Friday, October 28, 2011

Amazing Day of Reflection

First, when I get the pictures downloaded, I'll share our family day.   And I believe that the family day was vitally important to recharging all our batteries.

Now, I think my recharged batteries by spending time an amazing day with my family, not stressing about the day, and allowing myself to enjoy a family outing. 

This simple recharging really helped my thought processes towards Catechism class tomorrow.  For the first time, I was able to read through our classroom text and the teacher's guide without criticizing the content for being "boring."  I think my judgement was being clouded every time I was looking at this before, because Satan was discouraging my attempts to be a good catechist.  Self doubt is one of the biggest limiting evils.  After all, if I don't think I can do it, I can't.  That would be score 1 Satan, score 0 Traci.

Today, was different.  I was able to look at the text objectively and glean important concepts from it.  I will NOT be having them read from the text.  Yes, the information is very important to building their faith and reinforcing mine.  However, I think the way the text is written is very dry and the language is very complex.  I think I am going to be able to do a better job taking the concepts and trying to draw them into conversation.

That is the idea, anyhow.  Sometimes, 7th graders don't offer any comments or any discussion.  I'm hoping that one of my ideas of having them write their ideas down and then we can discuss them will help draw them out more.

I need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me in what I say and what I try to teach.

Today was so successful that I actually spent 2 hours writing lesson plans. I always winged it before.  So, step back Satan, I've got a plan and I'm going to go with it.

I feel so good about this.  Seriously, it's a weight lifted.

Dear Lord,  Thank you for the revelation I needed to help guide me toward your truth. Thank you for filling me with the Holy Spirit and allow me to pass this importance along to my class.  In Jesus' name, I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm not exactly sure how to deal with this...

I'm trying to be a Catholic Mom.  No, I'm trying to be a GOOD Catholic Mom.  Some days, I'm just not sure how to go about this monumental task.

I mean, there are tons of resources out there that tell you how to be a Good Catholic Mom.  Some of these make me feel vastly inadequate.  Some of them, when I find them, seem to resonate with me and make sense and I bookmark them on my computer and hope to be able to find them again when I need them.  (Oh, and I'm totally unorganized and can never find anything when I want it.)  But, and it's a BIG BUT - How do I be a GOOD Catholic Mom? 

I'm a cradle Catholic.  I should know ALL this stuff, right? 

I had the "uber" Catholic Mom who was the Church Lady.  (I love you, Mom, more than anything, but as a Mom you drove us nuts with church, even though I strive to be like you, now!) 

But I feel really dumb and lacking when I don't know something that's going on in church or even the prayers that our congegration adds to the Rosary.  I learned the Rosary as Apostles' Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.  The parish I grew up never said the rosary before Mass.  The only time we said the Rosary was during Lent.  Now, in our parish that we joined about 4 years ago, they say the Rosary before every Mass.  No matter what time we leave the house, we always get to church in the middle of it.  It's taken me Four LONG Years, but I finally figured out that the prayer that is added by the Glory Be is the Fatima Prayer. Huh?  That's not in my Catholic Book of Prayers.  I still don't know the prayer that they put at the end of the Rosary.

Maybe the crux of the problem is that I'm such an introvert that I don't ask anyone.  Honestly, shouldn't I know this stuff?  But, I never learned any of this.

Now, how am I supposed to teach a Catechism class for 7th graders when I'm not an "uber" Catholic?  I didn't grow up in a household where the family said the rosary together every night (and there are families like that in my parish. I strive to be like them.) How am I supposed to teach them when I don't know everything I need to know?

Hmmmmmmmmmm,  guess I need to take a deep breath, tell Satan to take a step back, and that I'll learn it as I go - all the while, being honest with the kids that they might know more than I do and I'm just trying to give them a way to continue to learn it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It Was Not Meant To Be (With Witnesses)

K didn't have school today or the rest of the week and Bug doesn't have school  the rest of the week.  I'm hoping we're able to get some good family time in doing crafty things and whatever we feel like.

Today, K, Fixit, and I took the new van (new to us, 2002 doesn't rank as new in anyone's book) and headed to the grocery store.  Woo Hoo! Field Trip!  They were suitably impressed with the new wheels.

This afternoon, Bug came into the house ALL EXCITED!  Riding her bike as a two-wheeler has been the bane of her existance ever since the beginning of summer.  She decided that she was fine on her training wheels and DIDN'T NEED to ride it as a two-wheeler.  That is, until today, she told me that she could ride it and I HAD to come see.

