Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Family Fun

Saturday we did our 2nd Annual Grape Picking Pecks Market Extravaganza. Well, an abbreviated version of it, anyway. It was sunny, with a hint of cool in the air, about 72 degrees. After doing Saturday morning chores and having lunch, we loaded into the car and drove to Oakwood Fruit Farm. Last year we kind of accidentally stumbled onto this place and ended up loving it. We wandered around a little in the market first, taking advantage of the opportunity to each try a sample apple from the variety of our choice. I had an absolutely perfect Jonamac. Just the right balance of tart and sweet, firm, crisp, bright white flesh, tender and tasty skin. Sooo good. Then after a bit of browsing, we headed out to the vineyard to pick our grapes. I just love being out there on a lovely fall day, the scent of the grapes filling the air. The kids darted around under the leafy vines cutting bunches of grapes that filled our boxes quickly.
It ends up being the perfect amount of pick-your-own fun for our family. It matches the attention span of our little ones perfectly. In no time at all we had 16 pounds of grapes. We carried our boxes back to be weighed, picked out a bushel of apples, and selected some treats we couldn't resist. It has become part of the tradition to buy the kids some yummy caramel apples. Lincoln picked out a box of the best toffee I've ever tasted in my life, and we grabbed a bag of fresh, squeaky cheese curd. We snacked on our treats in the car on the drive to Pecks Farm Market and Petting Zoo. Once we arrived we wandered around feeding the animals, walking through spook houses, playing on the playground, and jumping in the bounce house. This year we even took the horse drawn wagon ride.

We did all that for free. Soo fun, and you can't beat the price! We didn't do the corn maze yet. We're thinking we'll challenge another family to a race through the corn maze later in the season.

Halloween Decor...

I've been wanting to do one of these spooky vignettes for a while and this year I finally got around to it. I bought a bunch of frames at Goodwill for about .99 each. i also found a candelabra that looked like it would work with the look. I spray painted them all black, then added old photos and creepy prints I found online. Throw in the skulls, a few plastic spiders, the ratty runner, and a raven I purchased last year, and I've got the look I was going for. I need to replace one print though. Nobody thinks the freak show poster of an albino family works. I just wanted something that wouldn't be too scary, just different. The votes are in, however, so I'll find something else.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Renie's Fourth Day Of School

I really wanted to get a picture of Renie getting off the bus on her first day of school. Unfortunately, I wasn't right out there when the bus arrived, so by the time I got down the sidewalk she was already off the bus. The next day, I was out there, but she still came so fast I couldn't get the shot. I prepped her the next morning and told her to wait on the steps of the bus so I could take the picture. That day, at the last minute I took Devon to get immunizations and wasn't home when she got off the bus. I forgot to ask Lincoln to get the picture. Finally, on the fourth day, I was home, Renie was prepped, and I was outside waiting when the bus arrived. It was worth the hassle, she's pretty darn cute!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Curse These Fruit Flies!

We have had an ongoing fruit fly problem ever since I canned tomatoes about a month ago. A bunch came with the very ripe tomatoes that a friend's father in law brought me. In the weeks following, I have had a lot of produce from our garden, as well as the usual fresh fruit from the supermarket, passing through my kitchen. Yesterday I had reached my breaking point with the little buggers when I lifted Kennedy's head of cabbage from the counter and a whole swarm of them lifted into the air. I got online and looked for some extermination tips. I'm pleased to say that the simple remedy made from ingredients found in every kitchen is working like a charm.

So here's what you do:

Put a cup of apple cider vinegar in a cup/jar/bowl/bottle
Add a couple drops of dish soap.
Cover with plastic wrap (for good measure, it would work without, I think.)
Poke four or five holes in the plastic wrap.
Set it on the counter and watch those pesky little buggers die.

I couldn't believe how many fruit flies came hastily to the jar as I was getting this ready. Apparently apple cider vinegar is some sort of delicacy for them. The flies follow the sweet aroma through the holes in the plastic wrap. They try to alight on the liquid, but the dish soap has changed the surface tension so they fall in and drown. The plastic wrap helps keep the ones in there that enter but don't get sucked in. My kitchen was almost fruit fly free (say that 5 times fast!) by the end of the day, save the few that continue to hatch, I assume (yuck). (Did you know that a fruit fly lays 500 eggs in one sitting?!) I'll keep my little trap out until they are all gone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stand for Truth and Righteousness...

Kennedy came home from school a couple days ago and said, "Mom! Know what I did today?" After I made a few silly guesses, she informed me that she had talked to her teacher and explained to him that it made her uncomfortable when people in the class take the Lord's name in vain. He agreed with her and said he didn't like that either, and he put in place a new rule in the classroom that no one should say it.

I was so proud of her for having the courage to say something. I was also very pleased that her teacher was so responsive. I'm glad that she feels so comfortable in her class and with him that she can express ideas and feelings that might be difficult to share in a less friendly environment. I have a feeling 5th grade might be a year she will always remember fondly and her first male teacher might end up being one of her favorites!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Whatchyou laughing at, dimple tush?

So my 2 year old completely destroyed my self-esteem yesterday by laughing hysterically at me when he happened into the bathroom while I was naked. "I see your b*tt! Hahahahahahah!" This was accompanied by lots of pointing and taunting. I've never gotten dressed so fast before.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's summer...

Finally summer has found us here in the northern reaches of the country. It was hardly warm enough to wear shorts all summer vacation. Now that school has started we are getting our Indian Summer.

Sunny and 75-80 degrees. I love Indian Summer. Just when you begin to feel that summer has passed and fall is in the air- BAM! Indian summer comes along and gives you one last taste of soaking up sunshine and dabbling toes in cool water before the Big Change officially occurs. Today after school we'll have to make a trip to the state park to do just that.

The night before school started, we had a Family Night gearing up for school. We talked about goals and expectations for the school year- including revamping of chore charts and Saturday morning family chores- and Lincoln gave each of the children father's blessings for guidance, comfort, and success in the coming academic year. For refreshments I made caramel apples. You know, September, teachers, apples, it seemed appropriate. I made my own caramel for the first time. It tasted great, but perhaps I could have cooked it a little longer to get a slightly thicker result. But it did the job. We dipped them in chocolate and M&Ms. Yummy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I have a tweenie..

Well, it has happened. I have now been a mother for a DECADE! My beautiful firstborn is ten. She is emotional, moody, and somewhere in between barbies and boys. She has Naired (is that a word?) her legs, wears a training bra, but still cries when she doesn't get her way. Tweenie, I tell ya. Seriously, though, she is definitely growing up. I love that she loves to read, that she is aware of the consequences of her choices, that she really is trying to be good. Sometimes the lower half of her tweenieness takes over and she struggles with choosing the right, or her emotional, hormonal half takes over and she is weepy and racked with guilt over those same choices. But she is learning and she is becoming a young woman right before our very eyes.

For her birthday dinner Kennedy requested lasagna, homemade bread, and corn.

For dessert she asked for raspberry apple crisp. This was a welcome break from birthday cake, in my opinion. Three birthdays in a little over a month is a lot of cake.

For her birthday we finally got Monopoly. She also got a Hannah Montana book, and let's not forget the tickets to see American Idols Live. (We went the night after her birthday- a post of its own. We had a LOT of fun.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Galena IL and Dubuque IA

We had absolutely gorgeous weather today for Labor Day. We packed the cooler, loaded up the kids, and took off for Galena, Illinois. We've been wanting to check out Galena for some time. We had heard it was a pretty, historic town, with an old downtown full of fun shops. (For my North Country readers, think Lake Placid. For my NC readers think Blowing Rock.) We met the Knouse family at 9 a.m. and set out together.

The Tatro family has never met a popcorn shop we didn't like.

The Dowling House. I believe the sign said it was the oldest residence in Galena.

An original cobblestone street.

A picnic in the park. As we were walking around the shops in Galena we got more than one comment about "a whole classroom of kids" and "a busload". Two families, nine kids. People were impressed.

