In 1988, three businessmen from Arizona traveled to Costa Rica on a fishing trip. During their visit, they learned that the country’s voter turnout is typically around 90 percent. This high turnout was attributed to a tradition of children accompanying their parents to the polls. The men were intrigued by the idea, but also recognized a missing link to education. They launched a school-based pilot project in a Phoenix suburb that has since grown into the national Kids Voting USAorganization.
In the past three presidential elections in the U.S., the percent of US citizens over 18 who voted was: 58.4% (1996), 59.5% (2000), 63.8% (2004). Those numbers are moving in the right direction, but are still nowhere near 90%. Take your kids to vote.
After one unsuccessful attempt to go see the next president of the United States, a coworker convinced me to give it a second try today. I'm so glad he did. After waiting in a 5 city block line for two hours, we actually made it through security to see him. 28,000 other people had the same idea, and I believe we were behind 10,000 of them. The view wasn't great, but how cool is it that 28,000 people showed up midday on a work day in a red state to see this man? Wow! The energy in the crowd was palpable. I think we all felt we were watching history in the making. Even though we were far away, we could hear every word, and as always, Obama energized the crowd.
The line in front of us...
The line behind us...
and the man himself. I added an arrow, so you can find him. Wasn't my view fabulous?
OK, so not so fabulous, but it was still really exciting to be there. How often do you get a chance to see a President (or soon to be one) live and in person?
Friday night was "Pumpkin Palooza" at the public library. The girls had their faces painted, played some games, and went to the Halloween storytime. It was a lot of fun and not nearly as crowded as I thought it might be given it was a free event.
Saturday, we worked on turning our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch into jack-o-lanterns. The girls drew the faces, and I attempted to carve out what they had drawn. I'm not a talented enough pumpkin carver to tackle every detail, but I did the best I could. The girls seemed to be happy with their finished jack-o-lanterns, so I guess I passed that test.
Finally, we toasted pumpkin seeds. It seems like every year I try a different recipe or method for toasting... some with more success than others. This year's technique worked quite well, so I'll pass it along - toasted pumpkin seeds. I'd probably use a little less salt the next time, but they are really quite tasty!
The big screen premiere of the High School Musical franchise, High School Musical 3, hit theaters yesterday. I told the girls they could invite two friends to go to the movie and out to dinner, so our neighbors M and B accompanied us this afternoon. I bought tickets earlier in the week, expecting a sold-out show. The theater was quite full of 5-8 year old girls and their mothers, but not sold out. The kids all loved it. I enjoyed it, but it was not my favorite of the three. Kenny Ortega did an amazing job with the choreography in this one. It definitely scored more points for choreography than the other two. The storyline and music were the same as always - cute, sappy, fun, toe-tapping, and predictable. Disney did a great job keeping with the clean, wholesome dialog and plot which I appreciate. The one negative to me was that with the big screen budget, they went all-out with big screen special effects, fantasy sequences, and over-the-top artsy scenes. I could have done without some of the extra fanfare. All the extra theatrics definitely sets it aside from the previous two made-for-TV movies though, and I'm sure that was probably one of their goals. Goal met.
Anyway, it was all good fun! In attempting to take the picture below, the kids managed to knock over not just one, but two of those cardboard displays. Oops. Notice my girls are both in long sleeves and flip flops? They take after their mother. If there isn't snow on the ground, it is still flip flops weather!
At dinner after the movie, this conversation made it clear to me that my girls are ALL girl. There is no doubt they live in a House of Estrogen.
Me: So, M and B, what are you going to be for Halloween?
M: a black cat
B: Obi-Wan from Star Wars
Elise: Bumpy who?
Nina: Yeah Elise... Opie One!
Perhaps we need to rent a Star Wars movie at some point, just so they aren't completely ignorant when it comes to something as classic as Star Wars. We can't expect them to go through life without at least knowing the background of "May the Force be with you." or "Luke, I am your father." That's just fundamental American culture.
It sounds crazy to say that my cousin was "lucky" that he only ended up with two gunshot wounds by the end of his deployment a couple months ago, but then you watch this clip about his battle group in the Korengal Valley. Truly, lucky he was.
Without getting too political, I just hope that our next president is able to find the resources to give our troops in Afghanistan the support that they need. They really, really need some support.
Thursday night, I hosted my neighborhood bunco group. We have a white board near the front door that Elise uses to work on spelling words. I gave Nina a piece of paper with "WELCOME TO BUNCO!" written on it, and asked her to write that on the board. The photo on the right is the result. Ha! Love it! This age cracks me up the way they don't quite grasp the concept of words and spacing just yet. She had very carefully copied the letters in order exactly as I had written them - just with her own creative layout!
Anyway, back to bunco... I have no idea who created the game, or who decided that every neighborhood in the 'burbs should have a bunco group, but I'd like to thank those people. Bunco is my one night per month when I can always count on a night away from home. J.C. knows better than to mess with my bunco night. If you've never played bunco, it is akin to men's poker night but with wine or margaritas rather than beer, tasty homemade appetizers and desserts instead of pretzels and chips, and dice take the place of cards. There is no skill involved in bunco. If you can roll dice and count, you can play. If the wine keeps you from counting correctly, nobody cares, so even counting isn't a critical skill set. Mostly, it is just a time for moms in the neighborhood to escape the daily grind and come together for fun and conversation under the guise of bunco. We chat about schools, camps, allergies, autism, colleges, vacations, work, and whatever else is might be on our minds that day. My neighborhood group has moms of college graduates, moms of babies, and everything in between. We're all at different stages in life, but being moms gives us common ground, so we're never at a loss for conversation.
Bunco is played at tables of four rotating players, so most bunco groups have 12 to 16 regular players and a list of subs who play when a regular player is unavailable. My poor bunco group has experienced some attrition lately. That's natural for any bunco circle as our schedules change and Thursday nights get filled up with soccer, ballet, or a part-time job, but it usually doesn't take long to fill the empty spot with someone new. I'm a little worried about our numbers right now though as we are down to 9 regular players. I would hate to see my poor bunco group wither away entirely. While bunco isn't an important piece of my life, it is one that I enjoy, look forward to, and would surely miss. I'm hoping my group is just going through a little bump in the road, and we'll soon be back to a full roster with people waiting in the wings for a regular spot to open like we were a couple years ago.
On a lighter note, bunco always has a theme. Thursday's theme was fall and Halloween, so I tried a new recipe for pumpkin pie bars. They received lots of compliments, and I thought they were quite tasty myself. If you're looking for a new fall recipe, give it a try! For a centerpiece on my kitchen island, I found this fabulous bouquet of Pumpkin Tree at Trader Joes. Isn't that cool? Totally festive - I may just plan to keep buying bunches of the stuff from now until Thanksgiving to replenish my vase each week. More fall loveliness!
Today was our annual trip to our favorite pumpkin patch. The girls had a ball playing on the hay mountain, feeding the animals, picking cotton, finding their way through the corn maze, going on a hay ride, and choosing their pumpkins. Fortunately, nobody got lost in the corn maze this year! The weather couldn't have been better, so we all really had a great time! I just love fall. I hate that it indicates the approach of winter, but I do love the fall colors, pumpkin patch visits, pumpkin bread, and yes... of course, the pumpkin spice lattes!