The 12 Gifts of Autumn

On the 1st day of October autumn gave to me a sense that change was in the air.
On the 2nd day of October autumn gave to me an opportunity to change.
On the 3rd day of October autumn gave to me trees of red and gold.
On the 4th day of October autumn gave to me fallen leaves to kick.
On the 5th day of October autumn gave to me pumpkins with hopes of becoming jack-                                                                                          O’lanterns
On the 6th day of October autumn gave to me news that I had a job interview.
On the 7th day of October autumn gave to me Sunshine and un-autumn-like warmth
On the 9th day of October autumn gave to me Canadian Thanksgiving.
On the 10th day of October autumn gave to me a job interview.
On the 11th day of October autumn gave to me bad news about my interview.
On the 12th day of October autumn gave to me a rainbow in the morning.

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See You In September

It’s gone.

It just walked right out.

August is no more. Summer is packing it’s bags and Atumn is moving in. I’m okay with that, though. Fall is my favorite. Warm days. Cool nights. The window open. Me cocooned in blankets. DW freezing because I’ve got all the warmth in my cocoon. Fall is fantastic.

Fall brings baseball post-season, football, and all things pumpkin spice. My Orioles are contesting for a wild card spot. While I’m not all that into pumpkin spice, I could eat my weight in pumpkin pie. Dump a tub of whipped cream on top and I’m in my glory.

September isn’t just for ball games and pumpkins, though. September is also for the return of school days. While challenging, the rewards are phenomenal. Getting the kids to bed when they’re used to to summer schedule bedtimes is like hostage negotiations. If you offer too little they’ll refuse slumber. Offer too much and you won’t be able to keep your end of the bargin. They will remember everything you offer too so don’t even think about sweetening the deal in hopes they’ll forget. It’ll be the first thing they ask for in the morning. If you can’t deliver they’ll never go to bed again. Ever.

Besides bedtime, there is also the joy of back-to-school shopping. I get more than a little giddy when I see aisles and aisles of back-to-school supplies. Brand new pencils with no teeth marks. Markers with all their caps on tight. Paper so crisp and clean waiting for a math problem or an essay or notes on history, science, or passed to friend asking them if they can sit together at lunch. Folders and binders in more colors than a rainbow can offer. There are fresh, clean glue sticks not yet dried out, full of glitter and dirt and half eaten.

I know the back-to-school supply list can seem a bit archaic. It can also get a bit pricey. I’ve seen various parents rant about how expensive it can be. They question the supplies that are asked for. While I can’t speak for all teachers, I can speak for myself and the ones I know. We don’t ask for things we don’t need. But as one mother put it in her rant, “You want a microwave for your classroom, I’ll get you a microwave! Here, I’ll get you a pillow, too!” She was thankful teachers took her kids for the day. Parents seem to be thankful for school to start again because it means their kids aren’t at home driving them to Crazyville, Insanity for what they think is a good time. What they forget is the flip side of the coin. The teacher doesn’t have just their kid. They have 20-30 other kids, too.

If you’re the kind of parent who understands the plight of teachers, slip in a gift card for pumpkin spice latte or a medium large bucket o’coffee with those back-to-school supplies because you’re over the Walmart excited for school be to back. And because it’s not just the kids who are going back to school.

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Uisge Ban Falls

If you’re like me the first time I saw that name I had no idea how to pronounce it. It’s Gaelic as Cape Breton has very strong Irish and Scottish roots. It’s pronounced ISH-kuh Ban Falls. It’s Gaelic translation is “white water”. However, according to the Canadian Geological Database it is Easach Ban Falls. There are two trails leading to the falls. The short trail is about 1 mile in length and will get you to the falls in less than a half hour. The longer is closer to 3 miles will take about an hour. However, it follows the river to the falls. The boys are familiar with hikes as I take them on occasion. We took the short path, though, on account that we had more traveling to do. 

The trail is fairly rugged. Roots finger their way across the path. Roots claw their way over bolders in search of better soil, proving that paper does indeed beat rock. There are bridges to cross at which the boys would toss leaves and stick from to watch see them float away in the current of the river. There are more photo opportunities than you can shake a stick at. 

Once you are at the falls you will essentially be in a three sided bowl whose sides are 500 feet high. Your eyes and ears will feast upon two waterfalls. The lower is about 10 feet high. The upper falls allow water to cascade 50 feet and pool on a platau before flowing down the lower falls. 

