'Muff'in Dome

Category Archives: Grandparents

Year in Review – 2016

My blogging has been sporadic and sparse this year. Much happening with my family and not a whole lot of time to sit down and type out words, even though I have many bouncing around in my head to share.

So, although, I had planned on this being a ’12 in 12 photos’ post, it has turned into more. A quick recap of the year in photos and a few words.

Here’s to 2016. You were good to us.

January

Carmel beach - Jan 2016

Carmel Mission - Jan 2016

wall of water - Jan 2016

jelly fish - Jan 2016

walk for life - Jan 2016

ferry building SF - Jan 2016

We took our annual trip to Carmel and Monterey to visit the Aquarium for Homeschool Days. End of the month had us traveling down to San Francisco for the Walk for Life and a quick weekend getaway in the city.

 

February

Valentine kisses - Feb 2016

top of the Space Needle - Feb 2016

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tea in Victoria - Feb 2016

tiny photographer Victoria - Feb 2016

Princess Evey - Feb 2016

We attended a Valentine’s party at a friend’s house where she had a great photo prop wall set up — Lucie was hamming it up! We went to Seattle {part one and part two} and Victoria, BC as a family, where Steve was quietly taking the Washington State Bar Exam {he passed!}. We loved the Pacific Northwest and hope to travel there again soon. The girls’ cousin, Rosie, celebrated her birthday with a tea party towards the end of the month, and the girls loved dressing up for the occasion.

 

March

exploring water - March 2016

Blessed is She retreat - March 2016

Candy Land - March 2016

Easter - March 2016

petting baby chicks - May 2016

The Fountains - March 2016

Post rain walks were a huge hit this month for watching leaves and sticks float down the runoff. I went to a Blessed is She retreat in Phoenix — my first time away from the girls for a weekend — and had wonderful, much-needed quiet time with the Lord and good friends. Evey learned her first board game, Candyland, on my childhood game board. Easter was a beautiful day with family {and chickens!}. And there was twinning at the Fountains.

 

April

bouquets to art - April 2016

tea at the palm court SF - April 2016

garden helper - April 2016

morning popsicles - April 2016

first time bowling - April 2016

swearing into the Bar - May 2016

I went with a mom and friend to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, followed by high tea at the Palace Hotel. My little helpers got us going on our garden. It was hot enough to eat popsicles for morning snack by the end of the month. The girls had a blast during their first bowling trip. And the greatest highlight of the month was watching Steve get sworn into the Washington Bar at my parents’ house by a good friend of my mother.

 

May

 

capital crew - May 2016

pencil behind ear - May 2016

family photo - May 2016

eating strawberries from the patch - May 2016

riding with lettuce - May 2016

Evey's tomato plant - May 2016

dancing for great grandma - May 2016

May snow play - May 2016

I watched my brother, Raphael, in the Southwest Junior Rowing Championships at Lake Natoma. Morning cutie with a pencil in her ear. A gathering at my parents’ house had everyone in attendance. More gardening {lots of strawberries and lettuce!}.  Evelyn enjoyed working with her tomato plant housed in it’s own special red cage. We celebrated Great-Grandma, AM’s “39th” birthday again. It was still cold enough for some snow to be on the ground at the cabin!

 

June

water play - June 2016

holding a ladybug - June 2016

running together - June 2016

hula hooping - June 2016

Golden Gate Bridge SF - June 2016

playing xylophone - June 2016

hiding in a tree SF - June 2016

at the beach in Santa Cruz - June 2016

Santa Cruz beach - June 2016

chillin in the sand chair - June 2016

daddy's day - June 2016

carrots and chard from our garden - June 2016

corn tassels - June 2016

strawberries from the garden - June 2016

birthday girl - June 2016

Water play began this month and we spent a large part of the summer splashing in that little pool. A trip to the cabin involved a little hike where Lucie found her favorite–a ladybug–and Evey enjoyed running with Jed. I took the girls to Children’s Discovery Museum in Sausalito and we had a blast exploring all day. Father’s Day weekend found us in Santa Cruz, spending ample time at the beach and checking out the “little red lighthouse” {a great discovery due to this book}. Wonderful summer produce from our garden! And a little someone celebrated her second birthday at the end of the month.

