October 31, 2012

This is Halloween

Halloween is not just a one-day event.   With parties and activities, it is more of a week-long celebration for our family.  It was even extended this year to include a Zumba costume party (pictured above).  I was pleased that I managed to dance in my flapper dress and high heels for the entire two hours.  I have to say, the fringe was well suited to all the Latin dance moves.  It was a blast!

After a quick jump in the shower, it was time to begin preparations for the Park family party that was to be held at Greg and Tilly's that evening. I had to give myself plenty of time to convert Jason into a bald black man with a goatee.  His entire transformation process took about 45 minutes. The two of us were laughing through the whole procedure.

The party was two days before Halloween, so driving to Orem was just as amusing as we watched reactions to our appearance from other drivers.  Once there, we enjoyed visiting with family, seeing other costumes, playing games, and eating food.  The Park family party has always been such a fun tradition. 

Because I think our assembled group looked pretty 
nifty, I had to post this picture to my blog again.

 Tilly had prepared a new game for this year's party.  
We got to try and eat doughnuts hanging from a string.  
I loved how closely Ella observed all of the action.  

Of course, we played Pass the Rat and it was fun 
to see that the final two players who avoided elimination were 
Garrett and Coulter.  (Garrett ended up as the winner.)

Another traditional party game we play is Ghost Bingo.

And speaking of traditions, we've kind-of started one where we have pumpkin shaped pancakes for breakfast on Halloween morning. 

No sooner do we have children fed before it is time to get costumes on and ready for school.  The children were allowed to wear costumes to school, but masks were not permitted.  Brevin and Spencer each came up with an alternative costume using items we already had in our storage.  Brevin chose to be a mummy and Spencer went with my suggestion to be Pinocchio.  The rest of the family came to the school later in the afternoon to watch them parade around in their costumes.

Once the parade was over, the children were dismissed to leave with their parents.  We made a quick stop at the civic center on the way home so Jason and I could do early voting (I was dressed as Thor when I voted), and then we headed over to the Novell corporate offices where we had been invited to trick-or-treat around the cubicles.

I usually do an elaborate themed dinner on Halloween night, but we made a last minute decision to keep it simple and pick up a pizza.  (We saved the "yummy mummy" for another night.)  That decision worked out really well as we were able to get the children out trick-or-treating at a reasonable time and with little or no stress.  Brevin and Spencer ran up ahead of me and Garrett as we walked up and down a few of our neighboring streets.  When their bags were full and their feet were tired, they came home and effectively put an end to all of the Halloween celebrations by stripping off their costumes and going to bed.  The boys made off with enough candy to last through the end of the year, though, so I guess the long-term effect of the holiday has a greater reach than I really know.  It's all good fun.  Happy Halloween!

 Here they are, all ready to hit the streets.  Garrett definitely 
has the "pose-with-hands-on-hips" thing down.

This post authored by Amber

The Art of Carving Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins really is an art-form that Jason has come to perfect over the years.  And just like the artisans of old, he has his "apprentices" who are learning from his example and being given expert tips.  With the help of clever patterns, the pumpkins from our garden are transformed into light displays that we use to represent something about our year, interests, or current events (or in this case, about our costumes for Halloween).  The pumpkins don't last forever, but the memories made and the lessons learned do (and so do the pictures). 

After a night of cleaning and carving pumpkins, they are ready for display on the front porch.
 Brevin did an amazing job on his carving!

 Garrett is posing next to the pumpkin Jason
 carved for him, but you can also get a glimpse of the one
 he carved himself in the bottom left-hand corner.  

 I know what you are thinking right now.  You're thinking, 
"Wow, the similarities are striking!"  Am I right?

The pumpkin designs are at their best when it is darkest.  That is when the light shines through and you can really appreciate the amazing detail.

This post authored by Amber

October 29, 2012

Dressed to Impress

It's no secret. We take costuming pretty serious at our house.  When a family theme is selected, months of thought and preparation go into pulling off something that we could be proud of sporting around the school, neighborhood, and parties we attend.  We have a reputation to uphold, you know!

Brevin and Spencer wore costumes they already owned to the theatrical release of the film The Avengers.  That got me thinking about expanding on the costumes we already had and figuring out a costume for each family member to represent the other main characters in the movie.

