Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Time

This past weekend, we made our annual trek to the pumpkin farm. To Gabriel's intense delight, we found a farm with far more than just pumpkins -- it also had a corn maze, animals, a train ride and a haunted house. (As you can imagine, Gabriel was practically vibrating with delight!) Gabe's favorite part, surprisingly, was the haunted house -- which really consisted of a semi trailer with a pitch black tunnel, strobe lights and freaky looking spiders and alien dolls propped in odd places.
Tonight we carved the pumpkins. Again, Gabriel was super excited. We bought a book of patterns, but he wanted a Batman design, so we had to go online to find ideas. Nate carved a modified crystal skull, since he will be trick-or-treating in full Indian Jones gear ... Ash wanted a skull and crossbones, since he's going as a pirate. I didn't pick out a pumpkin, but I did carve the cat for Rhylah. It was great fun!

Here we all are at the pumpkin farm.

Rhylah makes friends with a goat.

My boys enjoy cider and popcorn in the barn.

Rhylah stands by the pumpkins.

Asher poses with a pumpkin hat while watching dad carve.

Gabe freaks out about the goo while gutting his pumpkin. Strangely, Asher had absolutely no problems with reaching into his pumpkin to clean it out. Gabriel, however, must have stopped three times to wash his hands...

Asher imitates dads carving skills as he works on a small chunk-o-pumpkin.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Three Little Spooks

Here are my three cuties, all dressed up in their Halloween gear; Ash is Jack Sparrow, Gabe is Batman, and Rhylah is Little Red Riding Hood.
We heard there was a parade downtown today, so we showed up ... only to find that we were IN the parade! They gathered about 50 or so kids and families at one end of Main Street and then marched them down the road for a Halloween parade. It was a perfect, chilly, overcast fall day.
After the parade, we went trick-or-treating at the area businesses. It was quite cold, so we only lasted a little while, but the kids had a great time! Main Street was packed, and nearly every business was involved, handing out candy -- with their employees standing in the windows watching the parade and waving and smiling. It was one of the first times that I've felt truly a part of this community since we moved here. St. Joe is definitely starting to feel more and more like home. We'll post more photos on Thursday, when we do the "real" trick-or-treating.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Day in Saugatuck

My sister came for a visit last weekend to see our new house and spend some time relaxing! We spent one afternoon in Saugatuck, a cozy, quaint little town with little shops and plenty to see and do. While we were there, we took advantage of the fall colors to plop the girls down into the leaves and snap some photos. Sydney and Rhylah are only three months apart, and we can hardly wait until they're old enough to chase each other around and have tea parties. For now, however, they will have to make do with making baby noises at each other and occasionally pulling on each other's faces. Ah the joys of babyhood!

Me and my girl on a beautiful Fall afternoon.

Rhylah and Sydney, enjoying the park, and trying to decide whether or not to eat the leaves...

"I don't know, it looks kinda crunchy ... should we try it?"

Fun smiles from Miss Sydney.

Rhylah shows off her new trick of standing. Don't worry Syd, in three months, you'll be chasing her all over the park!

Beautiful girl!

Okay, I know I'm biased, but isn't my niece a cutie pie???

"Here mom! A leaf, just for you!! Now tell my Uncle to get out of my face with the camera already!!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fun with Foliage

It was quite brisk today, but the kids decided to brave the chill and play in some leaves out front this afternoon after school. Even Rhylah got in on the action. Check it out!

Super Asher takes a leap at his brother...

... and the two end up in a laughing heap on the ground.

My cutie pies! You might notice that both boys, especially Asher, got drastic haircuts lately. Nathan gave them haircuts the other night. I still can't get used to Asher's short hair! But I'm sure it will be long again in no time at all! And at least I can finally see his eyes! (It was getting REALLY long!)

Check out her new sparkly pink sneakers!

Mr. Cool

Finally, Ash gives me a REAL smile to photograph -- he's been tricky with this lately...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rhylah's 1-year photo

Nathan shot Rhy's 1-year photo this past weekend, and here it is! He also shot some great pics of the boys while he was at it. Enjoy!

Mr. Asher, looking dashing as ever. This boy needs a haircut. He keeps telling me he wants in short, "Like a baby." But I don't think I can ever cut it THAT short! I love his lovely long locks!

Super cool Gabriel!

Tell me this little girl doesn't have her daddy exactly where she wants him!! Wrapped around her little finger!

She's been giving kisses for a few weeks now. Well, sort of! She makes the sound "Mmmmmma!" and presses her face against mine. Very sweet!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thank you Japan! I ... guess .... ???

I posted this 20-second YouTube video of Asher getting his ears cleaned almost a year and a half ago. Much to my surprise, when I checked my videos on YouTube recently, instead of the usual 80-100 hits that most of my homemade videos have, this one now has over 3,000. And many of the hits have come from Japan. ???? All I can say is, hats off to you Japan! You must enjoy strange videos of kids getting their ears cleaned!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Faces from Long Ago

About three weeks ago, I went through some of the old family albums at my Aunt Kathy's house, in the hopes of finding some gems to hang on our dining room wall once we'd finished painting. Here are a few of the photos I came across....

This is my favorite, without a doubt. I call this photo "The Rat Pack" because that's just what they look like to me. A group of great friends. That's my great grandpa Emil, on the far right, kneeling with the white shirt and tie. The photo is circa 1913.

