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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Halloween Catch-up

Matthew carved a beensy fairy-sized jack-o-lantern one afternoon in October. He was so delighted with it.

Then he tried to fit a candle inside. 

No candles were small enough.

Not to be deterred, he sawed a beensy birthday candle in half and stuck it inside. It worked so perfectly! 

It was the cutest little pumpkin of the season, and we enjoyed having it on our table for days. 

The week of Halloween was sure busy. 

One day we drove into town for the Halloween party at Nathan's work place. It's like a little carnival full of different games and activities for the children to enjoy. 

Sarah let me give her a quick face painting before we ran out the door. She really loves eye flare designs, and always chooses this type of pattern, no matter what the occasion is. This year her costume was a pretty witch. 

One of their favorite games this year was the cake walk. Joseph was so hilarious...he misunderstood the entire concept and spent the whole time walking circles around the same number over and over again. The funniest part of the ordeal was his body language- he was so confident and sure that he was right! 

He'd sit down by the same number each time, until Sarah or Matthew called him over to share their spot. Then he would scamper over to join them until the music turned on again, then he'd go straight back to his favorite number and start carefully walking tight circles again. 

Another favorite game was the costume race. Contestants had to run across a sandy volleyball court to the opposite end where a table was loaded with various costume pieces. They had to put on the costume element and race back to the starting line. Daniel really loved this game more than the others, and played it repeatedly. He was often laughing so hard that he couldn't run well, so he usually lost. He was a great sport about it all and had a great time. 

After watching several rounds from the sidelines, Joseph decided to join in the middle of one race. Here was the costume piece he chose to run with:

Joseph's favorite game was bowling with pumpkins. Little ghosts were knocked over by carefully-aimed pumpkins. Joseph thought this was such a clever game, and he begged to play it again. 

Matthew really loved getting his hair colored (even though the paint smelled terrible) and was so proud to wear it all day. 

This is my old fairy's way too poofy for my tastes. 

The next day was our Ward Trunk-or-Treat and Chili Cook-off. We had such wonderful time spending the evening with good friends, playing more carnival games, and walking the children past all the decorated cars for the trunk-or-treat. 

We were delighted to have a friend from school and her mother join us for the evening. Daniel and Matthew were worried that their friend wouldn't have enough candy, so they both generously gave her half of their loot at the end of the evening. She was thrilled, and the boys were pleased. 

The following day was our neighborhood hay ride. 

Since we live in an equestrian neighborhood where most homes have livestock gates across the driveway, it is pretty difficult to trick-or-treat here. The home owners organize a massive hay ride each year to accommodate around 75 resident children and visiting grandchildren. 

Several trucks pull four or five long-bed trailers which are stocked with hay bales for plenty of seating. They line up and make a slow parade progressing through the sprawling neighborhood. It's such fun! 

Home owners sign up in advance to host a stop on the hayride route, so the trailers know which houses will be passing out treats. The ride starts after sundown and lasts a couple of hours even though there are only about 10 stops. 

At many stops the families pass out fully stocked goody-bags instead of just one piece of candy, so our kids get the same amount of candy as their city friends collect. Some houses create spook alleys to explore, others have crackling campfires or music. It's such fun and the children all really look forward to it every year. We feel so blessed to live in this neighborhood! 

The events were all such fun and we really appreciated all the volunteers who put them together. 

I was very busy working all weekend. It sure is the busy season for body artists, but I was thankful for the gigs. I was booked for a 12-hour work day the Saturday before Halloween. It was quite a tight schedule rushing from one party to the next, but I was blessed to make it to all my commitments with plenty of time to spare. 

In the morning I was hired for a fairy party. My client had decorated their tree house like a fairy home, and it looked so whimsical and full of magic. When I arrived, she asked me to set up my face painting station IN the tree house so she could tell her young guests that I lived up in the tree. It was such an interesting idea, although I am nervous about heights. The tree house was pretty little (only about 4 feet by 4 feet), so it was a bit tricky figuring out how to fit my supplies, myself, and the guests. Luckily we managed, although I had to sit cross-legged and lean waaaay over to reach my facial canvases. The little girls would arrive at the party, receive wings and wands, then climb up to my 'house' to get fairy masks painted on. While they were being painted, I told them animated tales about my fairy life painting patterns on butterfly wings. The girls were enthralled and were convinced I was a real fairy, so I really enjoyed weaving tales for them about my fantastical adventures. By the end of 2 hours my back was super relieved to be done!

I flew across the metro area as quickly as I could and made it to my next gig in good time- which I was truly grateful for. I had been so worried that traffic would make me late. This was my biggest party of the year, and this client is always very particular about the details in her events.

I've been an entertainer for this lady for 4 years, doing her huge annual Halloween bashes and an extravagant Bat Mitzvah. She seldom hires event workers more than once, due to her high expectations of performance and service. She's usually disappointed with SOMETHING that is overlooked or neglected by her hired help, so they aren't asked to return. Luckily I've always had her approval each year, so I keep coming back. 