I figured this was a photo op waiting to happen.  Here's what happened:

Getting ready...

Getting set.......

We never did achieve GO!

I'm pretty sure it was just stage fright and the performing this daring feat in front of a live audience.  So, after she gets over her mad at not being able to do it again, I'll have to start lurking by the bathroom window to see if I can witness this act daring act of survival.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Painting the Pumpkins

We wanted to try something different this year.  (Like no pumpkin guts, no girls getting grossed how by how pumpkin guts feel, Mom having to dig out all the pumpkin guts) You know - an attempt to add a touch of sanity to pumpkin decorating.

So, we decided to paint the pumpkins this year.  K has been chomping at the bit for a week to get these things painted.  This afternoon, after all involved took naps, except Mom.  We had the plastic tablecloth on the tables and the subjects, er, the pumpkins on the table ready to be analyzed, er, decorated.

K had so much fun doing the first side of her pumpkin that she decided to do both sides.

Bug thought that was a cool plan, and decorated both sides of her pumpkin, too.  She even gave her's freckles!

Fixit came to the party a little late aka she had a REALLY good nap.  She was just as excited as the other girls to give her pumpkin a go.

I think we will be doing this from now on.  Seriously, it took 30 minutes to an hour to do BOTH sides of the pumpkins, no pumpkin goo to clean up from everywhere, and we can stick the pumpkins back out on the deck tomorrow.  Plus, we have like 300 bottles of acrylic paint, so every color imaginable to choose from while making our creations.

P.S. Isn't this the cutest little witch you have ever seen?  Bug did a great job drawing it all by herself.

P.P.S. Trying a couple of new things in the kitchen, too.  Cooked some apples in water and made apple juice.  Tastes really good.  So, I canned that.  On the next batch, I will cook it down more, so that it concentrates more.  Then, I also am trying to make pickled dill garlic.  Everyone fights for the garlic anyway, so I'm trying it.  We need to give it about 3 weeks before we can try it.  Oh yeah, figured out why the refrigerator smelled so strongly of garlic.  I had the garlic cloves covered in water in the fridge.  Two of the cloves must have been bad, because they fermented.  Um, let's just say, that is a really gross odor.  The contents of the entire jar were flushed.  Gaack.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just Life

Nothing exciting the last few days.  So today will be in a numbered sort-of display, so I can at least get some thoughts down.

1. I've been dealing with the bank and the car dealership, trying to get the best deal on a new (to me) car loan.  I think that is finalized, or will be when we sign the papers on Monday.

2.  Which leads to: Yeah, we're getting a new (to us) vehicle.  The Jeep has been an awesome vehicle, but we've really managed to put the miles on it.  We've had it since 2003 and in that time frame, we've put almost 200,000 miles on it.  It's kind of a time bomb waiting to go 'Pop' and it wasn't worth it to put any more money into it.

3.  Thank you, Dad!  My Dad bought a new vehicle on Monday and asked the salesman what he would have that we could afford (which at this time is you-know, nothing) and they had just gotten a local trade in with low miles, but it was an older vehicle.  My Dad dropped everything and had me look at it and called to set up an appointment right away for us to look at it.  My Dad is awesome!  Thanks for looking out for me.  I love you!

4. With that: on Monday we will be picking up our new vehicle.  A 2002 Chevy Venture minivan.  Yes, you read that right, a 2002.  It was a local trade and only has 65,000 miles on it.  For the mileage and the price, I can't beat it.  Especially, since the bank is going to be rolling our loans into one loan and I'll still be paying less a month than I currently am on just the car.  So, yes, it's already 10 years old, but it'll be more reliable than my poor 99 Jeep with 210,000 miles.  Plus, it has 8 seats and All-Wheel Drive, which were expensive options back in the day.

5.  Fixit and I headed in to town today to stop at the post office and mail an Ebay sale out (yeah, I'm glad this auction was going overseas to a military wife, because it made me feel better about totally messing up on the postage and WAY undercharging - as in, it cost me money to get rid of stuff.  Yeah, lesson learned) 

6. While in town, Fixit and I went to the library for Preschool Story Hour.  We love Miss Cindy and Miss Kay.  They get to play games, sing songs, dance, goof off, plus hear some stories and do a craft and have a snack.  Quite the hour of fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pee Wee Pirate

In an ode to Disney Jr's Jake and the Neverland Pirates:

What's the pirate password?

