Any chance we get to set aside the hustle and bustle of a typical busy week to spend time together making memories is a win in my book, and fall presents lots of opportunities. It doesn't always have to be something big and costly. Sometimes, it doesn't have to cost anything at all - playing games, watching movies, jumping in puddles, or a walk in the woods are just a few great ways to do some family bonding.
Recently, we had the chance to go apple picking with one of the boys' grandmothers and an aunt. It was a perfect fall activity for us that day. We were able to get out of the house and enjoy a beautiful afternoon without having to spend all day planning, prepping, and packing to be gone all day. In fact, the decision to go was pretty spur-of-the-moment.
My in-laws live just a mile or so from 2 different apple orchards, so we decided to hop in the car and visit one. When we got there, we spent a few minutes talking to one of the owners about which trees held which variety of apple, which apples were ripe and ready, and getting a general lay of the land. From there we were free to explore and pick our apples right from the trees.
Both boys were super excited for this new adventure. At first, they were grabbing any apple they could reach. We paused for a minute to talk about which APPLES we wanted to pick, and which we needed to leave on the TREES to keep growing. We also talked about the apples we needed to leave on the ground because the were rotten, and covered in BUGS. From there, they both did a pretty good job of picking great apples, and not tasting any apples they found on the ground.
As we moved from one variety of apple tree to the next, Grammie shared her apple picking knowledge and experience. When we got to the trees growing golden delicious apples, she told us to make sure not to pick the green ones that weren't ready yet, but to find the golden yellow ones. Some of the them had been "kissed by the sun" and had spots of red, too. These were, essentially, sunburned and area always found on the very outside of the tree, but they're safe to eat and don't taste any different than their un-spotted friends.
Naturally, both boys tired of JUST picking apples before the job was done. They were more than happy to use the giant open spaces near the trunk of each tree to stretch their imaginations while we finished picking though! I heard snippets of conversation about magic wands, visiting each other's 'homes', and what creatures might be living in giant knot holes. It was a fun moment for all of us adults to watch Mr. I. and Mr. L. play with out their realizing it. A chance to witness their personality and inner thoughts unchecked always brings a smile to my face.
Of course, there was plenty of tasting (EAT) apples during our visit as well.
They played happily while we finished filling our bags and chatting about the yummy things we'd make with our pickings. Then we walked back to the office to pay for our apples. When we got there, they were using a conveyor to sort apples by size, it was pretty intriguing, so we stopped to watch for a bit.