Halloween Movies to Get You into the Spirit

I’m in my room, burning a spiced pumpkin candle, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”  Life just doesn’t get much better.  Megan and I absolutely love fall, and with Halloween fast approaching, there are certain rituals that must be adhered to.   My favorite fall ritual, besides baking apple crisp, pumpkin pie, etc., is watching Halloween movies.  Maybe it goes back to my childhood and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin” when it aired on TV.  It was a special night I looked forward to every year.  I’ve always loved The Peanuts, and still do.  It brings back the warm fuzzies I felt when watching those CBS specials as a child.  So now I own “It’s the Great Pumpkin” on DVD and watch it every year.  I watch it by myself (does that sound pathetic?) but I like to have my nieces over to watch it too.  They are good about humoring me!

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

I remember watching “The Birds” as a kid at our old house.  It was a Saturday afternoon in the fall and I just came across it on TV.  I was in our “hobby room,” which was like a little family room.  It had dark paneling and orange plaid carpet, and it was my favorite room in the house.  Hey, it was built in the 70’s!  Anyway, I watched “The Birds” and got really creeped out.  I didn’t see it again until I bought the DVD a few years ago to show my kids.  I told them how scary it was, how I remembered it.  We brought the movie to my friend Jennifer’s house and our families watched it together (after we dressed up like zombies and played zombie tag).  My kids teased me about how NOT scary it was and Sander said “well, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back,” after watching it.  Sander at 12…..now that’s scary.  I just noticed this year that “The Birds” is based on a book written by Daphne Du Maurier.   She also wrote My Cousin Rachel, which I just read this summer.

Alfred Hitchock's The Birds

Another must-see Halloween movie is Disney’s “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”  I remember watching it as a kid, but Kendal for years has put the movie on for the kids after trick-or-treating.  “Hocus Pocus” is a favorite too….it will get you into the Halloween spirit.  My girls grew up watching the “Halloweentown” movies on Disney channel and Manon says it’s not Halloween until she’s watched it.  Movies like these are a fun part of childhood, or in my case, adulthood!

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

My daughter Marek loves Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, so last year we saw “Boo!  A Madea Halloween” at the theater.  It was hysterically funny.  The sequel comes out in a few days and we can’t wait to see it.  So whatever your fall and Halloween traditions, make sure you include a few movie nights.  Pop popcorn, make treats, light a candle, invite friends over, and watch a Halloween movie.  Or if you’re like me and your kids won’t watch them with you, watch them alone or invite your nieces over.  Enjoy the season because Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!


What’s your favorite Halloween movie?

Fall Barn Party

Fall barn party
















Fall Barn Party

Last week, we had a barn party.  We had been talking about having one for three years now and decided that this was the year.  A picture in a Country Living magazine of a table set up with hay bales for chairs in the main aisle of a barn was the inspiration for our party.  We started working on it a week before so we didn’t have to do everything the last minute.  B-u-t, we still had a ton to do and were busy running around getting everything done right up until guests arrived.  Of course.  That just seems to be how we roll.  And we couldn’t ask the horses to quit pooping for a week, so what’s a girl (or two) to do!

Beautiful hydrangeas from mom’s yard made the perfect decorations
The barn all decked out and spider web, manure, and almost dust free!

Also, since it was set for September 23rd, we thought it would be perfect fall weather, and a perfect way to celebrate the beginning of the season.  So we envisioned cool, crisp air and thought a soup bar would be an easy way to feed a lot of people.  Wrong.  Mother Nature did not cooperate at all!  It was 90 degrees and hotter than heck.  Who would have thought?!  We sure didn’t, since that kind of weather is extremely rare in the summer here in Michigan, let alone late September.

The chalkboard wasn’t big enough to list everything on the menu!

Well, all week we swept, vacuumed, dusted, knocked down cobwebs, strung lights (zillions!), hauled tables and chairs, decorated, and followed behind the horses with a manure rake to pick up every little poop (okay, not quite, but almost).  All while we sweated our bras off and wondered if it would all be worth it.  And despite the heat, it surely was.  For one, the barn was cleaner than our houses last weekend.

wheelbarrow with mums and pumpkins
An old wheelbarrow is the perfect container for mums and pumpkins


Fynn and one of the barn cats

Fall Barn Party

We also had a great turnout!  It was so fun hosting the party at the barn with the horses being nosy and hanging out by the fence checking everything out.  Adults and kids alike enjoyed each other’s company visiting with one another and eating lots of good food.  We made six different soups that were all delicious…chili, taco soup, stuffed green pepper soup, cheesy potato, chicken noodle, and white chicken chili.  We had bread, cornbread, cheese, and crackers.  And between us, Kendal, and our mom, we had a huge dessert table!  Mom made peanut butter fudge and Kendal made apple crisp.  Mardi made sweet and salty Chex mix, almond bars, scotcheroos, sugar cookie bars, and pecan pie bars.  Megan made monster cookie bars, smore’s brownies, and southern pecan praline cake.  We also had some friends bring dessert, too!  It was like dessert heaven!

Fall Barn Party
The bales were a little low…but it just made us all feel like kids!
Manon and Jenna enjoying the hay ride!
More Hay Ride Fun!