 

July

examining flowers - July 2016

all american - July 2016

parade time - July 2016

pretend photos - July 2016

sitting on the dock - July 2016

hammock time with daddy - July 2016

swinging fun - July 2016

Serene Lakes parade - July 2016

first fish! - July 2016

blowing seeds to the wind - July 2016

flower child - July 2016

camping hike - July 2016

Evey photog - July 2016

first ferris wheel ride - July 2016

A busy, wonderful month full of much exploration! We spent a week at the cabin to celebrate the 4th of July — lots of fun with family! Then, we hopped over to the coast to spend the following weekend at Gerstle Cove State Park to camp with our dear friends, Evelyn’s godparents. And finally closed off the month with a trip to the California State Fair where Evelyn got to go on her first ferris wheel ride {worth the hour+ standing in the blazing sun!}.

 

August

blowing bubbles - Aug 2016

fishing together - Aug 2016

our sunflowers - Aug 2016

SLO beach - Aug 2016

catching seeds - Aug 2016

hanging with my girls - Aug 2016

Winding down the summer with one more trip to the cabin for bubble blowing and fishing. We grew some beautiful multi-colored sunflowers in our garden which often graced my kitchen window. I ran away to SLO with my sis-in-laws for a weekend away complete with a requisite trip to the beach. Evelyn loved pulling the seeds from the cornflower seed pods to store away for next year. Hamming it up as we say goodbye to summer!

 

September

playing in the yard - Sept 2016

BIS retreat - Sept 2016

knit hat - Sept 2016

cheers in Sac! - Sept 2016

camping dirt play - Sept 2016

large painting - Sept 2016

play dough play - Sept 2016

writing her name - Sept 2016

going up the slide - Sept 2016

Dwindling summer evenings at the Labor Day BBQ. I went on retreat with my Blessed is She writer team in Minnesota/Wisconsin for a weekend–so wonderful to meet many bright faces I had only interacted with online before. Knit up this lovely hat for myself with Ginny’s yarn and my first pattern from Making Magazine.  Happy Hour during an overnight in Sacramento. Off to our last camping trip of the summer at the Calaveras Big Trees with Gram and Pumpkin where Lucie got as dirty as she possible could. Many great activities from our Homegrown Preschooler curriculum this autumn, including BIG painting, homemade play dough, and writing our name! We took Daddy with us to explore Fairy Tale Town on a rare day off.

 

October

Seattle date - Oct 2016

Multnomah Falls - Oct 2016

rain play - Oct 2016

playing in the rain - Oct 2016

first fair isle - Oct 2016

circus - Oct 2016

pumpkin patch - Oct 2016

explode the code - Oct 2016

Apple Hill - Oct 2016

apple picking - Oct 2016

Halloween - Oct 2016

Steve and I got away for a long weekend to Portland, a place neither of us had been before. {Our first weekend away since having the girls!} Much needed rain for California didn’t stop us from going outside–a different kind of water play from the summer, but so fun! I finished my first Fair Isle hat–a sweet little cap for Evelyn–with my favorite new yarn from Quince & Co. that I picked up in Portland. Evey’s wish came true and we went to the circus after I won tickets to a show! A pumpkin patch, of course! Evelyn completed her first school workbook. Fall just wouldn’t be fall without a trip Apple Hill, enjoying the colors of the season, as well as apple picking {and eating} in our nearby orchard. And rounded out the month with Halloween and a reappearance of Anna and Elsa.

 

November

hiking with uncles - Nov 2016

Veterans day parade - Nov 2016

backyard bonfire - Nov 2016

train museum - Nov 2016

turning 4! - Nov 2016

cousins holding cousins - Nov 2016

crazy faces - Nov 2016

digging out - Nov 2016

building a snowman - Nov 2016

cracking eggs - Nov 2016

building together - Nov 2016

knitting - Nov 2016

thanksgiving tree - Nov 2016

Thanksgiving - Nov 2016

A final trip of the season with uncles to Apple Hill. Joining in the local Veterans’ Day parade. A backyard bonfire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. A trip to the train museum in Sacramento to celebrate Evelyn turning 4. Lucie enjoyed holding her newest cousin, Zachary. Headed up to the cabin for the first big snowfall of the season. Steve did an excellent job digging us out. And we made a fantastic snowman. Our resident egg cracker. A moment of working together that doesn’t happen too often. Lots of Christmas gift knitting. Our family thanksgiving tree. And Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.

