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Harvests and Halloween

Halloween is a pretty big deal at our house. Autumn is my favorite season, and our modern, spooky, secular Halloween is one that I’ve increasingly embraced as the years have gone on. We put hang lights and decorate, there are all kinds of little lights and spiders and eye balls that end up floating around our house from September onward. There are pumpkins! There’s candy! We get to wear costumes! And THEN we get to ring doorbells all around the neighborhood at night! The boys absolutely adore it and ask me all year whether Halloween is coming soon.

The second week in October is when our local pumpkin patch opened, and we were right there to welcome them! Pumpkin patches are odd things. I’m certain that in some areas they were actually the patches where pumpkins are grown, but every one I’ve ever been to has them delicately set out on a series of rows of hay bails. You wander up and down the rows and select your pumpkins. At the one we go to there are a bunch of rides for kids, which the boys really enjoy. We picked up a few small, decorative pumpkins while we were there.

For our actual carving pumpkins, we waited until the end of October and made the journey over to the grocery store for them. I’m not sure they’re fresher than getting them a few weeks earlier at the patch, but that was my hope, and we’ve had problems with carved pumpkins rotting very fast (within a day!) in the warm, northern California climate.

I joked when we got the pumpkins that I was only getting ONE to carve, because if I get one “for the boys” too, they’re interested for about 10 minutes before they run off and I’m left carving two pumpkins. Then Adam ended up bringing one home from school and insisted that we carve it, and I caved. Guess what happened? I carved two pumpkins. But I kept his simple and classic.

Mine was a bit more work. I found BART-themed pumpkin stencils and made myself a BART cat! Not sure what a BART cat is, but I think it must be related to Catbus. It’s cute and combines two of my favorite things, so I was happy.

Costume-wise, the boys are still young enough that we can follow their interests, but ultimately dress them up however we want and can pick a theme. This year it was Shaun the Sheep. Adam was Shaun, Aaron was baby Timmy, MJ was the farmer, and I got to be Bitzer the dog. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a terrible sheep dog, my sheep ran all over the place!

The first place they got to run around everywhere was Adam’s elementary school. They had games, music, and other activities, plus a firetruck that kids could climb into! They took turns in the fire truck, and little Aaron proclaimed that he wanted to climb the huge ladder. Classic. It was fun, but very loud, and there were lines for all the activities, which the boys had limited patience for.

Our next stop was over the weekend when we went to a Truck or Treat at park within walking distance of our house. We’ve gone to this event several years in a row, and it was definitely quieter this year than in the past, but we were perfectly fine with that. The kids got candy, and they got to do all the activities without much waiting!

And then finally, Halloween night! First, we ordered some pizza and watched Hotel Transylvania while answering the door for the first few trick-or-treaters of the evening. We’re very traditional Halloween-wise and stick to our own neighborhood. We don’t need big or fancy candies, and it’s OK if only half the houses are giving away candy. It’s a nice opportunity to meet some of the other families in the neighborhood, along with other neighbors who are opening doors to kids.

After our own trick-or-treat adventures, we watched more TV downstairs as we spent the rest of the evening answering the door and munching on candy far beyond standard bed times, just like you’d expect on Halloween. Thankfully the elementary school scheduled a staff-only day for November 1st, so we didn’t have to worry about getting out the door the next morning.