Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Matt

I am at my in-laws for the holidays and don't have access to my pictures for updates on our holiday festivities, so I decided to steal Callie's blog idea about her husband, since few of you know him nearly as well as me (guys just don't get to sit around and chat for hours during the day during playgroups like us lucky moms! Course they don't have to break up nearly as many kid fights, clean up as many messes...I think it balances out = ).

FIVE THINGS HE LOVES (excluding me and the kids and any gospel references - those are an understood and not very telling):
  1. Music - In the past year or so you would think the guy breathes it, he always has some melody going through his head, often one he is creating (see previous blog about his music). I am wowed with his ability to pick things apart and hear all the different pieces of a song, everything from instruments to chord structures
  2. Animals - He loves watching the nature channel with the boys and you should the meticulous and caring way in which he takes care of our pets - and they are only hermit crabs!
  3. Sports & Exercise
  4. Americas Funniest Home Videos (or any other like show that just make you laugh out loud at spoofs)
  5. Making a difference - that's why he became a government employee (yes, big shock - it wasn't for the money...)

5 Things on His To Do List

  1. Finish updating our home video collection
  2. Clean the house (this one is sweet - the kids and I left in a whirlwind, as trips always go, and Matt is slowly trying to put that whirlwind back together)
  3. Get some actually restful sleep (with me and the kids gone, that's his only chance, as with 3 young kids, we hardly every get to sleep uninterupted through the night!)
  4. Build our family music collection
  5. Watch the movies I said were too boring and didn't want to watch with him

5 Foods He Enjoys

  1. He would say anything "Autumn makes" - I love that he is the number one fan of my cooking
  2. Broccoli - Matt is my hero - he's the only person I know who often eats based on how the food makes him feel, and thus loves good broccoli
  3. Mexican food
  4. Cereal
  5. More cereal!

5 Things You May Not Know About Him

  1. He is so funny. He does a great job of trying to get me to laugh more and loosen up about life.
  2. He's a thinker.
  3. He is not quiet. Because he is a thinker he is fabulous at not saying things without thinking about them (unlike his wife...I have gotten better though!), but mistaking his pensiveness for having nothing to say is his number 1 pet peeve! He won't add to a conversation just to make himself look good.
  4. He is a work horse. He even got the "workhorse" award in his masters program from his peers because he knows how to discipline himself.
  5. He can do one impressive turkey gobble.

5 Places He Has Lived

  1. King City, CA
  2. Provo, UT
  3. Belgium and France (his mission)
  4. San Dimas, CA
  5. Cape Coral, FL

5 Quirky Things About Him

  1. He is a nazi on dental care (he accredits it to his dental merit badge - like if he eats something sweet, he has to eat something to get it off his teeth)
  2. I don't think he has ever gone more than 3 days without working out (okay, that's just impressive, not so quirky...)
  3. He does the socks and sandals scene
  4. He is a total homebody.
  5. He doesn't like the tangy taste of most berries (I was raised on them and LOVE them, but him, not so much)

There it is. He is the love of my life and I sure am missing him right now, as his new job is keeping us apart for the holidays this year. I love you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2nd Annual Michaelis Gingerbread House FHE

Okay, I tried to make it sound official, but really we are just excited to have two Christmas traditions (makes me feel like I am racking up the mommy brownie points and leaving some kind of legacy for my children!).

The first tradition is Christmas caroling (combined with our treat deliveries) - which we already did this year. We listen to a kids Christmas carols CD constantly in the car, so the kids were well versed in their carols and then we sing just one song at each doorstep (because who really knows what to do when being caroled to? Hold open the door and smile? Invite them in? Sing along?). It started two years ago with Nathan just shaking jingle bells while mom and dad sang, but this year the kids really did sing (and shake bells, just because it's fun). Very fun, underdone tradition.