It was an absolutely beautiful October Saturday. Clear skies. 20 degrees (C) (70F). The leaves have started changing, though they’re not quite in their full glory yet. A few leaves littered the path. Hikers galore seized the day. Even though we were an hour and 15 minutes from home we managed to meet three families from home. Every time a dog passed us the boys would ask its owner, “Can I pet your dog?” We (when I say “we” I mean DW) taught them to ask first. If given permission they then hold out their hand for the dog to sniff. If the dog gives permission then they can pet. 

Sorry, Pa. We still couldn’t find your sunglasses (he lost/forgot a pair there about 10 years ago). 

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Acorns: A Guest Post by Dori of Green Grapes

There comes a time in everyone’s life when we are tested. Our courage. Our will power. Our strength of character. Our ability to keep ourselves from going to pieces.

They are our own battles which no one else can understand. When we found out our first born would need open heart surgery within days of his birth it became an obstacle we weren’t sure how to conquer. It became our battle.

One such battle began for a family thousands of miles from home, on the other side of an ocean, when their littlest required serious medical attention.

Dori start her blog Green Grapes shortly after she and her husband found themselves in this situation. Soon after, she took the world of blogging not only to find stories like her own but to share her story as well. She writes with the clarity of a crisp, autumn morning and you’ll find yourself nodding along in understanding the whole way through her posts.

If you’re like me and wondering where her blog title comes from, you’ll just have to find out for yourself. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. I’m honored to welcome her here with her first ever guest post.


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I’m learning the ropes of the blogging world from Eric of All in a Dad’s Work.  Thanks for letting me guest blog here!

For many years I have proclaimed to be a Summer person.   I love the anticipation of vacation with my family; I love the beach and I love cold brewed coffee and iced tea, which frankly – cannot be consumed in the winters here.

My husband and I moved to the Boston area in August, 2005.  Naive, young and desperately broke, we heaved half our furniture and boxes into a temporary apartment and the other half into a storage unit.  One month later on September 1, 2005 we moved those same belongings into a tiny, overpriced apartment during a heatwave.  In retrospect, that day was the tipping point for me and my favoritism of summer.   I was miserable.  I must have looked it, because even the guy who came to install our cable stuck around an extra 15 minutes to help carry boxes to our 3rd floor walk up.

As time went on, I began to develop a preference for the  fall season in New England.   It’s sort of irresistible with it’s fiery foliage and countless crisp mornings.  In 2007 my husband (then boyfriend) proposed and we were married on September 21st. Three years later, my first son was born on September 14th.  His brother joined our family late in August of  2013.  As I ventured further into adulthood, the positive memories associated with fall began to imprint themselves upon me.

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In the US, students take a break from formal education in the summer months and return to school in the fall.  Eric and I know this well – we met as educators at a higher education institution in Maryland.   I transitioned away from the education profession in 2007.  In addition to K – 12 schools, the Boston area is home to more than 100 colleges and universities.  When those students  return to school each fall, we all  return to a familiar pace of life.

The change is an undeniable force.

Our family has been eagerly anticipating Fall, 2016.  My oldest son was due to start kindergarten and my youngest, preschool.   They would start their new adventures with a fresh set of clothes, new lunch boxes and trimmed hair.   In June we had a party for my older son “Congratulations on Preschool Graduation!” The kids jumped for hours in the bouncy house.

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And then in early August my youngest son had a sudden, unexplained onset of Myoclonic Atonic Epilepsy.  We are still learning why… how… when… and the answers to so many other questions.  During our first visit to Boston Children’s Hospital, our neurologist let us know that our son’s continued participation in a school would be critical to his psychosocial development.  However, he was far from being ready to actually return to school.

So, we focused instead on playgrounds, Gymboree and creative play at home.  He also got dressed, ate breakfast and walked with us every day to drop his older brother off at school, to create routine for when it is his turn.

Last week, the summer weather “broke” and fall rolled in, bringing with it, fantastically strong wind.  This happened on Thursday, September 22nd – the first day of fall.  We have been sleeping with the windows open and I woke to the sound of acorns falling off the Oak trees, a syncopation of pops and bangs as they hit everything in their path on their way to the ground.   I listened for a few minutes before closing the window in the boys room.    Then, I re-read the email I drafted earlier that day,  confirming my younger son’s attendance at preschool, starting September 26th.  I decided that the timing felt right.  I  hit “send”on the message as  I wiped the 3-millionth tear off my cheek and then grabbed some extra blankets for the bed.