Yo! Ho! Ho!

I can't hear you.

Yo! Ho! Ho!

Fixit decided to play pirates with me this morning.  She got the glorious job of captaining the motley crew, and I was the deck-swabbing, mess-hall-cooking, dog-walking, pirate princess.  Phew!  Much easier "driving the boat."

Here's a picture of the Pee Wee Pirate:

Her "scurvy dog"

And the "pirate princess" and "make sure you give me an 'Arrr,' Mama, because pirate princesses can't be pretty."

Yep, that would be the pirate princess in her highly fashionable Arrr self-portrait!  What we do for our kids...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Doing the Weekend Hustle

The whole family went to my Mom and Dad's house yesterday morning to make more cider. 
My hubby feeding apples into the disposal

Fixit THREW apples into the wash barrel for a couple of minutes.  But, she was already an old hat at this, so she got bored.  Plus, it was too cold and windy to play outside, so she go to head in the house and watch cartoons. 

Bug was a big helper putting apples into the wash water and she got to man the handle on the hydraulic press.  Eventually, she was cartoon-bound, too. 
Bug manning the hydraulic press with Grandpa
K & Bug with Grandpa

K was a trooper and helped put apples into the wash water, put apples into the apple grinder, and was a big helper with Grandpa manning the squishing station.  She thought it was neat to watch the cider being squeezed out and then be able to peel the dried apple remains from the muslin. 
Dried apple remains

It went much faster by adding the extra step of the apple grinder, before we put them through the disposal.  I haven't heard, but I'm hoping we didn't overload the disposal and kill the motor. It kept getting too hot and stopping. Garbage disposals were never meant for continual running.

Grandma fed us lunch and we headed home for the crew to take a nap.

Today, we all went to church.  I will admit that I forgot that Father Jim was going to be blessing the catechists and commissioning them for the coming year.  So, I started out sitting with the family and ended up sitting with the other catechists.

I think my poor husband got the bad end of that one, even though I didn't think the kids were that bad.  I actually got to sit and LISTEN to Mass and appreciate what was going on, instead of whispering to this kid or that one.

When we got home, Mom was waiting for me and we were going to head in to town to watch THE GREATEST MIRACLE .  This wonderful movie featured the amazing music from Libera. The soundtrack was incredible.  This was a 3D movie - which I had never watched a 3D movie before, so that was interesting its self.  This was an amazing animated Catholic movie celebrating the miracle of every Mass - receiving Christ and preparing for him and keeping him with us all the time, not just at Mass.  There was more than once that I had tears flowing down my cheeks from the wonder I was feeling, the insight into the Mass that I hadn't felt before.

I can't wait until it comes out on DVD so I can show it to my kids and to my CCD kids.  I will admit that some of the animation was off - the hands were really wonky, but the message was amazing.  Mom and I both got headaches from the 3D portion of it, but it was very powerful without being overwhelming.

To top it off, this Catholic company called Wee Believers paid for the first 100 people at each showing that said "We Believe" at the ticket counter.  I'm looking at some of their things as Christmas presents for the girls.  I love supporting family-owned businesses, especially Catholic companies.  If you get a chance, check them out and at least send them a note through their contact page thanking them for supporting a Catholic film.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Canning Jelly

While we were experiencing Major Toddler Meltdown yesterday, I did manage to squeeze in making two types of jelly: crabapple and grape.

I already had the juices prepared and sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to get my heinie in gear. 

To get the grapes ready, first we picked the wild grapes.  Then, following my Mom's instructions, I washed the grapes in the sink (leaving them attached to the stems).  After they were rinsed off, I put them into a tall stockpot, squished them down a little, and then covered them with water.  I simmered the grapes for about 30 minutes, going until the grapes burst.  Finally, I set up another stockpot, the colander, and a flour sack towel to strain the grape skins, seeds, and stems.  Viola!  Wild Grape Juice!

To get the crabapples ready, we picked the crabapples - read as having to stand in the lawn cart to reach most of them. :)  I used most of the crabapples in pickled crabapples.  I still had about 6 -8 quarts of apples left. I washed the apples in the sink.  Then, because they were little, I cooked them whole.  Into a deep stockpot, I put the washed crabapples and covered with water.  I simmered until the apples were tender.  Then I strained the same way I strained the apples grapes.  By leaving the apples whole, I was going to be able to take advantage of the natural pectin content of the tart apples and I got a rosy juice. 