We set up a craft table outside for kids, which stayed busy pretty much the whole night.  The older boys played football and the older girls helped out with the little kids.  Chris drove the tractor and gave hayrides through the woods and down the road.  And once the sun went down, we were all much more comfortable.  The trees down the drive were lit up, as well as the inside of the barn, and it just looked so pretty.  We clipped hydrangeas from our mom’s yard and they made the prettiest centerpieces, especially since they were free!  A clipped branch from the woods strung with fairy lights provided decoration for the food tables, along with little baskets of apples and cattails.  Cornstalks adorned the barn inside and out.  And the string lights hanging from the ceiling provided just enough light to keep it festive.  I wish we had beautiful pictures to show you all, but we were so busy visiting that we failed to get great shots.  You’ll just have to use your imagination, as these pictures just don’t do it justice.

Colin wants to make a craft, too! He stayed by the fence all night, trying to join the festivities.
Bryce giving Baby Rye some love.
Milla having fun helping out with our little guests
Can’t beat a good old-fashioned hay ride!

Whew!  You probably weren’t interested in all of the little details, so forgive us.  We are just having fun reliving it, especially since it might never happen again!  Okay, we’re joking…we loved it.  We just haven’t quite forgotten how much work it was yet!  Give us a year!

Fall Barn Party
After the party

Fall Barn Party

Fall Barn Party

In case you are interested in any of the recipes we used, see below for links to any we used online.

No-flour Monster Cookie Bars by Together as Family make a whole jelly roll pan, so they are great for a crowd!

Fudgy S’mores Brownies by Mandy’s Recipe Box…I cheated and used a brownie mix, but they were still delish!

Southern Pecan Praline Cake by The Country Cook uses a cake mix, so easy peasy!

The Best Pecan Pie Bars

The Best Pecan Pie Bars by Rockrecipes.com


Almond Bars by Sometimeshomemade.com

The Best Sweet Cornbread from thegirlwhoateeverything.com

And stay tuned for a post on the soup recipes we used, since soup season is finally here…even if it wasn’t the day of the party!

Thanks for reading to the end, friends!  Happy Fall to you all!

Megan and Mardi

Grateful at Graduation

Sunday, June 4th was a really big day for my family.  My oldest child graduated from high school and my Dad was the commencement speaker.  It was amazing!  My Dad was part of the first graduating class of Oakridge High School in 1967, 50 years ago.  I graduated from Oakridge in 1992, 25 years ago.  Then on June 4th, my daughter Marek graduated from Oakridge.  I was so proud to have my Dad speaking at my daughter’s graduation, my buttons were bursting.  It was a blessed day for sure.

My Dad’s speech was phenomenal of course, but not just because I’m his daughter and I’m partial.  In it, he told of his eventual career path.  He didn’t know what he wanted to do for a living until he was almost 30.  At 25, he quit a secure, relatively good paying job to find something more fulfilling.  Already married to my Mom and having a sweet, beautiful baby (me), he took quite a risk.  His friend from high school suggested he try the metal casting industry, which he fell in love with.  Together he and Wayne started a company called Eagle Alloy, and the rest is history.

The speech encouraged all students, not just those with stellar grades.  He knows from being an employer that good grades are not an automatic guarantee for success.  Hard work is the common denominator.  My favorite part of the speech is the closing.  Instead of paraphrasing, I’ll quote the last paragraph:

“But there will come a time- faster than you think- when you will begin to reflect on the many good things in your life, the gifts your creator gave you to better your life, and I hope that a growing sense of gratitude will lead you to begin to think about how you can give back to your community:  helping others in many ways, those who could never pay you back.  For no matter how well you do, the satisfaction of being a benefit to your community and to raise up others around you is an incomparable feeling.  That feeling is the true measure of success.”

Do you see what I mean?  It’s really great, isn’t it?  Not only are Megan and I blessed to have a hardworking, successful father, he is a humble, godly man who is generous beyond measure.  Megan and I are truly blessed in the family department, both in our own and our husbands’ families.  As a matter of fact, Megan is blessed with the best sister ever….

Anyway, Marek’s graduation was a day to cherish and remember.  As for having a daughter graduated, that’s a whole other blog post, er subject.


Prayer for Siblings

 Oh my gosh!  I caught my kids doing something amazing!  It was so amazing that I grabbed my phone and told my husband I had to get outside quick and get a picture.  My heart started racing, worrying that I wouldn’t get the picture in time.  The moment could end any second!  What were they doing, you must be wondering.  They were playing basketball together and getting along!  All. THREE. of. them.  Amazing.  Maybe you find it sad that I was so excited about such a simple thing.  Maybe all of your children do those kinds of things on a regular basis.  Well, I’m being totally transparent here and admitting it doesn’t happen very often at my house.  My girls get along and play together often.  In fact this morning at church, they were sitting next to each other with Fynn’s head resting on big sister’s shoulder, while Milla rubbed Fynn’s arm.  It was the sweetest thing!  But Kimball, who is 13, doesn’t often join in…not that I blame him.  And when he does, it often ends bad.  Three is just not a good number sometimes, especially when one out of three is a boy who likes to play rough.  But today he was encouraging his sisters and coaching them along as they played PIG.  He was even giving second chances at shots…which he NEVER does for his mom!  I did get a couple pics, but they weren’t very good.  I didn’t want to interrupt the wonderful thing happening.

So why am I sharing this?  I just was so thankful for that moment.  It did my heart good to see my oldest embracing his role as a big brother.  I thanked God for allowing me to witness this precious gift.  It gives me hope that maybe I’m doing something right.  That maybe they will grow up loving each other and appreciating their siblings after all.  And it made me realize that I don’t pray for that enough.  After a little searching, I found Colossians 3:13 &14, which perfectly sums up what both God and I desire for my kids.  Funny how His word always says it best!