The second tradition is gingerbread house making. I wish I had some of the pictures to show you, but I remember making these with my family growing up, however it wasn't just houses - castles, teepees, you name it. They were grand creations. Last year was the first year we tried it in our family. *Warning - there is potentially a learning curve with this tradition! We use real homemade gingerbread (an alternative is graham crackers - sturdier and of more consistent size) and homemade frosting. Last year the gingerbread didn't turn out so great. This year, we got good tasting gingerbread, but had issues with the frosting. I put them in frosting tubes, so the kids could squirt it out easier, but their hot little hands made the frosting goopy. I also blundered by using margarine in the frosting. Crazy health nut - some things just need butter!!

But, that aside, we had a great time trying and snacking as we tried (*2nd Warning - this is not a low sugar activity for kids!). We invited some friends over (Spencer, Luke, and Benny + parental figures) to increase the housemaking fun. Matt and our friends' oldest child Spencer (with the help of his dad, big Spencer) got the only two standing houses. The rest of us opted for the just as comfortable, but with less complicated engineering, gingerbread teepees.
Carter with his gingerbread "teepee", complete with marshmallow snowman. I told him to smile, this is what I got! Notice the gobs of frosting all over his teepee - he was going to town until we noticed what he was up to!
Benny must have been taking notes on the fake smiles from Carter:
The group hard at work (no, the hubbies aren't doing ALL the work - I was taking pictures so you could see this, and Kristi was helping Luke make his teepee - but she conveniently sidestepped when I pulled out the camera (yes, I saw that!) - all you can see of her hard work is her finger showing Luke where to put stuff)

Luke with his great looking finished product. His is definitely a born engineer and took his building very seriously (and was understandably frustrated with the goopy frosting!) I love the look on Luke's face in this pic - doesn't he look just like little baby sis Lila?

Spencer with the best looking house of the bunch!

Nathan's teepee...notice that he has the most candy per square foot!!

Matt's house. He only stole a few minutes of time away from helping the kids to throw this together, which is a shame because if you have ever seen this guy build with legos you would know he would have been capable of a gingerbread mansion! Next year...

So, lessons learned and we had a blast. Thanks Kristi and Spencer for sharing our tradition with us. Next year we will have to find a bigger place to have you all over for a gingerbread building party!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let it S-N-O-W!

We have spent the last two years of our family life in sunny Florida, where they claim 350ish days of sunshine a year. The beach was literally down the street and, during the summer, we went twice or more times a week. Once you accepted the fact that sand would just be in every crevice of your body, car, house, and your children, it was fabulous.

However, variety is definitely meant to be a part of life and a wonderful cold front came in this weekend and snow with it. We were bummed we didn't have any snow on the ground by Sunday, but the boys thought it was magical Sunday morning when we showed them the flakes of snow coming down and insisted on throwing jackets and shoes on on top of pjs and going outside "in the snow". All they could figure to do with it was catch the snowflakes. Well, Nathan did - Carter just thought it was fun to run around with his tongue out!

We were thrilled this morning when we woke up to find an exciting two inches of snow on the ground. Carter has never seen it and Nathan only knows he has seen it before from videos of him playing in it at age two (see pic below), but doesn't remember it.

So, once we dug deep into our "haven't-used-it-since-living-in-Utah" winter clothes box for all the necessary coverage, we went out into the snow. These boys obviously had gained some sense of what to do in the snow because, as soon as I stepped out (they were in the backyard and had gone ahead of me) they grinned at each other, counted to three and then chucked two snowballs at me! Little stinkers! We used pretty much all the snow behind our town home to make our snowman. I have to tell you though - we never could get a good snowman going in Utah, but for some reason it was super easy here, just roll the little ball along and it picked up tons of snow and voila - a snowman! We were sad we didn't get to go sledding with daddy, as the snow melted very quickly, but maybe next time.

