Saturday, November 19, 2016

Norwegian Elkhound's First Snow

New video!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Foster Care Meeting 5 & 6

Class five and six were definitely easier classes, but they were also very important.

In class five, we learned about the biological parents. After talking so much about figuring out what was going on in children's minds, we were turning our attention to the "abusers" and "neglectors."

However, after talking about asking "why are they doing this," in relation to the children, it was pretty easy for me to transfer that same thought process toward the parents.

First, the instructor showed us a picture of a very messy home. He asked us to try and look at it in a positive way. Instead of finding things to scorn and find concerning, he asked us to look for positive areas in the home. Our job was to figure out what the parent was doing right, so we could work from there. We were also supposed to try and think of the best possible reasons that the house might be in that condition.

He explained that he had been to some extremely disgusting homes when he first became involved in the foster care program, and he had motioned to the mess around him and asked the parents, "What are we going to do about this?"

The parents would look at him with very obvious confusion and say, "About what? You should have seen my mother's house. Mine looks great compared to hers."

A lot of time, they simply don't know that there is a better way. If we are going to work with them, we need to find the good things that they are accomplishing so we can support, love, and care for them.

Some of the notes I took during this meeting, consisted of the following:

  • We need to think "why are they doing this? or why are they acting this way?" instead of "How dare they do this!" toward the parents.
  • If there is a cause for behaviors in children, why isn't there a cause for adults?
  • Never say anything bad about bioparents, especially in front of their children. If the kid wants to talk negatively about their parents, listen and validate their feelings, but don't encourage. 
  • We need to help parents get in a state where they think, "I can do that." Overwhelmed parents are not thinking parents. Don't be fearful, invite and aid. 
  • Try and see things from bioparent's perspective. They are living in the moment. They can't see the big picture, or waste time thinking about the future.
It was really interesting to think about things from a different perspective. We had entered this program to help children in need. I had never even thought about helping their families. However, as we watched some videos of parents who had previously had children in foster care, I realized how important it is that we don't give up on the children's parents too. 

A lot of these parents are no more than children in adults bodies still living in survival mode and struggling with their own abuse and trauma. They need the help as much as their children do. Instead of turning our backs on them and dismissing them as "failures," we need to be their support and encourage the progress they are making.

The instructor talked about how, especially with parents who are on drugs, that the trauma of having their children removed can send them spiraling even deeper into their addiction. By the time they finish the grief cycle, time is almost up (they have a year to prove to the judge that they are making substantial progress.) Often these parents will look at all the things that they are supposed to do and the amount of time they have left, and they will just give up. 

Reunification is the BEST option, if it is safe and possible. We need to treat these parents like human beings and have more empathy for what they are going through. I hope that we'll be able to help a lot of parents and children become reunited and functional.

In class 6, we talked about Managing Emotions & Behaviors and the Effects of Caregiving. In other words, this was the discipline class.

Grig and I had both been looking forward to this class, because we were hoping that it would help us with disciplining our three year old. It was somewhat gratifying to realize that we were already doing a lot of the things that he explained to us. 

For example, a while ago, we were trying to figure out how to help Kevin's reactions. He would start screaming when he didn't like something, and would become physical. We were at a loss, when suddenly it hit me that we could try role-playing. So, when something happened, and he reacted in a way that we didn't like, we would stop and practice the situation in a positive manner a couple more times. 

So it would go like this: 

Random friend: Kevin's Mom, Kevin is blocking the slide!
Kevin: *gives a grumpy and stubborn face*
Me: Kevin, would you like it if your friends wouldn't let you go down the slide?
Kevin: *grunts and doesn't respond*
Me: Would that make you happy?
Kevin: No.
Me: Okay, let's practice. You pretend to block me, and I'm going to ask you to stop. 
Kevin: *stands in front of me with arms stretched out*
Me: Please move, Kevin.
Kevin: Okay. *He moves out of the way*
Me: My turn. Now I'm going to block you.
Kevin: Please move out of my way.
Me: Very good! Let's try again!

