We had the Perfect Fall Family Day* yesterday. The Loud One has been asking for pumpkins since her birthday (in August) so we finally planned our trip to the patch.
We went to a very cool farm and fed the animals, rode the tractor, picked apples, chose pumpkins from the patch, played in the “Cereal Bowl” (a big play area full of corn kernels) and of course, ate apple cider doughnuts.
We came home and decorated the pumpkins, made Halloween ornaments, set up all of our other indoor Halloween decorations, and got all the outdoor stuff organized to be set up when the rain stops.
We even used the juicer to make fresh apple juice from the apples we picked. Do you know how many parts a juicer has? A LOT.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself. And oh yeah, also EXHAUSTED. Totally completely exhausted.
*Because Perfect Fall Family Days are never exactly as they seem.
A lot of energy goes into creating the Perfect Fall Family Day. Are you laughing? Because that’s actually not a joke. And I am forever trying to figure out if my kids are just higher maintenance then some (i.e. brats) or whether we can still use the “well, they’re just young” excuse. Happy Dude will probably have a temper tantrum when we drop him off at college and we’ll be telling the roommate, “It’s just that he’s young for his age… “
I’d like to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our Perfect Fall Family Day.
8:30am – We’re trying to get out of the house early so that we can be at the farm at 9:00am when it opens to avoid both the crowds and the rain. But first, we must:
- Debate whether too-big Crocs are appropriate footwear for our activity. I lose.
- Debate whether or not sweatshirts are necessary for our activity. I lose again.
- Reaffirm that we are indeed going to come home with pumpkins.
8:40am – We leave. We encourage everyone to nap in the car. Good one. Instead we listen to the following:
- Are we almost at the pumpkin patch?
- How much longer?
- Will they have pumpkins there?
- Can we have a snack there?
- How much longer now?
Oh and KJ had to ask the Nibbit 18 times to please stop kicking his seat. Not kidding, do NOT sit in front of that kid on an airplane. If you can help it, that is. If you can’t… sorry.
9:10am – We pull into the farm’s parking lot. It seems eerily quiet. Oh, maybe that’s because it doesn’t open until 10:00am. Their website says 9:00am, I SWEAR. (In fact, I was sure KJ didn’t believe me, so I just sent him the link as proof.) I try to explain to the kids the concept of false advertising, but they’re too busy whining about how FAAAAR we’ve driven and how CLOOOOSED the farm is.
While we’re sitting there debating our options, the Loud One starts observing that all of the pumpkins have already been gathered in one big field and that’s not REAL pumpkin-picking and she wants to go to the OTHER farm instead. (You know, the “OTHER farm.”)
KJ and I grit our teeth and say, “OK! This is going to be a Perfect Fall Family Day, so rather than sit in this parking lot for 40 minutes, we’ll drive 20 minutes back to the other farm!”
9:50am – Pull into Farm #2. Their shouts of excitement mix with my, “Can we please not run in the middle of this chaotic parking lot!” as we head over to Germ and Disease Central the petting zoo and the Amazing Maze (which is more “small” than “amazing,” but it works for young kids).
Thoughts during this leg of the day:
- Feeding barn animals is super fun for kids.
- There is not enough soap in the world to get your hands clean after feeding barn animals.
- The Nibbit is just a TINY bit competitive.
10:20am – Head over to the main part of the farm for pumpkin-picking and have this exchange:
Farm Guy: Welcome! If you’re ready to pick some apples, you can buy your bags over there and then head over there to get on the tractor.
LO: OOOH! Can we pick apples? PLEASE?!?
Happy Dude: “Wook! Wook! A tractor! Can we go there? Can we go on that? Can we ride that? Can we see that tractor?”
Me, to Farm Guy: Well, we were mostly thinking about pumpkins, but can we still take the tractor ride?
Farm Guy: Nope, doesn’t work that way.
Me: OK then, since this is Perfect Fall Family Day, apple-picking it is!
So we bought the apple bags and of course, we couldn’t just buy ONE apple bag because every little person needs their OWN apple bag, so we bought THREE apple bags. But then we learned that you have to pay just to ride the freaking tractor whether you want an apple bag or not, so $976 later, we’re ready to ride the tractor. And pick some apples.
We sort of did that.
This method of apple-
picking-choosing was fine with me because the apples in that box looked a LOT better than the ones that were weakly hanging from the trees. Also, it was a bit of a death trap to get to the trees since the GROUND WAS ALREADY COVERED IN APPLES. You had to be a professional log roller to make it to the hanging apples safely.
picking-choosing lasted about 10 minutes before we got back on the tractor and headed back down the hill. Please note: no tractor ride will ever be long enough for Happy Dude. He would have spent the night on that tractor if they would have let him. (We obviously would have let him given the way he wakes us up 14 times every night.)
10:45am: Next on the agenda was the Cereal Bowl. The Cereal Bowl is a giant area filled with a knee-deep pool of large corn kernels. It’s a sensory delight! Which explains why LO decided to make corn angels in the middle of it all. Nothing says Fun Family Day like corn kernels in your underwear, am I right?
The biggest problem with the Cereal Bowl is that each of those large corn kernels must be coated with some type of invisible, addictive powder that rubs off on those under the age of 12 because let me tell you, there was not ONE SINGLE KID in there who was willing to leave. Like ever.
Parents were begging, yelling, bribing, and threatening but nothing. Most parents had to take off their shoes and drag themselves through that corn pit in order to pull their kids back out. Luckily for us, we hadn’t picked out our pumpkins yet, so I had that threat up my sleeve to get my kids to leave.
Picture the fake smile on my face, through gritted teeth, “OK, it’s time to go pick out our pumpkins now! Remember, that’s why we came her in the first place! Please get out of the freakin’ CORN! Goddammit don’t ruin Perfect Fall Family Day by making me scream!”
11:05am: Onto the pumpkin “patch.” I’m fairly certain the Nibbit touched, lifted or rolled every single pumpkin in that yard. He dismissed most of them for one of the following reasons: too small, too heavy, too yucky, too bumpy, too dirty, too crooked or too orange. I offered to take him to Stop & Shop where he could find a nice butternut squash, but he finally found one that he wuved.
11:25am: LAST but not least, no Perfect Fall Family Day is complete without plopping yourselves down on the asphalt and some apple cider doughnuts. Sticky sugar, sugary juice and big smiles. Oh and whining about how they just need ONE more.
I’m going to spare you the details of the second half of the day, but just know that it involved pumpkins and Sharpees and an orange, glittery skeleton. And McDonald’s. Enough said.
All of the kids were asleep before 7:00pm.
What’d I tell ya? It was the Perfect Fall Family Day.