Running Again! (Fit Mommy Returns!)

Well, Fit Mommy attempts to return!  I have to remind my body that it was only a year and a month or two ago that it ran 18 miles.  Remember!  Remember!  Remember!  I was panting like a sick dog when we went up a tiny hill near our house.  Remember!  Remember!  I want to get strong enough to easily run a half marathon again.  Harry turned six months old last week and is big enough to ride in the Schwinn jogging stroller we have.  (By the way, we LOVE this stroller and are heartbroken...okay, just really, really sad...that they discontinued the model.  I would recommend this to anyone!)  
He had a fabulous time!  So did his big sister!  She even took a turn pushing him at the end.  She was funny about her shoes...usually she likes to wear her "running shoes" when we go running, but this time she chose the little boots because she can put them on by herself. 
Jon and I both ran.  Kaia rode in the bike stroller that transforms to jogging stroller pretty easily.  Here is a picture of her riding it with her cousin. The only down-side is that Harry still isn't big enough for doesn't recline at all, so if we go out, we all have to go out.  It was a lot of work to get us all out the door, but we had a great time.  

We really want to raise our kids in an active home where exercise is fun.  We're hoping that keeping (and getting!) ourselves in shape is a good way to do it.  It's working with Kaia, but she is still really young!  Luckily, they both seem to enjoy running right now!  (And hopefully those last pounds will melt away soon!)

My Lefse Journey: The Beginning (With a Lefse Recipe!)

We had been married for less than a month when our first Thanksgiving approached.  We were talking about the upcoming holiday when Jon said, "We gotta have lefse for Thanksgiving!"
Lefse bubbling on grill
The United States is a big place.  In southeast Texas you can buy live crayfish by the pound for Crayfish Boils in the spring.  In Utah you can get Pink Sauce for your french fries.  In North Dakota and Minnesota, apparently, you can buy lefse for your Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Jon had grown up with lefse at Thanksgiving and Christmas and now was determined to continue the tradition with our family.  Since we couldn't buy it, he decided we should make it.
Rolling out lefse in 2005
What is lefse?  (pronounced "lef-suh") It came with immigrants from Scandinavia, Norway specifically, when they moved to the United States.  These less-than-wealthy immigrants made this tortilla-like pastry with potatoes, cream, butter, flour, and a little sugar and salt.  It was a piece of tradition they held onto fiercely.  (We won't mention the other culinary traditions they preserved (google lutefisk)...they don't taste as good!)  It settled where they settled, which is why you can buy it in certain states.  In other states you can either order it online or make it yourself.

I was first indoctrinated into the world of lefse when we received a lefse grill at our wedding.  Jon was thrilled.  I was curious.  As a few years have come and gone, I have come to love this tradition.  I, too, have Scandinavian ancestors and feel like I am a little closer to them because I make the same lefse they made.  I even enjoy the flour-covered kitchen that comes every time we've made it!
Lefse-making is still messy for us!
That first year we had a proper lefse grill.  All our other tools were handmade.  We used a piece of cloth on a large piece of cardboard to roll out the lefse.  For a lefse stick (or spatula), Jon sanded down a long skinny board he had been going to use to make a frame.  He was making frames for a painting project at the time.  A clean sock over a normal rolling pin completed our make-shift tools.  Normal spatulas and sock-free rolling pins wouldn't work, trust me!  We studied a book about making lefse, consulted Jon's mother over the phone, and used a recipe from a family friend.  We also were blessed with a lot of luck!  I'm not sure what would have happened if that first experience hadn't been so fun and tasted so good!  It was delicious.  The rounds may not have been perfectly round, but they still wrapped amazingly!  I had never seen anything sizzle and bubble the way it did as it cooked.  And it tasted oh, so yummy!  Year 1:  Success!
Ricing potatoes
Since then, we've cooked lefse somewhere between 6-10 times. We're still obviously beginners, but it usually turns out well.  Each time the experience is a little different, and each time we've learned a few things.  Our worst experience was when we cooked the potatoes long enough that they were so soft a fork easily slid through them--they would have been perfect if we were eating them plain, but they made the lefse dough far too wet.  We ended up throwing out the entire batch and starting over.
Here's a few Lefse Tips we've learned:
  • Don't overcook the potatoes!  A little hard is better than a little soft!
  • Mash the potatoes (or rice them) thoroughly...potato clumps...even very small ones...stick to the pastry board.
  • Less flour is better...too much ruins the texture...but not enough and it will be too sticky to roll.
  • Thoroughly work flour into the pastry board, rolling pin cloth, and grill before starting. 
  • Re-work flour into the pastry board and rolling pin cloth every time!
  • Roll the lefse until it is thin enough you can just see the letters on the pastry board through the lefse.
  • Turn the lefse on the grill 3-4 times.  Cook shorter, flip more.
  • Mix the potato/cream/butter the night before and leave in the fridge until you're ready to use it. 
  • Keep the dough refrigerated until you are actually ready to use it.
We've been blessed by family and friends who learned about our lefse ambitions and supplied us with better tools.  It's amazing what a difference little things like a ricer or pastry board make!  We still have a hand-made stick, but that's because it works so well.  Jon is actually really good at making beautiful lefse sticks.
Lefse tools: grill, pastry board, rolling pin and cover, ricer, turning stick
Jon with lefse sticks...visit here to see professionally made sticks.
So, on to the recipe!  We've made a few variations to a recipe from Mary Ellen, a friend in Nevada.

