Sunday, October 15, 2006

Aw . . . NUTS

So fall is probably my favorite time of year. I love the colors of the changing trees, and I think pumpkins make the perfect backdrop for photos. I don't mind the weather cooling down when it's sunny-- and a gray day here or there is fine, as long as it doesn't become habit. Autumn would not be "complete" without our family's annual trip to Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center. Their motto is: Where nuts from all over the world come together!

We like to get to the pumpkin patch early in the day so we can get in and get out before too many crowds. This has worked well for us. This year, we started with the petting zoo-- and ended with it, too. We had planned to let Casey go on a pony ride, but the lines were so long, we changed our minds. He didn't seem to care-- he really liked getting down on the ground to spy the pig under his hiding place, and they let him hold a rabbit in his arms-- twice! This year the petting zoo also featured some baby goats, which were trying to "play" by butting heads. It was rather entertaining to watch.

After the petting zoo, Casey led us over to the pumpkins so he could pick one out. We actually didn't end up taking one with us-- not because the selection was poor, but because we were just too darn lazy to carry the pumpkin around with us for the day. We'd planned to go back and get one, but never did. Anyway, one thing we discovered during our foray into the pumpkin zone was that getting a photo with everyone looking at the camera at the same time gets exponentially harder when you have more kids. We never successfully snapped one! That's okay, I guess. . .

Next we hopped on a horse-drawn wagon ride for a tour of the scarecrows and the really big pumpkins (the ones you pay by the pound for), and then we headed over to the hay ride, with "trucks" pulled by a tractor. Casey recognized them as "trucks" from the Thomas story. We disembarked the hay ride to giant bales of hay with tunnels, and Casey had a grand time crawling around. He even lost his shoe in one of the tunnels, but someone recovered it for us.

Before departing, we decided it was time for a snack-- yummy sweet corn! Jason had the salsa one with cilantro and lime, and I had the special corn-- with cream, margarine and parmesian cheese. I only wish I'd had a plaquer with me. I usually cut my corn off the cobb-- but it was delicious nonetheless. Then Casey did something he's never done before. He asked to eat . . . popcorn! They only had kettle corn, but he actually ate it! His bites were measured-- only one piece at a time, and I think it'd be safe to say I ate more of his kettle corn than he did, but still, I was so impressed! Casey never tries anything new, so this was a very big deal!

We let Casey go back into the petting corral before we left again, and then noted how many people had arrived in the two hours we were there. As we drove off, the long line of cars waiting to turn into the pumpkin patch even convinced Jason it was worth getting up early to go! The only thing we didn't do that Casey expressed an interest in was the bouncy house, but he did that yesterday at the Fire Station Open House, so we didn't feel too badly about it.

Every fall our local fire department holds an open house at one of the stations for the public to come get a tour. They have a bouncy house and fire truck rides. They have safety information and demonstrations, puppet shows, booths, and the like. I always go-- I think of it as my tax dollars at work. Plus, I think it's good for Casey to learn about fire safety. Yesterday we met up with our friends the Goulds, and we toured the station with them, rode a fire truck, and let the boys jump in the bouncy. We were only there for about an hour-- just long enough for a dry spell to pass through the area (it was rainy yesterday). While we were in line at the bouncy house, a woman named Deborah approached me and asked how long we'd been back from China (she saw Marcie in the backpack on my back). You see, she had just returned from Chongqing of all places with her second child in May! How cool is that?

By the way, I didn't mention much about Marcie in this post, but she is just as cute as can be-- and very patient in the backpack. Here is my favorite photo from this weekend:

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