I realized that night, that the fall season has become more than just my preference.  It is my beginning, my New Year.    Very much like a student, it is my chance to start again –  stretch open a new book until it cracks, sharpen an unused pencil and resolve to be better at something this time around.  Cheers!

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Sunday Share October!

I need a fall bucket list, folks. Bon fires and camping and hiking and corn mazes (check that one off). I got to get this stuff done before snow comes! Here in Canada that could be any day.

Today’s share is a little different. I simply did a search for “Autumn” in my reader and these blogs caught my eye…

Her Lady Pink Rose – Petals Unfolding

Blue Eyes Gray Eyes – Lets Be Lost

Firefly Dance – Dancing with Fireflies

Mrs. Twinkle – Cozy Campfire

The View From The Porch

I hope you enjoy the fall as much as do. Mother Nature puts on her best show and her favorite colors. She also provides the perfect temperature for getting out to enjoy it all!

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Saturday Sillies

You know when you have this awesome idea and you can’t wait to get started on it? You plan carefully. You get everything set up just so. Everything is going exactly as you expected it would.

Then it doesn’t.

I think that’s how Bang felt…

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Hope all y’all are having a good weekend!

Month in Review

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August has come and gone. We enjoyed the summer while it was here. We made trips to the beach and trips to the splash pad. We made many trips to baseball practices and games, too. But how did the blog get along?

August saw 27 posts with a grand total of 1,520 views, 138 more than July. I finally crested 1,500 again. I might be back on the incline of the rollercoaster of views.

There were 556 visitors. That’s 16 more!

The “like” button was clicked 77 more times in August than in July with 544 likes 🙂 I’m so glad y’all liked my posts so much! I like you, too!

There was great discussion in August. In fact, 493 comments were left on my posts. That’s 99 more than August had!

33 countries came to visit my little corner blog. Amazing! The top three were the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands. Australia, you were a very close fourth! Last month Australia and the Netherlands were in opposite positions. What a battle to get the bronze!

Besides my homepage, Behind the Scenes Blogging got the gold in the most viewed page competition with 78 views. This is where I answered some questions about how I blog. I Imagine A Day captured the silver with 67 views. I really believed this one would get more attention. It’s about the ideal teaching/education system. The Best Birthday Card Ever In the History earned the bronze with 51 views. My son made the most fantastic 40th birthday Star Wars card.

The end of August brought my 500th WordPress follower. I’m currently at 544 followers. That’s a gain of 73! WOWZER! I don’t know where we’re going, but we’re having a grand time getting there! We’re not lost, just wandering.

Next up… the top six commenters. This is really what keeps me blogging. The views are nice. The likes are good. But it’s the comments and the discussions that drive my blog forward. You make me laugh. You make me think. You make me want to keep writing more more more! Thank you to all of you.

Ann  of GrubbnCritters on “Growing Turmeric”
Erika of That’s What Anxious Mom Said on “Smoked Chicken Nuggets”
Sandra  of A Momma’s View on “Share Your World”
Elen of Elen Grey on “Single Shot Monday”
Daley of The Invisible Moth on “The Adventures of Cat-Littering
Pieter of AhDad on “Laugh With Me #48”

It’s the same six as last month, just  a different order! C’mon everyone, knock these people off the charts. Not that I want them off the charts because I really like them.

Things are picking up in the blog world. We’re all back to school. My half of the world is slowly edging its way toward fall and winter while the other half slowly marches toward spring and summer. I enjoy fall so much, though. Not because of pumpkin spice either. Pumpkin pie, yes. Apple pie, most definitely. Once upon a time I didn’t like apple pie. Then one day in high school I decided I liked it.

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We Hit the Trails

This morning started when Crash and his friend, who was here for a sleepover, woke up at 5:30 am. Ugh. They didn’t go to sleep until sometime between 10:30 and 11 the night before! Oh well. I seriously can’t wait until Crash decides that sleep is actually a good thing. But that’s for another post.

