Thursday, October 30, 2008

Catch a ride with Farmer Ryan

Now that our children are completely addicted to hayrides...spooky hayrides at that...they are facing withdrawal symptoms. Last week Ryan and Emma decided to create their own spooky hayride with a little creativity. They filled the red wagon up with pine straw from our garden beds and staged very spooky scenes around the yard with Ryan's superhero toys.

Ryan tossed on his handmade farmer's hat, collected money from Emma, and off they went traveling by scary things like this...

A headless...repeat headless...Spiderman. Yikes! And if that weren't frightening enough, there was more to come. Like this...

Darth Vader and some superhero I am not very familiar with resting on the side of our house.

Then they took the trail to the backyard where Ryan had even more figures planted in our hammock and screened porch (I guess that is where the guests must exit for a moment.)

Emma seemed to pleased and felt she got her money's worth. I think Ryan has some bright business opportunities ahead of him. That's good. It's always nice to be a parent of a rich kid!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What to do with the hair!?!

So I have been going back and forth obsessing about what to do with Emma's hair. Do I grow her bangs out? Do I cut the bangs short? Do I cut all of her hair into a little bob? Should I try dying it bright red and weaving long extensions? I don't know.

So take a look at these recent photos and share your opinion. Emma with long grown out bangs in the top photo and the bangs clipped back in the bow in the second photo. Oh, the stressful life I lead!

We're back! This time with Emma's class.

Avery, Emma and I ventured back over to Harmon's farm again on Wednesday for Emma's 3-year-old preschool field trip. The preschool visits every year to ride the hayride, pick out a small pumpkin, have a snack and then return to the school.

Emma and her preschool class all rode the bus together over to the farm and Avery and I met them there. Emma's teacher Ms. Kim is in the front of the line in the blue jacket. Of course Emma is trailing behind the group wearing the pink jacket.

There were a few other school groups of kids there at the same time, so Emma's group killed a little time playing on the playground.

Eventually everyone squeezed onto the hayride truck and off we went for another spooky adventure.

Once we got to the pumpkin patch, all the kids were able to get off the truck and pick out their own small pumpkin to bring home. Emma is very proud of hers. It gets lugged around the house everywhere she goes. I'm just waiting for it to be dropped on the tile floor and SMACK, I'll have pumpkin goop all over my house!

This is Emma's preschool class gathered together. They are such a great bunch of little kids and get along very well. I didn't see any arguing, pushing, pulling, nothing while I was around them. Emma's other teacher, Ms. Christy is on a cruise this week with her husband so Ms. Rainey in the darker jacket has been their substitute teacher all week. She is such a nice lady.

After the hayride, the kids all got to gather around the picnic tables for a snack: chocolate animal crackers and juice boxes. Yum!

Baghead! Need I say more?

This is not Ryan's idea of a creative Halloween costume. Instead this is my boy getting fully involved in his love of reading. As I mentioned in a previous post, Ryan's school had their annual family book fair recently. The school always does a nice job of hosting authors to sign their books and talk to the kids. This year's guest was children's author Jarrett J. Krosoczka who happened to write the book titled...Can you guess it? Baghead!
Ryan loved reading the book so much he insisted on creating his own "baghead." After multiple trips to the grocery store, I finally remembered to ask for some brown paper bags for his design. He opted to follow the young character's simple design of eye and mouth holes and leave it at that.

Then Ryan announced, "I will be wearing this bag all of the time from now on. When I eat, go to school and even when I sleep."

I figured there was no point in arguing about that. If he wants to wear a bag over his head all of the time, no big deal. He'd get a few strange looks when we were out and about but I can handle that.

However, it never came to that. He enjoyed playing "baghead" for the afternoon and then the lovely mask was stowed away and hasn't made another appearance yet. "Yet" being the key word here. I figure we all have days where we want to place a bag over our head and go about our business.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Haunted Hayride

In case you haven't figured it out, we are fall and Halloween junkies who partake in every local and non-local fall event in the state of South Carolina. Well, here we are again on a Sunday afternoon and of course, no fall season is complete without a ten-minute drive over to Harmon's. Harmon's is actually a big Christmas tree farm but they are open all year long and have added seasonal activities to keep families visiting.

The fall is the best time to go though because they have all of their pumpkins on display, they offer the "haunted" hayride which keeps us coming back year after year, and they have plenty of side activities to kill a few hours: a huge playground, farm animals, antique farm equipment and cars, a grits mill, and homemade ice cream.

So our drill is to take pictures around all of their lovely fall foliage and then hemorrhage out a large portion of our income to ride the "haunted" hayride. Did I mention that it is "haunted"?

