Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fun on the Farm

 Thanks to Dairy Carrie, who invited us, along with a really awesome group of local bloggers, to spend a fun-packed day at Schuster's Farm on Sunday, we have gotten a huge jump start on fall.

I have already made a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin with a perfect lard crust, for example.  But I did not take a picture of it because it was ugly.  BUT DELICIOUS.

I digress.  As usual.

We went to the farm for lunch, play time, and pumpkins-- a few of our favorite things.

 You know that we are not messing around about pumpkins.  Here we are in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.  We've been to Schuster's Farm before-- with the kids in 2013 and on a bus with all of our friends to go through the haunted forrest last year (completely and ridiculously fun-- can't wait to go again)-- and LOVED it, so everyone was excited to go again this fall.
 Even Cooper, who could not WAIT to get his hands on some pumpkins.
 He's been kind of Jekyll and Hyde lately.  Obvi.
 The kids saw this sweet little baby goat running toward us and said, "Mama!  Look! A sheep!"  Clearly they need to go to more farms.
 Dorothy almost lost her ever loving mind with glee when she saw the PEANUTS CUT OUT in the middle of the playground.  Not only does she love to stick her head in photo ops, but she also loves more than anything else in the whole world the Peanuts gang.  She was initially upset because "I WANT TO BE SALLY BROWN," but she handled disappointment well and settled for being all three of the ghosts, one at a slow, slow, slow time:


 It was threatening to storm (and did open up and pour on us as we were driving away), so we didn't have the heart to tell her that the awesome corn maze was Peanuts-themed in honor of the 50th anniversary of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," which I swear doesn't look a day over 42.

But really, check out this awesome maze on the farm's Facebook page.

Dorothy's favorite part of the day-- besides posing with her fave characters, was a tie between playing on the adorable playground and jumping on the jumping pillow.  She looks so much like Goldilocks here I expected this little playhouse to be full of bears.
 But I was really glad it wasn't.  Duh.


 She is not the only kid who likes to stick her face in a giant cut out:



 I have no idea what she's pointing at, but this picture is notable because it was one of like 2 I got of Harry, who was way to cool to hang out with us.  Instead, he shot apples at targets and played a really cool game where he got to throw all manner of balls in holes-- right up his alley.
 A Jacktridge in a pear tree.  Also, auto-correct thinks Jacktridge is a real word, so.
 Cooper loved the tire pit the most-- he crawled and jumped, and pretended to be Spiderman for almost an hour.
 The pig races!  Cracked up all up!
 The pigs were so FAST!  And Earnest.  And the farmer who owns the farm was hilarious calling the race.  He asked the kids if they liked the pigs, and they said yes.  Then he asked if they wanted to take the pigs home, and they said yes. So he advised us to come back in February and said we'd be able to take them home wrapped in white paper.  Ben laughed so hard that if it was me laughing like that I would have peed myself for sure.  Although we all know that might not be an accurate measure of hilarity.
 This is Dadding in action.  Ben is actually yelling at the kids to come pose for a photo.
 Which they did, and it was great.

We had lunch in the farm's historic round barn, which was built in 1903 and was lovely.  I accidentally took this cool picture because my phone was sitting on our table in selfie mode and I saw this on the screen and snapped.  Schuster's hosts weddings and other events, and I could completely imagine how perfectly beautiful the reception could be in this barn ablaze with twinkle lights.


 Lunch was delicious-- pulled pork that probably used to be racing around the track, potato soup, fresh apples, and of course warm apple cider donuts that were Dorothy-approved.


Ben couldn't wait to be done eating so he could ride the barrel train.  HE LOVES BARREL TRAINS.
 Look at Cooper's pocket bulging with rocks to aggressively that it almost fell off his shirt:
 Harry!  He deigned to see if he is as tall as I am.  AND HE'S NOT.


Dorothy drove the wooden car for quite some time, and she insisted that I be her passenger and I almost got stuck because I am a large passenger.

 She played this game where she could pump plastic duckies down the trough for a long time.

 And much to her delight, the guy manning this station played with her as many times as she wanted to.  He was so sweet with her-- that's something that makes this farm extra wonderful-- all of the people who work there are fun and nice and engaging.  Dorothy got to take a picture with a pumpkin princess, and the person working the jumping pillow raced her back and forth from end to end, making her dissolve into giggles.  When e picked out gourds to take home, a man made sure I had a recipe for my turban squash, and all of the kids got a chance to pet Annabelle the baby goat (not sheep!).

 Cooper was chortling with delight and streaked with dirt before the day was over.  And when he saw the delicious fudge and M&M-covered candy apples that accompanied us home, he was even more delighted, adding a layer of fudge and caramel to his playground sand and pumpkin mud.

No trip to a pumpkin patch would be complete without, um PUMPKINS.  The weather kept us from taking a hay ride, but that was OK with Dorothy because she found the sweetest little pumpkin in the yard right away.

 And then the rest of us followed suit.

All 4 kids were asleep before our gourd-stuffed van hit the highway, and all 6 of us had a wonderful day at the farm.  Thank you so much to Carrie and Schuster's for having us!

If you live in or around Madison, you need to take the whole fam damily to Schuster's Farm-- and then get a sitter for the kids and bring the grown ups back to tour the haunted forest.  It's the kind of fall must-do that needs to top your bucket list-- and don't forget the fudge!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Random catch up

 Have you guys seen the Facebook meme that asks you to describe yourself in 3 fictional characters?  The picture above is mine.  I think it's pretty good.

