Friday, November 1, 2019

Fall Fun

Seasons of Change
and some of our favorite, budget friendly fall activities!

Sometimes it seems as if everyone in the world thinks Fall is the greatest of seasons.  It's not like people post on social media that summer is on its way!  I mean I could get behind a post about the warmth in the air, flip flops on sale, the scent of coconut and pina colada flavored everything!  I am a summer girl through and through.  I admit though there are some really great things about fall, too.  It just so happens to be my second favorite season.  Mostly because it tends to stay warm longer and have more sunny days than spring here in Utah.  Plus, after 2 1/2 months of summer having a schedule and most of the kids gone to school during the day is also something I can get behind!  I'd just like to get behind it in warmer weather.
With the beginnings of the holidays, yep, I'm counting Halloween, we do have some family traditions we try and make happen.  It seems it's getting harder and harder these days to get my entire family along on our adventures.  I'm having a hard time adjusting to this phase of life.  I am so thankful I still have all my kids living here at home, even the ones pursuing their college degrees.  I'm grateful they see the advantage in saving money on rent and food by living here and eating up my groceries.  Truthfully!  I'm gonna be one sad mommy when they leave even though I realize it will happen someday and it will be a good thing for them.  If not for me,  haha.
Fall 2014
It feels like this phase of life hit me like a brick.  Only a few years ago...ok, maybe like 5-ish, life felt comfortable.  Like my dreams had come to fruition and we were living what we'd been working toward since we started our family.  We had 6 of our kids the oldest about 13.  When planning activities or impromptu outings it was a given they were coming along.  The oldest was capable of staying home alone and babysitting a little bit, but she normally had more fun coming along and playing with the younger kids.  The older boys were still young enough to have fun and play.  Everyone would play with the little ones and I was in mommy paradise with all my kids with me and capturing great pics and making wonderful memories.  Little did I know that the change on the horizon was coming quicker than I imagined and would hit harder than I expected.  I try to respect their wishes if they don't want to tag along.  I get that some of our family adventures are geared toward the littler kids.  Unfortunately, it seems each year that goes by we have less and less of the little kids to enjoy them.  This year was an awakening for me as our "thing 4", Andi, had turned 12 this summer and hit the time I like to refer to as the 180.  The 12th year is the magic year where all things change.  Their bodies, their attitudes, and their ability to be young and play.  It happens seemingly overnight! So yep, this phase of life is proving a little difficult for me.  It hit me before I was prepared, as most life changes do and its requiring me to adjust the best I can.  It's taken a little while, a lot of hurt feelings, sadness and reminding myself it's the way it supposed to be.  I tell myself I should pat myself on the back for a job well done instead, but when your whole life's goal was to have a family full of kids and create this experience for them, it's hard not to feel sad that someday they will leave.  Even if its the way it's supposed to happen. Don't misunderstand.  It's been an amazing thing to see them grow from babies into the people God intended them to be.  It's a privilege to watch them reach toward their dreams, set a goal and work towards it.  There is something to be said for the individual stages each of my kids are at right now.  I love being an adult mom, a teen mom, a big kid mom, and a toddler mom.  I'm thankful to enjoy and know each of them. It's been a true gift to have started again with our sweet baby girl.  I'm thankful for more adventures as she grows, even if it might be just mom, dad and her.
zoo 2019
It's just been difficult for me to adjust to the fact that rarely is the entire family available, or on board, to go on adventures together.  The last time we all went on an outing as an entire family was my 40th birthday when I made them take me to the zoo.  I'm slowly learning to have no expectations of whether the oldest three kids will come along.  I invite them to join us and get to be pleasantly surprised when they want to come with us! We do have times where we go out of our way to get everyone together. We plan family vacations where we make sure we are all available to attend and plan different things to do that each of us might enjoy. That way they all get at least one outing on the trip that is geared to each of them and their interests or enjoyment.
Ian and Eisley Fall 2019
 I'm also learning to adjust my expectations on how our family time will be.  It's crazy because if at anytime you ask me if it's possible to have a perfect family experience I would probably laugh in your face.  I'm well aware we have a bunch of strong willed, loud personalities who will always say what they think and fight to the death to have the seat in the car they want.  So, why then, do I go temporarily brain dead when I'm trying to plan a family adventure or vacation and expect any different?  I've come to the conclusion that I can't manufacture the perfect outing and create a perfect memory.  I'm also beginning to accept it.  It's taken me a lot of time.  It isn't such a sting anymore.  I accept that we all have different personalities, and moods and it can be complete chaos at times, truthfully, most times. But, memories can't be built.  They can't be designed.  Some of the best memories are created at the times you least expect.  They are watching Ian, the 15 year old walk through a pumpkin patch with his baby sister in search of the perfect pumpkin for her.  It's watching Kinzie, the oldest taking her down the slide and laughing the whole way as if she enjoyed the ride more than she did.  It's watching the three oldest in the backseat of the car singing "Ibiza", because
Aidan, Kinzie, and Ian Winter 2015
it's playing non-stop on the radio, as we drive the street of San Fransisco, my favorite city on a family trip.  They happen when the 11 year old boy is throwing a fit and refusing to sit with the family during a picnic at the amusement park.  He leaves his food to refill his drink and a seagull comes along and steals his hamburger.  It's the laughter that ensues as he blames his dad for taking it.  Memories can be made in the midst of the craziest outings, the most chaos, when some kid or other is in a horrible mood and chooses to be miserable.  They will happen whether you have all 7 of your kids along, you get one of the older kids to tag along with the 4 younger ones, or you take your baby and spend a couple hours alone at a small local pumpkin patch. 
Mommy and Eisley Fall 2019
Memories can happen everyday.  The only way to create them is to be in each moment. The good, the bad, the crazy, the hilarious, the precious and sometimes you luck out and take a trip to San Fransisco where all the kids get along, everyone has a blast and universally claim it as their favorite family trip ever.  You really just never know!!

