July



Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.


Monday, November 28, 2011

I'll walk in the rain by your side...

    "The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~
     The long-awaited family photo shoot came and went last Tuesday. My entire side of the family was together all at the same time. Very difficult to do.
     So what if it rained.
     If you ask me, there's something about the rain that is soothing and romantic. But traipsing around town in it with 25 people has its challenges. Still, everyone was relaxed and had fun.
     This event was a gift for my parents. I thought my mom looked so pretty. Dad looked great, too.
        And the grandchildren were having a good time. Can you tell?
      Here we were back at my parents' house... the home we grew up in. All gathered together once more.
     This one was just my parents and brother and sisters. Seemed like old times.
     As picture day approached, and I saw day after day that the forecast called for rain, I was anticipating an artsy, rainy day shoot that would give us images we would not otherwise ever get. I think I may have been the only one excited about the rain. And when it came time for our individual family shot, the skies opened up, and it poured. Ours was the only family it did that for. God gets me.
 
"It's not raining to me
It's raining daffodils
With every dimpled drop I see
Wildflowers on a distant hills."
~ Robert Loveman ~

"... And I'll sing you the songs of the rainbow
A whisper of the joy that is mine
The leaves will bow down when you walk by
And morning bells will chime."
~ John Denver ~ 

     A special thank you to our photographer Erin Granzow, assisted by her lovely daughter... troopers both. Your relaxed and cooperative spirit helped make our day so very special. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Soul in Stillness Waits...

This is one of my favorite Advent meditations...
My Soul in Stillness Waits
Refrain: For you, O lord, my soul in stillness waits. Truly my hope is in you.
1. O Lord of Light, our only hope of glory, your radiance shines in all who look to you. Come light the hearts of all in dark and shadow.
2. O Spring of Joy, rain down upon our spirits. Our thirsty hearts are yearning for your Word. Come, make us whole; be comfort to our hearts.
3. O Root of Life, implant your seed within us, and in your advent draw us all to you, our hope reborn in dying and in rising.
4. O Key of Knowledge, guide us in our pilgrimage, We ever seek, yet unfulfilled remain. Open to us the pathway of your peace.
5. Come, let us bow before the God who made us. Let every heart be opened to the Lord, for we are all the people of his hand.
6. Here we shall meet the makers of the heavens, creator of the mountains and the seas, Lord of the stars and present to us now.
Marty Haugen © GIA Music

