Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2nd Annual Peter Pumpkin Patch, at Spring Hill Farms

If I thought that last year Finn was the perfect age for this countryside outing to the Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Farms, I was wrong. This year when we went, we had the kind of afternoon that makes a parent think, "Ah. So this is why we go through so much to have these kids around!" There is nothing quite as grand as seeing your little boy exude so much happiness. It is pretty priceless.  We planned to go with some friends of ours who also have two little boys.  Little boy heaven, I tell ya.

Oscar enjoyed observing, as usual, but mostly just made the farm that much more cute. 
He wore his tractor outfit, of course.
Just like last year, Finn was unstoppable, but this time he could do more with his interest and excitement.  This year's air temperature was also more tolerable (ideal, really) and we weren't quite as worried about heat stroke with his laps around the farm.  

We couldn't even lure him away from his business to eat some homemade pumpkin ice cream (mmmm...SO good)!  It took about 45 minutes to steer him over that direction so we could make the purchase, and then we had to follow him around with an ice cream spoon so he could enjoy it (and to fuel his little motor). Even with our best attempts at on-the-go fueling, once back in the car, the boy's brain could hardly function for lack of glucose.  

Finn loved getting to pet the baby cows.

Finn made the rounds a few separate times to visit the calves.
 He also got to see pigs, donkeys and a cat.  The little pigs were hilarious, running around their pen at lightening speed.  I had no idea pigs could run so fast!  Finn and Devin were pretty taken with those little piggies. 

Of course the half dozen+ old tractors and farm machines they had out to climb on and "drive" were a huge hit with Finn.

We had an especially hard time tearing Finn and Devin away from this combine harvester, as this is a machine Finn knows about from one of his books.

Little Cooper had a go at it too, but Finn wouldn't let him near the driver's seat. Oh, no.
There was a giant tower of hay bales in the center of the farm.  Finn climbed up this thing every time we passed by.
The pic below reminded me so much of this one from last year.  Look at the difference a year makes!  Finn had yet to have his first hair cut!
Finn and Devin tore through the hay maze, having giggling fits all along the way, while scheming to 
be rid of me.

They also climbed up on top of the hay bale wall for a good view, contemplating their heaven on earth.

The hay maze was yet another feature from which it took some serious effort to remove them.

The hay ride, pulled by a big tractor, was built up with great anticipation, as we had to wait for the driver to get off of his break.  We boarded and re-boarded the trailer several times waiting for the ride.  When the driver finally made his way back, Finn followed him, bellowing excitedly, " Da driver's back!"
Sitting patiently for the hay ride to begin
It was the sweetest thing to watch Finn's face break out into a huge grin as the tractor's motor started and we started driving around the farm.

Hay ride did not disappoint. That is one happy kid.

Oscar woke up in time to enjoy the ride too.

But he just spent a lot the time smiling at me.  I think he wanted to eat his dinner.

It was truly gorgeous out.  Just really the perfect day for our farm trip.

While fun, this ride was still serious business for our boy.  He had a lot to study out here at the farm.

What a great afternoon.  Not only did we have fun, we found the perfect pumpkin, and got to bring home some of the farm's butter and cheese, as well as some "funny pumpkins" (decorative gourds).  Finn was disappointed to say goodbye.

And Oscar just kept smiling at me.
Luckily Finn cheered up when we stopped in town and he got to ride a Kentucky derby champion!
This was the point that Oscar stopped smiling.
I love that we have another Fall tradition that is so fun for my boys. It has only been a week since we went, and Finn has asked to go to the "Punkin Sarm" a few times. He also pretends to drive me there when we load up onto his "sast (fast) truck" (aka his bed).

