All Hallows Eve

Today’s tradition has it’s origins roughly 2,000 years ago during the time of Celts who celebrated their New Year on November 1st. The celebration was known as Samhain. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.  They would extinguish their woodstoves, light huge bonfires, and burn crops and animals as sacrifices. They would don costumes and masks – which were often animal heads. After the celebration they would relight their woodstoves from the sacred bonfire to protect them through the dark, cold winter.

By 43 A.D.  the Romans had conquered most of the Celtic territory and began incorporating their own celebrations. They would celebrate the passing of the dead in late October. On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III opened the celebration to honor all saints as well as martyrs and moved it from May 13 to November 1. All Saints Day was also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day). The night before it, the traditional Celtic celebration, became known as All Hallows Eve. Which is where we get today’s name of Halloween.

Some theorise that Halloween lost its appeal to death and ghosts in Protestant, Colonial New England. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.

New immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped popularize the celebration of Halloween. Combining Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

As for the history of the Jack-O-Lantern you can read the story of Stingy Jack (it’s a very short one). It was named after the will-o’-the-wisp or a jack o’lantern that is the phenomenon of strange light seen flickering over peat bogs. People hollowed out pumpkins, turnips, or potatoes to imitate this light. Some believed it warded off the evil spirits associated with the celebrations of this time of year.

Therefore, as tradition proclaims, we have carved our pumpkins (their own designs) and will be trick-or-treating this evening. Thor and Captain America will collect treats and Mom and Dad will invoke the “parent tax” and help them eat it.

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I don’t have a picture of Crash and Bang in their costumes yet, but I do have one of my brother and nephew. It’s a classic.


The Force is strong with them.


SuNdAy ShArE

Tomorrow is Halloween. For us anyway. For my brother and his family in S. Korea (and every one else on the other side of the world) it’ll be Halloween in just a few minutes. We are about to carve our jack-o-lanterns.

Can you guess what tomorrow’s post will be about?

If you guess butter crackers, you’re wrong. Guess again.

So while you’re sitting around, eating the Halloween candy you’re suppose to hand out tomorrow, here are a few good blogs (and one youtube).

Oh. Did you see the Google Doodle today? It’s a pretty fun game. I made it to level 4 with 25,280 points before the ghosts got me.

Back to School Margaret
Good in the classroom…

A Momma’s View
The point of being human…

Unite and Inspire
Be who you are…

Pencils and Purpose
Students reading? And liking it…

Green Grapes
Find your silver lining…

Crash and Bang try to lick their elbow…
(ignore the big, stupid banner)


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Meet And Greet – Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Niki from “Niki’s Thoughts – A Texan’s View of Upstate New York” has shared a great group of bloggers. Check ’em out!

A Texan's View of Southern Missouri

Meet and Greet

The day is here! So here are a few rules/tips to get the most out of the Meet & Greet this Halloween week:

  • Leave a comment with your favorite Halloween memory you have, of either your childhood, or your own kids? Any fun traditions or costumes?
  • Leave a link to your blog, or a specific post.  Write a little something explaining what your blog tends to be about.
  • If you have a link of someone else’s blog or post, feel free to share that in the comment as well.
  • And share this post! Re-blog, tweet, pin, whatever you feel like doing! The more visitors there are, the more participation there will be, and the more exposure there is to all of these great bloggers.
  • And last, but not least, check out these great posts from fellow bloggers!
  1. Questions I Asked My Parents (ep 2)
  2. The Point Of Being Human Ellen Style…
  3. Danish Oatmeal Buns…

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Questions I Asked My Parents (ep 2)

Today is your lucky day folks. Since I didn’t get around to posting the boys answers yesterday I thought I’d give you a double dose. My parents have graciously answered 10 more questions for me. Enjoy a look back and a good laugh!

1. What is something you like to do now that Brad and I are not longer living at home?

Ma: There isn’t much. I’d prefer to have you back home. But here’s one. I can shower with the bathroom door open.
Pa: eating snacks like potato chips then going to bed without being asked “whats you been eating ?” by a little one. Then there’s relaxing on the couch without worrying about my eyes drying out from an errantly thrown sock.

