Showing posts from October, 2009

And they're off!

They are off to collect bags and loads and wads of candy.

Here is the campfire.
Here is Gaara.
Here is Gaara's squash thingie. (Or Mr. Peanut)
Here is Hayley and her friend, the sumo wrestler.
Matt is making the rounds with two friends and Hayley is going separately with her friend. Paul is doing his weekend job--cleaning the bathroom. Other Jim is working but is done at 8. Dunno what he's doing after that. I'm handing out candy and trying not to eat what is still in the bowl. Jim is handing out pizzas to people who pay for them.

Happy Halloween!

This is the last Halloween Decoration Special Feature of the year and that leaves me a little sad. Tomorrow all the pretty pumpkins and scary skulls come down. Boo (hoo!).

I'll update later tonight with pictures of trick-or-treaters so for now I'll just leave you with the last Halloween Decoration Special Feature. It is the pumpkin dishcloth I knitted over the last few nights.

Quick five minute break

I'm in the middle of decorating for a party (not at my house. I don't do parties. No one would show up) and I'm only home because I forgot two bags of decorations.

I'm just here for a few minutes but I thought I'd provide a few updates and a quick Halloween Decoration picture while I'm eating my lunch.

Update #1: Paul's race that was supposed to be yesterday afternoon was rescheduled to this afternoon because of yesterday's pervasive rain.

Update#2: Despite the rain, Other Jim played frisbee with his friends. Someone took this picture of OJ diving for the frisbee: He caught it and then presumably plowed into the soggy grass.

Update #3: Hayley's costume pants are finally finished.

Update #4: There is no update #4.

Halloween Decoration Special Feature:

A two-fer. A spooky candle
And a glittery black pumpkin. The lighting in the picture is bad so you can't get the full glittery effect. But just try to imagine it.

Maw II: Voracious teenage appetite and the manners of a zombie

In honor of Halloween, the Shoebox Castle presents two tales so terrifying that it will make all you parents of future teenage boys gnash your teeth and send you running to chain your fridge shut with huge titanium locks. Yes, it's time for another bad horror movie title, which I haven't done in a while ("Maw"--you know cuz of "Saw." Get it?)

Today's movie tale begins with a seemingly normal teenage boy. He goes to school, he drives, he gets ok grades, he talks to girls on the phone for many hours.

And he eats.

There he was at lunch. The Halloween dance committee sponsored a dance ticket contest involving a doughnut on a string. Many teenagers lined up to compete for the prize, and our normal teenage boy was among them. He lined up with the others, hands behind his back and eyes on his doughnut. The rules said that you had to leave a small bit of doughnut hanging on the string. The fastest doughnut eater would win a free ticket to the Halloween danc…


Last night was Matt's very last Pack meeting. He is no longer a Cub scout. It is the end of an era in the Shoebox household. Matt has one year left in Primary at church and then I will be the parent of all big kids (well, age-wise. Matt will probably never be a big-kid size-wise). No more Cub scouts!

Here he is receiving his pile of awards and pins from over the summer. The pack meeting was held at a bonfire at a park so we could hardly see or hear what was going on. I did manage one picture with the flash, but in doing so, blinded everyone at the event. Sigh. So I didn't get any pictures of him walking across the crossover bridge from Cub scout to Boy scout.

The little ceremony they had for his crossover was very nice. The Boy Scout leader was there and he involved Jim and me in changing the epaulets on Matt's shirt as he changed Matt's scout scarf. Matt is excited for Boy Scouts (aren't they all at the start?) and has grand plans for earning all the meri…

