Monday, November 30, 2015

Halloween 2015

I love Halloween! I think I love it so much because I love dressing up in costumes, and Halloween is the only day a year where you can go anywhere looking like anything, and it's totally acceptable, embraced, and admired!! Whereas, if I picked the same outfit and wore it any of the other 364 days a year, I'd be glared at, ridiculed, or featured in a meme about "strange things people wear to Wal-Mart".

Halloween was on Saturday this year, but in Salmon, the major Halloween festivities happened on Thursday the 29th, since we are on a 4-day school week. It started off with the school's celebrations the students all dressed up on Thursday, there were class parties happening, and the annual elementary school's tradition of the costume parade was that afternoon.

I found out a week before Halloween that the staff was all going to dress as "Tacky Tourists", but I'd already purchased/made items for my costume this year, so I dressed differently than everyone else. I was a colorful fairy! I bought the wings, neon-striped tights, and a pink/red tie-dye shirt. I made the headband with colorful antennae, and wore the tutu that I made last year for a different costume. I added colorful earrings, a brightly colored swimming top, and a magic wand, and my homemade costume was complete (those are best, I think, because then nobody looks identical to you!).

Kanyon originally wanted to be a storm trooper, but we couldn't find any of those costumes in his size, so he changed his mind to be a zombie. But I told him I wasn't ready for him to be anything super scary yet. So we found a compromise: a skeleton was scary, but not TOOO scary, and that's what he ended up being.

I haven't missed a costume parade since Ammon was in Kindergarten. Thankfully, the ladies I work with were very generous and let me leave for about a half hour so that I could go down to the elementary school to watch it (I work at the preschool in the afternoons which is a mile and a half away from the elementary).

After school was over, I picked up the boys and took them downtown to the Merchant's Trick-or-Treating. It is one of my favorite events in Salmon each year. I LOVE that the stores collaborate and do this together, and it is SO fun to see everyone on Main Street and all the kids dressed up! Jonah and Micah both had scary, creepy costumes this year: Jonah was the zombie, and Micah was the scary clown. It's sad for me to see them leave the cute dress-up stage for the freaky, creepy stuff!

They filled their buckets in the hour that we walked up and down both sides of Main Street, and a few side streets, too.

I have apparently the exact opposite taste in costumes as my boys do. They were all black and white, and I was full of color!!! It's funny to see the contrast of what we looked like that day!

As soon as the Merchant's Trick-or-Treating was done, we went back to the school for the Carnival. I volunteered for an hour in Kanyon's classroom booth, and Jonah and Micah helped me. I got Kanyon a bunch of tickets and he went around to all the Carnival games and activities by himself and with friends, and earned candy and tokens to redeem prizes. His favorite games were the skeleton golf, feed the bat (my booth where you hit a ball with a mallet into a cut-out hole in the bat's mouth), and the dart toss.  

He was the only kid all night to score a hole-in-one on the skeleton golf! The principal (who was running that booth), was very impressed!

As soon as the twins and I were done volunteering, we found Kanyon, and took him to the prize room. He picked out what he wanted, and we headed across the street to the church Halloween Party. Our ward joined another ward for the activity, so the gym was packed full of people. We ate dinner, and then there was trunk-or-treating in the parking lot afterwards. I'm used to doing trick-door-treating inside the church, and didn't come prepared with a decorated trunk; that part stressed me out, but I had plenty of candy to hand out out to all the kids who came by, so it all worked out.

On Saturday night--the actual night of Halloween--I took the 3 boys into town with me to celebrate the holiday even more. Josh and Ammon were gone to state XC in Coeur d'Alene for the weekend, and I didn't just want to stay home and do nothing. We went to see the matinee of "Goosebumps" that afternoon. Kanyon has taken an interest in that book series lately, and was so excited for the movie to come out! He enjoyed it, but I was kind of disappointed--I was hoping for something more funny since Jack Black was the star.

After the movie, I took them to dinner and then trick-or-treating to homes around town.

They walked door-to-door on a few of the streets, and then I drove them to various homes of people that I knew. They could never get the experience of walking door-to-door where we live (in our neighborhood out in the country, the homes are at least a half-mile to two miles apart). After about an hour of trick-or-treating, they'd filled their buckets enough and were tired and wanted to go home. 

It had been a fulfilling holiday for them, and a happy one for me. I was glad to have so many different fun activities to do with them, and they were happy to get so much candy. They depleted their candy buckets pretty quick--they always do faster than I think they will. It's amazing to see those overflowing buckets diminish to empty within a week! When I was a kid, I remember rationing my candy allowance every day so that my supply would last longer. That's a very foreign concept for them, however! Kanyon was kind enough, though, to put the candy bars that he didn't want in a pile for Josh, as an early surprise gift for him when he returned home from Coeur d'Alene the next night!  