Here are some of our family fall 2019 adventures:

We decided to hit up a pumpkin patch.  We don't like forking out $$$ on Cornbellies every year so headed to Jaker's jack-o-lanterns.  It has all the makings of fun for kids under the age of 10 and a $4 price tag.
Our oldest came along and her lighthearted, joyful nature makes her enjoy almost anything no matter the age range!  She loved taking her sister down the slide!  Bryce, 10, was only about the corn maze and the cotton candy he talked us into buying.  Which of course we made them all share to his supreme disappointment.  Sienna, our 8 year old, probably would've loved it all, but her sidekick and play buddy recently turned 12 so she's trying to figure out this new phase of having to play alone more often these days.  New phases are hard on littles too!  Izzy loved the animals, and walking around like a big girl.  She was not about the corn pit!!
They have everything you need a pumpkin patch to include! A corn pit, and fountain, slides of different sizes, hay maze, petting zoo, pumpkins galore, the corn maze and of course a hayride!  Plus, food trucks and a small concession/gift stand.  I personally had a blast!

Our teeniest little lady LOVES all animals so I knew a trip to a small working farm was on our list of fun things to do this fall!
Once again the middle kids didn't love it as much as when we've gone in years past but I had 5 of 7 kids with me and some of our favorite neighbors along so it was as much of a success as I get these days.  Ian our 15 year old and Eisley, the baby, have a super special bond.  They have since she was born.  He kind of took over making sure she had a good experience but I wasn't upset about it.  Their sweet connection just warms me from the inside out even if I didn't get to be the one to introduce her to all the animals.
Best thing of all is most everything is free!!  They have a couple little play houses for littles, old buildings to explore, including one with all sorts of old tractors and tillers all the way back to the kind that connected to horses. They also have a little shop with snacks and treats and some little items for purchase. Tons of photo ops too!!  The only cost is a wagon ride which we did and our sweet little lady loved and there is an old farm house you can tour for a small cost.  It's only open for tours M-F 11am and 1pm.  I'm already planning a one on one outing with my little lady to go through the house and see the animals again in the spring.

Fall break just happened to start on a Wednesday after an early out day at school so we decided to head a couple hours north with some family to Crystal Hot Springs.  We've only ever experienced it in subzero temps in December.  We are used to freezing our parts off so it was super fun to have the weather be in the high 50's for our outing.  I've done the research before so I knew that Wednesday is  Family Night.  Cost is only $20 for a family of  6.  It's an awesome discount.  Ironically it was a lot less crowed than the after Christmas crowd usually is.  We love it there!  Little lady loves any an all water so she was in seventh heaven!
If you brave the winter temps I suggest separate towels for outside by the pools and so you have a dry one for afterwards.  Using a cold wet towel isn't not fun after running inside in 20 degree weather!  Brrrrr!  I also learned to bring flip flops for outside as well.  It was beyond freezing to run between the pools bare footed the first time we went, and painful!  One thing we also did after our first trip was bring robes to wear out to the pools from the changing rooms and to wear back in afterward. 
The fall weather was perfect however, and we really didn't need all the extras it takes to go in the winter.  One more reason summer is my favorite!  Ha, ha.  All you need is water and sunscreen!

Evans Family Farm

Momma and Izzy decided to visit a small little local pumpkin patch while everyone else was in school.
It's great for kids under 5!  They have slides and corn pit, corn hole, hay maze, pumpkins galore, photo ops, and a little "train ride".  Plus, I would've paid the $3 just to spend the time with the few animals they have in their petting zoo.  Izzy was OBSESSED.  We spent most of the time going pen to pen talking to and petting all the animals.  It was actually one of my favorite little outings this fall.  There is something to be said for a mom of 7 to be out and have fun with just one kid at a time especially when she's easy to please.

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