Knitting environmental magazines with witches

I'm up early today. I decided to knit instead of going back to sleep after Fake Child arrived at 6 a.m. this morning. I am now over half way done on an orange dishcloth with a pumpkin picture on it. I started it the other night when my hands had nothing to do during a movie and I couldn't stand fidgeting anymore. I paused the movie and went upstairs to paw through my bales of yarn for something--ANYTHING--to knit. Purse? Don't have the right needles. Socks? Can't find the other ball of yarn (side note: found the yarn later. It turns out I already knitted one sock out of that particular yarn and had TOTALLY FORGOTTEN!!!) I found some orange dishcloth yarn and googled up a pumpkin pattern and--VOILA!--no more fidgeting! PS to this paragraph--I bought the needles for the purse and have started that too. Now I have a project for upstairs and one for downstairs. (The pumpkin dishcloth will be done soon)

Yesterday I bought two weird magazines: Mother Jones and T…

One at a time

Today's Halloween Decoration Feature is not really a Halloween decoration at all, but a means of displaying M&Ms for as long as they last (two minutes in my house). Of course there are Halloween M&Ms available (in AUGUST!) to fill this thing so I put it out as a decoration.
It's an M&M dispenser made for me by a friend. Pull the knobs back and forth and you get one M&M at a time. When the children were younger, they'd ask for some and I would allow them to have 2. At the time, they viewed 2 M&Ms as an acceptable reward. Nowadays, they expect a few more (bags). I tell them "too bad!" I use this dispenser for Christmas too. It's an all-year-round thing, but I usually bring it out only twice a year because the "novelty" of dispensing one M&M at a time gets old really fast (I usually end up unscrewing the jar and pouring the M&Ms out into my hand, which defeats the purpose of the candy dispensing machine).

To complete yesterday's centerpiece

I have this:
It holds my Halloween napkins.

I'm a mess

All my married life I've wanted a lovely table. I'm not talking about the actual table, I'm talking about having a nice centerpiece on a clean tablecloth or runner in a clean dining room--the kind of thing you see in interior decorating magazines. Most of the years I've been married, I thought that the reason that I didn't have a nice table because I didn't have a centerpiece.

I realized now that I was wrong. The reason that I don't have a lovely table is because we are a family of messy pigs. I cannot keep a table clean for 5 minutes. I wash all the crumbs and spills off the table (once a week if we're lucky and I have the time) and change the tablecloth, and within mere minutes, someone has dirtied the table again: they've used it as a craft table and left bits of colored paper, tape, scissors, stickers, very small rocks, (etc.) out, used it as a place to dump books, school papers, and newspapers for lack of anywhere else to put them, or eate…

The latest thing in Halloween decorations...

Image the countdown. Halloween has apparently developed a severe inferiority complex.. Christmas has always sported an "advent" (which used to be just a "four Sundays before Christmas" but has turned into a massive "count down the days until we can rest from our shopping binges for nine months") and Halloween's jealousy has prompted it to start stealing Christmas celebratory decoration ideas.
Yes, folks, I'm bringing back the Halloween Decoration Special Feature (click the link and then scroll through last year's month-long Halloween-decoration-of-the-day thing) only it's only going to be from now until Halloween. I couldn't do a whole month this year because I had Matt's party to deal with, along with a few other things. Besides, I don't have that many new or unfeatured decoration items. Guess it's time for me to get some more, right?

Anyway, these blocks allow the Halloween appreciator to countdown the whole 31 days of…

Flashback, English-class style

Last night we watched Dead Poets Society for the anniversary movie countdown. I generally don't like dramatic movies because I get restless and twitchy, especially if my hands have nothing to do. And they didn't last night because I was still waiting for the last day of the knitting pattern to show up and I didn't have any other projects started. But I do like this movie first of all because it has Robert Sean Leonard in it, who is now on a TV show called House, which I like to watch.

After watching the movie, I got to thinking about English class. I had two memorable English teachers (well, two and a half if you count Mr. Skoy as the English teacher/croquet club advisor--a whole other post), one of which was Mr. Gulner. He was my 8th grade English teacher and at first we did not get along. I don't remember why. He kicked me out of class once for making an offhand jokey comment and I broke down crying (stupid hair-trigger waterworks). We had a chat in the hallwa…

Some Halloweenie things and the anniversary countdown

I came across some paper dolls on the interweb. I've downloaded and printed them and am cutting them out now (when I'm not actually blogging). I thought I'd share them with you, well, with those of you who have little kids. My littles are too old for paper dolls, but I would have totally printed them out for Hayley and Matt to play with had I seen them years ago. But now I have Fake Child, so I'm letting her play with them.

