Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Prep (Who Knew There Was Such a Thing)

I'm a self-proclaimed Halloween-hater. I tried to enjoy it as a kid but it seemed like there were always obstacles in my way.

First: the costume. I was never creative and/or artistic enough to be able to match my costume to what I pictured in my head. And if I was lucky enough to have a coolish costume, I had to cover it up with snow pants, snow boots, heavy jacket, hat, and mittens anyway, and walk around in the dark. Not the greatest for those years I was a princess.

Second: school parties. Ok, everyone looked forward to the school Halloween party. Our elementary school (Jacob and I went to the same one for a short time) did a costume parade, and the 6th graders turned their classrooms into haunted houses. That was until the religious moms dug their claws into the fun and snatched it away from everyone else. Halloween has a legitimate history. If you don't want to celebrate it, that's your business; keep your kids home that day. But does it really help to ruin the fun for everyone else? So school Halloween parties were then transformed to Dress As Your Favorite Story Book Character Day. I went as Stacey from The Baby Sitters Club.

Third: movies. I'm not a big fan of the horror genre in general, but I've been known to enjoy a goofy scare here and there. But horror movies have moved beyond monsters and zombies to exploiting the very worst of the human race. I have a friend who lives for horror movies and was so repulsed by The Hills Have Eyes that she walked out of the theater. Yes, that shit is scary, but I could save myself the $50 it takes to go to the movies and just watch the news.

But I have to suppress my urge to be a total curmudgeon because I have a child, and children remind you of why everything is fun. So, unlike the last few years, I'm not pretending Halloween doesn't exist, not not dressing up, and not leaving the lights off and not answering the door for trick-or-treaters. And for the first time since high school, I'm actually preparing for Halloween.

Now, I use the term "preparing" loosely, as in, loading up on everything I could find in under 5 minutes at the dollar store. We did find some cute decorations, and about as far as I have the energy to go.

 Now our house has two witches! ;-)
 The all-important Halloween centerpiece.
 Inflatable Pumpkin.
 Halloween decorating, toddler style.
 Now there are two Skelators in the house. ;-)
 Zoey helping me unwrap the spiders and spider webs.
 Admiring our work.
There was one aspect of Halloween I was looking forward to resurrecting: pumpkin carving. Like I've told anyone who will listen to me for more than 30-seconds, I haven't had a Halloween pumpkin since high school. And, of course, roasting and eating the seeds are the best part. I figured Zoey was at an age where she would enjoy it too, getting to play in the goop.
 She was pretty excited when we got the pumpkins, constantly declaring, "This is Zoey's pumpkin; and this is Mommy's pumpkin."
 Daddy getting started on his.

(Carefully) Making sure the inside is nice and clean for Daddy. And I was wrong, she had zero interest in the pumpkin innards. I put her hand in the pumpkin and she jerked it out and said, "Eeeeew! That's gross."
 Watching Mommy get going on her's.
 Daddy putting on the finishing touches.

 Admiring Daddy's handiwork.
 Mommy's finished product. Jacob did a pattern from the pumpkin carving kit (seriously didn't know such a thing existed, thought people were just super-talented at wielding a kitchen knife), while I opted for the more traditional Jack-O-Lantern.

Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dating After Marriage

No, that is not in reference to the Will-Smith-Jada-Pinket-Smith "open marriage" every one claims they have in order to keep their union thus far successful. I'm talking about dating your spouse after the ultimate date, and especially after having a kid.

Jacob and I had an unusual courting, which makes the already complicated task of post-commitment dating even more difficult; not only were we out of practice, we had never actually done it in the first place. We met when we were little kids, and the last time I saw him was when I was 10. He found me (not in the creepy, stalker way that sounded), we communicated through the magic of technology for months before actually (re)meeting, and we jumped headfirst into a relationship. Our official first date was when he came to Florida to help me move in with him in Montana.

Our first official date at a very quaint Italian restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida. I know, totally sounds like an oxymoron, right? (May 2009)

Present-day, we've been married for almost 2 and a half years, have a child, jobs, responsibilities, budget, and everything else that prevents people from having any sort of social life. But from the 3rd month of Zoey's life - when we first started sending her to her Grandparent's for sleepovers - we knew that a break from being parents, and time just being with each other was needed. I can't explain it. Maybe its "checking in," "reconnecting," or any of other crap you read in magazines, its just a nice time to hang out and just be friends.

