Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall Fun!

It took almost all of October, but we finally got in some fall fun this weekend!  We are almost ready for Halloween (a.k.a., the day I will completely humiliate myself in the midst of my co-workers) and I feel like we did our duty.

Near the end of the week, Craig had to go to a work-related function up in Canada so I had the kids.  On the way out of the school parking lot, the sun shone perfectly above a huge line of clouds and it highlighted the trees so perfectly...
Looks like a painting, doesn't it?
Feeling fall-ish, and having Jacob complaining in the back seat that things are boring when Daddy isn't around, we played outside with the last few minutes of daylight.  Carter still wants to play with his lawnmower every chance he gets, and Jacob wanted to play a little hockey.  Jacob had had fun playing in the leaves at school, so I suggested we go in the back, try to rake up a respectable pile, and play for a bit.  Given the fact that we had so many leaves at our old house that we couldn't even rake them all before the snow came, it is such a weird change of pace to have almost no leaves at this house, even though our entire neighborhood is full of trees.  We have some trees in the back, but they just don't seem to fall in the yard.  Our neighbors' yards are full, though, and since no one's next door we could go over there...but we managed one decent pile and the boys had their three minutes of fun with it:
Throwing leaves at each other!
Saturday I was hoping the weather cooperated so we could go to the pumpkin patch.  When we woke up the forecast had improved and it looked like we'd be good until mid-afternoon.  Woohoo!  Originally I was planning on trying a new place that got good reviews on Facebook, but the more I thought about it, the more a new plan came into view.  I had been wanting to make another trip to one of our favorite spots for gluten-free food, the Livingston County Pizza Co., where they have a full, delicious gluten-free menu plus a full gluten-free bakery.  The big issue is that it's about a half hour away and not particularly convenient.  But our favorite pumpkin patch was in that general direction, and when I mapped it out, the pizza place was only 10 minutes beyond the pumpkin patch!  Sweet!  Still, we'd only have a couple hours to play at the pumpkin patch before we'd all be getting hungry.  Not that Carter would last much beyond that anyway, but keep in mind that we can't just grab a couple donuts like most people, so we have to plan a little differently.  Unfortunately, Carter was awake earlier than usual and ended up being a bit challenging for most of the trip, but we did it.

One of the first stops upon arrival was the alpacas.  They're so cute with their funny fur and long necks.  And when this one laid down and practically smiled for the photo, I couldn't resist...

It was a lovely day, cool but not cold, with plentiful sun.  The place was busy but not crazy, and we had plenty to check out...
Carter & Daddy
The next stop was this giant slide.  Jacob was such a big boy going up all by himself!

In the meantime, Carter climbed the hay bales, and I couldn't resist this picture of Jacob when he came back over, because I took one of him when he was three with the same backdrop.  My, how things have changed!

Next up was the giant jumping pillow.  This is a new thing at this farm since our last trip, and Jacob had a blast...

Next up was the animal section.  We took a ride on one of those barrel trains (though we rode in the caboose), and checked out some baby chickens.  We headed over to see goats, pigs, cows, rabbits, and a couple other interesting ones...
So, this is a yak.  I found it hilarious because just the night before, Carter and I were reading an alphabet book and the "Y" included a yak.  At the time I silently bemoaned the yak because, well, how often do you see a yak in your daily life?  I feel like so many things used yaks when I was learning to read, and how many had I ever seen?  Well, now it's at least one.

Say hi to a very intense emu.  They are really interesting animals up feathers, dinosaur feet, a twisty neck, and crazy eyes.
Next we walked across a bridge into an area better suited for the littler kids, full of tricycles, gravel pits, and duck races.  Carter pretty much just wanted to hang out in this car.

Craig tried yet again to teach Jacob how to pedal (seriously, he just can't make his body do is the weirdest thing), and then they headed over to one of the gravel pits where Jacob got to use one of the diggers...

Carter didn't want to sit on the giant tractor even though tractor is one of his favorite words, and the only other thing he liked was pushing around trucks in the gravel.

Knowing we were short on kid patience, we headed back out to head toward the hayride, which goes toward some other activities.  Such a classic view, no?

One of my favorite family pictures ever was taken on one of these hayrides (also when Jacob was three), but I couldn't get all smiles (or a willing picture taker), so this will have to do...

On the other side there was a tire crawl, pedal cart races, a little volleyball area, and this sports challenge, which had basketball, football, and baseball sections.  Baseball was the easiest for Jacob and he could have done it for hours.

