Fall Inspired

Did you know you can order a frappucino with no coffee in it? Now you might be thinking what’s the point, and I would agree, except my oldest son is hooked on Pumpkin Spice frappucinos. 

It started innocently enough over the summer when we were with family and someone ordered an extra s’mores frappucino and had no one to take it. The drink looks enough like a shake that my son said,  “I’ll try it.” After one gulp he was a fan. 

Since the Fall-Inspired drinks have come out he’s been eager to make a pilgrimage, at least once a week, to get one (Starbucks will substitute cream for the espresso — that was my son and my’s compromise). My boys started talking in the car on a recent evening about the drink and the inspiration for it. My youngest hasn’t had one and isn’t interested. Instead he shared he likes Halloween-Inspired drinks. “Like what?” his older brother asked. “I don’t know,” he pondered for a moment, “like cider, I guess.” “That’s not Halloween-Inspired,” said his brother, “it’s Fall-Inspired too!” I have to admit it was amusing to listen to them argue the merits of Fall-Inspired vs. Halloween-Inspired for a few minutes. Their conversation reminded me of the smells, looks, tastes and experience we associate with each season. Fall, in particular. What’s not to like?

I like that my boys are picking up on the senses of the season too. Regardless if it’s Fall or Halloween-Inspired.

What do you and your child like most about the season?

Falling in Love — Don’t Go Changing

Who was your first crush? How did you let them know you liked them? Were you yourself, or did you change yourself to try to be what you thought they’d want you to be?

My youngest is learning about love. He has had a girlfriend for several years. He adores her, and has already planned out their future life (where they’ll live, the number of kids they’ll have and their names). But, he has a new friend at school who insists she loves him. She’s new to his class and sits next to him.

With my youngest being on the autism spectrum, he struggles with social cues. Picking up on others non-verbal communication (facial expression, body stance, proximity, etc.) and sometimes struggles with their meaning. He often takes others very literally, but in the case of this young woman, he is confused when she says “I love you.”

I recently went to my son’s school to see him participate in a fundraiser (Walk-a-thon). His classmate was there and he introduced me. She said “Seriously?” with a nervous giggle. And when my son confirmed I was indeed his mom she said, “Well, please don’t take him away from me because I really like talking to him.” I was a little confused by this statement because there was no discussion prior around anyone taking anyone else away.  After watching my son with her for a little while I started to understand why this girl had feelings for my son.

My son doesn’t have many friends. He is a very lovable kid, but not understanding social cues has made it difficult for him to truly bond with others. This girl likes my son as he is. She doesn’t expect him to act a certain way, or want him to change. My son only knows how to be himself. He likes talking to this girl. He likes that she likes him as he is. He is excited by the prospect of having a friend. What I picked up at the Walk-a-thon was that my son is showing this girl attention she isn’t used to, he accepts her as she is, and isn’t looking for her to change. I know if I ever came across a boy who had so easily accepted me as I was at their age, I probably would have liked him too.

Now my son is dealing with a girl who doesn’t understand the way my son’s mind works, and mistakes his interest in having a friend, as him being interested in her as more than a friend. She recently wrote him a letter that he brought home. It read something to the effect of, “Are you mad at me? I hope not, because I love you and I miss talking to you. Please don’t break my heart.” It broke my heart reading it. She is so courageous to be so open and sure about her feelings. My son doesn’t love her. My son does like having a friend, and thinks this girl is nice. I’m not sure how she will understand that. My son has tried telling her, “I just want to be friends” after getting some coaching from my husband and his older brother, but she seems to be holding out hope that he will change his mind.

As a young person, I would have been crushed if I had had the guts to tell a boy I liked him and then he rejected me (telling me he just wanted to be friends would have felt like a rejection). When I was their age, I didn’t have the guts. I am aware of how we form opinions of who we are and what we have to offer the world early in life. When we don’t feel like we are accepted or our affections reciprocated it allows the seed of “I’m not good enough” to take hold. I don’t want my son’s friend to not feel she’s good enough. I’m not sure my son could or would handle it differently if he didn’t have the challenges that come with being on the spectrum. Maybe he would have not be so open to being friends with her, maybe he would have been more conscientious about how he was behaving around her or other girls. I’d rather him be who is as he is. Not getting caught up in ‘appearances’ — what you look like, who you’re friends with, what activities you’re into, where you live, etc. — is refreshing. People like this are rare. I get why this young person loves my son. I only hope that she can accept he likes her as she is, and she can like herself that way too.

How have you stayed true to who you are in relationship? How are you helping your child avoid the “I’m not good enough” seed from starting to grow?

