Sunday, October 23, 2016

Seventh Annual Pumpkin Carving Party

We had a big day today, but first things first:

This morning was church, and we had two really great services talking about how to be a quick-draw:  with scriptures!  The cast was perfect, and so was the message spoken by a guest speaker at KidPak.  Madison goes to KidPak twice each morning, and I think she likes it that way.  I know we do, because she gets a double dose of all of it!  Here's a picture of the cast we took this morning - all the Western characters were outside handing out candy and flyers advertising for the upcoming Fall Festival:

There's Daddy on the right.  We had cowboy hats filled with candy.  A lot of adults were reaching in to grab some... just sayin'.

When we got home, it was time to set up and prepare for the 7th Annual Pumpkin Carving Party!  We didn't have much time before folks would arrive.  And boy did they!  Take a look through these photos below, and relive with us some of the happy moments of an unforgettable October afternoon.

We had a pretty big group turn out this year - there are a few stragglers up on the balcony carving away, but here's the majority of our pumpkin carving party - we're so grateful to have so many good friends!
The implements!  It looks like a surgeon's table - or a torture chamber.  Take your pick!  Literally...

"Oh!  Candy corn!  I hate performing on an empty stomach." - Heimlich

Joey, Daddy, Lance, Amy and Josh

Kellan and Ollie.  There were two Ollie's here today...!

The pumpkins were so plentiful that we had to stack them one upon another.  It was a little tricky, as you didn't want the more delicate ones on the bottom.  But the end result was just wonderful.

What's neat about a pumpkin party is seeing the different ideas and creativity flow.  From Nintendo to Disney to Audrey Hepburn, there were plenty of great carvings to show off at the end of the day.

Here's the annual group shot.  Seven years ago, it was just three pumpkins.  Now, there were at least 24 pumpkins carved.  Glad to see BB-8 made it into the group shot - he's up there at the top left.  Along those lines, note how there are two Kylo Rens...

This shot shows Madison's owl at the bottom, and Daddy's "Little Mermaid" as well.  Josh's pumpkin is above Daddy's, the one with the big complaining mouth!  Chris' pumpkin is next to the owl, a sort of knight I think?

Awwww.  Gabby and Kellan, now married. This is their first pumpkin carving together.  Kellan was very helpful with Madison's pumpkin later on.

Isaac gets the guts out of his pumpkin.  Nobody told him how to do it, so he just started cutting right away, and made this huge horizontal cut across the top of his pumpkin.  Nothing wrong with that!  It's certainly different, and his pumpkin actually came out looking great.

Shaun has been coming to this pumpkin party for quite some time, since he was a lot smaller.  Now look at him!
The obligatory pumpkin guts shot.

Joey creates his design first.  This is a big step in the process, where we all try and figure out what it is we're going to do.  The funny thing is that nobody is really certain beforehand.  We just sort of work it out, and try drawing our designs using those special pencils.  We literally used up all the Goof-Off at the party.

Newcomers this year to the party - there were many.  But everyone had a great time.  The table was a bit crowded, but things were done in shifts, and it was a lot of fun!

Here's the first group shot, before the lights went down lower for the illuminating effect.  It's a nice group of pumpkins. Notice how we still have a few to spare at the top right - those will be carved later this week!

Mary Shannon finally got to come to the party!  Here she is with Camille, both practically sisters.  This is Mary Shannon's first time ever carving a pumpkin.  We found out later that there were a few others here that had never tried it before.

Another obligatory pumpkin guts photo!
Here's a an early shot, before a lot of the others arrived.  Everyone is off and running!  The afternoon was a bit hotter to begin with, although the trees and umbrella helped out.  Our canopy blew away, so we'll have to get another one.  Clint here was a bit on the hot end of the table, graciously taking that so the girls could stay in the shade.  The sun was lowering behind the trees, and it wouldn't be long before the temperature was absolutely perfect.

Camille drawing out her design.  Hers was one of our favorites, based on the movie "Tangled."  You'll see it later...
The group shot actually took a bit to set up, but it was worth it in the end.  Yeah, you can't do a traditional group shot with us unless you do an alternative 'silly shot' afterwards.

Our new neighbors came over to carve too.  They literally came from a weekend at Dollywood, and drove right here to carve away!
The Barretts arrived in full force!  These two had never carved a pumpkin before - but they did a great job!

Someone snapped this shot of Daddy's pumpkin, still in progress.  Working on Ariel's face there, but I couldn't do much more with it.  The medium is not ideal for carving, not for me, anyway.  There are some people who are amazingly talented with it, but we're not quite as obsessive!

