For love of pumpkins

I love pumpkins! And I love seeing pumpkins amongst my three little pumpkins. 

Each autumn I delight in these bright gourds just as much as I obsess over peonies every spring. NPR says pumpkins have a nostalgic draw, representing "an idyllic farm life, and the best sort of moral virtue," which sounds about right. 

So I couldn't resist converting our hot cocoa stand into a pumpkin stand. I removed the acrylic paint with nail-polish remover, re-stained it, then mixed up some orange paint. Easy peasy! 

And oh, I couldn't stop snapping once the kids took to the stand. 

"Pumpkins, pumpkins! Get your pumpkins!" 

When your mom sticks you in an old bushel basket...

Nothing to do but show off those big, squeezable cheeks.

And smile. 

What a sport. 

We skipped the giant pumpkin drop at the Stillwater Harvest Fest last Saturday, which was on our autumn bucket list, because of the chilly rain. But we've been knocking Item No. 2 out of the ballpark, painting pumpkins on multiple occasions. 

The girls absolutely love it, and it's much more toddler-friendly than pumpkin carving. 

We start by decoupaging a picture onto the pumpkin using Mod Podge, and then the girls paint away. Maria goes for precision. Jane aims for maximum surface area covered. 

Archie even lent a hand. 

(See what I did there?) 

Decoupaging alone, sans paint, can make for a fun pumpkin, like this Berenstain Bears gourd I covered. The only part I painted was the stem, as a nod to the wise and benevolent Mama Bear. 

We took a four-generation trip down to SeptOberfest in Wabasha, where we admired a host of decorated pumpkins.

We swung by Lark Toys in nearby Kellogg, and Archie got to snuggle with his great grandma on the indoor carousel. She treated us all to the candy shop too.

Yesterday we hosted a little pumpkin-painting party for the neighbor kids, decorating with some Dollar Tree finds, serving those Brach's Pumpkin Mellowcremes and then watching "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" once everyone was cleaned up.  

Of course, we're reading all the pumpkin books. Last week, I got to be a mystery reader at Maria's preschool, and I read The Biggest Pumpkin Ever, which had a room of 4-year-olds in breathless anticipation. 

And later this week we're headed to the pumpkin patch. The forecast looks amazing. 

I hope you're enjoying your pumpkins too! 



 Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and three young children in Inver Grove Heights. Write her at