Carter and I wandered over to the remains of one of the pumpkin patches, where he was very purposefully pointing and talking to these pumpkins...

When Craig and I first came to this patch (I was newly pregnant but had no clue), we did pumpkin slingshotting.  Now they have high-powered apple cannons, too! 
Hard to see, but they're up on an army truck shooting apples at targets.  Man, those things flew!
Because we were short on time and the kids' patience was waning, we skipped the long line at the zip line (which is my favorite thing to do) and Jacob just did one quick slide on the tunnel slide through a hill, and we started heading back toward the front of the farm.  We made a pit stop at the spider web while we placed our lunch order...

...then took an unsuccessful trip to the corn box.  Jacob still enjoyed it but Carter wanted nothing to do with it.  Jacob really wanted to pick out pumpkins, so we did a quick scan of the small assortment that was left (well, small compared to what I'm pretty sure it once was).  Carter liked looking at them enough that the tantrums stopped for a bit...
 ...and Jacob found his choice...

Carter was trying to pick them up, which is exactly what Jacob wanted to do at this age...

...and he found one he could lift...

We paid for the pumpkins and snuck in a pack of donuts for me to hide in the kitchen.  Sorry, it was hard enough to avoid all the other tasty food there.  I really wanted donuts.  We said good-bye to this guy, and headed out to lunch.

Carter was asleep before we ever left the parking lot, and got a cat nap in while we drove to lunch.  We had our tasty lunch of gluten-free pizza and a cheeseburger panini, then picked out half a dozen cookies (two s'mores, two M&M, two chocolate crinkle) and a chocolate half moon cookie to go.  Carter fell asleep again on the way home and slept most of the rest of the afternoon.  I headed out to work on my Halloween costume.  Progress was made, though I am totally going to embarrass myself at work on Friday!  All in the name of fun, right?

We had a low-key rest of the weekend but it will be a busy week trying to get ready for Halloween.  I'm trying to decide if my costume needs more tweaks, and I need to decide what I'm going to use to give Carter a mouse face, because I no longer have the makeup I used for Jacob.  Jacob's costume is ready to go, but I need to make him a batch of pumpkin cutout cookies so he's got something to decorate at school on Friday with his classmates.  I also need to decide what I want to bring to work for the annual day of gluttony.  I frequently make my double-decker pull apart bread, but it's complicated in the morning when I already have multiple costumes to finagle.  We shall see. 

And nowlet's start praying that Halloween night is pleasant for trick-or-treating...

Friday, October 24, 2014


Lego is a part of life in this family.  I grew up with Legos, as my brother was a big Lego builder.  I had a small set of my own that I liked, but once my brother outgrew them, I definitely enjoyed building with his.  My creativity was limited, but I still enjoyed it.  Craig loved Legos as a kid, and he started sharing his huge collection with Jacob pretty early on.  They spend a lot of time building and dreaming up things to build.  We have some Duplos waiting for Carter to be ready for them, too.

Jacob has gotten many sets over the years for Christmas and birthdays, and I've done my fair share of assembly.  For a while now I've been looking for a set for me.  I'm not sure why, exactly, but I guess I wanted one that was more my style, possibly one that I could use to play with Jacob or at least connect with him a little more on his level--you know, that Mommy has something cool.  My main concern with that scenario was that my set would most likely be a pretty pricey set and I couldn't really risk letting Jacob actually keep mine with his.  He'd steal pieces without even thinking about it, and they'd disappear into the abyss of Legos in our basement...meaning I'd never be able to build my fancy set again.  Even my cute free Lego store set that we got when we went to the Lego store opening here got gutted and I can't find the pieces I need to rebuild it.  Maybe someday if we organize the Legos better. 

I was mostly looking at the various Creator sets, which provide instructions for three different builds.  Last Christmas I was eyeing up a cool house that even included a light brick!  It was a neat modern house with a couple other options.  I never found it as cheap as I wanted it, though, and decided to just give it time.  Earlier this year I happened to see a new set, and it was exactly what I had been looking for.  It was a Creator set that could become a variety of different business/apartment combos.  When I was a little girl I played with Barbies and dollhouses, so this set seemed more up my alley than any other (well, aside from the $150+ super-fancy sets like the department store or the Parisian restaurant).  It was still more than I thought it was prudent to spend on Legos, though, but when my birthday came back in August, guess what the boys had waiting for me when I got home?