2. What was it like where you grew up?

Ma: Pittsburgh & Frostburg are the same but different. They both get bunches of snow. Frostburg is a small college town and the area of Pittsburgh that I lived in has a small town feel. I loved both.
Pa: really rural, lots of room to roam outside and wander safely in the woods.

3. What did you like to watch on TV as a kid?

Ma: Saturday morning was Roy Rogers. At 5 years old I quit dance lessons because they were the same time as Roy.
Pa: Sci-Fi the World Beyond  , The Outer Limits & the Twilight Zone  then cartoons like Bugs unny, Road Runner & Popeye. But I shouldn’t forget the Orioles too.

4. Do you remember a favorite costume Brad and I wore? That you wore?

Ma: Favorite costume has to be the crayons. I have no idea what I wore as a child.
Pa: You both were crayons. Me? Well there is a little known story where my mom claims I dressed as a girl when I was around 8 yrs old, marched in a Halloween parade and won a silver dollar ( I think I sort of remember that so it could be true ) and since I like silver dollars that would be my favorite.


5. Which pet was your favorite? Why?

Ma: Mackie is my favorite. As a pup he chose me as opposed to the other way around. He was always happy.
Pa: Mackie – We went to look at a group of puppies and he came out of the bunch like he wanted us, especially mom. After that he grew into a take charge little guy, would kill snakes and birds and even had a yellow lab scared of him but he was always a loving sole.


Crash and Mackey (Dec. 2008)

6. What is your dream vehicle?


Ma: An old Jeep or a luxury SUV
Pa: A Time Machine

7. How did you two meet? What was your first date like?

Ma: I met Dad at his surprise birthday party that his roommate threw for him.  We didn’t start dating until after Dad graduated so we did long distance dating which doesn’t lead to normal first dates.
Pa: College, my birthday party.

8. What was your favorite thing about college?

Ma: My friends & Dendrology class
Pa:  learning to make new friends and be on my own (remember I was 1 of 7 kids)


(I Googled it for you. They were both forestry majors) 

9. What was your first regular paying job? How old were you and how much did you make?

Ma: Thrift Drugstore cashier, I was 17 and I couldn’t begin to tell you what I earned.
Pa: cutting grass and trimming hedges at the Daffin House (it is a historic house built around 1780), probably about $ 1.00 per hour (more than enough , I was 12 and rode my bike to work )

10. Where was your favorite place to take my brother and I?

Ma: As wee ones, the beach; Older, sporting events. I loved watching you both play and enjoyed friends in the stands.
Pa: Gettysburg, little league games & wrestling tournaments , Dairy Queen (just let your Canadian friends know that was an ice cream place)

(Don’t worry Canada, I’ll let him know we have DQ here, too. There is even one right here in our little town)

Update: I asked my dad where he’d go in his time machine. This was his response…

a couple of times actually

1. exactly who built the pyramids and how
2. exactly how big were dinosaurs 
3. maybe the day before the rain started falling on Noah
4. did they really feed christians to the lions
5. watch babe ruth play baseball
6. Battle of Gettysburg
7. Catch a ride on the Mayflower
8. and of course go back to your sophomore year wrestling tournament and suggest you let your opponent up and give up 1 point instead of giving up a reversal and 3 back points. (this is in reference to a wrestling match I lost in the final few seconds. Been playing the “I shoulda” game ever since.)


Thanks for playing along Ma and Pa! Love you bunches!


Questions I Asked My Kids (ep. 27)

I got the video for this recorded yesterday evening. However, the editing process hasn’t gone as planned. Needless to say I’m a bit frustrated. Oh well.. it is what it is…

But you didn’t come here to hear about my woes. You came here for a smile and a laugh. Without further ado here is your smile and laugh for the day!