Anyway, by 7:30, Bang was also up and all three hooligans were fed and were looking to go outside. But the sun wasn’t even up, yet! And it was only 7 degrees! (they were in shorts and t-shirts) So I got them dressed properly and I took them to watch it come up. They were bored at first. Then the first glimpse of the sun came peeking through and they thought it was pretty neat.

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Later that afternoon, after Crash’s friend had gone home (which was a bit sad because he’s moving away next Monday night) Crash and Bang were bored and the only thing they could find to do was pick fights with each other. Instead of strangling both of them, I took them for a hike for an hour and half. Immediately upon entering the woods the bickering and fighting and screaming and stomping stopped. I know this was a pleasant relief for DW whom we left at home to relax.

There were bridges to be crossed (no Trolls were hiding under any of them). There were trees to see (none of which resembled Treebeard). There were streams to throw rocks in and stairs to climb and benches for sitting on. There were sticks to be carried (to fend off the dragons) and leaves to be collected and mud to stomp through (shoes need to be washed now. You told me so, DW!) There were squirrels to hear and watch. There was a dog and it’s owner to stop and chat with. There were pictures to be taken…

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It felt good to be out on the trails. The air was cool and quiet. No one was on anyone else’s last nerve. While there aren’t as many deciduous trees as I’d like, not as much vibrant fall color with all the loblolly pines, it was still colorful, bright, and full of October.

My Autumn Bucket List

I read a thorough autumn bucket list on Early Childhood Family Education and thought that since I did a summer bucket list, perhaps I should do a fall list as well. I was successful in completing all but one item from my summer list. The painting never got done. Guess I’ll have to carry that over to the fall list. The first day of fall was last Wednesday and we’re already getting fall temperatures and weather.  Nice and cool at night which makes it perfect for sleeping, though we don’t get much of it (we’re early risers, even if we don’t want to be). So what’s on my list?

Bon Fires
We have a small fire pit in the backyard. More like a large metal bowl that we can put away when we’re not using it. But it’s great to get it out, set up the camp chairs around it and have a powwow. Especially now that cooler weather is here and it’s getting dark earlier. We’ll roast some marshmallows, eat s’mores, drink some drinks and laugh a lot. Perhaps if it’s not raining this weekend?

Get ready for Halloween
We have our costumes picked out. The kids are excited about them. DW is excited about them. I’m excited about them. I want to share now, but it must wait. Only 31 more days. It’s going to be awesome! I’ll also get the house all decorated. We have bats and crows and skeletons and spiders and webs and tons of stickers for the wall. We don’t go all out crazy, but we certainly do have fun with it.

Carve Pumpkins
They’re already sitting on the front porch, not carved yet, of course. Pumpkins last a long time. But once you carve it, it’s only a matter of days before it rots. I’m not sure what we’re going to carve this year. I just know we’re going to have fun digging the guts out. I’m sure Crash will something “Minecraft” carved into his. I can’t even begin to imagine what Bang will want. He’s pretty random sometimes.

Take a hike
This is the time of year when the tress are dressed in their best colors. The temperatures are ideal for walking comfortably. There is a trail near us that leads to a 25 foot waterfall. It takes about a 1/2 hour to hike to it and it’s a beautiful trail with a small bridge or two to cross. Plus the smell is intoxicating. I love it!

Watch Halloween shows
My favorite is “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. I know all the words. I know all the songs. Yes, I’m proud that Crash loves it, too. Did you know it took nearly 110,000 photos and three years to create the stop motion animation? Charlie and the Great Pumpkin Patch and Hocus Pocus are great ones, too.

A Farm
Not just any farm, but a farm that has hay rides and a pumpkin patch and corn maze. Those corn mazes have always intrigued me. Plus, I think the kids would love it. We already have two pumpkins, but there’s something about actually being in the pumpkin patch. The giant box of pumpkins in the grocery store just doesn’t cut it. And since Bang is all about tractors (and everything that has wheels) a hay ride would be right up his alley.

Leaves
I remember raking up a huge pile of leaves to jump and play in when I was a kid (if 13 still counts as a kid). When we lived in Virginia, I raked up small piles for Crash to run through. The piles weren’t nearly big enough to jump in. He had a blast running through them and kicking them into the air. Or throwing them up and letting them rain down on himself. It made for some fun pictures, too. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if we have enough leaves in our backyard to rake up a pile big enough to jump in. Guess we’ll just have to try!

What’s on your list to do this autumn?

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