Monday, October 31, 2016

Our Halloween Weekend

Happy Halloween!!! 
Wishing everyone a spooky, chocolate-filled day.

There's a good chance we're suiting up to go trick or treating yet again. We've already gone three times this weekend. Not sure when kids got so spoiled. Does anyone else remember back in the day when trick or treating was only acceptable on Halloween? But if there's free candy count us in. 

On Friday evening we went to the same Halloween festival we went to last year, right after we'd moved here. Back then Declan was a wee little four month old strapped to Joe or I in his carrier. Now he's a born natural trick or treater. Put a bucket in his hands and that kid will wrestle up some candy. It's like instinct for him. But the highlight of this festival is actually not trick-or-treating (where they don't even hand out candy...what??!) but a pumpkin seed hunt. Aka, another egg hunt. Ez was in heaven. He was a cranky, should've-napped mess that afternoon, and getting any type of Halloween getup on him had me ready to throw in the towel and call it a night, but then I mentioned to him there would be an egg hunt and it was an instant 180. The Darth Vader skeleton tee that he'd swatted out of my hands moments earlier happily went on and off we went. We got there half an hour pre-hunt, so we hit up their trick-or-treating loop, which was a really cute setup of spooky cardboard houses, and when you knocked on the door a hand would pop out with non-candy treats. We wound up with an overload of plastic spiders and Halloween tattoos, along with Ez's prized bouncy balls. 

Then it was time for the good part: the egg hunt. There was a sectioned-off grassy area with orange and black plastic eggs scattered everywhere. People were lined up and ready to go ten minutes beforehand, and after no less than half a dozen false starts they finally removed the caution tape, did a countdown, and let the kids go at it. Joe handled the egg hunt while I hung back and took pictures. Shoulder blocking little kids isn't really my thing. Apparently neither is picture taking though, because it was mass pandemonium and unless you want to see a blur of kids dog piling on invisible eggs none of them turned out well. 

When it was all said and done we wound up with a dozen eggs. We took our hard-won treasures off to a nice quiet corner to crack em open and see what we got. Spoiler alert: more plastic spiders and tattoos. Ez was thrilled, though nothing topped the bouncy balls. Declan mostly just liked the eggs. 

On Saturday we woke up without a real plan. The weather was all over the place. Or rather, the weather reports were all over place. First it was going to rain three days straight, then just one day, and then it was supposed to be sunny according to the weather we had just checked, but when we walked outside it was pouring. Lesson learned. If you want to know the weather just look out the window. We decided we'd still fit in some Halloween fun though and went to a downtown trick or treat event a few towns over, where it was warm and sunny. This was another repeat from last year and it was just pure chance that we even realized it was going on that day. 

I've already hinted that Ez is no fan of Halloween costumes. We bought him one of those poofy Nemo costumes from Target because Nemo was THE movie of the year for him and we figured he'd love it. Wrong. The list of things this kid does not love to wear is long. Comfort is key. So after pulling out everything in his dresser and storage bins we came up with the perfect costume for a kid who will not wear: masks, face paint, hats, or anything "not comfy". Basketball player. Jersey, track pants, and a few black lines on his pumpkin pail to make it look like a basketball. Voila, costume made. 

Declan, on the other hand, LOVES capes, and even masks. He's constantly taking blankets or towels and draping them over his shoulders like a cape. Then auntie sent actual super hero capes and his world was made. So he was Batbaby. Daddy was Batman. I was Robin. We tried to get Ez in on the theme with us but in the end it wasn't worth a fight. So two Batmen, a Robin, and a Clippers player. 

Ez and Declan hit up the candy bowls along the trick or treat trail with their own unique kind of determination. Ez loves candy, and accumulating as much as he could was his sole mission. However, he's not a pushy kid and he won't elbow his way to the front of the line just to get some chocolate. He's my little gentleman. Declan doesn't really even like candy, but he wants his fair share of what everyone else has. And that kid WILL elbow his way to the front of the line. He will most definitely use his cute little stature to his advantage. And when the person manning the candy bowl exclaims how cute he is he will yell "DAH!!" and hold out his bucket until the candy is dropped in and then he'll move on to the next. Or, even better, if the candy bowl isn't manned he'll grab as many pieces as his tiny little hands will hold and shove them all in his bucket before running onto the next. You would assume his tiny little hands could only hold two or three pieces of candy at a time. You would be wrong. That kid is a ruthless candy conqueror. 

After we had a satisfactory amount of candy we went out for burritos followed by exploring a new to us playground. Joe and I were hoping for a nice long naptime after all that running around (10,000 steps by 2:00!), but nope. Neither of them slept more than 20 minutes then they were up and running. So it was onto our next Halloween activity: pumpkin carving. Ez and I walked to two different grocery stores on the hunt for pumpkins, then we brought them home and Ez somehow got mixed up and thought we were going egg hunting again. It took all kinds of explaining to get the point across that egg hunts and over and done with. No more till next year. Sayonara. Goodbye eggs. 

