I’m not sure what happened, but we didn’t make it to a legitimate pumpkin patch this year. Instead, Colt pondered and pointed from the safety of the sidewalk while I scaled the less-than-structurally-sound tower of pallets outside Walmart, gingerly stepping around the perfectly acceptable pumpkins on the first, second, and third tiers in search of “the perfect one, Mommy!” at the top of the pile — before gingerly stepping right back down, now awkwardly CARRYING the 10-pound “perfect one” and trying not to twist an ankle.

As a further break from tradition, we headed to Scout’s house for pumpkin carving rather than our own back deck.

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014

There’s always more to the story when we’re at Scout’s house. This family is like a budding Pioneering Theme Park — come for the pumpkin carving, stay for the dutch oven cooking show!

Venison stew, greens right out of the garden, and cornbread so perfectly golden brown it’s not even fair. A Little House on the Prairie experience that could only be improved upon by my kiddo not really loving the stew and asking for a hot dog instead.

You got it, Buddy. And marshmallows, while we’re at it.

No one is quite sure what happened, but we started to notice an increase in the volume and energy level as we looked up to see the kids running toward us — each carrying a tall, silver can. Hmm. Turns out, V8 makes an energy drink that looks a little too much like a fun, kids’ fruit drink. Whoops! *cue more running and laughing and climbing trees in super hero costumes!*

An evening with the Jennings Family always means good company, good food, and good, healthy laughter.

{Read more pioneering adventures over on Eileen’s blog. A little sewing and crafting, a little gardening and canning, and a lot of fabulous storytelling.}

And Halloween was still to come! Eileen and I grabbed the kids from school and met at the Fayetteville Square for some afternoon trick-or-treating. And the official costume made its appearance — Chris Kratts from The Wild Kratts, his favorite show on PBS Kids.

Halloween 2014

Wild Kratts
The Kratts brothers of Wild Kratts fame. Martin in blue, Chris in green.

That is a Creature Power Suit, friends. And once he decided – early October – on Wild Kratts for his costume, I went ahead and ordered it and by gosh he wears that vest almost every day playing at home. Another Halloween costume worth every penny and then some!

Sharing a ride. We were hiding from the cold inside the bank.
Sharing a ride. We were hiding from the cold inside the bank.

After a lap around the square the sun was starting to set and we parted ways for the evening. Happy Halloween, Scout!

We geared up for a very chilly rest of the night, headed to Ms. Amanda’s house. Amanda and Justin live in a neighborhood not far from us that really does a great job with Halloween. Lots of decorated houses (fun, not scary) and even a house that gives away both kiddie cider and “grown up” cider. We always have a blast with them.

Halloween 2014
Colt (Chris Kratts), John (Knight in Shining Armor), Irene (dark angel), and Caroline (angel). The crew!
Hood Family | Halloween 2014
Hood Family | Halloween 2014

And I love this last photo. The boys in the foreground, sorting and swapping candy — Colt later told me he amassed 21 Kit Kats, but lamented that it cost him every last sucker he had. Football on in the background — to entertain the dads between answering the door for trick-or-treaters. Fire ablaze as it was FREEZING that night — we made a lap back to the house after 10 minutes to get gloves and more layers.

This photo — this scene — captures the perfect blend of both frenzy and relaxation that was Halloween 2014.

Halloween 2014

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