Today marks the first day of fall. This is one of my favorite seasons. I’m a sweater-and-jeans-kind-of-girl (especially when I’m pregnant; warmer, cozy clothes are so much more conducive to a growing belly), so I’m always ready for the weather to cool off and for the green leaves to turn golden and crimson. October in Georgia is beautiful. The humidity disappears. The sun shines and if we’re lucky, there’s a briskness in the air.
This year the girls and I plan to herald the season in with some fall frolic. Here’s my brainstorming list for fall fun:
Pick some apples. Most orchards’ seasons begin in August and run through October or November. Find a nearby orchard here. Once you have your bushel of apples, make this super easy, homemade applesauce. (It cooks in the microwave in less than 20 minutes.)
Bake pumpkin-themed dishes with the kids. I love the taste of pumpkin. It’s also a really nutritious food that’s packed with vitamins A and C. I recently learned that pumpkins are a good source of iron, too. (Rae is slightly anemic, so I’m really trying to up her iron intake.) Pumpkin seeds are bursting with health benefits as well. We always save the seeds when we carve our jack-o’-lantern. I usually toss them in olive oil and sea salt and then bake them in a shallow pan at 300º for 30 to 40 minutes. I’m a bit of slacker when it comes to using fresh pumpkin. I almost always opt for the convenience of canned pumpkin. I have a lot of delicious recipes where pumpkin plays a starring role, but here are a few of my favorites: pumpkin scones, pumpkin crunch, healthy pumpkin muffins with peanut butter frosting, and penne with pumpkin.
Collect colorful leaves. Go on a nature walk and take in the bright colors of fall. Encourage kids to collect foliage of all colors. Once home, fashion creatures out of the leaves. Or go with the old standby and create leaf rubbings.
Take a hike. My family loves going on easy hikes together on Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons. To find hiking trails in your region, check out Trail Link, or visit the National Park Service’s website. Before hitting the trails, visit eNature. The site includes online field guides as well as comprehensive park guides to over 300 national parks and wildlife refuges. For added fun, plan a scavenger hunt for your family. Make a list of natural artifacts (draw pictures of the items for little ones) to find during the hike such as a maple leaf, a white flower, a big and small pine cone, a smooth pebble, etc. Use some of the pine cones you collected to make a bird feeder with the kids.
Hit a fall festival or fair. We’ve already checked this one off the list. Last weekend Madeline took her first spin on a Ferris wheel, got sticky with cotton candy, pet baby chicks, and sat on her first cow. Rae enjoyed all the activity and was especially pleased when her uncles won her and her sister a big stuffed dog. Find a fair near you here.
Dress your home up for fall. Place freshly chopped logs in the hearth. They give the impression that at any moment – if a chill is in the air – you could light a match to it. Then again, if your fireplace isn’t functional like mine, consider filling the space with candles of different sizes. Display tall autumn candles scented with cinnamon or pumpkin spice along with shorter evergreen candles that smell of pine forests. Put mums on your front porch, or simply display a basket filled with all those pine cones the kids gathered during your nature hikes.
Play with the pigskin. Fall means football to a lot of folks and while I’m not a huge sports fan (much to the dismay of my parents and brothers who are pretty much obsessed with sports, especially Notre Dame football and the Chicago Cubs), I do enjoy playing catch with my family. We use a soft Nerf football with our preschooler, and plenty of giggles ensue when I pretend to have a bad case of butterfingers (at least she thinks I’m pretending; sometimes I’m not because that slippery sucker can be hard to catch.)
How do you celebrate the fall season with your family?