Back to jelly making:  I started with the crabapple jelly.  According to the Ball Book of Canning, I was supposed to bring 5 cups of apple juice to a boil and add 5 cups of sugar.  Then, I was supposed to bring it back to a boil and let it get to 220 degrees F or until the jelly sheeted from the spoon.  Sounds simple, right?  The only thing I changed was that I had 8 cups of juice, so added 8 cups of sugar.  Then, I couldn't find my candy thermometer, anywhere.  So, figured I would cook it until it sheeted from the spoon.  How hard could that be, right? 
First, when I started to cook it, it had a rosy tint.  Then, I got a little concerned about the color.  Every other time I've cooked jelly, it's been a clear liquid.  This time, not so much.  It looked almost creamy.  After about 1/2 hour of stirring (when would this darn stuff ever get thick?) I finally called my Mom to ask her what she thought.  Darn, she was in a meeting.  Ok, back to square one and cross my fingers and hope.  So, I kept stirring and it kept boiling and kept looking funny.

Finally, after an hour of stirring, it finally was gelling and sheeting from the spoon.  So, I put it in jars and canned it.  Hoping......  Well, here is what it looks like in the jar - YEAH!  It's beautiful and a gorgeous rosy color.

Crabapple jelly
 Then, moved on to the wild grape jelly.  I was NOT looking forward to another hour of stirring jelly.  However, recipe was a little different.  Grapes do not have enough pectin to gel on their own, so this time the plan was to boil the 8 cups of grape juice with the two packages of pectin.  When it boils, dump in all 8 cups of sugar at once and bring back to a hard boil for a minute. Then put in jars and process.  Wow!  This only took about 20 minutes total to boil and then reboil.

Here's the grape juice on the stove.

Isn't this a beautiful color?

Whoa!  Good thing I put it in a large stockpot, because it got really high during the minute of rapid boiling.

Here's the extra jam, that I didn't want to put in a jar.  But this way, we can eat some of it right away.  The pink foam is just the foam from boiling. I don't like to skim it off.  (I'm lazy)

Here's the finished product.

And, they are both yummy!  Tried both of them on my breakfast toast!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Major Toddler Meltdown

You know when you have that first sense of how a day is going to go, and nothing happens to prove it wrong?  Yeah, that has been my day.

Fixit started out on the wrong side of the bed, and there is only one way to get in and out of her bed. She definitely should have stayed there longer.  She started the day with bags under her eyes.  Before I could even get Bug on the bus this morning, we were already experiencing Major Toddler Meltdown #1.  I HAD to get Bug outside for the bus, since we were running a bit late.  Fixit wanted to come outside with us, but Would.Not.Get.Her.Shoes.On.  Finally, I had to tell her to come out when she had her shoes on.  This started the absolute screaming fit.  When Fixit finally came outside, it was to scream at me.  To top it off, because I wasn't paying any attention to her, and she did not have shoes on, she decided to climb on to the deck railing to yell at me louder.  Not cool!  That part of the deck has got to be 8 feet above the ground over the gravel driveway. So, Bug got on the bus and I ran to Fixit to get her back on the deck.  This all happened within the 3 minutes of leaving the house and the bus coming.

Then, we get inside, where Fixit is either having Major Toddler Meltdown # 2 or Part B of the the 1st one.  She is screaming and throwing things at me.  I spanked her. Hard.  I told her to get me a diaper, so she could get her butt changed.  That's what set off this second episode.  If the kid wasn't so darned pig-headed, she'd be potty trained.  However, she is stubborn and doesn't mind sitting in her own waste, even if it causes her butt to be sore.

Next, K calls from school because she forgot her lunch and she "reallllllllly doesn't like the hot lunch for the day."  If it wouldn't have cost almost $3 to prove a point, I would have let her have hot lunch.  Being the good mom that I am(sometimes), we ran it in to her.

This was all before 8 this morning. 

Please Lord, let me have the patience to make it through the rest of the day without totally losing my cool, even if they are standing on MY.LAST.NERVE.

Fast forward to about noon. 

