A Pumpkin Patch Just Right for 8-Year-Olds – Swank Farms

The cuteness factor of tiny tots running through pumpkin patches is always high around this time of year. Unfortunately, my girls are beyond the age when their stature rivaled that of the most commonly-sized pumpkins. Likewise, it takes a bit of entertainment to keep them interested in a visit to a pumpkin patch than the standard train ride or pumpkin picking. So when my friend, Akemi, mentioned Swank Farms in Hollister, I was looking forward to checking it out.

Last Friday, a Staff Development day at school, my plans were already set. To Swank Farms we went…and a few other friends from school. Can I just say that Akemi was absolutely right? None of the kids were ready to leave when we moms were but as always, we’re the ones keeping everyone on schedule. My girls had soccer practice in the afternoon and we couldn’t be late for that. But let me tell ya, Swank Farms kept all the kids happily distracted while we (moms) got to chit chat. A giant jumping pillow, two tall pumpkin sling shots, a corncob cannon, pedal karts, a cornfield maze, a cow train, a place to mine for gems, piggy races, and of course, feeding the goats. All of this kept our crew of eight 8-year-olds happily entertained as they rushed from one attraction to another.

And can I say how warm and friendly the staff at Swank Farms is? After a couple of our kids ended up with bloody hands from falling during the hunt through the corn maze, the staff was ready with First Aid in hand. When one of my daughters dropped her plastic baggie of gems she’d just mined down the water hole, a staff member hurriedly ran out to help her retrieve her collection. When my girls and their classmate wanted to use the giant pumpkin sling shot and fire the corncob cannon, a staff member was right there to show them how…and add a little brawn to the actual pulling back of the sling. Now, it was a relatively light day in terms of visitors last Friday (I imagine the threat of rain and the fact we were there on a regular school day for other districts) and the staff had a lot less kids to worry about but still, that kind of hospitality is always appreciated and makes us want to return…or at least tell all our friends about it.  🙂

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

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A Happy Wintry New Year To You!

It is indeed time…time for our annual weeklong stay in Tahoe between Christmas Day and New Years Day. It’s been quite a few years now that we’ve made this trek – and included our nephew from San Diego. This year as last, we  invited close family friends of ours to stay with us. Their daughter is only two days older than our girls and they are rather close friends. And their 4-year-old son is just a kick to be around.

Our nephew from San Diego joined us as well. He has come quite a long way from when he first began and we stuck him in ski lessons. Now, he has the daring and skill to hit all the lifts and black diamond runs he cares to. Certainly helps to be young and athletic. He picked it up rather quickly…with Uncle Truls to help him with technique tips here and there.

The snow was/is fantastic. Not sure but I think this is the most snow we’ve seen in Tahoe at this time of the season. It bodes well for a grrrrrrrrrrrrreat ski season and luckily, we’re doing the ski lease again this year. Our girls are psyched. Not only are they continuing to gain more daring with each run, they absolutely loooooove the snow – sledding, skiing and just plain ol’ romping around in it. Seems the snow racers we gave them for Christmas are a big hit – and turned quite a few heads on the sledding hill. Bet we’ll probably see more of those on the hill later this season.

For now, here are a few images from our week in Tahoe…with more to come, of course.

And a Thank You to my dear friend, Cathy, for snapping a few photos of me snapping a few photos of her and everyone else.  🙂 Here’s wishing everyone a safe, happy, and healthy 2011 filled with lots of love and laughter!

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Christmas Break Already? Really?

Wow. That happened quickly. Last Thursday was Songwriter’s class holiday party and last Friday was Storyteller’s party. And then…well…school let out for the holiday break. That. Was. Fast.

I joked that once Thanksgiving came and went, everything would speed up. I just didn’t think it would be this quick. About 1 1/2 weeks ago, the girls did the Primary Singalong with the 2nd graders for the parents and last Thursday, Songwriter’s class did a gift exchange, munched on freshly made pancakes, bacon and fruit, and watched their teacher open presents from all the families.

