Saturday, October 29, 2011
To my parents: I know that you never drove us to go trick-or-treating because you said the candy wasn't worth the gas money. You were right. And if you're wondering why I drove 100+ miles to go get a few bagfuls of candy, here's the answer: it was a good excuse to get groceries. And the van tires changed. And go to the bank. And take books back to the library. And the candy made the kids behave the whole time, even though they each only got to have three pieces all afternoon. And mom got to have some candy too!
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays as I like to dress up in different costumes and well, let's be honest, there's the whole candy angle. Yum. Who doesn't like to get candy for just saying a quick "Trick or treat?"
I teach religious education classes, and I always like to tie in events to make the classes more meaningful. So I did a Google search and learned all sorts of interesting things, some of which I have likely forgotten over the years, and other that I had never known before.
First off, "Halloween" means "hallow" or "holy" and "een" means "eve." It's Holy Eve, or the night before the holy day. What's the Holy Day? November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. In some cultures, November 1 is Dia de los Inocentes, a day to remember children and infant deaths, and November 2 is Dia de los Muertos, a day to remember adult dead.
Although saints have their own feast day, there were many martyrs in the early Christian church who were unknown, for example those thrown to the lions for the Romans' entertainment. It made sense to pick one day to celebrate all these unknown martyrs, along with all the saints. In addition, the early Christians followed the Jewish tradition of praying for all those who had died. However, mass wasn't said for All Souls until 1048. With the Reformation, most Protestants dropped the doctrine of the communion of saints and praying for the dead.
Halloween is often portrayed with skeletons, ghouls, and other scary things representing death. When thinking about that the day originated with martyrs, perhaps this is appropriate. Of course there is a limit to what children can handle, and, I would say even adults, and it's up to everyone to decide what that limit is.
Trick or treating is a fun custom for many on Halloween. It originated in the Middle Ages, when it was thought that if someone died and hadn't made amends with you, they might turn into a will-o'-the-wisp or a ghost. They would appear suddenly, trying to jolt you into praying for them and forgiving them so they could move on to the next world. You might also try to provide some "treats" in order to avoid the mischief, or "tricks" of the offender. Eventually people started going door to door, masked and unrecognizable, basically wiping the slate clean for the coming year (apparently in case they died, they would already be reconciled and not have to become ghosts). They bargained for treats, hence the now common saying "Trick or treat."
Jack-o-lanterns also have an interesting history. To see details, click here. The short version is that the Irish and Scots carved scary faces into turnips and potatoes to scare away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. When they carried this tradition to America, the pumpkin was present and easier to carve.
However you choose to celebrate, Happy Halloween!
at 6:20 PM
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Then it was time for the inevitable question:
"Can we have a snack?"
We were ready for this, and told them they could have a snack at the bridge, which was the half-way point.
Before we got the snacks out, we asked the kids to sit for a photo. Here we have Isaac, Desert Girl, Charlie, Desert Boy, and Ava. Like how Ava is already barefoot? She had some plans.
Then Desert Boy fell in.
Fortunately Nomi had extra clothes he could wear.
Then we got back to the bridge. Desert Boy had warmed up and wanted to go back into the water. I explained that we didn't have any more dry clothes, so if he wanted to go back into the water, he had to take off his clothes. He thought this was okay. Then Ava thought it was too. I sure hope this is a phase they will outgrow in a few years, and not a precursor to teenage behavior!
Then it was time to start heading back, which meant heading downhill. Desert Girl and Isaac, despite missing naps, were eager to hike.
I followed the older kids, who were still full of excessive energy. They tore down the trail, enjoying the several bridges. Then Charlie tumbled on the trail and came back with a worried expression on his face. I checked out his scrape and told him Desert Boy had a first aid kit.
All us moms were trying not to giggle too much as the whole scene unfolded in front of us. It was infinitely adorable how they were solving their own problems with such calm.
Then we went back to hiking.
Friday, October 21, 2011
What this bag signifies is that it's harvest time! These are silage bags, and they cost a lot, like several hundred bucks each. Who knew a little plastic could cost so much?
It was such a nice afternoon that we decided to head out into the fields to try and find the chopper.
And now you probably know more than you wanted to about bagging silage. But if you still want to know more, here's a post I wrote about it back in 2008!
Monday, October 17, 2011
|It can be really fun to pose for a shadow photo. Even Henry got in on the action!|
Hey, NaNoWriMo starts November 1. Have you ever wanted to write a novel? November is a great month to do it--the days are short, the evenings are long, and you can fill them up by writing. The idea behind NaNoWriMo is that if you force yourself to write every day, you will finish your novel--or at least a really rough draft. I've participated twice before. The first time I finished a really fun young adult novel, Adventures in the Junkyard. I haven't found a publisher yet, but I have submitted it to a couple contests and received some helpful reviews. The second time I didn't make the 50,000 word goal, but it did help me get through insomnia and make me exercise my writing muscles.
This time I'm ready to go at it again. And for those of you who are non-fiction writers, there's a similar non-fiction challenge for November. I have a friend doing that one, and we're going to be encouraging each other. Who else wants to join the club?
at 7:43 PM
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
For those junior paleontologists out there (like Desert Boy), here's a super fun Junior Paleontologist booklet for free, plus some more activities.
at 3:50 PM
Then we listened to the divers, Wendell Nope and Richard Lamb. They made it clear that they are very safety conscious and love what they do a lot. Then they showed a video they shot, which was awesome. If you'd like to see the video and some additional photos of this underwater cave, check out Wendell's website.