Boy Halloween paper doll

Girl Halloween paper doll

Check them out. Jen, your girls might like these. They do take a bit of time to cut out, but they are so cute.

As promised, here is a picture of Hayley at the sewing machine. She is working on a pair of black pants for her Halloween costume. This is her first foray into sewing and so far she is doing just fine. As for her costume, I have NO idea what it is she is going to be. Some anime character with a squash shaped backpack that apparently holds sand. WTH??!! (WTH=what the heck) She alread…

My acceptance speech

Thank you to all who voted for me in the lullaby contest! All ten of you must have voted every day because I was declared the winner! Get a load of my winner's tiara there on the sidebar. Isn't it fabulous? And thanks to the person who made me enter the contest.

Here is my lullaby in its entirety (which took me all of five minutes to write 9 of the 11 lines. The other two lines required a shower to work out. It's amazing how conducive showers are to writing. To bad you CAN'T ACTUALLY WRITE IN THE SHOWER! I need a waterproof tablet and a water resistant pencil to keep in there, because memorizing what I write takes up like most of the shower time and I hate memorizing):

Mommy's lullaby (Sung to the tune of Give Said the Little Stream)

Sleep, said the mommy. Sleep
Rest your head, Sleepyhead.
Sleep said the mommy, Sleep
As she tucks you into bed.

You're small, you know,
but wherever you go
I'll be there to keep you safe.

When you wake up we will play
Morning, noon,…

It's Monday and I suppose I have to post something

The long MEA weekend is over and the kids are back in school. How did they spend their extra three days off?

Jimmy frolicked about the state with friends. OK, he only went to Mankato for part of a day. He and his friend drove down to Mankato to make caramel apples and break kitchen appliances of a friend. Sigh.

Paul camped out on some very cold and rainy days. He came back Saturday night and got mad at the weather when Sunday was nice and very near 60 degrees. Why couldn't it have been nice on the campout? he wailed. They did a 50-mile bike ride too.

Hayley did some jobs around the house for a little extra green and then spent Friday night at a friend's house.

Matt had his birthday party (you saw the birthday recap, I assume) and successfully turned 11 (I would hate for him to be unsuccessful at it). He didn't go anywhere, but hung around with me the whole weekend.

I did manage one outing with Hayley and Matt (and fake child)--we went mini golfing at the local mall. …

The Proposal

No, not the Sandra Bullock movie from earlier this year (although this does involve that movie).

Jim approached me (verbally) with a proposal last night. Our 21st anniversary is coming up in one month and three days. He suggested that over the next month we watch a movie from each year that we've been married. What a fun way to count down to November 19th! It'll be like a date each time we watch a movie from the list because it will be representing another year of marital bliss/strife/amusement (mostly bliss. And amusement. Jim has a wicked sarcastic streak. What makes him even more amusing is that he rarely lets that side of him be seen).

So we decided that I would pick movies from the even years and he would pick movies from the odd ones (no correlation between his personality and having to choose the odd years).

For some years I found it difficult to choose because of the plethora of good movies. Some years it was difficult because I didn't like very many of the mo…

Party pooped

Never again! Freedom! The shackles of party planning have been removed forEVER!

I won't mind a request for a party consisting of a few friends and a movie or games or something, but whatever goes on will not be planned or executed by me.

I have enjoyed the parties I have planned--especially the Paul/Jimmy party where I invited the reptile guy--but after five children, I am ready to give up this part of the business of mommying.

But since it's still Matt's birthday, I will deny myself further reveling in the shedding of parental responsibility (unnecessary responsibilities, but ones I did out of my particular enjoyment of seeing my kids enjoy being with their friends).