1. If you were allowed anything to eat for supper, what would you eat?

Crash: Burgers
Bang:Fish and broccoli
DW: Chocolate

2. Who is your hero?

Crash: You
Bang: Superman
DW: Hubband

3. If you could be any animal, what animal would you want to be?

Crash: Monkey
Bang: Girrafe
DW: a bird

4. If you were to pick your own name, what would you name yourself?

Crash: John
Bang: Kyry
DW: anything but Mom

5. How many kids do you want to have?

Crash: 2 or 3
Bang: 300
DW: Do I have to answer this?

6. What color would you like dad to paint your room?

Crash: Orange, black and white
Bang: Blue
DW: I like it the color it is

7. Can you lick your elbow?

Crash: No I can’t
Bang: No
DW: No and I’m going to try.

8. We just bought a humpback whale, what should we do with it first?

Crash: Ride it while it’s breaching
Bang: take it for a walk in the water
DW: I don’t know

9. What is something Dad always says?

Crash: Get to work, go to bed, pack your backpack, get ready to go
Bang: Go to bed
DW: Luboo

10. What is something mom always says?

Crash: Bad words
Bang: Don’t do that!


My Take On Video Editing

I’m starting to tinker a bit with video editing. You may have noticed the 21 videos I’ve post to YouTube. I have quietly shared a few of them here.

In my tinkering, I’ve been on the hunt for a video editor that does what I can and want it to do. Movie Maker was a good start. However, there is definitely a loss in quality. It also doesn’t do all that I want it to. So I’ve been looking for something better.

I used Microsoft Expressions. It was okay. Bonus is that it was free. But you also get what you pay for. There wasn’t much quality reduction with it. It mostly did what I wanted it to do. But it doesn’t do time lapse. Bummer. I enjoy making time lapse videos.

I used GoPro Studio. It was free. For a while it was doing everything I needed it to do. It ran a bit slow and would crash from time to time, but I could make videos with it relatively easy. It would have to convert videos to GoPro Studio format which took some time before I could even start editing. Then, a couple weeks ago, it started malfunctioning. I’ve tooled around with it trying to get it to work properly again, but it just won’t. I’m not sure if it’s my computer or if it’s just GoPro Studio.

I have used Openshot. Again, it was free. There didn’t seem to be a loss in quality. Like GoPro Studio it ran a bit slow, but it would get the job done. It was okay, but I’m looking for something a little more powerful, a little more professional, a little bit better. Besides, like Microsoft Expressions and Movie Maker, it doesn’t do time lapse.

Update 1 (10/28/2016)
I have now tested Corel’s VideoStudio X9. While it was okay for editing, it wasn’t the greatest. There were some bugs in trying to make a time lapse. There was also a bug when it came time to export it. I kept getting an error that a frame was unreadable. I was not about to go through the whole video to locate each frame that Corel couldn’t read and delete it. After looking up a solution it seemed this problem occurs frequently. I abandoned VideoStudio like rats on a sinking ship after that.

Update 2 (11/6/2016)
I have now tested EzVid, Lightworks, and DiVinci Resolve. Both of them are free. EzVid seemed to be similar to Movie Maker. It was simple, but didn’t provide many features that I’d like use in my videos. I didn’t spend long with this one. Lightworks looked amazing. It was capable of doing everything I wanted it to. However, the learning curve for this program is extremely steep. Just learning how to do the simplest of things took me a while. I used this to edit my latest YouTube video. Quality wasn’t lost. But it was difficult to use. It’s a powerhouse of a free program. DiVinci looked promising. I looked easier to use than Lightworks yet is still a powerhouse of an editor. It was definitely capable of doing everything I want to do with it. However, my computer couldn’t handle it. I have no OpenCL acceleration hardware. Essentially, my graphics card isn’t good enough. If it were good enough it would definitely be my choice of editors. Since it’s not, I’m still looking…

So I tested Adobe’s Premiere Pro through their seven day trial version. It’s like the Lamborghini of video editors. It does WAY more than I need it to. It definitely does have all the features I like. However, with the amount I’m doing, I can’t justify the subscription of $20 a month. That’s $240 a year. I’d rather a one time payment and be done with it.

