So, once again, summer is gone.
The beach stuff is packed away in the garage, and the days are getting shorter and shorter. There is a chill in the air, and, let's face it, you need to move your lazy butt and take the air conditioners out of the windows.
Ahhhh, fall is back. And for a dad like me, with two children under 5, it is one of the best times of the year.
Well, I'm glad you asked. Here are 10 things I absolutely love about fall with my kids:
1. Halloween - This one goes at the top of the list because, quite frankly, Violet, 4, and Henry, 2, have a contagious passion for costumes and candy and decorating the front porch as if it was attached to a very haunted house. Every fall, I find myself struck by Halloween fever just as much as my kids, and I am really happy about that!
2. Costumes - Even though Halloween costumes are 'technically' for the big night, I have to say that my kids and I have a heck of a time dressing up in ours and parading around the house on quite a few evenings before October 31st. It makes perfect sense, too. We get way more mileage out of our get-ups AND we get to enjoy being all dressed up a bunch more times.
3. School - One of my favorite things about this fall so far has been the fact that my 4-year-old daughter
has begun pre-kindergarten classes. So a few times a week, I get to stand on the pavement in the afternoon sunshine (or rain, it doesn't really matter to me) and wait for her to pop out of the exit door with her teachers and her new little classmates. Her smile when she sees me makes my heart do back-flips!
4. Autumn Weather - I'm a summer guy, for the most part. But I cannot lie: when all of these cool, bluebird autumn afternoons roll in and I end up down at the local park with my kids, I can't help but think that weather just doesn't really ever get any better. Temps in the manageable 70's, gorgeous sunshine, and often, not a cloud in the sky... what's not to love?
5. Changing Leaves - Mother Nature does her best to impress us with her bag of tricks no matter what the season of the year, but when she starts painting all of her trees in brilliant oranges and reds and golds, it's pretty tough not to feel like it takes the natural cake, huh? My son and my daughter are old enough now that they have really started to appreciate a good ride around in the car to do some foliage watching, and so we all look forward to doing that this time of the year.
6. Raking Leaves - Lots of moms and dads dread their annual duty to rake up all of the leaves that fall from the trees come fall, but not me. I really dig it now because I have two kids who make it pretty fun just by hanging around. Sure, their slight efforts to 'help' me rake and bag don't amount to much, but I actually love being the guy in charge of amassing big piles of fallen leaves for them to leap in. So the raking doesn't seem like so much work since they came into my life.
7. Hikes - Fall is the absolute perfect time to hit the hiking path or trail with young children. The blistering heat has hit the road, the autumn landscape is stunning, wildlife is abundant and active, and (Hooray!) those pesky mosquitoes have disappeared. My kids, wife, and I love to head out for hour-long jaunts in the woods or along the stream during October. And every time we do, we end up finding cool stuff like feathers and pine cones, which makes the kids super excited.
8. Pumpkins - Fall is the time for pumpkins and everybody knows that kids LOVE pumpkins. Starting in early October, we head out to a local pumpkin patch or maybe hit up a farmer's market and start getting our big orange gourds in order. My kids love setting their chosen pumpkins up on the front porch for all the world to see. Heck, when they get a hold of a small one, they'll carry that thing around with them all day long!
9. Jack-o-Lanterns - Of course, the true highlight of any pumpkin lover's season is Halloween! I really love the afternoon of the big holiday, when my kids and their mom and I all haul our prize pumpkins into the kitchen and draw up our special faces on them with magic marker. Then, we carve them up together and do a huge photo-shoot so we can show off our autumn art!
10. Chocolate - I'd be hiding the truth from you if I left this one out, folks. As much as my kids love fall and Halloween for its ultimate huge payoff of a thousand little Snickers and Three Musketeers bars, so too does their daddy. So, when those first leaves of the season begin to change color and drop from the trees, I always take a deep breath and sigh with anticipation. For soon... our house will be knee-deep in trick-or-treat candy. And THAT, my friends, is just fine by me.