28 November 2014

Apples, Apples, Everywhere

So, last month, when we went to the farm to go pumpkin picking, we also picked apples. We picked a little over one hundred pounds of apples to be exact. I know. What does one family do with so many apples you might be thinking? I'll tell you. We made apple sauce! 

We made gallons and gallons of apple sauce over the course of a couple of weeks, to be exact.

It was a fun "project" and one I'm sure we'll be doing for the rest of our lives now. And while we're talking about apples, I made my first ever apple pie for Thanksgiving this year!

Isn't it lovely? It tasted pretty darn good too!

And while we're talking about Thanksgiving, we spent the holiday with my dad and his family at my cousin Ann's house. It's always a really nice time there and I'm really glad we went. Thanks for having us Ann!

21 November 2014

Molly Pitcher Me

Back in June of 2013 I was presented with the Molly Pitcher Award at the All Saints Ball.  I don't know how to put this but, I'm kind of a big deal. People know me. I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany. (That's for you, babe. Bonus points to anyone else who recognizes the quote.) Anyway! Copied right from Wikipedia, "The Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher is bestowed by the U.S. Field Artillery Association (USFAA) and the Air Defense Artillery Association (ADAA) to recognize women who have voluntarily contributed in a significant way to the improvement of the U.S. Field Artillery or Air Defense Artillery communities. The award is named after Molly Pitcher who distinguished herself during the American Revolutionary War." Here's mine:

I was going to apologize for the size of that picture, but if I make it smaller you can't really see it that well. Not that this is ideal, but it is much better. However, it is a cool thing, I was excited to get it, and I'm not sure why it took me so long to blog about it, but here I am doing it now.

Here are some other pictures from the evening, like the two of us looking fancy:

Col. Turner presenting me with the award: 

Josh having a really hard time with the medal's clasp:

Eventually I Told him to just tie it in a knot so we could all move on. I think the colonel told Josh he needs to buy me more jewelry because clearly he needs practice. I like that man.

And here is me pretending to drink the field artillery punch because a)I don't drink and 2)it is nasty, potent stuff:

And there you have it. Way to go me!

12 November 2014

Impromptu DC

For those who don't know, Josh was tasked with a job that requires him to be in Washington, D.C. for the months of November and December. He went down this past Sunday to start his first week. This past Thursday and Friday the boys had off from school, so we loaded up the car Thursday morning and hit the road on an impromptu trip to our nation's capital.

Since Josh had to work a full day Thursday, we took our time in the morning getting going and graded to Delaware first to have lunch and spend some time with Josh's sister, Linda, and her boy, Sam. We had a really nice time, and the boys played pretty well until it was time to go and we tried to take a picture.

I really don't blame Sam. Having cousins over (especially these 3 hooligans in particular) can be very overwhelming. It's also sad when they have to go. We've been known to throw a fit or two ourselves when it's time to go.

After leaving Linda's we enjoyed a rather lovely ride down to DC. Well, the drive through Delaware was lovely. Once we got about 10 miles out from Maryland, traffic started and a major storm rolled over the area, which didn't help the traffic situation at all. Side story: at one point, after the rain had stopped, we were still in traffic that wasn't really moving, when this guy gets out of the backseat of the car he was in, yells into the passenger seat, and starts walking away from the car. Then, a second guy gets out of the passenger seat, grabs the first guy, yells at him, then essentially throws him back into the back seat of the car and gets back into the passenger seat himself. I got out of there as fast as I could.

Anyhoo! We finally made it to DC and to Josh's apartment (which resembles a hotel more than it does an apartment, but whatever). We picked up Josh, got some dinner, then did some food shopping for the apartment since Josh doesn't have his car down there. The boys were pumped to be down there and to be sharing one big room:

This set up didn't last long, and Zeke wound up sleeping in the closet (there was plenty of space and we kept the door open, don't worry). Eventually they did settle down though (once the main instigator was removed from the scene) and we all slept pretty well.

Friday Josh had to work in the morning, so I found a playground on my phone and the boys and I walked to it.