Our Lefse Recipe

5 pounds red potatoes
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Steam the potatoes until they are almost soft.  (Perhaps if we didn't live in humid Houston we could cook them all the way!)  Mash and rice the potatoes.  Add the butter and whipping cream.  Place a paper towel over the dough and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Lefse dough after refrigeration
Preheat grill to 500 degrees.  For every 5 cups of potato mixture add [1/2 cup - 1 cup] flour, salt to taste, and [1-4 Tablespoons] powdered sugar.  Knead the dough and return it to the fridge.  Pull out a grape-sized piece of dough, roll it out, cook it, and see if you're happy with the salt/sugar/flour flavor.  Make any adjustments necessary.

Pull a plum-sized piece of dough out of the fridge.  Flatten it slightly and pat both sides with flour.  Roll out on pastry board to about 12-14 inches.  (Use more dough for bigger rounds!)  Use the lefse stick to transfer the dough to the grill.  Watch it sizzle and bubble!  Use the lefse stick to move it to a plate.  

In Houston we get a lot of condensation.  I like to place a towel on the plate to absorb moisture.  When the lefse is cool, you can fold it up and put it in a plastic baggie in the fridge.  Mmmmmm!!  
Lefse rounds for Thanksgiving 2010
You can use it like a tortilla or bread.  You can wrap your turkey and stuffing in it.   A traditional Scandinavian treat is to spread it with butter and sprinkle sugar over it--very tasty!  It never lasts long around here!
Lefse is served!  It folds, wraps, and holds together better than tortillas!
  Now when Thanksgiving approaches I'm the one scheduling our week to make sure we have time to cook lefse.  This year was a little trickier because we had to work around more complicated schedules, but we still served lefse on Thanksgiving!  We're both happy that Kaia likes it--seriously, though, how could she not?  She's part Norwegian too!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 25

Today I am thankful for Thanksgiving!  Of course!  I am thankful for the family time it gives us and for the chance to visit with friends.  I am thankful for the friends who celebrated with us.  I am thankful for the chance it gave me to recognize 25 Days of Thanksgiving.  Looking for something each day to publicly be thankful for has been such a healthy thing for me.

Thanksgiving itself was a lot of fun!  In this picture Kaia and Harry are playing with blocks while Jon and I cooked and cleaned this morning.  I will dedicate a new post (later) to my lefse and Thanksgiving adventures this year!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 24

Today I am thankful for animals that eat bugs.  I love seeing little lizards or geckos around our yard and knowing that they are happy eating insects that I don't like.  When we first moved to Houston I remember seeing geckos on the outside of our apartment walls and thinking, "How cool!  There are geckos on our buildings!  You sure don't see that in Utah!"

More Turkeys...One Last Thanksgiving Craft!

I just had to post this before Thanksgiving arrived...actually, I'm waiting for potatoes to boil so I can mix the lefse before I go to bed.  I didn't have time to do it before the kids were asleep.  While they cook I am making blog posts.  They're like little journal entries!

