Saturday, October 24, 2009

[day 304... oct 31]

Here's our littlest Darth Vader, all suited up and ready to head out into the dark with his fearsome light saber. Sue was kind enough to lend us this great costume (mask, frontplate and gloves - we had the black cape and light saber) and Cory was over the moon. Niall chose to be the Grim Reaper. Though he also said at one point that he was "an undead person who had died from H1N1 flu' - very topical, at least.

Several of our neighbors dress up their houses quite delightfully. This one had spooky music playing, creepy posters in the windows, etc. This is the first year that Cory was really fine with it all. Last year it freaked him out just hearing the music. Ah, my little boy is growing up so much. As they all do!

[day 303... oct 30]

Today was finally the long-awaited, much-anticipated "Trick-or-Treat at Microsoft." Dressed-up kids careen up and down the halls at work, loading up their bags with treats placed just outside people's offices.

Sometimes Microsofties decorate their offices or dress up, so that's fun too. Here Niall and Cory are sparring with a "big" Darth Vader - actually one of the triad mucky-mucks taking his daughter around trick-or-treating. There was a contest to choose what our VP's costume would be and his direct reports, and the theme ended up being (coincidentally) Star Wars. So he was chosen to be Darth Vader. Not bad luck, considering two of his peers got to be Yoda and Princess Leia. :D

[day 302... oct 29]

The wall of windows in our kitchen has been clearly patched together with bubble gum over the years (well - lots of heavily-applied caulk, anyway) and I finally had Garry (carpenter extraordinaire) and his windows/glass contact come out to take a look-see for repair or replacement options. Got several good plans worked out, and now we'll see what the numbers come back like.

My main goals - in addition to having a more robust, waterproof structure - are to get better glass installed so the kitchen doesn't turn into a furnace after lunchtime every sunny summer day and to have windows that open on each side so we can let the breeze blow through. It'd also be great to have a better surface along the sills so we can have plants and other items there and not ruin the ledge. Garry and his comrade had some great ideas and worked out all the details between them, so I hope it turns out to be affordable.

[day 301... oct 28]

Loved seeing all the little pumpkins lined up in a row on the window sill of Cory's classroom. They took a trip to The Farm last Friday and enjoyed playing in the hay, doing a corn maze, taking a tractor-pull ride, and finally each chose a pumpkin to bring back to school.

They've been measuring and weighing them, and then will have the chance to carve them if they want before bringing them home for Halloween weekend.

[day 300... oct 27]

This past weekend, I dug up some freezer dough from the deep freeze in the garage and then spent several days punching it back down again because I wasn't ready to bake with it.

But I finally made a double batch of cinnamon rolls that were delicious. I had to laugh, though, at how oddly and uniquely the little rounds rose. Uniformity is not one of my baking strengths!

[day 299... oct 26]

Typical shot of Cory, just after getting out of the car after arriving home from school.

The Japanese maple outside our front door is in full glory. Love seeing it this way, before it drops those thousands of leaves all over our porch. :-)

[day 298... oct 25]

We bought our Halloween pumpkins at South 47 Farm today, which is just down in the valley from where we live on Hollywood Hill. It didn't rain on us, but the mud - especially on the farm roads - was inches deep. The boys wore their boots, but I didn't think to wear mine. That was a mistake! I did a lot of careful jumping to avoid the worst of the sludge.

Niall chose the biggest pumpkins he could possibly carry and just barely managed to load them into the wheelbarrow. He chose two: one for himself and one for Tynor (who stayed home). Cory and I each got one too.

It was so cold and Cory was so tired, hungry and crabby (multiple breakdowns - quite unlike him) that we didn't opt for the corn maze or tractor ride. Rather, I didn't. The kids begged to but I remembered the hours those excursions took last year.