I almost made them take it back!  But I appreciated the sentiment, so it stayed.  And I started building.  Each building option in the set is hinged, so they can be a full building when closed up, or be open for playing inside.  First up was the flower shop.
Flower shop downstairs, apartment upstairs

The florist shop register.  Hard to see, but there's a couple flowers behind the glass.

This is the flower arranging station, complete with a spray bottle of water.

Upstairs is a fancy armchair and a table, plus two out to the stairs, and another to the balcony.  And yes, that guy is holding a chicken leg.

The exterior stairs...notice the cool planter and lighting...

The back entrance to the flower shop and the apartment balcony

The front of the flower shop is so many flowers and a cute canopy.  And how fancy is the work around the upstairs windows?
Next up was the mechanic shop with an office upstairs.  I love the corner placement of this one!
The wrench sign over the car bay is so cute!

Lots of cute little details in this one, including the cute picture window, key drop box, balcony, and cool stuff above the window

Inside to the left is the tool area, and the car and customer entrances are to the right.  Upstairs is an office with roof access, a coffee maker, and a flat screen monitor computer.

Back outside you can get a better view of the balcony and the view of the tools through the picture window, along with the key drop.
It broke my heart to take apart each of those creations, but it's all about progress!  Once I had tried out both of those smaller builds, I needed to move on to the big one!  This one had two buildings instead of just one, and it ended up taking me parts of a few evenings to get it all done.  Of course, when I took these pictures I forgot to add in the cool yellow car that was also part of this group!

This shows the two separate buildings placed together to look like a street, bike shop on the left and cafe on the right.

Front window of bike shop

Front window and patio of cafe...note the curtains!

Back of both shop loading dock on the right, stairs to apartment on left.

Balcony on bike shop includes a BBQ grill!

Inside of bike shop building...note the loading ramp from the loading dock and the double ladders to access the upstairs and the roof

Close-up of the apartment - bed on the left, and kitchen on the right.  The sink even has a basin and there's a frying pan on the stove!

Inside the café...I love the pendant light and the tiny table in the window.  The curtains are fantastic!

Downstairs in the café there are cupcakes on the counter and an adorable beverage machine!  Note the coffee cup hanging on the wall!  Upstairs is a side table with a cute lamp.  I didn't post one of the other side upstairs, but there was just a chair.  You also get a glimpse of the mini-garden on the roof.

The whole thing, opened up!  So charming, no?

The little arch was really cute with the sign comprised of the cup and the cupcake!

With that building closed up, the arch disappears and morphs into a two-sided sign.  And the ATM was awesome, complete with the dollar sign above the screen.
It's been a really fun experience putting these together.  The architecture is so pretty and so creative.  The fact that they can take a set of pieces and make three distinctly different builds is so amazing.  The concepts are all pretty similar, but they manage to tweak them just enough to keep each one unique.  I just love the little details, like the random stripes through the brick walls, the columns, the cute roof edging, and the sweet little window boxes.

I also earned some major cool points with Jacob, who said that I was a great Lego builder.  It stinks that I can't let him play with it, but he is totally the type to randomly steal pieces and I will never recover them enough to recreate this very expensive model.  But if he needs a neighborhood outside his baseball stadium, I might lend it out. 

Anyway, I know it's random, but this was a sweet gift from my boys and I wanted to share.  It was a lot of work and though it seems silly, I'm proud of it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Gapless Wonder!

It finally happened.  Jacob lost a tooth!  He was a late bloomer in that department like his mama, and the tooth that's been pretty loose for a few weeks now finally came out today.  And Jacob pulled it out himself!  He did it during the afterschool program today, and I found out when I called home this evening on my way to the gym, and had to wait until after my class to see it for myself...

The funny thing about it is that his permanent tooth is already halfway in, so he doesn't have the usual gap that most kids have.  He's got a hole in his gum and a tooth that just looks out of alignment!  So hard to believe that one of the teeth we waited so long for is now done!  Those baby teeth were so hard fought, and it's funny to think that they'll all going to come out at some point!  I vaguely remember losing those early teethmyself, but I don't have as much recollection of the later ones, aside from my four canines which were pulled out together.  Ouch. 

