Spook-a-rific Pumpkin Carvings

Nicholas picked the name for this post :)

Earlier today I realized that it was the day before Halloween and we still had not carved a pumpkin this year.  Well, that had to be remedied.

It is a little challenging finding a nice carving pumpkin on the day before Halloween but with some perseverance it can be done...especially if you don't mind getting pumpkins with a few lumps or a squished backside.

After dinner, we dug right in.

Nicholas has always hated pumpkin guts!  

But once he got going he didn't stop.

Rachel was a little grossed out too!

She actually wimped out and asked me to finish cleaning out her pumpkin for her.

We had the Pumpkin Masters Kids Carving Kit.  It is a great product.  You pick out your stencil which has holes punched along the pumpkin face's outline.  Tape the stencil to your pumpkin and color over the holes with the enclosed black crayon.  Then simply use the carving knife to punch out the holes to make the pieces perforated and punch them out.  Our kids chose to just use the knife to saw along the dotted lines and the carving knife was up for the task.

Rachel had me help with the stencil and starting the first hole for the carving knife when she would start on a new area but she did all of the actual pumpkin carving herself.

She was actually quite good at carving smoothly on the dotted lines and she was quick too!

We saved all of the pumpkin seeds.  We'll roast them for a yummy snack.  Do you happen to have a good recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Nicholas' design was more intricate than Rachel's so he took a while to finish his. 

Rachel came over to check out his work and encourage him.  So sweet!

Ta Da!  Here is Nicholas' pumpkin all carved.

We added the eye accents and some light.  He's pretty spooky, isn't he?

The carving kit came with several choices of eyes that just poke into the pumpkin.  They look really great!

Here is Rachel's with her pumpkin.  She chose a sweet smiley face to make.

After our pumpkin carving was done, the kids finished getting ready for bed.  Then they climbed up in our bed as Daddy read them some Halloween books.

We'll leave these guys outside our front door for a few days.  I'm so impressed with how well the kids did carving these all by themselves!

What Does the Fox Say?

Our kids love a quirky song called, "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis (pronouced "Ill-vis". I first heard Nicholas singing a little part of it but didn't think much of it. Then I saw a comment on Facebook from a friend of mine whose son won't stop singing the song. Then the radio station that we listen to started using a clip from the song on a regular basis.

Finally, I decided to check it out so I could know what all the fuss was about. I found the music video on YouTube (everything you want to know can be found on YouTube!). This video has had MILLIONS of hits! It turned out to be a wholesome song, albeit very bizarre, with a catchy tune...so catchy that I have actually had it stuck in my head for three days now. *HELP ME!*

Click below to watch the video for yourself - but just know you will probably consider it a total waste of almost four minutes of your life that you can't get back.

Well, as YouTube is known to do, it showed me several other related videos on the sidebar that I might be interested in. The kids saw a Minecraft parody of What Does the Fox Say? on the sidebar so we watched that.

We watched the Ohio State Marching Band perform to the song. They did a great job but seeing that marching band on the field just made me homesick for the LSU Golden Band from Tigerland :(

There are lots of parodies of the music video. We clicked around for quite a while checking them out. Amazingly, there are many videos that just show people's reactions to watching the video for the first time and their comments afterwards. Many were laughing, some looked dazed and confused, while others were just grumpy about how weird it is.

Here is my favorite video that we stumbled upon. Someone has set up an amazing Halloween light show in their front yard using this song.

This is what people mean when they say a video has gone VIRAL. This song and video are all over the place. People can't seem to get enough of it.

So who wrote this song and how did they make it such an instant hit?

The song was written by two brothers in Norway as a spoof promotion for their talk show. Their plan completely back fired and the song became a hit BY ACCIDENT! Check out this short interview on Ellen:

These guys are now performing the song at music festivals in Las Vegas and they are on talk shows all over the world.

It's just crazy!

Six Flags Read to Succeed

Registration for Six Flags Read to Succeed is now open for the 2013-2014 school year!

Read to Succeed is a great way to reward your homeschool students for reading.  Students in grades K through 6 are eligible.  All they need to do is complete 6 hours of reading and they get a free ticket to any Six Flags park.  And of course, one free teacher ticket will also be provided.   Best of all, the program is free!  This will be our third year to sign up and we are so glad to have a Six Flags park nearby in Arlington!  What a fun way to encourage kids to read!