These Thanksgiving Turkeys were fun and very easy.  I cut up a paper towel tube so each kid had a piece about two inches long.  I cut strips of colored foam.  The kids picked what colors they wanted the tail feathers to be and taped them to the roll.  I offered tape or glue and they all wanted to use tape.  Interesting.  Then they drew on their own faces.  This was the fanciest's creator is also the oldest girl here today.  I love how she cut feathers, added wings, and colored in the face.  The faces on the toddlers' turkeys were all in one color!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 23

Today I am thankful for things that smell good.  I am really in love with my cinnamon apple scented candle!  I love the smell of clean kids.  I really love the smell of my husband's cologne (on him, of course!).  I love the smell of my natural lemon scented all purpose cleaner and disinfectant.  And on Saturday, I loved the smell coming from these flower beds at the Houston Temple.  Just breathing it in was so invigorating!  If you could see smells, this one would have been gorgeous.

Turkey Hands (Thanksgiving Craft)

Kids have been making turkeys from hands since the dawn of time--I couldn't let my kiddos miss out!  I let them choose the colors they wanted on their turkey and I helped them paint their hands.  I use Crayola's Washable Kids' Paint--it comes out of clothes and off of hands oh! so easily!  Yes, I am a fan!
After their hands were painted they made a couple prints on different pieces of paper.  Then they added food, clouds, and anything else they felt like painting.  After the prints dried we used markers to add faces and legs.  Super fun, super easy, super Thanksgiving-y!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 22

Today I am thankful for little feet.  I love to hear them running--especially in the mornings when I get a hug after they run to me!  I enjoy watching them learn how to do new tricks, like climb, swing upside down, kick, or balance in new ways.  I am fascinated by how they grow from little tiny feet with no control to beautiful, powerful feet that can move in so many ways.  I even like hearing them kick against their beds when they are trying to stay awake longer than they should!  I love my little feet!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 21

Today I am thankful for Harry's patient, calm, and happy disposition.  He loves attention, and yet he is so willing to wait a few minutes or entertain himself while I take care of whatever needs to be done.  I love his ready smile and quick laugh!  He is truly delightful!  He has really lit up our home since he arrived 5 1/2 months ago. I love watching him learn to crawl, practice grabbing things, and laugh.  And I am grateful for his wonderful attitude.

Stylish Blogger Award

Yay!!  I've been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by the great blog  Hip Chick's Guide to PMS, Pregnancy, and Babies!!  Many thanks!!  I am very happy to accept it and share some blogs I've recently discovered!

Rules for accepting this award are: 

1. Thank & link back to the person who awarded you this.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about their Blog Award!

Here are the 7 Facts About Myself:

1.  I regularly check several sites to learn about new discoveries and events in science.  I know it's so geeky, but I love knowing about what's going on and learning new things!  Did you know that the first planet to originate outside the Milky Way was recently discovered?  It's a gaseous giant like Jupiter.  The catch is that it is now in the Milky Way because some 6-billion years ago the Milky Way "cannibalized" its galaxy!  How cool is that!

2.  Ice-cream is my absolute favorite food.  There are so many flavors and varieties and ways to mix it really belongs on the food pyramid!

3.  I am great with chopsticks.  I love Chinese food...and Thai, Korean, Cambodian, and Japanese food!  I learned to use chopsticks when I lived in China--eight years ago.  Now I use them whenever I can!

4.  I love mowing the lawn.  I'm sure it comes from working for my dad's lawn company when I was a teenager.  I didn't love it as much then, but it's so fun now!  I also tend to notice lawns that don't have the edges trimmed and bushes that aren't pruned.  I really cringe when it's in my yard!

5.  I am trying to get back into shape.  My baby is five months old now and I would like to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans.  The problem is I was in excellent shape when I got pregnant:  I was preparing for my second marathon and even ran 18 miles before I found out I was pregnant.  I'm afraid I might not have the time to get into that kind of shape now.  But I'm still trying.

6.  I think my kids are the cutest, smartest, best behaved, most wonderful kids ever!  What mother doesn't?  But seriously, check out these pictures from my birthday!  I love my family!!

