Happy October from the Mom of a Kid Who Hates Pants

autumn colorful leaves backgroundThe sun sets earlier now, the days are slowly cooling down. All around us the trees gradually change from green to varying shades of reds, oranges and yellows.

I love this time of year for so many reasons. I embrace the cooler temps and the cozy sweaters. I happily trade in my flip flops for a pair of cute boots. I look forward to making a cup of hot tea before I sit down at the desk in the morning to write and actually drinking it without breaking into a sweat.

I love everything about fall.

Or at least I did until I had kids.

Spring and Fall are seasons of transition, at least in this part of the globe. While I may be thrilled to change over my entire wardrobe, there are others in my home who are considerably less enthusiastic about changing theirs.

As a mom to a kid with autism, even high functioning, I anticipate some of the challenges I will face from day-to-day while other challenges still seem to hit me completely off guard even when I know they are coming.

Even when I start giving warnings in mid- September with concrete boundaries. As in, “On October 1st, I am putting away the shorts and we will have to wear long pants.”

Period. The end.

It’s still a struggle. Who knew that long pants could cause so much revolt and strife? To me, they are simply shorts, only longer. Yeah, okay, it feels a little weird on my legs after so many months of being bare, but I adapt to the funny feeling quickly enough. To me, it’s more important not to freeze.

But maybe I’m just an odd ball?

For my son, who doesn’t adapt quite so easily to different sensory inputs, the day I declared it “no more shorts day” I might as well have been heralding the apocalypse. The world will never be the same. How will we go on?

Yes, even with the warnings that this day would come, my morning was met with screams and resistance.

Why do I love this time of year so much?

When my brisk walks through the park kicking dry leaves under my feet are overshadowed by the constant fight to get dressed in the morning?

Because you know, long pants are only the beginning.

There will be coats. (shudder)

Sigh. No matter what, being a mom is never easy and there are always going to be battles whether they are battles of will or battles of routine and sensory perceptions.

Put on the pants and maybe, just maybe, I’ll treat you to a cup of hot chocolate to make up for it? 😉

Just breathe… And let there be pumpkins and Halloween decorations! It’s October!

 

Frolicking My Way Through Friday

pepperAs some of you already know, I recently added a new addition to my pack… errr…family. I was told she’s a black lab/retriever mix. I don’t know if this means she’s black lab mixed with a golden or a lab mixed with some unknown breed. She looks a lot like a lab though.

The young couple that had her before us adopted her at 8 weeks, kept her for 4 weeks, and then decided they needed to find a new home. They never took her to a vet but aside from having two types of worms and a few fleas, she’s very healthy according to our vet. And oh, not only is she absolutely adorable but she’s one of the cuddliest dogs I’ve ever met.

Maybe I’m just not used to a dog that likes affection. Webster is a good dog but he made it clear from day one that he had no interest in being held and even when you go to pet him, he often leans away as if he’s trying to let you know that he’s not really into the contact. He’ll let me give him attention but it’s limited and he would never jump in my lap. But if it’s playing you want to do? Well then, grab a rope toy because he’s ready to go!

Now that Pepper has been a member of our family for three weeks, we’ve had a chance to get settled in and I’m happy to say that she’s a perfect fit. Even on her first night in a new place, she had no anxieties about being somewhere different. We’ve had a few hiccups learning where to potty but for the most part, she’s also good about going outside now as well. webandme

dogsAnd then there are Webster and Pepper together! They are two dogs that simply cannot get enough of playing. It’s rather amusing to watch “giant” Webster with “tiny” Pepper, although he’s surprisingly gentle with her. He will grab a rope toy and entice her to chase him and obviously, she can’t resist.  I am grateful that we’ve been having such warm and sunny weather because it’s nice to be able to tell them to go play outside in the afternoon. They chase each other through the woods behind the house and all over the yard. I often watch them and wonder who is getting more tired – Webster or Pepper but I think the real answer is ME! Ha ha

When they do manage to exhaust each other and it’s time to rest, Pepper has attempted to cuddle up next to Webster but each time, he gently takes his paw and pushes her away or he gets up and moves. He’s truly not a cuddle dog, not even with other dogs. That’s okay though because then she ends up on my lap instead and I am not complaining a bit.

