A Frightfully Fun Halloween Party for Any Age

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My daughter, Shyanne, is the queen of Halloween.  She drives an old, lifted Jeep Cherokee with a life sized skeleton named Victor in the front seat all year.  When Shyanne invited me to her Halloween day with my other daughter and granddaughter, I didn’t hesitate (never turn down opportunities to be with loved ones).  I hopped in the car with my witch hat and headed to the eastern plains.

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Now there is nothing quite like the sound of a five year old’s bent-over, belly laugh.  And that is what I was met with.  “You look like a unicorn!” Maryjane wailed, a twinkle in her eye.  “I am a witch!” I declared.  “Looks like a unicorn to me.”

There were crafts laid out, and snacks galore, spooky music met me when I entered through the door.  I got straight to work, for this Grammie has a role.  I make the best Halloween hamburgers (veggie burgers) this side of the veil.  I sneaked the bits of cheese from cutting out eyes and mouths to my scary granddog.

Witch’s brew was put on, just like when the children were small.  Ah, it does not seem like it was that long ago at all.  A jug of apple juice or cider, a handful of brown sugar, a good sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice and let that begin to simmer then serve.

Shyanne put on a spread of easy treats, crackers and chips and cookies.  We decorated warm sugar cookies with edible watercolors and sprinkles.

We made puppets out of tongue depressors glued to construction paper cutouts that we glued googly eyes to.  Shyanne had carefully pre-cut Frankenstein heads, pumpkins, bats, and ghosts out.  We painted and glued and sprinkled our way into the Halloween spirit.  I did notice that is hard to get into the spirit when no children are present.  This was a welcome party for me.

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“The neighbors are going to wonder what is going on,” Emily said, as Maryjane and I danced to Disney songs and howled loudly like werewolves.

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Emily posing with her pumpkins. She is very ready for the new baby to come! (a few more weeks!)
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Maryjane’s broom. It’s a compact like my Fiat.

Pumpkins were carved, and we danced, and sang.  Halloween parties can be impromptu and easy.  For any age, for us older children regress rather quickly in the sight of sugar cookies and glue sticks.  I hope you find a few ideas to incorporate into your own spooky Halloween day!

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A Pirate Turns 22

Of course my world revolved around him.  How could it not?  That smile captured me, that little face, that personality shining through from the beginning.

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He was a great lover of animals and would cry if someone gave him meat.  He thought himself a wolf and ran around with my wolf howling and peeing on trees, howling at sirens, and barking at strangers.  He loved Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee and wore his karate belt (often without anything else on) when he was very small.

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Every Saturday night he and I would have a dance and he would have me call the radio station to request his favorite song, “Brick House.”  But he thought it was called “Big Cow” and would sing the lyrics that way.  Still to this day Doug and I cannot hear that song without singing, “She’s a Big…Cow…she’s mighty mighty…”

We sat on the porch eating cookies and watching the sunsets.  We went on hikes all the time and he became a great admirer of nature.  He loved music and instruments and his sisters and was the most fascinating little boy.

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As he got older he self studied many topics and thought himself a pirate for a time.  He led Shyanne and Emily on many grand adventures.  He is a compassionate, heartfelt, and talented man.

I am proud of his accomplishments because those are what he set out to do, but what I am really proud of is that he is a faithful friend, a loving uncle, a protective brother, a strong willed, beautiful person, and a great son.

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Happy 22nd Birthday to my Andy. Dad and I love you immensely.

Bocce (a new way to play!)

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Bocce is typically played on a court measuring roughly ninety by thirteen feet.  The one I learned on was much smaller than this but the court really doesn’t matter, it turns out.

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Images of Italian men with grappa playing after dinner fill my mind.  They are portrayed with color and prose in many of the books I read.  I learned from an older Italian man one summer in the mountains.

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I never had a court so I always played out in the yard, where hills and trees and paths made the game more interesting.  At a family reunion one year my grandma played and was a beast at this game.  Through the woods, across a trampoline, my demure grandmother hooped and hollered and was extremely competitive.

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Our new landscape made for a fine new field for us to play on.  The teams are set (and often changed as we go) and each team has their designated balls.  There are four pairs of different balls, two sets are the same color.  We split into two teams.  The first person throws the smaller ball, called the Jack, and he/she goes first.  The object of the game is to get your team balls closest to the jack.  You can knock a closer ball away or simply surround the jack but this is all much easier said than done as a patch of leaves, a rolling hill, or a fence post may divert your professional aim.