Go figure, as soon as we got to the playground, it rained a little. We played through it because 1)I didn't want to spend all morning in that little apartment with 3 energetic boys, and 2)it wasn't raining anywhere except over the playground, so I figured at some point it had to stop. Eventually it did. On the walk back home I picked up some lunch for Josh and me (delicious gyros/donors!). After lunch, Josh had to go back to work for a few minutes. Once he came back though, the touring began.

To sort of break us in I guess, we went to the zoo that afternoon. We took the metro to get there and the boys were pumped! Deacon had been talking about taking the subway around even before we left on Thursday to go down there. And no matter how many times we told him it was only called the subway in NY, he continually referred to it as such. But who cares when you're having this much fun:

 After getting off the metro and taking a wrong turn and walking a solid mile or so out of our way, we made it to the zoo, completely worn out. It's a good thing we have a future zoologist on our hands, to help get the enthusiasm back up! A lot of the animals weren't out, but the ones we did see, were great. We watched the otters and the elephants get fed, both of which were very cool. Finn found a tiny tv showing videos of the animal that was walking around behind him. Well done, son.

We did most of the zoo, and had a great time. After the zoo, it was back on the metro and back to the apartment for dinner and bed because we figured Saturday was going to be a big day. And it certainly was!

Saturday we took the metro again (yay!) and did a lot more walking. We saw so many cool things that I'm just going to throw up a bunch of pictures and label them accordingly.

 Washington Monument
 the best way to travel around DC
 at the new WW2 memorial, which was truly amazing
 Lincoln Memorial
 The White House
Air and Space Museum

There was more, but I don't want to completely overwhelm us all. I'll eventually get around to getting all of the pictures on flickr. Until then, after the grand tour Saturday morning/afternoon, we went back to the apartment, took some showers and baths, then went to some friends' house for dinner. (Thank you Vince and Heather for the food and hospitality!)

As soon as we were ready to go Sunday morning, we hit the road for home. All in all a really great trip and I'm really glad I decided to do it. So were the boys, they had so much fun they totally wore themselves out.

04 November 2014

Carved and Etched

Apparently I never posted about last year's pumpkins. Allow me to rectify that by adding last year's stories and pictures to this year's post. It'll work out pretty well I think.

So, last year Karen took Josh and the boys apple picking at this farm called Riamede Farm. Josh (and the boys) liked it so much we went back the following weekend to do our hay riding and our pumpkin picking.

Having had such a great time last year, we decided to go back again this year. We met up with Karen and did all of our pumpkin picking, apple picking and hay riding in one beautiful afternoon.

Apparently I didn't take as many pictures this year as I did last year. I must have been too busy picking things. Like my nose. Hey-o!

With last year's pumpkins, Josh tried something new. Well, the boys' pumpkins he carved faces into like usual, but for the smaller ones we got, he used my whittling tools (like 10 years ago I had the bright idea to learn how to whittle while Josh was deployed, bought some stuff, tried it once, didn't get anywhere with it, then never tried it again) to etch pictures into them. Which, apparently I don't have a picture of. He does, I'm sure. Instead, here's a picture of the boys with their carved (and colored in Finn's case) pumpkins from last year:

Yes, they asked for bats as noses and eyes and ghosts as mouths. My kids are out of control sometimes. In fact, they asked for some of the same things again this year, but wanted spiders for eyes and whatever until I put the ka-bash on that. I said Josh could carve a spider as the design in lieu of a face, which then led to Zeke wanting a peregrine falcon and a flying gecko on his pumpkin:

Deacon decided he just wanted a straight up face, after changing his mind many times:

Finn wanted a lion. Josh didn't want to carve a lion so he did a beautiful job etching one instead: 

Eh? And because my husband is incredibly talented, he also made these pumpkins. Before I show them, these pumpkins we got at the boys' school. One Saturday they had a little "pumpkin patch" (and I use that term loosely) at the school and so we went down with Josh's parents who were visiting for the day and let the boys each get a small pumpkin. Josh had a good time getting creative with these pumpkins:



 Captain America


 The Hulk

 Black Widow



The Avengers logo and the S.H.I.E.L.D logo are on two separate pumpkins, while the different Avengers team members' are on one pumpkin. I'm pretty impressed, and pleased, being the superhero comic book nerd that I am. And the boys, all four of them, were happy as well, and that's the important thing.

