Tonawanda News — Well, summer is over. Despite a number of educational changes for my children this year, they have successfully, and very happily, started school. My husband and I joined parents everywhere in breathing an immense sigh of relief.
After the non-stop bustle that was our summer ... and then preparing for the school year ... what’s next? Even if we were so inclined to sit still for a while, there’s no way that would work well with two extremely active little boys. But still, there’s this sort of hiatus, a sense of taking a deep breath between the start of school and the next phase in our year.
Once we exhale, I’ve already started considering ways to fill in those days and occupy the kids. And I’m starting to remember why autumn is really one of my favorite times of the year.
All those everyday sorts of activities that were eclipsed by the summer hubbub and near-constant outdoor play? We’re bringing them back. The weather tends to be fairly beautiful during Western New York fall, but soon enough those nights will start getting chilly and sunset times will start getting even earlier. (My 4-year-old is already a little confused by this, leading to an impromptu lesson in basic astronomy one evening.)
We’re creating a family movie night once a week. I want my kids to see some of those Disney classics that I grew up with, and when we finally do make it to Disney World (a family goal), they’ll have a good background for all those beloved characters and their stories. Add popcorn and pull out the couch and voila ... a true home theater.
Our family reading times will return as well. Books are a major part of our lives anyway, but a chosen story before bedtime and frequent games with flashcards to help back up school lessons are always a good idea. The chapter-a-night book of the moment is “The Wind in the Willows,” one of my favorites.
I love fall. I love the scents (fallen leaves), the tastes (pumpkin, cinnamon, apple cider), the slightly cooler days and even the way the light falls ... it’s perfect for photographs. I also love the plethora of fall activities that are out there.
I’ve visited Pumpkinville down in Cattaraugus County, near where I grew up, almost every year my entire life. It’s perfect for little kids, too, with no admission, lots of things to see (petting zoo, the field of pumpkins, the “Boo Barn,” etc.) and some of the most delicious things out there. If you go, I highly recommend the fresh apple cider — there’s nothing like it — and please have a pumpkin cupcake for me.
My family have also visited the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence quite a bit over the years and while the place is so big I honestly find it a little overwhelming, the boys always have fun. I’m hoping this is the year we finally manage to make it to Becker Farms in Gasport for the annual Fall Fiesta events.
More locally, on Sept. 29, a Fall Festival is planned for Veterans Park on Niagara Street in Tonawanda. It’s billed as featuring food, basket raffles, an arts and crafts show, a pumpkin patch, special activities and more. Sounds good to me.
We’ve already started talking about costumes possibilities, of course, at least with the younger kid. (Jim doesn’t care much about costumes as long as they’re not fussy and there’s nothing around his face.)
Sam has some distinct preferences, although he hasn’t managed to settle on one. First he wanted to be a Jedi. Then a pirate. Then Batman. Now we’re in a tie between Perry the Platypus (of “Phineas & Ferb” fame) and Capt. Hook. Of all my crafty hobbies, sewing is not one of them, so it may simply come down to what available and not astronomically priced. (Sorry, Sam.)
Last year, it felt like we took part in something Halloween-related every weekend in October. Probably our favorite was the Haunted Harbor at Gateway Harbor Park in the Tonawandas, with trick or treating at all the stations and the boats whose owners decorated them for Halloween. I think this really might have something to do with Sam’s desire to be a pirate. (We didn’t partake of the haunted house, but I hear it was a blast. Maybe when the kids are older.) This year’s event will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 20.
The Buffalo Zoo also hosts its annual Howl-O-Ween Hayrides, with treat stations, hayrides, games, apple cider and doughnuts. Our visit last year was a huge hit. This year’s event takes place Oct. 20, 21, 27 and 28.
Maybe it’s going to be a busy time of year, after all.Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.