Here's what you do:

Go to the Read to Succeed website to register.  And if you have participated in the program in the past, please remember that you have to register again each year but it just takes a minute.

Print out and complete the reading logs for each of your kids.

After they have finished 6 hours of reading, log back into the system and enter how much they read under the "Students" tab.

You will NOT be required to mail the reading log this year.

Read to Succeed will email the tickets to you in the spring.

Have fun reading!

Medieval Times is Jousting for the Cure!

My kids love driving by the amazing Medieval Times Dallas castle and watching the knights fight in the arena! 

I love that Medieval Times are supporting the fight against breast cancer!

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, North America’s longest running and most popular dinner attraction, is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a “Joust for the Cure” campaign across all of its nine U.S. and Canadian Castles. The Dallas Castle campaign kicked off at the Komen Dallas Race for the Cure on Saturday, October 19 when knights participated in the race in custom-made pink tunics and handed out free pink “Joust for the Cure” t-shirts, sunglasses and crowns.

But there's more.  You can help in the fight against breast cancer too! Any ticket purchased at www.medievaltimes.com/komendallas through November 30, 2013 will contribute $5 to Medieval Times Dallas’ give-back campaign supporting Susan G. Komen Dallas County. Also through November, free “Joust for the Cure” t-shirts and pink crowns are available to Dallas Castle guests upon request (while supplies last.)

“Medieval Times is proud to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, dedicated to finding a cure for the disease,” said Perico Montaner, president, Medieval Times. “Our entire company is dedicated to giving back to our communities. We have great respect for the Susan G. Komen Foundation that funds nearly 2,000 community programs annually in order to help patients, survivors, and their families cope with breast cancer.”

To attend a show at Medieval Times Dallas and support Susan G. Komen Dallas County, tickets must be purchased at www.medievaltimes.com/komendallas by November 30, 2013.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament launched in Majorca, Spain, in 1973, and opened its first North American Castle in Kissimmee, Fla., in 1983.  Now regarded as North America’s longest running and most popular dinner attraction, more than 53 million guests have experienced Medieval Times at Castles in Kissimmee, FL; Buena Park, CA; Lyndhurst, N.J.; Schaumburg, IL; Dallas, TX; Toronto, Ontario Canada; Myrtle Beach, SC; Hanover, MD; and Atlanta, GA. In 2007, the company moved its North American headquarters to Irving, TX, close to the company’s Chapel Creek Ranch in Sanger, TX. The Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament spectacle unfolds daily inside a fully enclosed European-style castle. Reservations are required.  Guests may call 1-888-WE-JOUST for reservations or additional information. Or, more information at www.medievaltimes.com or www.facebook.com/medievaltimes.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Happy Birthday Rachel!

I can't believe my baby girl is 5 years old today.

It was late last night when I finished wrapping presents and got around to decorating.

Rachel woke up to birthday banners around the room and balloons on the floor.

We had a quick breakfast so we could get to church but that didn't slow down the birthday celebrations at the table.

One happy girl!

After church Rachel dove into opening presents.  She had presents from us and grandparents and just couldn't wait another moment to open them!

She got the new Skylanders Swap Force game which is really a joint present because Nicholas was more excited just as excited as Rachel to see it unwrapped.

She got an outfit for her new American Girl doll that Grandmother C. gave her.

And yes, I gave the most unusual present for a 5 year old....a trash can!  But it was Hello Kitty and it matches her new Hello Kitty comforter that she also got.  And it made for a storage bin to hold a ton of Hello Kitty stickers and art supplies that she was very excited about.

Although all of the gifts from us were from Mommy, Daddy, and Nicholas, Nicholas still felt like he needed to give Rachel his own gift.  So he wrapped up his Playmobil queen and a few accessories and gave it to her.  They love playing with Playmobil together so this was a special gift.

 We asked Rachel what she thought this present was.  She was so cute and said, "I have no idea!"

Who knew that she would be so excited about a used Princess toy laptop game that I bought at Once Upon A Child consignment store!  We had been there shopping for clothes and she saw this and fell in love with it.  It plays a few educational games but it isn't nearly as nice as the games on her tablet.  But she loved it so as I bought the clothes, I asked the store clerk to ring this up as well and she did a great job of hiding it among the clothes in the bag so Rachel never saw me get it. 