Dogs are awesome. They are loyal, happy, friendly, playful – everything you could ever ask for in a friend. They live in the moment and love life. We all should be a little more like them. Okay, maybe they have their annoying moments as well. (Don’t we all?) But for the most part, you can’t go wrong having one or two around.

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A Foggy Morning October Run

October 008Dressed in my orange ‘Happy Halloween’ t-shirt and a pair of black running shorts, I laced up my sneakers and headed to the park for my morning run. October settled over the area in the form of dense fog which certainly added to the pre-Halloween atmosphere.

Although I love summer and the carefree days hanging out with my boys, I have to admit October has always topped my list of favorite months. There is just something so invigorating about the cooler days and the colorful leaves. I love apples and pumpkins and looking at Halloween decoration. I love wrapping myself in a blanket on the couch and getting caught up in a great ghost story. But most of all, this is a great time of year to be an outdoor runner and I’m making the most of it by getting out to enjoy it while it lasts!

Cooler air overnight brought powerful thunderstorms. I’m not usually one to wake up to the crash of thunder but this time, it was hard to miss. Those sunny warm days we were enjoying are suddenly replaced by a fall morning chill. This is the first morning I have felt compelled to grab a light sweatshirt before heading to the park.

The fog is lingering and the ground is wet from last night’s rain, making the leaves that have already fallen a little slick along the trail. It is also quiet. I suppose many people looked out their window this morning and decided today is not a good day to go outside.

Me, I’m still running. As a matter of fact, I am pushing myself a little harder in preparation for my second 5K race coming up on the 11th of October. I was so exhilarated after the first 5K (The Graffiti Run in early August) that I rushed to find another one I could participate in before the cold weather sets in. Now, I’m starting to think maybe I was a little crazy.October 016 Am I ready to do that again? I don’t feel ready. Then again, I said the same thing the first time. All I can do is keep running and on race day, hope to be a little less anxious, and definitely ready to run.

I’ve started getting off the main trail to explore paths through the woods, not just to run farther, but because I like to explore. My current favorite path is barely wide enough to walk but it’s a peaceful meander amongst trees with lots of twists and ups and downs. And okay, the occasional spider web that I’m forced to walk through – but I’m less impressed with those.

During my time in the woods, my mind is free to start thinking about my day ahead, especially what I will write. I like to imagine my characters walking with me. What would they do?

Where will they lead me?

It’s a new month and a new day to explore. I’m ready to sit back with a cup of tea, stretch out tired muscles, and put words to paper to weave new worlds…

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Fall Family Picnic

Oct 079Every fall we make it a tradition to have a family picnic at Moraine State Park. This includes not just my husband, my kids, and me, but also my parents and my brother as well. We plan ahead of time who will bring what, nothing fancy, usually just hot dogs on the grill along with some pasta salad, and plenty of goodies to enjoy. That was the menu plan this year, at any rate. After we eat and catch up, we all head to the extensive bike trail for a long walk together. Inevitably, we end up at the play area for the kids to swing, climb, and go down the slides. And okay, sometimes the adults take part in this fun as well.

I’m grateful that we didn’t miss our annual picnic at Moraine this year and that we had such a beautiful day to enjoy it together. Of course, where I go, the camera goes too so I have plenty of photos to share of some of the sights that took my interest along the way. Oct 082 Above is a lovely view of the bike trail as we started on our walk. And to the right is a view of Lake Arthur. There were a lot of sailboats on the water. You can just about make out one in the distance in this particular photo. I love the way the water sparkles in the sun.

Oct 084My husband shakes his head and says, “You and flowers…”

Yes, flowers and me… I have a strange obsession with taking photos of them and if you could peek into the files on my computer, you would see that I have hundreds of them already and I still can’t help myself to take more every chance that I get. I love to capture them in photos, which is better than cutting them and killing them just for a few days of being pretty on my table. And yes, I feel this way even about the weeds and I always have.