I tried to be reasonable about our costume budget. To avoid buying a wig, I decided I would cross-dress and utilize the similarities between my hair and Thor's.  Ella could easily be turned into Black Widow, and Jason conceded to wear the bald cap and pancake stage make-up to look like Nick Fury in a borrowed Matrix costume (thanks, Craig and Heather!).  All we needed to do was get a Captain America costume for Garrett, and we had struck themed-costume gold.

We made a superhero entrance at our annual Park family Halloween party.  It should be noted that the family photograph was really hard to come by due to Ella's absolute fear of Spencer's Incredible Hulk costume.  He had to hide around the side of the house and wait until the rest of the family was posed.  Once everyone else was in position, Spencer had to sneak into his place, unbeknownst to Ella.

Well, I think we did pretty well.  At least the pictures make me laugh whenever I view them.  I guess that was the end result I was aiming for.  Now I'm off to think about next year's costumes.

This post authored by Amber

October 22, 2012

Cornbelly's - A Fall First

Our family has never had a chance to go together to the Cornbelly's attraction at Thanksgiving Point.  "What is Cornbelly's?" you might ask.  Well, it is acres of farmland converted into a ton of different (allergy inducing) activities for children to be involved in.

There are tractors to ride and play on,

 there is a pit filled with corn kernels to bury yourself (or someone else) in,

there are slides, tether balls, bounce houses, and other various playground equipment,

and there is a giant corn maze to explore.

The children had quite an enjoyable time experiencing all of the sights, smells, and sounds of fall. Ella even got a feel for the tastes when she found a dried corn cob in the maze and carried it around with her, putting it in her mouth to try and take bites of the kernels.

When it became dark and a little chilly, we took that as our cue to call it a night (not to mention, it got pretty crowded by the end of the evening).  If we happen upon discounted tickets for Cornbelly's again, I'm sure we will go.  We had a great time.  (And I was finding corn kernels for a week afterward.)

 This post authored by Amber

October 19, 2012

Running a Walk-a-thon

I have been a part of Art City Elementary PTA fundraisers for four years now.  Last year was kind of a record breaker, as we introduced a walk-a-thon that raised nearly $14,600. (You can read all about that here.)  Knowing that I wouldn't have to do everything from scratch, I volunteered to take on the event again this year.  If we could raise even half as much as last time, it would be a success. I just didn't want to find out that last year's financial achievement was a fluke.  Turns out it wasn't.

Packages with lap cards, donation collection envelopes, and other event information were prepared by my amazing committee and given to each teacher.  Members of the city recreation department kindly marked the courses on the field and all the preparation beforehand led up to the day of the event.

The date of the walk-a-thon was pushed back into October, but even so, we could not have asked for better weather.  Spencer's class was scheduled for the morning run (and by run, I mean run. The students set an overall pace that was manic).  In the forty-five minute time allotment, Spencer ran 29 laps--just three laps short of four miles.  Brevin ran in the afternoon and completed 27 laps.  Needless to say, I was proud of both of them. I don't think I ever ran a consecutive distance like that until I was thirty-something and training for a triathlon.  They both ran at least a 5k for the second year in a row.  In fact, of the nearly 600 students at the school, over 250 ran a 5k or more.  Amazing! 

 I registered the walk-a-thon as an official event in conjunction with Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play, so as students left the school that afternoon, they signed a poster pledging their intentions for being physically active on October 6th. (Spencer appears to look shocked to think he would have a Saturday with no video games.)

After a week of money collections and lap tabulations, my committee and I were ready to award students in an assembly that was jam packed with prizes, minute-to-win-it competitions, and special guest, Willie the Wolverine. I cannot tell you how exciting and fun it was to be in that auditorium.  Talk about a party!

Even though the goal poster in the school lobby read $11,166.19, we had some late collections trickle in that brought the final total  to nearly $11,600. Not too shabby.  I just might volunteer to do it all again next year. Let's see if the third time really is the charm.

This post authored by Amber

October 5, 2012

A House Divided

I came home from the school walk-a-thon to find that Jason had proudly displayed his game day flag.  Perhaps he forgot that BYU was playing my team, USU. I decided to make the desperately needed alterations to the flag.  I think it looks much better now:

This post authored by Amber