Pumpkin Carving 2012

Last night we finally got around to carving our giant pumpkins from our trip to the farm a couple of weeks ago. Ezra had long ago decided on his design (a bat from the booklet that came with the set of carving tools) and Finn set about drawing his (a scary man). As usual, Papa was on pumpkin duty.

Top of Finn's pumpkin

Ezra went an alternate route and cut off the bottom of his pumpkin. Then he had some exploring to do.

What's in there?

Finn’s level of concentration was unparalleled.


Finn works on his man


Ezra enlisted Bruce’s help to cut out his design.

Ezra and Papa work on the bat

Working on Ezra's bat

When Ezra’s was done, he couldn’t wait to try out the black light he chose at the farm.

Ezra's bat with black light

Finn and Bruce, meanwhile, continued to work on his pumpkin.

Papa lends a hand

Finally, it was done.

Finn and his pumpkin

Show offs

Here they are all lit up.

Finn's man

Ezra's bat

Then Bruce had an off-the-wall idea to light them on fire using rubbing alcohol.

What's he up to?

Needless to say, the kids loved it.

Flaming jack-o-lantern

Halloween Preview

The boys took a while deciding on their costumes this year. At first, Ezra wanted to be a Hattifattener and Finn wanted to be a vampire, so we were looking at homemade costumes again this year, which is a bit of a problem since I’m creatively-challenged and Bruce has been working very long hours. But in the end, they both decided they wanted to be bats, so Amazon’s extensive inventory let us off the hook. Here’s a preview from the other day when they wanted to try on their costumes.

Halloween preview

Note that the hat barely fits Finn but fits Ezra just fine.

Now That’s a Big Spider Web!

A while back Bruce had the idea that we could use the palm trees in the front yard for something more fun than squirrel and woodpecker havens. That idea came to fruition today after a few weeks of planning, trials and adjustments. Here’s the story.

Last weekend we bought 300 feet of rope and sent Bruce up a tree to install the first version of the wires and pulleys.

Bruce, up a tree

We knew in the final version the wires would have to be higher, but we wanted to test out the process. This is about as far up as I’m comfortable with him going. Luckily, he feels the same way so we didn’t have to have that fight.

Up the other tree

Once the wires and pulleys were secured, we headed to the backyard to make the web. The boys “helped.”

Ezra takes a rest


From humble beginnings …

Humble beginnings

… a web was woven.

Making the web

Making the web

Looking good!

Next we carried it out front and hooked the top ends onto the pulleys.

Trial run

And up it went.

Trial run

Not bad for the prototype!

Needs to be higher, but it works!

But down it came because, well, people need to walk up the path and the last thing we need is some kid [Ezra] trying to climb it.

Down for round 2

So, back to the backyard it went while we called in the big guns: Finch Tree Service.

Calling in the pros


That's really high

Pro install

Some things are just better left to the professionals. Who rope themselves to the tree.

Meanwhile, we made some more adjustments to the web, tightening the joints.

Tightening up the joints

And adding the spider. Finn chose the placement.

Finn places the spider

Pretty soon we were ready for Spider Web v. 2. Finn was in position to help with the pulley.

Going up, part 2

It went up just fine and the top ropes were secured.

Secure at the top

Then we needed to tighten the middle ropes. Only one problem: we couldn’t reach one of them. Oops.

Trying to reach the middle

Yeah, that’s going to have to come down.

Um, can't get to that one

Soon enough, it was back up and Bruce tied the middle ropes tight.

Got it!

Looking pretty good — almost there!

Middle secured

Finally, we got the bottom ropes tight and there it is!


Of course, we weren’t quite done. We needed lighting!

Nighttime web

While this feat of engineering was definitely a family project, it was only finished because of Bruce’s talent and incredibly stubborn persistence. I, for one, do not have the patience to see something like this through. Lucky for us, we have Bruce!

To the Farm!

Last week Aveson had an odd day off — Friday the 12th — so some friends and I took our kids up to Underwood Family Farms for pumpkins and general Fall fun. Cari and I carpooled and stopped at In n Out for lunch before going to the farm. The kids got hats, which the boys loved. Ruby, on the other hand, was having none of it.

In n Out hats

First up, as usual, was the always-fun combine slide.





The play area in general was a big hit.

Top of the tunnel

Finn gets a ride

Then we moved on to the animals.

Feeding the emu

And the giant hay pyramid.

On the pyramid

Kelly, Mark and Olivia now joined and we headed for the corn maze. Here are the kids checking out one of the not-very-helpful maps along the way.

Corn maze

(Cari’s caption: Children of the Corn.)

Corn maze

Finn finally got frustrated and thirsty, so we found our way back to the start and headed for water. I think everyone else eventually found their way out via the proper exit.

After a rest and some water, there was renewed energy. For the tractor.

On the tractor

And the measuring stick.