So I’m currently trying Adobe Premiere Elements. Like it’s big sibling, Pro, the trial version has all the enmities of the full version. However, it sticks a big old banner across your edited videos. That sucks. I guess I’ll keep toying with it to get a better feel for it before I decided what to do. It will cost 1/2 that of a one year subscription for Pro. And it would be a one time payment.


That’s my take on movie editors. Do you edit movies? What do you use? Feel free to let me know down in the comments section.

I do have some idea for a YouTube channel. Might as well share them with all y’all because y’all  are awesome!

  1. I’m thinking of channel that would be a spinoff of this here blog. I’ve been having a blast writing and sharing and hearing from all of you. What if I took this to YouTube to expand upon, give a voice and face to (or voices and faces if DW will get in on the action with me) and reach more viewers.
  2. The other idea I had has to do with books. Children’s books to be exact. I’ve been having a blast reading aloud to the boys. What if read aloud to everyone who wants to listen? Assuming it’s not a breach of copyright, I’d like to show the pictures of the picture books as I narrate them.

If I were to pick one I’d pick the first. It’s more open to creativity. So that’s that…

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging…

I’m Not An Adult. I’m Just A Grown-Up

When you go exploring, you’re never quite sure what to expect. You never quite know exactly what’s going to happen, where you’ll end up, what will happen along the way, what you’ll find.

For me, everything has been an adventure.

Growing up undoubtedly was.
Teaching has been for sure.
My marriage most certainly.
Being dad most definitely.
This blog, too.
There are still plenty more to come.

I may have grown up, but (as DW can testify to) I’m not an adult. I firmly believe in what George Bernard Shaw told us. We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

Perhaps that’s why I can relate so well to Calvin and his best friend Hobbes. Thanks to Bill Watterson for creating these lovable, philosophical adventurers. Now let’s go exploring!



On Cookies and Chance Encounters

Nanny gave the boys some Halloween cookies last weekend. They weren’t your normal cookie though; they were undecorated and came with all the tricks to decorate them yourself. 

I divided the cookies. I divided the icing and sprinkles and candy spheres. Then I let them work  play. And play they did. Bang’s spheres were rolling away and Crash laughed when I told Bang to grab his balls.

I wanted to step in and help. 
I wanted to step in and tell Bang that not all of the icing goes right in the middle.
I wanted to step in get him to spread the icing. 
I wanted to step in and make him decorate the cookies in a recognizable way.

These weren’t my cookies. They weren’t mine to decorate. They contained the mess to the cookie sheets so I kept my sound hole shut. They weren’t yelling at each other. They weren’t fighting over stupid, mundane things. They weren’t annoying each other just for the sake of pissing each other off. They weren’t driving their parents absolutely mental.

They were complimenting each other’s decorations. They were speaking kindly to one another. They were asking politely for what they needed from each other. Afterward they even shared their cookies with each other and with their lucky mom and dad. Bang gave away 2 of his own cookies. OF HIS OWN ACCORD! 

These cookies are magic. I need to buy more of these magic cookies. They tasted pretty good, too. Good enough to eat.

On another note…

DW saw a few postings on FB that there was a whale sighting just five minutes down the road from us (the whale was in the strait, not on the road). We grabbed the kids, grabbed the camera, and took off. There were some porposes playing nearby. Many dozens of them. They were a joy to watch, but they were farther off shore and tough to see clearly. However, it was a chance sighting on several other accounts. We have seen whales in this area before, but they were pilot whales, also called blackfish. This time it was a humpback whale. We were thrilled to see his white fin. You can imagine our surprise then when we saw him breach. He would rocket straight up out of the water, flop over and splash a splash equal to that of Bang in the tub. In DW’s nearly 40 years of living here, she’s never see the likes of a whale breaching in this area. It was amazing to watch as he breached 3-4 more times. DW snapped a few shots, but with the humpback being far away, they turned out blurry. However, a gentleman nearby got some great shots.

©Rob Smith


Sunday Funday Share

Hope everyone is having (or had) an awesome weekend! You are awesome, therefore your weekend was awesome. There. You’ve been told. Now go forth and be awesomer!

