Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts

Friday, November 01, 2013

on costumes {including Sox} & NaBloPoMo

So okay, I'm going to do that NaBloPoMo thing again! I will probably regret my decision tomorrow when my ideas scatter and hide, but I'm trying to take Anne Lamott's advice to write every day for a while and see how that goes (Lamott fans: I even got myself a 1-inch blank picture frame for inspiration.) Hold on to your butts!...

Last night was so fun! The weather was wonderful. My mom summed it up perfectly by noting how great it is not to have everyone asking "So what are you dressed up as under that big puffy coat?" Indeed! Vivi went as her favorite story character, Lady Bug Girl, and Charlie went as a cowgirl (Vivi's costume from our 1st year in Boston).

This was the best one I got! Missed out on the hobby horse.

I didn't expect Charlie to get into the event as much as she did, but she periodically and indiscriminately shouted "YEEHAW!" throughout the evening, much to everyone's surprise and delight. Forgetting that she would have zero recollection as to how the whole trick-or-treat business works, I gave the kids a quick reminder tutorial about saying "Happy Halloween!" and "Thank you!" to every candy distributor, not going off with strangers, and watching their step on slippery stairs (earlier drizzle + fallen leaves = a big wet mess) but otherwise gave no instruction. After happening upon their first house on the block, Charlie ran back to me screaming "THEY GAVE ME CANDY!!!" and asked if she could eat it. She then proceeded to scream and eat for the next four houses until I told her that maybe it'd be a good idea if some of the candy made it into her bag.

Meanwhile, Vivi was off and running in a nearly completely unbridled manner. Sometimes I didn't even have a good handle on where she was for a brief moment, but fortunately we were among a bunch of friends at the ends of the group to help corral the stragglers and eager overachievers. You can also take my word for it that our neighborhood is beyond safe on Halloween. There are adults milling about and chatting out in the middle of our quiet street, and nearly every house is exceptionally well lit with porch lights, street lights, Halloween-themed lights (a new sight to me upon moving to Boston), and plenty of jack-o-lanterns. Last year the local school's marching band even made an appearance! It is almost apologetically adorable.

...If I haven't convinced you yet, allow me to report that we are that neighborhood people come from other towns to trick-or-treat in. Not that I am gloating. Or maybe yes...

We hit every house on the block and were rounding the corner when both kids asked me to hold their loot, which was my cue to rally the troops for the march back up the hill home. I heard lots of happy sighs and bold statements of "BEST DAY EVER!," so I know Halloween is a holiday that's here to stay. I'm glad about that, but I'm also happy to ease into a quiet, food-and-milestone-themed November. Sorry for not taking more pictures, but Charlie disrobed a part of her costume at nearly every house, so I was busy balancing a hobby horse, plastic belt, and a cowgirl hat that didn't fit my head, plus my own umbrella and camera that went unused.

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In other life news, this has been a tough week for me--despite the fun last night and the big Red Sox win that so many people anxiously awaited and then confusingly didn't seem to celebrate. Although I normally don't participate in cliche monikers for the days of the week, today I am shouting from a rooftop "TGGGGGGGGIFFFFFFF!!" All that's on the docket for the weekend is skating on Saturday and church/choir practice on Sunday. I can't wait to settle into my jammies and unwind.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

treats, not tricks for a healthier Halloween


When it comes to Halloween, I usually go all out and let the kids loose with few rules about their activities, decorations, and the inevitable amassed pile of junk food and just plain junk.

Having said that, it was easier to ignore the junk when the kids were too young to know the difference; we'd just hide or throw away every piece of cheap crap/candy but a small handful of raisin boxes and pretzels. Now that we have a kindergartner who knows what's up, it would appear I have to be a little more conscious of the candy part of Halloween.

After chatting with mom friends and researching the issue a bit, I am happy to report that there are ways we can insert real food in the mix, and I'm sharing a few ideas on the blog today.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

getting ready for Halloween!

Ladybug Girl and Princess eat apples after our local farm's spooky hayride

The Halloween countdown is on. Every year Vivi impresses me by being more excited about the holiday than the year before. As a kid, I never put as much effort into the planning and decorating as she does, so it's fun for me to create new traditions with her. Here's a shot of one of the two banners she made completely by herself:


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Thursday, May 23, 2013

on not {quite} fitting in

Me on Halloween (age 11). Yes that's a wig. And yes I am awkward.

We've been living in Massachusetts for nearly two and a half years, which is a long time for us to stay in one place. In fact, it's about as long as we've ever stayed in one city before moving. It's hard for me envision what it would be like to move right now because I still feel like I am learning how to be a proper Bostonian.