After lunch we headed to Aqua Kids for her birthday party.  Although we have a pool, it is now too chilly outside for swimming so we are glad that we could use their indoor heated pool for the party.  She and her friends had the whole pool and slides to themselves.  

Everyone seemed to have a great time splashing away!

She had friends from archery, Community Bible Study, dance class, and even a long lost friend from Montessori preschool days.

The two lifeguards were awesome!  They were both in the pool playing with the kids.  Here they are each holding one kid and letting them kick splash the other!

The lifeguards even used their rescue floaties to pull the girls around the pool.  Oh how they loved that!

Rachel said it was the best party ever!

They swam for about an hour and 15 minutes then dried off for the birthday celebration.

Rachel did not like everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to her and she slumped down in her chair!

It didn't look like an intimidating group to me but she stayed down in her chair until they were all done singing to her!

Of course, once it was time to eat cupcakes and ice cream, she popped right back up!

More presents!

She got a couple of fun games and I know we'll have fun with them on family game nights.

This is a sweet friend that Rachel has known since she was at Montessori.  It was her first real friend.  They haven't seen each other in about a year but Rachel said she just had to be invited to her party.  I wasn't sure that the little girl would even remember Rachel but her mom said she was so excited to get to see Rachel again that they even changed some plans to allow her to come to the party.

Happy Birthday Rachel!  You are such a blessing and joy in our lives.

Pink and Purple Hello Kitty Cupcakes

We recently made Rainbow Cupcakes for the Willy Wonka cast party so I asked Rachel if she wanted Rainbow Cupcakes for her birthday party.  She said, "No, I want pink and purple cupcakes!  With Hello Kitty on them.  And Rainbows.  And lots of Sprinkles.  And maybe they can be mostly pink with just purple dots.  And lots of Icing!"

Keeping it simple, are you?  Thanks!

Rachel helped me mix up the cake batter.  When coloring cake batter, you have to be sure to use a white batter.  A pale yellow or ivory color will mess with your color blending a little because it will add a yellow tone to your results.

We divided up the batter into thirds.  One bowl Rachel colored pink and another she colored purple.  We just used some basic Better Crocker gel coloring.  Only a few drops of color were really necessary but to Rachel "more is better".  The third bowl we didn't color.  We decided to leave some cupcakes white with white icing for the silly boys who seem to be allergic to the color pink and won't have anything to do with it.

Next I took the pink batter in one hand and the purple batter in the other and poured both at the same time into each cup so the cupcakes would be half pink and half purple.  It turned out fine but I realized that I'm not nearly as coordinated in my left hand as I am my right.  I don't know how my ambidextrous children do it!

We baked the cupcakes according to the directions and let them cool.  Oh my!  The cooling process must have been the longest 15 minutes in Rachel's life!  She just wanted to get out the icing.  "The icing, Mommy!  Can I please open the icing now?"

She did a great job of icing the cupcakes and then sprinkling them with shimmering pink sprinkle flakes.  I opened up the Hello Kitty candies and plopped one down on a cupcake to show her what to do next.  My little Martha Stewart corrected me and said that the Hello Kitty shouldn't just be flat on the cupcake.  She should be sitting up!  So she fixed the one I had done as an example and then completed the rest of her cupcakes in the same way.  

She added some Hello Kitty picks and I must say that her way is so much cuter!

My Brother Loves Me

The kids love to get into my craft supplies and office supplies.  I can never find anything anymore and when I need something it is certainly all used up.  I grumble about it sometimes but I usually don't fuss to the kids because I love how creative they get when they find new materials to work with.

For example, Nicholas was recently playing with my label maker.  Actually he was using my old label maker with the broken screen because my newer label maker is out of tape (can you guess why?).  Just look at the wonderful sticker he made for his sister to wear!

Oh how this melts my heart!

I love that homeschooling lets my two children get to spend most of their school days together.  It can make things challenging at time but in the end they are truly growing up together, learning together, and growing stronger bonds than they ever would have it they were in separate classes in public school.

Siblings are the one friend you don't have any say in choosing.  But God has chosen that lifelong friend for you and what could be more awesome than that!