Considering the chill and the grump factor, I was glad we were so close by when I decided it was time to head home for lunch. But before we left, we bought some gourds to go with our pumpkins, picked up a big bag of kettle corn (Cory took one nibble of and proclaimed "bad tasting" but Niall scarfed down as much as I'd let him have), and visited the animals: hens, ducks, goats, and two cute alpacas.

[day 297... oct 24]

This is my favorite educational quote (of many favorites) posted at The Little School. It nicely summarizes what I think is the core principle of the school's educational philosophy. Unfortunately, I don't think the school intends to continue with that tradition, due to pressures from outside emphasis on teaching-to-the-test and lockstep, measured academic performance at all ages. Very sad.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

[day 296... oct 23]

I can't get enough of the beautiful fall folliage. All the small-leafed maple trees especially that are turning shades of gold and red and still have some green. Just stunning, everywhere you go right now.

Earlier this week I walked down to Azteca to get lunch, and passed this row of pretty trees on the way. Soon the leaves will all be gone, the branches bare, and we'll be on our way into winter. But for now I can still enjoy the striking view of turning leaves everywhere.

[day 295... oct 22]

I just really felt like having Chinese food for dinner, which we don't do very often because it's so $$, so we swung by Chan's Place on the way home (after picking up Tynor) and ordered our usual takeout: General Tsao's Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Mushu Pork.

While we waited, we enjoyed watching the exotic fish swim around in their tank, especially this amazingly beautiful one. I found out later that it's not only poisonous but will actively try to sting you with its lovely, long tendrils if you dare to try to clean out the tank or get anywhere near. I guess the beauty is to attract you and then...zing, it goes for the kill!

[day 294... oct 21]

The kids in Jackie's class (another class around Cory's age - they do a lot of outside time and activities together) decided to try to make a string of Unifix cubes long enough to circle the whole Meadows Building. They've gotten just about halfway! There probably aren't enough Unifix cubes in the whole school to meet their goal, but they're giving it a go.

Every year or two, kids get excited about making really long Unifix strings like this, and you see them winding down from the Woods Building toward the turnaround or weaving in and out of different classrooms. They're so colorful and satisfying to connect together. And of course, teach the kids about counting, units, and other concrete measurement ideas. In projects like this, they also learn about sharing, agreeing on a group plan, working together to build on a plan, negotiating for more resources, resource limitations and how that can affect your plan, and more! Great stuff. :-)

[day 293... oct 20]

Last night after dinner, I asked Niall if he had any homework and he informed me that he had left his homework and his journal outside at Ellen time. Said he had remembered on the way home (when we could have asked someone from Extended Day to please pick them up and set them aside), but then forgot to tell me. Argg!

So today when we got to school, he walked over to see what kind of condition all that paper was in after a night out in the damp and dew. Luckily his homework sheet was on top of his journal and protected it a bit, so the journal was in surprisingly good shape. Lucky boy. There's a lot of writing in there already that would be sad to lose.

[day 292... oct 19]

My little "king" on his throne of pumpkins. This was taken in the sea of pumpkins at Remlinger Farms last weekend. Such a classic Niall pose.

We'll go get our pumpkins next weekend, probably at the pumpkin patch just down the road where we usually go. Might even take a walk through the corn maze or take the tractor wagon ride around the farm - we'll see. The weather is supposed to continue pretty cool and rainy so that will no doubt influence how long we spend there (or how long I spend there!)

[day 291... oct 18]

Garland and family hosted a welcoming party for little Bel today, so we got to see lots of family and, of course, visit the new little one.(Who conked out - or tried to - for nearly the whole event. A little overwhelming, I expect.) Cory and Niall each held her for a few minutes, but were much more interestd in playing with toys, listening to the harpist who came to play (Grandma Shannon bought a harp performance at an auction and thought this was a great opportunity to have her come play for all of us), or, in Niall's case, complain there was "nothing to do."

Cory loved the circle swing out in back. I wish there was somewhere we could hang ours up. The tree branches at our house are all so high up. Not very practical, unfortunately.