The Halloween Bash is filled with hundreds of guests, half a dozen catering companies, dozens of carnival games, live music, prizes at every turn, valet parking, private security teams, and plenty of amusements like laser tag, miniature golf, rock climbing walls, bungee jumps, and human hamster balls...all nestled nicely in one private estate. I will admit, it boggles my mind. It is such a fun gig to work!

This year I brought a bag full of magic tricks to add to my body art station. Any time my line dwindled down to nothing, I'd pull out tricks and start entertaining the guests who were near me. I never sat down or took a break for food (although the variety of gourmet meals, appetizers, and desserts was so tempting!) and always make it a point to be busy, hoping it makes me a valuable contribution to her event planning for future gigs. My magic performances were noticed when she strolled through the courtyard, and she tipped me very generously afterwards- what a fun blessing that was!

I came home very tired from the long day, but very pleased. My paychecks for the day were enough to cover our upcoming Christmas expenses, so I felt very blessed indeed that I had the opportunity to work hard all day. 

Halloween itself fell on a weekday this year. After so many parties this month, our family opted for a quiet Halloween at home. We ordered pizza and enjoyed watching "Monsters University" together until bedtime. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Long overdue update


Life has been certainly very busy, and my blog has slipped off my Top Ten priority list for a while now (as if it isn't already obvious- I mean, look at the date on that last post! Mid-November?!)

I always intend to catch up, but downloading pictures, editing them, then writing a post are all way too time-consuming for me right now in life. I've been focusing more on my children, more on my home, more on my spiritual feasting, and more on my various businesses. 

Here's at least one bite-sized chunk to catch up.

I've doubled my art class load for the Spring semester because it's been such a hit. Parents had asked me to offer more and more classes, so I now have four weekly classes in addition to the occasional Ladies Night Out parties. 

We've also decided to alter a living space in the back of our house into a full time art studio. This is great for a few reasons-

1- No more art students in my dining room, absentmindedly wiping paint-filled fingers on my chairs, table, or cabinets- YAY!

2- Since the room would be only used for an art studio, we can deduct it's necessary roof repairs from our taxes- for which I'm immensely grateful.

Our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were absolutely wonderful, and we felt incredibly blessed to enjoy the holiday seasons with so many friends and family. Maybe someday I'll upload our pics and write full, heart-felt posts. 

And maybe not. 

I've started recording my experiences in an actual journal since that way I can spend only 5 minutes each night writing my personal thoughts, and not worry about pictures or a polished presentation. I'm not sure where my blog will fit into my record-keeping efforts in the future, but I do still see it as a valuable family journal in general (and gluing pictures into a hard-back journal always makes the book pages too full for the spine, resulting in splayed books that don't fit on a shelf very all my childhood journals.)

For Family Home Evening, Nathan had a fun family activity to accompany a lesson on harmony in the home.

He hung a bed sheet across a hall and used a large work lamp to project shadows onto the sheet. The family split into teams to create a story depicting family harmony with our shadows. Then we played shadow charades. 

We all had SO much fun and it ended in a crazy dance party just so everyone could watch their shadows. The kids all loved it, most especially Joseph. 

For refreshments, we made home made pretzels in various fun shapes. 

Here are the creations waiting for the boiling bath before baking. We really enjoyed eating these with honey-mustard while we played games later.

I did it! 

I caught up on one blog post recording a family memory- and have a stack of DOZENS of others still waiting to be written: Halloween, Thanksgiving, all of December's festivities, a trip to Louisiana for a week with relatives, my increased painting classes and parties, my featured story in the newspaper (I've learned that reporters never fail to sensationalize anything you tell them- boo!), attending a convention and booking my educational magic show for library summer tours throughout Texas, a very memorable date with Matthew to a magician's holiday party with celebrity performers providing the entertainment, and so so much more about all the little things- farm life joys, parenting joys, personal growth, etc. 


It's a new year, filled with hope and new goals for self-improvement. I am hoping to force myself to write at least once a week, and chip away steadily at the pile of memories waiting to be recorded. 

My personal goals for 2014 include the following:

1- Attend the temple six times this year.
2- Index 1,000 names this year for family history research. (This is my way of volunteering from home, in wee bits of time I find throughout the day/night.)
3- Use my voice to uplift and encourage more often, and criticize less 
4- Learn to play at least 12 songs on the violin. (I've wanted to learn the violin for years....violin music touches my soul so often! I want to create my own voice with this instrument.)
5- Be more anxiously engaged in missionary work. (My way of doing this is to use my talents in service to the Lord. So. I'm offering free art lessons to families in our area who listen to a missionary discussion. We'll see how this goes.)

I also try hard to have my home reflect the abode of an earnest disciple of Christ, hoping that my art student families will feel the Spirit while they are here. I regularly fast and pray for the families that come here each week, hoping that they will feel Christ's peace while they are here. 

Anyway, I'm out of time tonight. I hope you have a lovely week!