Thursday, October 31, 2013

pumpkin carving

Happy Halloween!!

I am a little saddened by how quickly this holiday seems to have crept up on us and, at the same time, grateful we have made it this far through the year.  If my memory serves me correctly (in this case I think it does, though mostly it does not) we never got around to carving pumpkins last year.  So on Sunday, when we put the big 'ol round guys on the table and promptly cut their tops off, it was Nolan's first experience with pumpkin guts and the big boys' first experience in quite awhile.

Nolan wasn't quite sure what to make of it and kind of found the whole thing gross. But this kid is nothing but determined and kept right on scooping those seeds out regardless of his feelings. This is pretty indicative of his personality, we often call him an ox or a bull, a little force, because he is always charging on ahead, plowing through life.

Hutton couldn't wait for Collin to chop the top off of his big tall pumpkin and as soon as the coast was clear he was digging in as far as his arm could reach. He loved every second of it, cackling with glee.  This is also a pretty good indication of Hutt's personality; he is a thrill seeker. We fully expect this one will leave home in search of mountains to climb and seas to explore.

Keaton was also waiting with anticipation to dig in, but he took a little different approach. Sorting his pulp meticulously he make sure he got each and every seed out and in a bowl to be baked to perfection.  That entire bowl was full by the time he was done.  I'm sure you can guess, this is also representative of Keaton's personality: detail oriented, perfectionist, and organized.

After we got all of the pulp out and seeds sorted it was time to draw on some faces...

...and start carving.

The boys were really happy with their end results and this got them in the Halloween spirit; a couple hours later it was time to don the costumes and do a little Trick-or-Treating.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

at the pumpkin patch

It's Halloween week and while our kids have already gone Trick-or-Treating there is still some celebrating left to be done.  Hutton's class party is tomorrow. Keaton's is Thursday and if I'm ambitious enough I might plan a fun dinner for Thursday night (ideas welcome, if you have them! Something easy please!)

A couple of weekends ago we paused the Packer Game and headed to the pumpkin patch at half time. Last year we had the place to ourselves and we thought going in the middle of the game might give us that luxury again (we were almost right - just one other family there at the beginning). This patch is just down the road, around the corner, and down another road from our house.  It's a private house with a field full of pumpkins and squash and gourds.  There isn't any "extra" pumpkin patch fun that you might get at a bigger place but the boys get to walk through the field and pick their own.  And the best part, for us, is this: all pumpkins, regardless of size, are $2. Our neighbors told us about it last year and after going once we were sold.

The boys each found their pumpkins pretty quickly...

...and then turned their attention to the squash, carrying them out by the armful. 

I heard Collin say more than once, "okay! that's enough!" (can you tell he doesn't really care for squash?) before we finally focused their attention on the gourds.

The gourds were plentiful, all different shapes and colors and sizes.

By the end of our trip we had big tall orange pumpkins, smaller green pumpkins, a round red pumpkin, LOTS of butternut squash, a few acorn squash, tiny orange and white mini-pumpkin gourds, long curvy yellow gourds, squat little dark green ones, and some (hope to become bird houses) light green ones.

The boys were happy with their loot. We were happy with the price. And with the power of the DVR we made it home in time to catch up with the game, which made everyone happy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

the part I dread

This latest round of sickness started almost two weeks ago with Keaton, to be honest, it usually starts with Keaton, this time it was a mystery fever.  101, 102, 103, it started on a Tuesday night and continued all Wednesday. He was lethargic, he ached, and he slept all day waking only once or twice to have a little to eat and drink Gatorade. By Thursday it was gone, but he was still weak (probably from not eating much) and so he spent one more day on the couch.  We wondered what it would be, a cold?  Sinuses? Oh, shit, please don't tell me it's the flu.  But by the weekend there were still no clear signs, he was tired but that was it.

Last week they all started with runny noses and some sneezing and coughs I figured it was a cold from that original fever and we started our routine right away, humidifiers, vapor rub, elevated pillows.  I was watching Nolan closely and giving him breathing treatments intermittently. The boys went to school on Wednesday and we decorated for Halloween in the afternoon. They were still coughing/sneezing but overall weren't too bad.  I was still watching Nolan.