I'm in the bathroom downstairs when I hear this funny plink, plink noise.  Brand new bathroom. What the heck is that noise?  Please let it not be the creepy mouse that won't get caught in a trap and runs across the living room entrance when I'm sitting in my chair and it Looks at me.  Please...Please...Please. 

Ok, after taking a big breath, I swing the door open.  (Not sure what I'm going to do if I see the darn mouse, not like I have anything to even throw at it.)  What do I see?  Mouse? No. 

No, I see WATER dripping from the ceiling by the bathroom door.  WHAT THE HELLO is going on!!!!  I tear upstairs like a mad woman (oh, yeah, I was!) and there is Fixit in the upstairs bathroom flooding the sink and watching it flow on to the floor.  So, deep breath and proud moment where I didn't absolutely beat her, I turned off the water, and mopped up the bathroom upstairs, so I could come downstairs and repeat mopping. 

Do you know what her reason was for getting everything wet?

"I didn't want to take a nap."

It is now 2:45 and raining outside, so I can't kick them outside.  I do think that I put the fear of God into them, for at least a few hours, and if they step foot in my sight, they are toast.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making Apple Cider at Grandma and Grandpa's House

Fixit and I headed out early this morning, right after putting Bug on the bus, and went on a field trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  We were heading over there to help with apple cider.  We had to try out Grandpa's new setup for grinding the apples to get more cider out squeezed from the apples.

Dad's slick new set-up for grinding the apples
Dad bought a brand new garbage disposal, which he installed in a board along with an electrical on/off switch.  Mom and I washed and quartered the apples.  Then, Dad and I took turns manning the disposal and shoving apples through with the push stick.  The apples get ground up and then exit the disposal through the white hose into the bucket.

It really turned the apples into smoosh, but it took quite a bit of work for the disposal to chop through the big apples.  Next time we do more apples, we're going to run the apples through Dad's original apple chopper for his cider press, then we're going to run them through the disposal.  It shoudl be a lot quicker, even though we're adding a step.

Dad called to tell me that he was tired.  Fixit and I were there for 3 hours this morning, and I was tired, too.
Mom getting ready to wash some apples so we can quarter them

The hydraulic press to squeeze the cider from the apple mash
 After the disposal turned the apples into itty-bitty little pieces, we put the mash into clean muslin squares in the pressing rack.  We put in three saucepans full into the piece of muslin, then folded it over the mash - kinda like a burrito, then put on a waxed pressing board.  Dad used his dado cutter and put slots on both sides of the board.  The long way were about 10 slots and along the short side were about 20 slots.  Mom coated everything with paraffin wax.  We had to make sure to put the lengthwise slots on top the apples, so the cider would run out through the hole at the end and in to the bucket. A bucket of mash was enough to do 5 layers of of muslin-wrapped mash and 5 pressing boards.
Dad adding the freshly waxed pressing boards
 After adding the final pressing board, we added a flat board.  Dad bought the hydraulic press a few years ago - which was a drastic improvement over just using the cider press and a LOT less work.  On top the flat board, we add weights and a piece of angle iron to even out the pressing.  We kept pressing until the pressing boards touched.  It seemed to work best when we had one side of the boards touching, and then flipped the angle iron over to put more pressure on the other half of the board and press the 2nd side.
Layer the muslin wrapped around apple mash and the pressing boards
 When we had finished pressing, we unwrapped the DRY apple solids.  Three saucepans full of mash yielded about 1/4" to 1/2" deep apple pancake in each layer.

We were only able to be there for about 3 hours this morning and it was the first time that we were trying the disposal, so we were working out the getting started kinks.  We still managed to get through about 4 5-gallon pails of apples.  We used a blend of varieties of apples; the more types of apples, the smoother your cider is.  Single varietal cider is pretty harsh.  By the time that Fixit and I had to leave, we had gotten about 4 gallons of cider.  In past years, we would have had about 2 gallons.  So, it did take longer, but our yield was a lot better.  With the changes we're going to make, it should really move next time.

I sure hope so, since we have about 37 buckets of apples to go through, yet!
Fixit threatening to run us all over in the garage
p.s. Fixit kept busy, especially playing on Grandpa's Four Wheeler and on his new lawn mower.  She also got to help Grandma pick broccoli from the garden, go with Grandma to go get duck eggs, and she got to go with Grandpa on a Four Wheeler ride.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bug's 5 Year Checkup!

