Monday, October 27, 2014

Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

Last Wednesday afternoon was a sunny 60 degree day, and Frank took off work a few hours early (cue the angels singing) so we could make our annual visit to Rader Family Farms.   Rader's is so so much fun, but always SO busy; I highly, highly recommend going during the week when there are fewer people.

They have a spot at the entrance set up specifically for photos.

I tried really hard to get some good photos.

Really, really hard.  (Notice Carter trying to run away in both shots...)

The kids just wanted to play, so we did. There were some old favorites like the big slide, jumping pillow, and caterpillar train.

This year there were also some new activities, like gigantic field tiles that you run inside like a hamster wheel

and the runaway hit:  the Duck Races!

Jacob got to sit in a tractor

while Carter played in a grain bin.  (which sounds scary as I am typing it, but it was really safe.)

After that, Carter had a little accident resulting in a huge bruise on his cheekbone.  You can see his cheek starting to turn purple in the picture below.

So we made our way towards the exit, pausing to check out all the awesome pumpkins and gourds.

Minus Carter's nasty bruise, it was a fun afternoon at one of our favorite places!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friends and Fun

Last weekend we went to our friend and neighbor Jaime's parents' cabin in Girard, IL for their annual Apple Butter Festival.  After a few weeks of 80 degree temps, I was hoping the weather would be cool enough for sweaters and a cup of coffee (because doesn't that sound like how you should make apple butter?)  Well, I got what I asked for and then some, because that Saturday was barely 50 degrees, windy and sunny.

The point of the festival is that Jaime's parents make apple butter in a huge copper pot over an open fire.  They've been doing it for years, and each year, the festival has gotten more and more eclectic. They begin around 9 am, and serve a ham and bean lunch at noon, with each family bringing a covered dish.  There's fishing in their private pond, hayrides, and a bluegrass band,-whom I understand is mostly impromptu- but still added to the fun.

Jacob and Carter were totally in their element.  Jacob took off with two of his good friends as soon as we arrived, and I barely saw him for hours.  He said they played "Ski Leaf," which is a game consisting of jumping off a picnic table, grabbing a tree branch, and trying to "ski" to the ground.  Oh, to be a 4 year old...

The apple butter was ready around 2 pm.  We each got a biscuit, and then Jaime's mom ladled a scoop of warm apple butter on top.  I really like apple butter, but I really, really like warm, homemade apple butter.  The whole drive was worth it just for that first bite alone!

Our friends Kenny and Kari were also there, and we enjoyed hanging out with them as well and Jaime and her husband Shannon. As an adult, I think we tend to make lots of friendships, but very few progress beyond the social or surface.  We've been very fortunate to get to know these couples, both of whom care about us like family. (and vice versa)

The kids just had to try out the tractor and wagon before we left!

By late afternoon, we started for home, making a stop a Scheels in Springfield..  I've heard this store compared to Bass Pro Shops, and while I do think that's accurate, since this was the only indoor ferris wheel I've ever seen,so Scheels has my vote for coolest outdoor store.

Guess who wanted to ride the ferris wheel?  I'll give you a hint... it wasn't Frank (in orange. below), although roped in to riding with him.

Jacob wasn't scared at all and thought it was super-fun.  I'm not sure which he liked best: ski-leaf or the ferris wheel!

It was a great end to a great day!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Life in Pictures

I've been really camera-happy the last few weeks.  I feel like time is flying fast... or maybe it's just the the pretty autumn lighting... who knows, but I have a few fun pictures to share.

1.  Harvest

Seeing those combines always makes me think of my grandpas.  I love looking out my window and watching the farmers work.

And when they're still working in the evening?  Even better! So spooky and magical to watch those lights cut through the hazy, dusty fields.

Someone else was pretty into it as well.

2.  Outdoor Fall Decorations

They're up!

So I have never head a fall wreath. Since before I've been married, I had an old clump of branches that I wound a leaf garland around-- the whole thing was, like, $5.  This year, I was over it (and I am actually using the leaf garland somewhere else in the house :), so I went to Hobby Lobby, picked up some supplies, and made this!  Maybe I need to revise that part in my bio about not being crafty!

3.  Fangs

Jacob got these from a birthday party at school, and he's obsessed.

4.  Grandparents

Anna and Gary were here this past weekend, and I got a few pictures of them exploring with the kids.

5.  Fun Times With Friends

Anna and Gary watched the kids so we could go to a neighborhood party.  The adjacent subdivision has a spring/fall party where the whole group goes to each other's houses for a drink and appetizer. Remember "Progressive Dinners" from the 1970/80's?  (haha, my parents are nodding.)  This is the same concept.

As couples, we pared up, and one couple brought an appetizer and one couple brought a drink. Our theme this time was Tailgating.  At our house, we served walking tacos (courtesy of the sweet lady next to me in grey). and Wicked Autumn Apple Sangria.  I wasn't super-impressed with my sangria, so I'm not posting the link to the recipe, but everyone drank every last drop.  The walking tacos were a runaway hit, though.  We made it to the last house around 10:30 pm, where they served chili and beer.  Overall, it was a great evening- we met some neighbors and spent time with great friends!

6.  A Birthday

My dad turned the big 6-5 this week (hey, it's cool, we like birthdays around these parts!).  His actual birthday was Tuesday, but he and mom were here on Monday, so we took them to lunch at Smashburger.  It's sort of an inside joke, but Jacob has said for months that he wants to take dad to Smashburger, and he finally got the chance.  His glasses in the pic below say, "Happy Birthday" because that's what you get when a 4 year old helps plan your party. :)  Jacob, of course, stole them as you can see in the last two pictures.

7.  The Weirdest Thing I've Ever Seen in My Yard

The scene:  my parents are playing outside with the kids on Monday, when my mom tells me, "Don't freak out, but there's something in your landscaping, and I think it's a snake."

[Uh, cue freak out.]

To make a long story short, it was not a snake.  My best guess is that it was some kind of fungus, but does it not look like it has a face in the last picture?!  OMGeeeee!

Upon witnessing my hysterics, my dad sent everyone inside and whacked the thing with a shovel.  At this point, we confirmed that it wasn't a snake, but we're still not sure what it was.  He said it had some other pink and white "things" around it, which he also dug up, so my bet is some type of fungus.

And an update: two days after my dad dug it up... it was baa-aa-ck!  (Which is why my vote here is for fungus) Seriously?!  If this thing keeps growing, we'll have the creepiest house on the block!

8.  Friday Night Movie Nights

This also qualifies for, "It's baa-aa-ck!"  If Jacob didn't claim to love this so much, it wouldn't be on our agenda.  Pillows, blankets, popcorn, and a movie... how can this go wrong?  In real life, it can go wrong when everybody fights, people spill drinks, smush popcorn into the carpet, everyone wrestles, and no one watches the movie.  [Example below]

Yep, Cartie, that's how I feel about Friday Night Movie Nights, too.

But on this chilly October night, we're giving it another shot.  It's about memories, right?  Even if it's memories of mom yelling at you to be quiet and watch a movie when you just really want to get up and wrestle with dad?  Can I get an amen?

Peace out, Friday.