The hayride takes you around all of the farm animals: goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, and some I don't even think I can identify properly. They have several big ponds and in one they have constructed a Loch Ness Monster swimming in the middle. Now, that is one I can identify because everyone knows what the Loch Ness Monster looks like, right? No, not him - that's Ryan!

You keep traveling through the Christmas trees growing densely across the land and then the black plastic whipping in the wind appears and you have reached the haunted woods.

Now this is no ordinary grave yard or haunted house, it is a junk collector's paradise. They have something for everyone here. As you can see in the photo below, there are various "scenes" staged to frighten. This particular one helps scare those inclined from drinking and driving.

A child is bound to see every major movie superhero and villain (yes, this is part of the reason Ryan wants to go every year) along the way: Batman, Spiderman, Darth Vader, and on and on. Sometimes the characters are even mixed up in scenes together. Spiderman may be hanging from a tree while the Jolly Green Giant peers down at him. O.K. the Jolly Green Giant isn't out there but pretty much everyone else.

There is one particular scene that reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. Take a look at the photo below. There is just something a little creepy about it. I call it "The Attack of the Villagers."

At the end of the hayride, these great wooden rocking chairs are waiting for you (hayrides are a lot of work!) The kids hung out for a few minutes before we took off for the playground. I know what you are thinking looking at the photo below...and no, Avery did not have an accident! Although she does kind of have a guilty look on her face...

We're Going on a Ghost Hunt...

We were a little behind getting our Halloween decorations out this year, but we finally managed to get things in order this weekend. Halloween is Ryan's favorite holiday by far so he has been begging me to get the house decorated since the end of August. The sad thing is, some of our neighbors have had Halloween decorations out almost that long! Anyway, not my thing.

So we pulled out the talking monsters, vampire, ghosts, spiders, pumpkins and spider webs and got to work. The ghosts floating in our trees out front make an appearance every year. Ryan and I made the fabric ghosts three years ago now. He decorated their faces by himself so it is always fun to get those out and look at them.

And if the ghosts don't frighten all of the neighborhood children away, this scary vampire should do it peaking around the tree. Actually I am more afraid of kids deciding to karate chop him down for fun. And by kids I mean Ryan.

Now we still have to spookify the inside of our house, but I figure that can wait until maybe next weekend before we celebrate Halloween Friday night. Is anyone having a Halloween party? Last year I threw a big bash for the neighborhood kids before the actual Halloween night so I've still got loads of games, decorations and recipes (including the infamous brains paté, um mm, yum, yum.) I even had the adults grossed out!

This year I am thinking...more like pondering...inviting kids and their chaperones over after trick-or-treating for cider, treats, and games. I'm just not sure I'm up for it or not. I guess next week will tell but of course I have to get invites done, etc, etc. Needless to say, you'll find out next week!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Firemen, Puppet Shows and Avery...They Don't Mix

It is national fire prevention month and so each of the girls had special fire safety days at preschool where they get an exciting visit from the local firemen. Emma's school conducted their fire safety day last week and she was able to look around inside a fire truck and according to her, even inspect the underneath of the fire truck. A bunch of three-year-olds crawling under a large fire truck doesn't sound safe to me but sometimes Emma exaggerates a little so who really knows what happened that afternoon. I can tell you she learned a song that she still sings in the car called "Hurry, Hurry, Hurry" and basically the fireman hurry, hurry, hurries to drive the truck, climb the ladder and squirt the water. O.K. that was Emma's fire experience.

Avery's was much more traumatic. Her preschool had their visit from the local firemen this week and when I went to pick her up for the day all of the little 18 month-2 year-olds were wearing these adorable Dalmatian fire hats that they had made earlier that day. They even used their own fingerprints to make the dots on the Dalmatian ears. So cute!

When I inquired about the day's events Avery's teacher, Ms. Susan, started frowning and explained they never even made it to the firetruck. I immediately assumed it was because of the loud sirens and was telling her about Emma's experience and how loud she thought it was. No wonder little ones didn't want to see the truck. But that wasn't it. Nope, they were afraid of the puppets in the puppet show! All but two kids in the class ran screaming to their teachers (she was quick to tell me Avery was one of the screamers.) So they took the little ones out to play on the playground instead. So much for "stop, drop and roll." Maybe next year. But doesn't she look cute in her little fire hat?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ooooo...We got BOOED!

Each year around Halloween in our neighborhood, neighbors start "booing" each other. It's basically a Secret Santa type activity where you put together little Halloween treats, a copy of the poster for the front door and instructions on how to keep it going so everyone gets "booed" by Halloween.

On Saturday night after our busy excursion to the Crab Shack, we put the kids down for the night and came back downstairs to relax. Michael was watching football (go figure) and I was playing around on the computer (go figure) when our doorbell rang. Even though our computer is literally right next to the front door, I just sat there trying to figure out who would be ringing our doorbell that late. Most of our friends know to knock since the kids are all in bed. Michael finally opens the door and just stands there. Eventually he comes back inside and announces "We've been booed."

