24 hours in Sterling is obviously not long enough to take in all the fun and soak up all the love of our wonderful friends. But it's a start. We'll have to go back soon. We haven't been out to see Jodie and Pat in at least two years. Since then, they've added a whole new person to the world, and we were so happy to finally meet Helene and see their whole wonderful family, including Max's first friend, Eamon and Otto's birthday buddy Pierce. We have such a special connection to this family, and we absolutely cannot let so much time pass between our visits.
It was the annual hayride, which Papa Joe (Jodie's father) has been having on the last Saturday of October since he was in high school. Here's Papa Joe (as we all call him), readying one of his tractor's for the evening's activities.
And a second tractor is ready too.
We got to go on the first tractor ride of the day, as the sun was just starting to set. I think it was probably the most beautiful ride of the whole event. But there's also something to be said for a tractor ride in the dark, where the only light you see is from the kids' flashlights and the tractor's headlights. Sometimes Papa Joe leaves up some of the corn, and it can feel pretty creepy. The farm is so large, and all the fields start to look the same in the dark. Luckily, our drivers always know just where they are.
More fowl play at the farm, since we can hardly get enough of that at home. Oh, and speaking of our own flock, it was the first night we ever left them alone (one of the other reasons we didn't want to be gone more than 24 hours...we are such new parents).
Papa Joe has increased his turkey flock this year. They are selling Thanksgiving and Christmas (the names he has always given the two birds he raises for his own uses) to the masses.
Max and Otto had a very serious discussion with Grandma Go (Jodie's mom) about chickens and all sorts of other topics.
I talked with Jodie and admired Helene. Oh, and I held her as much as possible.(Helene, that is, although I gave Jodie a big hug too.)
The boys held Helene as much as possible too. Who can resist such a cute and agreeable baby?
They adorned her with a crown and jewlery.
And both boys were so happy to be reunited with Wheatley, who is now 12 years old and showing his age. We have loved him since he was 4.
The boys did some tree climbing.
We tried to get all the kids to pose for some documentation of this visit, to show we were all together again (and with Helene for the first time).