(Nathan was very upset we only had baby carrots for the nose and told me we needed to keep the big carrots around just in case! Still, I think our 10 minute snow man turned out pretty cute!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Impressions of ZUMBA: A Dumb Jock's Point of View

This is Matt writing. This is my first entry on this blog. Since Autumn has created this blog, nothing noteworthy enough to feel the urge to write about it has happened with me. Until tonight. If you don’t know already, Autumn teaches fitness classes part time at the YMCA. She specializes in ZUMBA – a high energy Latin dance fitness class. I finally had the chance to participate in her class tonight. She’s been on board about two months now, and I knew she was passionate about it, but I had no idea she was as good as she is! But before I get to how much I liked the class, not to mention her as a teacher, here are some initial impressions of ZUMBA:

- First of all, I love the music. Catchy rhythms, rich chords, and intricate piano cadences…just the type of stuff you want to get up and dance to! I especially liked the improvisational vibe solos, and the jazzy scales they were based on.
- Second, the foundation of how one moves in ZUMBA is similar to the foundation of one moves in basketball, which is something that I am much more familiar and comfortable with. This may be difficult to believe for some of you, but check this out. Both require a high degree of agility, or the ability to stay light on your feet. Both require the ability to know how to pivot, or moving up to a 360 degree circle without lifting up the foot in the radius of the circle. Both require the ability to squat down for extended periods of time, and shuffle the feet (i.e. playing defense in basketball). I honestly believe that ZUMBA is more similar to basketball than any other type of aerobics/dance/fitness class.
- ZUMBA is very low-impact. Great for the joints! That means you can prolong not having to drink nasty collagen lubricant when you get older! (I once taste-tested that stuff at Costco, and it tastes like motor oil!!!)
- ZUMBA is a great workout. It works all the muscle groups, and it is a great balance between cardiovascular consistency and intervallic muscle toning. The only muscle I didn’t work was my obliques, and according to the teacher, the only way you can work those well is if you really know how to shake your hips. Not my forte…yet. So you combine this with the fact that ZUMBA is fun, the time really flies and before you know it you have a cute little sweat ring on your shirt.

Autumn was spectacular. She is at the point where she is good enough to do the moves and add her spunky personality to them. Her enthusiasm for ZUMBA is very contagious. She interacts with people and cracks jokes, and she is the center of attention. When you walk in to a classroom full of people, and she’s teaching ZUMBA, you feel an immediate sense of energy and enthusiasm. How therapeutic is that! I think the main thing that influences all this, though, is the fact that she is smokin’ hot.

I wonder how my baller buddies would feel about me hanging up the bball shoes and converting to ZUMBA…

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time for a Sweet Tooth Extraction!

My dad is one of my heros. I would LOVE to inherit a lot of his attributes - his amazing patience, his ability to keep his cool (I can count on one hand the number of times I have heard him yell, and both times it involved me sassing my mom as a teenager), his abilty to be friendly to anyone with a heartbeat...However, though I will probably be striving for those attributes into the eternities, the one thing I inherited from my dad that is already well developed is a sweet tooth.

Now, I don't know how bad it is for my dad, but as far as my sweet tooth you need to know what I am talking about. Most of you who know my love for fitness might not even know or suspect this about me. But I don't have just a "having a hankering for sweets on the every few days" type sweet tooth. No, I mean that "I would literally be happy having sweets for every meal of the day as well as my two snacks" type sweet tooth. I love them. They hypnotize me into wanting them constantly, and of course not just one bite.

So, I am declairing war! I am afraid Nathan has inherited my sweet tooth gene and has become an unfortunate mini-me, wanting something sweet all day long. I know these types of resolutions don't usually come mid December, but it is something that is already over due. Carpe Diem - the time is now!

I have seen enough dieting to know that absolute removal of any one food group or making a food "forbidden" (da-da-don!) is not wise and can often lead to over indulgence. So, the new Michaelis family standard is that we will have sweets once a week (typically on Monday night for FHE treats), and on birthdays and holidays. Matt and Carter probably won't notice any difference, but if you see Nathan and I looking a little shaky or seeing just down right cranky, you will know it's just from chocolate withdrawls.