7.  I love to write.  Sometimes days will go by without giving me a chance to write anything.  Sometimes months will go by without anyone wanting to publish or buy my work.  I still like to write.  I have dreams of someday writing books for children.

Well, I hope you feel like you know me better!  Here are 15 blogs (in alphabetical order!) that I've recently discovered and totally love.  There are many more that I follow and would love to highlight, but I'll stick to 15! I follow them all and and hope you enjoy them too!


Check out these blogs:

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 20

Today I am thankful that Kaia loves to help cook!  I thoroughly enjoy making things with her.  She likes to mix, cook, stir, bake, and create things in the kitchen.  In this picture she is rolling out a pie crust.  And yes, there is a sticker on her head.

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 19

Today I am thankful that my kids get along so well.  I know they're young.  I only hope that they will continue to get along when they are older!  In this picture, Harry is thrilled to have Kaia pushing him on the swing. 

Leonids Meteor Shower

 The Leonids Meteor Shower is supposed to peak tonight.  The Leonids are made when Earth flies through ice and rocks left behind the comet Tempel-tuttle.  These shooting stars are famous because they put on a larger-than-normal show every 33 years--they're also famous for the meteor shower that we Earthlings first noticed in November, 1833.  This year is not supposed to be so remarkable--only 15-20 shooting stars per hour.  I'm not sure if Kaia will be up to see it (since the best viewing will be at around 4:00 am), but I thought it would be fun to talk about constellations.  The Leonids appear to come from Leo the Lion.  I thought I'd make little star viewers with the kids so they could see what Leo looks like.
 First I traced a toilet paper roll on a piece of dark construction paper.  I used a pin to poke out Leo's shape (no, I'm not perfect!) and the Big Dipper's shape so we could find Leo in relation to the Big Dipper.  Then we cut on the straight lines and taped the construction paper to the toilet paper tubes.
 We took the "Leo Viewers" into the bathroom and put a flashlight inside of the toilet paper tubes.  Ta da!  The constellations lit up beautifully!
I like this picture because it looks like Leo's head is lit up!
Now the question is, Will anyone be up at 4:00 am to see the constellation (and the meteor shower!) in real life?

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 18

Today I am thankful for the Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, I would feel very un-grateful if I didn't give at least one day on this list to him. I am thankful that he prepared a way for me to become a better person daily and ultimately return to my Father in Heaven. I am thankful for the strength he gives me.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

Carving Jello

 Jello really wasn't meant for's much better as a craft/sensory experience for toddlers and preschoolers!  We "carved" orange jello for Halloween (it's like a pumpkin!), but you could carve any color any time of the year--just look at the jello row at Wal-mart: there's a dozen choices.  And if the kids happen to taste it?  Well, a little sugar water never hurt them.  Kaia actually refused to taste it because the texture didn't look like food!

To prepare the carving, we mixed the jello as the package indicated, then poured it onto a jelly roll pan.  After a couple hours in the fridge I used a spatula to place a square on each kids' plate.  They used tooth picks to carve their shapes.  They had a great time and I loved the clean-up process: I picked it all up and threw it away!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 17

Today I am thankful for good music.  I love playing classical music or hymns while the kids take their naps (like, now!)  I enjoy playing kids music and Disney songs while they play.  I think it is wonderful to pull out real and "kids" musical instruments and make music with them.  I love to sing and dance.  I love music!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 16

Today I am thankful for plastics!  From the easy-to-clean plastic toys that can support Kaia's weight to disposable diapers...I so thankful for plastics!  I am parenting in a very different world than I grew up in...I know that thirty years ago, cloth diapers were normal and sippy cups did not exist.  It's these little things that make my life much easier!  I am not sure why Kaia needed to climb on top of the kitchen, but she sure was proud of herself, especially when she brought the car up with her!

Quidditch World Cup

Yes, it is a kitchen broom.  But you can bet that if it flew, I would be playing Quidditch on it!  I was very entertained to find out that students at schools like Harvard and Yale joined other Harry Potter fans last weekend to play Quidditch in New York City for the fourth annual Quidditch World Cup!  The rules had to be changed a bit since their brooms didn't fly any better than mine, but the game was complete with broomsticks, hoops, seekers, chasers, and snitch runners.  Snitch runners?  Well, the snitch seemed to be a tennis ball wrapped up in a sock and "run" by someone who had it tucked in their pants!  Nerdy?  Maybe a little.  If I lived in New York, would I have attended?  Absolutely!  (Need more details?  Visit the International Quidditch Association!)

