Sunday, October 23, 2022

First Two Weeks In October

 October is one of those months with limitless options. Between pumpkin patches, apple orchards, apple orchards that also have pumpkin patches, corn mazes, fall foliage hikes and drives, and festivals, our October is FULL of fun. The first two weeks alone brought new experiences, our fall favorites, laughs, and, as with most things, some tears.

We brought October in with our fall hiking trip in Northern Minnesota. Then, we finally got the middle mini settled into the basement. Now we're waiting for the trash pick up before we begin yet another area of the basement. We went down memory lane with many of the basement finds. I came across a box of our paintings; daycare squirt gun paintings, family paintings, art projects during homeschool. Oddly, I didn't have a tough time saying goodbye to most of them, but I did take pictures of them all.

Next up was Homecoming week. All three schools (three kids at three different schools this year; it's a lot) had special dress up days and activities all week long. My two favorite days for the oldest was Country vs. Country Club (Max went with CC) and Anything But A Backpack Day (he used a cat carrier). Daycare had a special week too with Witch's Slime (green homemade slime with eyeballs and bugs stick in it), painted pumpkins, and Halloween "gingerbread" house.

You know it's a good day when a kid randomly falls asleep on the floor mid-morning and mid-playing.

We discovered the dog loves apple cider. He stole my mug and drank it before I even knew what happened.

Pro tip for Halloween houses: use chocolate fudge Pop Tarts. They hold up much better than actual gingerbread or even graham crackers.

Homecoming morning was special. Frustrating, but special. The oldest waited until the day of to decide what he wanted to wear to the Homecoming dance. He requested ME to take him shopping because I'll give him honest opinions and how I'm the one that knows what all of the high school kids are wearing. How he thought someone who lives in sweatpants knows what's fashionable is beyond me! I also didn't correct him and took him shopping. $300 later and he had his outfit. I was poorer, but I loved the special morning with my biggest kid.

We had enough time for a board game in the afternoon before hosting dinner for the high school kids. They requested cheap pizza, so I made sure to get my pictures beforehand, just in case there were dinner spills.

I took a night to go on a late night walk and catch up with my cousin. The Halloween decorations in her neighborhood were a bonus. 

The favorite Boo-nanas and Halloween "snow" (baking soda, water, and green food coloring). Neither lasted long, but both were thoroughly enjoyed.

I kicked the Halloween treat making into full swing. Our gardens have also been in full swing. Pounds of tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, butter lettuce, and spinach filled us up. I'm looking into indoor gardens for winter because we love having fresh veggies at our fingertips without visits to the store. I still can't believe we had fresh vegetables well into October.

Accidental selfie when I tried to take a picture of the massive breakfast sandwiches the oldest and I made one night for dinner.

Ghost leaves. I had the kids collect leaves, painted the leaves white, and then stamped them down on construction paper. Once dried, I drew on the ghost face requested by the kids.

We got quite the surprise when a large tree branch fell onto our house and deck. It knocked off a gutter, smashed our patio table, and cracked a chair. It was a mess.

All the Halloween sensory bins are hits. The kids love the black beans, but not for the usual burying and digging. They like to pick the beans up and put them in windows of the house. It's a great hand eye coordination activity for the littles.

The minis begged to go to a haunted house this year, so we tried out Adventureland's Phantom Fall Fest. It was amazing! So well done, fun food and drink options, and one of the more family friendly Halloween events. The rides being open were the cherry on top of an excellent night!

Because we keep things real around here: I had to remind the middle mini that he couldn't reach out and slap one of the masked workers in the haunted house if he got scared, the youngest loves scary things and was the bravest of all the kids, the oldest was done after the second scare zone in the park, and the middle one cried so hard we had to carry him out of one of the areas. Still a great, memorable night.

Our favorite Saturday each October: our Fall Fun Day. We first visit our favorite no frills pumpkin patch, Frey's in Madrid, IA. While there was a good crowd, it wasn't busy. We had our choices of pumpkins (that are never over priced), chatted with the ladies, and walked around the farm. After, we place a to go order at our favorite BBQ restaurant, Whatcha Smokin? in Luther, IA. It's always busy, so we had to wait a bit, but the food is sooo worth it. We take our food to nearby Ledges State Park, have a car picnic, and then hike our favorite trails under the colorful trees. We've held this tradition for years now, except for last year, which looked a little different thanks to our PNW trip.

What I love most about our day this year is that it was completely planned by the minis. I mean everything; from the number of pumpkins we purchased, to the time to left for the day, to what trails we hiked, to the pictures we took. I didn't realize how much our family loved this tradition until the oldest brought up how we needed to make the time to go. It was a great day!

Ledges used to be our go-to hiking place in Iowa until the pandemic hit. Then it seems all of Des Moines "discovered" the park and now it's crowded. Lines on the trails crowded. I'm not a fan of spending my outdoor time with people who don't respect nature, so we kept off of the main trail system within the canyon. Instead we hiked the Lost Lake trail, which isn't as busy.

Within the last four months, we were supposed to get to Chicago, IL twice, but haven't succeeded due to busy schedules. We've been bummed about it, so Hubs ordered the Portillo's Lou Malnati's pizza special, which not only included the pizzas but a Portillo's chocolate cake. The oldest made us all chocolate cake shakes (as Portillo's makes them) for family game night. 

Chocolate cake shakes at night and sunny side up eggs and toast for breakfast the next day. The middle mini is currently obsessed with avocado and sunny side up eggs. I laughed when I saw his plate covered with three eggs, two pieces of toast, and an entire mashed up avocado. He needed the fuel because we spent a day doing yard work thanks to a breezy day knocking a huge branch down. Our kids were rock stars and we had it cleaned up within a few hours.

The dog had a great afternoon amongst the branches to chew on and what he thought was whipped cream. He was disappointed to find out it was spray paint.

The mins spent the evening painting (some) of the pumpkins, decorating the daycare room with a haunted playhouse, and make mummy Rice Krispy treats. Weekends like those leave me exhausted and fill me up at the same time.