Saturday, November 5, 2011


October is probably my favorite month of the year. Okay, maybe my second favorite of the year, with my first being April (my birthday month). I love spring. I loathe summer. I tolerate winter until the parties are over. I absolutely ADORE fall. The season just feeds my soul, and October is the pinnacle of its splendor for me. I look forward to October basically all year but especially as the summer starts to draw to a close. I have precious (and few) memories of fun fall festivities spent with my family, one of those was always spending my sister's birthday (October 15) in Shenandoah National Park along Skyling Drive. We'd take a picnic (often KFC), find a nice place to enjoy our meal, then my sister and I would run through the leaves, climb trees, and pose for pictures. Even at the tender age of ten, I knew I would some day have the same tradition with my own children. And I do. For the past three falls now we've taken the boys (Philip at first and then Philip and Andrew this year and last) and recreated that annual ritual that I loved so much for our own family.

Because Phil works every other weekend, I knew our October was going to have to be carefully scheduled if we were going to fit in all the family fun I had planned. I filled the calendar early and we stuck to it almost as planned. We started the month out with a trip to Cox Farms. I had been itching to take Philip to a place like this, pretty much since he was born. There's tons of big slides to slide down, farm animals to pet, an awesome hay ride, a corn maze, plus enough junk food to keep any sugar-starved three year old happy for at least a few hours.The weather was cloudy and gray and it really seemed like it might rain the entire time we were there but it never did. It actually turned out to be a great day to be there. Andrew was pretty sleepy from not taking his morning nap and looked pretty out of it all day but I think he still enjoyed being there. Philip had a great time, tackling the big slides and getting up the courage to pet a cow. It was our first time visting Cox Farms but it definitely won't be our last!

The following weekend, we went to a local winery with some friends for their annual chili cookoff. We went last year too and it was a great opportunity for the kids to get together to play on the spacious grounds behind the winery and for the adults to enjoy some conversation and, most importantly, delicious wine!

The next day we made our aforementioned annual trip up to Skyline Drive. We are fortunate in that this fabulous destination is only about thirty minutes from our house and it's such a beautiful drive! We picked up our KFC and headed up the mountain. We normally are lucky enough to be able to schedule this trip during the week on one of Phil's days off and don't have to deal with the crowds. This year we ended up going on a Sunday and OMG was it busy. I swear, the whole of Northern Virginia must have had the same idea. We actually had to drive around to find a picnic table. Crazy. We finally found one though and had a great time on our picnic. The boys loved tearing around in the leaves and I did my best to get some cute pictures of them having fun. Afterwards, they were both pretty cranky so we only stopped at one overlook for a photo op. I'm looking forward to spending more time there next year when Andrew is big enough to really run around and have fun!

The next weekend I took the boys to Philip's school for their Halloween Movie and Trick-or-Treating night. We left the house at 6:30 which is normally the time I start getting Andrew to bed. I had planned to just go, have Philip walk in the costume parade, get a goody bag for Philip and head home, but we ended up staying for the whole movie and the trick-or-treating afterwards. We didn't get home til 9:30 which was so crazy late for the boys (and me!) but miraculously there were no "I'm up too late past my bedtime" meltdowns! I'm glad we went. Philip had a great time running around with friends. He was the only Tigger in a sea full of tiny superheroes. :-)

That Sunday the boys and I met my mom, my sister, and her boyfriend in adorable Sperryville for lunch at the Thorton River Grill to celebrate my sister's birthday. It was a gorgeous day and we had lunch on the outdoor patio. After that, we headed up to Skyline Drive again to take in more of the beautiful fall foliage.

We didn't end up making it to the pumpkin patch this year to get our pumpkins. Too many time constraints, illnesses, and bad weather days, so we went to the local "patch" set up in front of the hardware store and spent and outlandish amont of money on two gigantic pumpkins. The boys still had fun while we were there. Any opportunity to run around outside is appreciated by them! Next year we'll make it to the patch for sure.

Phil took off on Halloween in order to go to Philip's Harvest Party at his school. Our friends watched Andrew for us while we were there and my mom up to attend as well as she had not seen school before. It was a nice party. The kids had a festive snack in the classroom before heading out for a hayride on an awesome decorated covered wagon that took them on a ride around the school property before taking us to the fields behind the school where dozens of small pumpkins had been left for the kids to run and claim. It was so funny to see the looks on their faces as they staked out their pumpkins and made a beeline for them! After finding their pumpkins, the kids all participated in several games and activities that were set up in the field.

That night neither of the boys were feeling all that hot (more on that in my next post), but Philip still wanted to Trick-or-Treat so we headed out for a quick tour around the neighborhood. About three houses in, Phil suggested to Philip that he try going up to the door by himself to say Trick or Treat. I had suspected (hoped) that he would refuse but to my surprise he said "Okay!" and marched right up to the door all by himself. The rest of the night was split between him going it alone and wanting my hand when a spooky kid in a skeleton mask would walk past. I was happy for that scary kid.

Absent from my October recap is our annual apple picking trip. On a whim, I decided we should check out a new place in Charlottesville instead or our usual place in Markham, VA. That was a mistake. The whole trip was a waste and we won't be going back there. We had the best intentions to try it again at our usual place but never found the time. Oh well! Until next fall!