Friday, November 25, 2011

Funny Guy Friday... So much to be thankful for...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a Funny Guy! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
    Thanksgiving is one of the greatest holidays of the year for our family. Unlike Christmas, there is no pre-holiday rush to shop, except for purchasing food at the grocery store, and we have the opportunity to spend time with our family. Every year, Thanksgiving Day starts with my side of the family getting together for a pre-game breakfast and our annual Turkey Bowl.
    For the record, my son Matthew (note: when he dropped a crucial fourth down pass two years ago, he was Cheryl's son) walked away with this year's MVP trophy in a thrilling 19-19 tie. I must admit, I left the football buffet full but not satisfied due to the tie. I am not competitive but Gee whiz, if my nephew's kid would have caught that stupid extra point, we would have won the Turkey Bowl for an unprecedented fourth year in a row. Remind me not to have him on my team next year----the loser. And don't keep giving me that "he's only four years old" excuse, he was on the field to make plays. 
    After the game we returned home to prepare the Thanksgiving feast. We always like to host and each year we alternate which family we have over. This year we hosted Cheryl's family.
    The sights and sounds of my in-laws' Thanksgiving week began with my sister-in-law. Sue, flying in from Washington with her husband and three kids on Monday. Her husband is a pilot and he met up with the family in Utah. He had a first class ticket that he graciously gave up to his wife. This is where the fun began.
    She sat in her aisle seat, and, as she described....did what you normally do, you know when you first sit down in first class and you start looking around to see what everyone is doing and what they are reading. Two things struck me about this comment. First, I have never flown first class, so I don't really know what people do in first class. Second, I have a hunch it is only people who don't usually fly first class that are the ones that sit down and start looking around to see what everyone is doing and what they are reading. I think what happened next confirms my hunch.
    The gentleman across the aisle looked familiar to her as he watched his computer and kept running and re-running plays from an NFL game. She also thought he was working on a document that had something to do with fumbling. Apparently, she was doing some serious eyeballing at this point as she also noticed that he had a huge Super Bowl ring with that trophy on it. She started to put two and two together and recognized that the guy sitting across the aisle from her was former Redskin coach and Hall-of-Famer Joe Gibbs.
    She started to get a little nervous because she knew that she had to say something to Joe Gibbs because she knew that when she got home, everyone in my family is going to wonder why you would sit next to Joe Gibbs and not say something. 
    It's funny because I think that my family would wonder why you would sit next to Joe Gibbs and say anything that would bother the guy. Anyway, Joe got up to go to the bathroom and at that point her 11 year old son wandered up to first class to see his mom. Having your second class kids come visit you in first class is, I am sure, something that the other first-classers must have appreciated. Anyway, she told her son who Joe Gibbs was and that he had been sitting in the currently unoccupied seat right across the aisle.
    Her son went back to his dad who confirmed that he too recognized some guy that had gotten on the plane. This prompted a second trip to first class to see his mom and this time he wanted to meet the coach---now mom had her angle to break the ice with her new best bud, Gibbsy---an 11-year-old shield if you will.
   When Coach Gibbs returned to his seat, she leaned over and said to him there is someone I would like to introduce you to. This also struck me as very funny because that is something that you say to someone that you know when you are introducing them to someone else that you know. You don't go up to a stranger and start introducing people---she skipped a huge, critical step in the whole introduction process.  Anyway, Gibbs responded with a confused look and so she asked, you are Joe Gibbs aren't you?
    Well, it turns out he was not exactly Joe Gibbs. He was, however, an NFL referee. Hence the fumble document and the NFL videos. He also had participated in two Super Bowls. Hence the Super Bowl ring. Sometimes when you put two and two together you get five. Wow, what do you say at that point... Do you know Joe Gibbs? and if you do, would you mind introducing him to me and my son?  Funny start to a fun week.
     Cheryl's entire family was in town on Tuesday for a planned photo shoot with a professional photographer. This was a gift from the kids to Cheryl's parents. Nailing down the date did not prove to be easy, unless Cheryl's sister Sue had managed to divorce her husband, as I had suggested in at least three of the emails that I had sent leading up to this. He is the pilot, and he had to leave on Wednesday. Tuesday had to be the day as it was the only day the entire family could be together. Divorce was off of the table. Cheryl advised me that she did not care that I had court in a county two hours away. Take care of it and get to the shoot....or else our divorce will be put back on the table!
    Cheryl and her sisters planned a day of photos at a local hometown park and also at a nearby Mansion. The idea was to get photos at recognizable locations in the city where they grew up. Great idea, what could possibly go wrong?
    You know, I think that Noah, when he planned to build the ark, also thought what could possibly go wrong?... right before the rains came. Did I mention that it rained all day Monday and Tuesday? And as you recall, changing the day was not an option. Cheryl's sister chose to steadfastly cling to her stupid marriage to the fly boy. Because of the rain, the plans had to be altered. Everyone met at my in-laws home and we started with individual family photos, and we were going to then see if the weather would give us a break.
     At some point, the photographer mentioned that she thought that we could take photos of the family walking along a familiar street that leads up to the Mansion. The street is unique because it has a tree tunnel. Great idea but there are these things called automobiles that travel down this street on a pretty regular basis. No problem, she knew a City police officer that would meet us and stop traffic. Awesome, a photographer with connections. It worked out well for the officer as well, as he was able to throw the cuffs on my niece and throw her in the back of his cruiser. Apparently, there was a warrant that we didn't know about. Luckily, her uncle is a lawyer and we were able to cut a deal for her release.
    The weather cooperated just a little, and we headed to the Belair Mansion for a few photos of the entire clan. We arrived and began walking about the property looking for the best location. After mulling about, we were ready to line up for the photo when a different City police officer arrived and questioned if we were some type of organization! I suppose he suspected we were part of the "Occupy Bowie" protest that you may have all read about. It was either that or he, too, was looking to arrest my niece. After convincing him that we were not part of any "Occupy" movement, which wasn't too difficult because we were all showered, well groomed and could prove that we had jobs.....we continued with our photos.
All things considered, another great day!
     Thanksgiving dinner was awesome. Cheryl's sister Annie was once again a huge help in the food preparation (see last Thanksgiving's Funny Guy Friday) and I was both full and satisfied with this buffet. However, there was one moment that highlighted the difference between hosting Cheryl's family and hosting my family, besides the fact that my sister-in-law does not put cranberries in her sweet potatoes. This moment occurred when my father-in-law got everyone quiet and stood up to make an announcement.
    Now when this happens when my family is all together, it means someone is either getting married or is about to have a baby. With everyone's attention on him, my father-in-law announced that he had found a jacket in the back of his car and wondered if any of the grandkids would claim it. My daughter Grace and I laughed because we both thought that Grammie was pregnant. We are thankful that she is not.
    Anyway, I realize that I do have so much to be thankful for. The Lord provides for me every day and has blessed me with a great wife, three terrific kids, wonderful parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends. He even came through with great in-laws. Thanksgiving provides such a great opportunity to spend time with all of them. I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving and that you all had the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones.   Happy Thanksgiving!
Rainy Day Photo Shoot
Turkey Bowl 2011 Players
Turkey Bowl MVP Winning Catch
Funny Guy with the Boys
Thanksgiving Dinner

