How many times have you driven past or through a tiny Iowa town without stopping? If you are like me, you can’t even count that high! I am trying to break that cycle, though, and be more purposeful about checking out the nooks and crannies of this beautiful state. Earlier this spring, the girls and I left our home for an adventure in Nemaha, Iowa.
Nemaha is a teeny-tiny Northwest Iowa town located in Sac County. It is 11 miles from Storm Lake (where I live). Eleven miles! And I had never been there, or even driven through it for that matter. In the last fifteen years, I have driven by a sign that read, ‘Nemaha 3 Miles’ hundreds of times. But I had never driven off the beaten path. In my defense, I’ve never had a reason to go there. I’ve never been invited, and the town hasn’t been on my direct route to anywhere.
But there we were, in Nemaha on a warm and sunny spring day. This time we had been invited. I had gotten a tip about an annual Easter Egg hunt held at the baseball field (the field and nearby shelter house were very easy to find). Since my girls had never taken part in an organized Easter Egg hunt (other than those at a grandma’s house), we turned it into an adventure.
The Easter Egg hunt was well-organized by the Nemaha 4-H Club and was fun for the little ones. Each kiddo found enough candy and prizes to keep them busy and parents were happy their kids had a chance to run off some energy. The cinnamon rolls and doughnut holes served after the hunt were a big hit! Be sure to put this event on your list for next spring!
After the Easter Egg hunt, we drove around Nemaha. It is a quaint, farming community. The girls were most excited to see a park. The city park is nestled beside a cute, 130-year old Methodist Church. The park had a gazebo perfect for a picnic plus a fair amount of play equipment. There was plenty of shade and protection from the wind that blew that day.
We explored the park and discovered a cute little tree with a hole at the bottom. The girls decided it was the perfect place to build a fairy house. They started to collect sticks when I looked down and saw a SNAKE! It slithered ever-so-slowly over the pink tennis shoes my daughter was wearing into the hole in the tree. I screamed. We all ran. In different directions. Once my heart beat slowed to a more normal rhythm, I rescued my girls from the top of a slide. Watching our feet as we quickly made our way to the car, we decided to forego a picnic and opted to eat indoors.
As I drove away, my adventurous girl exclaimed, “Man, I should have touched the snake!” The three of us giggled as we retold the horror and humor of our time at the park. We sure made memories on our springtime adventure in Nemaha! I’m fairly certain all 85 residents knew of our presence too. Shrieks of “SNAKE” and fits of nervous laughter were surely heard across the ‘Mighty’ Small Town that day!
The next time you are about to drive by a small Iowa town, stop for a bit and explore. Or better yet, plan an adventure to one of those places and stay awhile. The memories you make just might last a lifetime!
I’ve been looking back at past posts and dreaming of summer adventures! After running across our adventure at Prairie Pedlar last summer, I just had to share more fairy garden fun!
Warm and sunny days are in our future, making this a great time to create a fairy garden. And although this warmer weather makes us want to play in the dirt, fairy gardens can be made anytime. In fact, one of my most favorite fairy gardens was made in the dead of winter last year when my girls and I were longing for warmer days ahead! Many of the plants used in these magical gardens grow indoors and can be purchased year-round. Artificial plants can even be used for easier maintenance (I have several of these, so no judging here). No matter your preference, these little fairylands add a little pop of sunshine year-long!
Our fairy garden fun began almost two years ago when a dear friend invited a few gals and our children over for a morning of garden exploring. She sent us all home with cuttings from her ever-growing succulent collection. Care instructions were easy. Leave the the plants outside or bring them indoors. Give them sunlight. Make sure they get watered, but not too much. Best of all, they are hardy and can live in dry conditions. Perfect for the non-green thumb that I am!
I knew right away that these baby plants would be the beginnings of a fun project for the girls and me. We gathered supplies for a fairy garden: Container (I used plastic pot saucers), soil, moss (found at Hobby Lobby), and an assortment of found items (pebbles, sticks, shells, glass beads). Last but not least, we needed little fairies!
