Time for a Hayride!

“How scary is it, exactly?” asked Sadie.

“Not very,” I said. “It’s mainly for little kids, so it can’t be too scary.”

“But what about Jed?” she asked about her almost-three-year-old brother. “He does NOT like the dark.”

“He’ll be okay, because he’ll be with me and Daddy and you and Josie and Adelaide. It’ll be fun.”

“Well, okay, if you say so… but I don’t know about this.”

We were on our way to our first ever Haunted Hayride experience, and I think maybe 9-year-old Sadie (who is not overly fond of anything that’s weird or creepy) may have been inquiring about the scariness factor as much for her own sake as for her little brother’s.

Dressed in “doubles” (it snowed – in October! – the day before), all the kids waddled out to the car in 2 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of socks, 2 hats, coats, gloves, snow boots and scarves.

“I can’t put my arms down!” quipped Sadie. “Look, I’m Ralphie’s little brother.”

“MOM, it’s not that cold! I am burning up! I will die if I have to wear all of this!” moaned Josie (whose overly-dramatic 8-year-old tendencies have been driving me crazy this week.) “Are you SERIOUS? Two hats. Two HATS? I only have one head!”

“Just put them on and get in the car. Last year, everyone was sick the whole month of October and I do NOT want anyone to end up in the hospital with pneumonia again. Ever!”

After stuffing everyone in to their respective seat-belts, we finally made it to the hayride. We parked (along with a hundred other cars) amidst the dirt-covered snow hills from that morning’s plowing. “That dirty snow looks like Oreo crumbs!” said Adelaide. Then we picked our way through the crowded parking lot and wound ourselves through the muddy cattle-chute maze to take our place in the 7:30pm line. It was pretty cold as we stood there listening to Monster Mash (over and over) – but at least it wasn’t raining!

Jedidiah was excited to see that our wagon was being pulled by a big farm tractor. He does “love him a big ol’ tractor!” We loaded up – all six of us squished onto a wooden bench with Jed on one end and Sadie on the other. The ride itself was fun and it ended up being just the right mix of spooky and funny. Sadie especially enjoyed the corny jokes along the way: why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? Because it didn’t have any guts!

We liked the cage full of dancing skeletons, the King Kong, the Monster Thrift Store, the scary pirate ship and the alien scenes set up throughout the woods. Sadie and I jumped when a “ghost” jumped out at us from the bushes and we all laughed our way through one of the little haunted mazes (well, Adelaide laughed until we came out and then she decided she hadn’t liked it after all…so she cried.)

Josie gave her little sister a piggyback ride to make her feel better, then sat down to rest on a bench next to a stuffed scarecrow – or so she thought. She yelled then laughed when the scarecrow turned and looked right at her!


The kids all stuck close when we walked through the creepy graveyard, and Josie was the only one willing to go into the haunted house (aka tent) with her dad. Everyone else decided we had had enough thrills and chills for one night.

We finished the evening by watching the Glow Stick Dancers (dressed all in black and lit up only by glow sticks – it sounds weird, but it was pretty cool) while we devoured some delicious hot mini-donuts dipped in maple glaze.

On the way out, we barely made it through four pony rides before the cold rain started. We lost one hat and one mitten on our dash to the car, but that was a small sacrifice to pay for a great night of family fun.

“Too scary?” I asked Sadie, once we were all tucked in to the warm car.

“Nope,” she said. “I think that was just about right.”


Fall is Here – I Love It!

My kids are busier gathering acorns than any squirrel I’ve ever seen.Image

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, and it’s even better now that I have kids. Several years ago, we borrowed the book Fall is Here from the library.

Each picture in the book is accompanied by the caption, “Fall is here – I love it!”

Josie decided that since she couldn’t read yet, that one sentence would be her part to “read” out loud. So Sadie read about the farmers, the squirrels, the apple orchards, the leaves and the scarecrows. But before every turn of the page, Josie would yell, “Fall is here – I love it!”

That line has become a family joke (even though it’s true.)

