Friday, November 4, 2011

happy fallness

Apples, pumpkins, beautiful leaves, crisp air.......ahhh fall!
Apples - no problem (as long as they are gala or granny smith)
Pumpkins - funny looking, but available to some extent
Beautiful leaves - it would be hard to find an ugly one, but they are all still green (and won't be turning...)
Crisp air - it can get cool, but crisp?  Only if you climb one of the volcanos.

I adore fall.  And I miss fall so much.  I even missed it in California, even though there was some measure of "fallness".  But regardless of the weather and the surrounds, the internal clock is still regulated for fall.  When the calendar strikes September, it hits.
Halloween is something our family loves and misses a lot.  It has been our third year away from it.  To some degree, you can tell.  There was much less moaning and groaning about not being at the Wurzbach's, not being able to trick-or-treat in Rancho Solano (THE area for this activity in our home town).... but we still definitely missed it.  A lot.  While I don't miss a lot of the ugly decór that many homes sport, I certainly do miss the fun.  I have so many great memories from Halloween (note:  "so many memories" for me would mean something like 3 or 4, being of very little brain in the memory department).  It is sad to think that the kids, particularly Lucy and Cade, will have few of these memories.  Lucy might very likely be clueless as to the typical Halloween goings-on.
Out of sadness and determination, we decided to create our own new traditions.  A friend Katie and I thought it would be fun to have a fallish day during this break we are having (Días de los difuntos - or muertos, in other latin american countries, and Cuenca Day).  I emailed a bunch of families and invited them over, asking each family to either bring some food, or better yet, bring and activity.
This was yesterday - and it was a good time!
We started with my little event - caramel apples.
I made the apples ahead of time and let me tell you, it was no small task.  Last year I think I was so careful because of the newness of the altitude that the caramel turned out perfectly (for apples and pretzel rods).  This time I lost my head.
My first batch I made too soft, so I scraped the caramel off the apples (the kids helped with this!... I washed the apples really really well after!) and re-cooked it.  But then I cooked it too long.  Now I have some nice hard caramel candy.   Just what I wanted.....
The second batch (on the left side of the picture) seemed to be going well.  I calculated it all out and took the caramel off in time, dipped the apples, and all was well.  Unfortunately the caramel still was a little too hard.   The third batch (on the right side) came out great.  I cooked the caramel a mere 3 degrees (fahrenheit) less.  Only three degrees but it made a huge difference.  That is part of the joy of candy making at 9500 ft!  Well, we let the younger kids have the softer apples and the adults got to risk loosing their fillings.
Anyway, I had bowls of toppings - sprinkles, toasted coconut, chopped almonds, chopped peanuts, peanut butter chips (imported!) and cookie crumbs/chunks.
The kids - with adult supervision - wrote their name on the popsicle stick and then dipped their apple into melted chocolate.  Then then could dip them into the topping(s) of their choice.
The paparazzi was in full effect:
After the apples were made, but before they were consumed, we headed out in the back yard to the pumpkin patch - brought to us by the Bryans family.  They bought pumpkins for all the kids to paint....
or to balance on their heads.
Or maybe their just brought paint to paint bodies with and the pumpkins were just for show.
But the pumpkins did all receive some paint, and they were a happy cheery sight all lined up together to dry.
After the pumpkins was my personal favorite part.  I was pretty darn excited when I found out what Katie was doing:  Bobbing for apples!!!!!
I love bobbing for apples!  And she even brought bottled water so that the kids wouldn't have to accidently swallow tap water.  She decided to make it into a relay race - boys against girls.
Lucy and Luke were the first up for their teams.  Luke was up with an apples in about 1/1000 of a second.  Lucy went in for it a few times and got water up her nose and freaked.
Soon after Cade was up (with Molly in the background).  Cade went at it fiercely but after struggling a few seconds, came up screaming that his eyes burned.  I guess the acid I put in the water wasn't a good idea...... kidding, just kidding.

Mia was the sole Ackerperson to come up with an apple in her mouth.  In fact, if you note her hand has its death grip on another apple.  She had to go twice.
After the race was over (the boys winning by a core) Cade decided to give it a go when not under pressure.
A gave him a little coaching and he came up with a beauty in just a few seconds.
Just had to throw this one in......
Three of my four kids reacted to this game the three ways I would have reacted to almost any game as a kid:
1) Don't do it at all.  Don't know what the reason was here, but my reasons would have been because of fear of failure.  Whatever the case or reasons were, it makes me sad - missing out on a lot of fun.
2) Do it wrong.  This was the main reason why #1 happened so often for me.  I figured I would do it wrong so I just didn't want to do it at all.  Lucy did it wrong - but I think that is only because she didn't know any better.
3) Fake an injury.  A very standard go-to for me.  Any sign of failure and I would fake an injury or sickness.  Often the injury or sickness came before-hand so I would have to experience failure.  I'm pretty sure that is what happened with a certain perfectionistic child.  You usually don't get "burned out" eyes from bottled water.
The worst of it was my reaction.  I got so frustrated with all three of them.  I think I just don't want them to miss out on stuff or be so hard on themselves like I was.  I want them to be able to laugh at themselves - something I never did.  I want them to have fun regardless of whether they are the best at something or not.  But that doesn't excuse how I behaved.  I was no-where near the kind, loving and tenderhearted mom that I want to be.  
Apologies were issued.
Moving on....  After the bobbing was done, the kids had a ball sticking their heads in the water and soaking themselves quite thoroughly.  I'm sure it was rather refreshing as it was a rather warm day.  I'd find other ways of refreshment, however.

Then it was time for the goodies.  I neglected to take a picture of all the yumminess brought.  Its for the best though, as you would have been super jealous that you weren't here.  Marlo made scones and apple butter, Nancy made pumpkin bread, Casey made his fabulous salsa, Beth made yummy gooey caramel apple buns, and Katie made rice krispie/cocoa puff squares.  Oh, and my crack-your-tooth-I'll-send-you-the-dental-bill caramel apples.

Lots of yumminess and lots of fun.  I think this will be an annual event.
And I'm happy to say that no teeth were actually  harmed in the course of this day.
But if they didn't brush before bed - that's their own problem!

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