to say, sometimes I have to look back to see how far we've come.  No matter what temporary trial we are enduring, we've already faced the unimaginable.  And yet...

we're Still Standing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Schoolhouse Rocks

Talking with someone recently, I realized we've not been on a vacation since 2013.

Twenty.  Thirteen.

There are many reasons why, but given the stressful summer we've had, it became necessary to shift things around and take an impromptu retreat.

Fall break gave us the perfect opportunity to get away for a few days.  Now that our baby is a working man, it isn't as easy to plan outings.  An added snafu was two doggies with no sitter on such short notice.  So this momma set to googling for a much needed dog-friendly vacay spot.

I found three or four contenders, sent inquiries, and set to packing.  In the end, the top choice became a one room schoolhouse built in the 1920s on the tail end of Kentucky Lake, in Buchanan, Tennessee.

1927 Fort Henry Schoolhouse

The guys were a little hesitant staying in one room all together for several days.  They didn't say much, but I could tell there was doubt.  That all changed though the moment they opened the door.

This is where they spent a good chunk of our trip....

And here...

Of course, I did my did share of R&R too, snuggled with my buddy,who spent most of the trip with a stomach bug.  

He was such a trooper, never once complaining about spending lots of time in the boys room.  Lucky for me there were two restrooms in the schoolhouse.

As such, we didn't venture out much but I was content soaking up the views from here.


The one "good day" he had we took the boat to spend some time on the lake.  It was beautiful exploring the God's patchwork quilt from the waters.

When at the schoolhouse, I loved browsing through the photos and newspaper clippings about the history.  Growing up, Little House on the Prairie was among my favorite stories so I imagined what life must have been like in a one room school.  We even managed to find an episode to watch on TV one afternoon.  

Though a brief trip, it was nice to stop and soak up some much needed family time.  My boy is growing so fast, this momma often wants to push on the breaks and slow things down.  This retreat gave us that chance.

We received lots and lots of Austin hugs on the trip as well.  

The first we noticed was at our lunch stop.  Noah glanced down and commented it was 2:32 about the same time we noticed the phone number on the restaurant.  The town where we were staying had 232 as the prefix.  On the way to the house, we crossed an intersection for Hwy 232.  And while browsing an online map, I realize the main road beside was Austin Memorial Hwy.  Hanging on one wall were enrollment cards for all the former classmates.  I noticed that each frame contained 23 students.  
So many signs he was smiling down and with us each mile.

Friday, October 9, 2015

We're Nutty For Food

On my fall bucket list every single year is attending the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.  Yet every single year, life seems to get in the way of us going.  Whether it is crazy schedules, sickness, budget, or what have you, no matter much I hope or plan, it never happens.

This week has been no exception, as storms have certainly come through full force, but I decided to put on my rubber boots this time and play in the rain!  I'm speaking figuratively of course; however, as we started on the trek raindrops did threaten.

I sent up a little prayer for cooperative weather and safe travels, with Noah beside me playing hooky from school.  We really needed a Mom & Me day.  And God did not disappoint.

What a wonderful time we had!

Mom: Let's take a Selfie!
Noah: Let's NOT!  ;)

My baby shares a love of food with his mom.  Like me, he'll try anything once.  So imagine blocks of booths offering crazy fares like brain sandwiches, bologna balls, pickle slushies, and fried kool-aid.

Normally, I'm a planning type of gal.  My intentions were to scope out the best booths, research tips, find great parking options, etc.  Instead, we just hit the road and hoped for the best.  I wasn't even sure where exactly I was going.  As my mom said though, just look for the rides, you'll find it!

We arrived a little early and snagged a sweet parking spot at the start of the festival, in a church parking lot.  Throughout our day we were blessed to have contact with smiling faces and great attitudes.  Well, except for the filthy-mouth carny Noah and I exchanged "she needs Jesus" glances over.  Maybe the interactions were pleasant because of my sweet boy.  I was touched by how genuinely polite and friendly he was.  Every booth we stopped at he'd leave them with a kind goodbye.  It was a proud mom moment for sure.

kraut balls - minus what Noah already ate!
Though we'd browsed a "Munchie Map" prior to arriving, we decided to just start at the beginning and make our way around.  Our first purchase was kraut balls.  Noah's had a sparked interest in all things German lately, as he's recently made friends with an exchange student and part of our lineage is there.  He was snapchatting some of our finds and she jealously replied from school.

From there it's hard to remember everything but here's what I can recall...

buckeyes -you can never go wrong with peanut butter
fried mac & cheese - see above
A sampler fried ball platter.  - I loved the bologna bomb and the Popeye ball (spinach), Noah agreed on Popeye but preferred the mashed potato and ham/cheese over bologna.
Gator Bites.  Jerk Chicken.  -Noah never had gator and loved it.  Jerk chicken took me back to Jamaica.
BBQ soak - we were curious at the name.  It's a white bread sandwich of bbq.  Yummy.
Hog jowl - would've been better without the sauce.  Kinda like a country ham bacon.

hog jowl
brain teasers

Brain teasers - the brain sandwich is a trademark to the festival but by the time we found it we were stuffed.  We opted for the teasers, which was a hushpuppy.  It was just ok.  Next time we're going for the sandwich.
And a giant turkey leg - think Fred Flintstone

We brought home the turkey leg because we were stuffed.  It smelled amazing driving home.  Also in the bag I was smart enough to carry, we returned with puppy chow, Grippos popcorn, kangaroo and alligator jerky, a cricket sucker, and a caramel apple kuchen.

All the proceeds go to charities so it was worth the near C-note we dropped on the day.  And the rain hit just as we were leaving.

Thankful for the day and what I hope to be the start of an annual tradition with my son.

Bellies full.  Pockets empty.  Memories made.
that's my "Yikes! I'm about to eat a brain" face

You still have one day to enjoy to enjoy the festival.  Get out there and enJOY!
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