It's been working really well for us, and has helped to teach him how he should react in those situations. He's been a lot easier to work with. You can't just tell a child how to stop a behavior, they have to have something to replace that behavior.

There are also some that we definitely need to work on, but overall, I don't think we are doing too badly as parents. 

Here are some of my notes from the discipline class:
  • Effective discipline is more concerned about stopping future behaviors, instead of current behaviors
  • Offer reasons and show child why they will benefit the child
  • Engage in positive discussions
  • The most effective parenting is teaching and showing 
  • You can't tell someone they can't do something, you have to give them another option
  • 3 things to ask before you deal with a child: 1-How am I feeling? 2- How is the child feeling? 3- If I continue with this path, how will this impact our relationship long-term.
  • Every interaction you have with a child teaches something. 
  • Always ask WHY. If we're questioning, we're staying in the logical part of our brain and not dropping into the emotional basement of our brain. The emotional part of our brain is the part that can be out-of-control.
  • Whenever you say, "Don't" you've only alerted their brains to what comes next. Most of the time, they won't hear the "don't." They'll only hear the second part, and they'll do it.
  • Notice good behaviors. Recognize them and praise the child. Acknowledge the progress they're making and help the child be aware of their own progress.
  • Negative attention is better than NO attention. A child will take what they can get.
  • Timing matters (how far along they are developmentally, understanding their age and what they can comprehend, how we and they are feeling in the moment.
  • Every behavior is purposeful. There's always a reason behind it. 
  • Have appropriate consequences, both good and bad. They need to make sense to your child. Control yourself. Our logic brain and our emotional brain are like the opposite ends of a teeter-totter. The higher one side, the less control the other side has. If we allow our emotions to be raised to high in our minds, we are only going to negatively impact our relationship. Wait until you're at least even. 
Image result for teeter totter public domain
  • Help them rewire their own brains. Positive reinforcement with immediate feedback. (The instructor explained it like a game of hot and cold. You're always giving feedback on how close they are getting to the target. Telling them they are colder isn't negative, it's useful. If a child comes in the room and you just stare at them, they won't know how to find the object.)
  • Explain what they are doing well, don't just tell them, "Good job."
  • When modeling a behavior, talk out loud and explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. 
It was a really good class, and I think it has already helped our parenting.

It's kind of funny. I've been training dogs for a long time, and a lot of what they are saying about parenting is pretty similar to dog training. For example, I learned that you should never discipline or train when you are angry. Anger will turn everything you do into a negative experience. If you're feeling your emotions rise, stop training. Resume when you are under control again.

Of course there are differences, but all the things the teacher was teaching us made sense to me.

He also mentioned one other important thing that I wanted to write down.

If you have a two-year-old, and you tell them no, they are going to throw a fit. There is no magic way to fix their behavior.

What did you expect? They're two.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Foster Care Meeting 3&4

Last week was pretty crazy. We had our foster care meetings on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Then, on Tuesday I donated blood, Friday night we had our Primary Program practice for church (for which I am the chorister) and fed the sister missionaries. Saturday night we also went to the temple. In my personal time, I still trying really hard to keep up with my writing, housekeeping, and my three-year-old.

Is it any wonder that I got behind on my blogging?

The meetings last week were the roughest ones to attend.

Foster care class 3 was about Trauma and Its Effects and Sexual Abuse.

The teacher showed us some pictures of abused children and their injuries. He started off simple (fingerprint bruises) and went all the way to 3rd degree burns on the feet and legs from being held into boiling water. Even as we discussed how children react to trauma, the instructor continued to remind us that we needed to keep reunification in our minds, no matter what state the children came to us in. Sometimes, the parents would only act this way when they were on drugs or drunk, and so the solution for reunification would be to get the parents off of their drugs.

If the parents are willing to do that, then reunification is possible.

