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Halloween 14 2

BOO!

Happy Halloween, all!  I hope that your day is filled with no tricks and plenty of treats.  We’re going low-key this year, because it turns out Peanut is a gigantic scaredy-cat and hates everything to do with Halloween.  More on this to come.  But in case you’re up for more Fright Night shenanigans than we are over here, I’ve got a list of a few spooky, creepy, or eerie books to send a chill down your spine tonight.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – In this installment of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, our intrepid detective is called to the spooky Dartmoor region to investigate reports of a spectral hound that has haunted a local aristocrat to his death and is now stalking his heir.  Holmes doesn’t believe in supernatural dog hauntings… do you?

The Penguin Book of Witches

The Penguin Book of Witches, ed. Katherine Howe – I’m midway through this one now (wanted to finish it by Halloween, but didn’t quite manage it) and am completely fascinated.  Howe has compiled an absorbing little volume of primary source materials on witchcraft in medieval England and the early Colonies, which she explains in clear prose through her prodigious scholarship.  Reading primary sources on the English and American witch hunts is both interesting and chilling.

The Writing Class

The Writing Class, by Jincy Willet – Not a “spooky” novel, per se, but definitely one that will chill you to the bone.  This is a poison pen/murder mystery novel featuring reclusive writing teacher Amy Gallup, whose local university extension class is terrorized by a “class sniper” with a wicked pen, a talent for writing, and a complete disregard for human life.  Pretty scary stuff, and I guarantee you’ll think twice before signing up for your local extension classes.

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness – If you haven’t already read the All Souls trilogy, featuring witch Diana Bishop and vampire Matthew Clairmont, there’s no better time than Halloween.  A Discovery of Witches is the first, but they get better and better as the trilogy progresses.  This is “Twilight for the grad school set,” as I described it to my mom, and if you’ve been avoiding vampire novels because… well, you know, the silliness… this is one series you might actually enjoy.  It’s still silly, but in a surprisingly absorbing way.

The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All the Gifts, by M.E. Carey – I didn’t say much about this in my review of it back this summer when I read it, and I won’t say much now, because I don’t want to give away the plot.  Let’s just say, this is the only horror novel I’ve ever read and while I wouldn’t say I necessarily enjoyed the experience, I was glued to the book because I just had to know what would happen.  I can usually spot a twist a mile away, but this book had one that took even me by surprise, so bonus!  If you enjoy the occasional gory horror piece, give this a try.  Shudder.

There!  That ought to give you plenty of material for your Mischief Night.  Now, what are you waiting for?  Get to reading – it’s almost the witching hour!

 

They say that every pregnancy is different, and that has definitely been my experience.  In fact, I suspected from the beginning that Nugget was a boy because this pregnancy has felt so different.  Examples?  How’s about I tell you a tale of two pregnancies, using GIFs because funny.  And sometimes, when it comes to pregnancy, you have to laugh or else you’d cry.

CRAVINGS

First pregnancy:

Second pregnancy:

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EXERCISE

First pregnancy:

Second pregnancy:

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EMOTIONS

First pregnancy:

Second pregnancy:

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PREGNANCY BRAIN? OH YEAH

First pregnancy:

Second pregnancy:

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MORNING SICKNESS

First pregnancy:

Second pregnancy:

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SLEEP

First pregnancy:

Second pregnancy:

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So, to sum up, this post was completely pointless, but I hope you enjoyed it.

A New Little Pumpkin

Last weekend we went to the pumpkin patch (stories to come) and, per our tradition, brought home pumpkins for each member of the family.

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There was a big one for Daddy, a medium one for Mommy, a small one for Peanut and… wait a minute, hold the phone.

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World, meet Nugget.

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We have another little pumpkin on the way!  We’re all pretty much ridiculously excited.

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Oh, and guess what?

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Nugget’s on Team BLUE!

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And I thought life was chaotic with just Peanut.  Nugget mania is scheduled to begin in (and hopefully not before!) March, 2015.

