Saturday, September 29, 2012

To dress up or not dress up? The Halloween question.

That is the question.

Growing up, one of the favorite "holidays" in our household was Halloween.  What better time of year for my mom to use her most clever creativity to display for all the town to see and for her children and nieces and nephews to win ribbon after ribbon at costume competitions.  I remember many freezing cold nights waddling around in some crazy costume.  I loved it and hated it at the same time!  Most often the costumes were extremely uncomfortable and yet SUPER cute.  I was a Christmas tree, a snail, a crayon...etc.  My mom's costumes were the best.

Josh's family, however, was the complete opposite.  Josh has never dressed up for Halloween or gone trick or treating.  His family would celebrate "harvest" either on another night, or on Halloween night and play lots of fun silly games as a family.  They would usually do something special during that time, but just not trick or treating.

When Josh and I got married and started our own family, we both agreed to stay away from Halloween as we felt that it had too much history with the dark and demonic.  Our kids have never been trick or treating or dressed up on Halloween for a parade.  We typically have kept them out of school for the day of the Halloween parade as they don't have costumes.  Like Josh's family, we try to make them not feel like they are completely missing out on tons of fun and would spend the day at Funspot and/or watch a movie.

Our kids have had many awkward conversations with strangers (usually at stores) when asked "are you excited for Halloween?" or "what are you dressing up as?".  They usually just smile and say "I don't know".  It definitely had them asking "Why?" to us.  Our answer was plain and simple as we tried to explain the history of Halloween to them, and really, they seemed to understand and not really argue the issue too much.    It was a topic of discussion for a few weeks out of the year and then forgotten quickly.

Over the years though, October has brought the discussion between Josh and I.  We both really felt that it was important to really understand the history of Halloween, especially as our answers weren't really enough for the kids as they were getting older.

We started really questioning why we avoid this time of if to be afraid of it.

In doing research on the origin of Halloween we have found nothing but conflicting history.  The story is different depending on region and religion.  A similar story, but yet one that that is not completely conclusive.

Regardless of the history though, on thing that God has been laying on both of our hearts is the fact that we want to be a "light" in our community and really try to be this on a daily basis.  We are active in our community in many area's.  With that in mind, we found it quite silly to be shutting off our lights and "hiding" on the one night of the year when they entire community comes knocking at our door!

In addition to this, people consider Halloween a demonic holiday.  And yes, this is true for many, but why should we as Christians hide from this and allow this to continue to be a demonic day?  As Christians, we do not need to be afraid of this.

Coming to this conclusion has been a process over a few years.  Last year was the first year that we kept our lights on and actually had candy to give to any trick or treaters that might show up.  We had one...and the kids were super excited to hand out some candy.  (and I was excited to have left overs:)  But, we felt better about things already and felt like we weren't shutting ourselves off, even if nobody came here.

This year, we decided to go ahead and let the kids dress up for the parade at school.  We will definitely have some great candy to share at our house and plan to join much of our community and attend Meredith's "Trick or Eat"..which is an awesome community fundraiser to raise money for the "Got Lunch" program.  This will be another opportunity for our kids to wear their costumes.  Will our hearts be thinking about death and demons during this time?  No.  Will we be actively involved and opening our doors to the community?  Yes.

Of course, this all is a matter and decision that we have made as a family over time.  We are not judging other families who continue to choose not to participate in the activities of this season.

Ultimately, we know many friends and family (and teachers) who have known our family for years and who know that we have not participated in Halloween.  I hope that this explains our "change of heart" in a way that makes it clear that we aren't just 'getting lax' or giving in to the desires of our kids, etc.

...and with this change, comes a VERY excited NANA who now get's to bust out her mad costume designing skills for her grandkids.  As much as she respected our family's decision over the years, a big part of her wanted to secretly dress my kids up and take them trick or treating.  She didn't do this.  I don't think:)

...and for fun, here's a little of my mom's handy work:)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Ok! Ok!

The challenge is on.  A challenge to post on the blog at least once a week.  I really don't have anything specific to blog about right now, but I suppose a little family update won't hurt!

Our family is back in full swing of the fall season..back to school and sports.  We are actually taking it 'easy' this season with only Jessalyn and Ethan playing soccer.  Luke and Owen are skipping out on a sport until basketball season.

The start of school has been a pretty seamless transition.  Jessalyn has been enjoying 6th grade very  much.  She loves her teachers (has one for math and science and another for reading and social studies).  Both of her teachers are energetic and fun which fits her personality well.

Ethan seems to really like his 4th grade class.  He had a great time during the "hawk watch" where they get to go out and watch and research the different types of hawks in our area.  He is enjoys having a few of his good buddies (including neighbor Owen for the first time ever) in his class.  He's loving soccer and has scored two goals so far (in 3 games).

Luke is not as much of a fan of school at all, but is doing very well in 2nd grade.  He really would rather stay home and be near less people and not have to be social, but somehow he manages to pull of being one of the sweetest and kindest kids in the class (according to his teachers).  In his class they get these cool, colorful, smooth stones for good behavior and he comes home with pockets full on some days.  We are using them to fill up a clear glass vase that sits on the piano.  I wonder how long it will take him to fill it up?!

Owen's first day of kindergarten was funny.  While many of the kids were attached to parents legs and scared and nervous, Owen was like "see ya" and ran on the playground like he owned the place.  It definitely helps that he has grown up in and out of this school with all his older siblings..and it helps that many people know him as well.  He is LOVING school and hates that he only gets to go for a half day.  He counts down the minutes every morning and eagerly heads out the door to get there.  I haven't heard any bad reports on behavior...and I was a little worried as he can be a very silly boy.  So far so good...I think!

Truett get's to be home with me by himself for the afternoons.  It's very quiet.  There are days when we get to get down on the floor and play and other days when we get to snuggle on the couch and nap together.  Other days he gets to do the napping and I get to do things like fold laundry, clean the bathroom and/or cook dinner in complete peace and quiet.  I can't handle the quiet for too long...but those few hours in the afternoon are quite enjoyable!

Josh has been working hard at the Church.  While his schedule is most definitely more flexible, and I can have him whenever I need him (mostly)...we still find that our schedule is equally as crazy.  I honestly can't remember the last time he took a full day off for just him.  Sure, he's not out busting his butt on trucks, but it seems like every single day of the week and most evenings, he is busy with something Church related.  It's a lifestyle job for sure and one that we are definitely called too and one that we are enjoying.  We feel like we are right where we are supposed to be and are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.  It's funny because we have felt this same feeling since we've lived here in Meredith and also funny to see how that 'call' has changed and developed into where we are now.  We are looking forward to seeing how it will continue to develop!

I am just doing the usual..trying to keep up with my crazy family.  We have been doing well with a nice morning routine that allows us to all be ready for the day in time for school without (much) stress and hurry.  I get most of my household chores done before breakfast it seems!  It is still a challenge to fit everything that I want into a day though and it took me a while to figure out exactly why.  I realized that this is how I feel every other year, when I have a half day kindergartener.  That half day drop off really does split the day up just enough that it seems like time goes by SUPER fast.  It's hard to get into a project and feel like I have enough uninterrupted time to get it done.  I'll figure it out though, as I adjust to this specific schedule.  I'm grateful that Josh is able to do the morning drop off..and can do mid day and afternoon as well if I needed him too.  We are eating almost exclusively out of the crock pot these days..which we all LOVE.  I have taken on a few photo shoots for people but really have to keep that to a minimum as my time is quite limited. It seems that I only really have time for 3 or 4 photo shoots per season.

I think that's about it for an update on me and my immediate family:)  We truly are enjoying life with all of it's craziness!