This is my favorite photo of my grandmother. She was an amazing woman, and never what you would think of as conventionally beautiful. But in this photo, a picture of her as as a teenager, I think she is luminous.

The old farm, which is STILL the farm where my uncle Carl lives. (with a new house now). This path, however, leading up to the house, is still there. It is crazy to me, to see it in this photo, looking so different!

My great-grandma, on the far left, (who married the guy in the very first photo) came to America with her father and sister, who I BELIEVE are the other two people in this photo.

The sister of the girl in the last photo. My great-great aunt, Tante Lana (I'm not sure on the spelling there!) Her name was Helene. I just adore this photo. Her expression seems so calm and yet wistful.

A cousin, Emma Sauer. This photo kinda creeps me out a little, because I think she looks like a ghost. Hee hee!

Here is ghost girl, a few years later ... a beautiful portrait.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy Birthday OFFICIALLY Rhylah!

Here is a quick sneak peek back in time, to the day of Rhylah's birth. I love how Asher keeps calling her "Tiger" in this video! The first time he heard her cry in the delivery room, he turned to my parents, outside the door, with big eyes and said "Tiger!" and that was her nickname for awhile!
Happy birthday Rhylah! (Photos from the traditional 1st-birthday spaghetti dinner will be coming soon!)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Treasure Hunting

I LOVE antiques! The thing that I love most about them, is how one person's cast-off items are very often some else's treasure. In St. Joe, they have something called "Antiques on the Bluff" the first Sunday of every month throughout the summer. This past Sunday was the last one. And we found some really fun stuff -- including a pretty daisy ring that cost $2, and these funky, fun cups and saucers which have a built-in plate as part of the saucer -- the perfect spot for a scone or a cookie!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Birthday Party!

We had a small family get-together for Rhylah's birthday this weekend. Aunt Kathy, Uncle Jon, Uncle Carl and my folks were able to attend. Her birthday is actually on Wednesday, so we celebrated a little bit early. What a fun time it was! Rhylah loved her cake, and her pink pony and purse from us! The whole day was a LOT of fun!

The Birthday Girl

I posted this picture so people could see the new colors we painted our living room (which used to be bright sea-foam green) and our dining room (a sort of harvest wheat color, formerly red wallpaper.)

Walking with Papa

The Harrmann's sing to our baby girl. Check out her princess hat!

Rhylah loved her cake and ate almost all of it. But when the icing first got on her fingers, she kept shaking her hands, as if trying to shake it off. It was quite funny!

Opening presents

She's barely 1, and daddy already bought her a pony!

I love the look on her face here!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pinching the Penny in New and Innovative ways

This handy juicer was my grandmother's and has been in storage for the last 10 years. You put your fruit in the top, the boiling water in the bottom, and the steam goes up to the fruit while the juice comes out into the middle compartment. Then you just use the nozzle to fill up your mason jars -- and cap 'em. Easy as pie. And since my Uncle was just going to toss 8 lugs of Niagara grapes in the field to rot, I definitely saved some pennies by canning 36 quarts of fresh white grape juice today!

I don't know about everyone else, but we've felt the pinch of the recession. Or maybe we just "think" we have. Is it maybe all psychological? Who knows. All I DO know, is that I watched CNN a few days ago while the bailout bill was failing and the DOW was diving, and suddenly I realized I had bitten all my fingernails off.
While I'm not blessed with a fancy stock portfolio, I still find ways to worry about the economy. But my worries are more along the lines of ... what will the cost of gas be next week? Is this going to cause the price of groceries to shoot up? Or ... should I stock up and buy a 40 lb bag of rice and store it in my basement in case mayhem ensues in the coming months and a can of soup suddenly costs $30?

I was explaining all these fears to Nate as we were drifting off to sleep the other night. As I lay there, picturing Armageddon in my head, with everyone battling it out for food and water (why do fears get worse in the moments before we succumb to sleep?) ... I suddenly asked Nathan "Do you have a gun?"
"hmphhrh?" He asked, his head smooshed in his pillow.
"Do you have a gun?" I repeated more urgently, suddenly sure that Armageddon would happen tomorrow.
"Yes." He said. "But no ammo. I'd have to buy some."
"Yeah, maybe you should."
A pause. "Why. So you can defend your 40 lb bag of rice?"
I kicked him hard -- then started laughing so hard (with the mental image of me dressed up as Rambo in full war gear over a bag of rice) that I nearly started crying.
Are these crazy fears? Probably. But as a family of five on one income, we are definitely learning to be frugal in this somewhat frightening economy. And we're increasingly finding new and wonderful ways to do it. Using half as much coffee beans in my morning grind. Clipping coupons. Planning out my meals ahead of time so I only buy what I need at the grocery store and no more. Canning cannning canning ... I canned 36 quarts of homemade Niagara grape juice today. Turning off unnecessary lights. Using half as much shampoo, because really, there's no need to use a dollop the size of my palm. Not eating out, virtually at all. Buying cheaper diapers. And what have I learned from this experience so far? Well, mostly that I should have cut a lot of the excess fat out of our monetary diet a long time ago.
I'm also curious if anyone else is finding new and fun ways to stay ahead in this economy, so by all means, if you are brewing your own detergent or have any other innovative ideas, please post them.
In the meantime, may we all live long and prosper ... as hard or easy as that may be in the coming months ahead.