Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Tree Hunting!

Well this year -again while we wait for baby#2 to arrive- we had the great debate: real tree or fake tree?

I know, you each have your own opinions. Well last year we bought a fake tree. It was fine, served it's purpose, was on sale, and of course we can use it again any time we want. But John and I both decided we kind of missed the thrill of the hunt! And really the SMELL of a real tree. Ahh... living in WA sure spoiled us, we only lived 5 minutes away from a tree farm back then!

But the good news: there are a few Christmas tree farms here in IA! They don't have exactly the same kinds of trees, but it's still fun hunting, and they smell wonderful! We chose a "fir", which look most like the "Douglas fir" kind we used to always choose when we lived back in WA. Here they don't charge by the foot, they charge by the kind of tree you choose, and of course the "fir" is most expensive- but it looks the best, so we did it.

The Christmas tree farm did not disappoint at all- and actually in some ways was even nicer than our experiences in WA! For starters the weather was amazing! Over 50 degrees, sunny and dry! That's unusual for IA, or WA. They let you cut your own tree-- which had me a little worried, but there are lots of helpers wandering the grounds, and as soon as we choose the best tree, someone showed up to help us cut it and carry it. Then they shake it- yes- literally they have a special machine to shake the tree- presumably to get all the loose needles and any other unwanted things out of the tree, they wrap it up, and even tie it on your car for you! Wow -now that's service!

PLUS they had a little "shack" you could go inside an buy pretty wreaths, or ornaments, eat free fresh baked cookies, sip hot cider, and even meet Santa! Outside, they had a nice big patio with a big fire pit and fire burning in it, and Christmas music playing. All the kids there that day enjoyed dancing and running around the patio, while eating their cookies!

We've found the perfect tree!

There's a better view of our tree before we cut it. Turns out it is the perfect height for our house, too!

John's helping hold the tree while a helper does the chopping.

Renee had a blast running all around!

It was hard to catch her holding still! Notice the bright sunshine, though- and no jacket at the end of November- wow!

These are the best pictures! Renee and Santa!

Happy Holidays!

More Thanksgiving pictures!

Papa and Grammie are staying with us helping watch Renee for the arrival of baby#2. They've gotten some great pictures so far and I wanted to share those with everyone!

Marcellus is their little Corgy. Here he is taking his "rightful place" -yes on the newly vacuumed couch.

Thank goodness that's not my middle finger...

Grammie and John relaxing on the couch.

The spread! In the foreground we've got Serenity's amazing salad (you've got to try it sometime!), the superduper candied yams, mashed potatoes, dressing....

Notice the beautiful napkins! Grammie got those all set at each plate! Very festive! Oh yes, and more food, beet salad, green bean casserole, locally grown turkey, gravy... Notice I actually got Renee to agree to wear her smock over her pretty dress! We did manage to avoid most of the mess that way!

Serenity and Kelly!

Doesn't that pecan pie look like a picture out of Martha Stuart magazine? Gorgeous!

Thanksgiving in IA

While waiting for baby#2 to arrive, we went ahead and celebrated Thanksgiving! It has been a long time since we hosted a holiday at our own house, and we had a wonderful time pulling out all our decorations while hosting Grammie and Papa Fischer and our good friends Serenity and Marlin.

Renee of course wanted to dress up in her "pretty dress"! Here she's being silly, while enjoying her sparkling apple cider.

Ready for the feast! From left to right, Kelly, Grammie, Renee, Papa, Marlin, Serenity, John.

You'd think the dogs had eaten as much as we had! They crashed out (on the freshly vacuumed couch) with Marlin and Papa after meal!

Another belly shot! After the work of the day was done, Daddy and Mommy strike a pose!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wonderful Fall Fun!

Just trying to catch you all up with some recent activities we've been enjoying.

In preparation for Halloween, Renee picked out her own little pumpkin at the farmer's market. The little artist prepares to paint her own pumpkin!

Here you are witnessing -sniff- -sniff- Renee's VERY FIRST PICTURE WITH A FACE! The big creature, with the big ears, is an elephant!! :)

I can't remember what this creature is... I believe it started as a spider, then with a nose and whiskers became a kitty cat. Although Renee now says it is a bat. :)

My amazing artist! Mommy and Daddy were so proud!! The pictures on the table were far more important than the painting of the pumpkin.

We went to a pumpkin patch and had a great time enjoying the beautiful weather while Renee played. The kids had a blast climbing on on tall piles of hay bales!

Here we are on the hay ride!

Momma (and belly) and Renee strike a pose in the corn maze!

Punky proudly displays her corn stalk.

Entering the corn maze. The sign off to the side says: respect the corn, stay on the path.

One of Renee's favorite things to do is collect things- usually pretty fall leaves, or walnuts, or acorns, or - bugs! Especially ladybugs!

Yummy snacks at the pumpkin patch- shnarfing a pumpkin cookie!

There were so many huge bounce houses! Daddy and Renee had a game where Renee would run up to the wall and Daddy would push her backwards, and she'd flop onto her back- so funny!

Hmm... look carefully at this old bus- looks like someone's been using it for target practice?

And so they have been! This thing actually launched pumpkins at the bus! YES, it was VERY loud!

Can you read the name on the firing machine: PUNKINATOR, and notice the stockpile of pumpkin ammunition!

Just love these freckles!

Renee wearing Mommy's glasses! Wow, she looks just like her Momma here!

Festive Fall colors!

Apollo's surgery

Just a few days before Halloween, we took Apollo in for surgery. His "ACL" in his left rear knee had been torn repeatedly during his enthusiastic, yet clumsy attempts to catch squirrels and other small creatures. Often after a rough romping session he would walk home limping slightly. This had been getting better and worse and better again ever since Apollo was about 2 years old. Recently this summer, though, his limping had gotten much worse after off-leash romps, so we took him to the vet to get their opinion. Often dogs of Apollo's breed (golden retriever) and size develop hip dysplasia, which is what we initially suspected. But our vet said it looked more like a torn "ACL" (it's actually called something different in dogs). They did an x-ray to check his knee and both his hips, and confirmed yes it was just the torn ACL, and his hips are actually fine.

We took Apollo in for surgery first thing in the morning, and he stayed overnight and came home the next morning. Poor puppy, he whined the whole way home when we picked him up after his surgery. The good thing, though, is that he does seem to be recovering just fine. It's a slow process- made perhaps a little bit slower by the fact that Apollo kept chewing out his stiches -bad dog- but the vet says Apollo could be back to 75% by Thanksgiving and hopefully 90% recovered by Christmas. For now he's being limited to being on his leash whenever he's outside, but we've lengthened his daily walks from 10minutes a day to 20 minutes each day. He does put some weight on his foot now, though by the end of his walks he usually is limping again. But you'd be surprised how much he can still pull on his leash, yearning to go after a taunting squirrel, considering his surgery. And the goofy dog can balance on that leg when he needs to mark territory :)

This is the day he came home from the vet, you can see that he is touching his toe on the ground, but not putting weight on it. We brushed him for a long time, to help him relax after he came home.

A close up of his scar, it's a little tough to see the stitches, but maybe you can if you look closely.