We never did get around to carving that pumpkin.  It's just as well, I suppose.  It was too perfect to cut, anyway.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mendocino Coast

We have been wanting to explore the Mendocino coast for a long time.  This year we finally made it up there after purchasing a hotel groupon-type deal with an expiration date!  This being a busy, busy Fall for us, we only found one weekend that worked to use our voucher.  So when that weekend approached and the night before found us with Oscar in the throes of an ear infection, Finn still in the midst of a cold, we decided we should just go anyway.  Based on how this Fall is going so far, if we were to wait until the kids aren't sick to go somewhere, we wouldn't leave home at all!  So, this trip was a crazy mixed bag of greatness and awfulness, all tied together.  The awful parts are comical, looking back, so I'm going to write about both sides of the story.

On the way up there was some gnarly traffic and the kids took only semi-decent car naps, but we made it there with me only slightly uncomfortable from oscar's infection-induced nursing strike.  After unloading our stuff at the hotel, we set out to explore and found ourselves at the beautiful Glass Beach.  Finn was so excited to get to run around after being trapped for a while in the car.
He is way into rock climbing these days and did awesome!

Log walking and jumping was also a hit
There were tide pools to see and wild life to search out.

Like so many other times, Oscar had to sleep through our adventure. Sometimes I feel bad that he misses out on such beauty, and so much of our time spent outdoors, because once he is awake, we usually relocate. 

But then when he woke up and seemed to prefer this view anyway.  Aw shucks.
After our time at Glass beach, we were hungry for food!  We went to the North Coast Brewing Co restaurant. They actually had really, really tasty food.  We had the heirloom beet salad, fish n' chips, and the flat iron steak.  All were fantastic. You may think that this trip is sounding a little too picture perfect so far, considering we had 2 sick kids, including one on a nursing strike. So here's the dirt.

After repeated attempts to nurse Oscar, I left him (suuuper hungry) in the restaurant with a starving, sleep deprived and crazed Finn, to go pump in the car.  Luckily it was dark out and I used my nursing cover.  Still, juggling bottles and pump parts and milk in the car was just lovely. 20 minutes later I was back, bottle in hand, and Oscar gulped it desperately and gratefully.  Thank you pump.  Jeremy and I passed a tired Oscar back and forth as we tried to eat our food, also with breaks to pull Finn back up from under the table, yet again, to finish his food.

And our night-time adventure was even more fun with all four of us sharing a hotel room.  Jeremy took Finn out while I put Oscar to sleep. Both were super tired from short naps and a late night.  Finally I got Oscar settled (not an easy task with his ear discomfort) and Finn came in to go to bed. It took him forever to fall asleep, being keyed up about all being in the same room together and getting his own big hotel bed. Finally he slept and eventually we did too. Until....enter a crying Oscar from 1-3 am, who couldn't be quieted/comforted by nursing in his distress.  Enter Liz pumping in the bathroom while Oscar cried and Finn thrashed around in bed, upset about his disturbed sleep, and Jeremy tried to get the both of them under control.  Both eventually settled.  Until 5:30 am when Finn awakened bellowing for his other lovey, the one we'd left at home which is actually identical  and interchangeable to the one we brought.  I brought him into bed with me pleading desperately with him to quiet down for Oscar.  Just as he started to settle, Oscar started screeching and Finn got agitated again.  Since there was no getting Oscar settled without pumping first, I quickly decided our only option to get the kids sleeping again was to go for a drive.
So we all loaded into the car, pajama-clad, and drove up the dark, narrow, winding coastal highway. Oscar fell asleep right away but Finn resisted with his stubborn ways, always keen on seeing new places. Eventually he did nod off.  The silver lining to this early morning excursion was seeing the coastal views appear with the rising sun. But by the time we returned his total sleep was about 4 hours less than he gets at home.  He was exhausted. We were exhausted.  And to top it all off, my pump battery was about to run out, and I (not expecting to have to pump for every feed) didn't bring the charger.  We had planned to stay another night and day but after the night's fiasco we were soooo over it and cancelled our second night.

We had breakfast at our hotel and then went to explore more of the area.  We went to the Mendocino Headlands state park.  There was more rock climbing/ scrambling and a spectacular coastal trail.  It was, admittedly, a tad sketchy at times for a recklessly running toddler who refused to be carried. But, oh my. Being out in this beauty simply felt wonderful.

