Monday, December 28, 2015

Remember Me?

Wow, I didn't plan on taking that long of a blogging break.  November was busy- making everyone's Christmas lists and buying presents, a prolonged, near-daily fight with our old insurance company over a claim from May, and then researching options for new insurance on January 1.  Add to that an awesome upper respiratory virus followed by a stomach bug and yeah, I had neither the time nor the creativity to put the proverbial pen to paper.

So I'll recap a bit...

The weather continued to stay mild, and we enjoyed as much outdoor time as we could, even after the time change.

That grump-face!

Shadow became somewhat of an indoor/outdoor cat and has fallen in love with her new life.  We have been amazed and horrified to learn that she can hunt, as she routinely plops dead mice on our doorstep now.

We had a neighborhood 80's themed party

and a freak snowstorm on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

We spent Thanksgiving at my parents' where Carter helped put the final touches on dinner

and Jacob read to his younger cousins.

The first weekend in December, we had planned a two-day party for Jacob.  The first part on Saturday with family and the second party on Sunday, also with family.  Well, the Saturday party was cancelled due to illness of the party-goers, and the second part of the party was cancelled due to Jacob's illness!  About three hours after the picture below was taken, he came down with the Great Stomach Bug of 2015.

He was better by his actual birthday, two days later, but the rest of us continued to fall throughout the week.

Fortunately, it worked out that he could meet his cousins the following weekend at an entertainment complex in Edwardsville. The four of them always have a blast together!

By now, we were deep in the Christmas festivities:  decorating,

baking Christmas cookies,

and Carter even had a Christmas program! (He's the little nugget in the red sweater.)

The weekend before Christmas, we traveled to Southern Illinois where we had a party with our extended family one evening

and a lovely Christmas dinner with our immediate family the following evening.

We also celebrated Frank's grandmas' birthdays.  These two have a birthday on the same day and have been celebrating together for 44 years!

We were back home in time for Christmas morning at our house

and Christmas day at Uncle Brian and Aunt Sarah's.  I loved overhearing the table conversation between these three--- it was so grown up, so little-boy, and so delightfully funny.

Whew!  I think that brings us up to current.  It's been a busy, fun, and challenging few weeks!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Outdoor Fun

We've had some great weather the last few weeks- perfect for enjoying some outside activities.

A few weekends ago we decided to load up the kids' bikes and head to the park for the afternoon.  It was especially nice that Frank, who has worked most weekends since he started his new job, was caught up enough to come with us!

This particular park has amazing paths where the kids can ride their bikes, and they were all about it!

We ended up at the fountain.  Guess which kid didn't want to have his picture taken...

The one who was only interested in his "thanck."

It was a gorgeous afternoon to spend some time outdoors.

Another weekend, we spent at our neighbor's parents annual Apple Butter Festival.  The kids had just finished a hayride in which the hayrack was being pulled by this tractor.  After the ride was over, they wanted to check out the tractor.  Frank took these with this phone- wouldn't you love to know what was being said in the first picture?

And of course, there has been plenty of time spent just playing at home.  This particular afternoon, Carter decided he wanted to drive... Jacob agreed, but then ran to get his bike helmet in case of a crash!

By the end of October, time outdoors is winding down.  Between the time change, and what has historically been a drastic drop in temperatures right around Halloween, we won't get many more "outdoors" days this year, so I'm glad we've been able to enjoy such a nice autumn!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Visit to the Farm

Just a few miles from our house is Rader Family Farms, an "agritourism" farm with a pumpkin patch, cafe, a petting zoo, and acres of outdoor children's activities.  It is only open September and October, which makes it even more special.

This year, my dilemma was actually finding a time to go, since weekends are super-crowded, and the thought of going during the week made me feel like I was cheating on Jacob.  (Carter likes Rader Farms; Jacob loves Rader Farms.)  This past Monday was Columbus Day, and I knew it would be perfect since Jacob was off school.

I was also anticipating the crowds, so we arrived about 15 minutes before it actually opened.

One day, I'll get one of those pictures that everyone else posts on Facebook where the kids are dressed in cute fall clothes and cooperating.

 Today wasn't that day.

They really just wanted to PLAY!

Anyone notice there's a kid missing from most of these pictures?  Mr. Carter is not a fan of taking turns and had gotten his nose out of joint when we moved on from the first activity, which by now was several activities ago.  At least he's hard to lose in a crowd... you can always locate him by his screaming.

Finally, he had had enough of himself, and straightened up to enjoy the last half of our trip.

The fact that Jacob is wearing a bright colored shirt? Not an accident!  Look how easily you can find him!

This giant tire tower was a new addition this year, and the kids loved it.  It would have been just a bit better, though, on a day without 20+mph winds!

This always makes me smile.

By this time, it was nearing lunch and as predicted, it was extremely crowded, so we got in line for one last activity---everyone's favorite:  the caterpillar train!

Until next year!