I took a vacation day on Thursday - and I am now convinced the best kind of vacation day is a day of normal, it was so hard to go back to work on Friday after spending two days at home with these guys - the little boys and I had a good morning while Keaton was at school, I was still keeping a close eye on Nolan but he seemed to be holding out pretty good.  So, of course, I was thrown for a complete loop when Hutton was the one that came down with Croup. Hutton has only had it one other time, but it is unmistakable with him. He sounded just like a barking seal.  They say Croup doesn't hurt but I completely disagree with that - I can see him wince, the scrunching of his eyes with each cough, the tears because he was scared. I started him on nebulizer treatments right away, kept an eye on his fever, and had him sleep in bed with us so we could monitor his nighttime breathing (Thursday night was very rough, Friday was a tad better). He stayed home from school on Friday and with treatments every four hours he was doing better by the weekend.  He still has a cold, but the croup has improved.  After a day of activity yesterday (it was Trick-or-Treat up here) we did decide to keep him home again today, hoping a little more rest will kick this for good.

With our focus on Hutton I feel guilty admitting we let our guard down with Nolan.  We were still watching him and he was getting treatments once in a while, but I was not as on top of it as I should have been, and I should have known his fever early yesterday afternoon wasn't a good sign but, what do they say, hindsight 20/20?  He fell asleep in Collin's arms while we were Trick-or-Treating and when we put him in the car to head home he sounded like he was choking the whole way.  When I finally got him unbundled I realized how how hot was (102+), and how difficult it was for him to breath. I gave him albuterol immediately, and when that I didn't seem to work I gave him an inhaled steroid.  He feel asleep around 6:30 or 7 pm. At 9 he woke up and seemed worse. Another round of albuterol didn't seem to help, he was gasping and wheezing, we could see his ribs with every breath, and when he picked his head off of our shoulder it was covered in drool. I called my sister-in-law, Kira, to get her opinion and she said yeah, take him in.  We'd done all we could and nothing seemed to really be helping. With a 40 min drive to the ER we didn't want to wait for it to get any worse.  Of course we went back and forth, would he get better?  Maybe? Can we make it through the night? Maybe? But then as I was getting changed he had a coughing fit so bad he threw up all over me and I knew it was time.

His oxygen levels were better than I expected and he had perked up just a bit by the time we got there.  But his fever was back and all he had to do was cough once for the doctors and nurses to hear what was going on.  They gave him a dose of vaporized Epinephrine and a heavy steroid. He was not pleased about the shot and let everyone within ear shot know it.  MAMA! MA-MA! he yelled at me and then he pointed to his leg and grunted, in case we didn't know where it hurt.  But he sat still for the x-rays (to rule anything else out) and even laughed a little while Collin entertained him with Kleenex. It was nearly 1 am before we got home and sent Papa and Busha back home to bed. We're all dragging a bit this morning but are hoping we are through the worst of it.

After a busy summer and the work of fall I look forward to winter as we hunker down, stay close to home, and snuggle by the fire.  But the round after round of sickness? This is the part of the upcoming season that I dread.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

a final weekend

We spent this past weekend up at the cabin.  We didn't get up there much this summer and it was nice to have a few final days tucked in the woods, on the lake.  The trees were past their autumn colors, but still pretty. It was mostly a work weekend: raking, pulling in boats, clearing water pipes, organizing the garage, tarping the fish shed, closing her down for the winter.  But there was a little fun thrown in: one last paddle boat ride, a walk in the forest, searching for pretty leaves, and a movie by the fire.  I do love this time of year, the tasks of preparing for the months ahead are often physically demanding but the gratification from sore muscles and the cool evenings spent under a blanket by the fire makes it all worth it. We were all thankful for one last weekend Up North.  And if we're lucky, we might not have to wait all the way to summer to see her again.

Monday, October 14, 2013

blue skies

When you are enduring a downpour it's hard not to get wrapped up in the black and darkness that surrounds you; it's easy to lose sight of it being temporary (however long temporary may be.) I'm trying to remind myself this morning that after every storm there comes blue skies, and if we're lucky we might even get a rainbow.  

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Minivan owners! Honda owners! I need your advice!

"No, we will never have a minivan, never.  We are not minivan people."

We uttered that sentiment countless times. Countless. Never. We will never have a minivan.


The little scratch off card came in the mail a month or so ago - scratch off here and see if you win!

We dug out the quarters and scratched, scratched away and wouldn't you know, three in a row!  Our card was a winner! $25,000 cash! A new car! What would it be?

Sure we read the fine print; we knew it might be a $2 bill.  In fact, we were expecting it to be a $2 bill. But I sent him in anyway because, hey, it was $2 more than we had in our pocket.


An hour after he left the house he called me, slightly annoyed: "I am just now leaving the dealership."

"Hahaha! You got sucked in!"

"Of course I got sucked in, they don't just hand the $2 bills out."

"So, it was a $2 bill?"

"Yes, it was a $2 bill."


That evening he came home and I heard something I never, ever expected out of him: "Kate, those minivans are really nice."