Friday, November 18, 2011

Funny Guy Friday... O Captain, My Captain...

      Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a Funny Guy!
     When Matthew, who is now 11, was six years old, he decided to join a baseball team. I was more than happy to coach.
     Before Cheryl and I were married, I had coached some very good 12-year-old teams for several years, and I had continued to coach right up until Matthew was about two or three years old. I had stopped coaching because, at that time, we had two kids and neither one was playing ball. So when he signed up at age six, I was more than happy to jump back into the coaching game.
     I remember that first practice, when Matthew was the only boy... or girl (that's right, I said girl)... who knew how to catch, or throw, or even how to hold a bat. After practice, Cheryl told me that the parents thought I was so very patient. Really? Because I am ready to put my head through the car window. 
     Fortunately, I refrained from concussing myself, and our team, The Bees, had a successful year. Having said that, we did have our moments.
     There was one little girl named Emily who was not very good, and was not very interested in being at the field or listening to me. She also wore a skirt to every game. When I gave my post-game talks, I always pointed out what each player had done well, and I made up game superlatives for the kids. We had best hit, best cheerer (I made that word up), coolest hat (the brim was the key), best listener, most bubble gum chewed, fastest runner, etc, etc.
     My girl Emily always won for best skirt on the team. She was happy with that, but that was about all that pleased her. Most games we would find her playing with her nanny on the playground across from the field. By the way, Emily's nanny was the best nanny on the team. Anyway, at the end of the year, I was sure that Emily would be happy to be done with the season, and done with me. I was surprised when she came up to me after the last game, and looked at me, and threw her arms around me, and started to cry, and told me that I was the best coach she ever had. Apparently, Emily was paying attention during the season.
   This brings me to my other son Noah's seven-year-old basketball team that I am presently coaching. We had our first practice this week, and I think I am in for quite an adventure. On the way to the gym, Noah and I had the following conversation:
Noah: Dad, am I going to be the team captain?
Me: No, I would not say that. I haven't even met the kids on the team yet, and we probably will not have captains.
Noah: Yeah, yeah, but if we did have captains, I would be the captain, right?
Me: No, I would not say that. Just because you are my son, it does not mean you are anything special, just my son.
Noah: Yeah, I get that. But just so we know, I would be the team captain.
Me: Noah, if I did have a captain, I would have a different one for each game.
Noah: Okay, so the first game, I will be captain.
Me: YES, YES. YOU ARE THE CAPTAIN.
Noah: I thought so. 
   