 This coastline was GORGEOUS!  It seriously made all the troubles we encountered on this trip worth it.  We started to change our mind about shortening the trip, but then sadly remembered that Oscar needed food, I would need to be emptied per se, and I would soon be without a pump.  If it hadn't been for that issue, we would've braved another sleepless night.  As it was, we decided to enjoy what we could.

 The kelp that had risen up from the kelp forest made the coolest patterns in the water.

We took a stairway down to this beach, a little safer for a toddler bent on exploration.  He had an absolute blast with the kelp, the logs, the rocks, and splashing naked in the water.
 Again, Oscar got to sleep through all the loveliness.
In fact, making up for the shoddy night of sleep before, mama got to carry him for an extra long nap.  My back felt awesome.

 Someone who had visited the beach before us had built this little hut out of the drift wood.  Finn pretended to cook us food and played a little game of "house."
We also came upon this moss that looked so awesome with the water dripping down.  There were natural freshwater springs running out of the cracks of these rocks.

Finn reveled in nek-ed beach play for a good hour or so.  He just loves running free, and we love watching his happy little booty, splashing and playing.

 Oscar and I took off earlier to bring the car closer for our boy who was surely going to be too tired and hungry to make the trek back.  It was nice to enjoy the views without one eye on my rambunctious toddler the whole time!

Man, I loved this place. 

As expected, Finn was totally done. Way sleep deprived and way hungry. We hurried into town to lunch at a place that had caught our eye, Eggheads. (Haha, is that website for real?!)  Again, Oscar refused to nurse, repeatedly.  So there was Jeremy again, with 2 kids melting down, waiting to be seated at a restaurant.  I headed for the car for another pumping sesh. I got all hooked up and then the pump wouldn't start.  Panic started to set in...not only for milk for Oscar, but for my own health and comfort. I gave the battery a little rub, shook the machine around, took the battery out and put back in...miraculously it started working!  So I sat there pumping in the front seat of our car, praying it wouldn't die on me. We were parked on Main Street, where tourists wandered down the sidewalk right by me and window shopped. To my other side was a traffic light, and car after car stopped directly next to me for a lovely view of a lady with strange bulges coming off of her chest, under an odd-looking drape.  Perfect.  They also may have watched me struggling to discreetly detach bottles full of milk from my chest, and unstrap the strange contraption that is the breast pump.  Thankfully the pump lasted long enough to get all the milk, but I knew we'd better scoot home quick to be back in time for Oscar's next meal, to have a charger on hand!

Again, I ran, bottle in hand, into the restaurant to find my boys seated, and Finn in the process of throwing everything he could find from the restaurant table.  Oscar chugged his bottle. 12 meltdowns later, we finally all had full bellies.  Bellies of deliciousness, like eggs benedict and pumpkin cream waffles with bananas and whipped cream.  Finn made it through pretty much his entire kiddie breakfast,  while I recounted the entire tale of the Wizard of Oz, with help from the themed restaurant's props.  Stories will work wonders to keep this kid under control when he's out of sorts.  When we finally piled into the car we suddenly realized we didn't have Finn's lovey. We were running on a clock here, both because we had two exhausted kids, but also because I needed to get home by the time Oscar would next be hungry.  We went to the hotel and fortuitously, the housekeeping lady was cleaning the next room over.  I described to her the lovey and she pulled out oscar's Sophie giraffe. True, it was ours, but not the crucial Finn tamer we required for the drive home.  I asked if I could look about the room; the bed linens hadn't been changed and I found Finn's disgusting, ratty lovey in the folds of the bedspread. I'm sure it would have gone straight into the trash had that bed already been made.  Phew. Crisis averted.  After being reunited with his precious, Finn fell asleep within 2 minutes of our drive.

The drive home went by much quicker without any traffic problems.  Good thing, because by the time we drove accross the golden gate bridge, Oscar was whimpering in hunger.  The boy was so hungry, and again in the comfort of his own home, he nursed. No pump needed. The little stink.

We'll be back, Mendocino. You won us over. And we'll bring all our chaos back with us.