Our Martinmas celebration was simple and lovely and felt just right. One of the traditions most loved in celebrating is the making of lanterns. This year, we modge-podged tissue paper to glass jars and covered them in glitter. I had also brought out some of our lanterns from years past and they were lit during our dinner, creating such a soft glow in the room! After dinner, we bundled up and headed outside to walk through our neighborhood. The skies were clear and the moon was bright and we all marveled at the stars dotting the sky. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful evening.
It was a full week, but a good week! It always seems to take us a while to adjust during the time change, especially the kids. They were waking up about an hour earlier than they used to even though their bedtime was adjusted. This led to some crankier than usual moments, but by mid week, everything seemed to be getting back on track. Along with the shift in daylight, there has been a shift in our activities. The kids once again are gravitating towards more inward activities...lots and lots of creating. This is one of the many reasons I love this time of year!
painting plaster animals
modeling her new crown made by Blake
sewing a felt bag to hold treasures
making a felt bag to hold his belt loops
one of the many puppet shows the boys performed throughout the week
a restaurant where the chef's wear their pajamas
enjoying books by the fire
We are enjoying the slower pace these late autumn days bring before the busyness of the holiday season, which will be here all to soon!
One of the best gifts ever given to Peter and I happened last week. As I mentioned before, my mother-in-law had come down to visit us and the main reason for her visit was to watch the kids for us so Peter and I could getaway for a night in celebration of ten years of marriage. I am not going to lie and say we left them behind without hesitation. The fact is, this was the first time I was away from MaKenna overnight (or for more than a few hours really) since her birth. As most mothers are, I was worried she wouldn't handle the seperation very well. But she was in very good hands and had her brothers to help ease any anxiety (and as it turned out, she didn't miss us at all). So we packed our bags and headed to the mountains for a romantic getaway. And it was wonderful! We took in the views, did some early stocking stuffer shopping, ate wonderful meals at quant little local restaurants, held each others hand, relaxed in front of the fire and enjoyed uninterrupted conversation. Needless to say, the only pictures I took were of our visit to Grandfather Mountain. The day started out very gray, gloomy and wet and we debated back and forth whether or not to continue on as planned. In the end, we decided to go anyways and I am so glad we did. We spent several hours there enjoying the scenery, which was beautiful even in its foggy state. As we were leaving, the clouds parted and the sun began to peek out. We took a scenic route home and marveled at the beauty of the surroundings.
The pictures really don't do justice to how incredibly beautiful it was. As high as we were, the trees were already completely bare, but just below to the lower elevations, the foliage was in its peak colors. The hills were colored in reds, oranges and golds and I just kept saying "look at how beautiful it is". You couldn't help but be happy up there!
I am so grateful to Granny and Gramps for not only coming down and making the visit so fun for the kids but for also recognizing how important this time alone was for Peter and I. We love you!
We were lucky enough to have a visit from Granny and Gramps this past week. They arrived Halloween weekend and the whirlwind of fun began! They came all the way from NY to spend some time with the family as well as watch the kids so Peter and I could go away on an overnight trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary (more on that later).
One of the first activities we did was head over to a local corn maze/pumpkin patch. While the sun was shining, it was a very cold and windy day and everyone, adults included, were slightly miserable. We tried to make the most of it and it was free afterall. The corn maze was the highlight of the day for the boys and I think Kenna enjoyed the farm animals most (especially the chickens!)
After spending an hour or so wandering the farm, we took some hot chocolate to go and headed home. The rest of the day was spent reading and opening gifts (Hannukah came early this year!) and of course, crafting with Granny!
We also started carving our pumpkins. We tend to wait until the last minute so they don't shrivel and mold in our mild, southern weather. The boys are pretty much to the age where they can help with most of the carving process. They all pick their own designs, scoop out the guts and help transfer the image on the pumpkin by poking holes in the design.