     On my way out the door, Cheryl had reminded me to remember that this would probably be the first time most of these kids had ever played basketball, so I should start at the beginning.
     I had already figured that we should start with dribbling, then passing, and then some defense. I had also settled on a coaching style that the kids could relate to.
     For example, I explained to the kids that we were going to learn a cool dance called the Funky Crab. This is when you get into a nice crouch on the balls of your feet with your arms out like a crab and you step and slide like a crab. This dance has the same moves you use on defense.
     As I was showing the kids the dance, our team captain raised his hand and wanted to know if we could pinch players like a crab would do. No, Noah. I explained that we play defense by moving our feet and not by reaching and grabbing with our hands. This led another player to point out that crabs don't have feet. Good point---now be quiet.
     Moving on, I explained to the kids that we were bumble bees and that the key (the area of the court under the basket from the baseline to the foul line) was our beehive, and we needed to protect our honey. The basket was the honey, and the other team was full of bears trying to get our honey. Again, Captain Noah's hand shot up, and he wanted to know if the basket was the honey or the hive. The honey. "Then how do the bears get to our honey way up there?" he asked. Our captain was getting to be a little bit annoying. By shooting the rock  up at the basket. "Does it have to go through the basket for them to get the honey." YES, YES. IT DOES! 
     Now that we had that resolved, we decided to take advantage of the fact that we had the whole gym to ourselves, so we scrimmaged. This was an opportunity to get the kids used to going in the opposite direction when there is a change of possession. Sounds simple, but when you usually only practice on a half court, they never get to switch sides.
      I must say that they did pretty well, but they sometimes would forget to dribble. One little guy took one dribble and then tucked the ball under his arm and ran the full court, as if he were a running back; and then he took a shot. His dad tried to explain to him that he had to dribble; the boy insisting all the while that he had. One dribble, seventy feet. Very impressive strides for a seven-year-old. I could hear little Alan Iverson: Dribble. You're talking about dribble. I don't need no stinkin' dribble!
     After practice, on the drive home, I asked Noah how he thought things had gone. He advised that one of the girls on the team likes him. Really? How do you know that? "She kept following me and kicking at my heels." That could mean she doesn't like you, and wants to beat you up! "Dad, she can't do that. I am the captain."
     When we got home, I sent out an email for our second practice this coming week, and one parent replied that their family may be out of town, but would be there if they were back in time. She then thanked me, adding that after just one practice, her son thought I was "the best coach ever."
     Really? Hmmm.
     Sorry Noah, looks like we found ourselves a new captain.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Robert Brault...

In the mood for more food for thought, from Robert Brault? Yeah. Me too.

"You never get people's fuller attention than when you're listening to them."

"No matter what you do in life, a part of you still sits at a curbside, still hearing the drumbeat of a distant parade, still waiting for it to turn the corner."

"It's curious the way we get nostalgic for some hoped-for thing that never happened, as if something that never happened were in the past."

"As important as it is to keep picking yourself up and brushing yourself off, it's also important to stop tripping over your own two feet."

"While I occasionally enjoy a bout of nostalgia, I would generally rather dream forward than backward."

"When it seems that something can't be done, start it, and see if the rest of it can be done."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day... Roses in November...

While the unseen banner of winter's bane
Reminded her of mournful days,
The hope of springtime
Kissed the morrow.
This is a picture I took while at the library yesterday. The roses were gorgeous... Hundreds of them in full bloom... Set against the fall colors and the promise of winter. With the flag at half-staff, I couldn't resist capturing the moment. 

Traditionally, as a symbol of respect, mourning or distress, flags are flown at half-staff to leave room at the top of the flagpole for death's invisible flag.

Remembering Mark's dad...

     Remembering Mark's dad, and all of our veterans... today... and every day.

