Monday, October 31, 2011

Trunk or Treating

Happy Halloween! Last wednesday we gathered our children from around the world and throughout history for the trunk or treat. This year's family theme stemmed from Emma's idea to be an ancient Egyptian...

She totally made her costume all by herself. The white sheet is the same one I used
for the Bride of Frankenstein last year, she just had to take it in and cut some off the bottom.
Once hers was decided, we just looked to the rest of the world for inspiration and played on everyone's natural gifts and talents. Ben, for example, has red hair--he's Irish, easy!

A green vest and one felt shamrock for clarification.
Kind of wishing I'd made a burlap potato sack for his candy bag.

And who has a black and white horizontal striped shirt? Afton! Hello France!

Super-easy felt red beret was the only thing different from a normal outfit for her.
When we got in the car to leave she cried and cried, "I don't have a costume!"
She was consoled when people started giving her candy
We have the Langfords to thank for Josh and Lydia's costumes. They handed down the Native American costume to us long ago, and lent us some authentic Chinese silks for Josh

Scott got off very easy this year by dressing as a Spaniard. (His name tag says Hello My Name is Inigo Montoya. Get it? Ha!). I threw on some black knee socks with sandals and a USA t-shirt to play tourist.

They will mostly mix it up for tonight, I'll have to do a follow-up with the new costumes. Prediction: at least two princesses.

{see past family themes here, here, and here}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hiking Abrams Falls

We have frequently kicked ourselves for living here for so long and taking so little advantage of the Great Smoky Mountains. Last summer's excursions to Metcalf Bottoms were officially the first time we've gone up that way as a family.  Last Saturday we made recompense for our sin of omission and took the kids hiking.
Cades Cove Loop is not for the faint of heart during peak tourist season. We looked potential hours of slow-moving traffic in the face and decided to go anyway, because who knows when we'll find the right window of time for going again? We knew it was going to be worth it when we saw colors like this out the sunroof.

It was just as crowded as we expected, and it got more than a little nerve-wracking when at times we traveled 1/10 of a mile in twenty minutes. But faces like this in the backseats let us know the kids would survive just fine:

I love where we live. I love it.
Early in the loop we saw this small group of deer and got all excited. I leaned over Scott in the driver's seat to zoom in and snap up a bunch of photos.

Not long after that sighting the traffic came to a total standstill, so the kids and I got out to stretch our legs and walked ahead a bit. It didn't take long to find out why the line of cars was stopped. Three does were foraging around just about ten feet away from the kids and I as we stood at the roadside.

Finally we made it to our destination, the Abrams Falls trailhead. Two and a half miles each way didn't seem like a very strenuous hike and we'd heard that this was an easy stroll up the mountain. It was beautiful but Lydia and Afton heartily disagreed about the easy part and were both carried a good portion of the way. I didn't mind carrying them as most of the trail was a mess of sticking-up roots and rocks. Every time one of them attempted to walk unassisted resulted in a face-plant and/or skinned knees.

The bridges were a favorite.

Emma curated a fine collection of leaves.


On the hike out we were all a bit more tired.

As we were nearing the end we nearly walked right by this guy.
The very last of our wildlife sightings was on our drive out of the loop when we saw a baby bear impossibly high up in a tree. Our new resolution is to not be such a stranger to the national forrest right in our backyard.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everyone loves a corn maze

We took the kids and met all of the other Cruzes at Oakes Farm a few weeks ago for a day of corn-filled fun. I may go back and make this day a movie, it was so fun. For now, I wanted to share the goodness before it slips too far into the past. There's still time, go on and have youself some good old fashioned farm fun.

Everyone loves climbing on an old, rusty tractor.

Everyone loves sliding down bumpy pipes. Especially Afton. She reminded me of Josh with his  infatuation with the slides in Golden Gate Park. Up and down, up and down.

Everyone loves giant tires. And vibrant blue skies.

Everyone loves people-sized hamster wheels. Especially falling in them.