There is something suspiciously wrong with food that does nothing to satiate your hunger (as food is for), but only whets your appetite for MORE. So, for most of the week, I am boycotting it! And if goodies come our way, no problem - we will just freeze them until next FHE treat (my mom was the QUEEN of freezing - you can freeze almost anything). But, don't be offended if I turn sweets down or ask for them to go.

I am going public with this so I have to do it. Feel free to bug me about it, stare at me as I go through an appetizer/dessert line. Please do so I know YOU know of my resolve and our resolve as a family.

Now the real question is...is there a tooth fairy for extracted sweet tooths?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

They do like each other!

I don't know if this is just my lot in life as a mom, but I feel like all day long I am telling my kids to not fight with each other. Of course, I remember having a "contention chart" growing up to try to stop me and my siblings from fighting with each other (okay, mostly ME and my sister from fighting with each other). We all turned out okay and now I am closer to my sister than anyone in my family. But, how to manage the madness from here (the squabbiling all day) to there (when they grow up and realize mom was right and they ARE each other's best friend)? I would love any ideas and tips you guys have on how to manage the fighting madness. Until then, I am posting these pictures of the two boys being oh-so-cute and, for a brief moment, are the best of friends.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Unfamily Family Day

As some of you know, this Thanksgiving was both fun and sad as the boys and I got to head home for my annual family gathering, but at the tough cost of leaving Matt here. Matt can't use his vacation for the first 6 months, so in order to make an appearance and see my family, we had to go without him. I know, my husband is on his way to sainthood for spending the holidays alone (however, he was well taken care of here - thanks Kari!). But, we always take family pictures over the Thanksgiving break, so I thought I would introduce those of you who haven't meet them to my fam! My sister is standing next to me (holding Luke), and then my two brothers are on the ends with their wives and daughters. As you can tell, Nathan and all his boy cousins on the front row and thrilled about this picture taking process! It was great to spend time with my family and Nathan loved having fellow star wars jedi to play with him. Thanks again Mom and Dad!

A Belated Oregon Fall

I know we are well on our way into winter, but I snoozed on my blogging lately and missed sharing this great shot of our Oregon Fall. Who doesn't love fall with all it's beautiful colors and just cool enough weather? We hadn't seen one in two years (palm trees don't change color...), so we were extra excited for this one. This is a more aerial view of where we live from a road just up the street. Just gorgeous!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Amazing Hubbie

I am posting below a video of Matt improvising some blues and a little bit of jazz at a talent show when we lived in Florida. I don't know that everyone knows about this recently developed talent of Matt's. He's amazing and just decided to write me a little blues birthday ditty on the piano 5 years ago this month. That was cute and endearing, but also opened up a door for him of creative exploring into the world of piano, specifically jazz and blues. He played in a Jazz band in high school, but trumpet. So, the music skills were there, but only a little bit in piano from lessons as a child. After his little birthday number, piano really struck a chord (sorry, had to make that pun!) and he was off and running. He has done tons of research and practicing and has gone leaps and bounds from a small piano ability to what you see below.

Everything he plays is written and created by himself (how many of the current popular/mainstream musicians can say that!) and I just love hearing him play and create. I am certainly his biggest fan! He has come a long way over the years. Unfortunately since he’s developed symptoms of carpal tunnel his piano playing has died off a bit. But he has taken up songwriting -- refer to www.myspace.com/mattmichaelismusic to check out his songs (he really values feedback).