BUT there was pumpkin carving, when we get to turn ordinary pumpkins into Jack O'lanterns. That seemed to excite him. And what was even better is that a Halloween motorcycle parade went by our house and we just happened to be outside to see it. Sufficiently distracted from the egg hunt we moved onto the pumpkin carving. 

Ez loved cutting the tops off the pumpkins, and everything was going along great until the time came to dig out the messy guts. Ez was having none of that. Declan was clawing at the door trying to get back into the house. I explained we couldn't carve the face until the pumpkin was clean. Giant crocodile tears welled up in Ez's eyes. I thought we'd have to call the whole thing off. Thankfully those cheap little bouncy balls we got at the egg hunt saved the day and Ez entertained himself with those while I cleaned the pumpkins by my lonesome. 

Then came the fun part: carving the Jack O'lantern face. Ez helped me saw precisely .2% of one eye, then said very politely "Tank you, Moppy" and went back to playing with his bouncy balls. By this time Declan was already inside and well into the hot dog dance portion of a Mickey Mouse episode.  So I went ahead and carved the two pumpkins by myself, took a few obligatory photos of Ez with the pumpkins, and we headed inside. 

As soon as I washed my hands and sat down Ez asked over and over when were going to do the "pumpkies". Ummm... we JUST DID the pumpkies. Literally. Like five minutes ago. And you were sitting right there. Toddlers. That is all. Better luck next year. In the meantime: wine.

On Sunday we had plans to go to a nearby park guessed it, more trick or treating. But then it started pouring. We hemmed and hawed debating whether to go, but Ez brought us his pumpkin pail and specifically asked to go trick or treating. And then Declan grabbed his pail and started carrying it around too. I have a feeling it's going to be a hard reality come Tuesday when we don't get to go around pillaging for candy. But we thought maybe the rain would work in our favor and it wouldn't be crowded. Of course then the sun came out. And it was crowded. And the kids were in less than pleasant moods from almost the very beginning. 

Don't let those happy little faces above fool you. They were not the pleasant cheerful little boys they'd have you believe. Despite them being a little on the fussy side, we were still going to dredge along and hope walking off some energy straightened them out. 

Then came the balloons. 

Those dreadful, awful, cursed balloons. One of the stores was handing them out, and before Ez and Declan even got one Joe and I were annoyed by the balloons. Kids have zero spatial awareness as it is, so let's give them a bobbing adult-face-level balloon to make crowded spaces oh so enjoyable. But anyway, fast forward to when Ez and Declan got there very own balloons. Ez almost immediately let his fly away which led to lots of crying. And then he took Declan's balloon, so Declan was crying. That's when we called it a day and carried them back to the car with Declan screaming and pointing at the balloon and Ez getting tangled up in the balloon every few feet or bopping me in the head with it. I'm not sure I've ever disliked an inanimate object as much as that balloon. And Declan did not forget being slighted. He took a nice long three hour nap and when he woke up he beelined for that balloon and wouldn't let it go for the life of him. 

After that somewhat disastrous trip I did some solo shopping while the boys napped then we went out and ran off our sugar highs at the playground. Fall nights are my favorite. Crisp air, sweaters, and crunchy leaves can't beat that.

How was your Halloween weekend? Are you a once is enough trick or treater? Or as many times as possible?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wedding: First Look

We left off in this wedding series with that crazy car ride from the hotel to the ceremony site for our first look. When our car pulled up Joe wasn't there yet. He was up the street at the reception site getting ready so we hid out in the car so the first look wouldn't be spoiled. The florist was already there though and I got my first glimpse of my bouquet which was absolutely gorgeous: 

Joe pulled up a few minutes later and the photographer led him over to a nice scenic spot and instructed him to cover his eyes and not look my way. When he was safely in place my sisters helped me and my giant dress out of the car. Turns out that a long white dress in the great outdoors requires lots of planning and logistics. Thankfully we had many pairs of arms to make sure my dress didn't get dirty and everything was nice and fluffed up and straightened. 

Once everything was perfectly in place I set off toward Joe. We had two photographers and they were our guides since we'd obviously never done a first look before. Joe was instructed to stand where they placed him and not turn around until he felt my hand on his shoulder. I was told to walk really slowly up behind Joe.  Like abnormally slowly. I'm so awkward in photographs and playing up to the camera does not come naturally to me. At all. If you need anymore evidence for this fact just check out my super creep "sneaking up" face below. Apparently I thought this first look thing was actually a covert military operation. 