I wonder if it's a part of Boston culture that it takes longer than two years to feel like I fit in. The same couldn't be said for Wisconsin, which fit us like a glove. Ultimate frisbee, bike paths everywhere, and constant beer, fried fish, and cheese. Amen to that! If it weren't for the lack of family there and the brutal winter--worse that New England, if you can imagine that!--we would move back in a heartbeat. People seem genuinely happier there, despite the weather.

In contrast, New Englanders are not the happiest bunch I've ever come across. I realize I am stereotyping here, in the same way that you might discuss slavery apologizers in the south. I recognize not everyone behaves the same. But I've noticed more than once that people are pugnacious in an almost laughable way--picture Mark Wahlberg talking to animals, and you get it. Sometimes I LOL at how it seems like they are all looking to have their next fight.

From the way you take a number to stand in line and buy a sandwich, to even what you call the bread (don't say "white" when you mean "sub") and the stuff you put on it, EVERYTHING feels different. Nate has a funny story about ordering a sub when we first got here, and they asked him if he wanted "hots," which is a pickled pepper relish. But the way they say it, it sounds exactly the same as "hearts." It makes me giggle to imagine the curious position he was in for a few moments.

Much like when we lived in England, we spend some part of every day trying to figure out what the heck people are saying, even with small words like "jimmies" instead of sprinkles. On the surface, it might seem like an easy enough thing to learn, but what you don't see initially is that you aren't just learning the word but the history and connotation of its usage. In the case of "jimmies," it apparently has some sort of racial significance...and yet, they still say it? The intricacies of semiotics, y'all!

They way they chat with each other, their sociability, everything is slightly altered. I often feel as though I'm missing some kind of non-verbal cue during conversations with strangers.  Interesting but exhausting too. Last week I was chatting with another mom who has a six-year-old in Vivi's pre-k class. I was really intrigued because I've considered whether Charlie will be ready for kindergarten, having been born on the cut-off date. And Reader, she answered that they are keeping kids out of school an extra year, "you know, because of sports." As in, so her kids are bigger than the other kids. Say what now?

Whether I am making myself an outsider by pointing out these differences or am being made to feel like an outsider is a chicken and egg scenario. I love living here and observing people with my cultural anthropologist cap on, but at some point I'd like to be able to turn to a friend and say "I could really use a banana pudding milkshake" and have her understand what I mean. You know?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

music man & horsie cuteness

We owe our weekend parenting sanity to man who calls himself "DJ Tiesto." Nate discovered that if you put on his station on Pandora, the kids magically behave themselves...for HOURS at a time. I'm telling you, it can be 30 minutes past starving and tired, and my children will miraculously turn from crazy banshees into perfect angels. It's downright odd. But do we ask questions? No siree Bob, we do not. We have beliefs about gift horses' mouths around these parts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DIY holiday fun

Welcome to the October 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Holidays
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we simplify the holiday season. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.
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In the past I wouldn't have considered myself the crafting kind. That's an understatement, really. I tried one Martha Stewart craft project in college--creating my own criss-cross ribbon photo board--which was an abysmal failure. Lately, though, I've been enjoying taking up more craft projects with my girls. Perhaps it's the fact that they are so small that makes me adventurous. After all, who cares if a child's art project isn't perfect?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a loaded tootsie: on kids and food bribes

Vivi marched in the door of her school yesterday proudly holding in two hands a sheet of homework--her very first, a page full of scribbled As--and gave it to her teacher, announcing "I get a prize now!" The prize would come at the end of class. I spent the three hours away from her occasionally pondering what the treat could be, and I found myself saying "Please let it not be candy." Upon picking her up I learned the prize was, of course, a tootsie pop. Greaaaat.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

on getting old, and the visit of the Hair men

So I go and get all obsessed with farming, and a week goes by, and my family begins sending me the "WTF??" messages, and I finally get motivated to post about our weekend of fun with the men in my family. Despite 32 hours total of driving for them and an unexpected snow storm, we had a great time! Oh, you want more details? Well alrighty then, here we go.

On Saturday morning, I woke up with a small ache in my right trapezoid area. You know that part of the neck that everyone is always wincing and rubbing in those Bengay commercials? It was that area. The ache quickly developed into "I can't move my neck," which sent me into an inner spiraling pre-birthday depression. Why does it seem that in my thirties something falls apart on me right around the time I'm another year older? So yeah, anyway, that happened. I'm totally fine. No debilitating injury, just a little pain followed by a lot of whining.

Bright and early, we met the Hair guys (Dad, Grandaddy, and brother Billy) on the Lexington battle green with a Halloween parade. Then we caught the Liberty Ride trolley bus with a tour guide aboard who took us on a great driving tour of Lexington and Concord and told us amazing facts about the Revolutionary War. I'm a visual learner, so to me this is the best way to learn history. Plus, due to the chilly weather, toddlers in tow, and amount of distance to cover, we saw a tremendous amount more than if we had been on foot.