Last Friday, Storyteller’s class had a number of fun holiday stations like decorating gingerbread cookies, creating reindeer candy canes, making pine cone bird feeders, and putting together their own holiday treat bags in the drop zone.

Last Friday was also the last school day of the year for the girls until 2011. Wow.

Anyway, here are a few images signaling the arrival of the holidays. Better get started on those Christmas cards (yea, yea, yea, I know I’m late). Merry Christmas, everyone!

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Field Trip To Uesugi Farm

Truls and I were quite lucky this year. We were both able to join Songwriter’s and Storyteller’s classes at Uesugi Farm to visit the pumpkin patch. I haven’t been there in a couple of years and goodness how they’ve developed it. There was a corn maze with stops for a little educational recording, a small train ride around the pumpkin patch and through a ghost town, a short film about pumpkin making and a chance to pick out a pumpkin to take home.

The poor kids were melting throughout the visit. It was an unusually hot day with temperatures into the mid-90’s! I kicked myself because I forgot to bring water with me on the tours, instead leaving it in the car with our lunches. Ugh. But of course, I did bring my cameras.  😉

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

First Pumpkin Patch Visit

You know, the holidays are notorious for encouraging one to stroll down memory lane. It’s so cliche but I guess we’re just human. This time, though, I’m referring to Fall and pumpkin patches. It’s not something we did as kids. It may not have been the thing for young moms to do when we were young. It could also be a cultural thing…not sure there are any pumpkin patches in the Philippines. So, it probably goes without saying that it wasn’t something I’d thought about doing when I had children. But when my fellow mom friends started getting all excited about taking photos of their little ones amongst the giant pumpkins, well, the visual was hard to resist and the potential cuteness factor was pretty high.

This week is our girls’ first field trip of the year to…you guessed it…a pumpkin patch – and my inspiration for taking a little stroll down memory lane. So, here are a few images from six years ago when our girls made their first visit to the pumpkin patch. And of course, I’ll update this blog with images from this year’s trip later. Enjoy!

OK, say it with me now…aaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww….

Yup, the good, the sad and the precious. Yea, I know. They’re crying in a couple of shots but hey, it was part of the experience…and I like to capture it all.

An original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post.

Fall Is In the Air

It’s pumpkin season! More than anything else, the sight of pumpkins all over the grocery store and in hay-strewn lots always says Autumn to me. Luckily, I love all things pumpkin – pies, cakes, breads, cookies, you name it. But no, you won’t find me searching for recipes and such. I can appreciate others’ pumpkin-laden masterpieces…especially those from my favorite treat store, Icing on the Cake in downtown Los Gatos. I think it’s time for a little visit. Their pumpkin ribbon cake is whispering my name.

I took these photos at Bunches florist shop in downtown Los Gatos. So inspired by all the autumn colors of squash on display.

And then I met this little guy just hangin’ out in the shop. AFLAC AFLAC – ugh. That commercial will forever be buried in my brain. Sometimes I really hate commercials.

An original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post.

Spring is Sprung!

ItsNeverEasy_IMG_9778 Gosh, has March already gone? The girls just turned 5 and I’m still getting used to the fact that they’ll soon be elementary schoolgirls…not my little preschool veterans.  But another holiday rolls around and I get to enjoy the fact that they’re still just kids…like Easter! Oh, OK, so Easter is officially next week but the town of Los Gatos puts on their Easter Egg Hunt the week prior…which we’re happy about because Pappa and I won’t be able to observe the holiday with them this year. They will be vacationing with Lolo and Lola next week while we head off to St. Barts & St. Martin for our weeklong getaway.

This was the 3rd year in a row that we’ve participated in this event. It seems to be imprinted in our girls’ brains because every time we pass Los Gatos High School, they must point out the fact that this was/is the site of the egg hunt each year. So you can imagine how excited they were yesterday when they got to do it all again.

This time, I made sure I got them deeper baskets to use – to minimize the number of treats that fell out as they hunted around the grounds. Somehow, every time they showed us what they collected, a few pieces here and there would fall out. Afterwards, they got a big kick out of the fair games and prizes.

