Sunday, October 28, 2007

1st Annual Fall Party...

Last year, friends of ours in Fairfax hosted a fall party. They had a fire in the fireplace, candles lit all over the house, and warm soup and bread. We carved pumpkins in their backyard, and we had a blast. Even though we didn't know many people there, there was something about the atmosphere and the carving activity that made it relaxing and fun.

I wanted to recreate something like that atmosphere when we had our own backyard. I decided that this was the year for our 1st Annual Fall Party!! So, we had it this Saturday from 4:00- the stars gleamed in the sky, and the fire blazed bright in the firepit. =) We had about 20 people in our little house! Mom came up on Friday to help me with Seth so I could make two pots of soup. She brought her homemade chicken noodle soup to offer, and in one afternoon of furious chopping and boiling, I made minestrone and potato. Despite a minor disaster when I tried to move a fridge shelf and the potato soup pot spilled all through the fridge, Mom and I had a good time hanging out. David came home to a baby banging a cup on the floor, surrounded by fridge shelves, with his mother-in-law scrubbing soup out of every nook and cranny of the aforementioned appliance. Ugh.

Saturday was party prep day. Dad sucessfully avoided it by taking most of the day to load firewood back home on the farm. =) Love you, Daddy. Around here, Mom was baking up fresh bread, both Italian and butter rich bread. We were sweeping, cleaning, and setting up tables. We put out three crockpots for all the soup, got some last minute appetizers from the store, and baked a pumpkin pie. A borrowed table arrived from new friends by 3:00 p.m. I placed pumpkins everywhere for maximum fall decorative affect. We even strung up white Christmas lights all around the inside of the screened porch. The hooks that were already there for old blinds helped that process tremendously. They look great! David put together the new Walmert fire pit, and we were ready to go! Honestly, I think the planning for a party can be almost as much fun as the party itself. The house and yard become transformed and festive. They look like they're anticipating the fun almost as much as I was.

David wanted to put his own special mark on the festivities, so he dug up some fall colored balloons from our "kids visiting us" drawer. Seth got his own little one to play with, so he was happy to "help" Daddy with the process. =) Don't they look nice on our mailbox?

It has poured here for the past week. Each day, I nervously checked, praying that the forecast would call for clear skies by Saturday afternoon. It rained and rained and rained. We desperately need the rain, don't get me wrong, but I just wanted a short window when it would stop. It did, and it was a beautiful afternoon. The sun came out and everything! God is awfully good to me. But the yard was pretty squishy. This huge deck was our saving grace. I am so thankful to the owners of this place for adding a huge deck and screened in porch sometime in the last several years. All of us could fit easily on the deck and porch. Here are some of the party crew, catching up at our borrowed table and and sitting in Mom and Dad's borrowed lawn chairs. Have I mentioned that I can't seem to do anything big these days without borrowing half of my parent's house? =)

After dinner was over, we made the crew clear off the table for carving. Matt (in this picture) was the carving ringleader. He's competitive about his carving, and he got everybody else excited about it. It was nice to have him lead this activity. All told, 4 pumpkins were carved in a collaborative effort by different groups.

Don't they look great?! The one on the far right is our pumpkin. I traced the design, and David did the carving work. It's amazing the number of patterns you can get off the internet for free. I printed off a ton of free pumpkin patterns, and I provided markers and tissue paper for tracing. Some people brought knives, and we all shared those and scooping spoons. You really don't need anything specialized to carve pumpkins, but you do need some small pillar candles for lighting them up. Tapers just won't work; I tried.

You may not be able to see the people in this picture. You can click on it and try, though. =) After the carving was done, we went on to making s'mores by the campfire. One of the nice things about having a variety of types of friends in this area is that some can stay longer at a party, even if some have to leave earlier. We have some old college friends who live nearby, and they came, and then we have some newer friends with young children that we have met through MOPs or churches, etc. The ones with kids have to leave earlier, of course, but the singles and marrieds without kids can stick around longer. All the groups, in all stages of life, seemed to get along well. I was thrilled to see how well everyone seemd to mix, since I'd been a little worried about that. The last group of friends left about 10:00 p.m., and I was a little sad to see them go. As I went to bed, I felt so blessed. There have been times in our life together when we've worked really hard to be hospitable and have parties, and it just didn't work well. We felt discouraged and sad, and it was hard to keep trying. I am so thankful that this first party in our new home went so well. It's such a blessing and an encouragement. I'm loving it here!

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