By the way, Harry Potter hits theaters again on Friday.  My kids won't be going, but sometime during the next month I will!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Days 13, 14, 15

The weekend crept up on me and, while I thought of an item for each day, I have not made any posts since Friday.  I am posting three items today!

 Day 13:  My Mom.  I was blessed with a wonderful mom who has spent years raising children and doing her best to make sure we grew up well.  I gave her a hard time for years about being too protective (I still do, sometimes), but now that I have two kiddos of my own I have some idea of why she was so cautious!

Day 14:  My Dad.  I was also blessed with a fantastic dad who spent years providing for his family and trying to teach us to be the best we could.  We disagreed a lot (we still do on some things), but I am grateful for his dedication to what he believes is right.

Day 15:  Temples.  I am grateful for temples and how we learn to be better people when we visit them.  Most of all, I am grateful to know that because Jon and I were married in a temple, our marriage and family will last forever.  I am so thrilled to be able to spend eternity with the man I love!  In this picture, Kaia is outside the Houston Temple.  We were married in the Bountiful Temple.

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 12

Today I am thankful for the swing set in our back yard. It has been such a blessing for the kids to be able to climb, jump, swing, and slide in so many different ways. This morning was the first chance in several days we've had to play outside in sunshine. I loved watching the kids climb around and use their big ol' muscles to play. I loved being able to set Harry down outside.  I am grateful for the family who had outgrown this swing set and offered it to us and for the friends who helped us put it together.

Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

Jon is an amazing cook.  You only have to glance at this fabulous dinner he fixed on Sunday to see what I mean.  He had been in the mood for some South American-style food for a few days, so when he passed a carniceria last week he stopped in and bought some thin steaks.  When he picked up some milk for me he also made sure to get a pile of parsley and some lemons.  He almost bought the Chimichurri Sauce, but decided to try making it instead.  It's our new favorite sauce!

The recipe is very forgiving--there are actually many varieties of Chimichurri Sauce.  A lot of it depends on the style of the cook.  So, here's Jon's recipe.  (note:  Getting Jon to report specific amounts of each ingredient is more challenging than actually making the Chimichurri Sauce; therefore, all amounts with an asterisk (*) are approximate--taste as you go and see what you like!)

Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

1 bundle parsely (like what you buy at the store)
5 cloves garlic
20 mls balsamic vinegar (about 4 teaspoons)
juice from 3 lemons
* 1-1 1/2 cups olive oil
* 1/3 c white vinegar
* 2 tsp each thyme, oregano, basil (start with 2 teaspoons each; add more if you want)
* 2 tablespoons onion powder (start with 2 tablespoons; add more if you want)
* salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until it reaches a thick sauce consistency.  You want very small chunks.  Refrigerating for two or more hours helps the flavors blend, but we like it fresh too!

Chimichurri sauce is delicious on many things!  You can see it in the picture above poured on the steak, potatoes, and rice.  It is also a yummy marinade and tasty in any Mexican-style dish (think tacos, nachos, fajitas, etc.).  Jon tells me that we pour it much more generously on food than they do in South America, but I just love the flavor too much to put it on sparingly!

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 11

Today I am thankful for the men and women who serve in our country's armed forces.  I am thankful for the time they give, the dangers they accept, and their families willingness to share them with the rest of the country.  I am thankful for the safety and peace they have brought to me and my family.

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 10

Today (and last night, in particular) I am thankful for a dishwasher.  I didn't have one growing up.  Well, actually, there was one in the wall.  I'm still not sure if it didn't work or if my mom just thought that it was good practice for her kids to wash dishes by hand.  Maybe she liked hearing our frequent a capella renditions of classical Disney musicals.  More likely she liked the constant attempts to sneak out of the kitchen!  At any rate, I am very grateful to have a dishwasher that works well in my home now!  I also like the magnetic dinosaur leg that sits on its door.

25 Days of Thanksgiving...Day 9

Today I am thankful to be able to use water straight from the tap.  Jon and I have both lived in places where tap water had to be boiled before it could be used and I am extremely grateful to be able to drink water I pour from the sink.