Measuring up

All the kids wanted to ride the “cow train” so we headed over to await its arrival. There was some pre-ride entertainment.

Chicken show

Watching the chicken show

Then they boarded the cows.

Finn and Molly Moo

Pretty fun ride!

They return

Cow train

Finally it was time to head to the pumpkin patch. We couldn’t coax Olivia into this photo, unfortunately, but we got the other four.

Fun at Underwood

Ezra and Finn got to pick out a pumpkin each. Ezra did the heavy lifting.

Picking out pumpkins

Picking out pumpkins

And then we took some photos on the giant pumpkins.

Ezra on the big pumpkin


Finn on the big pumpkin

And here’s a contrast — Ezra at the same pumpkin patch at seven months old and seven years old.

Ezra 7 months and 7 years

Ezra’s Latest Inventions

Ezra has been drawing a lot lately, and last week he showed me four new drawings he called his “latest inventions.”



I can’t remember what he called this one, but perhaps it’s Infinity Man.

Infinity man?



And my personal favorite, Pet Maker 3000.

"Pet Maker 3000"

Quite an imagination. He was very proud.

Ezra and his new invention ideas

Our Library Gets a Facelift

Yesterday Bruce had a brilliant idea to dress up our Little Free Library for Halloween. He mocked up a pumpkin in cardboard and today built it for real.

2012-10-07 12.20.46

The boys helped a bit — Finn with the paint.

2012-10-07 13.34.16

2012-10-07 13.34.32

2012-10-07 13.35.08

Then we waited for it to dry.

2012-10-07 14.50.51

When it was ready, Ezra carried it over to the library.

2012-10-07 14.58.59

And Bruce and I set about installing it.

2012-10-07 15.04.53

Of course, we had to move the sign so it was still visible.

2012-10-07 15.27.19

And then it was done!

2012-10-07 15.29.20

2012-10-07 15.29.26

Happy Halloween a few weeks early!

Fall Woodworking

We took the summer off but started up woodworking classes again two weeks ago. We now have the Bannings as hosting partners, so the first Fall class was at their house. Sadly, I took no pictures at their event but it was very successful — the kids made little cars and a good time was had by all.

I was much more on the ball Friday afternoon when the class was at our house. Project number 6 was stools.

Making stools!

For the first time we had a full house, which amounted to 23 kids (20 making stools) and 18 adults. It started, as usual, with Bruce’s instruction.

Bruce's Lesson

Bruce's Lesson

And then they were off and sawing.

Cute Finn

Big bunch

The crowd

Ezra and Amelia saw

Terra saws

Or marking and drilling.

Rob helps with the drilling

Ezra and Josie

And laughing. This is Ashlyn and she was cracking up at Bruce who kept spelling her name wrong. He’s so silly.

Bruce cracks up Ashlyn

There were lots of screws, which were kind of hard to get in. But they persevered!

Working on the screws

Daddy-daughter moment

Bren watches Charlie and Ezra

Bruce helps Ashlyn

Finn works on screwing

Zachary works

And, finally, painting.



Ezra decided on another form of decoration.

Ezra's stool

And here are some of the final products.

Finished stools

Then it was time to eat, drink, and be merry. The kids played until pizza arrived.

Post-class playing

Post-class playing

Then ate a boat load of pizza.

Kids watching Ezra climb a tree

And watched Ezra perform some crazy stunts in the backyard.

Kids watching Ezra

Or maybe he was just looking for a quiet place to eat.

Ezra finds a different place for dinner

Whatever the case, it was a super fun party and a great way to celebrate a Friday. We are blessed to have such a fun group involved in this project.

Oh, one more thing. Ezra and Ruby reprised their dual story telling with a couple of new scary stories. Couldn’t have been cuter.

Ezra and Ruby read together

After everyone else had gone home, they went up to the reading porch and read for Finn. Super cute.

Reading porch

Fall Songs

Finn has learned two songs in Kindergarten so far and he sings them all the time. I got him to sing them for video on Friday.

Catching Up

It’s been almost two weeks since I last posted, so I’ll play a little catch up here with some random photos.

After a bath the other day, Finn wanted to comb his hair. Ezra decided to help him smooth his hair down further, and then said, “You look very handsome, Finn.” It was a surprisingly sweet moment.

Post-bath primping

After a fairly long hiatus, the costume boxes have made several appearances lately. Here is Ezra’s hybrid police officer/Batman costume.

Batman police officer Ezra

Legos are also a daily source of entertainment. Here are the boys and Jack after school one day.

Lego boys

A couple from Finn’s soccer game last weekend.

Kick it!

Go, Finn, go!

Here’s one from Finn’s soccer practice last week. His coach does a great job of making it fun for this group of five year olds. This is the crab game.

Crab game at soccer practice

Ezra also had a fun time at Finn’s practice — making angels in the grass.

Grass angel