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With this unprecedented year, we weren’t sure exactly what Halloween was going to look like, but we decided, no matter what, we were going to celebrate in style. I had a few backup plans for the holiday, in case trick-or-treating was nixed, but in the end, we didn’t really need to use Plan B.

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The first day of October, we drug out our boxes of Halloween decorations and hung and set out every single one of our decorations. You can never really have too many, right? Along with the decorations came the costumes, and everyone tried them on, settling on what fantastical creature or character they wanted to be. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but this year, I only had to sew one costume, because everyone else wanted to wear a previously made costume. Phew!
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Aside from turning our dinners into Halloween themed feasts with things like Tentacle Pot Pie or Twisted Pumpkin Bones, we also were able to squeeze in a lot of Halloween themed activities, too. We’ve been to a couple of pumpkin patches in Indiana, but they’ve been a bit lacking. Luckily, we were able to take a trip back to Nebraska for fall break, and were able to go to a super incredible pumpkin patch. It’d probably been twenty years since I’d been to Roca Berry Farms as a kid, and things have changed a lot, but it’s all been for the better.
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There were quite a few people there but the farm is large enough, and there were enough activities that we were able to spread out. The kids worked up an appetite running an inflatable obstacle course…
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…riding scooter bikes…
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…riding a giant rocking horse…
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…cruising off-road tricycles…
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…and hiding from parents in tiny outhouses with entrances that are too small for said parents to get in and extract their children.
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We picnicked outside for lunch and got right back to the fun because we hadn’t even seen half of the farm. Probably the coolest part were the haunted houses of varying levels of spookiness. Our kids went in every single one and thought it was hilariously fun, even when they were occasionally scared by the surprises inside.
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When we were all tuckered out, we took a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, where the kids picked out their free pie pumpkin. Some of the kids chose the classic pie pumpkin, while Zoey and Peter went for the gnarly, warty, white pumpkins.
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And, of course, it wouldn’t be a typical day stuffed full of activities if Peter didn’t completely tucker himself out and fall asleep while I’m toting him around. Also, Henry and his twin cousin, Holton, running off on their own adventure. They were on a totally different hayrack ride, oblivious that they were by themselves, because they had each other. No harm done when we found them and chastised them a bit for not paying attention.

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When our trip to Nebraska ended, we continued our wickedly fun Halloween traditions at him. I’d already bought jack-o-latern pumpkins at the store, and for family night, we carved them.
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I’m always up for pumpkin carving, but eight pumpkins later, I was pretty pooped. The younger kids need help with everything from scraping out the guts to sorting the seeds to designing and carving their pumpkins. Evelyn helped Zoey with her unicorn, but having done three and a half pumpkins myself, my grip muscles were dead by the end.
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The discomfort is always worth it when we light them for the first time. There are appreciative ooos and awws remind me of my own childhood, and the smell and excitement that carving pumpkins brought. I’m so happy to be able to continue the tradition with my own kids, in part because I can relive my own enjoyment with them.
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The weekend of Halloween, we found a few activities that we could go to as a family. I’d bought the kids plain white masks, and they decorated them to match their costumes, so we could safely participate in the trunk/trick-or-treating.
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We showed up early, and moved through quickly to avoid the crowds, and our tactics paid off. The kids were more than eager to beg for candy, though Peter wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. He understood candy, but didn’t get that it was for him, and certainly didn’t get that if he moved to the next station, he’d get more. We carried Peter through a lot of the lines to avoid meltdowns of the sort of proportions only a two year old can properly create.
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Halloween itself was busy. We tidied the house, and milked the cow, then reserved the rest of the day for fun. Since we weren’t able to squeeze in our typical Halloween dinner, we turned it into a Halloween lunch, but it was still as enjoyable and delicious. We had everything from wormy jello, shrunken heads, witch fingers, and bone bread to feetloaf, chocolate skulls, rotting hearts, and vampire teeth. Creepy and yummy!
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Shortly after stuffing ourselves full of good food, we got ready to go out for another round of trunk/trick-or-treating by putting on our full costumes and makeup. I don’t know why, but one of my favorite parts of Halloween is transforming the kids with makeup. They tell me their vision, and I try to deliver. I’m getting better at working with their faces like tiny little moving canvases.
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Before driving to our favorite neighborhood, we stopped at our favorite old timey park to look around. The car decorations were hilarious, and people were so creative with how they passed out candy. There was everything from tubes to slide it to the kids, the use of teacher tools, and dropping it out of a witch’s nose.
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We spent a few minutes looking around, like posing with the crazy person in the dog kennel. Good times.
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When the time finally came for it, we went to our favorite trick-or-treating destination–a neighborhood not far from us where the houses are endless and the people are generous. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, especially compared to last year, and the kids had all kinds of fun running from house to house. It took them a few times to get used to how to find the candy, whether they needed to knock or pick it up out of the bucket on the porch, but they got the hang of it.
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Since we have a wide age range of children and like to cover a lot of ground, we have been improvise sometimes, so everyone can participate to the fullest of their abilities. So, Jack cruised up the street, and when Peter or Zoey got tired, they’d hop in, have a treat, and rest their feet. When they were ready to get out, they’d join us for another round.
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By the end of the night, the kids had worn themselves ragged. We’d walked around for two hours, and their buckets were so full that a couple of them broke. When asked if it was time to go home, everybody crawled into the car without complaint. They washed their faces and showered, and we let them stay up a little late, since Daylight Savings Time was that night, and they’d get an extra hour of sleep in the morning.
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The season was definitely different but still successful because we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I for one am glad my kids were able to still partake in a favorite childhood tradition, and Jack and I were able to go along for the ride, too.

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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