Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Obi-Wan, the ballerina girls, and Indiana Jones get ready to go trick or treating.

I used to be the Grinch Who Stole Halloween. Really and truly. When poor Cindy Lynn was a little girl it was like pulling teeth to get me to carve a pumpkin at Halloween. I just hated trying to hack that thing open with a paring knife, and I was always afraid that I was going to cut myself open instead of the pumpkin. I was also never wild about how my pumpkin turned out once I did carve it. An artist I am not. Fortunately for me and the rest of my kids some genius created pumpkin carving kits. Complete with easily transferable patterns and, more importantly, tools made just for carving a pumpkin. They look like little saws and littler saws, and at first we were a bit dubious. But only for a minute. As soon as I stuck one of those into a pumpkin and started sawing I was a believer. It was the dawning of a new era in pumpkin carving in our household. This year, however, we ran into a new problem. I purchased 4 massively large pumpkins, figuring that there was one for each of the little kids and Josh, but that Russ, Jason & I would need to help the little kids. I think by next year that will no longer be true, and everyone who wants to carve will have to have their own pumpkin. I know I didn't get enough carving time in this year--everyone was ok on their own! Here are this year's pumpkins.
Rachel's "Wolf Howling at Moon"
Jenna's "Spooky Ghost"

Jared's "Dragon in Flight"

Josh's "Trick or Treat"

Josh had the great idea this year of putting some dry ice in his pumpkin to make smoke come out of it. It probably would have worked better had I remembered to put the dry ice right into the freezer...instead of letting most of it evaporate on the counter. We did learn some valuable lessons, though, including that candles and dry ice are not very compatible. Next year we'll be ready to try it again.

What is it About a Camera?

So what is it about a camera? What is the attraction? Periodically one of my young children would ask for (and receive) a disposable camera for Christmas or a birthday. They would take incomprehensible and poorly lit pictures until the camera was out of film, and then return it to me to be developed. I would give them the developed pictures and they would look at them--perhaps once. And then they were done with them. Now that we've all gone digital the little kids will decide that they're dying to take pictures with my camera. I don't often let them, since it's a pretty expensive toy, but every now and then they catch me in a moment of mother-benevolentness and I agree. Off they go to take pictures of who knows what. Later when I download the pictures onto my computer I am interested to see what caught their eye this time. A poster on a wall, maybe a sibling making faces, or a tower made of blocks while watching general conference. Most pictures are dim and blurry because they often forget to use the flash. Almost all of their pictures baffle me. What inspired each shot? Were they as random as they seem?

But I also wonder the same things about myself. Why do I feel such an urge to capture the moments? I used to scrapbook and so I could say that I was taking pictures to make into scrapbooks. Now I make slideshows and know that I will need enough pictures to fill up 3.5 minutes of whatever song I have in mind. But aside from what--why? Why do I take pictures each fall of the beauty around me? I know that it happened last year, and will happen again next year. In fact I'm sure I've taken pictures of the same trees each year. And yet I keep doing it--trying to record for myself the contrast of the red-gold leaves and the still green leaves, all against an amazingly blue sky.

I will face this question again in a few months when Russ & I go to Hawaii. Our main purpose in taking this trip is to snorkel, snorkel, snorkel. As much as humanly possible. I know that we will want to get an underwater camera to take snorkeling with us--despite the fact that we have done this before, and so we know that pictures taken by an underwater camera are usually small and washed out--nothing like what you see through the lens of your snorkel mask. And yet we will probably still do it.

I wonder why. Is it to document where we've been? Create a legacy? Ensure that we will always be able to remember the beauty that we've seen?

On the other hand, I know some people take almost no pictures. And I wonder---how can they do that??

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Happy Sight

I'm sure you recall my recent post about my favorite local cows--the Belted Galloways, a.k.a Oreo Cows. Just to refresh your memory on the left we have the original Oreo Cow--on the right we have the Diet Oreo. Well today I got the third kind. This cow eluded me the other day when I was taking my pictures. But today I saw it out in the field and I stopped--despite the humiliation my 13 year old passenger assured me that I was causing him. What can I say? I knew that you would want to see this cow too...

The Double Stuffed Oreo

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Link You; I Link You Not

Cindy Lynn was badgering me a week or so ago--when was I going to put her link on my blog? Well, as it turns out, links are something (else) I can't figure out. Not how to do them. Fortunately for me blogger makes that easy enough. But who's to do. That's the tough question.

It's like having a party at your house and thinking that you've invited everyone, and having someone mention the next day that they would have loved coming to your party. What if I don't put someone's link on my blog and they feel bad about it? Or is this even something people notice or care about? I've seen some blogs that have a virtual roll call of everyone in a given group on them, while other blogs have only a couple.

As you can probably tell, I am truly baffled...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recipe for a Clean Stove

1. After your wonderful spouse cooks delicious but messy Mexican food take several clorox wipes and wipe all stove parts down, including behind the knobs.

2. Replace knobs.

3. Don't cook on stove anymore.

The End

so glad I finally figured it out...