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If one team has two of the closest balls than they get two points.  If they only get one closest than they get one point.  Make up a number to play to.  We played to six then switched around the teams.  I do not recall the exact rules from that summer twenty years ago but it doesn’t really matter.  The rules come with the game.  The main object is to have fun!

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This game is every bit as fun with two people as it is with eight. We found an old bocce set at a garage sale but they are available at sports stores.  We got one for Doug’s dad at Dick’s Sporting Goods one year.

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Now, get outside and have some fun!

Funding and Getting the Life You Want

What is your dream life?  To live in a high rise apartment with a balcony of plants?  To live in a suburb surrounded by like-minded families?  To live in the country?  Life is really short.  Scarily so.  And in these fleeting moments, where do you want to wake up and spend your moments?  Where can you breathe?

What is your dream job?  A sleek 9-5 with all the perks?  Teaching or nursing?  Are you happy in the job you are in?  Perhaps you are retired or a housewife and you have money coming into the household.  There are always ways to make money.  May as well do something you love in order to make it.

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Change can be scary when we can’t see a clear path, but it always leads somewhere, and when following a dream, it tends to lead straight to that dream!  You don’t need a lot of money to follow a dream.  If it is meant to be, any money needed will show up just in the nick of time.

Now, how are we going to spend our money?  I have told you the story of our fancy living.  Our expensive mortgage, two car payments, upstanding jobs (where we were easily replaced….no job should take up so much space in your life) and our seemingly upscale lifestyle.  Cruises, expensive dinners, really bored kids.

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When we left it all, we were hanging on to an idea, a dream, and it played out before our eyes.  The house coming up for rent, the shop coming up for rent, the farmer’s markets being fantastic.  But that is just house and finances (granted, while helping people along the way).  How do we want to spend our money?  How do we want to live our life?

We go on more little trips and mini-vacations than anyone we know.  We have this split personality where we want to be homebodies and farm and live a simple life….while traveling.  Actually, we don’t want to travel all the time, but we have found solace and renewal in overnight or two stays throughout the year.

We barter for stays at a Bed and Breakfast in Boulder Canyon.  We go to the hot springs for the day in Idaho Springs.  We go to holiday festivals.  We stay a few days in Colorado Springs (45 minutes away).  We play hard, we work hard, we rest hard.  How do we pay for it?

We don’t have smart phones, Iphones, tremendously fast internet (Not that we could out here anyway!), a ton of cable channels, or data on our phones.  Our phones are cheap, off Ebay, and do the trick.  They call out and usually accept calls coming in.  (Now, of course, if it were up to me, we’d have even less….compromise is important in a marriage though.)  With the money that almost everyone we know uses on these seemingly necessary objects, we visit new places.

You can live big on just a little by deciding what is important and what is not.  We don’t buy a lot of new clothes and if we do they are Walmart specials, thrift store, or on sale.  We have over 500,000 miles between our two cars.  (I should probably start budgeting for a new truck.)  We don’t have car payments.  We live in a community where my rent seems like a lot, but it is nearly half of what we were paying in the suburbs.  We provide our own health insurance in the form of herbal medicines.

When we eat out, it is at the nicest restaurants.  We go to bed and breakfasts.  We play.  We have a modest emergency fund, clothes, a roof over our heads, a lot of food preserved for winter, and lots of memories.

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We took Bret, Emily and little Maryjane up to Manitou Springs overnight Monday.  It was their second anniversary.  We stayed at a very old, and beautiful bed and breakfast.  We took Maryjane to meet Santa at the North Pole.  We treated the kids to fondue at a restaurant voted the most romantic.  We made memories as a family.  We made our bond that much stronger and had a nice 24 hour rest.

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Last weekend we took our daughters Shyanne and Emily as well as Bret and Maryjane to the pumpkin festival we attend each year.  We missed our son who was not able to attend for the first time, but we continued to make some memories, build a scarecrow, and had a few breakdowns as well as triumphs, just like when they were little.

In a few weeks we will be in California visiting our friends, staying in their home, cooking fresh meals, enjoying real seafood, and touring wineries.  Cheap airfare, generous friends sharing their home, and saving a little extra instead of spending it on other things will provide a five day memory making trip.

How do you want to live?  Where?  Doing what?  With whom?  Now is the time to take action and make your dreams come true.  Live how you want!

(Our journey has not come to a stand still.  Our shop has closed, our classes have picked up, we want that larger farm where we have no town restrictions and can homestead how we want!  We are still working and dreaming towards that…)