We got to work, and in no time each girl had a beautiful fairy garden. They carefully arranged and re-arranged the items in their gardens. They used their imaginations as they built a magical place for their fairies to live. Small pebbles, shreds of tissue paper, small twigs, and tiny bits of white clay were used to make fire rings and marshmallow roasting sticks. Once they were finished, we found homes for the gardens in our sun porch. We opted to keep them inside as we have very naughty squirrels in our neighborhood!
After seeing how much fun the girls had making their own fairy gardens, I decided I needed my own grownup version. So last last winter on a snow day, the girls and I got busy again. This time I started with a hand-blown glass lantern as my container. I chose all artificial plants and flowers and used sand as a base instead of dirt. Although I had purchased a fairy and a few other accessories at a craft store, I found a couple objects around the house to add whimsy to my garden such as a thimble and small plastic eggs. Let your imagination be your guide when creating a fairy wonderland!
The girls’ small hands were perfect for moving the tiny objects around in the lantern. While designing our little garden, I sent one of my girls outside to forage for sticks. She happily obliged and was able to add her own personal touch to our jar of happiness.
There’s just something fun about fairy gardens. Maybe its the idea of magical fairies coming to life. Maybe its all the tiny little treasures artfully arranged. Or, maybe its the bright colors that remind us of sunshine. Whatever it is, our fairy gardens bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart every time I see them.
If you get a chance, create one of these magical fairylands for yourself. Put one in a pot, design one under a tree, or put one in a glass lantern. Use a gnome instead of a fairy. You are only limited by your imagination. One thing is for sure, you are bound to have some fairy garden fun!
I equate me trying to craft to a mother of toddlers trying to use the bathroom alone or sneaking chocolate. The exact moment I get started, I am no longer alone. I am caught. Don’t get me wrong; I love my little crafting companions, and most days I enjoy creating with them. But, there are moments I just want to be left alone with my creative processes.
The day I recently decided to embark on a solo Valentine crafting adventure was no exception. The girls were playing so nicely with each other. One with her Legos and the other right next to her sis with a city of cars. I could hear them happily chattering away as they played. So, I jumped at the opportunity to play around with craft supplies.
But wouldn’t you know, as soon as my supplies were all laid out, and I was about to get started, I heard a sweet little voice say, “‘Can I help you, Mommy?” What happened to my quietly playing children from just one minute ago? How could they have possibly heard me? I’m convinced that children have some sort of ‘Mom is alone and doing something fun without me’ radar. Soon, another little gal was in the doorway stating that she would like to do a project too.
Well, what was I to do? Put the supplies away? Tell the girls to go back to playing? I knew neither of those things would make all of us happy, so I chose option number three: Have a Valentine’s Day Decor Adventure!
My craft for the day was to make a Valentine’s Day banner to hang on my mantel. With some quick thinking, a search on Pinterest, and use of my stash of well-intentioned craft supplies (who else has one of these stashes?), the girls’ craft was to make a coordinating framed piece of artwork. These projects turned out to be pretty simple, inexpensive, and adorable. Feel free to use them as inspiration as you prepare for Valentine’s Day (my most favorite holiday of the year-not kidding).
Valentine’s Day Banner Supplies:
Old book (I picked one up at a thrift store for $1)
Cutting mat of some sort
Large black sharpie
Heart-shaped paper doily or other decoration
Glue (glue stick, school glue, or decopage)
Small clothes pins or hole punch
Remove desired amount of book pages and trim edges so all pages are the same size. I used 8 book pages for this project. (My fabric cutter and mat worked much better than my paper cutter to trim edges.)
Find the middle of each book page and measure 1.75 inches up from the bottom. Mark that spot with a pencil, and use a ruler as a straight edge to make a diagonal line from that spot to each bottom corner. Cut along those lines and discard the triangle piece of paper.
Put a little blob (technical term) of red paint on a paper plate or other container. Add a small amount of water to dilute the paint.
Using a scrunched up paper towel, dab the diluted paint around the edges of each book page. Allow to dry.
Use a black sharpie to write your desired message on the book pages. I used ‘Be Mine.’ (I had planned to use paint and stencils, but due to extra help and executing two different projects at once, I opted for a simpler technique).
Glue a heart-shaped paper doily (or other decoration) on one book page.
Once dry, hang on twine with small clothes pins. Another option would be to punch two holes in the top of each book page and string onto the twine before hanging.
