When we left off, B Daddy and I had just herded the children back into the minivan after enduring the longest trip to buy apples we have ever undertaken.
By this time (1pm for those of you following along) the munchkins were complaining of hunger and I had abandoned my vision of a simple country picnic at the pumpkin patch down the road. As I unwrapped turkey sandwiches and handed sippy cups back from the front seat, B Daddy navigated the long dusty road out of the orchard.
The trip to Burt's Pumpkin Patch was a short drive down the road (going in the opposite direction of apple traffic) and we were there in the amount of time it took Mizzou to score again. Yes, again. As we approached Burt's I saw a little creek gurgling along the edge of the property and families spread out in the sunshine, their picnic lunches sprawled on blankets before them. My expectations were creeping steadily upward as we pulled into the overflow parking lot and unloaded our crew. For this leg of the journey I thought we would bring Dakota with us to add to the perfectly happy family vibe we were going for. She'd been so good in the car until then and I hated to tie her to a tree while we went on our adventure.
It took about 15 minutes of weaving and maneuvering and one more trip to a porta-potty before we came upon the official entrance to Burt's. Pumpkin paradise lay just beyond us. Pumpkins of all colors, shapes and sizes. Pumpkins bigger than Blue Eyes were EVERYWHERE. The day had cooled off a bit and we were no longer cranky, hungry or tired. The Fall Fun Extravaganza was back on track.
We were barely through the gates of the patch (where admission was FREE! thank heaven) when I was stopped and told that no dogs were allowed inside with the pumpkins. Mr. Security Man was very nice about it, but my expectations for this leg of the extravaganza immediately plummeted.
Side note: I can get very irrational when my expectations are not met.
Instead of returning to the car and staking Dakota to a tree for a bit (the day had cooled off, we had her long lead with us and we parked right next to a huge tree) an irritated me decided that B Daddy and the kids should go on in and do the pumpkin patch without me. Dakota and I would wait for them among the picnickers by the creek. B Daddy didn't look all together thrilled with my plan, but I was insistent (and had that crazed irrational look about me) so he headed in while I turned around with Dakota in tow.
Things must have been awfully boring without me (either that or the pumpkin police kept telling the kids not to sit on the pumpkins, which was the only interesting thing a 2 and 4 year old could find to do in the pumpkin patch) because within 10 minutes B Daddy and the kids had joined Dakota and I down by the creek.
That Creek. It was glorious. Crisp, clear, cold water bubbling over smooth rocks and tripping down from under the bridge. The Squirt tore off his shoes and waded in before I could contain him. Sweet B and Blue Eyes went running after. It took half a minute before the Squirt slipped and fell, thoroughly soaking his only pair of shorts and probably initiating the cold he has this week. I had the forethought to take off Blue Eyes' blue jeans but it didn't take long before he squatted down in the water and filled his diaper to sagging with creek water. B Daddy and I exchanged a momentary glance of irritation and then - we let go. We let go of the plans we had made for this Fall Fun Extravaganza. We exchanged the perfect plan for the magic of the moment and enjoyed our kids as they giggled and splashed. We spent half an hour playing in that creek, letting Dakota wander along the bank scavenging the picnickers' leftovers, skipping stones and finally eating our prized fried apple pie.
It wasn't what we came for, but it was starting to look like a Fall Fun Extravaganza after all.