apples and the flu

Ralph and I have come down with our first seasonal flu bug today. Fevers, chills, tummy issues, we don't want to talk about it. I have my thickest pair of socks on and I'm buried under my softest blanket, and I'm still freezing my bits off. I was all excited about the cooler weather, the beauty of fall, the cozy crisp cinnamon flavored everything, and then boom. I'm sick. How rude.

But I'm not sick enough to not show you some pictures from the apple orchard we visited over the weekend. (Did that sentence make sense?) I don't remember the last time I've gone apple picking, but I do know I was very young when it happened. Seasonal activities like this always get me really pumped up, and I think it's because I am the youngest child. I feel like fun things are always reserved for the first couple kids, and by the time number 4 has arrived everyone's like No, no, not another fun trip to the orchard, we've already been there sooooo mannnnyyy tiiiimes. (Thanks a lot, G, L and L ;) This is why I get extra excited for childish things like gumball machines and hay rides and carousels. It also explains why anytime Ralph or my niece and nephews are treated to the occasional ice cream cone or train ride at the zoo, I'm right there with them, cheering and fist pumping. Just making up for my terribly deprived childhood.

Anyway, apple picking was just as fun and festive as I remember it being. Of course, watching Ralph experience anything new of this nature is always a treat. He took wobbly steps around the trees, crouching down to poke at an apple here or there. We gave him one to hold while we picked, thinking he wouldn't be able to figure out how to get it started and the next thing we know, half the apple was in his chubby fist and the other half was in tiny chunks stored in his fat cheeks. So that was a whoops. The rest of his apple eating was closely supervised. Despite the minor choking hazard scare, we all had a good time in the fresh air, and as we drove away, Ryan said, "That was fun!" Anytime Ryan is pleased enough to say so out loud is a good time indeed. And while we may be sticking to the B.R.A.T. diet over here thanks to this lovely flu bug, it's not so bad when the A. is freshly picked from the orchard. 
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We went out last night in search of a nice open space for Ralphie to explore. Now that he's walking full-time, he's really able to get around quickly. And there are only so many laps around the dining room table he can make before you start to feel sorry for the kid. So as soon as Ryan got home from work, we put on our shoes and headed to the car. I grabbed the camera on the way out because Ralph just happened to be looking pretty cute and put-together which, by that time of day, is rare. These days we're lucky if he's still wearing pants past 3pm.

Our goal was some sort of playground to let him toddle around, but we missed our turn and ended up pulling onto a side street that had a golf course and a walking trail and the prettiest sunshiney light I think I've ever seen. We walked the trail and let Ralph navigate his way through the tall grass. Grasshoppers were caught, doggies were waved at, and countless amounts of black walnuts were chucked into the field, over and over, just to hear the laugh of the little boy who thought it was hilarious. It was such a happy moment, and I snap snap snapped away, so glad to have the memories caught on camera. Thank goodness I grabbed it, eh?
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take back the summer | part 3: a drive to the country

I've discovered that older I get, the less time I take to enjoy the seasons. Do you know what I mean? It seemed that when I was younger, there were these definitive things about each season, making it so obvious that change had occurred. Spring to Summer. Summer to Fall. It wasn't just the weather, it was a feeling in the air. A mood. It's been so long since I've felt that feeling, I can't even remember exactly what it was. But you knew it was there as soon as it came. When I was a child, Summer meant so many things-- hot, muggy days and popsicles, mosquito bites and dirty feet, fishing off the dock and bike rides till dark, green beans straight from the garden and the sound of crickets at night. All of those little things stuck together to form one long, beautiful summer for a kid. Now that I'm grown, I spend so much time thinking about the every day stuff, and when each season is over, I feel as though it had hardly even begun in the first place. I wish I was better at noticing those good little things again-- the beautiful, precious, fleeting things that make each season what it is.

This is the final post for the Take Back the Summer series. I'm so thankful for these posts, because each one has nudged me, little by little, to remember to enjoy the season. I'm so glad to have these records of our first summer as a family of three.

We decided to Take Back the Summer once and for all with a family drive out to the country. Because ain't nothin' more summery than a long drive down a country road with the windows wide open. {Extra points if this song is playing in the background, though any song with handclaps and a tambourine will do.} We stopped at a small farm stand along the way, one that I've been meaning to hit up all summer long. It had all sorts of just-picked veggies piled up just-so, and giant peaches from my homeland of Michigan. A sweet lady working behind the tables gave Ralphie a green bean to chew on, and he was in fresh crunchy heaven. The sun started to set behind the barn and filter through the trees, and everything felt just about perfect. The grand finale. Goodbye, Summer! 
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. . .