I remember at this point I placed my hands on Joe's shoulders and he asked if it was me which I didn't answer because I just thought it was funny. Who else would it be?? Then he was like, "Seriously, is that you??" Seeing his slightly scared face in the photo above makes it even funnier. I guess there was a lot of anticipation for him just standing there waiting to be snuck up on. And it probably didn't help matters any that I went in all stealth-like. We had a good laugh about that.

I'd decided to do the first look for purely practical reasons. I didn't want to use up the entire reception time taking photos and once the ceremony was over I just wanted everyone, including Joe and I, to enjoy the party. Obviously photos are very important to us, but not at the expense of getting a chance to enjoy this once in a lifetime moment. But I will admit I was a little worried it would spoil the fun of that first look Joe would get when I walked down the aisle. 

When Joe turned around after I finally let him know that it was indeed me, we were both beaming from ear to ear. I remember thinking how handsome he looked and my anxiety about the wedding completely melted away. Honestly I'm so glad we did it this way. I think that having our first look in "private" (if you don't count the two photographers and all our family standing way off in the distance) took a lot of pressure off. We're both kind of private and anti-social anyway and having that time to ourselves set the tone for the rest of the day. There was lots of laughing and kissing and exclaiming how handsome/pretty each other looked. It was a great reminder that this day was really about us. 

And seeing his giant smile when he turned around was just as special as if he had been standing at the end of the aisle. I really treasure that bit of alone time before the wedding madness was fully underway, and these photos are some of my very favorite. I'm sure it would have been lovely either way, but for us this definitely worked best. Also, as far as logistics, and timeline, and all that not so romantic stuff, this was much easier. When we walked down the aisle I didn't have to hide in the bushes to make sure he couldn't see me. There weren't exactly any rooms or buildings for me to wait in since we got married outdoors.

After the first look and reveling a bit in the fact that we were getting MARRIED in a few hours we took advantage of our time before the ceremony to take lots and lots of photos. The rest of these shots are just Joe and I but we also asked our family to come early so we could get lots of photos of them as well. Can we just take a moment to talk about that view? I didn't look at a ton of wedding venues, and that's because as soon as I saw that cliffside view I knew that's where we were getting married. It's just gorgeous and I could immediately picture us saying I do there. So without further ado, here are a few more favorites:

Thanks again if you've made it all the way through this lengthy post and for following along with our big day. Next up is the good part: saying I do!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

31 Days of Halloween, Days 19-24

I look forward to October all year long, and here we are, less than a week till Halloween! Funny how the things we look forward to the most always fly by the fastest. Why can't it be that dentist appointments fly by but the holidays go nice and slow? With the end of October means that there's only one more linkup party after this one. Then it's on to all things Thanksgiving and Christmas! 

In case you missed out on some of the Halloween fun last week, I recommend you pause reading this and head right over to check out Whitney's adorable Halloween classroom decor, Ashley's pumpkin patch fun, and all the yummy food in Courtney's post. 

And now that we're all caught up, grab a button and join in with Courtney, Jamie, Liz, and I! #cdtoHalloween16

  The Joni Journey

One afternoon while Declan was napping and Ez was as bored as can be I decided to dip into some of my Halloween crafting supplies from last year and throw this quick and easy activity together. I cut out a bunch of little pumpkins from construction paper and Ez stuck on faces using foam stickers and eyes. The great thing about this activity was that Ez FINALLY figured out how to do stickers by himself without me removing the paper backing. Finally. It's like a whole new world has opened up for us. And with very little help on my part he constructed the faces just as his little Picasso heart desired. 

We put together a boo package with a few of our Halloween favorites for our cousins and Ez decorated it nice and spookily before we sent it on its way. 

We combined a little bit of Eastery fun with Halloween this past weekend and the kids had the best time. Lots and lots of egg hunting until there were no eggs left to hunt. 

To go along with our egg hunt I made Ez a giant jack o'lantern surprise egg. If you're familiar with these from YouTube then you get it, and if not, just be glad your kids haven't discovered these yet.

Apparently Joe and I were hungry when we went to the grocery store because we wound up with a cart full of pumpkin spice everything. We're talking poptarts, english muffins, oatmeal, yogurt, coffee creamer...and of course cans of pumpkin puree for our smoothies and baking. Most of that is stuff that we'd never buy. Lots of breakfast treats when I'm usually more of an eggs and toast kind of gal. I have to say it's been a delicious change of pace and I don't think my pants will be happy one bit. While we're on this kick am I missing any delicious pumpkin treats that I need to try out before the season is up? 

You might have noticed a Frankenstein painting craft in Ez's surprise egg. This is something I bought at Michael's last year, but Ez wasn't as into painting then so I saved it. Turns out those little paints don't last a year. When we opened it up they were hard and crumbly and didn't resemble paint at all. But we didn't let that stop us! We used markers instead, which Ez wielded like a paint brush, so basically the same thing...

Happy last week of October!