Even though Halloween has become my favorite holiday, I found myself feeling a little bummed in the days leading up to it this year. We tried to take Jojo to a trick-or-treating event the weekend before at the Farmer’s Market downtown, and he was SO not into it. Too overwhelming, I guess.
It took a trip to the Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch (for the second year in a row, which makes it a legit tradition!) the day before Halloween to start to turn things around for us. This time we met up with a couple of families I've met through a local moms group.
From last year’s trip -- he's grown so much since then:
Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch Trip 2017
The Pumpkin Patch is set up in southern Napa, at the intersection of Highway 12 and Highway 121. It’s about a 25-minute drive from our home in Vallejo.
My dreams of taking adorable sibling pictures while they sat peacefully among the pumpkins were totally dashed by wagons, tractors, and haystacks being way more appealing to the adventurous toddler -- but I couldn't really argue with that. So Daniel stayed in the stroller the whole time while I chased Jojo around and helped him climb on everything.
Jojo is still in an "I will scream at you if you ask me to pose for a picture" phase, so I have to take what I can get. He did like watching the pigs run around their pen, which reminds me that we're overdue for a return trip to the Loma Vista Farm...
We picked out a couple of pumpkins to take home before heading to the adjacent deli for lunch. The Stanly Lane Smokehouse is there year-round and is worth a stop even when it's not pumpkin patch season. They have good sandwiches and pasta salads, a little coffee stand with some cookies and pastries, and a whole wall of refrigerated juices and sodas. Brightly painted chairs and highchairs make the seating area fun, too.
Halloween: The Not-So-Big Day
Jojo's costume was a simple pajama set with a firefighter design, so I let him wear that to his new developmental playgroup in the morning. It's facilitated by an early intervention specialist and is a structured 90-minute session similar to preschool. (Unfortunately, we haven't been able to return since then due to all the illnesses floating around.)
Based on our experience at our "Halloween dress rehearsal" downtown, we decided to stay home and pass out candy instead of attempting to go out trick-or-treating. The constant knocking on the door was starting to upset Jojo, though, so he and I grabbed the candy bowl and parked ourselves outside on the porch so that we could watch groups walk up to the house instead of being surprised by them.
It was really fun to see all the different costumes. His favorites were the hot dog and Michael Jackson; my favorite was the teenage girl dressed up as Barb from "Stranger Things -- she went all out, wig and everything.
The biggest surprise of the evening came from another teenage trick-or-treater, who started rummaging around in her purse after I handed her candy. "I brought some toys to give out to kids, to make up for me taking the candy when I'm really too old for this," she says.
And then she hands this to Jojo:
"If I Only Had a Heart..."
I instantly teared up when I saw the Tin Man figurine and choked out a "thank you." I thought about explaining why her gift was so meaningful for a little boy with a broken heart, but I couldn't get the words out.
So instead I just hugged Jojo tight on that chilly October night out on our front porch, silently giving thanks that he's still with us for another year of memories despite that broken heart of his. There's really no place like home, is there?