I also took some notes. I wrote the following:

  • Before we assume there is a learning disability, remember the circumstances. Kids in survival mode don't care about education,
  • Whatever you experience as a baby will impact you for the rest of your life.
  • Show kids how relationships can be. 
  • If a child initiates a conversation about trauma, listen. Don't ask questions, let them guide the conversation. Then, afterward, write down everything you can remember that they told you and call the case worker.
  • Validate children's feelings.
  • If you burn all of your energy hating the peretrator, you won't have any energy left to help the child. 
  • Don't talk badly about a child's parents.

We also watched a short video called "Removed." It was really sad and taken from the child in foster care's perspective. I learned some pretty important things from the video. I learned that you never give up on a child. They might be just about to open up to you. If you turn away from them then, it will be difficult to for them to ever trust anyone again. 

I also learned that keeping siblings together is so important. Sometimes, older siblings become the parents to the younger ones, and when you separate them, it is another form of trauma that they have to endure.

We also talked about children who are sexually abused. That was a pretty rough segment of class too. The teacher told us that children who are sexually abused will not be returning to their abuser. Their abuser will be going to prison. However, they may be returned to the remaining parent or caregiver if the situation is deemed safe. 

No matter what, if the situation can become safe and the parents can show enough improvement, children will always do better with their biological parents. 

At the end of the class, the teacher had us pair up with someone we didn't know in the class. Once we had done that, he instructed us to decide who was going to talk first. The other person was just going to listen. Once we had decided who was speaking, he said, "Now I'm going to give you your topic...Describe the last intimate moment you had in detail."

Everyone stared at each other, and a lot of nervous giggles broke out. No one spoke. When he asked us why we were hesitating, people explained that they felt uncomfortable, they were embarrassed, or they felt that intimacy was meant to be private. 

After everyone had expressed their feelings, the teacher said, "Now, understand, that is exactly what you are asking these children to do who have been sexually abused. The judge and the courts will ask them to describe something that they have been taught is an expression of love to a group of strangers. Try to put yourself in their place."

He talked a bit about sexual predators and how they knew how to groom these kids into doing what they wanted them to do. They didn't usually threaten, instead they became friends and slowly as the relationship progressed, they will teach them how they want them to show their love. 

The instructor also told us that removal from these predators can be traumatic for the child, and if we were to ask them if they wanted to live with us, complete strangers, or the sexual predator whom they knew and trusted, they would pick the predator.

It was a difficult class, but we learned a lot of important things. 

Foster class number 4 was about Minimizing the Trauma of Placement. 

For this class, we started off with the lights off and we were asked to imagine a scenario with our eyes closed. He told us to imagine that class had been cancelled, so we went home and sat in our favorite spot. Then, as we were relaxing in this area, someone knocked on the door. When we answer it, he was standing there and he told us that we needed to go pack our things and come with him. He was going to take us to a better home with a really nice family. 

As I listened, I began to get really annoyed and frustrated. Basically, in my mind, I was saying, "Make me. The heck I'm going with you."

Then, he described loading us into his car and having us watch our homes disappear. Then he talked about driving for a while and coming to a new house with a bunch of smiling people and having him tell us that this was our new family. I imagined a rundown home and a bunch of maniacally smiling people. The irritation I felt began to become frustration as a sense of helplessness flowed through me. It sent tingles up my arms. 

Afterward, he asked us how we felt and our reactions. After listening, he told us that we really needed to understand how the children were feeling. No matter their home situation, their house was a familiar place. No one wants to be taken from their home and placed at a stranger's home. Was it any wonder that they may not like us at first?