Monday, October 27, 2008

What a Relief!

© The Pumpkin Lady®. 1999-2008. All rights reserved. Logo and all artwork is copyright protected property of The Pumpkin Lady®.

I can hardly tell you what a relief it is to know that these pumpkin patterns are available this year....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Living in the Moment

Once I realized that summer was truly over and stopped whining about it, I started watching for more signs of autumn.

This time last year we were in the middle of a terrible drought. A horrific drought. A really scary drought for people with 6 kids and a well. We had almost no rain for the whole of 2007 leading into the fall. And the colors last fall were as vivid and beautiful as I've ever seen.

This year the weather has fortunately been different. We had a wet spring and a wet summer, and have had a couple of good rainy days this fall. So I wondered--would all of the rain make the colors different? If a dry year made beautiful leaves, was a wet year going to make the leaves more muted? Would the leaves be as beautiful this year?

Yesterday I realized something. I realized that the only attention I have paid to the changes of autumn as they've been happening has been to compare them to last year. Because of my preoccupation with that comparison, I have not even noticed what is happening around me.

Regardless of whether or not the leaves are as bright or as brilliant as last year, there are beautiful changes happening all around me every day. If I focus entirely on the comparison, longing for what was to happen again, I will miss the beauty that is today.

And that would be a shame.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

First Frost

We had our first frost this week. The day before I had been driving in town and noticed an abundance of rose bushes along the street. Upon closer examination I found that they were surrounding the parking lot of a local nursing home. In other words: fair game! Jason & I were driving home from someone's house last week and we passed a lovely rose garden in the middle of someone's lawn. He was so afraid that I was going to come to a screeching halt and go trespass all over yet another stranger's yard. I assured him that I had more restraint than that. But not much more.

I decided that I was going to go and take pictures of the nursing home roses the next day. But that night the temperature dipped dramatically, and when I went to see the roses, many of them were damaged by the frost. I found a few to take pictures of but it was powerfully obvious that rose season is over for this year.

What fun I have had. Not just torturing the people who had to see endless rose pictures on my blog. Not just watching Russ squirm and worry that someone was going to call the police on me. (Though that was kind of fun!) I have enjoyed learning more about the settings on my camera, and comparing it to Jason's new camera. I've enjoyed seeing how the different times of day & lighting conditions affect the roses and the pictures. But mostly I've enjoyed taking the time to focus on one rose--to see the beauty in it from all directions. I've enjoyed slowing down moments of my day to really savor one of God's creations.

I will miss the roses.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happiness is...

There are some things that just delight me every time I see them. We've lived in Durham for 13.5 years and I'm still, as my mom would have said, tickled pink by the cows.

These aren't just any cows, though. These cows were pointed out to us soon after we moved here as being something special. These are Belted Galloway cows. Also known as Oreo cows.

We are lucky that there are some fields a few miles away from our house that are often occupied by a herd of cattle, some of which are Oreo cows. Last week on Super (long) Saturday when Russ & I were driving out in the country in search of the loveseat we passed a small field with about 10 cattle in it--and these were all Oreo cows. Including an red/brown Oreo cow, which I've never seen before.

I decided that the cows that we saw last week must have been purebred Belted Galloways. They all had a pretty uniform band of white around their middles. The herd near us, on the other hand, must not be purebred.

As you can see from this picture of napping cows, part of the herd has no markings.

This mingling of cow breeds appears to be a little unpredictable.
For example:

The Diet Oreo cow (this would be the opposite of a double stuffed Oreo.)
I'm not sure what you would call this cow. A Mapped Galloway?
...a Puzzled Galloway?
And then this guy, who gives new meaning to the expression "white-faced."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something I Did Not Want to Know

One of the girls just accidentally rolled a marble under the stove. It was of course a crisis for the owner of the marble. They quickly pulled the drawer under the stove all of the way out to see if they could retrieve the precious marble.

Just so you know how treasured the marble in question is--it has been carried around for 2 days in an old glasses case resting on a bed of shredded paper napkin. This is a beloved marble. But back to my story.

They pulled the drawer out and this is what I saw:

Now I am completely aware that I am not a perfect housekeeper. It gives me some solace that other women feel less bad about their homes when they see mine. But this? I did not want to know this was what the underneath of my stove looked like. This was nasty.

We immediately grabbed brooms and the dustpan and started cleaning. Fortunately it was all dry and dusty, so it came up quickly. But, to quote Jenna (my cleaning assistant) "I hope I never see that again!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The State Fair

Monday afternoon we went to the NC State Fair. Now I know that for some people going to the fair is just like a walk in the park--no big deal. For our family it is a Big Deal. Any time we load 2 adults and 5 kids in the minivan, drive an hour, and spend over a hundred dollars--it's a Big Deal. Here are some pictures to commemorate our Big Deal trip to the State Fair.

We started our adventure in the Village of Yesteryear. Right as we walked in the door we saw a man throwing pots. No, not breaking things; making things on a pottery wheel. He was really great and I wanted one of his big bowls really badly. Just not $70 badly.