Oh. And read these blogs.

Midlife Margaritas
Ugh… it’s never ending!

Scary Mommy
Not  raising a-holes

Who is my favorite today?
What would you say to Jesus if he called?

Where Are Your Pants?
Back in the day we could have nice stuff…

What DO SAHM do all day, anyway?

If you’re tired of reading you can watch my latest YouTubes… Questions I Asked My Kids or our Hike to the 25′ waterfall


Go Ask Your Father: Heaven, Cat’s Bellies, Floating, Bums

It was another rainy Saturday. I wouldn’t mind it but I have this condition that seriously effects me when it rains on the weekend. It’s called “bored kid syndrome”. It flares pretty bad when I try to make them clean. Today, I tried to get them to clean some messes around the house, primarily their toys in the basement. Have your kids ever mooed at you? That’s what the 9 year old does when I ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Like clean something. It’s not a big moo. He just says, “mmmm”. But not the “mmm” one says when biting into the first bite of a chocolate cheese cake. It’s a “mmm” a cow would make without opening its mouth. So I told them they 30 minutes to get it clean and then I’d go down with a garbage bag to clean anything that wasn’t cleaned by them. 20 minutes later the basement was clean and my garbage bag remained empty. 

Is this heaven?

Last weekend was a sad weekend. DW had two aunts (one from her mom’s side, one from her dad’s side) pass away within days of each other. The boys understand death and what it means. When Crash was the age Bang is now he struggled with it. It worried him. It kept him up at night. He’s okay with it now. I was still a bit unsure taking them to the wake. We walk into the funeral home and Bang asks, “Is this Heaven?” It was carpeted, quiet, paintings hanging on the wall. I suppose a 5 year could think he was in Heaven. I prefer to think of heaven as a bakery with books and lots of nature and animals and loved ones. Needless to say, he put a smile on our face and laugh in voice at a time when it was difficult to do either.

What’s the pouch under a cat’s belly?

It’s not a pouch of fat like I get during the winter months. Love handles?  I just called it a pouch. I didn’t know any more than that until tonight. It’s called a “Primordial Pouch”. It’s a layer of protection for when they’re in a fight and the enemy is rabbit kicking. You know when you’re rubbing their belly and they’re loving it. Then suddenly they freak out, grab your hand and shred your arm. Big cats like lions and tigers have a primordial pouch, too. I don’t recommend rubbing their bellies. This pouch also aids in allowing them extend their back legs fully while running. It can store fat should Cat gain too much weight. Like mine does.

Why can’t I float in the bathtub? 

Our backyard holds water during heavy rains. The puddle that forms is really fun to play in. I’ve been known to join the kids (I beat them out there on occassion) during the warm, summer rains. But when the temps drop to 10 I let the kids out on their own. This is how it was the day this question was asked. The boys donned their swim suits and went and spashed in the 50 (F) degree water. 

They came in shivering.

Crash headed to his room for warm, dry clothes. Bang headed to the tub for a warm bath. He filled it unusually high. Enough so he could nearly float. Then he learned about boyancy. He discovered when he breathed in he float up and when he breathed out he would sink. Obviously the air in your lungs causes this. However, there is something else at play when this happens in the tub. The tub is fresh water (even if it’s dirty). This just means it is not salt water. Salt adds weight to water. This means that when an object displaces water (pushes it out of the way to make room for itself) the water it pushes out of the way weighs more and therefore can hold up more weight. Some things, like eggs, sink in fresh water yet float in salt. Try this experiement to see for yourself.

Is inside your bum brown?

God bless Bang at bedtime. We never know what he’s going to ask about. It could be the origins of life, death, or what color the inside of your bum is. I assumed that he connect the color of his poop (which is also the most disgusting thing he and his brother can think of) and the color of his organ. He was surprised when I told him that his colon, which is also called the large intestine, is pink just like the rest of his organs. Actually, it’s more of a reddish-brown. The large intestine is shorter, but wider, than the small intestine. It is the connection from the small intestine to your rectum and anus. No, they’re not brown.Well, not unless you forgot to wipe.