 

December

Advent candles - Dec 2016

counting gingerbread buttons - Dec 2016

Advent calendar - Dec 2016

Christmas crackers - Dec 2016

mama quiet time - Dec 2016

SF store windows at Christmas - Dec 2016

decorating Christmas cookies - Dec 2016

cutting out gingerbread - Dec 2016

decorating cookies - Dec 2016

fallen Christmas tree - Dec 2016

fancy dinner - Dec 2016

Nutcracker - Dec 2016

first quilt

snuggling with Gram - Dec 2016

sledding with Pumpkin - Dec 2016

Evey skiing - Dec 2016

Christmas chaos - Dec 2016

dad's new hat - Dec 2016

Christmas morning donuts - Dec 2016

Christmas breakfast - Dec 2016

doll house play - Dec 2016

Christmas girls - Dec 2016

Christmas napping - Dec 2016

Lot’s of great things this month! We dove into Advent with gusto, but fell off a bit when I got sick. The girls enjoyed the Advent calendars and a look at celebrations from places around the world, while I got to dive in deeply with BiS’s Advent journal. We took a trip to San Francisco to take a peek at the magical displays in the storefront windows. Many cookies were made and decorated. Our tree fell over {but we repositioned the bottom to stay in the stand better and had no further accidents}. On the eve of Christmas Eve we went out for a fancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and to the Nutcracker at the Sacramento Ballet. I completed my first quilt, a gift for my brother, Dominic. We had a Christmas weekend at the cabin, complete with lots of snow fun! And a Christmas celebration at my parents’ that involved deep sea diving in wrapping paper by the young ones. My dad sporting his newly knit hat! Christmas morning was quiet and wonderful. And Lucie snuck in plenty of naps during the holidays!

 

Wishing one and all a Happy New Year 2017!

Thanks for taking this look back with me!

Moments ~ {Vol. 13}

Where do I begin?!?

popscicle face

How could you say ‘no’ to popsicles at 10 in the morning to this cute, little face?

yum, popscicle

pencil tucked behind ear

Very intrigued by her ear’s ability to be a pencil holder.

morning tea toddler

Another tea lover in the family.

lovin' daddy

Snuggles with Daddy. My heart. <3

egg cracking

Her new favorite activity: making a special breakfast {aka scrambling eggs}.

making eggs

cooking eggs

She’s a pro.

bowling in neon lights

It may not have gotten there fast, but it knocked all the pins down!

bowling in neon lights

Not clear whether the ramp is for the balls to go down the lane or a jungle gym for climbing.

bowling in neon lights

bowling in neon lights

Push!

Sunday best

Another dress from my childhood {made by my mama} that she adores.

singing with Elsa bear

A rare moment to hold sister’s Elsa Bear.

dancing sisters

Dancing in the living room in their favorite, softest! pants {by Whole Parenting Goods}.

princess shoes fashion

The princess must wear her slippers.

waiting for their turn on the train

Friends waiting on the platform {made by Evey} for the train

riding the train

Taking turns on the train

riding the train

Love this girl’s creativity!

chasing chickens

Chasing chickens!
petting chickens

Hanging out with Gram on Mother’s Day, meeting Uncle Eric and Aunt Lindy’s newest residents.

Caleb in a tree

I guess I can’t take credit for this one (I think it was my sis-in-law) but I suppose I have to admit I’m related. 😉

family photo gone bad

Again, related.

strange siblings

The baby of the family no longer…?

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My brothers and I. {How did I become the shortest of the bunch?!}

family photo with parents

With our parents.family photo -- Everybody!And everybody!

Together for the occasion of my brother, Jonathan’s, shipping out with the Navy at the end of the month and his engagement to his fiancée, Krista {they are 4th and 5th from the right}. So much to celebrate!

Finding Delight in the Lord — In Every Moment Given

Blessed is She hosted Advent retreat gatherings all over the world this past Saturday (and a few more take place this upcoming weekend). I offered my home as a location to host, but only a friend of mine expressed interest in coming. As it is easier for the two of us to get together during the week, we postponed until a few days later.

It was this fortuitous event that actually brought the lesson of “delighting in the Lord” home to me this Advent.

Munsill thanksgiving

My grandfather has been in hospice care for a little over a year now, but the past few weeks saw a rapid decline after an illness he caught swiftly made him worse. Over this period, I was able to visit a few times and sit vigil with him as he completed his days on this earth.

Those times spent with him, I spoke a few words with him when he was able to hold a little conversation or shared memories with other family members who were visiting. But mostly, I prayed for him. I prayed with him and over him. It felt very much like time spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament–that veil between heaven and earth is so thin in His presence, and I could sense the same as I sat with my grandfather keeping vigil in his final agony.

On Saturday afternoon, when the BIS retreat was to take place, I ended up going over to my parents’ house with the family. While Steve stayed with the girls at their house, I drove over to keep company with my dad and grandfather. When I arrived, my dad was playing Big Band music for my grandpa, joking that he had asked my dad to play the music for him. It was his favorite, so I’m certain he would have asked for it had he been able.

My dad and I chatted. We checked in with the medical tech to make sure my grandfather was receiving his pain medications regularly. We helped him take his breathing treatment and replaced his oxygen when he was finished. We relished the moments with him as we didn’t know when would be his last.

It is not always easy to sit with a dying person. It’s hard to know whether to converse with them. It’s difficult to watch their struggles as they suffer mostly interiorly. It’s painful when others who love the person are present, to know what to say to each other as you mourn the loss of this person who is so dear to you.

But what I certainly did as I sat there with my grandfather was “delighted in the moments” — giving thanks for each breath that still held him here, giving thanks for all the memories of good times past, giving thanks for the family legacy he was leaving to us, giving thanks for his life that had touched mine so profoundly. His presence was still very deeply felt even as he was slipping away and I wanted to be with him every minute I could that was left.

As we went about our Sunday morning the next day, I didn’t know that he had passed on to eternal life in the wee hours of the morning. We took the girls to an early Mass at the cathedral as we were planning to go to the German Christkindlmarkt later that morning. When we arrived at the cathedral, Bishop Soto was greeting a few people after the earlier service. I rarely see the bishop casually waiting in the vestibule, so we quickly made our way over to say ‘hello’. Stephen asked the bishop for his blessing on our family, and he spontaneously prayed for our “strength and health”. I see this as a great act of providence, one of the many moments God was showing His delight in me as I struggled with saying goodbye to my grandfather.

Once in the church, I was thinking of my grandfather and I leaned over toward Evelyn and said we should pray for him as he was having a hard time. She paused for a few moments to do so, then turned back to me and said, “Great-Grandpa has left us.” At the time, she actually said Great-Grandma, and I thought she was speaking of Steve’s grandmother who had died that same day, four years prior. But I realized later, when I asked her about it, she actually meant Great-Grandpa. I got the message when I turned my phone back on after church that my grandpa had, indeed, entered into his eternal rest early that morning.

There had been some difficulty having someone with him around the clock to care for him as the staff were stretched thin with many souls needing care that week. It was weighing heavily on me that he might not have someone with him when he passed. I wanted to stay with him, but my little ones needed me during the overnight hours. My parents were able to bring in the lady who had cared for him at home while he was living there a short time after my grandmother passed away. She was to stay with him through the night. A short time after she arrived, he died. I am so grateful for her presence, that he was able to have someone with him as he passed. Another instance of God’s loving care, delight in His precious servant.

christmas cards grandpa and grandma

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

As I reflected during the retreat I was finally able to do with my friend yesterday, I could see this message of the Lord’s delight written all over the past few weeks. I was able to see in those moments that I spent with my grandfather as he lay dying, in the circumstances in which he died, God’s love for me, God’s love for him. Each moment given was an act of His love poured out. I witnessed Christ’s love in that small room, carefully transfixed on him whom He was to carry home soon and on each one of us grieving his loss. Christ helped me to find joy in the midst of sorrow, in the midst of saying goodbye.

The waiting–the advent–of my grandfather’s journey to his eternal home was a great witness and true living out of this Advent season. I miss my grandpa dearly, but I rejoice that he will delight in the joy of heaven this Christmas alongside my grandma.

grandma and grandpa at christmas

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I’m spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can’t compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As I lift you eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I’m Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I’m walking with the King.

~Wanda Benke~

Moments {Vol. 10} : 4th of July Celebration

We spent 4th of July weekend at my in-laws’ newly renovated cabin. It is absolutely gorgeous!

And, although I didn’t think it was possible, the view from the deck got better!

4th of July

Not sure if she’s trying to go out or he’s trying to come in, but they’re looking to help each other out.

4th of July 2015

Hanging with Gram!

4th of July 2015

Hard at work on multiple projects.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Playing ‘spinning’ with Aunt Lindy.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Her favorite pastime currently is placing one object inside another. Spatial awareness lessons for free.

playing

4th of July 2015

The annual 4th of July Serene Lakes sailboat race!

sailboat race Serene Lakes

sailboat race Serene Lakes

4th of July 2015

sailboat race Serene Lakes

4th of July 2015

Many refreshing drinks served all day long.

4th of July 2015

corona and lime

Chillin’ on the deck.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

Aunt Lindy was, hands down, the favorite of the weekend.

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

reading with Aunt Lindy

4th of July 2015

Only dancing finally put Lulu to sleep. She wanted to keep the party going all day long.

4th of July 2015

Delicious ribs for dinner straight from the smoker, skewered with bamboo from the backyard (Uncle Eric’s genius move).

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

“What’s yours is mine, right, Nicky?”

4th of July 2015

The lack of fireworks was not a problem with the sunset we received.

sunset at Serene Lakes

sunset at Serene Lakes

Early morning walk the following day….

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

4th of July 2015

wildflowers

wildflowers

a man and his pipe

And the weekend wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach for splashing and sand digging!

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

beach at Serene Lakes

Hoping your 4th was as enjoyable and relaxing as ours! 🙂

Moments {Vol. 7}

swinging at the park

Always enjoy swinging together. “Stisters” – as Evey likes to say.

milkshakes at the park

Picnic in the park per Evey’s request, complete with milkshakes. 

strolling at the park

Not too thrilled that she’s missing out on the milkshake.

resting

Sleeping off all that awful illness and allergies that just won’t quit.

St. Francis hug

Hugging her friend, St. Francis, when she spotted him at the nursery.

standing at the bookcaseShe’s pulling up on EVERYTHING {and unloading EVERYTHING}.

mixing up waffles

My little helper in the kitchen mixing up Sunday morning waffles.

cousins meeting Jed

Cousins meeting Gram and Pumpkin’s newest addition – Jed, the puppy. {He almost disappears in this pic!}

hanging with Jed

Not sure who wins the cute contest here {but the grumpy face may disqualify you, Lucie}. 😉

bone for Jed

Evey picked out a little, rubber bone for Jed at the store and was excited to bring it to him at the puppy shower.

Jed's puppy shower cake

Puppy shower kibble cake made by my uber-talented SIL, Nancy.

exercise attempts

Trying SO HARD to get back into an exercise routine {but mostly failing miserably}. Although, these cute leggings from Nell at Whole Parenting Goods help me find some joy in the endeavor.

Easter crafting

Easter crafting it up. {Never finished our project, though. Story of life right now….}

Easter bunny

This is what it means to have an older sister. She sure is a cute bunny, though.

visiting great grandma

Visiting Great-Grandma’s grave on the 2nd anniversary of her death, which happened to fall on Good Friday this year.

flowers for great grandma

Helping Grandma put flowers at the gravestone.

sponge painting

Artful Tot at the Crocker this week. We thoroughly enjoyed stamping with the finger paint. {But preferred not to get our fingers messy.}

glue blobs

The glue was also a hit. She just sat there squeezing it for 15 minutes straight, into a little pile on her paper. She was fascinated.

le chat noir

Skipped {literally} through the Toulouse-Latrec exhibit at the Crocker, where our favorite {of course} was the black cat {although we misnamed it the “white cat”}. Perhaps for what it lacked?

old soul tea break

Intense rain storm called for a warming treat at a local coffee shop where they know how to do latte art right. Evey and I read while Lucie napped in her carseat. A huge thunderstorm blew in while we were enjoying our treat and we watched it hail for a few minutes, and heard the thunder which drew rather close. It was special, peaceful, wonderful moment I shared with my lovely Evelyn. <3

library explorations

Waiting for Daddy to finish work, we killed time in the library and let Lucie burn off some steam after being cooped up the stroller and carseat most of the day. She was most interested in munching on the back of chairs. {And I wonder why we’ve been sick most the winter…..}

Reindeer Games {and Candy Canes}

This is turning into a rather crafty Advent and I’m not one bit sad about that. On my own, I’ve been knitting whenever I have two hands free {which isn’t too often}, but what I’m really enjoying this year is getting Evelyn involved with making things. And I believe she takes after her mama on this one.

cousins

E rolling out dough

R cutting out

cutting cookies

My mom invited the girls and their cousins over for a little hands-on Christmas fun. We started out with some roll-out sugar cookies, taking turns with the rolling pin, then frantically trying to cover every space possible with cut-out snowmen, stars, and trees. We found out quickly who was fastest on the draw.

O cutting out

O rolling out dough

quick cutting

baking cookies

Candy cane reindeer is a long-time favorite in my family. We’ve been making them as long as I can remember. We would make them by the dozens and use them to fill out a mug of Kisses for our teachers that we would gift during the holiday season. Some might make it to the tree but they would never hang there for long.

candy cane reindeer

candy cane reindeer 2

candy cane reindeer 3

The easiest way to do these is with a squirt from the glue gun but that’s not a good idea with little hands around. This year we used tacky glue, and it did the trick. {Although, for some reason, the nose of mine kept sliding off. No one else seemed to be having this problem….}

candy cane reindeer 4

candy cane reindeer 5

The intricacy of the craft really stepped up when my brother, Seth, got in on the game and began creating superhero reindeer. {Can you guess which one is which?}

Green lantern reindeer

batman reindeer

superman reindeer

I can’t even.

green lantern protection

Apple Hill is for Apple-Lovers

An autumn is never complete in Northern California without a trip to Apple Hill.

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We kept busy last weekend, filling Sunday with a trip up to this delightful town dotted with a copious number of apple orchards and other wonderful farms.

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Much to the delight of the men of the family, we made our first stop at Jack Russell Brewery {where, ironically, we spotted a lot of dogs, but not a Jack Russell in sight}. We feasted on chicken apple sausages with unique mustards, apple coleslaw and fresh apple cider, milled on the spot. Expecting mediocre hot dogs, sides and condiments, we were pleasantly surprised by the delicious food grilled and served there. The biggest hit, though, was the pumpkin spice beer which was brewed to autumnal perfection. Most of us agreed that the majority of pumpkin ales leave something to be desired, but this one hit the spot. It was a wonderful blend of spice, pumpkin and hops. {With a decent alcohol content. ;)}

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Just down the road, we stopped at Rainbow Orchards for the NUMBER ONE apple treat(!) apple donuts. We waited in line for about half an hour, admiring all the pumpkins and squash on display. Evey picked out one. more. pumpkin to display on the shelf in her room. {We’re thinking of painting them tomorrow.}

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The donuts were good, but we’re in agreement that the best are still at High Hill Ranch. {We opted out of driving there as the traffic on the road there was barely crawling for several miles.} High Hill adds the wonderful touch of chopped up apples instead of merely including apple cider in the recipe. It makes all. the. difference.

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I couldn’t pass up the caramel apples. Probably my favorite tasty morsel each year.

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Rainbow Orchards did win a few points with their live bluegrass music that we boogied to on the way back and forth to the apple barn. We grabbed a family photo on the John Deere tractor parked in the orchard before heading back to the car.

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Saying goodbye to Gram, Pumpkin, Steve and Cheryl, we met up with my mom and two of my brothers who had just arrived in the area at Larsen Apple Barn. Growing up, this was the spot where we picnicked and played Scramball and soccer before engorging ourselves on apple treats. I think they still have some of the cheapest apples on the Hill. I picked up a box in the barn — 40 lbs. for $15! They were seconds but most of them will be made into applesauce or apple butter so they will do just fine.

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I’ll take the best apple of the bunch home with me! 😉

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Pumpkin Train

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I’m sure I’ve already mentioned Evelyn’s obsession with trains and pumpkins. And it has not died down one bit. Recently, we discovered a privately owned train in West Sac that during the month of October gives rides to a pumpkin farm. We could not pass up that opportunity!

out the train

This past Saturday, we joined Steve’s parents, his sister and her husband and kids, and Steve’s Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl for a little ride alongside the river to Uncle Ray’s Pumpkin Farm.