Here are some things I wrote down from this meeting:
  • Allow children to eat what they're familiar with. Gradually, as they learn to trust you, they will try new things.
  • Explain to Kevin that the other children may need special allowances.
  • Don't tell, show. Model proper behavior. Teach through our actions. 
  • Before you can help a child go somewhere else, go to where they are, and then you can move together. 
  • "I'm sorry you're upset."
  • Confidentiality is a BIG deal. 
  • To deal with a sexually responsive child, prevention and observation are the most important thing.
  • Don't give up on children. They may be coming around just as you abandon them.
  • "This is a safe place and I won't let anyone ____ you, so I can't let you ____ anyone because this is a safe place."
  • Create lifebook using child's entire life, not just with you. 
  • Give choices, allow the child to feel control over some aspect of their lives.
  • Ideas for transitions: Allow child to pick one wall color or bedding. Just do normal things. Establish rules before children come. Adapt to child when they come.
  • Keep rules as basic as possible. Address issues as they arrive. Family book. 
  • Ask what makes child feel safe. (Watch, observe)
  • Give opportunities to express themselves freely. 
  • Be mindful of transitions and other emotional "hot spots" (meals, food, bedtime, physical boundaries.)
  • Be honest and open in regards to their future. 
We also finished watching the second part of "Removed." 

The most important thing he kept stressing was ask "Why?" Don't get upset by the child's actions. Simply ask, "Why are they acting that way?" Once you are able to understand where they're coming from and why they are reacting the way they are, you will have more patience with their behaviors and you will be able to help them where they are. 

This meeting wasn't quite as difficult, but it was still sad. It was hard to realize that there is no easy solution for these poor children in foster care. It's traumatic to be taken from your home, no matter how awful your home is. You still have bonds and connections there, and everything is familiar. 

It's really good to understand why children might be acting out. I'm really grateful that we have been taking these classes. It's helped us to talk about things that we may never have discussed, and it's brought us closer as a couple. We've learned a lot about child psychology, and it's helped us to be better parents for Kevin. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

National Novel Writing Month

If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably remember that the last three or four years I've been participating in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.

This is again the case this month.

If you're interested in writing, during the month of November there is a site at where you can sign up for free and keep track of how many words you write. Their goal is 50,000 during the month of November. Your own personal goal can be more or less than that.
Image result for nanowrimo
I am currently on the third rewrite of my novel, and I'm up to 10,899 words. My cousin, who is amazing, has already hit 50,000 (not that I'm comparing, I just think she's awesome).

My goal this November actually has nothing to do with number of words, though it is oddly motivating for me to see how many I write every day and I still would like to achieve 50,000 by the end of the month. Instead, my goal is to completely finish rewriting before November is over and start submitting my book to agents by the end of the year.

Hopefully 2017 will be the year I finally get published.

I'm pretty excited about my book right now. Sometimes, my brain gets so involved in it, that I can't sleep, which happened last night. I was trying to go to bed early so I could get up and write, but instead my mind was trying to figure out the phases and orbits of three moons around a planet if one of the moons is in geostationary orbit.

Fun, right?

Creating a world is pretty exhilarating. You can basically make anything you want. I like mine to fit within scientific rules that we already know, but after that, the possibilites are endless! Tweak the size of the planet and gravity becomes less. Creatures can get bigger than they can on Earth and lift heavier things.

It's exciting.

I've been writing since I could write. I have some pretty funny books that I wrote in 1st grade that I've kept for years, and one of the stories that I'm writing, I have been working on since 2nd grade. That particular book is on its second rewrite, but it was put on pause because the book I'm rewriting now if much further developed.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in writing a novel this month, it's not too late to sign up. It's been a little difficult for me to write this month, due to the foster care classes, being a mom, and other schedule changes, but I'm still doing it.

You can too, if you want to.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Foster Care Meeting 2

Last night was an interesting night. We dropped Kevin off at my cousins' apartment on our way to the meeting. We left early, but rush-hour traffic still caused us to be late. We couldn't have left any earlier either. Grig gets home between 4:45-5:00. We left the home at 5:55. It was supposed to take 27 minutes, and it took 38 minutes. That was pretty annoying, but things got better when we got to the meeting.

