I was reading my friend's blog the other night, and thoughts lingered on her desire to extend October for a few more months. I get it.  I'm right there.  I'm digging my heels in at the end of each day, hoping to pull back on progression.  The month is the last thread to mild days, to this past summer, and to my child's innocent growth - the time where she's no longer a baby, but not yet a student. Alive, interactive, present, and engaging. I am living in the now. 

I love fall.  It stretches way beyond the shift of the season - beyond the squirreling of treasured acorns and leaves (and if you could see my front table, you would see our building treasure).  There's something frenzied and busy about the fall activities.  And I simply love it.  It's exhausting, distracting, but so enticing.  My mind stumbles away from each weekend, dizzy from the sheer pleasure of it all - making me want to go back again and again. It's a twisty swing ride. A hangover of joy.

Only preserving going on in this kitchen is bottling up a bit of this - My girl.  She loves the kitchen, especially being right under my feet, in my business - Measuring, cracking, rolling, creating.

And does it make her happy.

Our kitchen is hopping - soups, pumpkin bread, carmel apples, warm cider, and shaped pancakes. The pancakes are a huge hit, and it's really easy if you use a squeeze bottle with thinned batter; just outline your shape and fill.  
It's a tradition that Ben's dad started way back when, but I remember my first cake.  Ben made me bunny cake back when we were first dating, camping in Florida on spring break; I was hooked on the tradition but more so on the boy.  What a charming sentiment. I get why Alex now wants pancakes every day.
We have visited a lot of local festivals this fall.  The first one at Kinder Farm Park.  Their festival included a petting zoo, hay rides, moon bounces, pumpkin painting, square dancing, and corn chucking.  Yes, a piece of corn is hurled out of a pressurized pipe cannon, intending to hit targets far in a field.  

We were there for hours, relaxing, letting the kids float between the events and the multi-level playgrounds.  I got a hand cut silhouette of Alex, Nancy noshed on funnel cake, and the kids got high on sugar.

They were ridiculous.
Next festival was in south county at Greenstreet Gardens.  It didn't look like much when we rolled up to the garden center, but HOLY.  I want to go back!

It started with a hayride back to the fall festival area. This sign set the mood…

And after emerging from a haunted barn and ride through the woods, we came to a scenic mecca land for all things fun.

What you're looking at is a beautiful hillside that hides a large, underground slide.  And as each kid descends, they yell just to hear their voices vibrate in unison to their bouncing bodies.

And in the valley below, there is a corn maze, a hay maze (for the smaller kids), a pumpkin patch, sandboxes full of corn kernels, and the most amazing moon bounce I have ever experienced.

It was a 20'x30' rectangle that rose from the ground - no sides for protection - and everyone - little kids, larger kids, and adults - got a turn.

It was so much fun that Nancy and I laughed the entire time.  And if you had an adult jump right near you, you launched high above the surface; and usually came down in a graceless fall.

Enzo and Alex fell in love with this oversized sandbox (15' square) full of corn kernels. 

They were jumping, swimming, pouring, burying, burrowing, and laughing for a sold hour.  Who knew corn could be so much fun?

After 3 hours, the kids were so tired that they could barely stand or talk.  But it was FUN - fun like you remember as a young kid - vivid, challenging, sweaty, belly aching.  

Ben and I chatted about the experience all the way home about how Greenstreet will be a part of our ritual.  Alex will have crazy memories of going to this place year after year.  Have I convinced you to go yet?

Lastly, I have to take the space to commend my Dad for being a strong man for the past 30 years, for testing himself, pushing his limits, sacrificing, and learning through loss.  I know that the journey has not been easy, and some days may be longer than others; but you're doing it a step at a time.  Thank you from the deepest corners of my heart.  Our lives forever changed because of you.


~this moment~ Sunset Swing

The simple joy of swing ride shared between Alex and my Dad
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. via SouleMama


Blooming & Growing Forever

Excuse the delay in posting.  I've been enjoying the ride.

The other day, Alex and I ventured to the park.  The girl mastered running in (unlaced) tap shoes, which created an echoing clamor as we played monster-chase.

And every chase ended the same way - a fast ride down the tallest slide.  Thanks to her tutu style skirt full of polyester, the fast slide became a ride of marginal control.  This girl is a thrill seeker.

Fall activity abounds.  Starting with the County Fair, which always strikes in the midst of September.  The weather tastes like summer, but there's a different energy once the school year starts.  Nancy and I conspired for the past year how we would take Alex and Enzo to the fair this year at dusk.  Our children are finally old enough to endure the nighttime experience, and oh baby, they were amazed and energized.

I love this fair.  There's a beautiful balance of 4-H competition, animals, forbidden foods, and carnival activity that parallels childhood memories of the fairs in Baker, Oregon. However, Baker failed to deliver pig races. 

We were all captivated.
(I love capturing the gentle embrace.)
As for the 4-H portion of the event, I am floored by the pride and the responsibility these children take in rearing and showing their goats, calfs, pigs, sheep, and foul. So unplugged, but so connected.  

And after eating a little bit of carnival fare,

it was time to get this party started.

Really, I don't think she stopped laughing the entire evening until we hit the mechanical bull. Yes, the girl has a set too, and proved to be strong especially when the controller decided to tip the bull slightly forward and backwards.

The night flashed before us, and at 10pm, Nancy and I found ourselves eating our dinner (dipped soft-serve ice cream) from afar, watching our husbands and children dancing in a field in front of a live band.  Here we expected to meet everyone out by the cars with the children laced in their seats; but the wish for those last 5 minutes trump.
On to Pennsylvania to visit family and deliver an belated birthday cake. Going "home" to me is always a crush of time and obligations; and I struggle with the balance of how many people I can see.  And this trip was all about one word - family.

We had a play date at a local park with my father, brother and his family. 

The playground was diverse enough that the cousins barely overlapped. 

Missy and I started having fun after we caught Alex taking her pal Sally down every slide.

Next thing you know, we wrapped Sally up in a sweater and placed her in a tree like a chrysalis. Evil I know, but it has me seriously thinking about making a photo book about the adventures of Sally. She's much more than just a doll.

Seeing that time has not been my creative side-kick lately, I schlepped Christina's birthday cake supplies to PA, and started the process at my in-laws at 10pm.  In the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted Christina's 40th birthday cake to reflect her beauty and grace, which translated to me as sleek with clean lines.  

I succeeded. 

If anything, it gave the opportunity to try a new technique and now I'm inspired to try this layered look with an ombre effect; but baby, I see the ombre effect on a 3 tired cake with no additional decor. 

I'm always reminded that nothing I create compares the pride I feel when I give Alex her own cake and the space to decorate by her own terms. I do love this moment.

And this moment, catching her lying on the ground on a cardboard box, singing "The Sound of Music" at the top of her lungs.  Vibrato included. I need to catch this on video.

And this too.  Alex is imitating the Gilda Radner Muppet Show act of "Tap Your Troubles Away." She rehearses and has requested that we glue planks of wood on her shoes to reflect the props from the original skit. 

She has even gone as far as to pluck chunks of wood out of the firewood pile and use her white glue to complete the task.
And there's so much left to enjoy this fall. So here's wishing you the opportunity to take the time to soak it in.