of J.B. TOLS.
I am an interior designer, photographer, blogger, advocate, adventurer, and mom to five boys. I love advocating for others and exploring new places--both near and far.

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October 8, 2019

The title is a bit deceiving. I suppose that I can consider myself a bit lucky because I did have some kids at the orchard and pumpkin patch with me on this very warm fall day. So, I am not totally empty-nested just yet.

My oldest son happened to be in town over my youngest sons fall break. So, I took the opportunity to take him with us to the apple orchard and to pick some pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. As the oldest child, he remembers many, many years of this being the fall tradition. We would load him and his seven siblings into the big Suburban and make a fun day of this annual trip.

Today, it was just the three of us and grandma.

My father passed away from cancer in 2011. Just this year, my mom sold their home and property and moved into the house that backs up to mine. It has been good for her to be close to family, to be involved in family activities and to be included, in general.

It is hard to continue family traditions without the entire family being together. That is probably one of the hardest parts of empty-nesting for me. There is a certain energy and dynamic when everyone is together. Everyone feeds off of the joy and excitement of the other. And, it is so sweet when you have little ones still in the bunch; they see so much wonder in even the most mundane things.

Another family with little boys was at the orchard while we were there. The boys had to be two and three years old, maybe. And, outside of the building there were bushel baskets full of miniature gourds. The three year old walked up to the gourds and said, “Oh mommy….they are soooooo boootiful”. I could have cried right there, thinking about and remembering the precious days when my own littles thought that miniature gourds were boooootiful.

We have to appreciate each phase of life that we are in; take our moments to remember and mourn the joyous years of raising our children and then get back to the business of cherishing the moments that we get to live today. One day, I will be in the same phase of life as my mother: watching her grand children grow into adults, husbands or other family members going on to be with Jesus, and grasping at any chance to be with those you love; people distracted with busy lives.

My oldest son, my mother and my youngest son (aka: the baby)

The day was hot. We all wore sweaters that had to be left in our wagon because the sun was just so warm. The apple orchard that we chose did not allow you to pick your own apples. So, it didn’t quite feel like fall to us. When my older children were growing up, we would always go to an orchard that allowed you to pick your own apples. So, my oldest was so super let down. The goal for 2020 is to find an apple orchard that will allow us to pick our own apples!

Did you notice my festive Mummy leggings? These have been my October go-to’s for a couple of years now, but if I do not get this peri-menopause weight under control, this may be my last year for these; they are getting a little snug and I have to wear longer shirts (or dresses) to cover up the backs of my legs!

Oh, the joys of growing older…

Though we were not able to pick our own apples from the tress, we were able to go inside to sample apples prior to purchase. I chose a bushel of tart apples so that I can cook a yummy apple pie later!

The boys chose sweet apples–ones that they had to start eating on right away!

After apples, we headed to the pumpkin patch to gather pumpkins for the front porch. Have there always been hunter green pumpkins? I never remember seeing them before, but they seem to be kind of trendy nowadays. And, we have to be trendy, right? So, I grabbed some green ones. I am not sure how I am going to decorate them just yet though.

One nice thing about having older kids is allowing them to do the heavy lifting.

Hmmmm…maybe that is one reason why I am gaining weight, ya think?

It takes a little bit to wrap your momma-head around the fact that your babies are off living a life separate from your own. Just like me, I have three kids off to college, with no desire for going to the apple orchard or pumpkin patch with their momma. I am so very grateful that I have an older son, who is almost in his thirties, who is coming back around to family interests, while, also, having one child still stuck at home. But, as even he moves on (naturally) to living his own life separate my own, my expectations and traditions must change with the cycles of parenthood and childhood.

Maybe my traditions will change from playtime at the orchard to long warm evenings around the dinner table and a fire eating harvest squash soup or chili with pumpkin pie while laughing and reminiscing about our fun fall memories together when they were littles.

What are your fall traditions?

How have traditions changed as your children have grown older?

Do you have recipes or traditions that you would like to share? If so, add them in the comment section below.

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