Hang up the banner, and enjoy the festive DIY project you accomplished!
Framed Valentine’s Day Artwork Supplies:
Old book pages
Wood picture frames
White or off-white paint (mine was a small bottle of ‘antique white’ from Walmart’s craft section)
Paint brushes and/or sponges
Cutting mat or ruler and scissors
Red paint (or other Valentine-y colors)
Random scraps of paper, ribbon, burlap (or whatever else inspires you)
Framed Art Directions:
Disassemble the frame: Set aside the glass and cardboard backing. Place the wood frame on a painting surface.
Paint the frame with a thin coat of white paint and let dry. I like to use a sponge brush for this step. You will need 2-3 coats of paint. Let dry between each coat.
While paint is drying, cut a book page to fit inside the frame.
Decorate the book page using paint, glue, and random scraps. (We looked at Pinterest for inspiration, but the girls really used their imaginations at this point).
When the decorated pages and frames are completely dry, reassemble the frames and insert the decorated book page.
Be sure to write a name and date on the back of the frames just in case your children become famous artists (or if your memory fades and you can’t remember who made what).
Find a spot to display the unique piece of art, and admire the handiwork of your child (or yourself)!
While it took extra time (and a TON of patience on my part) to complete these projects, the girls and I had fun creating together. We found homes for their masterpieces (and mine). The fruits of our adventure add a little something special to our Valentine’s decor. My girls love decorating our house (they are little Joanna Gaines wannabes). They thoughtfully found places for all our Valentines decor, and while some things aren’t quite where I would put them, I think I’ll leave them be. All too soon I’ll be doing these things on my own again.
So, enjoy creating something unique this Valentine’s Day. It may mean you have extra help and a bigger mess, but seeing your kiddo’s artwork (even if it is scribbles on paper) around your home will warm your heart. It is an adventure worth taking!
Happy Decorating Adventures, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
It was after 7 PM. Most nights at that time I am trying to herd kids into the shower, finding outfits for the next day, throwing in one more load of laundry, or cleaning the kitchen while the girls beg for just one more minute of play time. Let’s be honest, I’m usually doing all of those things at once while thinking of tomorrow’s adventures and to-do list. By 7 PM, I’m ready to wind down and have a bit of quiet after a busy day. But not that night. That night I found myself peering out the window watching my neighbor shovel snow off his sidewalk and then mine (we have pretty awesome neighbors).
The snow was piling up. It was falling from the sky with vigor. I was content inside my warm and cozy home. But then something changed. As I watched my neighbor clear not only my sidewalk but my front steps too, a crazy idea popped into my head.
“Who wants to go outside?” I hollered at my family. Forget winding down and quiet; I was suddenly in the mood for a snowy night-time adventure! Immediately, one kiddo-who was in mid-squabble with her sister over how to play checkers-perked up and ran to find her snow gear. Before I could put on a single boot she was out the door to find shovels. We worked at clearing snow from our deck-my spunky gal singing and chatting non-stop while she worked.
Soon the rest of the family joined us. Shovels in hand, we all worked at moving the wet, heavy, perfect-for-a-snowman snow off the driveway. The man in our group decided a shovel wasn’t quite doing the job, so he revved up the snowblower. In no time, our long driveway was free of snow-for the moment anyway.
For some reason, it didn’t seem very cold outside. Sure we were bundled, and I was wearing an amazing pair of leather glittens I was gifted for Christmas (look these up, you need them), I think we were all warmed by the spontaneous fun we had in the glow of street lights. The girls and I giggled as we threw shovels full of snow at each other. A playful snow ball fight ensued, where magically no one cried when they got hit in the face by the icy flying snow.
Promises of more snow the following day and cups of hot chocolate lured the girls inside for the night. It was well past bedtime when the last drops of hot chocolate warmed our insides. We all collapsed together in the living room for snuggles and a re-run of Full House before the girls went to bed. Showers were forgotten, dishes were left on the counter, and I hadn’t even begun to think about the to-do list for the day ahead. Those things could wait. It was that night. The night we will talk about in years to come each time it begins to snow. It was that night when the busyness of life was pushed aside for an impromptu giggly, snowy night-time adventure.