Oct 086My kids adore their grandparents. We don’t see them as often as they’d like because we live many miles apart but when we do see them, it makes those moments even sweeter. I couldn’t resist stealing a photo of the kids as they walk along the trail with Grandpa. What do you suppose they are talking about? Are they discussing the caterpillars that we see now and then? Are they pointing out the color in the leaves? Or maybe, knowing these are my kids and my kids happen to be superhero obsessed, perhaps they are discussing the details of how Iron Man or Captain America would save the day? This is, after all, serious business.

Oct 110And then there were more flowers and once again, I could not resist. Even in the fall when everything begins to die, they are still beautiful, maybe even more so than in summer’s full bloom.

The days are getting shorter. The trees are even more vibrant than they were a week ago and many leaves have already fallen. I like to believe that I’m capturing every moment before it disappears and gives way to winter cold and snow.

And last but not least, I leave you with my very favorite photo that I’ve taken so far…

Oct 115The sun is setting over another fun-filled family day. My kids call these “wish flowers” because I told them that if they close their eyes and blow away the seeds, they could make a wish and it would come true. My oldest wished for more wish flowers because he loves watching the seeds scatter. Now, I think that is one wish that just might come true.

If you could sit in the grass and watch the sun set over the lake, pick this flower and make just one wish …

What would you wish for?

 

Fall Into Autumn

Sept 118Every month and every season has something special to offer but October is my favorite month of all. I enjoy spring when the world comes alive again and everything is super green. I enjoy summer when the sun shines and we can get away with shorts and t-shirts. I even enjoy winter with its crisp, fresh snow, although I admit that winter could be a little shorter. I have often believed that I was born in the perfect place on earth because here in Pennsylvania, I get a taste of each season at its best.

Sept 086During the fall, I love to get outside in the Pennsylvania woods and of course, where I go, the camera goes too.  I took these photos during my last ‘hiking’ adventure with the family. We got off the regular path in the park and explored the trails. Great fun for the kids who lead the way. Great fun for me who lingered behind snapping photos at whatever caught my interest. An hour in and we realized that we had no idea where we were and how to get back out again. (oops) We didn’t panic. We pushed on and when the trail we were on didn’t appear to get us close to an escape from the woods, we abandoned it and tried to back track. Eventually we found our way out.

Now that the kids are at school, I have the option to get out on my own a bit more and I’ve started taking advantage of this fact by visiting the park three times per week to run. Okay, a runner I am not, but I am trying and I haven’t died yet. Sept 087I have discovered this is not just a means to try to shed a few extra pounds and get back in shape, but a wonderful opportunity to witness summer’s last goodbyes as the world transforms around me into autumn. Every morning that I park the car and head toward the path through the woods, I notice that the leaves on the trees have gained a little more color. The smell of fall is in the air. The sun may still be shining and the days may still be warm but there are the first hints of a cool breeze that promise frost that will only be a matter of weeks away.

The autumn sun is softer than the summer sun and when it filters through the trees, it makes the yellow leaves glow and the reds more vibrant. When the breeze picks up, the leaves let go of the trees and cascade down along the path like a golden rain. There is something almost magical about running through it. It makes me feel like a kid again. Remember when we would gather leaves into giant piles and jump into them? Sept 097

Sometimes as I run, I see the big, fuzzy caterpillars along the path – a sign of winter to come!

The park is a quiet place anyway but on a weekday morning, it is even more so. It gives me the chance to escape into my own thoughts as I walk or run, work out my next story, or just daydream. No kids to complain that they don’t want to walk anymore. No fighting. Just myself and the world around me and occasionally, the fellow walker that I pass along the way.

I know that eventually the days will not be as warm and we’ll wake up to frost on the ground again. Eventually the trees will shake free of all their leaves and I’ll be running over them scattered on the dirt path. Eventually it will even be so cold that getting out of the car and walking along the path will lose Sept 104its appeal. (But I hope that doesn’t happen.) In the blink of an eye, I won’t be surrounded by the vibrant colors and the smell of fall. I won’t come home to apple cider or see pumpkins and corn stalks outside the neighbor’s houses anymore. I will miss fall when it ends but in the meantime, I intend to enjoy every moment that I can.

I look forward to the trips to the farm and many more travels through the woods.

I hope that you will enjoy it right along with me in my photos.

What is your favorite thing about autumn?

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