What can I say, one of several ways in which my husband is amazing!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The beach and the Redwoods

Even though we knew rain was in the forecast, before it got to be just completely cold and rainy, we decided to make a long awaited trip to the beach and the redwoods. Some friends (thanks Kristi!) told us about a great little day trip that takes you through the Redwoods and then over to the beach (not technically an Oregon beach, but northern CA - by Crescent City). So, we loaded up the van and headed down. We had to laugh when Nathan started whining after being in the car for a bit and said, "Why do we have to go so far to just to look at TREES?!" The redwoods are hard to picture until you see them!
(*Note, all of the following adventures were made by having people jump start us every time we stopped somewhere, as we were having battery connector cable problems (obviously we didn't know that until we had the van fixed yesterday...). We could have gotten just one jump and driven the 1 1/2 - 2hours back home (as the problem evidenced itself infront of Paul Bunyan, but we had just gotten there and were determined to have a good family day. So, crazy as it was, we did most of the things we came to do and just prayed for nice people to get us from one place to another. We got them, thank goodness (the three slightly wet children probably didn't hurt our sympathy vote!))

Our first stop was by the famous Paul Bunyan statue, right on the freeway by the Redwoods. There's really not much to see here, unless you want to pay $14 per person to got through their section of the Redwoods (versus the free version just up the street), but I remember seeing these when I was little, so we went and got our picture by them too. Nathan and Carter were impressed with these large statues of two characters they didn't know at all. At least they were really big!

I could have done without the tacky Christmas decorations in front, but oh well. I do love Nathan's "cool guy" pose though!

Then we stopped by the beach. We knew that OR beaches are obviously very different from Florida beaches - rocky and not so much for beaching as exploring. So, we left the sand toys at home and instead brought jackets in preparation for the rain. It started raining a bit just as we got there, but we explored as much as we could before it scared us into the van.

Rainy or not, Oregon rocky beaches are beautiful!

Our cute boys, probably just happy to be out of the car!

True to form, our boys just wanted to play with the sticks (the waves scared them, so they stayed pretty far away from the water). Nathan used to go to one park in Cape Coral, FL just to find "long sticks". So, you can imagine how happy he was to find one even longer than him and drug it around the whole time. Carter was more into the hording and carried as many as he had hands for!

Of course, you don't have to wonder where they get their love for sticks and all the things they are good for from...
Little Lukie, such a trooper, as always! No complaints from him, though, in an effort to appear to be a good mother, I removed my hood from my jacket and fashioned it into one for him. What a cute little beach eskimo!

Carter, just like at the pumpkin patch with the hay, just wanted to throw the sand. Luckily, we got his hands busy with carrying sticks (which he was too attached to to throw)!

By the time we hit the stretch of Redwoods we wanted to explore, it was more seriously raining (still not the FL downpour we are used to, but enough to not go romping through without an umbrella, even with a redwood covering). We just got out enought to take some decent pictures (as pictures validate any trip) and show Nathan that these weren't just "trees" (he was very impressed and said, "Oh, wow - these are BIG trees!) and really were worth the trip. We earned extra brownie parent points for taking him to the place Star Wars was filmed, as he is in a big Star Wars kick right now. We kept our eyes peeled, but no Ewok sightings this time!

A beautiful view of the magesty of these ancient trees

Matt and Nathan standing in front of the biggest tree they could find in a 5 minute walk. Though not the biggest out there, still a great shot of how amazingly huge these trees are!

We loved the trip, and can't wait to go back without the rain, car problems, and hopefully with one of you!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Name that Baby!

All this sentimentality about baby Luke has made me take a stroll down memory lane, taking a look at baby pictures. Some people see no resemblence between our boys. Some think our two oldest are twins (okay, only mostly elderly women in Cape Coral thought that one...). I think our boys definitely look alike, but that yearing from alikeness might come from the fact that I come from a family of "mutts" (not in a lesser-breed type way, but in a look-nothing-alike type way). My sister has strawberry blonde hair, my brother red curly, my other brother almost black wavy hair, and then me with stick straight mousy-brown, though all of us with gray-blue eyes. So, having come from a family where someone thinks my brother is my boyfriend before they would guess brother, I would LOVE to have some family resemblence between my kids!

