For most of my formative years, I lived in Mountain View, California and what I remember liking the most about October was that about two weeks before the end of the month, the outside air would smell really great and I'd spend as much time outside as I could. I used to tell my parents it smelled like Halloween and as the years would pass and I would get older, that certain smell would make its way into our neighborhood and would trigger all sorts of positive memories.
We used to have two walnut trees in front of my yard that I loved. Now we have two big trees in front of our own home and it's great having them there. It's funny because names of "trees" have followed me to many of the places I have lived. From Fair Oaks West to The Woods to Pinefield Road... I had some sort of forest theme going on!
photo from my last Fall in California...
Did Halloween time have a certain smell in YOUR neighborhood? Please let me know and if so, where did you grow up?
I really loved Halloween as a child. I had a blast dressing up and going from door to door. I lived in a neighborhood that was very friendly. As the children would go around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, I noticed a number of the parents bringing wine glasses with them and filling them from house to house. I didn't think much of it then but I wonder who was happier at the end of the evening!? The kids got their treats and the parents got theirs! I couldn't imagine that really happening nowadays. I suppose it would depend on the area you lived in and how friendly the neighbors were with each other.
My dad has always been one of those guys who has been friendly and expressive with everyone in the neighborhood. He's the kind of neighbor I'd love to have a bunch of. They're honest, reliable, helpful, handy, kind and if you have an emergency, you have somewhere you can go. The funny thing is that when I was a kid, I was sort of that way too with the neighborhood adults. If someone new would move into the neighborhood, I'd be the first one at their door welcoming them and asking if they had any kids my age I could play with.
In fact, a lot of the close adult friends my parents made through the years were initially introduced to them through my little "welcome wagon" excursions. There were about 3 or 4 neighbors homes that we would occasionally visit back and forth for BBQs, pool parties, that sort of thing.
One of our last pool parties in California
I think my openness to greeting new neighbors changed around the time I started middle school. I can think of a wide variety of contributing factors, none of which I'm really going to go into now, but I will probably delve into in a future blog. I will make note that one of those factors was that six separate girls from different families that I had befriended in my elementary school years all ended up moving away to another state sometime while I was in elementary school. The moves didn't all happen at the same time but in each case it was a girl that I had spent a considerable amount of one-on-one time with both at her house and mine. Besides being a tomboy and enjoying sports, it doesn't surprise me much that as I got older, almost all of my friends were guys. This is still true to this day.
ANYWAY, I had started this blog wanting to talk about fall and Halloween and off I went again down memory and psychoanalyzing lane! Sheesh! The tangent queen keeps her crown!
When our family moved to Washington in summer of 2007, I was totally looking forward to seeing what the fall would bring. Autumn leaves were abundant, there was amazing beauty in the nature areas around our home, frogs were ribbeting and the skies in the nighttime after sunset were gorgeous. In California, I hadn't really experienced the changing of the seasons like you do in other states. My first experience with this was when I was bowling on tour in the mid to late 90s but my first REAL experience where I feel I really took in all that autumn had to offer was that first fall in 2007. Fall in Washington is amazing but the weird thing is that it is missing the Halloween smell that I experienced growing up in California. I can't put my finger on what the difference is but the smell is definitely different. Although the beauty up here in the fall beats California, I still miss the California Halloween smell. Anyone out there have any speculations as to what the difference might be?
For the last few weeks, my little exercise partner and I have been out for a walk almost every night. One of us has primarily been using the tricycle while the other has been alternating between walking and sprinting. The sprinting idea is my 4 year old personal trainer's idea of helping me improve my personal fitness. One of these days we'll get it on live streaming feed for you. (Start holding your breath in 5...4...3...2...1.)
Ryan and I encourage John and Justin to join us on our excursions. John is usually very good about it if I ask. It's so cool when the whole family is out together and we can share some quality time just enjoying nature and each other's company. We weren't as diligent in the summer and I take a bunch of responsibility there because my body is a feeding frenzy for mosquitoes and when I'm bitten I swell up. When I swell up, I'm grouchy. It sucks because then I have to bow out of my Victoria's Secret modeling contract and well, you know how it is!
Fortunately it seems those annoying buggers are gone so on the days it's not too wet, we're out there getting our fresh air! Ryan must feel invigorated as well because he's always pushing me to get outside with him for a walk and a trike ride. When I see him riding that tricycle in his little red hooded jacket and me in my cozy hooded jacket, I am reminded of when I was a little girl doing the same thing. I used to have a red hooded jacket I'd wear on my tricycle rides throughout the neighborhood and one of the neighboring kids nicknamed me "Karen the Red Baron". (This was MUCH better than my middle-school monikers!)
Justin doesn't take as much initiative in getting outside but once we can get him out there, he really enjoys walking with us too. It frees him and I can tell oftentimes when we're walking, he's off in his own world and wherever it is, it is a happy place. What has helped get Justin outside lately is an interest in geocaching. He received one of those little nifty hand-held GPS geocaching / tracking type devices for his 11th birthday and so far, we've been out on a few different hunts. Although our neighborhood is pretty much suburban, we're still near a lot of trails, ponds and wooded areas. It's SO gorgeous this time of year and when the weather is cool, it's an awesome time to walk, refresh and recharge.
On Monday nights it is me and Ry since John and Justin are doing boy scouting stuff. I learned that if I wanted even a remote chance to get any work done while the older guys were gone that I needed a plan of action. Lately it has been me taking Ryan on a walk to the neighborhood school, letting him play on the playground equipment and then taking about another 20 minutes or so to walk home afterwards. When we're home, it's time for milk and a snack. I let him borrow John's iPad and I sneak onto the computer while we put on Dancing With The Stars in the background. So far, it has worked out well.
In my last blog, I mentioned that today would be Justin's Student / Teacher / Parent conference at middle school. Although we had met most of his teachers before, this was the first time we had all his core teachers together for one meeting. We thought positively and the good news is that everything worked out great! Isn't it wonderful when you can celebrate a victorious day?
After a rough first day of school where all his classes and teachers were switched on him without Justin or us being notified in advance, (see blog from Saturday, September 4th: Middle School Mania - When Things Don't Go As Planned), Justin has acclimated to school and is truly enjoying it. We've worked proactively with him and his teachers on strategies to remove obstacles and give him plenty of opportunities for success. I'll go into that in more detail in a blog soon since I think parents of middle schoolers, especially those with kids on the spectrum would be interested in some of the methods we used. We're so proud of Justin and were thrilled to see that he is currently getting all As. Of course even if he weren't, we'd be proud of him too but it's nice to watch him actively take pride in his schoolwork and his success.
It's getting late so I'm going to end this blog now. I'm going to talk more about fall and Halloween tomorrow. I'll have some fun pictures so please be sure to come back. Since we've moved here, we've been "THE" house to go to on the block to see cool Halloween decorations. Our whole family enjoys getting into the fun. I can't believe we still don't have our costumes yet and it is less than two weeks to go!
Are any of you out there dressing up? Are your children? I'll include a couple links tomorrow to some good sensory-friendly Halloween blogs with tips for helping the kiddos have the best HALLOWEEN ever!
Amazing Autumn Wishes to Awesome Aspierations Friends,