Pumpkin Picking in the Time of COVID-19

I was kind of worried about pumpkin picking this year. Actually, I had pretty much given up on the idea of us going, and I was planning on just buying a pumpkin when I went grocery shopping, because there was no way we were comfortable with piling into a tractor-pulled wagon with a bunch of people who would hopefully be wearing masks. But then I found out that most sincere pumpkin patch in the area, Braeutigum Orchards, was not only requiring masks and social distancing, they were also offering the option to walk to the pumpkin patch, and that was something we were all comfortable with! Yesterday was the perfect fall day, so we took a break from school to find the Great Pumpkin.

Actually, in some ways, in addition to being a slightly new and different experience, it was a superior experience. We got to see some parts of the farm up close for the first time ever, and it was beautiful:

There were still quite a few pumpkins left, even though it’s pretty late in the season. One thing I love about Braeutigum’s is the wide variety of pumpkin shapes and colors they offer. Being able to borrow one of their hand wagons was a fun new experience, and made our job much easier, too, which is how we ended up with four different pumpkins in three colors!

We stopped to visit the animals while we were there…we always see the chickens and turkeys, but we don’t usually get to see barn cats…we came across at least six of them!

Taking pictures was a little different this year, what with the masks and all, but it’s a memory.

Did I mention it was a beautiful day?

Of course we picked up apple cider and apple cider donuts to enjoy at home:

This was a really positive experience in a surreal time, and made yesterday feel almost like a normal day!

COVID Dreams

I’m not the only one having weird dreams in the time of coronavirus, right?

I have a specific recurring dream that always ends one of two ways. I’m in a store…Target, Walmart, Schnucks, wherever…and I’m happily shopping when I suddenly realize that I don’t have my mask on. The more common ending to that dream is one where I freak out because I realize no one else is wearing a mask, either, leaving us all vulnerable to whatever germs everyone might be carrying. Occasionally, though, the dream ends with an angry mob chasing me out of the store for not wearing a mask, and me feeling stupid, and also like I should explain that I always wear a mask everywhere, honest, but this one time I forgot.

I’ve also had a weird dream about using hand sanitizer, and what was supposed to be a normal application ends with me having a handful of the stuff. Which sometimes seems like it’s actually happening, because if you don’t squeeze the bottle just right, you end up with way more than you were expecting.

Have you had any weird COVID-19 related dreams?

Roald’s Gym

None of my Animal Crossing villagers love working out as much as my favorite penguin pal, Roald. I created a fitness center for him and his penguin pals on Harv’s island, and Turkey insists that it has to be called “Roald’s Gym!”

Michaelmas Eve

Michaelmas is one of my favorite lesser-known church holidays, but even in the time of COVID-19, Tuesdays are kind of a hectic day for us, so I decided to make a special dinner tonight for Michaelmas Eve. The main dish was beef Wellington:

It was a pretty fancy dinner for a Monday!

For dessert I made a pumpkin angel food cake roll:

Surprisingly, I didn’t really like it, but the children did, and it looked really nice!

Now I can officially start counting down the days until Advent!

Oktoberfest 2020

This year’s Oktoberfest celebration was a weird one, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising in 2020. Normally, a Markel Family Oktoberfest is an at-home event. We listen to our Germany’s Greatest Hits CD, make some of our favorite German foods, and watch The Sound of Music and any episode of Rick Steves’ Europe set in Germany (or the Alps) we can find.

But this year was supposed to be different. The Great North American Oktoberfest was going to have its inaugural event in St. Louis this fall, and I had Plans. We were going to spend a day downtown, and listen to music and try out the rides and I was going to eat a steckerlfisch and maybe buy an authentic dirndl. And then COVID-19 happened. So we were back to our traditional Oktoberfest at home, which happens to be a very nice event. I started my shopping at Aldi a few weeks ago:

We made pretzels (of course):

And fondue:

We played Ticket to Ride–Germany:

We had a traditional German dinner

And our favorite German cake for dessert:

I even got into the spirit of the occasion in Animal Crossing: New Horizons!

So we had a fun day. Like so many other things this year, it wasn’t exactly what I had planned, but I’m glad we already had a tradition in place so we didn’t miss out on anything familiar!

First Day of High School

Moose started his freshmen year of high school this morning! It’s not the way we had planned, as his campus moved to distance-learning for at least the first few weeks of the school year (only after we had already made the decision for him to learn from home for at least the first semester, though), but he’s still officially a high school student!

The Summer of 2020

Here we are, at the last weekend of a very strange summer break. When I look back on the summer of 2020, I hope I won’t remember it for never getting to leave the house, or for all of the bad things that kept happening in the world.. Because even if this summer has been different, and not what I wanted it to be, there have been good moments. So I hope I (and the Fab Five) remember it for:

  • Our virtual vacation to Chicago.
  • Baking different variations of our favorite cookies with Bunny after church every Sunday.
  • Early morning snuggles with Chickadee (the early-riser of the Fab Five).
  • Seeing the joy the Fab Five got out of playing with The Child.
  • Watching Hamilton (and listening to the soundtrack) over and over again, sometimes with accompanying singing and dancing.
  • Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons seemingly endlessly.
  • Taking sunset walks with Ladybug.
  • Spending extra time cooking special meals.
  • Watching every Pixar movie, and picking our favorites.
  • Listening to Christmas music whenever we felt like it, simply because it brightened our day.
  • Binge-watching TV shows (Everybody Loves Raymond was a family favorite, and we also enjoyed The King of Queens) and laughing together.
  • Making waffles for lunch (and sometimes dinner, but never breakfast!) many days.
  • Sharing late-night Reese’s peanut butter bars with Turkey and Bunny while we watched The Golden Girls.
  • Even later-night M*A*S*H marathons with Turkey and Moose.

I’m sure there are other things that have been hallmarks of our vacation, but these are the big ones, the happy moments I want to remember, instead of the craziness of the world around us.