This next one of the stream out front has a hidden child.
Fall also means Grandfriend's Day at Hannah's school. Here's Hannah showing Grammy how to write a story with the moveable alphabet.
While Grammy and Hannah were at school, the boys and I played in the woods and threw rocks in the bigger stream on the north side of the house. All the rock-throwing pics were blurry, but here's one of Mason wielding a stick like a sword.
We took a break from our yard for Hannah's once-a-month Art Kids preschool program at the Walter's. Younger siblings are not supposed to participate (or even come really, though that's often impossible), but Hannah has been a regular since age 3, and this particular class was small, so they let Jacob squeeze in and try out painting for the first time. He loved it!I signed him up for the Art Tots classes as soon as he turns 2.
Back to the yard: We had a beautiful fall here with a lot of really mild days that were perfect for crunching through leaves and exploring our new place.
Eric cut a piece of wood and used some rope to tie it to a tree by the house. It's pretty rudimentary, but the kids love it.
Snacks are often more delicious when munched from a partially rotting log while tickling your bare toes in fallen leaves.
Hannah and Eric stuffed the scarecrow again this year, but there were no passing pedestrians to enjoy it. I used to enjoy watching the reactions from my perch near the front window.
Hannah wanted to be Elphaba this year so I bough her a witch costume. The rest of us jumped aboard the bandwagon and dressed up as Oz characters as well. Eric got this awesome evil monkey costume, we found a cute lion costume for Jacob on Craig's List, and I got pushed into being Dorothy, a decision I followed through with begrudgingly, especially considering the big drop in temperature that happened right in time for Halloween. It was our first time picking a theme (and my last time picking anything with non-face flesh being exposed to air), but since it took a lot of the thinking out of it for me, it will not be our last. From now on, I'm going to let Hannah and Jacob decide what to be, and then I'm going to pick something in that theme.
For the second year in a row, we spent Halloween in Rodger's Forge with our good friends who snapped this picture of us.
I didn't feel like fussing with the green face paint for her school party, so she's just a witch here. the adorable lamb is one of her closest friends.
I walked into Jacob's room after nap one day to find Hannah in the crib with him and both of them giggling uncontrollably.
Hide-and-seek has so many more options out here!
Dance parties are a regular event around here. During this particular dance party, Hannah broke out her old flower girl dress to make it a fancy-dancey party.
So far we have still not grown tired of watching the deer cluster around the bird feeder at dinner time each night.
Having never before lived beyond the confines of the concrete jungle, I found all kinds of amazingly beautiful things that I took pics of to show Eric when he returned home from work each day, like this sprouted acorn....
...and this one, which lost its hat...
...and this piece of bark with a really pretty pattern of roundish shapes on the inside...
...and, on a larger scale, this tree, under which I found the above things. In spite of having a kabillion trees, this is the only good climbing tree, so that's a bit of a bummer, but at least there's one!
This access trail runs along the north side of our house and used to be a driveway to an old farm house back there. Just north of this trail is the big stream, and on the other side of that is a development. The old farm house is still there though mighty run down and can be accessed from the development. When the developer was buying up plots, the previous owner of our home, who originally only owned the land up to this trail, bought up the stream and woods on the other side of the trail, which is awesome since that was the main appeal of this place.
I love it when they play nicely and quietly together!
Jacob thought Kaya might like some crackers for a snack...
...and a kiss.
In addition to joining Hannah in her many art projects, he also shares her love of dress-up.
This is the big stream I keep talking about, the one on the north side of the house.
There are tons of big trees along the edge with partially exposed roots that the kids love to play in. I love how they look!
Hannah spotted this marbled orb weaver (which we called "Camo Orange Spider" until my friend Jeanne told me the true name).
We took another break from our yard one morning to visit Port Discovery before the Curious George exhibit left.
And then the snow started.....just a little at first, but this much before Thanksgiving is crazy and was not a good omen. We had fun though and promptly start rolling balls in an effort to get them big enough for a snowman.
We spent an awesome Thanksgiving at my aunt's and uncle's house this year. I love any excuse to get the crew together, and a holiday is a pretty good one. Somehow, in spite of the snow being patchy, we managed to build this huge snowman.
No trip to my aunt's is complete without a little target practice!