Bust that Slump

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The reading slump continues, I’m afraid, although slowly but surely it seems to be abating.  So far, in October, I’ve finished four books.  True, that’s not exactly a monthly high for me.  But two were chunksters and one of those – Ten Years in the Tub, by Nick Hornby – I’ve been reading since early September.  (And loving, by the way.  Don’t take my slow reading pace as a negative indication of this book’s quality.  It’s terrific.  More on that later.)  I expect to finish at least another couple of books this month.  One, I hope, will be The Penguin Book of Witches, which I bought and which I must read in October for obvious reasons.  The other will be Amy Falls Down, Jincy Willet’s second novel featuring reclusive writing teacher Amy Gallup.  (I loved The Writing Class, Amy’s first appearance, so much that I included it on my “best of January-June 2014” list.  Amy Falls Down is completely different, thus far, and I love it just as much or even more.  Jincy Willet is quickly becoming one of those “I’ll read anything she writes” authors.)  I also loved The Four Graces, and… well, I’ve just enjoyed everything I’ve read this month so far.  Slow as the reading speed has been.

I keep on wondering whether I’m out of the reading doldrums.  I don’t think I quite am, but I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m still finding it hard to focus on a book for long stretches of time – what with everything breaking, and all the unpacking I still need to do, and trying to lay aside freezer meals for busy weeks ahead, and chasing a rambunctious toddler, and trying to hold down one of those job things, I’m a little bit amazed I’ve found time to read anything.  But I have, and I’m celebrating that victory.  And I’m actually looking forward to the reading I have set aside for the rest of the month and into November, and I’m celebrating that victory too.  Baby steps.

Have you ever been in a reading slump?  What was the book that got you out of it?

Four Seasons of Peanut

On Monday I recapped our final seasonal hike at Tifft Nature Preserve.  We’ve had so much fun exploring Tifft over the course of a year and watching the trails and our favorite spots change from season to season.  Of course, the trails aren’t all that’s changed over the course of a year.

Winter:

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Spring:

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Summer:

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Fall:

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And that’s just from March to October – not even a full year!  My, how they grow.

(And yes, Peanut is wearing the same coat in the first and last pictures.  It’s sized 18 months, so it was a bit big on her last winter and is a bit small now.  She’ll have a new one before long, but we’re making the pink one stretch until I get a chance to go to Carter’s for a 2T winter coat.  2T!  I can’t even believe it.)

Are you constantly surprised at the way the little ones sprout up, too?

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Another season, another hike at Tifft Nature Preserve!  I can’t believe that we’ve come full circle and hiked here in every season.  (If you missed previous Tifft hikes, check them out: winter, spring, summer.)  What I’ve decided after hiking here all year is that Tifft was beautiful in every season, but I like it best in the fall.

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We started with our customary boots-on-the-trail shot.  I’m loving my new hiking boots.  I had a pair of Merrells for awhile and never really felt comfortable in them.  After awhile I’d had enough with slipping around in my hiking boots and went to get fitted for a new pair.  What I learned, thanks to the very knowledgeable shoe saleswoman at EMS, was that Merrells have a wide heel box, which didn’t work for my narrow feet at all.  Now I’m all hooked up with a pair of Oboz Lunas and they’re perfect.

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Anyway, leaving aside the shoe chatter and getting back to the important stuff – we had a great hike.  The sky was a little gray, but the air was perfectly crisp.

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We headed right for our favorite part of Tifft – the boardwalks!

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Where we saw a few dozen Canadian geese, still hanging out before they start journeying south for the winter.

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And we had company for this hike!  Zan and Paul are quickly becoming our favorite hiking buddies.  Together we’ve visited Chestnut Ridge (in the dead of winter, no less!), Letchworth, and on Sunday (before the football game, of course) they were up for a stroll around Tifft (which they’d visited last fall).  We’re plotting an excursion to the Eternal Flame, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned for that.

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By the time we left the boardwalks, Peanut was starting to get a little twitchy, so we let her out of the Deuter to stretch her legs.

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She was pretty happy to have her freedom.

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Of course, our hiking pace slowed waaaaaaay down when Peanut’s pink Sauconys hit the trail.  We spent a lot more time herding her in the direction we wanted her to go, chasing her away from bushes, and dodging the sticks she loves to grab and wave around.

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Peanut really wanted to explore down this little trail, but we knew it was a dead end without much scenery, so we very heartlessly ignored her requests.

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She always forgives and forgets.

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Peanut loves Zan!  They’re buddies.