Everyone loves bouncing.

Everyone loves lunch.

Everyone loves getting lost. Afton soon grew bored of riding and wanted to walk, so we let her lead us the rest of the time. We missed more than half the checkpoints, but made our way out before anyone else.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another finish

About two and a half years ago I learned to crochet.

Soon Cally pointed me to this blog. Which is where I found this tutorial (fantastic, bytheway--best clear photographs and descriptions I've come across for crochet). Which led to the beginnings of this afghan. For the first eighteen months or so it was slow going. I pulled it out to work on so rarely that it was like starting from scratch (it pretty much only came out on these weekends). I had to re-look up the tutorial and spend as much time trying to remember how to switch yarns as I did adding stitches.

Then last winter something wonderful happened--yarn fever took over at Scott's parents' house. Every time we went there to visit (which was nearly every week), Cally and Mandy and Rachel and I would sit and work our hooks and needles through the whole evening of talking. Crocheting is a whole different animal than sewing. It's the perfect thing for conversation, intent listening, and busy thoughts. I think I concentrate better when my hands are moving. For weeks and months real progress was made. My s-i-ls each went through project after beautiful project while I just kept adding and adding to my big afghan. The goal was for it to be big enough for at least two people to share, keeping them well covered, from feet to chin.
5 feet 8 inches later here it is. Tested and approved.

All five kids can fit if they snuggle. Just right for a cold, rainy day like this one.
(It was sunny the day I took the shots of it on the ground.)
Here's why I wanted to make it:
When I was little, there was a green afghan. The green afghan. It was sought after and fought over and used and used and used. Movie nights, Saturday morning cartoons, naps on the couch, forts in the basement, it was the one everyone wanted most. My grandpa made it. I have fond memories associated with the green afghan, and I wanted something like that for our kids. Not that they'll be attached to blanket itself, necessarily, but that it will be something always there in the background of their childhood memories. Hopefully it will carry that same nostalgic magic that comes with smells and songs that transport you through time.

Just give them an audience and they will ham it up. "Let's pretend to be asleep!"
I feel a little lost now without that standby project to keep my hands busy. And I realize that rippling is the only thing I know how to do now. What next, what next.....

Rule #1 around here: if you take a smiling photo, you must take a silly photo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BLT Deviled Eggs

These are good, good, good. Thank you, Paula Deen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I totally ran a half marathon yesterday

There was no crowd, no sponsors nor officials, and I didn't get a t-shirt. But maybe I'll get myself one of those 13.1 magnets for the van because that's how many miles I ran.

The training schedule I've been following to get ready for Ragnar (only three more weeks!) had me doing a 120 minute run for yesterday. It seemed like a good idea to go just a little longer to earn half marathon bragging rights. By about mile 10 or 11 I wanted to quit. Bad. But I'd already told Scott I was going to do it, and how could I go home and admit defeat? So I managed to put myself in auto-jog mode and trot along to the bitter end.

There you have it: The inaugural Lori Cruze Cherokee Boulevard Half Marathon, 2:22:iforgettheseconds.

I've got my sights on a full marathon in the spring. Hold me to it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baby quilt finish

Um, yeah, remember that quilt top I made way back in March? Guess what? It only took seven months to make it into a finished quilt!

My friend had a baby shower last week (luckily she's having a girl) and it was just the motivation I needed to finish it up. My plan for closely-spaced straight line quilting seemed less awesome when it was in fact taking me all of forever to quilt it. I decided that the lines would ebb and flow between close together (1/4 inch) and further apart (2 inches). I think it turned out very nice like that, but then I saw crazymomquilt's big quilt that was done entirely with the close-together straight lines and I immediately wished I'd had the patience to keep going with the 1/4 inch spacing. I'm such a quilting baby.

the back
I love quilts. I love thinking about them and looking at them and planning them and even making them. I don't know why it takes me so long.

Sunday, October 2, 2011