And then it was December. We bought a real tree this year, just to see how it was. We were not impressed and do not intend to do it again. It was my first real tree ever, and honestly, I thought the smell would be more noticeable. Everyone talks about the awesome smell of a real tree, but I didn't notice much of a smell at all. Here's what I noticed: lots of pine needles constantly on my floor, weak branches that can't hold most of the ornaments, and a constantly crooked/falling tree. To be fair, that last one was probably due to the tree stand. In addition, there's the environmental factor which has always been a big enough deterrent for me in the past (I realize that there's an environmental impact to manufacturing fake trees as well, but since we already have the tree, that seems a moot point, one better used on someone who is considering buying a tree). Oh, and there's the cost: pay $60 for all that trouble, or put up the plastic one that we've had for eons. The latter it is!
This year Eric let Jacob try to put the star on first.
And then he let Hannah finish the job.
Jacob liked the idea of decorating but thought he was a better canvas for all those lights than the tree.
December was mild, so we enjoyed lots more outdoor time.
We used the pallets that the insulation came on to stack up some firewood.
And then Hannah's long-term wish came true: she got a dog. This is Joy. She's a little shih tzu who belonged to my uncle's late father. She's 6 and very sweet. Although she's not bred for this filthy outdoor lifestyle we live, she loves it! There's a little island of rocks in the big stream that we named Bone Island because there was a pretty close to a full animal skeleton on it when we moved in. Joy loves, loves, loves Bone Island. She hops down there using the stumps we stacked up, finds a bone, and happily gnaws away.
She also keeps my feet warm while I work.
As usual, we had two Christmases this year, the first a few weeks early with my family. As usual, I neglected to take photos and had to steal these from my cousin, Kim.
Clay and Mason got Ninja Turtle get-ups from someone, and walkie talkies from us.
Ok, another abrupt topic shift: does anyone know what this plant is? It looks like a bulb from the top, but as you can see from the photo below this next one, it's not. It grows all over the place around here mostly in the lowlands where it's really wet. And it was sprouting in the winter--how weird is that? Now that they snow is melted, there are a ton more, but they're purple and yellow now. I took a picture, but it's still on my phone and will have to wait until my part 2 photo dump.
We took a long walk on Eric's birthday through the woods on the south side that don't belong to us, but did belong to the woman we bought the house from. The whole thing was her family's land for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, she sold the south woods and the parts shown in the photos below to a developer and McMansions are now pending. Grumble, huff.
Our second Christmas lasted for a week, starting with Eric's birthday on Monday. The next day we took his parents and the kids to the hibachi grill for an entertaining dinner. Eric and I were the only ones who'd been before so we had fun watching everyone else watching. Jacob loves all things flammable, but even he shied away from this giant of a fire.
I think Hannah would have liked it more if there were more space between the fire and her seat.
She did like the shrimp-catching part; who doesn't?? She even caught one, much to her surprise (and ours). I never catch them, but I'm always game to let a few smack me in the face while I try!
I love this picture of Jacob; he's so James Dean, minus the cancer stick. I'm pretty sure I like the first one best, but I had to share the second one too.
The kids loved reading all the wonderful books that Grannah and Granpah picked out for them.
The highlight of Hannah's Christmas was this shooting star necklace from her grandparents that has a real piece of meteorite in it. She wore it nonstop, including while showering until that chain broke. We put it on another chain, but this one is pretty big so she has to take it off when she swims or it falls off without her even realizing it.
They both ended up with cute knitted hats. Jacob's, shown in the picture below this one, is a dog and gets a ton of compliments from people wanting to know if I made it. Hah! Scarves people--I am limited to crocheting scarves.
Joel came in time for Christmas and stayed through the weekend so there was plenty of time to join us by the camp fires we've had pretty regularly since moving here (until the snow hit, that is). He also spent some time panning for gold in our stream. Sadly, this was not a successful venture.
Hannah's friend, Kylie, came over the following week, and the girls packed their backpacks full of snacks, toys, and books, and then went out for a walk in search of the perfect place for their picnic.
That wraps up 2014 in whatever the opposite of a nutshell is. I should read back through and edit, but honestly, I just want to be done with 2014. It took me forever to get this far, and I still have 3 months of pics from this year to get posted. So, no judging on any editorial mistakes I'm sure I made!