While enjoying dinner, we began to learn about child development.

First we talked about age appropriate landmarks and then we took a quiz to see how well we knew our child development. I got about half of the questions right, but as I looked over my answers, I realized that I had gotten all the ones right that fell into my son's age group and under. Anything older than my son was much more shaky. I suppose that made sense.

One of the things I learned last night was that Kevin is entirely age appropriate at the moment. The instructor talked about how between the ages of three and four, children merge reality and imagination. He described a kid who he saw at the store who was dressed as Spiderman and who believed with all his heart that he WAS Spiderman. As he was telling this experience, I couldn't help but think of Kevin.

Nearly everyday right now, I'll ask Kevin to do something, and he'll say, "My name is not Kevin. My name is Superman." Just yesterday, he told me, "I have two names: Superman and Clark."

I asked, "Don't you have three names? Isn't Kevin your name too?"

He shook his head and said, "No. Superman and Clark Kent."

Depending on the day, and what he is wearing, his persona changes, but he is very rarely Kevin right now. Sometimes he is "Blue Man" or "Waterman," but usually he is Superman.

The instructor went on to say that this is healthy for this age and we shouldn't discourage it. They'll grow out of it, but right now they're developing key parts of their brain by pretending and it will make their minds healthier. It won't hurt them, and it doesn't hurt us. He encouraged us to let them pretend.

Next we talked about developmental delays. He told us that when people experience traumatic events, it puts their minds in a kind of freeze. The mind goes into survival mode, and stops developing mentally. Once the danger is passed, then their mind begins to develop, but it starts at whatever point it froze. He told us that most children in foster care have a developmental delay.

We were instructed that we needed to figure out where the child was mentally so that we could understand and be less frustrated with their behavior. If you know a child is 9, but mentally is six, it is much easier to understand their behaviors. It is also easier to have patience, and know how to help them. However, he cautioned us not to simply accept the current mental age. The idea behind foster care is to identify where they are at, and then to help them to grow. Once they enter a safe environment (our home) they can begin to age again, and we should help them to do so as well as we can.

The next section of the class talked about a reverse bicycle. He showed a video of a man who was dared to ride a reverse bicycle. If you turned the handle bar one way, the wheel went in the opposite direction. The man was confident that he could ride, but no matter how hard he tried, the bike would tip over. He discovered that the brain is wired a certain way, and you can't just tell it to change. So, for months he practiced ten minutes a day on the reverse bicycle. After about 9 months (I think that was how long, it might have been a little longer), something suddenly clicked and he could do it. He did the same experiment with his son who had only been riding a bike for three years, and it only took his son two months.

There were some important lessons to be learned from this example. One of the things was that you can't just tell someone to do something. You have to teach them how. It isn't easy to rewire a brain. Children's minds are more malleable, and they are able to learn new behaviors more quickly, but we need to have patience with them and their birthparents.

The goal of foster care is reunification. We are supposed to be trying to not only help the children, but their parents too. Only when that isn't possible are foster children adopted. As we were talking about that, I realized something.

The goal of foster care is to save families.

That was like a hammer blow in my mind. We are here to help not only the children, but their parents. If we have some children come and join our family, it will only be because after our very best efforts, things just didn't work out with their parents. We plan on giving it our best effort too. Studies have shown that when children can be with their birthparents and the situation can be improved, it is ALWAYS better for the child.

It is only when the child's safety is at risk and the birthparent can't or won't change their own behaviors that the children are removed permanantly. If the birthparent is showing that they're trying, they will extend the time that the children are simply removed until the parent's behaviors have changed enough. They won't take away the parent's right unless they are showing no improvements.

We learned some other interesting things last night about different developmental levels, and at the end we talked about teenagers.

