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October Kickoff

October in the Central Valley. It’s so deceptive. Usually it graces us with a few cooler days at the start of the month. I get excited and nostalgic. I pull out the crock pot and put on a light sweatshirt in the evening. Then–a long stretch of near 100 degree days! Hot or not, October kicks off a season of wonderful madness for our family. Birthdays galore, fall festivities, and the intro to the holiday season. Single Palm, our favorite pumpkin patch, opened October 1st and we headed out in t shirts and shorts to pick up our October staple-pumpkins!! Ethan got to work manning the wheelbarrow and Rowan got to work getting dirty. He was literally pouring dirt into his shoe within 5 minutes of hitting the field. C’est la vie. 

A few reasons why we love Single Palm:

It’s a cut-your-pumpkin-off-the-vine patch. Ethan loves being a part of every step–pushing the wheelbarrows, searching for his perfect pumpkin, cutting it, and washing it. Rowan loves the dirt.

When you arrive, you are greeted by the family who owns and operates the farm. They are a part of the experience from start to end–Grandpa drove the tractor for the hay ride. Gramma led a story time. The owner’s son is near Ethan’s age. He ran out to meet us while we were searching for pumpkins and he and Ethan were immediate friends.

Every pumpkin-big or small-is 5 bucks! You like little pumpkins? Huge pumpkins? Green ones? Round or oval ones? They’re all $5.

It is very low key. I love low key. No crowds, no carnival rides, no kettle corn, no huge inflatables flagging me down to come buy cotton candy and glow sticks in addition to my pumpkin.  The farm, the house, the porch, the rocking chairs–low key bliss.

Here we catch a glimpse of the effects of California’s drought. The corn maze was too difficult to grow this year due to the lack of water. It was replaced by a box maze. My boys didn’t seem to mind at all.

My Ethan is growing up, no doubt. He helped Gramma Pumpkin read the story this year.

Rowan stayed true to the grumpy show that he loves to put on. I’m telling you, he’s completely acting half of the time that he seems grumpy. But this child loves music and songs. In the car he will ask for songs to be put on and proclaim multiple times, “I love music!”  The pic below on the right is when we sang Old McDonald after the story. He couldn’t not sing along and smile.

Last year we came near the end of October and it was slim picking to find that perfect-for-you pumpkin. This year we had thousands to choose from. And we chose big! 2 of our pumpkins were 27 pounds each. The rest were right around 20 pounds. 6 pumpkins-135 pounds total! Ethan insisted on lifting the pumpkins himself into the basket for the scale. Watching him struggle with such determination to hoist those pumpkins was the kind of stuff that melts a mamas heart.  He is so little, yet so big. 

The owner has a favorite pumpkin that he singles out each year. There are over 10,000 pumpkins that will be cut from those vines, and I picked his favorite one on the first day they opened! He and Nick are holding his (now my) baby below. 

Rowan’s favorite part was definitely the pumpkin wash. It took every ounce of 2-year-old self control he had to not get into that tub, especially because I called it a pumpkin bath. He was dirty and ready to jump in!

We had a great kickoff to October!


Camping is a bit crazy. Especially tent camping with kids and a dog.

Difficult and time consuming to pack. Difficult and time consuming to unpack. Dirty. Risky with a toddler. Tiring. You catch my drift.

But here is my reason that it’s all worth it:  Closeness in proximity to nature and each other breeds closeness in spirit.  There is something magical about it that can’t be replicated.

Waking to the earliest of early light rays.

Taking a look around and inhaling all that it means to put aside distractions and live in the one true and glorious moment in front of me.

Sneaking out from my cozy sleeping bag as slowly and quietly as I can to capture this: My heart. Closeness in proximity and closeness in spirit.

Oh, how I have missed capturing and documenting these amazing lives.

More to come.

Neon Jog-a-thon

Yesterday we had too much fun watching Ethan and his friends run their Jog-a-thon.  Neon colors always add an extra dose of flair to an event and some of the teachers and students really did it up with the colors.  We found neon shirts for me, Ethan, and Rowan at Michaels for $10 total! (Love their 40% off coupons!)  Nick was out of luck on a cheap neon find but we were happy to have him there in his plain ol’ grey shirt.  The kindergarten classes only ran for 6 minutes, but it was 6 minutes of pure comedy!  Disclaimer:  I wonder if a parent of another child would not be too thrilled if they stumbled across pics of their kids on here who happened to be in the shots with Ethan.  I’m not sure…but I’ll limit the pics I post here to the ones where I was able to crop out most of the other kids, except of course for Ethan’s best friend!  Up first was J’s class.

The little brothers seemed less than thrilled to be missing out on a nap, both little L and Rowan.
Nick and sleepy Rowan.
Next it was Ethan’s turn-I’d swear by these pics that he’s saying, ‘Let’s Do This’!
He was all business before he started, and all smiles while he ran.  
I know I have a very limited time frame left where he’ll openly offer me a kiss at school.  I’ll take it while I can.


Here we go.  Today we start Kindergarten.  As Ethan learns tons of stuff this year, we’ll also be learning with him.  Mainly how to let go of being in control over how his whole day is structured , how to let this experience be his, and how to adjust to a set school schedule.  No more mid-week beach trips when the traffic is sparse and hotel rates are low.  No more Thursday morning Ikea trips.  Man, I loved hanging out with all the retired folks on the beach on a Monday morning…but now, we’ll be fighting for weekend hotel reservations and waiting in long lines with the best of ‘em.  It will be a challenge for me to trust that he will be safe, make friends, be a good friend, and continue to come to me anytime he has a problem.  But, he’s pretty awesome and that makes me feel like I have a good head start facing that challenge!  I’m so excited for Ethan though.  He had an incredible preschool experience and is so ready for this year! And once all the emotion and jitters on my part wind down, I know that I’ll be ready too.  I’m looking forward to giving Rowan more personal attention and to having more stillness and silence during the day when I can give some time to my back-shelf projects and passions.  But, as great as all that will be, I already can’t wait to pick him up and hear all about his day!

So fun to look back at him a year ago, before he was a big brother and a big Kindergartener!