Funny Guy Friday... Only cool people eat out this late...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a Funny Guy!
     Last Friday, I got home from work around 6 p.m. and Cheryl had nothing planned for dinner. I thought it would be a nice idea for us to go get a quick bite to eat and start our Christmas shopping. These days, we can do these things on the spur of the moment because we have a built-in fifteen-year-old babysitter---an indentured servant, if you will.
     We announced our plan to get a quick bite to eat and then do some shopping. The dinner part was met with great enthusiasm from our kids who asked where we were going? They were not too keen on the shopping and wanted to cut that part out. Whoa, slow down there cowpokes, you three are not included in we. 
     Somehow, our going out on a date is not fair to our kids. They were offended at the idea and suggested that they don't ever get to do anything. This is funny because I think that they get to do everything. They go everywhere with us, unless they have a better offer from a friend; and if we go somewhere while they are at a friend's house, they complain because it is not fair that we do fun stuff every time they go over a friend's house. Cheryl and I have this sinister plan where we wait for one of the kids to get an invite to a friend's house and then we plan fun stuff with the remaining children. To maximize the missing child's disappointment, we encourage the remaining two kids to have extra fun to add to the missing sibling's heartbreak. It is a wickedly evil plot and in my humble opinion, it is just good parenting.
     Anyway, as we were leaving to go on our date, Grace was extremely vocal with her concerns. It appears that she thinks, and I quote....that ever since you two went to your reunion and found out that you used to be cool and now are all popular, you want to go out with each other all the time. You know, I think that she is on to something. We are like Fonzie cool! Our new found coolness is awesome, and we can't be seen out in public with our three children. What would the gang at the malt shop think if we showed up with them? Clearly kids reduce one's coolness factor.
     In response to her comments, Cheryl and I made out right there in our front hallway for all of our kids to see. I may even have raised my leg and wrapped it around Cheryl's waist to emphasize my ever increasing love for my very happening wife. We even danced with each other like we used to dance back in our high school days....you know back when we were cool and didn't know it. Now that we know, we can't let it go to waste and we must spend as much time with each other as possible. When I complained that I may have injured my neck sometime during the make-out session, Grace disgustingly said that there was no way that I was ever cool. Clearly, she was not at our reunion.
     So at 7:30, Cheryl and I left our house feeling pretty good about ourselves. How cool is it that we started our date so late? Only cool people eat out at that late hour. We would be able to skip right in, grab a beer and a burger, and scoot on out.
     The first place we went had a forty-five minute wait. The second place was a thirty-five minute wait, and the third place was a thirty minute wait. At this point I was getting tired, hungry and a bit irritated. After a fourth restaurant made us wait, I thought to myself, who knew that people ate dinner so late? Apparently, there are a lot of cool people out there... but they could never be as popular as we. We ain't waiting for you; you will wait for us!!!
     Our fifth choice, which used to be a regular stop back when we were sans children, was nearly empty. We stopped going there years ago for the Yogi Berra reason that "everybody stopped going there because it was too crowded." Now nobody goes there because they just don't go there anymore. Perhaps it is because we stopped going there.
     As we sat down, I reminded Cheryl that we still had to Christmas shop. She responded that she wanted to make a list and really did not feel like shopping before she knew exactly what we needed to buy. We don't need no stinking list, let's get going---remember who we are!
     She got out a pad of paper and a pen, and decided to make her list. She got as far as listing the people that we need to buy for---I just wanted to shop for my three kids. That is as far as she made it with her silly list---she wrote down the names of people for whom we need to buy gifts. There were about 40 people on the list. Being this popular is getting expensive. I got bummed out and resigned myself that we were not going to actually shop at all. We finished dinner and headed home.
     So, I injured my neck kissing my wife. The two of us got rejected by four separate restaurants. Our date consisted of making a list of people we know for whom we will spend money... in an old restaurant... where nobody goes. And then we headed home.
     Wow, it turns out that we may not be as cool as advertised. But please don't tell my kids, what they don't know won't hurt them. By the way... I haven't kissed my wife in a week. My neck is feeling much better.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts for the day...

"I know this about myself -- that the most lasting triumphs of my life have been triumphs of acceptance, and the happiest triumph a willing surrender."

"How magical it is when the person who knows the words meets the person who knows the tune."

"Sometimes we are steered to God by a random event that could not have been better timed had somebody planned it."

"She was a person who would stop to smell the roses on her way to smell the roses."

"Each day I go into the world to seek my identity, feeling greatly blessed by the things I don't find it in."

"We are known to our friends by a look in our eyes that we never see in a mirror."

"The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free."

For more quotes from ~ Robert Brault ~ click on the link.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Surprise the one you love...

     Betty Beguiles thinks of everything. I love her sense of romance.
     Okay ladies, are you ready for the 14-day challenge? Trust me, your guy is worth it. (Gentlemen... you could so do this for your brides). Oh... and all you friends of Funny Guy... Shhh. Don't you dare tell.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Founders...

     A great article by the American Thinker. No matter how the press or the statists spin this, the Founders would be nowhere near Zuccotti Park.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Funny Guy Friday... The Great Pumpkin Carving Contest...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a Funny Guy!