We watched a final video from a man who studies the ways that minds work, and he told us that there are several reasons that teenagers act the way that they do. He told us that they have decreased dopamine levels and increased reactive levels. Essentially that means that the part that cautions them against dangerous things is reduced, while those chemicals that enjoy risk and excitement are increased. He explained that this was because teenagers were "preparing to leave the nest" and needed to have less caution in order to do so. They needed to be willing to change, take new risks, and challenge old perceptions.

He told us that we needed to be less critical of teens, and more compassionate and empathetic. We needed to allow them to think in new ways and to use their innovation. We also need to help impart some of the caution that they may be lacking.

I've really been enjoying these classes. He gave us some homework, and let us leave half an hour early.

We drove back to my cousin's apartment complex and parked the car. As we did so, I briefly thought, "I wonder if we need a permit?" However, we were only going up to get Kevin, so I decided not to worry about it.

We walked upstairs, talked to my cousins for a few minutes, retrieved Kevin (who was very happy and very much awake), and returned to our car, only to find it booted and a note on the window.

That wasn't a very pleasant end to the evening. After we had called the number, a young man showed up. I explained our situation. I told him that we hadn't been aware that you needed a permit to park here, we had just been here long enough to fetch our son, and if we had known, we wouldn't have parked in the parking lot. He was sympathetic, but their rules were firm. Evidentally, if you parked there after 9 without a permit, you were booted. There was no visitor parking. It was 9:30, so we were just out of luck.

Thirty minutes later and seventy-five dollars poorer, our car was freed and we were on our way home. Both of us were a bit upset by that. Honestly, my mind kept saying, "That isn't fair. We didn't know the rules, and no one warned us. We've been doing good things. Why did this have to happen tonight." It didn't help that we didn't get home until 10 p.m. and we had to wake up at 4:00 a.m.

Bad things often happen after good experiences, but it's important not to let the bad things sour the good experience. I feel much less frustrated this morning. I think it's going to be a good day today, and I'm really enjoying our foster classes.

One of my favorite things about them is that Grig and I are doing them together. It is really fun to sit with my husband for four hours and to be able to talk and learn together about something that is interesting to both of us.

We're excited for next weeks' classes!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Foster Care Meeting 1

Yesterday night, we went to our first foster care training meeting. I was pretty excited about it, even though it was supposed to be four hours long (and it was). 

The instructor was pretty hilarious. He was entertaining and the time went really quickly. It was a lot like the first college class period. He told us what to expect for the next seven classes, what his goals were, and what he expected from us. 

One of his biggest points was that we needed to make sure that we were doing this for the right reason. It wasn't supposed to be about us, it was supposed to be about the children. He talked about misconceptions and told us that generally foster kids aren't out to murder our pets. In fact, he'd never heard of a single case of that happening. 

We watched a video about a young man who had "aged out" of foster care. That means that he turned 18 while still in the system and was never adopted. Even as a successful business man, you could still hear the pain in the man's voice as reflected on his feelings about why he had never been adopted. It was pretty sad. He told us that children who age out of the foster care system nearly always struggle with feelings of self-worth. No matter how successful they become, they always wonder why nobody wanted them.

He asked us to keep an open mind about the ages, genders, and circumstances of the children that we are going to be helping. 

Grig pointed out that foster care is a bit of a paradox. You are supposed to bring the kids in your home, agree to potentially adopt them if things don't work out with their birth mom, and yet put all of your efforts into get them reunified with their birth families. We're not sure how that's going to work out yet, but we're still feeling good about the path we're on. 

He brought up two chart that showed reasons that people decide to foster. The first chart were the good reasons that helped to make foster care effective. All of our reasons were on this first chart. It was things like: infertility, desire to help the children, have a bigger family, and adoption. The other chart were reasons that didn't really work. These were things like: income (hoping that foster care would earn you money), a playmate for your child, or because your family was pressuring you to have children. 

He also talked about parenting techniques. We didn't go into too much detail, because that will be covered in another class, but the things he said have already helped me to be a better parent today.

