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Parenting Stories: Making Fall Family To-Do Lists

pumpkin_patchBy Tania Stenzel

Do you make lists? I make lists for everything. There are pads of paper all over my house, much to my husband’s dismay, and many of them have half started lists, completed lists, and random thoughts. Besides the all important “grocery list,” the most important lists in my house and head these days are all the fun things I want to do with our boys over the next few months. Fall is here and with Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner there are certain traditions and foods that I want to make sure we get to take advantage of while the getting is good.

First on the list are apples. I will admit that pumpkin is probably my favorite fall food to cook and bake with, but apples are right there next to it. Apples are often overlooked by the pumpkin, kind of like the quiet girl for a prom date; she may not be as popular, but she is as good a dancer. We like to find a place to pick our own apples. Jakob likes to see how high he can reach and how big an apple he can find. We like to indulge at the cider mill with hot/cold cider, fresh warm fritters or cider doughnuts, and of course take home enough apples so we can “keep the doctor away” for as long as possible.

That takes me to the next item on the list: pumpkin! There is something special about walking in a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween. Watching the boys search for one that is “just right,” not perfect, but right. Aiden seems to go for a smaller, more manageable pumpkin, while Jakob tries to find one that no one can carry! And of course along with a trip to the pumpkin patch come the hay ride, petting zoo, and corn maze. Traditions that I am happy to say the boys enjoy. Though when I think about pumpkin, besides the picking and carving of the pumpkin, my mind usually jumps to what delicious baking can I do with pumpkin. How many pies can I fit into the season without making the family never want to see another one ever again? There are pies, cookies, bundt cakes, cupcakes, pancakes, pasta dishes, and soups…All with those wonderful seasonal flavors. Add pumpkin and cinnamon to just about anything and I am a happy camper.

Also on my fall list of things to do are pictures, lots of pictures. I love the different colors the trees turn during the season, the rich reds, the burnt orange and the most vibrant of yellow; they make such wonderful backdrops for family pictures. We like to go for walks to see what different colors and types of leaves we can find. During these walks and outings there are prime opportunities for some great family pictures; kicking leaves while walking on a leaf covered sidewalk, throwing piles of leaves in the air or at each other, and of course, raking together a big pile and seeing who can make the biggest mess when jumping in them. I think some of my favorite fall photos are from the pumpkin patch, with the rosy cheeks from being out in the brisk fall air and the smiles of joy on their faces.

These are just a few of the items on my "Fall List of Things to Do." Do you make lists like these? Would love to hear what is on your lists! Tell me what you like to do, like to eat, or fun places to take the kids during this wonderful season, and make sure to get out and do them! Creating these memories and traditions with your children will last a lifetime.

Tania Stenzel is a proud SAHM to two wonderful boys, Jakob and Aiden, wife to an incredible army man, Jason, and lover of all things baked. Learn more about Tania (and her delicious recipes) over on her blog, Love Big, Bake Often.

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