I'm proud of him that he did it because it was making him nervous and bothering him when he ate.  The tooth fairy has to come tonight, too, and then the wait will be on for the next one! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Inside and Outside

Another weekend is in the books.  Carter has yet another cold, which was an unpleasant surprise when he woke up Saturday morning.  The weather was cool and rainy all day, and we spent most of the morning inside deciding how long of a trip we were going to make to NT to visit my parents.  We had a few things to accomplish this weekend and I wasn't sure how much of our chaos my dad would be up for since he still can't really participate in it for a couple months.  As much as I hate same-day trips up and down the Thruway, we decided just to make it a day trip.  It saved on packing and gave us flexibility for Sunday.  On the way out of town we stopped at Goodwill so I could scout out some things for Halloween (interesting, but ultimately didn't get anything), and then headed to Buffalo.

My parents keep talking about downsizing sometime soon and moving to Rochester--I am torn, since I'd love to have them here but I worry that if something ever happened to our jobs, we'd consider moving back to Buffalo--and my mom was investigating things in the attic, where most of our old, special toys live.  She had brought down a couple boxes, one with some classic old Fisher-Price toys that I remember spending a lot of quality time with, even though they were primarily John's.  Jacob loved checking them out...
The fire truck, plane, and Jeep (with sleeping bags) were so fun!
Carter took a liking to my personal favorite, the Little People camper.  It came complete with a toilet and sink, boat for the top, and a vehicle for the camper to sit on.  I remember playing with that a lot, and he spent a lot of time just pulling it around the house by its string...

There was also this little kitchen set that I'd forgotten about until a couple months ago when some internet thing did a list of toys all 80s kids owned.  This was one of them:
The burners got red when the knobs turned, the timer bell dinged, there was a pot, pan, pitcher, two place settings, and salt and pepper.  The green gingham tablecloth was actually a bag to store all of the pieces.
Being inside all day was tough for the kids, but the "new" toys helped.  Still, Carter in particular was all over the place.  He drove cars and liked to climb...
Proud but guilty face!
I brought home my old record player and all of my records in case Jacob thinks it's cool.  I still need to hook it up.  I think I practically learned to read with those records with books, and while he's got the iPad for that now, he might find it fun.  I also raided the box of little kid books and snagged all of the ones I have the fondest memories of.  I'm getting bored with Carter's bookshelf (Jacob kept some of the ones we read with him, like his Brady Brady series) so my old favorites will be fun.  Some of them are full of new words and lots of stuff for him to look at, and those couldn't come at a better time.  He's really starting to try some new words--"baby" was a new one this weekend--and I think the more he sees and hears things, the more he's going to pick up.

Sunday was dreary early in the day, and Carter's cold was bad enough that we stayed home from church.  No need to pass it on to the other kids in the family room during church.  I know one of us could have taken Jacob, but quite frankly I was not in the mood to explain to Jacob why he couldn't stay home too.  He's really argumentative right now and I knew that would be a major point of contention.  Sometimes I wonder if the amount of yelling that goes on to get out of the house on Sunday mornings negates the good we get out of going to church.  Some days it's just not good for anyone.  Anyway...the boys played Lego and Carter and I hung out and read some of the new books.  I snuck out to Wegmans during naptime and came back to an awake little boy that really wanted to go outside, runny nose and all!  Luckily the weather was decent by then, though still cold, so we headed out.  I actually snuck out for a couple minutes ahead of time with my camera.  The tree in our neighbor's yard that I can see from our kitchen is so pretty!

Since no one lives there right now, I headed over to snap a few closer shots of the tree. 

With that one tree in the background, our house looks extra pretty from this angle...

Carter's favorite toy right now is still the lawnmower, and every time he looks toward the front door, he says his version of "lawnmower", in hopes we can go out to play.  Yesterday he grabbed his jacket and put on a hat, then stood by the door and whined.  At least he got a lot of mowing time today!

I took Carter into the neighbor's yard to see if he wanted to play in the leaves, since we don't have enough in our yard (thank goodness...I had enough of that at our old house to last me forever).
He mowed through them but didn't really want to play :(

Little boy, BIG trees!
Eventually the big boys came out, too.  On a side note, Jacob's tooth is still hanging in there, though it is pretty loose!  The permanent tooth is growing in behind it already! 
The front left tooth is the loose one, loose enough to be slightly out of alignment.  You can see the new one right behind it!

The boys played lacrosse and Carter wanted to get in on the action...

Jacob switched to hockey after that and he liked that I caught him mid-shot!

I'm not ready for this colder weather, but the sun helps!  We've got one more shot to get to a pumpkin patch, so fingers crossed the weather is decent next weekend!