A few weeks ago, Kevin was melting down all the time. He would just cry and scream for an hour or two. Last night, the instructor told us that punishing a child, or disciplining them for acting out is ineffective unless you solve the reason WHY they're acting out. A tantrum is nearly a way of expressing a deeper problem. 

Kevin hasn't done that in a few weeks, but today after preschool, he suddenly had a major fit. For nearly an hour, he screamed and cried. I kept my cool pretty well, but after trying everything, I finally began praying and I remembered what the instructor had said. Kevin had only eaten a little for lunch, and he had been playing hard ever since. I figured out he was probably hungry. (Candy doesn't fill you up after all.) 

I began to cook food. He screamed about everything I was doing, but when I handed him a meatball, the crying ceased. As soon as he was done eating that and the rest of his food, he was a different child. My happy little guy was back. 
We sure love this kid.
I'm pretty grateful for the things that I've already been learning. I'm hoping to be a much better person, parent, and wife after I finish the training. Even if we weren't doing foster care, I feel like these will help me improve my parenting style. 

Kevin had a great time playing with some friends while we were at the meeting, and he fell asleep at their house. We brought him home and he went right to bed. It was a successful night. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

We had a most excellent Halloween.We started the day off with preschool, and Kevin and the dogs dressed up for that. Arkhon didn't really like his costume, but Siff seemed to enjoy it. 

We had a fun Halloween preschool. We made masks, drew the letter H on balloons, and learned about our primary colors. After Kevin's classmate went home, we worked on getting ready to go trick-or-treating. Kevin tried on a couple other costumes too!

Once Grig came home, we carved our pumpkin. We had taken Kevin to the store the week before and told him to pick out a pumpkin. We were going to buy three, but when he picked this monster, we decided one was enough. Next year we may have to implement a rule one of my walking friends just told me about. In her family. They had to be able to carry their pumpkin to the car. That is such a good idea!

We each took a side of the pumpkin, since it was so big.

 Grig cut off the top, Kevin and I gutted it, and then we each drew on our creation. Kevin's was tricky because it wasn't really easy to cut out, but after he directed us, we managed to cut out what he wanted.

I also made dinner so we could eat before we went Trick-or-treating.

 Meanwhile, Siff tried on goggles. She was pretty cute.

We finally finished. Kevin loved carving pumpkins! He enjoyed every second of it.
 Here are the final works of art!

 After we finished eating, we went out with some friends and Trick-or-treated for a while. We brought Siff along with us, and she had a great time. Kevin was a hit, and he loved saying, "Trick-of-Treat" and "Happy Halloween." He and his friends took turns ringing and knocking on the doors.

Here's Siff in her costume. Arkhon was not happy about being left home. 
We were supposed to be over at my Great Aunt's apartment complex by 7:30 pm. I looked at my watch and realized half-way around our block that it was 7:26. We quickly realized we weren't going to make it in time and called to tell her that we wouldn't be arriving until a little later.

We finished knocking around our block and headed off; only to find that in our hurry, we had forgotten one of Kevin's shoes.So, barefoot, we entered my great aunt's complex.

Kevin made off like a bandit. My aunt and a friend stuffed Kevin's little bucket full, since we were nearly the last people to visit. It was pretty adorable. We thanked them, took a few pictures, and then drove to my grandma's house. They took the following picture of us.
 Havelock and Allopex were nice and manned the door. They handed out candy while we went out and knocked for more. Kevin loves his uncles, and they were really nice to help out. It is sometimes really nice to have them living in the basement.

We got home late, but we had a really good time. Kevin loved Halloween! I asked him what he was going to be next year, and he gave me a funny look, as though he couldn't believe I didn't already know, and stated obviously, "A T-rex." We'll see if he still feels the same way next Halloween.

When he said his prayers that night, he thanked Heavenly Father for the pumpkin carving, the trick-or-treating, and the candy. Grig and I really enjoyed ourselves too.

I adore Halloween!