That weekend also marked our annual Halloween potluck with our homeschooling group. I think for the first time in a long time, we got a group shot of the kids (a few families were missing). We all enjoy delicious home cooked dishes and then head out on to a trick or treat trail where the daddies hand out the (healthy) treats!
On Halloween night, I took the kids out for a short bit to trick or treat around the neighborhood. Kenna had so much fun and was not shy at all...she happily said trick or treat and thank yous. If you compare the photo below to the group shot above, you will notice both Jacob and Parker are wearing different costumes. They did the same thing last year. I think they have such a hard time deciding what to be, that they end up choosing to wear different costumes each night. And Kenna of course was a clown fish just as Parker and Jacob were when they were two.
The rest of the week was spent with lots of activities with Granny and Gramps. The kids spent time swimming in the hotel hot tub, painting pottery, bouncing at Monkey Joes, bowling, and visiting a local children's museum. They were exhausted, but a happy exhausted. I am so grateful they were able to have such a good time and create such wonderful memories with their grandparents that they don't see often enough!
In mid October, our homeschooling group headed up to the mountains to pick apples! This was our families first time at this particular orchard and it was well worth the two hour drive. Not only was it beautiful, but very family friendly with lots to see and do besides pick apples. We were the first family to arrive so we decided to try out the fresh made pumpkin and apple donhuts while waiting for everyone else. I can't attest to how they tasted (I cannot eat gluten or dairy), but seeing as they were devoured in about two minutes, I would venture to say they were good ;-)
The view was amazing and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. The leaves weren't quite at peek color, but gorgeous just the same. While it was a bit windy and chilly at the top of the orchard, down where we picked, it was perfect. We had to hike a bit to the back of the orchard to find the varieties that were ripe and ready for picking, but we had that section all to ourselves (yay!).
The kids filled the baskets fairly quickly and I am positive they would have picked about 5 or 6 bushels if we let them. After the picking was done, they played among the trees and we had a nice picnic in the orchard.
They also had a small farm animal area which was a highlight for Kenna. While she enjoyed looking at the sheep and the goats, the ducks were her favorite (this girl loves her birds!). The big kids were off playing in the bamboo forest and we wandered back and forth between the ducks and the goats for a bit before it was time to head on home. We enjoyed our time so much, I think this will be a new fall tradition for our family. All in all, we brought home a bushel and a half of apples and not one of them made it into a pie, cobbler or sauce! I am pretty sure MaKenna and Parker have eaten about 3-4 apples a day since we picked them and I think we have enough left to make one measly jar of sauce, that is if they don't get to them first.
This fall, the boys had an opportunity to join a local homeschooling soccer league. Those of you who know me know I really prefer to spend my days at home and not running from one activity to the next. And the boys had been asking to join sports leagues this fall but just the thought of how much time it would take us away from the house (and the expense!) made me really hesitant to commit to anything. Thankfully, a good friend recommend this league and it worked out perfect. Not only was it free (!!), but the practice and games are held on the same day, same time for all three boys. We ended up missing the first two weeks of the season, but that didn't matter much to the boys and they jumped right in.
Jacob plays on a team of 6-7 year olds. He is in a red shirt on the right, in the middle of the pack of yellow players.
Jacob is on the left (with the black shorts)
Blake, in the blue, plays on a team of 8-9 year olds
Parker, the tall 5 year old in green in the middle
Jakey, in the middle with his shirt tucked in
Soccer day is one of the highlights of the week for the boys. I was unsure as to how my shy, reserved Parker would do, but he ran off to join his team like he had been playing for years with them. His coach is really nice and made him feel very welcomed which I think helped tremendously. All of them have done really well and their skills have improved greatly. They have made some new friends and have also had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends. It has been wonderful being a part of a group that values good sportsmanship, skill building, and fun over competiveness! This week, we will have our last game of the season and I know the boys will miss it tremendously until they can dust off the soccer gear next fall!