The kids are alright!  Here they are, having fun in the front yard.  Each did a pumpkin, and still had time to run around on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Joey and Ollie.  It was Ollie's first pumpkin carving party!

At the pumpkin carving table.  Everyone is all lined up, working away, talking and laughing.  It's a lot of fun!
Daddy reaches in deep.  It takes guts to do that.

Robbie arrives with his pumpkin, and is ready to go!

Another table shot.  You can see Mommy constantly taking bowls full of pumpkin guts, and transferring them to the garbage inside.  It was a full-time job!
Josh contemplates his design.  He's been here every year, and loves carving pumpkins.  His designs are all from the top of his head, and they are usually pretty awesome.

Here's Ollie and Camille.  But this is another Ollie!  There were two toddlers named "Ollie" here, but both are pretty cute!

Sister and brother, Amy and Josh.  Ready for fun, but first there's Mommy's famous chili.  Lance literally had four bowls of it throughout the afternoon, although I'm not supposed to tell anyone that.  There was none left by the time the afternoon was over - it's really good chili.

Pastor Lance and Joey.  He brought his own coffee, but we had plenty here today.  Mommy made pumpkin spice coffee, and it was so good that Daddy had some without any sugar in it.  It was delicious!

Camille seems a bit camera shy?  Before going out to carve, we were all sitting around, chatting about this or that.

Chris was documenting the entire thing.  He's been here with us, carving for years.  He was the first to show up with his family, all of them anxious to carve away!

Had to put in another picture of our BB-8 pumpkin.  He was presiding over the whole event as a sort-of mascot.

Here are the pumpkin cookies that we made beforehand.  

And here's the guacamole plate we made too!

Mommy made candied apples, which were a big hit.  Also below that is pumpkin bread at the bottom, and rice krispie snacks above that, sprinkled with fall colors.

Oh, and the cupcakes!  There were lots of spooky cupcakes to go around!  There was hardly anything left at the end of the day!

Ah, here's that "Tangled" pumpkin that Daddy liked so much.  The lanterns all around the silhouette were nice.  The pumpkin was so wide in its design that this picture doesn't show the work on the boat itself. 

Awww!  Look who's getting ready to carve his first pumpkin?  Got to come up with a creative design first though!

This blessed us greatly.  Camille was playing a few songs on her violin as we enjoyed the afternoon.  It makes for such pleasant atmosphere.

Though the Hudson family arrived later (coming from Dollywood), they got straight to work,  quickly making some fun pumpkins to add to the big group shot at the end.
Mary Shannon seems to have had a great time.  Seriously, we all did - it's something we look forward to each year.
Clint gets reaches in to grab the guts.  This is the messy part of the process, but nobody was complaining!

Madison was entirely self-sufficient.  She's seen here cutting the top from her pumpkin, using a tiny knife.  She said she didn't want help either.  She did this on her own, pulled out all the guts on her own.  She picked the design on her own, and then drew it all out on her own.  She chose something a little more complicated, but she was determined to get it done.  We're really proud of her!

Amy concentrates hard on her pumpkin design.  There was a fun competition aspect of this, as to 'who would make the best pumpkin carving?'  It was all in fun though, as there really aren't any prizes for that sort of thing.  It sounds goofy, but everyone's a winner.

Mary Shannon and Josh look inside a pumpkin.  This was just before he got hit on the head with her hair bun!

Here's the end result for Madison, her owl design.  Again, she made this on her own, carving it all by herself.  She wanted to do this more intricate pattern, and she set out to do it, and was working hard the whole time on making it come out the way she wanted.  She did a great job!

Another crazy group shot.  This afternoon as a lot of fun for everyone!
Madison posing with her finished product at the end of the afternoon.  This picture came out really nice!

One more group shot of the pumpkins.  This is the wonderful moment where we turn the lights down after carefully organizing the pumpkins.  We had so many that you can see them stacked up one upon the other in the middle.  But it works out, as they are arranged neatly.  Everyone sits in the great room, talking and admiring each other's handiwork, talking about designs, and watching the flickering candles illuminate the room with that orange glow.  This year, with so many, it was a bit more noisy.  But it a wonderful party, and we're so grateful to have the friends we do.

This is Daddy's pumpkin, "The Little Mermaid."  It came down to her or the Headless Horseman.  Next year will probably be the Headless Horseman.  I just liked the simple design of Ariel here, the idea behind the reflection of the water.  Plus, I sort of did it with Madison in mind.  We carve a lot of princesses here!

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