The old depot.

I love the old fire station.

After walking around Galena and having our picnic, we headed to Dubuque, Iowa, just 15 minutes up the road. We first went to The Mines Of Spain Recreation Area. It's a great spot overlooking the Mississippi River.

Then we went into Dubuque and walked along the Mighty Mississip a little bit.

I took about a bajillion pictures- I'll probably post a bunch on facebook if anyone is interested in seeing more. It was a perfect day. I always enjoy visiting historic towns with interesting old buildings and fun shops. It's so fun to have Karen and her family here to do it with!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Julia's birthday, baptism, and party

Julia's birthday was August 6th. Since her eighth birthday is a milestone year (getting baptized), she got to have a friend birthday party. What that translates to is several celebrations. A family birthday on the actual day, a friend birthday party, and baptism day and celebration. For her family birthday, I made cupcakes- bugs and frogs.

Julia and Kennedy have birthdays a month apart. This year we got them both tickets to see American Idols Live in Madison.

Carson thoroughly enjoyed the cupcakes and minty ice cream.

On August 9th Julia was baptized. Grandpa gave the talk on baptism, Grandma spoke about the Holy Ghost, Sister Luly Rasmusson gave a prayer, Aunt Nichelle gave a prayer, Julia and Mom did a special musical number, Uncle Jonathan was the accompanist, Daddy confirmed her assisted by Uncle Jonathan, Grandpa, Jim Deitrich, Billy Sandstrom, and Woo Hong.

For Julia's friend party she found a cake online that she liked- bug mountain. Basically a chocolate cake mound made to look like dirt with fake bugs all over it. Not the most beautiful thing. Here's my take on it.

We went to the state park for the party. The idea was to go to the beach and hunt for frogs and go on a scavenger hunt. It was very chilly, however. The kids still got in the water- in their clothes- but when they got out they were pretty cold. The water felt warm because the air was so chilly. So then we had a bunch of wet, freezing kids who had to huddle together to stay warm. We passed on the scavenger hunt. We had grilled hot dogs, potato chips, and lemonade.

Here I'm snuggling a frozen little Renie-boo.

Julia is excited about her Webkin from the Molldrems.

Here's the crew waiting for dinner.

And last, but actually before the gifts and certainly not least, the cake. It was difficult to keep all those fingers out of the cake and all the bugs in place until cake time.

Just as we were finishing up the sun peeked out, too little too late. I think all the kids had fun, though.

Back a few weeks ago...

Kennedy participated in the Parks and Recreation Program's two week dance camp (for $10!) They put on a recital on the last day. Kennedy looks forward to this camp each year and really has a great experience with it. For some reason, Julia chose not to participate this year.
That's Kennedy in the middle of the group on the left.

For the finale, the older kids were paired with a younger kid as their dance partner. We managed to pick the perfect seats- they danced in the aisle right next to us.

Strike a pose.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's back to school time in America's Dairyland...

Kennedy was the first to leave today. Because she attends 5th grade at a different elementary school, she has to be at the school at 7 am to catch the bus to the other school. (All fifth graders in the district go to the other school.) She will be up and ready to leave by the time the others are waking up.

The next crew leaves the house at 7:30. Lincoln drives them to school on his way to work. That means that handsome little fella in the jammies gets to stay home and have some one on one time with Mommy four mornings a week.

Julia is now in third grade and as of the end of day one, she loves her teacher and is very excited about the school year.

Devon is in kindergarten this year. That means he has made the transition to a full day and full week of school. Though he was reluctant today to go for his 15 minute Meet The Teacher, he overcame his anxiety and says he likes his teacher.

Renie gets to have her first taste of school this year in the Early Learning Program, or 4-K. She will go mornings four days a week. When she gets home she'll have lunch with Jesse and me, then Jesse will go down for a nap and Renie will get afternoon one on one time with Mommy.

Everyone seems excited for the school year, though tomorrow is Devon's first actual day of class and Thursday is Renie's. I think they will both settle in well and have fun this year.