    When Cheryl and I were first married, we would invite my brothers and sister and my many nieces and nephews over for a Halloween party and pumpkin carving competition. Yes, I turned pumpkin carving into a competitive sport.
    We would bob for apples, eat cake, and then we would light up our pumpkins and have the family vote on the best one. Everyone would throw their ballot into a hat and I would call out each vote with great fanfare. I insisted that the carvers remain unknown so as not to influence the voters, so each vote would have to describe the pumpkin. I had to have anonymity so the voters would not be influenced----you know how moms can be with their bratty little kids, and I was sure that at least one sister-in-law had it out for me.
    I recall the first year most entries were your typical jack-o-lanterns with the eyes, nose and mouth, or some little pumpkins with paint globbed all over. Seriously, one of my silly little nephews painted his little pumpkin and thought that was going to win. Yeah, right!
    My first pumpkin was a haunted house that I had seen on a Halloween napkin. This was before pumpkin patterns were popular. I had to figure out what parts to cut out and what parts to leave in so that the house looked like the haunted house on the napkin. It took me hours and if I recall correctly, it took me two or three pumpkins before I got it right. It was awesome! I dominated the competition. This is not to say that I didn't have to lobby a bit for my pumpkin---Hey Grandma, that little pumpkin that was painted in school that just looks like a big blob of nothingness is cute and nice for a four year old, but have you seen the haunted house---boy whoever did that one sure did put a lot of work into it!   
    The pumpkins evolved the following year. I was the rising tide that raised the level of all carvers. They knew they had to bring their AAA game to the party after my initial dominance---and they did. But I was a little suspect about some of the later entries as pumpkin carving kits and patterns became the norm. I refused to use patterns thinking that the judges would appreciate my creativity and effort. I insisted that the carver should have to reveal if he or she had used a pattern. That effort went nowhere with the rules committee, which was led by my antagonistic sister-in-law.
    Baseball had its great history tainted by the Steroid Era; our pumpkin carving contest had its great history tainted by the Pattern Era. Same principles applied---athletes used other means to gain an unfair advantage over their competition. It was not fair and it drove me to take some drastic measures. If they wanted to cheat then I would show them some cheating.
     I recalled that in our first year of voting, every pumpkin got at least one vote and others would get two, or three and I dominated with about ten. This was odd because this was mathematically impossible. There were ten pumpkins in the competition, twenty five people at the party but there were thirty five votes. Well, I later found out that my father voted for each pumpkin so each of his precious little grand kids got at least one vote. He was going soft in his later years.
     Anyway, my dad's little strategy led me to concoct a little scheme of my own that would level the playing field. I figured if nobody realized that the ballot box was stuffed the year before, who would notice it this year. After all, I was in charge of the votes and the vote counting. What could go wrong? I can't say that it was the proudest moment of my pumpkin carving career but those little kids were cheating too! Although my little plan made me a bit uncomfortable and left a bad taste in my mouth, I was sure that raising the winning pumpkin over my head on Victory Lane would certainly help cleanse my palate.
     Year two, I did a cemetery scene with ghosts and goblins. Think of Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel on a pumpkin---it was that good. I thought to myself, who knows, maybe the voters will get it right and I won't have to institute my brilliant scheme. Unfortunately, there was still that same sister-in-law that had it out for me........ I may have also bragged a bit after the previous year's victory and it is possible that I alienated some of the losers voters in my family. No, it was clear that I could take no chances.
    My plan was working flawlessly at first. I was running neck and neck with my nephew but I ultimately pulled ahead by a wide margin. I will admit that there was some suspicion when the legitimate votes described my pumpkin as "The Cemetery Scene Pumpkin" and my illegitimate votes described it as the "Most Awesome Cemetery Scene w/Ghosts and Goblins and Some of the Most Exquisite Carving We Have Seen to Date Pumpkin" or "The Museum Quality Pumpkin With the Intricate Cemetery Scene---Whoever Carved That One is My Hero---God Bless Him!"
    Okay, I may have gone a bit overboard---BUT THEY WERE USING PATTERNS!!!
    I conceded victory to my worthy opponent on that day, and the carving contest continued for a few more years. Who knows who won or lost (except for me of course); it was always just fun to see what everyone came up with year after year.
    Every Halloween, I still love carving pumpkins with my kids. I will admit that we have purchased the kits and we now use the patterns---it definitely speeds up the process.
    Each of the kids picks their own pattern and they are old enough now to do most of it themselves. But every year, after they think that they are done and have left to go watch TV, I find myself alone in the kitchen with a knife and the pumpkins. There is always one more thing that could be done to make their pumpkins just a little bit better. You know, in case some idiot wants to have a competition or something!
Grace's pumpkin
Matthew's pumpkin
Noah's pumpkin

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