We did some science experiments and unfortunately, I was too busy being Bill Nye the Science Guy to take pictures. But the boys loved the science fun. We used purple cabbage juice as an indicator and watched it turn different colors as we poured it into different liquids. We made a non-Newtonian liquid out o…

Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

Matt is one louder today (5 points if you know the reference).

20 minutes until seven preteen boys descend upon this house expecting candy and cookies and cake and junk and stuff. ('nother 5 points for this reference)

What have I been doing all morning?
1. Trying not to be too disappointed that the cake we bought for the party is not Cake Wreck worthy. It's perfectly normal and not at all messed up.
2. Chopping red cabbage
3. Crushing acetaminophen
4. Looking for ammonia
5. Making sugar water
6. Telling Matt over and over that he can't open his presents right now.
7. Getting nervous for the party. I am not a very good anticipator. I get hives.
8. Chopping more red cabbage
9. Pulverizing the red cabbage in distilled water
10. Filling bottles with various liquids

It's chemistry time!

I'll post pictures later.

Lullaby time and things to do

There are some swell entries in my friend's lullaby contest (including one from me). Head on over and vote (for me).

In other news, today is the conference meet for cross country. Cross your fingers (ha!) for us that the meet will not be canceled, like the last two meets. Paul really wants to run. He'll even run despite the snow that is still whitening the lawn from yesterday's flake-y weather.

I'm also busy busy busy preparing for Matt's birthday party (tomorrow!). Matt and Hayley helped me test out some science tricks that will form the bulk of the party. The best trick we managed last night was a non-Newtonian liquid made from cornstarch and water. When mixed right, it is a liquid if you drag your finger slowly through it, but it becomes a solid if you tap your finger hard and fast on it. I saw it on a TV show where they had made a bunch of it and then were able to run across it. The website I found it on says it's like quicksand. Anyway, it was real…

It's snow time!

Look what the weather fairy left for us during the night!Summer is truly over! Bring on winter!

To-do and To-did

To do:
1. Test all the chemistry experiments that I've planned for the very last birthday party I am EVER planning for. Matt turns 11 next week and he will be cut off from mom-planned parties. All the other children have previously been cut off. I am not sorry to see this cut-off happen. AT ALL.
2. Look up more Halloween crafts. My living room is NOT ORANGE ENOUGH!
3. Play Triple Yahtzee with Matt. It was a goal assigned by his teacher. Really.
4. Pretend to clean. Assign the children the real chores while I busy myself with things like finishing all the puzzles in my Games magazine so I can throw it away.
5. Freak out about a craft event tomorrow that I am "technically" in charge of but am afraid of doing. Make soup for it. Make punch for it. Decor? Do I HAVE to?

To did:
1. Attended Matt's parent-teacher conference (where he was assigned the goal of playing Triple Yahtzee).
2. Showered. Big accomplishment!
3. Played War and Speed with Hayley with playing cards sh…

Halloween for the ears and not for the faint of heart or snobbish poets

So I was going to try to enter a lullaby-writing contest put on by a friend of mine, but when I sat down to think up some lyrics, all that came out of my brain was a Halloween-themed rhyme. I guess I'm just not the lullaby type. I'm a scare-your-children-to-death-before-bed-so-they-will-cry-for-hours type. I probably shouldn't have had kids.

Pumpkins on the Porch
(sung to the tune of "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree. If you are not familiar with this song--and really you should be--go hereand listen to the tune)

I looked out the window and what did I see?Pumpkins on the porch, staring back at me.Fall has brought me such a spooky surprise,Jack-o-lanterns with ghoulish eyes.With flickering smiles and wicked tricksThey gave me a shock just to get their kicks,I shouldn’t have been scared, but 'twas a frightful scene,Creepy little pumpkins on Halloween!

Krafty Korner at the Shoobox Kastle

You know it's going to be a special post when I purposely misspell most of the words in the title.

