Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween lessons

I hate Halloween. It's my least favorite "holiday" of the year. I don't mind the kids playing dress-up, the idea of make believe or pretend, but I'm a bit of a Scrooge (or would that be a witch?) for anything beyond that. It's just not my thing.

Every year for the last several years, I've taken the kids to my dad's place, a more secluded cabin-esque place in the woods. No trick-or-treaters and we have been able to comfortably hide out, and get some extra family time as well.

But this year, Lola's older and Millie has been Halloween-obsessed for the last four weeks.

There would be no hiding this year.

And so today, I bought the bags of candy, I set out the pumpkins, I turned on the porch lights.

Ray took the girls to a dozen or so houses, to go trick-or-treating, to have the experience without taking it too far. The weather wasn't so great, a light mist/drizzle and I wasn't in the peppiest of moods so I stayed home to answer the door and to tend to the dog.

The first of batch of kids came about 5:30 p.m., a collection of younger boys, probably just a year younger than Lola, wearing various dark-colored costumes I did not immediately recognize.

I could see them through the screen door, each of happily, patiently waiting on the front steps.

Mustang started yapping almost immediately, so I scooped him up in one arm and then lifted the bin of Smarties and Dum-Dums with my other, resting it on my left hip as I tried to juggle both while opening the door.

The first boy's eyes widened as I opened the door.

"Your house is so nice!" he exclaimed.

"Thanks," I said

"It smells like cotton candy." He smiled at me.

I gave him, and his friends, small handfuls of candy as they all gathered to peer in the window.

They couldn't see much of the inside of my house, always picked up but rarely clean. The laminate floors in desperate need of sweeping, the rug in need of vacuuming. They didn't see where the stupid Dachshund pooed the night before, unable to get his skinny little butt outside in time.

But from their vantage point they must have seen something I couldn't see.

"Are you rich?" the boy asked.

"No, we're not rich," I replied.

We exchanged one last look as the boy turned to leave.

After they left, I returned to the couch and un-paused the DVR to pick up on whatever House Hunters was playing before. I considered our own un-vaulted ceilings and the non-stainless steel appliances, the aging windows that really should be replaced, the popcorn ceilings we've dreamt of scraping off.

No, we're not rich.

About that time, Ray and the girls came through the door. The girls wearing costumes we had no difficulty purchasing. The Arby's we opted to buy because we were too "busy" (read: lazy) to cook. We turned the big-screen TV more pointedly toward us as we sat down to watch the Vikings game.

Rich is relative. And thanks to a seemingly 7-year-old boy I felt a bit well off.

We all had a little spring in our step for the next couple of hours, as we greeted a couple dozen kids and handed out handfuls of candy. Eventually, the girls took over and giddily welcomed the kids themselves. Wearing PJs and flying on sugar highs, they stood at the screen door, hollering out at each other with every new arrival.

"Your turn!" Lola would cry.

"Happy Halloween," Millie would yell out, never at the right moment.

"Trick or treat," she would say to the trick-or-treaters, not understanding why they'd look at her with confusion, unaware she'd stolen their line.

Later, after the girls were tucked into their beds for the night, we eventually shut down the porch light, closed the door, and pulled tight the curtains.

"I'm glad we stayed home and handed out candy," Ray said.

"Me too," I said.

a fresh fall

We have had a super busy -- but super fun! -- fall so far up here. We've gone to the pumpkin patch/corn maze and snuck down to the Cities for a much-needed girls getaway weekend. It was nice to get out of town -- and even better to send some quality time with family.

But we also got some girls pampering time too, which is a pretty special treat for us.

You ready for this? I sure wasn't.

But Lola has been asking, off and on for a year now, to cut her hair short. But she always changed her mind a week or two later. So I had told her that once she stuck with the same opinion for a month, that we would do it.

And she did.

12 inches gone! Off to Locks of Love.

Meanwhile, Millie got a much-needed trim.

Oh, yeah, and their hair was (temporarily, of course) blue and purple.

It was a pretty special time for them.


The before shots:





And the afters:



And, well, it was time for me to freshen up too. I was way overdue for a cut. But I wanted to wait until after the half-marathon so I could still pull it back for that.

10+ inches gone! (No, not off to donations -- it was pretty well-fried and damaged.)

Before:


Afters:


 

I absolutely love it.

I'm still getting used to having to style it daily (seriously, a ponytail was so much faster!) but I love feeling more put together again.

So that's our "new" looks!

But, of course, we're still the same old us we were a month or so ago.


Happy fall everyone.
- B


 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

me

Guess what?!

I ran -- and finished! -- my first-ever half marathon yesterday!

My goal was to finish in under 2:30; I finished in 2:17.05.

It was a super day.

 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

a weekend to remember

Two weeks ago, the Schwan's man stopped by our house, unexpectedly. He was just introducing himself, offering us a booklet. That kind of thing.

He didn't know it but he happened to stop by on Sept. 23, which this year marked the 17th "anniversary" of when Ray and I met, at college in Marshall, Minn., where Schwan's is headquartered.

Coincidental, right?

It got us thinking about ol' times.

A few days later, we got an invite in the mail from Ray's football alumni club or something from college, inviting him to Homecoming, on Oct. 1.

It was something we've long discussed -- but never done. The Vikings schedule always got in the way, or it was too far a drive, or the kids were too busy, or something or another.

As it happened, though, the Vikes played on Monday that week. And we didn't have any plans. And we were way overdue to sneak out of town, just the four of us.

And so ... we went.

The focus of the trip was on Marshall, on our past, on introducing our little ones to where we met, on our college days.

But it quickly grew beyond that, as we were too cheap to get a hotel room. Ray and I spent countless hours at Camden State Park down there during and after our college days. And the weather looked good, so we decided, Why not?, and booked a campsite.

It would be our first-ever just-the-four-of-us family camping trip.

It was a fantastic weekend. One of our best ever.

So, here's a photo recap!

From the college-aspect portion of the trip:

 Why, exactly, Lola's shoe is already off and on the armrest before we even left the driveway is not exactly clear
.
 After every Southwest State football game (almost), we would end up at Applebee's, looking out a window at this exact view. It was a bit surreal to see this view again.

 I found my (old) name on a display of old college newspapers. Kinda' cool!

 This is the exact spot we met on Sept. 23, 1999. Pic by Lola.

 Seeing the new (to us -- I think it's about five years old maybe?) football stadium.

 Pretty stadium.

 Fun with pom-poms.
 She had a great time. She actually was quite interested in the game.
 

 This one was not interested in the game. Ha. But she sure was cute.
 Yep, our little cutie.


But the campus side of things was only half the fun -- and, really, while we enjoyed seeing the college and the town again, it was the camping that we loved the most.

Just a perfect experience: great weather, fantastic attitudes from everyone, and some wonderful sights. We also took a several-mile hike Sunday morning after we packed up but before we left town.















Simply a spectacular weekend.