Salmon Idol 2015

Since Amanda and I were the winners in the Salmon Idol contest last year, we were asked to come back as guest performers during this year's show on the night of October 27th. We brainstormed ideas for what to sing all year long, but when it finally came down to needing to pick a song, we didn't know which one we wanted to do exactly. So we chose to do a song we'd already both memorized--the song we'd practiced and planned to sing at Salmon Idol in 2013, until my tickets to the P!NK concert got rescheduled for that same night so we dropped out of the competition (and then unfortunately the concert got rescheduled AGAIN for months later, but it was too late to re-enter the competition by then). The song was "Just Give Me A Reason", a duet by P!NK and Nate Ruess. John wanted to join us in singing the number, too, since we were guest performers this year (and not competitors), so I came up with an idea to accommodate all 3 of us during the song that wouldn't include a lot of choreography and also make it more fun to perform. I got some cots with blankets and pillows for our props and we dressed up in pajamas/robes as our costumes. Amanda put rollers in her hair, I wore a shower cap, John had on a night cap, and Amanda and I used eye masks for part of the song as well. We pretended we were in a hotel room and each one of us woke up at different times in the night to sing to each other. We had a blast performing together!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Carved and Colored Creations

For Family Home Evening activities towards the end of October, we decorated pumpkins. The younger 3 boys wanted to paint mini pumpkins, so we did that on Monday night the 19th. I pulled out all my craft paint and paintbrushes, covered the table in newspaper, and we got to work painting. Jonah, Micah, and I each painted two, and Kanyon painted a little gourd as well, so his total was 3. 

Back Row L-R: Kanyon's horizontal-striped gourd, Kanyon's vertical-striped pumpkin,
Micah's scary face, my clown, and Jonah's scary face. 

Kanyon and I both painted Mardi Gras colors on our wee-be-littles

Jonah and Micah both painted black and white on their wee-be-littles

The next Monday night, October 26th, was our designated pumpkin-carving night. Our schedule was hectic that evening, though. Ammon had XC practice right after school, so I brought the other 3 boys home from school, made dinner, and we ate dinner. Then I had to go back into town to do some errands and have Salmon Idol practice. Josh and Ammon got home from after 6:00, ate dinner, and then Josh set up the table with newspapers, bowls, knives, and got all the carving supplies out. Everyone had set aside their pumpkins weeks before, and they took their pumpkins to the table and got to work cutting and gutting! I got back home about 8:00 that night, and was so happy that Josh had gotten everything ready to start them on the carving project without me, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to get it all done in time for bed.

This has become a really enjoyable activity to do since our boys are getting older. The boys completely gutted out, designed, and carved all their own pumpkins without hardly any help. The only thing I had to do to help this year was print out the design for Kanyon that he'd wanted. Everyone completed the carving much faster than I'd anticipated, too...except for Micah who picked an intricate design, and it had so many small holes in the design of its mouth that it was very time-consuming to carve. So half-way through carving his, he decided to stop (which is why the mouth is so small--he only did the top half of it).

On the top row, Kanyon's was the skull with bones, Ammon did the smiling Jack-o-Lantern, and Jonah carved the scary face. On the bottom row, Josh made the Jack-o-Lantern with toothpicks for teeth, I made the Frankenstein (since the whole pumpkin was still green except for the front that I carved), and Micah carved the spooky face with small pointy teeth.

We used some strobe lights to light them up on the night we carved them, and it was fun for all of us to see the freshly-carved pumpkins light up that way. We'd never done that before, but we all liked watching them with the flashing lights. It felt as exciting as watching a newly-decorated Christmas tree! I took a little video of the fun effect as well: 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Runners and Races

Ammon ran his 4th year of XC this fall. He wasn't sure he was going to run, but was glad that he decided to when his friends Cole and Sylas joined the team again. Micah joined the team, too, but for the first time. Ammon ran on the high school team, and Micah ran on the middle school boys team (and there was a LOT of boys on that team--an astounding 15!). The teams practiced together every day, and they went to the same meets, but they competed in different races. The high school always runs a 5K (3.1 miles), and the middle school's races range between 1.5 and 2 miles, depending on the meet. There were only 6 competitive meets that our team participated in before Districts and State, but usually there's 8. Two of the meets were overnighters because of their distance from Salmon, so that prevented us from doing more meets because of the added expense of travel costs. Josh drove the team bus for every single meet except one, so all the meets that I was unable to go to, thankfully he was there.