Jason pulled out his camera and took a couple of pictures in the Village of Yesteryear. One was of this person with a booth full of metal quilling. Very interesting.

We usually get a new ornament when we go on a trip or a Big Deal adventure. When we went to the State Fair 10 years ago with Russ's parents, I bought a small tatted snowflake because my mom used to tat. This time I chose an ornament to celebrate my recent photo obsession.

After leaving the Village of Yesteryear we happened upon the end of a Sports Show. The kids weren't too excited to go in and sit down--until they saw the first motorcyclist go up the jump and soar through through the air. Then they were hooked. After the motorcyclists jumped a few times the trick bike riders started. They were truly insane--one even did a back flip on his bike! And the last one stood up on his handlebars while the bike was moving!

We left, found a bite to eat, and then it was time for what the kids were all looking forward to--the rides. I had purchased enough tickets so that each of the kids could ride 2 rides. Josh decided that he wanted to buy his own booklet of tickets so that he could have 4 more rides. Much to my surprise the little kids got together and decided that they wanted to each put in a couple of dollars and buy a booklet to share--so they each got another ride. Poor Jason was broke so he didn't buy any extra tickets.

Josh started off the festivities with a ride on the "MegaDrop." We had a great time watching the cars get pulled up to the top, and then hurtle
towards the ground again. He looked quite satisfied with the experience when we saw him again. (He's on the left in the red sweatshirt.)

I love seeing the bond between my little kids show up from time to time.

Russ and I spent our one ride going on the Ferris Wheel with the little kids. I decided that the Ferris Wheel is definitely overrated and overpriced, at 5 tickets. But the view was fun.

Jason chose the Fire Ball for his first ride. I noticed that a theme of the for many fair rides seemed to be motion in as many directions as possible. The big arm on this ride swung back and forth while the "hand" holding the riders twirled around. It made me a little nauseous to watch, but Jason loved it.

The bumper cars were definitely the low point of the evening. The little kids and Josh all decided to ride them. The littles were so excited that they were officially tall enough to ride alone. At the last minute Jenna decided that she was afraid to ride by herself and hopped into Rachel's car, which didn't make Rachel happy.

It turned out that despite their meeting the height requirement, their legs really weren't long enough to push the gas pedal--so all three of the little kids spent most of the ride stuck against a wall.

Jason and Josh went on the Big Ride next. I didn't ever see it's name, but it was Big. It cost a Big amount of tickets (8--2 more than any other ride) and had a Big line. The long arm on this ride went around and around in faster and faster circles, while the seats on each end spun back and forth in their own circles. Jason and Josh came off looking both dazed and excited. If you can imagine that.

While the boys were on waiting for their turn for the Big Ride, the little kids watched, danced, and chose their last ride. The girls chose to go on the big swings.

Jenna looked pretty scared at first, but was smiling by the end. Rachel said that she had to scream for a while because she was afraid she was going to fall off, but by the end she also had a big smile.

Jared decided he was going to go on the Zero Gravity ride with Josh. I had real qualms about letting him go on this ride, but he was adamant that this is what he wanted to do. So I let him. Both boys thought the ride was great, but Josh was pretty sick to his stomach and gave Jason his last few tickets. (I'm sure Jason hated that...)

After the rides were over came the really amazing moment of the fair. Josh had brought some money because he wanted to try to win an electric guitar on one of the midway games. I still can't believe he actually did it! It took 4 tries, but he knocked over all the stacked goblets. He was exuberant, and kept reminding me that I had told him I didn't think he should try it again!

We had all sorts of interesting things to eat at the fair. Regular things like chicken, fries, and pizza. Not quite regular things like funnel cake, elephant ears, and roasted corn on the cob. (Which as you can see, was thoroughly enjoyed!) And then the really odd-you-will-probably-only-find-this-at-the-North-Carolina-State-Fair type of food. We had a deep fried snickers bar. There was a booth that offered deep fried everything. Seriously. Deep fried oreos, deep fried mac n cheese, deep fried candy bars. I have no idea how on earth they deep fry mac n cheese, but they dip the candy bars in a batter & then plop them in the hot oil. When they come out they look like a slightly flattened corn dog, but they taste nothing like a corn dog. Imagine a melting snickers wrapped in dough, and you'll have a fair idea of how it tasted. Russ, normally a real snickers fan declared it far too sweet. Jenna wouldn't have anything to do with it--she doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. (How'd that happen?) Rachel wouldn't have anything to do with it because she doesn't have an adventerous tooth. It was definitely not the food hit of the night--that would have been the corn.

The best part of our whole day happened at the end. We knew there was a fireworks show, and we planned to watch it right outside of the gates. When we got there, though, I was worried that the trees would be in the way. I shouldn't have worried--they were exploding right over our heads! It was the most amazing fireworks experience ever. The finale was as bright as daylight, and so loud that it set off car alarms! Here's a little video with some of the sights of the fair; first a ride I would never ride, then the ferris wheel after dark, then some fireworks. Hope you've enjoyed our Big Deal trip to the State Fair!