01 November 2014

Homemade Halloween

You read that blog title correctly, I made the boys' Halloween costumes this year. Well, I made 2 of the 3 anyway. Deacon had a hard time deciding what/who he wanted to be, but while we were shopping for materials for the other 2 costumes, we checked out what the store had in actual costumes and he found one that he was totally excited about. With that introduction, here is Deacon in his Gold Power Ranger costume, standing next to his pumpkin (the one with the face):

Ezekiel, for quite some time thought he wanted to be a knight for Halloween, but about a week or so before the big day Zeke decided he wanted to be Chris Kratt. Chris Kratt, for those who don't know, is a zoologist from NJ who has an animal program with his brother, Martin, on PBS called Wild Kratts. It's a really great program and we all enjoy it - especially Zeke who wants to be a zoologist when he grows up, just like Chris. Here's a picture of Chris for reference:

And here is Zeke in his Halloween costume, next to his pumpkin:

Basically, I bought a black t-shirt and black gloves, cut out circles of all different sizes from green felt, and sewed the circles onto his shirt and his gloves (the match Chris' gloves in style). I also printed, cut and laminated 10 creature power discs, attached some velcro to their backs, and to the main circle on his shirt, et voila! Chris Kratt. He wore a backpack (because Chris does at times) to hold his baby snow leopard (stuffed animal - not real in case some one was concerned about that), and all his Halloween loot.

(I promise to talk about the pumpkins in another post.)

This brings us to Finn, who wanted to be a zombie from the game plants vs zombies pretty much forever. Here's the picture we worked from:

Attractive, yes? I had hoped that once Finn saw Zeke's creature power suit, he would want one for himself in blue (Martin's color) and he would be happy wearing that for Halloween and I wouldn't have to make a zombie costume. I was half right. He completely flipped for Zeke's suit and wanted one of his own, which I made for him, and he did wear the first half of Halloween day, but he was determined to be a zombie for trick-or-treating, so I came up with this:

I took an old pair of play pants and cut off the one leg, then scrunched it down by his foot. I put him in a "church shirt" with a tie, and then he decided he wanted his Batman jacket instead of a brown jacket so we put him in that and his ratty Batman shoes - he was a Batman fanatic zombie. The hat I actually made the day before Halloween. Inspiration for it struck around 10:30 and by 3:30 it was all the way finished (and during that time I had to get the boys from school and what's it). In case you can't tell by my little bit of bragging there, I'm really pleased with the hat.

I'm actually rather pleased with how all of the costumes came out, but more importantly, the boys were all super happy with their costumes. They also had a great time trick-or-treating, handing out candy when they were finished, not to mention the school parade and classroom parties. Finn didn't participate in those last two, but we did get some dunkin donuts and had a play date with Charlotte. So, all in all, a very good Halloween.

Fire Safety Day

Today, the fire department on post had a Fire Safety Day thing. Since all 4 of my boys love firetrucks and the like, we decided to head over and check it out. We're so glad we did! They had this trailer that was set up like a house but with bleacher seating on the one end. 

We were briefed about fire safety in the home, specifically in the kitchen, and we watched a little fire safety video.  After the video was finished Josh and the boys went into the "bedroom" portion of the trailer to experience what it's like when the room fills with smoke, and to practice the proper way to climb out of a window. The thought is this will hopefully prevent them from freaking out if it ever happens in our  house, now that they've experienced it in a safe environment.  I went outside to take pictures and to help Josh get Finn out.

Just a portion of the smoke that had filled the room.

After that the firemen put on their gear and showed the boys what they'll look like when they show up to a fire, again to prevent them from freaking out if it ever happens. They also let the boys try on the helmet.

Once that portion was finished, the fun for Mommy and Daddy began. The firemen handed us a fire extinguisher, lit a fire, and let us put it out (one at a time).

Then the boys were given some goody bags and back home we went, super pumped over our super fun morning.