Grab a Blanket and Snuggle Up — its Time for Favorite Fall Traditions

What part of Fall do you love the most?

There is a reason so many of us love this time of year. There is a nostalgia for me around Fall’s of old and the warmth and comfort that goes along with the season. I hope my kids are developing similar memories.

One of our favorite traditions is going to the pumpkin patch. We go each year with family and enjoy all the pumpkin patch has to offer: hot cider, Halloween decorations, pumpkins (of course) and fields upon fields of farmland to explore. Our boys love running through the fields with us or their cousins to find the perfect pumpkin or explore the corn maze.

Another is watching the leaves change color. From green to a bright yellow, fire orange or deep red–the leaves changing invokes such an appreciation inside for the beauty around me–even when it is getting colder and a little drearier outside. I point the change in color to my boys each morning when we are outside. I hope they are appreciating this magical change as much as I am.

Hot apple cider or hot chocolate. A cup of one provides a warmth beyond what the beverage is providing. When I take a sip I experience a memory of being loved and safe. Those of pretty powerful things to feel from such a simple drink. My boys love the drinks, but prefer their drinks not-so-hot. With these drinks being much easier to get year round than when I was growing up, I wonder if they will enjoy them as much as I do, or if they will ever have the same effect.

Decorations. Each year our kids eagerly await getting the decorations out. We don’t have many, but that ones we do have we all treasure. Haunted Houses that light up. An animatronic haunted tree that sings a spooky song, and a lamp that casts jack-o-lantern faces on the wall. The kids love them all, and so do my husband and I.

Pumpkin Carving. This is a tradition my sister started. Instead of carving our pumpkins at home, she gathers friends and family together to carve our pumpkins together. There is a house full of people, with plenty of food and good conversation to go around. It’s fun to be creative and inspire each other in what we carve and watch our kids go from observers to expert carvers over the years.

The Fall hold so many wonderful memories for me–its like wrapping yourself in a warm, soft blanket–comforting and joyous.

What are you and your family’s favorite Fall traditions? What do you love the most about the season?

A Change in the Weather

What is your favorite time of year, and what makes it so?

In our house, Fall is right up there.  We made a list of our favorite things (kinda of like Oprah’s Favorite Things list, but made up of things you just can’t buy). 🙂

There are the normal things we look forward to every year:

  • Apple cider
  • The return of college football and going to Red Mill (Red Mill is a burger place that is open all year round. For whatever reason the return of college football reminds us it’s time to go back to Red Mill)
  • The leaves changing color, and
  • Going to the pumpkin patch (we’ll do that here in a few weeks)

And there are those things that are temporary, having to do more with my children’s ages and interests than anything else:

  • Watching my oldest son practicing soccer past sunset with his team
  • Spending more time with other moms during practice — we’ve found the kids don’t seem to miss us if we slip away for a hot beverage or quick meal and get back by the time it’s over
  • Watching and cheering my son and his teammates on at the game (it’s nerve racking for me)
  • Spending time on the playground with my younger son while older brother plays in a game (I’m much calmer here)
  • Decorating a gingerbread Haunted House (again, we’ll do that here in a few weeks…and as much as I’d like to think this will be a long-term tradition, I fear it will only last as long as the boys are interested in doing it).

Time continues to pass. The boys are getting older. We reached a new milestone this season. Our membership expired at the zoo. We’ve had a membership there since the kids were babies. They no longer seem interested in seeing the animals. Other parents warned us this was coming, but it feels a little like a change in the weather…nothing ever really stays the same, and that’s okay. The constant traditions of Fall I look forward to, they will always be there. The ones that are yet-to-be excite me. What activities or temporary traditions will the new seasons bring for my family? We’ll just have to wait and see.

What are your favorite Fall traditions?

The Fall-t in Our Stars

What is the last book you read that stayed with you after finishing it? It made you think. It made you appreciate what you have. It touched you in some way.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is such a book for me. Yes, it’s of the Young Adult genre, and targeted for the teenage demographic, but each of us has some part of our teenage self still inside us, right?

For me, The Fault in Our Stars is about living life, really living while you are able. Pushing yourself to experience things even when you aren’t sure you’ll like the outcome. Letting no task (or story) go unfinished.

As time falls back this weekend, I’m reminded of life’s timeline. How it can feel very linear and static — predictable. Each season comes and goes. I experience great joy during the Fall: cooler temperatures, changing colors, and warm cider; and also great sadness: missing the warmer days, missing seeing leaves (of any color) on the trees, and missing the sun (there will be many gray days ahead). It almost seems unfair that a season can have both affects on you. But Fall is a great reminder for life. It reminds us that living things die, but great rebirth is just around the corner. That life is temporary.

