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Halloween 2014

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Happy (boo-lated) Halloween!  In the spirit of catching up and documenting our family fun in this little online diary, I’ve got plenty of pictures of our Halloween festivities (such as they were) to share.  We currently have six feet of snow on the ground, so it’s hard for me to believe that these pictures were snapped only a few weeks ago…  But that’s a story for another day.  In the meantime, our Halloween fun!

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We started off the holiday with a trip to the pumpkin patch.  Once again, we decided to visit a small family farm instead of the giant pumpkin colossus.  No regrets there – the family farm was still crawling with kids and alive with activity.  Now that Peanut is two, she needed a ticket of her own to enter – but that ticket bought her a pumpkin of her own and two pony rides (she only took one – more on that below).

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First things first, we headed for the barns to say hello to the animals.  Last year, Peanut started to cry at the first sight of an animal.  This year, she was still a bit hesitant, but a little more interested in the furry folk.

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Still clung to Daddy in the barn, though.

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After the barn, we hit the general store.  (Blurry picture alert – sorry!)

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The store was packed full of lots of goodies – delicious looking apples, buttered popcorn, and pretty gourds among them – but we were there for one purpose…

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DONUTS!  Last year I was doing a Whole30 over Halloween, so I didn’t get to partake, and I haven’t forgotten the amazing sugary scent since.  This year I was determined to get a donut of my own… or at least one to share with Peanut.  Plus, it was the between-breakfast-and-lunch witching hour in which pregnancy hunger hits hard.  I made a beeline for the donuts.

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We each got a donut and Peanut nibbled off of our treats.  I don’t know if I was just really hungry or if this donut really was the most delicious thing ever made, but… oh, my word.  It was amazing.  Warm, soft, and sugary.  I wanted a second one, but I managed to restrain myself.  After donuts we headed over to the pony rides.  No pictures of the pony ride, because Peanut whimpered, went boneless, and generally acted like she was being tortured the entire time she was on the (gentle, sweet) pony.  What terrible parents we are, making her take a pony ride!  (In our defense, we thought she’d love it, and once she was on she had to complete the loop.)  The pony ride did make a big impression, though, because she’s been talking about it ever since.  Almost every day, she tells us “You ride a pony yesterday!”  (“You” is Peanut for “I” or “me,” and yesterday is anytime in the past.  Toddler-speak.)

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After the pony torture, we hopped in a tractor-pulled wagon for a ride around the property.  Peanut was still pretty clingy, but interested in the other kids.

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I attempted to take a selfie with Peanut, but this was the best I could do.  Blurry, she’s looking away from the camera, and I’m rocking hubby’s jacket (it zips over Nugget, no shame ladies).

Our destination:

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Pumpkins!  Peanut immediately found a broken, rotted pumpkin and attempted to claim it as her own.  We took it away, and Peanut cried for the lost love of her life.  Mean parents.

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Once the rotten pumpkin tantrum was over, Peanut got into the spirit of looking around for the perfect family pumpkins.

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The bigger, the better.

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There were sooooooo many choices!  Hundreds of pumpkins in the field, and we were entitled to take three home with us.  Clearly, important decisions had to be made.

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We pretty much succeeded in our goal of finding pumpkins that were reasonably round and not too dirty.

The following Friday, we attended a trick-or-treating party at Buffalo-Niagara Heritage Village.  I didn’t get a single picture and the event was a total bust.  We arrived late, which meant that the Stroller Strides group we planned to walk with had already been released to collect their candy, and we were on our own without our friends. Even so, we tried to make it a fun night for Peanut – but she hated it.  She was terrified of everything – the dark, the houses, the actors dressed up in period costume, even some of the other kids.  She refused to hold her candy bag and clung to me whimpering the entire night.  Poor little scaredy-cat!  Maybe next year, she’ll have more fun.

Halloween itself was a week after the party debacle.  We live in a rural area at the end of a long driveway, and we didn’t get home until 6:00 that day, so we totally struck out on trick-or-treaters.  Womp, womp.  Fortunately, we weren’t expecting many kids, so we didn’t buy too much candy.  Meanwhile, we decided that Peanut was still too little to go door-to-door (next year, for sure) but she did get the chance to trick-or-treat twice with her school (they did parties on Thursday and Friday to make sure that none of the part-time kids were left out) and on Friday at Daddy’s office.  She was the only kid to show up to the office, so she was showered with donuts and candy… but our funny little girl was more interested in playing with the keyboard, calculator, and paper at a secretarial workstation.

