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I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing
Labor Day weekend. Whatever your plans, from cookouts to parades and
other outings, I hope your unofficial farewell to summer was a good one.

Ours was a busy one, and most of our time was spent in the Ashland
area. My husband and I are Ashland natives, and of course, we headed to
the borough for the annual ABA/Mummers Parade last Saturday. While the
parade seemed smaller this year, we still had a great time catching up
with relatives and friends, noshing on some great food and reveling in
the music, sights and sounds of the parade.

My daughter Amber had a ball with her cousins on both sides of the
family. I kept up with my ABA tradition of buying her a giant Mylar
balloon — something I have done since her first ABA/Mummers Parade,
which she attended when she was just 8 days old — and this year she
chose a Hannah Montana balloon. She also caught candy that was thrown
from passing floats and danced in the street with her cousin Melissa.

Sunday found us at my parents’ house for a family cookout, where we
enjoyed more good food and conversation. We couldn’t have asked for
better weather.

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, it’s time to get in the fall
frame of mind — no more wearing white (well, in some fashion trends,
it’s taboo after Labor Day, but I disagree), cheer on the fall sports
from football to soccer and cross-country, dive into school studies and
activities and get out those fall decorations.

Decorations? Isn’t it a little early for that?

My 5-year-old seems to think so.

As we drove through Schuylkill Haven last week, we spotted a store
front that had a display of pumpkins, scarecrows, fall leaves and straw
in its window. Amber spotted it and said, "It’s not Halloween yet!"

Yes, I told her, it is not. However, some people are now ready to
decorate for the fall season, and leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows and
straw are very much a part of that.

It’s amazing what comes out of the mouths of babes. At the same
time, she’s right. It’s not Halloween yet; in fact, it’s more than a
month away.

The holidays do seemed rushed nowadays. Walking into a party store
last month as I shopped for decor and other treats for Amber’s birthday
party, I noticed a huge Halloween decoration display off to the side.
In the back were boxes and boxes of costumes waiting to be unpacked and

The Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations aren’t too far away,
either. As early as next month, we’ll find brightly lit trees with
oodles of ornaments dangling from the branches.

Take a look at the TV, especially during the time slots featuring
kids’ shows. Commercials tout the latest toys, which are often coupled
with the inquiry, "Mommy, can I get that?" I guess we’d better start
generating the Santa list. …

Once Christmas is through and shoppers flock to the malls the day
after Christmas with gift cards and items to exchange in hand, the
Valentine’s Day cards, candy and other novelties are ready and waiting
for purchase for that special someone.

It seems as though life moves at such a faster pace these days. It’s
nice to shop ahead and such, but it’s also worth it to take a step back
and just slow down and savor the moments of the seasons.

It’s still nice outside. If the pool’s still open in your yard, take
another swim. Take the family out for ice cream after dinner, or enjoy
dinner al fresco.

I have nothing against fall decorations being displayed now, but
remember, it isn’t until Sept. 22, you can officially say "Happy fall,