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We saw some more wildlife – this deer wasn’t alone!  I know most people hate deer, but I love them – so graceful.  Talk to me in a couple of years when I have an established garden and I might have a different opinion, though.

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And we attempted to take a family selfie – another tradition of ours – at the end of the hike, but Peanut was having none of it.  She was angry at being put back in the backpack, and her way of protesting was to pull her hood down like Emperor Palpatine.  Well played, Peanut, well played.

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And so ends four seasons of hiking at Tifft Nature Preserve!  It’s been a lot of fun to visit each season, watch the place change over the course of the year, and make the trails our own.  We didn’t even get lost this time!  (Fourth time’s the charm.)  I’m sure we’ll be back to Tifft plenty of times in the future – now that we know our way around, we can’t possibly stay away for long.  But we’ve also had so much fun hiking the same trails in every season that we’ve decided to continue the project next year at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Depew.  We haven’t hiked there yet, so we’re looking forward to seeing it in every season in 2015!

What’s your favorite season for hiking?

Apples Galore!

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Last weekend, as I mentioned on Wednesday, we had our annual family apple-picking expedition.  Apple-picking is one of my favorite family activities, and something I look forward to doing all year.  Of course, every year we end up going at the end of September or in October and we’re invariably surprised that apple-picking season is almost over by the time we get to the orchard.  Who knew?  Not us, apparently, because every year this is brand new information.  (Maybe now that I’ve written it down, next year, we’ll remember to go in mid-September when there are still plenty of apples.)

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The orchard where we pick also has rows of grapevines!  I was intrigued by this… maybe next year I’ll find out whether these are wine grapes or table grapes.

Although it was late in the season, there were still plenty of apples left for us to pick from the rows of late-harvest trees.  Last year we picked a half bushel, but this year I really wanted a full bushel – half for eating and making applesauce and apple butter, and half for baking into pies, crisps, cakes and quickbreads to eat all season long and give away.  (I now have so many apples I have a feeling I’ll be giving a lot of these baked goods away, but that’s something we can discuss another time.)

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Peanut was thrilled about our excursion, and I was so glad that she was excited and enjoying herself!  Last year, she really had no idea what was going on (as you can see from her concerned little face below).

LOL!  When we picked in 2013, she pretty much dangled off Daddy, frowning like some kind of very disgruntled marsupial.  This year, she was totally into it and even picked several apples herself.

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We had talked up the apple-picking excursion for days before.  Peanut has an “Apple the Apple” Blabla doll, so we chatted about how much Apple likes to go apple-picking (she came with us in the car but didn’t make it into the orchard because we didn’t want to lose her) and we read Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore! about seventeen thousand times the week prior to the outing.  (In which Nancy goes apple-picking on a class field trip and gets paired with a troublemaking trip buddy.)  Since Peanut loves Fancy Nancy and wants to do everything Nancy does, she really latched onto the idea – even to the point of adorably shouting “APPLES GALORE!” every five minutes while we were picking.

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We worked on picking the apples carefully and putting them into the wagon gently…

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It worked the first few times, but then Peanut got too excited and every time she successfully picked an apple, she immediately flung it as far as she could.  Which was usually about four feet, so we’d just pick it up and put it in the wagon ourselves.  Haha!

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Obviously we tested the merchandise.  Upon trying the Jonagold above, Peanut gasped, “It’s COLD!”  It was a chilly day and the apples were as cool and crisp as if they’d come from the refrigerator.  I like a nice cold apple, but I don’t think it was quite what Peanut was expecting.

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The Jonagolds are great baking apples, so I have some big plans for this half bushel!  We also grabbed Jonathans for snacking.

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Pretty pleased with our morning’s work…

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And of course we took family pictures.  The family selfie is an important part of our apple-picking tradition!  We got a few cute shots and settled on this one as best representing us and our kooky little munchkin:

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Of course there were also some outtakes, because taking selfies is super hilarious and one of us couldn’t control her giggles.

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I’m so glad that we made the time to pick apples again this year.  It was a chilly morning, but beautiful and so much fun to be out in the country, enjoying the blue skies and the rows of gnarled trees in the orchard and the blazing foliage.

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Have you done your apple-picking for the year?  Did you remember to go during the peak season, or are you constantly surprised by how short pick-your-own season is, like we are?

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