Bug - age 5
Can you believe it? 

Bug is already 5 and in 4K.  Today, horrible-scheduling Mom that I am, Bug had to miss another day of 4K, because I scheduled an appointment for the morning.  Really?  I'm going to scar her for life by having her miss a day of 4K, that she is already saying is boring, because she is so far ahead of the other kids.

So, we headed to town today and she got to see the doctor for her 5-year checkup.  The Mighty Miss weighed in at 38lbs 9 oz and was 3ft 6inches tall.  Can't get much more symmetrical than 33rd percentile for height and weight.  Perfectly proportionate.

Then, we went on a marathon of chores. First to get the oil changed in the car. Then, I needed some patterns to start using my mountain of fabric.  Then, to Sam's for a miraculously short list of things. Next, to Fleet Farm for boots for Dad.  Finally, to lunch with Daddy.

Thanks to Aunt Bonnie for coming over to watch Fixit and be here when the neighbor got off the bus.  She made them lunch and then we visited this afternoon.  Adult interaction....I love adult interaction!!!!! (Especially with one of my favorite people!)

Tonight, tried to find more room for the home canned stuff on the cupboard.  Um, yeah, right...  I need another set of shelves to hold more jars.  I cooked up the last of the crabapples today to get the apple juice to make jelly tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Things I Never Thought I Would Say

Somedays as a mother, all you do is damage control.  Somehow, I feel that today is going to be one of those days. (sigh)

It all started yesterday morning with something I never thought I would say. 

Here's the backstory: While eating a delicious breakfast of scrambled egg cups and bacon, Fixit wasn't that hungry so was goofing more than eating.  My husband and I were talking and the kids were eating.  I looked over at Fixit and she had the piece of bacon hanging over her nose.  Huh?!  First thing I never thought I would say: "Get the bacon off your nose!"

Fast forward to this morning.

Fixit was finishing her breakfast, at least that is what I THOUGHT she was doing.  After she was "done," I decided she could have some cartoon time - which generally works well during my email-checking in the morning. 

She started to sneeze like crazy and her eyes were watering.  Not quite normal for her, but everyone has been sneezy lately, so I didn't give it much thought.  Then I realized that she was trying to dig for "treasure."  I made her come by me, and then I realized it was only the left eye that was watering and that side of her nose looked a little off.  I couldn't tell what she had SHOVED up there, but hoped that making her blow her nose would get rid of it.  I really didn't need another Dr's visit, we've had enough of those in the past few weeks.  Luckily, she was able to get the object out with a good blow. 

I'm not exactly sure how much bread was up there, but it was quite the compacted ball of bread.

Hence, the second thing in less than 24 hours that I never thought I would say, "Never shove bread up your nose. Wait! Never shove ANYTHING up your nose!"

And here I thought today would be all about my Anniversary...  I love you, Dear!  Happy 13th Anniversary.

I gotta go check on Fixit and make sure nothing else has ended in a nose.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

80 degrees and a trip to the Pumpkin Patch

What a beautiful day!  It got up to 80 degrees today.  What unbelievable weather for October!

After taking my sister back to the airport this morning, after she did a quick 4-day visit, I stopped for more jars from Fleet Farm.  I had literally run out of canning jars trying to keep up with the bounty we have been able to harvest this year.  Ok, that so didn't sound like me.  Let's try this version:  I've had sooooo much food to can this year that I ran out of stinking canning jars.  (Closer to me.) 

One of the smaller trees
Another small tree
Here are some apple tree pictures - I could literally be taking care of apples every day from now until Christmas.  (And these are after I've already taken care of at least 10 5-gallon pails full.)
Just the biggest tree

We went to the local Pumpkin Patch this afternoon with the kids.  It was amazing how nice it was.  Here are some pictures from our outing.

K & Fixit on the lawn mower train

Bug on the lawn mower train

It's not the biggest one, but it's the biggest one K could carry.

Fixit is carrying the little one for Mom.

Heave. Ho!

The aftermath of an afternoon outside.
K, Bug, and Fixit had a great time.  They got their faces painted, went through a corn maze, looked at the animals in the petting zoo, rode the lawn mower train, and got to pick out pumpkins.  We ended up with 6 large pumpkins.  We ARE NOT carving them today.  That might be a next week project.  We might paint them instead - have to see how ambitious Mom is.