When the first leaves start falling, twirling down from their perches high up on the giant oak tree in our yard, the girls make a game out of chasing them down and snatching them out of mid-air. It’s harder than it looks; I’ve tried it.

Before many leaves have even fallen into our yard, they’ve dragged out all three of the leaf rakes (and one garden rake for their little brother) and raked up a meager pile so they can, as they say, “commence with the jumping.”

It’s not just the cooler weather that we like. It’s not just the crackling leaves or the crisp fall air or the bright colors or the brilliant blue skies. There’s something else about this time of year that seems almost magical.

We put away our flip-flops and swimsuits for another long winter and we unpack our jackets and hats.

If we were in the south, we’d head to The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival and take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway along with all of the other “leaf-lookers.” But this year, we’ve stayed close to home.

We go the pumpkin patches, to the hayride at Farm Park, to the Fun Fest at Patterson’s Fruit Farm, to the activities at the library and to get apple cider and donuts.

We put out the scarecrows, the mums, the pumpkins and the gourds. We made a pumpkin piƱata, hosted our annual Harvest Party, and picked apples at Eddy’s.

Sadie is honing her bonfire-building skills. Jedidiah went to his first-ever football game. Adelaide likes to snuggle under a blanket outside and throw sticks in the river to watch them float downstream. Josie has collected enough acorns to feed any hungry squirrels we may come across this winter.

Yep, fall is here.

I love it!

I’m Not What You Think I Am

I’m not bragging.

(I know, usually when people say that, they really ARE bragging. But, really, I’m not.)

Over the past few weeks, several people have said things like this to me: “I wish I was one of your kids,” or “You have so much fun at your house!” “You’re super mom!” or “You’re super-homeschooling mom, I’ve seen pictures to prove it!” Even “We should do things the way she does them at OUR house, maybe our kids would behave better.”


What amazing compliments! Each and every one of these comments absolutely made my day. But please don’t think I’m saying this to brag. I’m not trying to brag at all. In fact, I just want to set the record straight.

Maybe sometimes I look like I have it all together.

I don’t.

Maybe my kids seem well-behaved and polite and super sweet and cute.

Not always.

Maybe it seems like being a stay-at-home-mom and homeschooling four kids is easy for me.

It isn’t.

If this is the way I come across, in my articles or on Facebook or even face-to-face in real life, I just want to say I’m sorry.

I don’t want to mislead anyone. Life is far from perfect in my house.

I guess, like most of us, I’m just more likely to tell people the cute things my kids say. Normally I post pictures of the cute things they do.

But I don’t usually tell people how I’ve barricaded myself in the bathroom or how I’m collapsed on the bedroom floor in tears.

There is screaming and crying at my house on a regular basis. And it’s NOT always the kids. Heck, it’s not even USUALLY the kids.

Here are some things you might hear me say on any given day:
I am DONE!
I have had it!
You may not hammer any more nails until you put your pants back on!
What exactly is the problem?
What are you thinking?
Get your hands out of your diaper!
No more talking till we get home.
Come down here now!
I love you, but I do not want to see you again until after Quiet Time.
And I repeat…
Why would you do that?
Who left these dirty Kleenexes all over the couch?
My patience is gone. G-O-N-E. GONE.
Would you please leave me alone for 2 minutes? Just 2?
I’m not here! Find your dad!

Yep, I have bad days. Really bad days. Sometimes I refuse to take off my pajamas and I don’t comb my hair. Sometimes I cry for no reason. Or sometimes it’s because I have to wash 17 towels at once or scrub grape juice from the carpet we just had steam-cleaned. Or sometimes my chronic back pain gets the best of me and I just can’t handle that “one more thing” or deal with that poop on the bedroom carpet and glitter glue on the kitchen table. Sometimes I flip out and yell because I stepped on a grape. Or in yogurt. Or on a Lego.

Sometimes I fall to my knees at night next to my sleeping babies and pray to God through my tears to help me – because I honestly have no idea what I’m doing.

So yes, I have great days. I have great kids. And I have great friends who build me up and encourage me by saying such wonderful words to me about what a good mom I am.

Because sometimes, they catch me on a bad day. And those words are the only thing that get me through.