After the tour, we gathered back at home to warm up, catch some GA/FL football, and eat pizza.


Billy has deposed my dad as king of the Hair men in Vivi's eyes and is her new favorite person in the world. A deserved rank, I might add, as he played with her for six hours straight while the rest of us lounged on couches and called the dawgs. As evening came around, they retreated to the hotel, and we put the tuckered out kids to bed.

Saturday night we had an unreasonable unseasonable snow fall of six wet inches, which stuck to every leaf on every oak. At about 10 o'clock at night, we started hearing huge cracking sounds and made haste for the front porch. Every neighbor around did the same. We all stood motionless in dumb awe on our stoops watching the branches snap, crackle, and pop around us until one of our neighbors--the quiet one, I might add--yelled "F**K!" and turned around to go back inside. Glancing at each other, Nate and I nodded in silent agreement with his simple analysis of the situation and went back inside to wait for the power to go out. There was a huge branch sitting on our power line by then, so we figured it was just a matter of time.

Candles, flashlights, and camping lantern at the ready, we spent a few uneasy hours holding our breath until we finally grew exhausted and retired to bed, assuming we'd wake up if something bad happened. Thankfully, we somehow have averted the disaster of a power outage and are still, a week later, waiting for the power company to move the branch and repair the line.

On Sunday morning, my dad drove Billy down to see his girlfriend in Rhode Island, and then when he returned we made haste to Boston to see the USS Constitution in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Unfortunately they weren't giving guided tours that day, but they allowed us to stroll aimlessly about the cabins and deck and take pictures. It was beautiful! After several strange questions about finding a seat, we finally figured out that Vivi was very confused; she assumed we had climbed aboard this ship to go somewhere and was growing restless at our seeming stupidity about finding a seat and buckling in for the journey.





We were sorry to see them leave so soon but very glad they made the trip to see us. It was one of those trips where at the end of the second long car ride, everyone says "that was worth it, but I never want to do it again." There's just something about sitting through Connecticut traffic that does it to a beleaguered traveler.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Yee Ha-lloween!


We had a fun-filled Halloween week. I say week because I got Vivi dressed in her cowgirl get-up four times. It began on Thursday with her pre-school party. Then Friday we went to Nate's office for their party, which was lots of fun. I got to see his office and meet many of colleagues, and they hired a balloon animal guy who made Vivi a pony to go with her costume. Saturday morning was Lexington's Halloween parade, during which Vivi got to meet Elmo. When Elmo started walking toward town, Vivi postulated that he must be going to get himself a cup of coffee.


The girls and I spent Halloween afternoon at Wilson farm near our house, which seemed a fitting way to celebrate the holiday given their cow and cowgirl costumes.


We adore this farm because it sells fantastic food at great prices and makes an attempt to stay connected to the community through constant family-oriented events. Yesterday was no exception; they pulled out the stops with a spooky hayride, trick-or-treating with a choice of local apples or candy corn, and hot fresh apple cider donuts.





They are also known for their pre-made meals and recipe ideas. We each tasted samples of homemade turkey and mashed heirloom butternut squash (I'll add this simple, to-die-for recipe later in the week). Charlotte squealed for more after every bite, causing other shoppers to wander over and see what the fuss was about. Someone joked they should keep her around the tasting area as a salesgirl! We ended our trip by stopping by the portrait tent for a shot to win the costume contest.


As soon as we got home, Vivi and I scrambled to get our Halloween decorations up. We hung up homemade t-shirt ghosts and put up a scarecrow we picked up at Wilson farm. Within minutes, we had our first trick-or-treater, a boy dressed as a skeleton. Vivi hid around the corner because she was so afraid of his costume! I was glad we had chosen not to take her out in our neighborhood, since his was one of the least scary costumes I saw that night.

As I suspected, we had lots of trick-or-treaters. Most had great costumes, my favorite being the brother and sister dressed as Jack Sparrow and Keira Knightly (or whatever her character's name is), complete with Victorian corset dress. Toward the end, we had our obligatory share of teenagers dressed in sheets or holding hockey sticks. It was a great night, and the only thing I would change next time would be not to decide to make labor-intensive potato-leek soup while having to answer the door every two minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

October bliss

We're enthusiastically continuing on our merry way through this October sent from Heaven. After a few days of rain, this weekend was once again wonderfully 60's and dry. I am happy to report that leaves aren't yet at their peak; we are eagerly anticipating a long weekend with David, Caroline, and Edie and want the changing colors' perfection to strike in T minus 3 days. But the maples are just starting to turn, which made for a pleasant two days of hiking trips.