YOU GUYS!  I am so, so, so tan-- so tan I am the same color as my Minnetonka boots.  Or I was a week ago today when I took that picture, shocked to find myself at work in the world's shortest dress.
 Cooper!  Can do monkey bars!!  He's really excited about it.
 If you have not read or listened to this series (My Brilliant Friend, Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child), you really, really, really should.  I am almost done with the third book and am waiting for the fourth one to come in on my library hold list.  It's a testament to how committed I am to using the library instead of buying books that I am WAITING for the last one when I would love to have it ready for me to read as soon as I finish the one before.
 Speaking of the library!  Dorothy and I have discovered the joy and excellence of weekly story time.  It's FREE and features stories, crafts, and dancing.  I remember taking Harry to a couple of Borders and Barnes and Noble story times, but he didn't totally dig it, and I never really sought them out.  BUT HOLY SHIT!  A free 30 minutes of age-appropriate fun every week, and I can take back books, browse the walk in section, etc.  I am so annoyed to have only just now at this late point a decade into motherhood discovered it.
 She loves the crafts the best:
 And throwing coins in the well.
 Cooper and Dorothy's school has the smallest most congested parking lot in the universe.  It's the stuff of nightmares.  And!  Just to make it more horrible, the street in front of it is being repaved.  I can't even. So we've been parking at the old condo (which I think is fine considering we still own it) and walking to school.  Cooper likes it.
 Sportsball seasons have started up.  We have dance and gymnastics for Dorothy, hockey and gymnastics for Cooper, football, boy scouts and gymnastics for Jack, and baseball, football, and hockey for Harry.  I include boy scouts not because it's a sport but because  it happens at night and totally screws us up.  The other night, for instance, Ben had a baseball game to coach but our baseball player couldn't play because he needed to go to hockey tryouts at the same time Jack had gymnastics and then ben had a hockey board meeting and I was supposed to go to wine club but had to take a pass.  Luckily, baseball and hockey are only a block away, but damn!  I think Harry needs his own cell phone, and the little kids and I were at the gym until 8, which is truly an hour past their bedtime (they didn't mind).
So, let's see...

I am wicked fat but I don't seem to care.  I mean, I care when I notice I in the mirror or something, but I don't care enough to not make these (perfection).

Dorothy still hates school, so much that we are thinking of pulling her out, but we have to wait until I am done with all my classroom observations because I really need someone to watch her while I do those-- so we'll revisit in a couple of weeks.

The kids don't tell me ANYTHING about their days.  That's why I actually like Class DoJo even though charts and apps like these publicly shame kids and do nothing to change their behavior.  AT LEAST I KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON.

Fall is here, and the weather is starting to get chilly, even though you wouldn't know it to look at Dorothy's sundresses.  This is partly because she doesn't have any fall clothes and party because she hates any garment with sleeves and doesn't like pants or tights and I am dreading taking her shopping because she probably won't even wear anything I buy.

Speaking of fall fashion, though!  The things the kids are wearing on campus are CUTE and I can actually WEAR THEM, especially tunic dresses with flannels over the top. 

Finally, shamefully, I am starting to love Wal Mart.  I went there during last month's pregnancy test debacle because they actually undersell the dollar store and make eighty-eight-cent tests.  But once I was there, I discovered $3 girls' leggings and sweatshirts (and they're CUTE), $4 dance tights that are actually small enough to fit Dorothy, a $29 coffee pot to match my kitchen, not to mention Pioneer Woman kitchen ware.  What's not to love?  Oh yeah.  The deplorable way they treat their workers.  Damn it.

But seriously, library story time, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN BY WHOLE LIFE?  (Right there at the library, you ninny).

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Happy Birthday Cooper, Part IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER (of Cooper's fifth birthday-- it sounded really ominous without the parenthetical)

Ben's parents joined us for another one of our SUPER SPORTY SATURDAYS (that, I fear, will only get sportier and more super as more kids start playing sports) to watch football and baseball and have a birthday lunch with Cooper.  It was fun even though Dorothy and Cooper lost their shit at baseball and had to go home early.  And this is the only picture I took.
 This was cake #3.
 We had a small dinner party on Saturday night that got out of control, as they often do.
 Sunday, the boys all walked the dog in costume because why not.
 We also spent a pleasant hour at the park before realizing if we didn't go home right that very second we would be late for Cooper's birthday party, and it's bad form for the host to be late.
 So, as you know, Cooper is now 5, and I figured 5 was a good age to start doing drop-off birthday parties, so I was very clear on the invitation that parents could drop their kids off.  But!  We had the party at a trampoline park, and I have taken the kids there a few times, never on the weekends and-- truth be told-- usually during the tiny tots jump time.  So I was completely unprepared for the place to be insanely busy and full of loud, rough HUGE kids and adults and teenage workers on their phones as opposed to supervising the kids on the trampolines and rock wall.  I was suddenly so, so glad that none of the helicopter preschool parents wanted to drop their kids off.  (Well, one mom did, and I watched her kid closer than any of my own because DAMN that place was not very good for a pack of 4 year-olds.)

 Not going to lie-- the dodgeball part was fun.
 NOBODY got lost or injured, so it was a WINNER of a party in my book.  (My standards are so low by baby #3's 5th birthday, huh?)
 Total fake smile.  He just wanted to eat his broccoli in peace.
 CAKE NUMBER 4.
 The party guy screwed up our timing a little, and Cooper didn't get to open his gifts at the party which was an epic freaking tragedy, let me telly you.  But he happily tore into them at home.
 Dodgeball.  Super fun.
 He played very intensely the whole time and was incredibly sweaty and disheveled by the end.
 So was she.
 Only briefly glimpsed Harry on the rock wall and didn't see Jack until he burst into the party room to guzzle Capri Suns and eat three pieces of pizza.  I assume that means he had fun.
And now sweet Cooper is hard at work on his thank-you notes:

Oh wait!  I found Jack: