Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

About three weeks ago, we helped set up the Galloping Grace Youth Ranch Pumpkin Patch. Friday our homeschool group had a field trip to the (now operational) patch. This Patch (just like the Youth Ranch it benefits) is unique in that all the rides and activities are free! In this case, if you wanted a pumpkin or some dried corn (which we did), you pay for those things, but the activities are all just setting out there for the kids to do.

A few of our favorites were:

Tractor Pulls
This was the first thing Jack wanted to do... ride in the John Deere Tractor Races. There were no lines at the horse ride, but he HAD to do this first! For some reason, I REALLY notice his (first lost) missing tooth in this photo!

Duck Races
Manually operated duck races... what a great idea!

Jack was just as interested in how the water came out of the pump as he was in getting ducks into and down the channel.

Frank & Jack had a side-by-side duck race.

I think Frank won the duck race!

Hiding around the Patch

Frank jumped out of the car and ran off with his friend. Eventually, they gathered the friend we drove over with and the three boys ran all over the Patch. I'd see them from time to time, but mostly, they were "being shown the best places to hide." Even though we'd been here before, and the patch was full of homeschoolers we know, I definitely had moments of pause as I allowed Frank to begin stretching his wings of independence. Parental Growing Pains, I suppose.

Frank. Mischief. Trouble.
Yep... I can see it right there in this expression!

Horse Rides
Finally, Jack decides to ride the horses... and so did everyone else. He patiently waited his turn in this line too.

Jack didn't remember riding our family's horse, Midnight, in Wyoming (he was just three (or maybe two) at the time). Perhaps he'll remember this ride?

Frank remembers riding his great-Grandad's horse, Duke, WITH his Dad... I guess this is the first time they've been on a horse alone.

Most kids put the horse shoe on the corral rails. Frank is so tall, she had him put the horse shoe above the gate.

We also tried Bean Bag Tosses, Scarecrow Dressing, Corn and Hay Mazes, and Digging in the Corn Crib (full of dry, shucked corn, like a sand box).

I really should take the boys back for another bit of play, they enjoyed themselves tremendously.

After looking at this, I guess I forgot to take pictures of the actual pumpkins!

PS: This is post number 444 (and still counting!) I always notice the weird numbers like this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Biological Lessons

When we woke to wind and cloudy skies (with rain on the ground), I groaned because of putting off the zoo yesterday. Two hours later we arrived at the zoo, to find blue skies, 58°F-68°F temperatures, and a deserted zoo full of frisky animals (thanks to the rain). Today was our third week in a row we've gone to our Biological Park for the morning. I don't realize just how many times I press that shutter... until I get home and download over 270 photos from just 2 hours at the Zoo. Here are the top 10% from today:

Jack is quite pleased that he's starting to be able to read words like "zoo".

There are several photos of the boys as they walk (backwards), but I love this one where Jack is looking up to Frank.

You've got to love Photoshop Actions where you can save even a fuzzy, out of focus photo, and make it look "aged" or intentional! Thanks again Pioneer Woman for your amazing (free) Action Sets! This photo has the "Heartland" Action, from Set 2, applied to it.

Ever since the 6th Grade I've been interested by Flamingoes.

Just because I had knobby knees, weighed under 60 pounds, and wore hot pink all the time, that wouldn't have had *anything* to do with said "interest".

No matter the reason why, I do like flamingos and am quite pleased that the exhibit at this zoo is front and center by the entrance/exit. I can stop and watch them coming AND going.

For the times when Mom is taking too many pictures, the boys get going on their own with a "C'mon MOM!"

Like water on a (Carolina Wood) Duck's back, I tell you!

Now THIS is the kind of Birthday Portrait I've been after for the past two weeks... well, minus the raincoat and sun hat, but this expression! That's what I'm talkin' about!!!

Got sun, just add tree branch.

Instant shade AND a snack all in one!

Such a funny expression and pose.

The orangutans are given cardboard and paper; which they play with, sit on, and eat (not necessarily in that order).

The exuberant young'en reminds me of my own...

Right down to monkeying (pun DEFINITELY intended) around during meal times!

Another shot showing how the little guy looks up to the big one.

There is a small Parakeet aviary at this zoo (we've been finding many new areas during our weekly excursions).

Ever wonder why there are so many green parakeets? Natural camouflage, baby!

You knew that Koala's are nocturnal, right?
You knew that Koala's are from The Land Down Under (Australia), right?
You knew that Koala's are marsupials (carry their young in pouches), right?
You know that Koala's hardly drink any water because they live by eating Eucalyptus, right?
DID YOU KNOW, that Koala's have five digits on each limb, but on their arms, they have three fingers and TWO THUMBS? Neither did we... until today!

I think Jack actually has a hard time holding a "normal" pose for a photo!

Just yesterday, Tom was telling the boys about his SCUBA diving days. The boys were delighted to watch the workers cleaning the Seal & Sea Lion Tank today.

Actually, they wouldn't leave the area until the three SCUBA diver's exited the exhibit!

When I tickle Jack JUST before the camera goes off... then things look more natural!

And THAT was our third visit to this zoo. We are finally getting our groove on for what to take, how long to go, and how to relax and enjoy ourselves while there (which I am learning from the boys!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Vampire Tooth" Tooth Fairy Pillow

Jack putting his First Tooth Lost in the brand new Tooth Fairy Pillow.

The mouth is open along the top for the tooth to go in. He was also quite specific about the placement and shape of the eyes.

The fang shaped "Vampire Tooth" is TOTALLY his pattern design. I had something MUCH different in mind, but it is his pillow.

On the back, we used a bit of blue and black batik fabric. Thanks to Becky for the fabric for this little project!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Part 1

After watching prismatic colors float across the sky all last week; yesterday we made the sojourn to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. I say sojourn with tongue in check, since we only drove 3.3 miles to the Park-and-Ride location nearest us. Then, rode the bus less than ten miles. This is one of the largest Balloon Celebrations in the world, and people travel thousands of miles to attend it. For us, it was more of an emotional and awe-inspiring "sojourn" than anything.

To begin with, Tom was quite cross... asleep at 11:30 pm, woke up at 4:30 am, no Coca-Cola, and "the bus was bigger the last time (he) rode it".

Once we arrived and Tom paid three dollars for a 16oz Pepsi, AND he snatched back his sweater (which I was wearing under my rain coat), all was right with the world. He had a delightful time, as did we all.

We arrived at the park around 5:30 am for the Dawn Patrol which gave us a taste of what a Balloon Glow might be like.

As the row of balloons lifted off, they synchronized and flashed their burns.

(Yeah, you try taking crisp night-time photos of moving objects without a flash!)

I am glad we arrived so early because after the Morning Glow lifted off, things happened so quickly!

Before we knew it, we were surrounded by balloons... which are colorful, but also noisy! The crews are all a-chattering, the balloon chasers are departing, fans are inflating the balloons, and the propane tanks are burning all around.

This is perhaps my favorite photo of the day. What do you think?

After feeling like you are being swallowed by bright colored "tents" on all sides... turn around and see the sky filling with colors.

You realize that you are in the middle of Mass Ascension.

Words (and pictures) just can not describe it... which is saying