Tuesday 25 November 2014

Why I Love Dinovember

The dinosaurs have come and they are wreaking havoc throughout our house. The kids wake up every morning and I listen - sure enough, "Mommy, it happened again!"

Those naughty carnivores.

It's no secret that we don't include Santa Claus in our Christmas celebrations. I'd express it differently now but my feelings haven't changed. No elf sits on our shelf in December. The Easter Bunny doesn't stop by in the spring. We don't leave notes for or gifts from the Tooth Fairy; when the coin is found, any questions received only a shrug and a wink. For a variety of reasons, these things just don't have a place in our home.

But Dinovember? I'm in love.

I love it because it makes no sense. It's just plain ridiculous fun, the best kind of fun if you ask me. There's no reason behind it, no logic to it, and no lesson to be learned. It's pure silliness, end of story.

I love it because it isn't tied to anything. It isn't associated with any holiday, and it doesn't arrive with the expectation of gifts or candy. You can't buy a Dinovember backpack or a Dinovember hoodie or a Dinovember anything (book aside). It's entirely random, self-directed, and uncommercialized - grassroots, if you will.

I love it because it doesn't try to control anything. There's no threat of a giftless holiday for misbehaviour. The dinosaurs aren't watching and reporting back to someone else. They offer neither explanation for any of life's mysteries nor reward for its milestones. They don't come with a tidy little moral. Nothing. Nada. They just are.

I love it because it can be as simple or as extravagant as you please. Fill the bathroom sink with water so the dinosaurs can have a midnight swim, or cover the entire bathroom in toilet paper and shaving cream. There aren't any accompanying crafts or recipes or printables, no expectations beyond dino mischief in any form of your choosing. Or non-mischief, for that matter - some nights our dinosaurs have proved to be exceptionally helpful.

I just love it.

Now if you'll pardon me, I have some dinosaurs to wrangle.

Saturday 1 November 2014

What I Am Into - October 2014

What I Am Into :: October 2014

Well, another month has come and gone and still I've lacked the use of two hands and a brain to do much writing in this space of mine. All I have to offer in its place is another summary of what we've been into these past weeks. And on we go.

The picture above is a good representation of this month: enjoying the rain. We've been getting together with a few friends to hike with our kids each week, and right now that invariably means hiking in the rain. It's good for the legs and good for soul, but boy, do I ever have to talk myself into going each week. The group has become a nice source of accountability for me, as it is much more difficult to back out of a hike when it means I have to admit to other mothers that I'm simply a wimp when it comes to cold and rain. So I put on my brave face and get us all out there and I've never once regretted it. I mean, just look at the smile on baby girl's face! I'm so glad I didn't miss that moment.

On My Nightstand:

I read Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects early this month. I quite enjoyed Dark Places and absolutely adored Gone Girl, but by the time I finished Sharp Objects, I wished I hadn't picked it up in the first place. The writing was disturbing and graphic in ways that added nothing to the plot. To add insult to injury, I had called the ending quite early on in the book. Just disappointing all around.

For my next book, I wanted something that relied more on actual writing skill than mere shock value, so I picked up Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It was recommended somewhere as being a good option for adults who enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and so far I would agree with that assessment. It is both interesting and enjoyable, but its length and writing style (coupled with my lack of time and sleep) make for a slow read.

I've also started Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and look forward to getting further on in that as well.

On the screen:

Each of my babies has been accompanied by a binge-watch of various TV shows. The boy came paired with Gilmore Girls, while his younger brother arrived along with our glorious introduction to Doctor Who. Baby girl accompanied a brilliantly nostalgic re-watch of the entire Boy Meets World series, and our newest sweet baby has finally given way to Parenthood.

The husband and I had tried to get into Parenthood last year, but never actually got past the pilot episode. During his last stretch of working out of town, though, I quite badly needed a really good distraction and decided to give Parenthood another go. It turns out that it's not an unenjoyable show, it's just not the husband's sort of show. On my own, I love it! I'm currently in the middle of season 4 and it's been the perfect fourth-new-baby-binge-watch pairing.

In My Kitchen:

I thoroughly enjoyed this Greek roasted potatoes recipe, along with some Greek chicken and a Greek salad. It's sounds boringly simple but it was truly one of the highlight meals of my month. Always nice to have a new option on the menu!

The kitchen currently smells like my favourite gingerbread cookies. We baked gingerbread people for All Saints Day today, and tomorrow we'll decorate them for All Souls Day. In a slightly morbid turn of events, the boy cut out a gingerbread head because, as he pointed out, "lots of the saints had their heads cut off." Well, true enough.

In My Memories:

Halloween has always been a bit of an unknown entity in our house. Some years we have avoided it completely, while other years have brought a half-hearted bit of participation. This year I decided, you know what? Forget it. We're going all in. We're going to have fun together and it's going to be great.

And it was. It so was.

We began our evening with my dad's family-famous layered taco dip. He always made this dip for special occasions when I was growing up, so I'm all kinds of nostalgic about it. I swear mine isn't as good as his, but it's more than passable nonetheless. We paired it with Witch's Potion (Coca Cola) and Unfiltered Poison (Sprite), a rare but exciting treat in our house.

As soon as the sun went down, we lit our home-grown carved pumpkins, which we had designed and cut out the night before. The boy drew an appropriately spooky jack o' lantern face, while his younger brother chose the somewhat more difficult route and requested Iron Man.

With dinner taken care of and jack o' lanterns glowing, we moved on to a little family party. We threw marshmallow "flies" into masking tape "spider webs". We turned out the lights and played glow-in-the-dark ring toss. We raced to wrap the kids as toilet paper "mummies", which the boy and I gleefully won while the husband laid down on the floor after making himself sick running in circles around the younger one. We tossed candy into cups. And as a hilarious grand finale, we hung donuts from strings and tried to eat them without the use of our hands. I haven't laughed so hard in a long long time. Just thinking of the four year old twisting around in circles trying to catch that donut in his mouth has me cracking up all over again. Ah, good times.

With the party portion of our evening over, we decided why not, let's go trick-or-treating after all. The boys ran for their knight costumes while baby girl became the most ridiculously adorable dragon in the history of dragons. We walked around our block and you know, it was the first time I had met nearly all of the people in those homes despite living here for a full year now. Interesting.

What I'm Looking Forward to in November:

Forget November, it's Dinovember! The kids were utterly mystified by this morning's breakfast table, where my beloved family calendar had been ruthlessly defaced and surrounded by dinosaurs armed with crayons. No one stepped up to take the blame for the mess, but those dinosaurs had better stay in their bucket tonight...

Well, friends, that is What I've Been Into this past month. What about you?

Linking up to What I'm Into with HopefulLeigh...