What do YOU think? My friend Kristi did a cute little "guess the baby picture" on her blog, so I am going to steal that great idea. Do they look alike? Can you tell who is who? Do you know your Michaelis boys? Answers posted at the bottom of the page- just drag your scroll bar to the bottom of this page to my first post - so you won't cheat! (PS - Pictures are in black and white because Carter came out with bright strawberry blonde hair and his pictures would be too easy to guess!)

Sweet Lukie

So with my first baby, everything was so new that I couldn't appreciate much of anything - I was too busy figuring the whole baby thing out! With the second baby, I was trying to figure out how to keep child A happy when child B had needs, so still didn't cherish the baby scene as much as I could have. However, child number three rolls out and he is just amazingly laid back and just one happy kid. We have loved every minute of him. Don't get me wrong, things are still chaotic around here at times (okay, okay maybe more often than not), but somehow with number three I just feel like I can finally appreciate. I am no longer worried and hurriedly checking the baby books to see if he is crawling soon enough or what milestones he should be reaching. I can't say I have the "hang" of motherhood by any means, but have been around the baby block enough times that I can just enjoy this one. And, boy is there a lot to enjoy.

Luke just learned to pull himself up and he is just so tickled by himself that everytime he does, he just starts making serious happy noises and sporting the biggest smile. Not just the first time he did, every single time since. If only I could be as proud of myself for the small accomplishments in life. So here's to you my cute little Lukie - may I smile and light up around those I love as much as you do and learn to rejoice in everyday victories.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A "Super" Halloween

I love the holiday season. Come October 1, I am pulling out the boxes of Halloween decorations and we just decorate and do various festive activities for the next two months (we take a short break between New Years and Valentines day and then we enter the "birthday months" (Luke, then Matt, then Carter, then Nathan with Easter sandwiched between)). My mom instilled in me a love for the holidays and the great way they break up the day to day life.

This year for costumes let my kids pick their costumes and apparently (as you will see in later pics) the hot costumes for little boys are superheros. My budget directed Nathan towards superman (okay, so I found the costume in the thrift store for $3 and we were both pumped - the only costume I didn't have to make!), Carter already had the batman mask, and Luke already had the incredibles shirt. So, several late sewing nights later, I had three adorable superheros on my hands. They had a blast going to a great kids Halloween party on Thursday, Trick or Treating at dad's work on Friday, as well as Trunk or Treating at the church, and then hitting a few houses Trick or Treating, as Nathan informed us the Trunk or Treating wasn't the "real" trick or treating. I definitely thinned out their candy (some I bought, some I just threw away when they went to bed), but all in all we had a great Halloween.

The development of a Superhero:

Step 1: Get some muscles (ours were so conveniently built into the costume, no crunches
or ab shock belts for us!)

Step 2: Show off your muscles to everyone. Especially bad guys so they will know to stay

I love how there is also apparently a "muscle-showing-tough-guy" face, which Nathan so perfectly displays!

Carter didn't quite get the whole showing off your muscles scene.

But, he soon perfected his own tough guy fighting stance:

Step 3: Develop an alliance with other superheros to ensure you will be able to pow the snot out of any bad guys in the vacinity! (This is Nathan and some friends at the kids Halloween party - there were about 10 little boys there and almost all of them were superheros!)

Nathan also had his first experience with bobbing for apples at the party. It was a race between two kids and Nathan lost in a matter of seconds, but was determined to do it. This is him bobbing away:
Then, realizing how hard it was, this is him resorting to cheating (using his hand) to get an apple:

Then, finally, in his cute little determined way, he wanted to try again without cheating and made all his little friends wait for what seemed like forever for him to finally get an apple:

And finally (yes, believe it or not this is 1/10 of the pictures we actually took of this holiday), here are the cute pics from before heading off to trick or treating. Oh, and if you are wondering, Luke is Jack-Jack, the baby from the Incredibles.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

You just gotta laugh...