So, here’s your challenge: Just this once, put aside your phone, the dishes, or whatever it may be that is keeping you busy, and find a spontaneous adventure! Whether you bundle up and build a snowman for the first time in years, crank up the music and dance your heart out, or you grab supplies for a spur-of-the-moment ice cream sundae party, make tonight (or tomorrow night) that night. You’ll be happy you did.
After a morning exploring and learning about gardening at Prairie Pedlar (read about it here), the girls and I decided to head to Odebolt, Iowa for another Girls Adventure.
I wasn’t sure what we’d find, but my motto is, “You can find adventure anywhere with a little imagination.” Lucky for us, we didn’t have to try too hard to find an adventure in this small town. We just happened to be in town while the Iowa Rural Schools Museum was open.
We walked into the school house and stepped back in time. The curator was very friendly and gave us a personal tour of the building. She did an exceptional job engaging the girls and helping them learn along with me. It was evident that she has a passion for school houses. Not only has she researched and written a book about them, but the school house we were standing in was the very one she attended as a child.
The girls sat at desks, wrote the alphabet on slates, practiced playing the organ, read the children’s books, and looked at toys used by children long ago. I imagined what it would be like to have children of all ages in one classroom. Those teachers were amazing!
The building was full of amazing artifacts. There were books of all kinds, writing tools (so glad we have moved beyond ink pots and feathers), a working pump organ, and so many more beautifully restored toys and school related items. We learned so much about life and school in the earlier years.
Do you know how to tell if a school house was built in the 1800’s or 1900’s? How about, why was the organ taught to children rather than piano? The answers are quite interesting. Stop by the school house for a tour and you’ll discover the answers for yourself!
Next to the school house was the Peterson Pioneer Home. We enjoyed the tour of that as well. How life has changed in the last century! There are days when being mom is a challenge. Then I imagined life as a mom in the pioneer house-yikes! No electricity, and laundry and dishes were done manually; after heating water. And the steep steps upstairs-wow! I sure hope no one needed the outhouse after they were in bed. And don’t even get me started about an outhouse! I must say I am fascinated by history and how people once lived, but I am very happy to live with modern day conveniences!
The curator at the museum also recommended that we head across the street to check out First State Bank, famous for its role in the movie Peacock in 2010. I’ve heard it is worth the peek and would have loved to take a look, but my kids were melting, and fast. My mom-radar told me that in about point five seconds we were going to have an epic meltdown, so the bank went on the list for our next trip to Odebolt.
The next time you are in the area, you need to stop in Odebolt to check out the school museum and pioneer house. The Rural Schools Museum hours are Wednesdays from 10-4 and Saturdays and Sundays from 2-4 Memorial Day – October. The Peterson Pioneer Home is open Sundays from 2-4 Memorial Day – October. Both are open by appointment and for special events.
You never know what adventure you’ll find in small town Iowa. I’m glad we had a chance to explore Odebolt. A little lesson in history was a great way to spend our day!
Summer was full of activities for the girls. And although our ‘summer vacation’ is officially over, it is fun to reminisce about all we accomplished! We completed swim lessons, library programs, free movies, and soccer camp. We played at many parks, rode bikes, had picnics, and spent a few lazy afternoons inside. And, this summer the girls did something new that they haven’t stopped talking about. They were a part of the Caterpillar Club at Prairie Pedlar Gardens near Odebolt, Iowa.
The Caterpillar Club aimed at helping kiddos learn about gardening in fun and interactive ways. The group met twice this summer (my girls were only able to make it to one session), and was led by Jane Hogue. I have to tell you, Jane is passionate about gardening and does such an amazing job getting kids excited about gardening too. Even the reminder email was full of gardening excitement!
Clad in garden gloves and tennis shoes, my girls excitedly joined the group at the old school house on the grounds for a lesson before exploring. They learned about weeding and caring for plants and even had the opportunity to pull weeds, which they told me they had fun doing (sounds like a new job for them at home)! They made little dolls from hollyhock blooms, had a snack, and learned more about plants. Before the morning was over, they designed their own fairy gardens, complete with a ‘fairy rock’ (a magical rock with a hole all the way through where it said you may just catch a glimpse of a fairy)!
