Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Peter Pumpkin Patch

One weekend preceding Halloween some friends met us at Peter Pumpkin Patch in Petaluma. This is run by the Spring Hill Farms Dairy, maker of delicious cheese and butter sold at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market. It was located in a beautiful spot!
There were a ton of things to do there to thrill the little ones and grown-ups alike: live music, baby cows, mama cow milking, cheese and ice cream tasting, a maze, potato digging, tractor riding and silly photo opps. Oh, and oodles of pumpkins, gourds and squash to climb on, throw, run amongst etc. Finn enjoyed climbing on the hay bales too (and everything, really).

Charlie picked up on the idea behind a pumpkin patch right away.
And he and Finn deliberated seriously about the right choice.
Ice Cream break!
Berkeley couldn't decide where she wanted to toddle off to next.
The only time Finn sat down was to try sitting on various pumpkins. It was a super warm day and with all the running around, his face was bright red. I thought he might get heat stroke!

Charlie didn't trust Mr Cow. We didn't break it to him that the stuff coming out of the cow's squirty thing was the milk he drinks every day.
Fun with the cut-outs! Obviously, Berkeley and Charlie didn't get the whole serious farmer pose.

Even with her parents' example, she still didn't get it down. "I can't not be cute, guys!"
Santos' needed a little coaching too.
And apparently Jeremy as well.
I believe I was chasing down Finn so didn't get the Wright family photo on my camera, but I'm sure they nailed it.
And here's my little pumpkin.
Doing his best to scare the crows.
Cute family alert! See...what a place for photo opps!

Buddies having snacks.
Charlie really wanted Finn to try his snack.
Perfect for a game of closterphobic tag.
I mentioned the beautiful farmland locale, right?
Guess which pumpkin I took home with me?
I've already decided that this site will be our yearly pumpkin patch. It was everything a pumpkin patch should be, and a great excuse to venture out to the cute town of Petaluma and the lovely farmland surrounding it.

After we had our fill of the farm, we went into Petaluma and ate at Brixx Pizza. Some pretty solid pizza choices, and lots of kids there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Apple-picking and more Monterey Bay delights

Slowly making my way through some of this fall's activities...
This fall, Finn had a day that we think will probably become one of his first memories. Why do we think that? Because he reminds us of the story at least once a day, every day, asks to see photos from it, and asks me to tell the story to everyone he hangs out with:
"Mama? A-ple? Nom-nom-nom. Err-Err? Whoa."
When we hear this we know he wants to relive the story about how he went and picked apples from the tree, ate an apple from the tree, and he got to sit on a tractor. And whoa, it was awesome.

Finn is lucky enough to have a super fun Nana who lives just a couple hours south of us, close to the beautiful Monterey Bay. This particular weekend started out with a delicious breakfast at the Toro Place Cafe, close to Nana's house off of Highway 68 (think Laguna Seca). Finn showed off his newfound skill of drinking from a straw by draining a large glass of chocolate milk right off the bat.
He enjoyed his waffle and sausage while Kathy and I enjoyed our eggs benedict. Mmm.
After brekkie we went back to Nana's lovely house for several hours.

Late afternoon, we decided to head to Watsonville and showed up to the Clearview Orchards at about 4 pm. They had organic Fuji and Gala apples in. The friendly staff greeted us, handed us bags and showed us where to find the trees that still had a good number of apples. It was a hot day, and we were glad we didn't go earlier in the day when it was even hotter, but the shade of the apple trees made for a perfectly pleasant experience. Finn took to the apple picking immediately, as did we.

We eagerly found the perfect apples to be our one apple per person that we were allowed to eat while picking. Something about being there in the orchard, and the freshness of the just-picked apple, made this one of the best apple-eating experiences of my life. So delicious (we picked Fuji btw). Finn pretty much ate his entire apple by himself and totally loved it.

Finn also enjoyed throwing the apples that had fallen off the tree down the hill (he still says "ewww" when he sees photos of the rotten ones on the ground), climbing up the hay bales, and finding rocks to throw. He was seriously in heaven.

He and I went off to find the swings while Nana and Papa paid for our apples. The swings were no ordinary swings! They were tire swings made into horses. Finn was really amazed and wanted to try all of them.

After a short while we heard Papa calling for us and he soon came running down the hill to find us. A tractor had arrived and they were letting kids get up on it. He knew this would be huge for Finn, who gets so excited to see tractors. So off we went.
It was a dream come true for this boy, and he took his tractor-sitting very seriously, trying to learn how to drive a tractor the best he could...
...and memorizing all the beautiful details.

After Finn had his fill of the tractor, the orchard owner approached him and presented Finn with his very own Pippin apple.
Finn felt pretty special and eagerly started in on his second fresh apple of the day.

As it was approaching dinner time when we left, we quickly decided on a favorite spot right on the way home. Sea Harvest in Moss Landing is one of our top choices in the area. It is less well-known and therefore less noisy and crowded than its nearby neighbor Phil's Fish Market. And we think the food quality is better, and less expensive. The setting right on the water is just one of the reasons we love it. Before going in the restaurant we made sure to show Finn the wildlife visible from the restaurant's deck: sealions, sea otters, pelicans and other birds.

As far as the food goes, the fish and produce are fresh and cooked perfectly, and their roasted and marinated artichoke appetizer is A-mazing. Every time we go we spend a good portion of the meal trying to figure out just what magical combination they use for that artichoke marinade. Plus, the prices are totally reasonable. I had a crab louie salad, totally loaded with crab, for $11.50. Jeremy had blackened mahi mahi and Kathy chose the snapper. Finn devoured his kid's fish n chips in no time. And then he insisted on going back to the awesome outdoors where he enjoyed the wildlife some more, and throwing rocks, of course.
If this day ends up being Finn's first memory, it will make me feel good as parent, because I'd say it represents a pretty happy childhood.