And if you’re wondering what she dressed as, this year Peanut was…

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An Afghan princess!  Sorry, that’s the only picture I took.  Peanut’s godmother, Aunt R, bought her this beautiful dress, pants and head scarf in Kabul during her year spent as a civilian aid worker in Afghanistan.  I was pregnant with Peanut at the time, so R presented me with the outfit when Peanut was born.  Back then it seemed like she’d never grow into it, but she did just in time to wear a truly unique Halloween costume this year!  (Glad I didn’t wait any longer to try it on her – it was actually a bit small.)  The costume might actually have been too unique: most people assumed she was Red Riding Hood and I got a lot of strange looks when I explained, “She’s not Red Riding Hood, she’s an Afghan princess, that’s a head scarf and anyway it’s pink.”  But she also got a lot of compliments – her preschool teachers and directors loved the outfit and were mightily impressed when I told them it was a genuine Afghan dress.  I doubt we’ll be able to come up with something quite as cool next year, but we were pretty pleased with this year’s costume!

And there we have it – Halloween, three weeks late!  We did our best to make it fun for Peanut, but she was frightened of pretty much everything this year.  Hoping to make Thanksgiving a little more fun for her…

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for October, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker – This gaslamp fantasy novel has been on my to-read list since it was first released to widespread acclaim, and it didn’t disappoint.  Wecker’s story of a golem (a creature made of clay) and a jinni (a creature made of fire) who meet in 1890s New York City and become the unlikeliest of friends was enchanting.  Her rich language drew me right into the world she created, and her finely-drawn characters, from the kindly coffeehouse proprietress to the eccentric ice cream maker and the rebellious heiress, captured me entirely.  Loved, and highly recommend.

Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery – As I’ve said before, I think fall is a perfect season to revisit my favorite of the Anne books.  So much happens in this volume – Anne goes away to college, sets up house with girlfriends old and new, falls in what she thinks is love, and falls in love for real.  The talk of books, and studies, and scholarships, and college friendships, is all so fall to me.  (Also, it seems like everyone and their mom is issuing beautiful new editions of L.M. Montgomery’s work, and I’m coveting in a bad way.)

The Four Graces, by D.E. Stevenson – This was my first D.E. Stevenson novel, bought because I love the charming reissues of her work (and proving that you can just a book by its cover; this story was just as lovely as the cover art).  Liz, Sal, Tilly and Addie Grace are the four daughters of a country parson who want nothing more than to enjoy the company of one another and their kindly father.  Unfortunately for them, a troublesome, meddling distant relation shows up uninvited for an extended visit and promptly turns the Grace household on its head.  Even if the Graces make it through the summer, life may never be the same.  I enjoyed the Graces very much – particularly spirited Liz and quiet Sal – and lucky me, I have three more beautiful reissued D.E. Stevenson books (the Miss Buncle books) in my den, if my books ever end up getting unpacked (working on it).

What We See When We Read, by Peter Mendelsund – This fascinating book (with pictures!) was part of my most recent Book Riot Quarterly box.  I was so excited to see it in there, because I’d been wanting to read it.  I don’t know that I would have bought it if left to my own devices, but it was a really interesting read and I enjoyed it very much.

Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books, by Nick Hornby – I have been reading, and loving, this collection of Nick Hornby’s “What I’ve Been Reading” columns for The Believer magazine, since September, and I finally polished off the last one in late October.  I’d never read any of Hornby’s writing and I was blown away.  He could make me tear up (the way the man writes about his autistic son – and his other kids – such love) and crack up (oh, that rapturously intelligent Polysyllabic Spree!) on the same page, sometimes in the same paragraph.  Recommended to anyone who enjoys the books-about-books subgenre, and I’m now on the lookout for some of Hornby’s fiction, because I’m a big fan.

Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willet – Another one that’s been on my TBR list for awhile, and I loved every word.  I read the first Amy Gallup book, The Writing Class, back in February, and adored it.  Amy Falls Down was completely different from its predecessor – almost a different genre, even, and I loved it all the more.  Everyone’s favorite washed up curmudgeon, Amy Gallup, has quite the turn-about in this book, starting when she falls down and hits her head on a birdbath in her backyard.  Within the hour, she has given a bizarre, eccentric interview that launches her career in completely unexpected ways.  I loved watching Amy flounder her way through her fifteen minutes (or maybe more?) of fame, and cheered for her as she started to get some of her mojo back.  And that’s all I’m going to tell you – go read it.

Reading slump or no reading slump, I had a fantastic October in books.  I didn’t read quite as quickly as I’ve been accustomed to do, but I’m starting to realize that this new, slower reading pace might be my new normal – at least for awhile.  (Maybe there’s a blog post there?)  Anyway, I’m calling October a successful month because I really enjoyed everything I read and three of the books - The Golem and the JinniThe Four Graces, and Amy Falls Down, may be three of my favorite reads all year.  I rarely have a month in which I can unreservedly recommend every single thing I read, but October was just such a month, and it felt good.  The slow reading speed has continued into November – I’ll be lucky to finish three books this month, with everything that’s been going on.  But that’s okay – I’m focusing on being kind and not demanding more of myself than I can reasonably give.  With a job, a toddler, a house just starting to come into order, and the holidays, it’s a day to day struggle to find any time to sit and just breathe, let alone read.  I’m muddling through.