I am aware of the beauty of Fall all around me. I look forward to enjoying the season as it comes. I can imagine grabbing a cup of warm cider, a nice warm blanket and finding a comfortable chair to reflect on this knowledge. Then perhaps, I may turn my attention to a good book.

Any suggestions?

 

 

Full of Disguises

Each October, as Halloween nears, my children pull out their favorite holiday books. Substitute Creature by Chris Gall has become a family favorite. The story is about a substitute teacher that has come to bring order to a class that is out-of-control. The substitute shares tales of children who have misbehaved and the dreadful things that have resulted from their actions to deter his current class. And it is eventually revealed that the substitute used to be mischievous himself when he was his students’ age which results in him having to wear his costume until he can redeem himself. And redeem himself he does. It’s a story of hope, accepting yourself—flaws and all, and living a life you feel good about. It’s about seeing the error of your ways, making amends, and finding your way back home.  My kids love it. We read it almost every night.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Not for the sinister decorations or gore that some may find thrilling. Instead I like the imagination it conjures up and creativity is exposes in all who participate. It never fails, each year I’ll see someone in an original costume that makes me wonder why didn’t I think of that?  Or decorations that pull me.

A Halloween costume can be very revealing, and not in the literal sense (though it can be that too). You can tell who has put effort and thought into their costume and who has not. It allows us to hide behind make-up, a hairdo, outfit or mask. For one night we become someone else. It can be freeing.

It reminds me of the book. How many of us are comfortable in your own skin? How many of us wish we were someone else, even if only temporary?  How do we disguise our true selves? Do some wear disguises each day without knowing it? Are disguises worn to protect ourselves from others? Or protect ourselves from knowing our inner most selves? It can be scary to think about.

The good news is there is hope, just like in the story. As we get comfortable with our true selves, any disguises we are wearing more easily come off. It’s accepting yourself as you are—flaws and all and living the life you were intended. It’s about finding your way back home (perhaps figuratively, but it’s true), living a life free of disguises.

Are you comfortable in your own skin, and sharing your true self with others? Or are you hiding behind a disguise like so many of us?

Happy Halloween.

The Pumpkin Patch

Our tradition of going to the pumpkin patch each October started after our children were born. Prior to this the idea of getting in a car and driving a long distance to get a pumpkin or Christmas Tree had always seemed silly. Why go the distance when I can just get the pumpkin at the grocery store. I know. I know. How very practical, right?

When we first went to a pumpkin patch, I felt like I had been transported. Hundreds of families were all around, grabbing wheel barrows to cart their pumpkins around in, there were hay rides, a petting zoo, a corn maze and all the wonderful smells of Autumn. After being given a hot apple cider, my husband and I took the scene all in. I felt alive. I was in the moment, watching my children enjoy the pumpkin patch and fully experiencing it the wonder that was going on around me.

How often do we get to make these memories with our very busy lives? It felt good to make the time for this special adventure.

Going to the pumpkin patch has become an annual tradition for us. There is nothing new per se about the trip that happens each year, but it’s quality time we get to have together. It’s precious time in that we’ll only get to do this as a family for so long.

I take my cider and sip on it slowly as I try to make the moment last longer. It really is a special time.

What special fall traditions do you and your family partake in?

Fall-ing in Love

I love fall. The first hints of crispness in the air, a hint of colder temperatures coming and the leaves changing. It was beautiful and I’m reminded of the beauty I’m surrounded by in nature with each passing season.

I recently visited Stowe, VT with friends. The connecting time was invaluable. The surroundings made it that much more special. Gorgeous red, yellow, orange and green leafs everywhere; pumpkins, warm cider and maple products around; the first fire in the fireplace since spring; and football on TV.  It took me to a nostalgic place reminding me of my childhood where my love of fall was born. Getting relief from the warm Florida weather, going to football games with family and friends, being cold and needing a blanket and a warm drink to stave off the cooler air. It was a special time.

Someone asked me how my trip was.  I responded “Stowe was all the things I love about fall in one place.” How often do we experience that?

I sometimes wonder how my children experience fall. Do they get as much enjoyment out of going to the pumpkin patch each year as I do?  Do they look forward to pumpkins carvings, deciding on Halloween costumes, trick-o-treating, and keeping warm with layered clothes and a hot chocolate or apple cider like me?

I’m not looking forward to the leaves being gone from the trees back home, or the rain and colder temperatures that will be around for many months to come, but I have a wonderful memory I can go back to when needed and new ones getting added with my family all the time.

If that doesn’t work, a cup of hot cider should do it.