halloween

Halloween 2014

Another Halloween is in the books and I ‘m still trying to figure out how. As usual, Halloween afternoon found us carving our pumpkins, placing them outside about an hour before the first Trick-or-Treater graced our door.

It was a great night. We spent most of it trick-or-treating with Daniel, who had a blast. And we did too. Our neighborhood really gets into holidays and since we are rural and large, you see golf carts and trucks pulling wagons as well as groups of walking families. I don’t think we’ve ever seen as many kids out (I’m sure Halloween being on a Friday helped). I saw only 2 Elsas and 1 Anna! Daniel got to stay up until almost 9, and we were all exhausted by the time we went to bed.

Daniel dressed up as a witch this year. Not a warlock (because I doubt he has ever heard that term), but a witch. He announced his intention to be a witch shortly after last Halloween, and we went with it.

We didn’t make a big deal out of the fact that witches are girls and D is a boy because we’re trying to make some gender differences a non-issue. Plus, Daniel is only 5. If he wants to be a witch, what of it??

Part of our commitment to let him dress up as whatever he wanted stemmed from a Halloween episode of Roseanne in which DJ, the son, wanted to dress up as a witch and his father was uncomfortable with it. The disappointment on DJ’s face at not having his costume accepted by his father really affected us, and we vowed that D could dress up as whatever he wanted and we’d support him.

So we found him a spooky black robe (because most witch costumes skew frilly girl, oddly enough). We bought him a broom perfect for his size and an awesome witch’s hat with purple (his favorite color) glitter cobwebs on it. He looked awesome. Best little witch ever.

I proudly told everyone who asked about Halloween what Daniel was going to be. I anticipated comments (and was curious what I would hear) but received only one. Jimmy received a few more. The frustrating part of these comments is that they alleged we were hurting Daniel somehow by letting him dress up as a girl, that we were damaging him. He is FIVE!!

It’s interesting because women can dress up as men with little comment. A coworker at the Halloween potluck was a football player. In the same Roseanne
episode with DJ as a witch, Roseanne dresses up as a guy. Hijinks ensue. Why is it OK, even funny, for women to dress up as men but not the opposite? Obviously because men = strong; women = weak. Of course women want to emulate the “stronger” sex while men emulating the “weaker” sex are suspect.

Parenting books tell you how to feed, discipline, and sleep train children. They tell you how to handle tantrums, disobedience and non-compliance. That’s nice, but they don’t help you figure out how to raise a little boy in a world beginning to view them with suspicion; how to help them understand and respect gender differences while not being defined by them; how to be sensitive and strong; how to see injustice and speak up. It’s heavy. My little boy prefers the pronoun “she” for everything, loves the color purple and has a good heart. Our job is to support and nurture that in a hard world.

My son was a witch for Halloween and rocked the hell out of it.

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Ghosts, Saints and the Next 30 Days

Halloween

Halloween has come and gone and as usual, we were scrambling to get everything ready until the last possible minute. Each year I vow we will have pumpkins carved the weekend before Halloween and what usually happens is that Jimmy is carving them as twilight approaches and I’m bouncing from one foot to the other while I wait for him to finish them before the first Trick-or-Treaters arrive.  This Halloween was especially interesting since the after-school workers at Daniel’s school let him eat FOUR cupcakes in the span of about 1.5 hours.  I was not thrilled. I picked him up an hour early too; I can only imagine how many more cupcakes he would have eaten.  He practically vibrated the entire way home, and I wasn’t the only one bouncing in the kitchen: it was like having a mini Tigger in the house.

This year, Daniel was a ghost for Halloween. We were relieved at his request because last year he wanted to be a cookie or a garbage truck and those costumes were not easy to find off-the-shelf. But a ghost? Great! Along with witches and vampires, ghosts are a traditional part of Halloween. Finding a good costume should be easy.

Not so much. There were sexy ghosts. Ghosts rattling chains. Downton Abbey-like ghosts. Black robes with the Scream mask (unsure how that qualifies as a ghost). And then one lone, happy, hobo-like ghost that was suitable for a child. When Daniel tried it on, we discovered we needed to make alterations. Off went the head. The length was trimmed. The arm holes were weirdly placed, so Jimmy cut new ones.  We bought makeup to create a ghostly face. In retrospect, it might have been easier to buy a sheet and cut out holes for the eyes and mouth.