Hard to believe that last year was rainy, cold and generally miserable weather to be out and about hunting eggs in the slick grass. This year, the day’s sun, blue skies and cool breeze easily made us forget about last year’s winter-like conditions. It was the kind of day you feel guilty for every moment you spent inside.

This year, they expanded the hunting grounds by 3x! And a good thing it was. It seemed cramped last year and when the parents entered the grounds (even though they weren’t supposed to), it was easy to lose sight of our girls. No, the larger area did not deter parents from being in the middle of the hunt and yes, it was hard to see the girls but since it was less crowded with everyone spread out more, we had a better chance of catching sight of our little hunters every few moments.

We didn’t do the pony rides this year since there was plenty else to keep us busy. The girls love playing all the little games – bowling, mini golf, duck pond, ring toss and the like – as much as they like getting the prizes.

We ended the day with a visit to the last booth open at the end – the wild hair booth. This included spraying wild colors throughout the, a little glitter and a crown with long tail to top it all off. The girls were quite proud of their ‘dos…as you’ll see in the photos below.

All in all, a great start to the Spring weather. Happy Easter, everyone!

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An original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post.

First Easter Egg Hunt of the Season

Easter1_3 A massive Easter egg hunt at Los Gatos High School. The 12th Annual event, our first. At 11:30 am, our girls’ age group (4-5 years old ) would be unleashed on the spread of chocolate eggs, boxes of Dots, plastic eggs, lollipops and twizzle sticks. It would be pandemonium. Imagine about 100 little tots running and crawling around a 25 square yard space, snatching up the closest treats within reach. As we neared the end of the countdown from 10 to 1 and the “GO” sign, I got a little nervous. Our girls were only 1 week shy of their 4th year, so we opted for the 4-5 year olds age group. The younger age group included 2-3 year old children *with* their parents. This was our deciding factor – the fact that we knew our girls could should handle themselves just fine as they hunted the eggs (being in that “I’ll do it myself” phase).

The rules were clear – children only. There were two younger age groups previously that included parents of the children. For ages 4 and up, parents were specifically told to stay outside the pennant flags that bordered the hunting region. This was important for two reasons: 1) 4- and 5-year-olds would be able to egg hunt on their own and 2) it was easier for parents to keep an eye on their children from outside the egg hunting area. Unfortunately, many parents couldn’t help themselves and rather quickly after the start, several parents began roaming amongst the mass of children, obscuring our view of the girls. As often happens, the girls split up. After a couple minutes, we lost sight of both. We searched for a few minutes, becoming more nervous with each passing second, and when we lost sight of both, T entered the hunting area. It took a couple nervous minutes before we spied both. Whew!

K was distracted at the first run, tripping over another little boy. I could tell she wasn’t quite sure what she should do. She stared at the little boy for a few moments (probably expecting an apology) until he began gathering his goodies. This distraction caused her to hesitate a bit before diving into the spread of candies and colorful eggs. This gave other kids time to catch up but K gathered enough candies to fill her basket and was quite happy.

L, on the other hand, started off collecting the treats closest to her feet. That’s our girl – going for the prizes with the least effort required. Smart girl. L also liked the decorations and gathered pieces of the colorful streamers to adorn her basket. Lucky for her, since L was still in collection mode, she was in exactly the right place as the workers spread out more candy into the crowd of hunters. I led K back into the fray to snatch up more stuff.

Afterward, we headed for the pony rides – a favorite for our girls. They *love* animals. L stopped to pet and thank her pony for the ride. Not surprisingly, the sounds and multi-colors of the many carnival games drew us in – 5-pin bowling, lollipop tree, fishing, bowling and more. The skies darkened and rain started to fall. You would think it was time to go but no, the girls were ready for anything with their thick hooded raincoats. There was still a lot to do and they were very curious.

Farmor sought refuge under a large tree with rather thick branches while we visited the “Petting Zoo.” It had gotten a bit chilly and wet. In fact, we sought Farmor’s tree during a spate of hail. As we all decided that there was nothing more to see, we left…and the sun finally came out. Ha ha ha Wouldn’t ya know it?

Original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post by MommyTwinGirls.

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