Friday, October 31, 2014

Countdown to Halloween 2014

We have been doing a Countdown to Halloween now for a few years. This year, however, we did as many activities each day as we have in past. It seems like as the years go by with homeschooling, there are more things that need to get  done academically, leaving less room for fun activities like we did when the girls were younger.

Nonetheless, we did so several things and had theme days (on some of the days leading up to Halloween from October 21st to October 31st).

The first day we focused on mummies. We've done the mummy dogs a couple times now and the girls really like them.

They're just hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough and baked until the crescent roll is golden brown.

The next day we focused on spiders since the girls were eyeing the miniature chocolate donuts I had bought earlier in the week.

For the spiders, we used one donut, some vanilla frosting for the eyes, and then broke pretzels into curved shapes to put into the sides of the donut.

It was easier to put little holes where the ends of the pretzels needed to go into the donut. In that way, the pretzel wouldn't break.

I think the donut spiders have to be one of the girls' favorite breakfasts during the Halloween season.

On another day, we focused on monsters. We made monster tacos again this year since we all like tacos.

A hard shell taco, taco meat, fixings, two olives, and a sliver of tomato is all we needed for each taco monster.

We're not huge hard-shell taco fans, so after we ate one taco - anyone who wanted another one just crumbled the taco shells into bits and put the meat and toppings on top. It's easier to eat that way.

On October 24th, we spent some time at the nursing home where we volunteer. We helped the seniors decorate bags for treats that they were going to fill and give to a group of preschoolers who would be visiting them in costume on Halloween.

The ladies enjoyed being creative and attaching stickers to the fronts of the bags.

Afterwards, we helped with a root beer social in the dining room while the seniors listened to music.  It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Another day, we focused on ghosts. The girls were asking when "ghost day" would be because they knew we would have Boo-nilla shakes.

Sophia found a delicious recipes for a vanilla shake online, so we used that this year. Before pouring the shake into the glass, we "painted" eyes and a mouth onto the side of the glasses. When the shake is carefully poured into the glass, the eyes and mouth stay in place.

We enjoyed the shakes and look forward to having them again next year.

On Saturday, the humane society where we adopted Cooper and Aspen from, had a Pet Fest. After looking for ideas for costumes, we decided on The Big Bad Wolf dressed as Grandma for Cooper, and Little Red Riding Hood for Aspen.

We spent several days before the event putting the costumes on them. They were always so excited to wear the much so that we were worried that they wouldn't be able to wear them at the Pet Fest.

At the event, we managed to get Cooper into his nightgown. The bonnet with the black fur ears to hold it in place stayed on his head for probably a good five minutes and then we just gave up. It kept falling off, and honestly was more trouble than it was worth. Oh well...

Aspen tolerated her costume, but she was pretty nervous at the event. There was a lot of activity, people, and pets there. Her cape stayed on, but kept going to the side. The hood did not stay on because her ears are upright.

Inside at Pet Fest there were games. A Golden Retriever did the tennis ball game before Cooper and loved it. Cooper, on the other hand, couldn't focus or wasn't motivated to retrieve the balls from the water.

Same thing with Aspen. Even though they like toys at home and like to play fetch, the tennis balls in the water confused them.

Sophia ended up playing a few games. The rubber-band gun was one of her favorite games.

We had a bit to eat and some pop to drink; did the costume contest; and looked at the vendors' tables. Chuck & Don's gave us a big bag of treats and a tennis ball which was nice.

The next evening, the girls made witches' hats with crackers, cheese in a can, and Bugles.

The only time I will buy cheese-in-a-can is for the witch theme day. Otherwise, it doesn't come into the house. Oh...unless one of the girls sneaks it into the grocery cart and I don't see it. But, other than that...this is a treat for them.

Sophia and Olivia each had about a half dozen of the witch hats.

They're simple to make, and the girls both enjoy them.

For the owl theme day, we made a fruit owl. The owl's body is half a pineapple. The wings are apple slices, the feet are limes, the eyes and beak are oranges with blueberry centers, and the outline is strawberries and cherries.

The girls were happy with how the owl turned out. The fruit was delicious too.

On vampire day, we made homemade pizzas. Sophia and Olivia were hungry, so they just wanted to make pizza the normal way. Olivia made hers with pepperoni and cheese.

Sophia had some pepperoni, vegetables, and cheese.

Because it was vampire day, I took a bit of time and made a vampire-shaped pizza.

We weren't sure what the pizza would look like after it was baked, so we took a before and after picture.

After we ate pizza, we made caramel apples for dessert.

I had sliced apples, and the girls added melted caramel, chocolate chips, and chopped peanuts on top.

The more caramel, the better. 

We even added sprinkles for some color and Halloween spirit.

On the candy corn theme day, we made a healthy snack. The bottom layer of the fruit salad is pineapple. The next layer is mandarin oranges; and then whipped cream covers the fruit salad.

On the pumpkin theme day, which we've done quite a bit in the past on, we simply went to a local pumpkin patch. Our pumpkins didn't produce anything this year which was frustrating.

The pumpkin patch we went to was picked over, but the owner said if we could find anything in the field we could have it for free.

The girls ran throughout the field looking for pumpkins.

We ended up finding about a half dozen pumpkins which surprised us.

Although we didn't carve them this year (neither of the girls wanted to do that), we did put them out by the gate so that is the first thing we see.

On Halloween, we volunteered to help at the nursing home. When we arrived, we saw Annabelle and her daughter dressed as the Good Witch (Glenda) from the Wizard of Oz and her daughter as the Wicked Witch of the West.

There was a costume contest which the girl participated in.

I sat with John and tabulated all the voting sheets that the seniors filled out. They were supposed to vote for one person whose costume they liked. Some of the seniors understood this, while others voted for lots of different people. Apparently they really liked the costumes.

Everyone who was in costume had their picture taken together.

Around dinner time, the girls got into their costumes again. Olivia was a princess.

She found a dress that fit her perfectly at a fraction of the cost of a costume which was great! She and Sophia thought it looked like a shorter version of Belle's dress from Beauty and the Beast.

Sophia went as a vampire complete with the makeup and pointy teeth.

It seems like such a long time since Sophia dressed as princesses and Olivia dressed as a lion and giraffe. Time goes by so quickly.

We went to the fire station which sponsored - along with Lions and a local church - dinner. There were hot dogs, chips, cookies, and hot chocolate.

There were games that the girls played before we headed out.

Our first stop was the cafe which was transformed into a haunted house.

Some of the decorations danced and sang.

After that we went to the senior cottages, another nearby town, and then back to homes in our neighborhood.

All in all, we had a great Halloween season. 

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