So it's my favorite time of year. I love October. The weather cools down after the heat and humidity of summer. The leaves turn on their neon colors. And pumpkins pop up on porches like children waiting for a candy handout.

Halloween is coming! And I got my crafting groove on because it is my mission in life to turn my living room completely over to orange kitschy goodness during the month of October. Please ignore the eyes rolling over in the other corner of the house. Husband is rolling out his Halloween tradition of non-verbal sarcasm.

This is the result of my crafting efforts:

Like all good crafters who share their dalliances with the creative muse on the internet, I will now post the instructions for this very easy craft.

1. Convince your parents to provide you with a slightly younger sister who will grow up to have a wicked awesome sewing machine that can make these:

2. Be…

What to write when I have nothing to write about

Paul's meet (second one in a row) was canceled yesterday because of excessive rain. So no cross country running report to share with you today. It rained for pretty near five days here, finally stopping last night.

I suppose I could go back to last year's October theme and write about more of my Halloween decorations.

I could write about finally being able to grow my fingernails long (I hope I don't have to scrape the bottom of THAT barrel).

I could also share with you how I avoided a certain ulcer by going to Wal of the Mart and the craft store instead of watching the Twins game (which I would surely jinx if I had watched it from the beginning). Jim texted me the score when the Twins finally pulled ahead. Then I didn't get another text from him the whole hour and a half I was gone. I assumed in this case that no news was bad news (Jenni, say it with me: "No ga-news is good ga-news with Gary Gnu") and that the game and the season were over so I got in the …

There and back again

Other Jim made it back from Iowa yesterday after staying a little longer than he said he would. Oh well, I can't be mad at him for staying longer to go to the afternoon session of conference with Rissa and her family. He got home around 8:30 p.m. and dumped all his stuff by the couch. And it sits there still. rrrrrrrrrrr He'll get to deal with that when he comes home from school today.

But he did bring home a few pictures. Here he is with his date, Rissa.

They ate dinner at this home. One of the girls made the dinner (not sure which one) and Other Jim said it was really good. He didn't know any of the other kids, but he had a good time anyway.

The kids are holding what I believe are cupcakes, each with a letter on it so that it spells out "HOMECOMING."

Macho boys.

Homecoming (out of town)

Other Jim is currently dancing the night away at Iowa.

Some chick he met at EFY this summer asked him to come down to Des Moines to be her date. Other Jim just cannot do things the easy way, can he? Yes, we let him drive three hours out of state to go to a dance. Yes, we let him go by himself. Yes, we are letting him stay overnight at the girl's house (she is staying at a friend's house).

I know what you are thinking...How could we let him do that? So far, Other Jim hasn't given us much reason to distrust him. He's a good boy who is a responsible and diligent employee. He does his homework and hands it in on time. He attends church faithfully even when Jim and I were out of town last weekend and when we were in Utah. He obeys at home mostly and doesn't talk back. He's a genuinely good kid from what I can tell. He never has hours away from home that he refuses to account for. And Jim reminded me that he was driving 12 hours out of sta…

First hot cocoa of the season

Yesterday Paul was supposed to run at a cross country meet at his school. Many of the parents were volunteering as guides to help the kids stay on the course and I was one of them. I had fake child for the afternoon too so she was going to sit with me and provide guidance as well.

However, the weather chose not to cooperate. It rained all day and the wind blew and the temperature dropped below the 50 degree mark. I got out the long underwear and bought a new umbrella (ours have disappeared. I think they've caught the socks in the laundry syndrome). I fixed hot cocoa and filled the thermos--nearly jumping with joy--I was looking forward to sitting outside in the October chill with a goodly supply of a hot beverage.

But we got there right as a lightning bolt electrified the sky and the meet was canceled. They would have let the kids run in the rain, but if there is one lick of lightning, it's off.

So I didn't get to see Paul run. But we sat at home drinking hot cocoa w…