One Amazing Birthday

I've always loved birthdays...I think they just get better the older you are!  This year Jon asked if we could go to some lecture/meet-and-greet about Environmental Law.  I was sure we would be spending my birthday downtown eating little sausages on sticks and smelling wine.  I just knew I would spend the lecture (which actually sounded half interesting) outside on the lawn with two little kids who were too tired to hold still inside.  Before Jon left for school I said something about my birthday and he acted like he had forgotten that the date was November 8th.  Then, to really accentuate the fact that he'd forgotten, he took Kaia to the store--still before he left for school--and they brought back a beautiful butterfly balloon and a present with brightly colored tissue paper wrappings.  (Kaia believes everyone should have balloons on their birthday.)
I had been planning on making a carrot cake for my birthday since about September, when I realized that Jon would not be home during the day during the school year.  (Did I mention I love birthdays?)  Jon, however, insisted on getting to take care of the cake, since he forgot my birthday!
During the day I enjoyed visiting on the phone with different family members and playing with kids.  We played outside, read stories, and spent some time cutting.  Cutting has been popular lately--I've got a great post coming soon about a small cutting mishap!  Anyways, the kids love cutting and taping all sorts of things.  Kaia even made me a birthday card!
When Jon came home he brought a lovely bouquet of roses and a carrot cake from Sam's.  (Ah, sweet!)  A few minutes after he arrived Amy came to pick up her son, who I was watching.  She asked a question about some of the streets around here, and then went home.  Jon quickly got the kids dressed up, I did Kaia's hair, we changed our own clothes, and climbed in the car for a trip downtown.
Strangely, Jon began driving the wrong way!  "I'm taking a new way to the school," he announced.  There just isn't any other way to the school besides the way behind us!  I showered him with questions.  He wouldn't answer anything!  Finally, about five minutes into our six minute drive I figured it all out:  There was no lecture.  Jon had arranged for Amy to take some family pictures for us!  And, to make it even better, we were taking the pictures at a park near our home.  I LOVE family pictures in an outdoor setting.  I was SO EXTREMELY excited!  I have wanted family pictures for months...we don't have any with Harry in them!
Amy is very talented and took many gorgeous pictures of our family, the kids, and lots of different combinations of Kaia, Harry, Jon, and I.  We now have a great variety of fun, traditional, and candid pictures.  And she did it all while entertaining her own toddler!  I just had to put a few on this post to show off our cute kids!
As a final treat we went to Denny's for dinner.  I have fond, happy memories of going to Denny's as a kid and it is often my restaurant of choice--especially when the kids are coming!
I still feel like it's my birthday.  In fact, birthdays usually last at least a week around here. Something you enjoy so much simply has to last more than one day! Now, your treat for reading all the way to the get to find out how old I am: twenty-nine.

Halloween Part 3: Jesse Jones Park

Our last Halloween Trip was to Jesse Jones Park for their Halloween festivities.   
Kaia is waving her trick-or-treat bucket on the Trick or Treat Trail--such a cute, fun way to host trick-or-treating!  At the end of the trail was a photo-op by a scare-crow with a pumpkin head.  We've seen lots of scare-crows in stories, but this was the first "real" one Kaia had seen with  a pumpkin head!  She just had to touch it!  Now when a photographer dressed like a scare-crow offered to let her touch that costume, Kaia instantly backed away and wanted nothing to do with least scare-crows that walked!
At dusk, Kaia insisted on the hay ride.  It wound through the park faster than any other hay ride I've been on--our hair was literally flying behind us the whole time!  It was a highlight for all of us!
 (Harry has been spitting a lot lately...he's pretty proud of his bubble-making skills.)
 Last, but certainly not least, our little dream fairy just had to wave her wand at this spider!  Good thing it was fake!  She actually came very close to petting a 6-foot long snake at this event...until she heard the ranger holding it tell someone, "Oh, she can bite, but she doesn't."  Suddenly, Kaia withdrew her hand and wanted to walk far, far away!
Jesse Jones Park and Nature Reserve (Houston area) put on a pretty good Halloween event...and it was on Saturday, which I appreciated.  I think it will be an annual event for us.