Whew.

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Well, then.  Hello.  Thanks for waiting patiently for the last two weeks, and thanks for coming back.  What happened was, hubby was called out of town to tend to a sick friend for a little over a week, and he took the laptop with him so that he could work remotely during the days.  Since our desktop has recently been trying to contact Russia (bad desktop!) it’s been benched… which left me with no computer at home, and no way to blog unless I blogged from my iPhone, which is just a horrible, frustrating endeavor.  I had meant to write some posts ahead and bank them for the computer-free week (something I try to do anyway) but with a business trip for me and all the preparations for hubby’s departure, time got away from me and it didn’t happen, and what should have been business as usual turned into two weeks of near radio silence.  Sorry about that, and sorry that I couldn’t tell you more about what was going on – but I’m sure you understand.  For one thing, detailed information about our friend’s illness is not mine to share, and for another, I wasn’t about to announce to the entire internet that I was alone in the house with a small child for an extended period of time.  Anyway, our friend is on the mend, hubby is home, and I have my computer back, so posting and comment responses can now resume.

Although I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been busy-busy-busy.  I’ve got a lot to share in the upcoming weeks and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  Here’s a quick update in list form:

1) Baby is growing bigger by the day, and he’s having a lot of fun playing around and kicking all over the place.  I also think he’s trying to introduce himself to me.  Hubby and I have a very short list of names that we can agree on, and I’ve had two dreams in a row about the baby with one name in particular – which happens to be the top contender anyway.  It seems to me that he’s putting in his vote, and the name feels more and more right by the day.  It wasn’t my top choice – hubby hates the name I really wanted for some reason – but it’s a name I love and I think the little guy is telling me that’s his name.  We’ll see, but I have a good feeling.

2) Other than dreaming up names, we’ve done next to nothing to get ready for the new arrival.  At 22 weeks pregnant, that’s not a huge issue, but given how early Peanut was born, I do want to get started.  The nursery-to-be is a complete train wreck, so cleaning it out and ordering some furniture is tops on the agenda for the next few weeks.

3) Now that I have my computer back, I finally have access to the knitting pattern I’d downloaded and saved for Peanut’s Weasley Christmas sweater, so at long last I’ve gotten started.  I’m using a snuggly, soft grey baby alpaca yarn I bought years ago at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and I think it’s going to be a super cute sweater, if I can finish it in time for Christmas.  Last year I went down to the wire, and that was when I was a stay-at-home mom with a baby napping twice per day.  We’ll see how I do with this sweater, given that I’m back in the office and spending my spare time chasing an energetic toddler.  But I’m committed to making Peanut a handmade gift every year and I’m not about to miss the boat this Christmas.

4) Also on the knitting front, I have an idea for a baby blanket for Nugget.  I’m thinking diagonal blue and grey stripes in a thick, soft yarn.  Just have to find something thick enough that fits my specifications.  There is a super-soft bamboo yarn that Michael’s used to stock, so I may see if they still have it, and in the right colors.  But Peanut’s sweater takes priority.

5) My parents visited for a few days during hubby’s absence – both because they were planning to come for a visit anyway and so that I wouldn’t have to be on my own for such a huge stretch of time; I could have done it, plenty of moms do, but it was nice that I didn’t have to.  While they were here they made it their mission to get as much done around the house as possible.  My mom was an unpacking, organizing and cleaning machine, and my dad spent most of the weekend hauling boxes to the basement, hanging pictures and hooks around the house, and – the best! – installing a new guest bathroom toilet!  Considering a plumber tried to sucker us out of $700 for a toilet and installation, $150 for the toilet, and free labor a la Dad, went down very easy indeed.  I can’t even tell you how grateful I was to have my parents in town and for everything they did last weekend.  The house actually has gone from a sea of boxes that were stressing me out beyond belief, to a tidy and welcoming space.  We still have a lot to do, but at least I’m not overwhelmed and paralyzed anymore.

6) Oh, yeah, this: it’s snowed here twice already.  I consider this a personal affront by the weather gods.

Coming up this week: my October reading list, finally, on Wednesday, and a better-late-than-never Halloween recap on Friday.  And over the next few weeks I’ll have lots of fun stuff, including a few posts about running while pregnant, recaps of my fall travels to Maine and New York City, an update on my fall list, Thanksgiving festivities, and plenty of bookish goodness as always.  Thanks for staying tuned.

Please Bear With Me

I know posts have been few and far between around here. Everyone’s fine, but I’m currently without a computer at home and will be for the next week. I’ll be back with lots of good stuff – pumpkin patch and Maine recaps, last month’s reads, and more – on Monday next. Thanks for bearing with me until then, and check out the archives in the meantime!  Cheers, my friends.

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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.

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