Nathan today was playing with his toy guys and one was shooting other. He said that one "killed" the other one. I reminded him that in our household we don't kill bad guys, we put them in prison and give them a chance to make good choices. He just looked at me and said, "It's okay to kill them mom. They will be resurrected."

At least I know he's listening to one part of what I am teaching him!

Oh to be Incredible!

It was a weekend of firsts for us a couple this past weekend. Matt and I went to our first couples Halloween party and, in order to do so, even hired our first babysitter (we have always date swapped or had friends without kids watch them in the past). I had to laugh at myself as I tried to figure out how to find a babysitter (it was a young woman in the ward), how much to pay her (I asked her mom what her going rate was), what the employer/employee etiquette was (you know, that oh so fun polite interaction when you are picking them up, taking them home, and also assuring their parents that you are good people). But, we survived the babysitting scene, might even find it in our pocketbooks to do it again sometime, and had a great time at the party.

The party was a costume party, of course, and so up until two days before the event we couldn't agree on a costume. Matt liked one that had a funny guy role, but a boring girl role (Angela and Dwight from The Office) and I liked one that had a great girl role, but kinda embarassing guy role (okay, so totally embarassing - like loin cloth embarassing: She-ra and He-man - it was an eighties themed party). Finally, we took a cue from our cute little superhero boys and decided on Mr. and Mrs. Incredible. I sewed the costumes free form the night before, so they were defintely imperfect and safety-pinned together in places, but they were way cute and we had fun. Nathan and Carter thought it was pretty amazing that they had "supers" for parents. I had to laugh that Nathan told me that next year he thought we should all be Incredibles and he wanted to be the one that could "do forcefields and disappear." "You mean Violet?" "Yeah, mom I want to be Violet." Oh, to be so innocent that gender means nothing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

To the Pumpkin Patch!

Thanks to a great tip from a friend (thanks Kari!) we headed off as a family to the pumpkin patch today. Matt and I hadn't been since childhood and Nathan has been dying to go (thanks to the idea from various halloween books and Charlie Brown's Halloween movie). We had so much fun!

First, we went through the "sunflower" maze. Yes, this is the "baby" corn maze - you won't seriously get lost in it. However, I have a bad taste in my mouth for real corn mazes (they had one of those too), probably thanks to a college FHE night at the corn maze in which it was really dark, I truly couldn't find my way out, and, to top it off, they had men running around trying to make girls scream with their chainsaws! So, can you blame me, I don't do real corn mazes any more!

Next was one of our favorite parts of the day - a mountain of hay. We got there and no other kids were on top of it, but Nathan and Carter quickly figured out the great thing about this mountain - throwing it!! Carter was especially gleeful and we had the hardest time taking him away from it. Maybe he had finally found justice in the world! Luke was just too cute sitting in the hay.

Oh, boy oh boy oh boy!
Fire away!

Take that Nathan!

Whee!! Look, I can make a mess and Mommy doesn't care! Freedom!

Hey, Carter, let's gang up on Daddy!

Just too darn cute!

Nathan looking cute too (Carter wouldn't hold still long enough for a "cute hay" pic!)

After that, Nathan was just dying to go pick out a pumpkin. He was convinced he would find the "perfect" one. Of course, every one he saw was the "perfect" one (even a few rotting ones), but we finally directed him towards a winner. Here are our picks, not including the little baby pumpkin we got for Lukie:

Here's our pumpkins!

One of the many, many "perfect" pumpkins
Mom, I can't carry it - it's too heavy! Oh, you mean the wheelbarrow we brought isn't just for me to ride in?

Don't worry, mom, I'll carry this!

And finally, we just took a little more time to take some cute fall pictures, Nathan rode a pony, and we all did a little hay ride. Matt and I drove away feeling like we had done our good parent deed for the week, introducing our kids to fall!

Driving a tractor - Grandpa Dell will be so proud!

My new favorite picture of Luke! Cutie Patootie!

Nathan riding his first animal

Two cute little boys (both finally smiling at the same time after only 10 pictures!)