After leaving the girls at the school house, I realized I had two and a half hours of time to myself! It was a freeing and very strange feeling-you know what I mean if you’ve ever been around young kiddos! I decided to do a little garden exploring myself.
If you haven’t been to Prairie Pedlar, you need to plan a trip. The gardens are absolutely amazing! I wondered through the beautiful gardens and enjoyed the uninterrupted warmth of the sun. Even non-gardeners like myself will enjoy the serene landscape in the middle of the countryside. I marveled at tadpoles in a pond and admired brightly colored bird houses (I so badly want to replicate those in my garden at home). I peeked at the plants in the greenhouse for a bit before I took refuge in the shade. A quaint bench under a tree was the perfect spot for relaxing with a good book. The gardens and corn fields were the perfect backdrop. I can see why more than twenty weddings were booked at Prairie Pedlar this year!
All too soon, it was time to reunite with my girls. I found them twirling around on a tree swing and picking mulberries (or should I say eating mulberries)! The girls and I stayed on the grounds a little longer and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grounds (I planned ahead). Before we left, the girls hunted for ‘fairy rocks’ in the gravel driveway with the Hogue’s 6-year old granddaughter.
We had a picture perfect morning at Prairie Pedlar. My girls are already asking when they can go to ‘Gardening Class’ again. I must say I am looking forward to it too! Prairie Pedlar offers many different classes and opportunities for people of all ages throughout the season. And if classes aren’t your thing, be sure to stop and explore. An adventure awaits at Prairie Pedlar.
*Check out more photos from our picture perfect day at Prairie Pedlar here.
We have a goat-lover in our family. She asked for a goat two years in a row for Christmas, and she is adamant she’ll be a vet someday. (If any of you are a veterinarian and would like to take a very curious six-year old under your wing, please contact me. She has a list of questions for just the right person!)
So, when I learned that our city, Storm Lake, Iowa, was hiring a herd of goats to eat away problem vegetation near our city parks, I knew we had to have an adventure! The goats from the Hungry Herd will graze by the beautiful lake shoreline for nearly two months. The goats made their debut in Storm Lake last fall when they ate away unwanted vegetation at a few sites around town. They did such a great job that they were invited back. This keeps humans from having to cut away brush in treacherous areas ,and it keeps the goats fed. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!
Earlier this week, we packed our lunches and headed to Sunset Park for a picnic. I didn’t tell the girls of the newest Storm Lake residents, but as we got closer to our picnic area the goat-lover spotted her favorite animal. She was beyond amazed to see these critters at the park! We got a bit closer and watched the animals at work. (Please note that as it states in this memo from the city, the goats are working animals, not pets. The fence is electrified, so do touch the fencing or try to pet the goats).
As we picnicked in a nearby gazebo, the goats roamed closer to us, giving us a lunchtime show. Before she could swallow the last bite of lunch, my little goat-lover made herself comfortable in the grass near the goats. After sitting there for several minutes, she came running back to excitedly announce that she figured out how goats scratch themselves, but she wondered if they could get sunburns. (Another question to add to her growing list). It was fun to see her make observations by watching goats do what they do best.
Truth be told, even the non-animal loving girl and myself really enjoyed our afternoon. There is something calming about being outdoors. Iowa is full of amazing places to enjoy nature and farm animals, even in the middle of a city park!
The simple things really do bring joy to our lives. A picnic by the lake and a view of goats were all we needed for a memorable Girls Adventure. Now it’s your turn to enjoy nature and find your own adventure! Find a herd of working goats (I hear they can be found near Trumbull Lake too), visit a farm, pack a picnic, or watch the birds, squirrels and bunnies. For the love of goats, get outdoors, and have some fun!
Our summer is off to a great start! We have been finding many adventures and have explored a few new places. Yesterday, we had an adventure in a place we’ve explored many times. Our library!
As part of the Storm Lake Public Library‘s Summer Reading Program, IPTV’s Dan Wardell entertained the kiddos with a program encouraging reading and healthy lifestyles. Now those topics may sound a little boring for young children, but I have to tell you, the program was anything but boring!
