Pumpkin Fun

Fall is a time for pumpkins and all the pumpkin things. I love all the pumpkin scented soaps, candles, and baking.  As soon as Labor Day Weekend is over with, I break out all the pumpkin scents.

But let’s be honest, that has more to do with the nutmeg than anything else.

Gathering real pumpkins and pumpkin related decorations is always a fun time for me. Ash rolls his eyes everytime I bring new decorations into the house. He prefers to keep the house undecorated throughout the year and with a toddler that’s a more realistic outlook to preserve the more delicate decorations.

Pumpkin Patches

One of our favorite activities is going to local pumpkin patches. I love picking out the perfect pumpkin to either carve or leave on our front walkway for decoration. But because we live in a major metropolitan area, finding a pumpkin that doesn’t come from a giant bin in the grocery store is tough.

Fortunately, we have an alternative within city limits: local religious and non-profit organizations set up pumpkin patches in their parking lots that are a great place to select a couple pumpkins for our house and get some pictures.

When Jai was less than a month old, we went to one and dressed him up as the “hungry caterpillar” to get some adorable photos amongst the pumpkins. 

The only disadvantage to these sorts of setups is that we don’t get all the other fun activities that go along with pumpkin patches: cider, hayrides, corn mazes, and fresh baked goods. That’s why I go to these places in a pinch when looking for last-minute pumpkins but go outside the metro area for the bigger farms.

Now that Jai is older, going to the larger pumpkin patches are become more necessary because of all the extra activities. He’s still too young for some, but hayrides and wandering around a field is a grand time for him.

Pumpkin (and Other Fall) Fun

Selecting a pumpkin isn’t the only fun activity to do in the fall. Some of my favorite things to do with pumpkins:

  • The expected: carving a pumpkin
  • Roasting pumpkin seeds
  • Mulling cider while carving a pumpkin
  • Painting pumpkins (better for little ones)
  • Roasting a pumpkin for recipes: pumpkin bread, pie, cake, coffee, and other delicious treats
  • As a kid, I loved counting the pumpkin lines just to see how many they had (looking for even or odd numbers)
  • Reading scary books and watching scary movies while eating roasted pumpkin seeds and drinking cider

What are some of your favorite pumpkin-related activities? Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe you want to share? Comment with your thoughts below.


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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton

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Autumnal Love

Fall is my favorite season.

I love the crispness in the air, the smell of leaves on the ground, and the cooler weather that requires sweaters and a hot cup of pumpkin spice latte. That is before I moved South. I get none of these fall favorites until late November and even then if I am lucky.

I can’t complain because I am able to sit on a restaurant patio well into November with my flip-flops and that’s something I could never do in New England.

Living down South redefined fall for me. I still love it because the weather is more temperate, but it also means that I have to find new ways to appreciate the fall that are different from what I did up North.

Autumnal Love & Appreciation Month

For this month, I will be discussing some of my favorite fall activities: festivals, pumpkin patches, and Halloween celebrations. I will also reflect on how fall is the best month for those of us with MS, some easy exercises to stay active, and how to prepare for the holiday season glut of food.

As I mentioned yesterday, we’re moving to twice-a-week posting schedule for the rest of the year, but hopefully, maintain the same quality posts that you enjoy.

Before I finish out this post – leave a comment with your favorite fall activity or favorite part of the fall season. If you hate fall, let us know why! I always love to hear differing opinions.


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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton


Fun Literacy Activities

Allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment: literacy is extremely important.

I taught college composition for four years in graduate school and I saw first-hand how important literacy is to a student’s long-term college success. Students with high literacy and goal-oriented succeeded in the classroom, whereas students who struggled and did not take advantage of the opportunities provided for them inside and outside the classroom did not do as well.

Without going down the rabbit hole of the American educational system both past and present, I recognized that a student’s success correlated with their literacy levels. Those with high literacy knew when they struggled and came to me for help. Those with lower literacy levels tended to not recognize it or rejected any outside help I offered them. I had several students with lower literacy levels (or were afraid to reveal how literate they actually were) who sought extra help from me.

Those were always my favorite teaching success stories. They turned their failing grades into high passes. The look of accomplishment and pride they gave when meeting at the end of the semester informed me that they would find college would be less of a struggle now that they could apply what they learned in my classroom across the courses.

Seeing the importance of literacy informed how I would teach Jai as a parent and encourage him when he finally became a student. I want Jai to know how to work through a problem and to seek help when he gets stuck.

What is Literacy?

Originally it was defined as the ability to read and write effectively. But like all words, over time it’s expanded to include how we interact with language and information both in conversations and what we read. At its core, literacy is critically thinking through information presented to us and analyzing it to determine what to do with that information: accept as fact/opinion or rejecting it as misinformation.

Literacy is struggling to maintain relevancy, but there are ways to ensure it remains important in how we teach our children. It’s never too late to encourage literacy with a child, but because I have a toddler, I am going to focus on the fun activities that promote literacy between the ages of 12 months and 36 months.

There are plenty of resources available to promote literacy in early childhood for little ones beyond the toddler stage.

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Babysitter & the Toddler

Summer is the perfect season for date night or day trips away from the little one. But leaving a child with a babysitter or a caregiver is stressful, especially for me.

I know that Jai is in good hands and have little concern over the caregiver’s ability, but I worry about his current separation anxiety stage and the stress he might cause the caregiver. 

Every time we come back, the answer is pretty much the same: he may have fussed for a few minutes after we walked out the door, but forgot all about us in favor of the fun times. I don’t know why I worried in the first place, but it happens every time.

When I was younger, babysitting was one of my first jobs and I took it seriously.

I attended babysitting prep classes, had a book of all the important CPR/First Aid information I would need in case of an emergency, and my rates per child. I really appreciated it when the parents left me with a ton of information relating to the child’s needs because it took a lot of the guesswork out of various scenarios. There was never an issue, but I love to be prepared regardless.

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Rainy Days: Toddler Book Activities

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Jai is still in the early stages of toddlerhood and therefore limited by what he can do with organized activities. Many of the activities have to either be done by me for his benefit, or with a lot of supervision to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. That’s if his attention span lasts long enough.

That said, Jai loves books. He’s not able to read them yet, but he loves sitting down on his bedroom floor and flipping through the books for vast stretches of time. I’ve walked in to check on him only to have Jai chase me out of his room so he could have his private book time. Jai brings his favorite books to whatever adult is close at hand and makes the reader repeat the book a couple of times before moving on.

It came to mind to find a couple of activities we could do on a rainy day that ties into his favorite books. His current favorite authors are Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and Sandra Boynton (this last one makes me happy because she is a local author where I grew up). I know that making the connection between his favorite story and activity would make him happy, plus I always enjoy a creative endeavor.

Below are the activities I came up with to do with Jai on those rainy, summer days.

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