Evey on train

We dressed Evey appropriately for the occasion in her pink conductor hat which she loves to wear gangsta-style. She was beaming ear-to-ear the second we pulled up to load onto the train and didn’t stop the whole day.

Lucie wore her pumpkin beanie to ward off the chilly breeze as we rode along on the open-air train.

mama and L

L eyes

Along the way, we were serenaded by a gentleman from Nebraska who sang us train-related songs, like “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. There may have been a little Jonny Cash thrown in there at times too.

music on the train

clap!

A crew of friendly scarecrows sang along and, at one point, took all the kids to one of the train cars for a fun story time. Evelyn gave it her all learning each of the hand motions they taught the kids to go along with the stories.

E and L

Eventually, we disembarked at the pumpkin patch, each in search of the perfect pumpkin.

pumpkins!

got one!

The hay ride there also was a hit, as well as a little straw maze for the kids to make their way through. We opted out of the corn maze for fear of getting lost inside and missing our train ride back.

D in the maze

yay for large pumpkins

Our sack lunches hit the spot, especially Aunt Nancy’s tasty pumpkin bars, a perfect treat for the occasion. Afterwards, we jumped back on the train for the ride back, kicking back as we listened to more tunes by our guitar-strummer and felt the cool breeze off the river nearby.

E and the train

Loading back into our cars, we were surprised only half the day had passed as the activities felt as if they filled a entire day. Time for naps!

Birthday Remembrance

grandma and Laurel

This is a photo of my grandmother and I when I was a babe. {Boy, do I know where the chubbiness comes from on my little ones’ cheeks!!}

birthday celebration

 

fun with Grandma!

Today is my grandmother’s birthday. There were four birthdays sandwiched in the month of September growing up, my grandma’s being smack-dab in the middle. We would always celebrate the September birthdays with a trip to Apple Hill, full of caramel apples, apple donuts, and fresh air picnics at one of the orchards.

Apple Hill with the family

Owen fishing with Grandma

enjoying a caramel apple

 

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She passed away about a year and a half ago, and with that time of year upon us, I’m really missing her presence and those fun trips we took with my grandparents as a kid. It was one of the greatest highlights of the year. We are planning on carrying on the tradition of those apple-filled days with my children, but her presence there will never be missed.

kids with Gpa and Gma

And if you wouldn’t mind, please offer up a prayer for my grandfather. He is in the throw of his last days on earth and could use some extra grace right now. His heart dearly misses my grandma, and he will be reunited with her soon. <3

Grandpa and Grandma

 

A Taste of Christmas

The month of December flew by much faster than we wanted it to here. But there was much joyous anticipation of the Christmas season, followed by proper celebration.

We set up our tree on the very first of the month, eager to decorate for the season.

noble fir

We picked out a few new ornaments to adorn our tree, including a stitched house to remember the purchase of our first home, a flashy bbq to commemorate Steve’s favorite new hobby, and a wiry, red trike – Evelyn’s new favorite mode of transportation.

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While decorating the tree, Evelyn scared entertained us with her dancing moves on top of a box and played with her new nativity set.

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We were greeted with a snow day on the first Saturday in December (sadly, the only precipitation we’ve had all month). It was Evelyn’s first and she was thoroughly enthralled by it.

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That is, until she touched it with her bare hands. 🙂

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Evey didn’t get a chance to meet Santa last year so we took her to the Country Christmas in town to visit him this year. Aaaaaand this is how she felt about him.

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Maybe next year.

She’d much rather be held by Gram, but who could blame her. 🙂

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Evelyn and I attended a luncheon with her grandma and great-grandma (my mom and grandma) at a nice hotel downtown. We had a wonderful time dressing up and enjoying a lunch with some of our favorite ladies.

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The dress Evelyn is wearing was mine when I was her age and was made by my mom. My mom brought some photos of me wearing it to share (unfortunately, I don’t have a copy on me now).

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Steve and I stole a few moments one evening to drink egg nog together and decorate Christmas cookies. It was a nice at-home date.  🙂

xmas cookie decor

Then there was the flu. (Which you don’t need to see photos of…..)

Christmas celebrations, up next!

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