The kids were moving, they were laughing, they were interacting with their peers, and they were engaged. The grownups even had the opportunity to get involved in a new version of the ‘Hokey-Pokey.’ Shaking my imaginary tail all about wasn’t what I had planned for my morning, but I was a good sport and played along.
To get a peek at Dan’s Reading Road Trip adventures, check out his blog. You may notice a few familiar faces! A photo of my girls having fun with Dan Wardell after the program can be found here.
If Dan Wardell is planning a trip to your library, take your kids or grandkids. You will enjoy the 45 minutes of fun just as much as the kiddos. And no matter your age, check out your library this summer. You never know what adventures you’ll find in or outside a book!
Spring is here! Or is it? We had a dusting of snow last night, yet again. I think it’s safe to say we are all ready to say good-bye to winter once and for all! Last weekend’s celebration of Easter had us in the mood for warmer weather, blooming flowers, and bright and cheerful colors.
For me, Easter has always marked the start of spring no matter what the calendar (or weather) says. Theologically speaking, Easter is the beginning of new life. It is a joyful celebration of amazing things yet to come. Spring holds the same truth. New life is found in fields across the state as calves are born. Birds are singing and busily building nests. Early blooming flowers add cheer and color to the
landscape. Lawns turn green and give us a glimpse of warmer days ahead. (This morning, I even overheard someone at the gym mention mowing their lawn.)
The promise of brighter days gives me the energy to celebrate the season with my girls. Our preparations for Easter started our spring celebration. One of my most favorite traditions is decorating eggs. I’ve loved it since I was a little girl, and I love it as a grown up. Somehow my girls always end up decorating most of the eggs, but I make sure I get one or two special ones. This year the dozen boiled eggs were
decorated in no time. I didn’t want our fun to end, so we added special touches to the eighteen other regular eggs sitting in the refrigerator. It is super fun to pull out multi-colored eggs to make scrambled eggs or cookies. I think we may need to color eggs again soon to add a little happiness to our baking. I don’t see why we need to save these special things just for the holidays!
To add a special touch to our Easter celebration with family, the girls and I had a little adventure in the kitchen and made a springtime bunny cake. (You can find the directions I followed here, tips on making a box cake mix yummier here, and my favorite frosting recipe here.) My girls give the absolute best compliments when we are cooking together. I was told that I am ‘the best cake baker,’ and that ‘I make the best frosting.’ I’m pretty sure
they were just buttering me up so they could lick the beaters, but those comments sure do make me feel good! And, its those special little moments that all three of us will cherish for a long time.
Spring wouldn’t be complete without flowers. We had been patiently waiting for my daffodils to bloom for a couple weeks. They had become a labor of love for one of my girls. My little outdoor girl uncovered them a handful of times after the threat of frost. She gave me daily reports on the
clumps of green leaves and how many ‘dils’ (blossoms) were about to open. One afternoon, after she had grown quite restless indoors, I sent her outside to check on the flowers. Seconds later, she came running breathlessly into the house asking for my special flower cutter. She proudly brought back a fistful of ‘dils’ and leaves to arrange in a vase. They now sit in the middle of our dining room table for all to admire.
Our springtime adventures have only just begun. We have seeds to plant and parks to explore. We have baby birds and animals to find. We have bikes to ride and sidewalks to decorate. We have so much to look forward to because spring is finally here. Be sure to take some time to create adventures and celebrate the beauty of spring!
Fall is full of adventure! I may have taken a writing hiatus, but our fall sure wasn’t lacking adventure and small town Iowa fun. While we’ve already had several inches of snow, it isn’t officially winter for a more than a week. That means I have plenty of time to share the fun we found this fall, right?! So, here are 5 of our favorite fall moments:
Along with apples and squash, pumpkins are a must in the fall! Every year we hunt for the perfect orange spheres to grace our home. We’ve painted, carved, decorated, and played with many different shapes and sizes of pumpkins over the years. This year, we were invited to a very special pumpkin patch. This patch was full of pumpkins of all sizes, fun memories, and was grown with care by my uncle and grandma.
The girls scoped out the pumpkins and each picked their favorites. One little gal spied her favorite right from the start-it was the biggest, roundest,
orangest (if that’s a word), pumpkin in the patch. She giggled nervously as I told her she had to carry it to the car! My uncle came to her rescue as the pumpkin weighed nearly as much as she did! We went home with several pumpkins, one gourd, and many memories of finding the best (and biggest) pumpkins we’ve ever seen!