Our dating skills needed some honing, though. Celebrating our first anniversary meant falling asleep on the couch until it was time for dinner; then falling back asleep on the couch until it was time for bed. We then eased into going out by ordering take-out and eating it at home. The last few times, though, we've taken the opportunity to go to a restaurant and be waited on, sometimes even more than once in the same weekend. This weekend we were fortunate for another date night.

 Yeah, we had a pretty awesome time. We got dressed nice and - since we've decided to give up chain restaurants (IHOP the next morning is totally permissible) - went to Ciao Mambo in downtown. We had adult beverages, amazing meals, and some good laughs. And Jacob is pretty sure his shirt got the next table talking about Trailer Park Boys.

We decided to continue the festivities with a stop at the liquor store but didn't get one drink in before we - yes, you guessed - fell asleep on the couch. We got up to go to bed and slept a collective 23.75 hours. We cleaned up, got some early-afternoon breakfast from the aforementioned IHOP, had a nice chat with our neighbor, then took the long way to go pick up Zoey.

Per usual, Zoey had a good time at her grandparent's, and was happy to be home. We enjoy our dates nights and it helps us appreciate our day-to-day home life, which we feel re-charged to get back to. Dating after marriage doesn't happen nearly as frequently as before (or it happens about the same, if you're us), but it can be a whole lot better.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Perfect Fall Day

If I'd had any better of a day, I'd be shitting Hallmark cards. But seriously, we had one of those days that you imagined was the inspiration for a Norman Rockwell painting. You wouldn't have predicted it since we went to bed Friday night with this:

I don't know when the first snows took place in previous years but it feels early this year; October 5th. So we woke up to fresh snow Saturday morning and decided to take a road trip to find some more.

We didn't. It was 80-degrees on Tuesday, 40 and snowing on Wednesday, so the ground was pretty warm. And at the first sign of Mr. Sun, any traces of snow vanished. What we did find was some brilliant fall colors.

 Just after turning on the road to Edgar.

 Entering Edgar, MT.

 Mer is always telling me how great the Edgar Bar is; there it is, the red building on the left. We didn't stop but I hear they have amazing steaks.

 Being silly in the back.

 I think she's finally got the idea of a road trip. We didn't bring any toys or the DVD player and she enjoyed herself and was in good spirits the entire time.

 Things get pretty desolate pretty quickly.

 Our own personal radio, singing Mary Had a Little Lamb.

 We think this is the town of Pryor, MT.

 Capturing some of the changing fall colors. I get why people like fall so much; it's fleeting. Before you know it, it will be below-freezing and everything dead (instead of, you know, on the way to being dead).

 This is how we roll.

 Super proud of herself for getting her socks off.

 Crazy tree.

 Dropping into what we assumed to be Blue Creek, MT.

 We decided we must live there.

We wound back into Billings, discovering we weren't that far from it to begin with. It's amazing how the middle of nowhere is just in your backyard sometimes. We came upon Riverfront Park and decided it was a good place to get out of the car.

Daddy could barely get her jacket on, Zoey was brimming with such excitement.

 Some action shots Daddy took of the geese.

 Well, hello, there, giant zit and blatant strand of grey hair...

Family shot for family day!

 Totally pretending I'm on America's Next Top Model right now.

 Skipping rocks with Daddy. Well, Daddy was skipping them, Zoey was just sort of plunking them in.

 Me, in the meantime, looking like a bear cub, except bear cubs are much cuter.

Guess she didn't approve of our music choices. Two years old and already a critic.

We got back in the car and made it home before nap time (2+ hours, thank you outdoor adventures!), and were presently assailed with the smell of crock-potted pork loin, red delicious apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

I made oven-roasted red potatoes and salad to accompany. Yes, it does look like vomited entrails on a plate, but it was quite tasty. When I cut into the pork to see if it was done, it just fell apart.

It was the perfect fall day, if there ever was one (minus the apple-picking, which, I don't really understand why that's fun). With the crazy summer we had, who knows what Old Man Winter has in store for us; he might be cranky his time was cut short last year. I hope fall sticks around a little bit longer, I still have a lot of pumpkin spice candle to burn, hot apple cider to drink, and bags of candy corn to consume.