The first meet was the Cardinal Classic in Soda Springs on Saturday September 5. I was in Boise for Josh's niece Coral's wedding, so I missed it, but Josh drove the bus to the meet (which was the first meet of the season, and the first overnighter, and Micah's first race ever).

Micah got a ribbon in his first race!

Ammon hated running behind people with mullets and watching their hair bounce.
It was an added incentive to make him run faster and pass them!!

The second meet of the season was the big Tiger-Grizz event in Idaho Falls the following week on September 11. It was a super hot day, and they ran late in the afternoon and the early evening, so the sun was blistering hot by that time.
Because the meet was so large, and there were so many teams competing, they
had each team line up in columns of two by two. Ammon was one of the front
two runners because he was the 2nd fastest runner on our team at the time. 

Micah ran side-by-side with teammate Garrett almost the entire race

Micah is an excellent finisher, and passed several people right before the finish line

The next meet, the Mile High Classic in Challis, is one of our favorites. We usually go camping there during the XC meet, but the meet was several weeks earlier this year than usual (it was on September 19 and it's usually in October). It was also the same weekend as Homecoming and niece Coral's reception in Pocatello, so it didn't work out for us to go camping there this year. It was a beautiful day for a race, and both Ammon and Micah had a great run!
The start of the middle school boys race.

Erik, Garrett, and Micah ran as a solid pack the whole race

Micah finished strong right ahead of them.

There were 7 teams in the high school boys race

Ammon had a great start, getting ahead of the pack

Remember how I said he hates to run behind
guys with long hair?! Yeah...he passed him ;)

They battled it out at the finish line

Ammon got a medal for being the 4th place finisher in the district!

A week later, the team traveled to their second overnighter of the season in Meridian for the Bob Firman Invitational at Eagle Island State Park. This was the largest event they participated in this year.

Ammon finished strong with a time of 19:03, just 4 seconds short of his goal. 

Micah was the 7th runner who made it to the finish line from our middle
school boys team. His team got 1st place at the event, out of 63 teams!

Because a XC team consists of 7 runners, and he was the 7th
runner at this meet, he earned a medal. He was so excited!

The following week was a bye week without a meet, and it was during this time that Ammon got injured. The coaches had 6-day-a-week practices, and the kids were running about 8-9 miles a day. His body was starting to suffer, and one day, they ran hills over and over, and he woke up the next morning and could barely walk. I took him to the doctor, who said he had tendonitis in his knee and inflamed IT Band and hip flexors. The doctor told him to take a week break from practice. The following week (October 9) was the Salmon Invitational at the Golf Course, and he was still unable to run. It was sad to see him miss our home meet. It was a gorgeous day at the golf course, though, and we were glad to at least see Micah run a good race.
The large middle school boys team taking a break during their warm-ups.

There were just 5 teams in this race. It was nice to finally be in a smaller race!

The coach likes to add this obstacle of strawbale jumping in the race

Erik had a better finish than Micah, and beat him in this race. They ran
together all season long, and it was fun to see them tag team the finishes!

Micah's last meet of the season was the Firth Meet on October 15. The middle school teams don't participate in the District or State races, and this was the last regular event of the season. Ammon was still injured and unable to participate in this race. I took the other two boys with me and we drove down to watch the race. The race starts and ends on the high school football field, and runs through fields surrounding the area the rest of the race.
This was another HUGE race with a lot of teams participating!

Micah started really fast. He wanted to give it his all for the last race of the year

He had a strong finish, too. He beat this guy ahead of him.

One week later was the District Meet at Firth (again). Ammon had been doing light practices all week, and decided to run in the District race. He still was not feeling 100%, but he thought he would be able to run. He had a goal of beating just one runner on his team, so that he could finish as the 7th runner (there's just 8 runners on their high school boys team) in order to qualify to run on the team at the state meet. He started off running in a pack with the 6th and 7th place runners for our team, but he was in a lot of pain, and he was having difficulty breathing as well. We are so proud of him for finishing the race, and we know that he gave it everything he had. I was unable to go to the race, but Josh said that watching Ammon run amidst so much pain made his own heart hurt and he felt so much empathy for Ammon. Unfortunately, Ammon ended up finishing 13 seconds behind the 7th runner for our team. Our team qualified for state, but he went as the alternate, and could not run in the final race of the year. He wouldn't have been able to, anyway; running so hard at the district race increased his body's ailments and healing time. It was several weeks before he could walk normal again.

Even with running only 5 races this year, Ammon is still listed as the 13th fastest runner in our district because of his time at the Bob Firman meet that was held a week before his injury. And Micah is listed as the 20th fastest runner in the middle school boys division in our district, which is exceptional for his first year running! We are so proud of our boys for working hard and having a great XC season this year.