Sunday, November 2, 2014


October has traditionally been one of my favorite months--the weather turns cooler and crisper, the leaves start slipping into their Fall hues, pumpkin-flavored delights abound in the stores and restaurants...and then there's always Candy Day (um..."Halloween") to anticipate. This was our first October in NC, and the month just seemed to pick up steam as it rolled along. Some of the highlights:

--We attended our first Neighborhood Picnic. And I don't just mean the first one HERE--the first one EVER. In our previous location, we weren't actually in a "neighborhood" per se, and there was no Homeowners' Association to throw these kinds of shindigs. So it was an exciting "meet the street" kind of opportunity for us...well, mostly for yours truly. You see, the boys already had friends, from school and soccer, of course. And Husband is a very...shall we say "outgoing"...individual, so he had made a point to stop and talk to people any time he was wandering the area on foot. Me? I felt more comfortable waiting for the Official Social Gathering to introduce myself, rather than...accosting people in their driveways. So now at least I know the folks in my immediate's a start!

--The first marking period came to a close for my Middle and High Schoolers. And all I have to say about that is: 1 down, 3 to go! No, that wasn't it...oh yeah, what I meant was: after all the angst about the 7-point grading scale, and getting Derek's classes right, and some early difficulties with the High School Math and Spanish curriculums...I'm pleased to report that it all worked out fine, grade-wise. (And you'll note that all of that had to do with the 9th far 6th grade has been a relative breeze....knocking on wood...) So, bring on quarter 2!

--Then there's that sweet holiday to close out the altogether festive month. I noticed at the very beginning of October that decorations started appearing on houses and in yards. It quickly became apparent that people put in a great deal of effort to celebrate Halloween around here. In Maryland, I used to have some lights that I would use on the porch...but I eventually stopped, because we lived at the end of a loooong cul-de-sac, and our trick-or-treat visitation level was somewhat...pathetic. Basically, the only kids who would venture all the way down to our house were those who lived further up the same road, and knew us personally. But in our new neighborhood, I expected big things--maybe even...(dare I hope?) crowds of revelers!

So, inspired by my absolute favorite dressed-up house--the one with inflatable eyeballs hanging in a tree, a gigantic blowup spider whose head actually moves side-to-side, and the absolute crowning touch...skeletons driving the ancient VW bus they have permanently parked next to the garage...and all of it lit with colored, flashing strobe lights--I decided to at least do a little something to get in the spirit. (Ha! I promise, for once the pun was unintentional.) Thus we ended up with a glowing spiderweb above the front door, strings of bat-and-mummy-shaped lights, a tombstone on the porch, and not one, but FOUR pumpkins on the steps. Satisfied with my design, I then proceeded to buy the jumbo bag of assorted candy bars from Costco, and await the celebrants.

Meanwhile, we had a different situation on our hands--Riley requested to go out trick-or-treating with a group of his classmates. What's so odd about that? Nothing...except that neither of the boys has bothered to go door-to-door for YEARS. But I supposed there's something about the irresistible lure of a pack of...11-year olds...that sucked him in. So I drove him over to his friend's house--HQ for Operation Sugar--and...set him loose on their neighborhood. Then it was back to Casa WestEnders to prepare for our own visitors...and they came! We actually got to enjoy some clever costumes, give away handfuls of candy, and totally get caught up in the atmosphere of Halloween fun--highly satisfactory.

Finally, to round out what had already been an enjoyable evening, the family across the street was throwing a party--adults and kids all invited. (In fact, it represented our very Chapel Hill : ) Leaving the remainder of the sweets on the porch with a note to "help yourself", we headed over to the fiesta on foot....with our brand new next-door couple, who had literally just moved in a few days prior. Husband took it upon himself to include them, since they hadn't been here in time to receive the electronic summons. (And, well, that's just Husband...did I mention he was quite the gregarious individual?) Anyway, they showed up to accompany us, offering plastic glasses of wine for the trek. (Oh yeah, we like them already!) Immediately the boys disappeared with their buddies--showing up periodically to grab food or a beverage, so we at least knew they were still there. And after that, there were just hours and hours of more people to meet and chat with, much laughter...refills of wine...etc.

Well, there were always reasons to feel fond of October, but I think this most recent one has to be considered even more awesome than the norm. And from here, of course it only gets better, as we can now officially start counting down to Turkey (Tofurkey?) Day. Okay, November, you've been issued a challenge: just do your best to try and top the 10th month...go!

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