At the very onset of fall, I set a little intention to visit as many local, beautiful places as we could to fully enjoy the fall colors. We managed to visit several new-to-us trails and parks, and visited some other year-round favorites too!
Park and trail visits
Very practically, I tried to plan a park outing or two a week, sometimes with my sister-in-law, sometimes with friends, sometimes with Nicholas, and sometimes just me and the boys.
Cooper does his best hiking in the morning, just after breakfast. I pack snacks (Larabars, grass-fed beef sticks, and That's It bars, usually) and water, bring a carrier for Finn, and wear my Louie Sling from Walker Family Goods (just big enough for my keys and a diaper, some wipes, etc.), and Cooper's Lil Louie [sling] (we call it his adventure pack) for any treasures along the way.
And as for toddler hiking– well, we just do it. We are most successful when we are engaged with our surroundings, commenting on the types of trees we see, the leaves on the ground, the shape of a stick, or a discussion of why that tree fell, etc. On one hike, Coop carried a fallen tree branch with pine needles and "swept" the trail and road for the last mile or so. Toddlers love having a job.
Our most recent favorite trail brought us a few miles in the woods, along boardwalks, in fields, and near an old homestead, which was so fun to explore (great find, Katelyn)! We packed a picnic lunch with the boys and just thoroughly enjoyed the crisp weather and sunshine.
A day trip to Purdue
Aside from parks, back in October, Nicholas and I took the boys down to Purdue University, our alma mater, for the day. It was Parent's weekend and the day of a home game, so campus was rather busy. But it was a cool, sunshine-y day, and we had so much fun showing Cooper the place where we met.
We stopped at Greyhouse, the coffee shop I was a barista at in college, and we wandered campus, visited the clapping circles, and peeking into buildings. We hadn't been back in many years (maybe six?) so it felt odd and nostalgic, and a little surprising how much campus has changed. We've already talked about going back again, on a less busy weekend day, perhaps.
Other fall activities
We had a multitude of pumpkins on our front porch, and I didn't want all of them to go unused, so we picked the best ones, and Cooper helped me bring them inside. I washed them, then halved them, scooped the seeds, and roasted them cut side down on parchment at 350 degrees for about an hour. When the squash flesh was soft and cooled slightly, I scooped it into our blender and processed until smooth, then transferred to freezer bags. Then, I roasted the squash seeds, using this method. I'm looking forward to using pumpkin in lots of recipes.
Other bits and pieces of life
Beyond hikes and playing outside, managing the colossal task of "leaf management" in our yard (phew), and going on family walks in the neighborhood, here are a few other little things we've been up to:
- Listening to instrumental mellow jazz, and also Bruce Cockburn's Speechless album.
- Playing "trains" in our family room, in which various chairs or tables are train cars. This particular train breaks down often, but luckily, Cooper is an excellent train engineer and he has tools to fix it. There is a snack car on the train; a practical addition. And we gave him a train whistle, so all our destinations know we are coming.
- Finn is crawling short distances! And also trying to pull himself (not quite successfully yet). He babbles a lot and thinks Cooper is hilarious, still sleeps best on me, and just generally brings joy wherever he is. Such a little sweetheart. He fits into the Flax Light sweater I knit for Cooper, and I love that.
- Making sourdough bagels (and bagel sandwiches with lunch meat and raw, local cheese)
- Knitting with babies close by, or a sleeping Finn on me
- Reading Bunny Cakes and The Snowman
- Dreaming of homemade pumpkin pie and stuffing
- Loving my women's Bible study at church and the way these women love on Finn/offer to hold him.
My hands and heart are especially full on these fall days, in the absolute best way, preparing our home and hearts. I'm eagerly anticipating more goodness in the coming cozy season, and so thankful for these days outside and at home with these little boys.