"Well, yeah, the guy came over and he was a big burly guy, a hunter - he had camo on - and I asked him 'what do you have that would fit three, maybe four, kids and a 120 pound dog?' And he took me to the minivans. I told him No and he said, 'Look at me, I drive one of these, just look at them' and you know what? They are pretty sweet."


So here's my advice to all you kids, advice you've probably heard a million times: never use the word never.


Our current car is a piece of crap.  Seriously, a total money pit piece of crap.  It has been since Day 1.  We can't make it another year - the air conditioning goes out EVERY summer - and to get through the winter we would need new tires, an investment I don't think we're willing to make.  So it looks like we are in the market for a new vehicle, probably soon.  So tell me, minivan owners, yay or nay?

The dealership Collin was at was a Honda, so he was looking at an Odyssey, I'm not married to any particular brand but I am interested to hear what Honda owners think - we've never had one.  Collin has a Nissan Titan which we have been very happy with so a Nissan Quest is also on the 'want to look at list' and of course we'll probably still look at a couple of the large SUV's just to make sure those are out....but I'm interested, what info can you tell me about minivans? Because this girl is never going to own one, except, well, maybe....

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's October!

The month of pumpkins and ghosts and witches and goblins; owls, spiders, black cats and bats.

It's also the month of chili and corn bread, pumpkin spice lattes, falling leaves, sweatshirts and jeans and football by the fire.

I do love this month.

Saturday was a rainy, dreary day - the boys and I made pancakes, bread, and pizza dough in the morning and worked on converting their closets to fall/winter wear in the afternoon.  In between we read some Halloween books and acted out Five Little Pumpkins about a dozen times. Collin got called into work and by the time he got home we were ready for build your own pizza night and Bambi under their sleeping bags.

Yesterday, though, the weather was gorgeous. At half-time Collin paused the tv and headed out with the boys to cut the lawn.  We tried to corral them in for the second half but it was fruitless. "Put your shoes back on boys" I hollered at them, "And Keaton, come carry this for me."

"What is it, Mom? What is it?.....It's Wanda!"

We don't have pumpkins yet, but our entryway is otherwise decorated for Halloween.  I thought about waiting to take the picture when our pumpkins are here, but I'm terrified these spiders are going to fall down.

Keaton tried so patiently to explain Wanda the Switch Witch to Nolan but Nolan had no time for that, there were thumbtacks to play with. Ohhhh, 18 months is such a handful. Speaking of, 5 bonus points to the first person to spot the child in picture #1. 

Hope you are all enjoying your start to this spooky, crazy, fun month.

Friday, October 4, 2013

15 minutes of quiet

I am not a morning person.  I wish I were; but if I'm being truthful, I am not.  However, I have discovered that getting up in the morning before the kids wake up and having 15 minutes to myself makes a huge difference in how our day unfolds.

On Wednesday I stumbled out of bed and headed into the pantry to make myself a cup of coffee.  My devotional and Kindle were in my hand and I had plans to snuggle in on the couch, drink in hand, and do a little reading before it was time to start waking children.  

The machine hadn't even stopped sputtering yet when I heard a call from the back of the house: Mooooom!

I closed my eyes and let out a defeated breath and then I headed back to get him.

I got Keaton settled into the couch and put the tv on - I needed those 15 minutes - but before I had sat down myself Hutton came squinty-eyed down the hall.

I pulled out more blankets and got Hutton arranged as well and then  I finally sat down, in the corner, next to Hutt (he likes me close to him in the morning) but before I had a chance to open that book he was already scrambling onto my lap.

It's okay, I told myself.  I can still read with him here.  But then my arm was in his way and taking a sip of my coffee was nearly impossible.  Collin came out and I told him I was feeling anxious - it's just, I need those 15 minutes. He left for work and the boys started fighting and before I knew it I had yelled at them and there were tears. The tears led to protests of school and me fighting them to get in the car. 


This morning my alarm went off early, I showered and came out to the pantry to make myself a cup of coffee. I snuggled in on the couch and did a little reading.  I closed my eyes and tried to meditate for four or five minutes (meditating is a work in progress for me) and then my alarm sounded - time to start waking the boys. 

It was a bit earlier than normal and they were groggy,  but I was patient and when Hutton started crying because he discovered it was a school day we were able to diffuse it quickly.  The morning, though tightly scheduled, went infinitely better than two mornings ago.

What a difference 15 minutes of quiet can make.

Lest you think Wednesday's painting with nature involved no mischief, let me show you what happened when I went real quick to check on Nolan. 

Happy Weekend, everyone!