Our secret "booer" obviously knew us and our kids since they had wrapped individual goody bags of candy for each child. Sunday after church the kids enjoyed another tea party/picnic lunch out on the screened porch. As desert, they got to break into their bags of candy.

Ryan ate his candy while he kicked back on the phone talking to his cousin Hannah. Thanks for calling Hannah! Now it is our turn to "boo" two of our other neighbors...Ooooo...SCARY!

Laid back family weekend

This weekend the kids had a chance to spend a lot of time together and honestly, they played remarkably well with each other. Friday night was a Scholastic book fair at Ryan's elementary school. We had a hot dog dinner there and enjoyed shopping for a couple of new books, listening and participating in a book reading of The Little Red Hen, and making a bag puppet.

Saturday the kids spent much of their time playing out front riding their bicycles, tricycles and as you can see from the photo below...mowing the grass.

We grabbed some seafood at our local Crab Shack on the pond and the kids enjoyed feeding the geese nearby. As they were heading out to greet the geese with all of their leftovers from dinner (which means fistfuls of French fries) they were instructed to drop the fries and grab peanuts from the peanut bin. For some reason the geese really like peanuts (in the shell)...I had no idea.

The last photo I just had to include to showcase what our dear dog Wish has to endure on a regular basis. Avery was eating an apple since all of our kids now know where to find the apples stored in the garage. They think it is the coolest thing to grab an apple and start munching away anytime they like. And...they are even starting to remember to wash the apples off themselves. So Avery's eating an apple in her highchair and decides she is full. So she starts throwing pieces of apple all over the floor for Wish to clean up. As you can see, some of the apple pieces actually land on the poor dog's back. Poor Wish!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mom of the Year Award...I don't think so!

O.K. this is what my kids had for their afterschool snack today...candy corn (very timely I think) and sour patch watermelons (not so much). But look at those smiles on their faces and it bought me an extra 10 minutes to play around on the computer. Besides, they need to be nice and sugared up when we take them to Ryan's elementary school book fair tonight!

On another note, take a look at Emma's style choice. And when I say "Emma's style choice" that is exactly what I mean because I am no longer deemed fit to pick out her clothing for the day. On top of that, she is insistent on changing her outfits multiple times during the day. It is 3:30 p.m. and this is her fourth clothing change so far today. Part of me is secretly delighted that she is such a little fashionista at the young age of 3, but then I realize that this is probably not a good thing. It is probably fate coming to kick me in the backside for falling prey to every cute seasonal necessity, must-have label, and sample sale deal. This could be the beginning of a very dark storm...

On the light side of things, it should keep things interesting around the house. Let's see what she selects for the very upscale family book fair tonight...

THE Dance box!

Emma's school back pack has been doing double duty lately as her dance bag for dance class. Well, I was browsing through some of the dance bags available online as I was looking for a little black dance skirt and I came upon this dance box shown in the photo. I just had to buy is the same exact dance box I had when I was her age taking dance. I just loved this box when I was little. It has the top that opens to stuff shoes, leotards, whatever and then a side opening for another pair of shoes. It came just in time yesterday for Emma's Thursday evening dance class. She was very excited to show off her new dance accessories at class!

Here she is proudly posing with her new dance skirt and dance box.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Officially Apple Picking Time

***Update: I've added a few more photos from our apple picking venture on Sunday.

One of the beautiful apple trees.

The gorgous mountain views as seen from the orchard.

Michael, Emma and Ryan hauling apples.

Jamey and Avery posing in front of the mountain scenery.

Emma catching a ride while she munches on an apple.

Since everyone was feeling better by Saturday, we decided to venture over to SkyTop Apple Orchard in Hendersonville, NC on Sunday afternoon to pick some apples. Apple picking is a yearly activity for our family and we alternate between two different orchards that are both very nice, but SkyTop is on top of a mountain and it is gorgous. Put together beautiful views with beautiful weather and you've got the perfect apple picking day.

We didn't get there until mid afternoon and it was extremely busy at the orchard, but we managed to get everything done. We started the day with the hayride, without the hay. Ryan corrected me when I said "hayride" and said, "Mommy, there was no hay so it is just a 'ride'." Then we picked the apples...We were able to get a variety this year. Stayman, Fuji, Golden and one Granny Smith. Yes, one Granny Smith. They were really picked over and we aren't 12 feet tall.

They also have a kids play area so we concluded our day there and let the kids release the rest of their energy before we packed them all up in the minivan for the 2 1/2 hour drive home. I took lots of great pictures that I want to share so check back for some photo updates a little later. Hope everyone had a great weekend!