These pictures are from a Saturday trip an hour west to Leominster State Forest; we didn't mind the long drive as it meant we got to hear some of our favorite NPR programming. At the very end of our hike there were huge thunderclaps immediately followed by heavy showers, so we had a harried run back to the car. Of course the girls thought it was hilarious that Mommy and Daddy were running through the woods. Then Sunday we stayed closer to home and walked around the long pond at the Middlesex Fells Reservation; as always, we were happily greeted by a gazillion giddy dogs and their owners.







Vivi informed us that it's time to decorate for Halloween, and she demanded requested ghosts and a jack-o-lantern so far. I think her list will grow based on our neighbors' creations. We accomplished the pumpkin carving yesterday, and today I'm in search of an old white sheet to start cutting ghost squares.



Last night I made us a yummy semi-vegetarian dinner, which I will tell you more about in a rare second-post moment later in the day today. The high point in cooking dinner was when I decided to wet my whistle with a dark 'n stormy. The low point in cooking dinner was when, half my drink guzzled, I mistook the glass of chicken stock to be my cocktail. Reader, this is not a mistake you make twice.

In other weekend news, I found a picture of my childhood bangs and updated my post on the subject, lest you call me an exaggerator. I also updated our mantel with more fall accessories. I read my Thanksgiving Food and Wine magazine cover to cover in less than two days, which is my all-time record. And finally, I am enjoying the online magazine for moms called Babble; this week they posted their Top 50 Design Blogs for Mom.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wonder Woman's beauty secrets

Got your Halloween costumes ready yet? Vivi is going as a cowgirl, both because of Jessie from Toy Story and because of the "Every Cowgirl" children's stories. I'm slowly gathering pieces from around the house and thrift stores for the big day. I'm all for homemade costumes for older kids instead of buying the expensive, cheaply-made kind.

I love his expression. "Yup, it's me. Batman."

Girls are especially fun to dress up since women don't get to do much "dress-up" any more as adults. Have you seen the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" look that has been bouncing around Pinterest lately? Too cute! Though I'm a sucker for making our own costumes, I gotta say I think the trend of putting babies in store-bought pumpkin or animal costumes is adorable. Charlotte is going as a cow, which was Vivi's costume a few years back (a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down I got at a consignment sale).



Love it! I will of course document the entire occasion, including the candy loot and any meltdowns, should they occur. I'm just glad we didn't go with any of these options. Really, parents? Really?! #Fail.

 To get you pumped for Halloween, here are some costumes displaying my own former glory. Most are from summer camp. Much silliness had by all.

Little known fact about Wonder Woman: control top hose.

Decade Day

Tomb Raider, Hulk, Wolverine, Britney Spears?
Me as a bunny, circa 1983. Don't I look excited?

My BFF AnnaLysa wins the award for best homemade costumes. Some of my favs...

Spiderwoman, with Billie Holiday and Michael Jackson in the background.

Troll!

Since Nate refuses to participate in Halloween (I know, what's the deal? I've made much ado about this in the past), I have to catch him being silly when the rare moments occur.

Exhibit A:

In Kenya, delivering used clothes to families. Boys will be boys.
Or in this case, boys will dress up like soccer moms.

Exhibit B:
Nate's 21st, I think. Where did he get this wig?
And here's an actual Halloween picture of him, maybe the last one he dressed up for. I love the use of the sweatshirt as a cape and the shorts over black sweatpants. Great homemade costume!

Circa 1984.

Our neighborhood is already very festive, so I'm guessing the kids will turn out in droves come Halloween. Thing I love about modern Halloween decorations: the lights! Running in the evening in October has always been a beloved pastime, and it just got even betterer. Thing I do not love about modern Halloween decorations: giant inflated pumpkins and ghosts that run on electricity. "Hello, we're Americans, and we love wasting power!"

We've got big Halloween weekend plans, but not of the traditional kind. My dad, brother (and maybe his girlfriend from Rhode Island...no, really), my brother's BFF, and my grandfather are all trekking up to Boston in my Grandaddy's BMW for a visit. I'm thrilled they are coming, but no more excited than my daughter who tells me no less than five times a day, "Pssst. Mommy, I have a secret. Grandpa Jim is coming in three weeks!"

What are your kids going to be this year? Got costume parties planned? I can't wait to hear what pop culture references ya'll use for costumes so I can live vicariously. Allow me to share some ideas for Britney Spears costumes I stumbled upon. I can't decide if this is satire or serious. Unfortunately, I think it might be fo' shizz. Check out step #7 on the first look: "Ask a friend to take a marker and draw diamond-shaped designs on your chest."And hey, while you're at it, don't forget to ask her to write "T-O-O-L" on your forehead.

Ever hear Seinfeld's bit on Halloween? Hysterical, but not at all funny in book form as it turns out.

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