We enjoyed carving our pumpkins and watching them glow in the dark of the night. This year we tried a new method: drilling holes in the hollowed out pumpkin. I’d highly recommend trying this fast and easy technique next year. As a special treat, we tried roasting the seeds using this yummy recipe from the Simply Recipes Blog.
There is nothing better than the changing colors of fall leaves. I love the vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds dotting our yards and hillsides. The crunch of freshly fallen leaves is hard to resist. The crisp fall air is perfect for sweatshirts and jumping in the leaves!
Before my husband had a chance to rake, the girls and I found a pile of fun in our front yard. The girls went to work making a huge pile of the crunchy multi-colored leaves. Then in a matter of minutes, the leaves were tossed and scattered across the yard again! The giggles and laughter floated down the street as they squealed with delight. There is just something special about a giant pile of leaves. You’re never too old to jump in the leaves, right!
There are so many fun Halloween activities to enjoy in our area! We trick-or-treated on the campus of Buena Vista University (BVU). Costumed kids enjoyed games, candy, and trick-or-treating in the dorms. Storm Lake United (local chamber office) sponsored the annual Chills and Thrills event downtown. This included face painting, activities, games, photo contest, and of course, more candy at various businesses! It is great to see the community come together to provide family-friendly fun!
That left door-to-door trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a nice fall walk as our bunny and bumblebee collected even more candy! About
halfway though our route, the girls decided they had enough candy and wanted to hand out treats at our house (as long as it wasn’t the candy they just collected). So, we spent the rest of the evening sorting candy and waiting for the doorbell to ring.
We sure made the most of the Halloween holiday and this year’s costumes! Be sure to put some of these events on your list for next year, or check out the small town Halloween fun found in your area! You’re sure to have a ‘spooktacular’ time!
Fall isn’t complete without enjoying time on the farm. For me, harvest is the best and most anticipated part of fall. As an Iowa farm girl, I have many memories surrounding harvest and rides in the combine. I cherished this time with my dad as a little girl and enjoy it just as much now (if not more) as an adult. I love being able to involve my husband and kids in this wonderful time of year.
Harvest is meant to be enjoyed by the senses. And if you’ve been a part of this, you know what I mean! There’s the sights of bright headlights as farmers work tirelessly through the night and the glimpse wildlife moving about the land. There’s the sounds of grain drying and the hum of big engines. Then, there’s the feel of dirt on your hands, dust in your teeth, and the crunch of corn stalks under your feet. The smells of freshly spread manure, diesel fuel, and homemade cookies are just a few of my fall favorites (call me crazy, but the smell of manure is always a happy reminder of farm life). The tastes of fall are by far the best part of harvest. I love helping prepare the meals and delivering them to the people in the field. Whether it is pizza from town, a comforting casserole, or brats off the grill (or staying warm in the crock-pot), sharing a meal in a field is one of my most favorite things!
It is during harvest that I am most proud of my farming background. I love watching my dad, and now the younger generations too, bring in the harvest. If you’ve never experienced farm life, you need to ask a farmer for a ride in the combine. Most farmers would be happy to give you a taste of farming! You may be put to work running for parts or cleaning up a pile of spilled grain, but trust me, it will be well worth it!
Often overlooked due to the rush to put up a Christmas tree and decor (I’m guilty of this), Thanksgiving often marks the end of fall. It is a time we reflect upon what we are thankful for and the blessings we have encountered throughout the year. Thanksgiving also means spending time with family and eating entirely too much!
This year an ice/snow storm put a damper on our Thanksgiving plans. As much as we enjoy spending time with extended family, we tried to make the best of staying home. We decorated for Christmas, wrapped presents, played games, and snuggled together to watch football. I discovered that in a pinch, I can make a pretty decent Thanksgiving meal, including pumpkin pie! Although we didn’t do anything spectacular, we’ll always remember the Thanksgiving we got snowed in and ate pork loin instead of turkey. We’ll remember the fun we found when we least expected it. We’ll remember our fall adventures. And for that, I am very thankful!