Finally, Daniel was costumed and ready to bounce out the door with his purple pumpkin.

Halloween ghost

We had a great time and visited around 20 houses. We let him have only one piece of candy since he was still sporting a decent sugar high.  Our neighborhood really gets into holidays and decorating, and it was so much fun to see the extremes some went to.  I keep saying that will be us next year, but the reality is that it likely won’t be except in my dreams.

Halloween candy

All Saints Day

Daniel got to dress up two days in a row because his school is celebrating All Saints Day today. We were told that the kids could dress up as their favorite saint.  I was a bit skeptical and asked one of the moms who has an older child, and she reassured me that the kids do dress up and it is actually a much bigger deal in the older grades.  Since our family has a UK connection, we decided that he could go as St. George.  Oh, the cuteness!  It was a big day for his class because they were going to Mass for the first time. Imagine 16 Pre-K children sitting quietly for an hour. I thought his teacher looked a bit stressed at drop-off this morning!

St. George for All Saints Day

St. George

NaBloPoMo

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) kicks off today, and I plan to participate for the third year.  I really need some blogging motivation, so I’m hoping that 30 days of blogging will revive my mojo.  Consider yourself warned and prepare for inanity as I attempt to make it 3 years in a row.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Halloween and NaBloPoMo

Nothing seems to be going exactly as planned or desired lately and that applies doubly to holidays.  Just once I’d like to feel truly prepared for an occasion instead of finishing up preparations at the last minute; our Halloween was no exception.

I picked up Daniel early from daycare yesterday, excited to take my little boy home and get ready for trick-or-treating.  Daniel didn’t want to leave and threw a temper tantrum, resulting in me carrying him out to the car and wrestling him into his car seat against his wishes to do it himself.  Not exactly the way I wanted our evening to start.

By the time we got home, Daniel was all smiles again, and I rushed to make him dinner while Jimmy carved the pumpkins.  That’s right: we had done everything but carve them. An important step, don’t you think?  I hustled Daniel into his costume, lit candles, put candy in a bowl and tried to keep myself from hopping impatiently from one foot to another while Jimmy finished.

Finally, the pumpkins were ready and so were we.  The three of us headed out into the chilly night (a rarity for Halloween in North Carolina). At the first house, Daniel clung shyly to my leg but finally managed a “trick or treat!” when the door was opened.  That was all it took for the stress of the evening to melt away and for the magic of the night to take over.

I’ve mentioned before (OK, a lot) that I love Halloween and celebrating it with my family of 3 is one of the sweetest milestones after our years of infertility.  Each year since Daniel was a baby, we have reveled in celebrating it from that first year when we overdressed him as a lion in an outfit lovingly made by his Mimi to this year when he told us what he wanted to be. But this year was the best so far.  This year was the year that Halloween clicked for Daniel.  We prepped by reading Halloween books, and he practiced shouting “Trick or Treat” for weeks.  After discovering candy last Halloween, he knew very well what kind of treats awaited him at each house. This was the year that our little boy grinned, grabbed both of our hands and practically ran down the driveway and from house to house.

We had intended to go to only a few houses and be out no more than 30 minutes, but Daniel kept insisting on just one more house.  We walked up and down the street for an hour, and it was only as we walked up our driveway that Daniel whispered for me to pick him up.

Back in the house, Daniel and Jimmy went through the candy in his bag, one of Jimmy’s favorite parts of Halloween from childhood.  One lollipop and a few stories later, Daniel fell asleep immediately while Jimmy extinguished Halloween outside and inside.

Look at all the sugar!

31 days of excitement and anticipation, and it was over in a few short hours.  Halloween came and went in a rush.  I don’t know how many trick-or-treaters we had.  I barely saw our pumpkins lit.  I don’t mind, though.  The best hour we had all night was walking around our neighborhood with our little cookie.  If that’s all the Halloween that I get to experience, I’m OK with that.

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NaBloPoMo November 2012

NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) is here again, and I’m going to participate! That means 30 posts, one for every day.  I think it will be a bigger challenge than last year because we seem to be so much busier or maybe it’s just that life abhors a vacuum, and we’ve traded one type of stress for another.   Feel free to prod me if I appear to be getting into a rut or slump.  Or if a daily post from me is more than you can take, I bid you adieu until December 1.  You can also check out some other people crazy intrepid enough to tackle this challenge on BlogHer and Yeah Write

Week in My Life 2012: The Weekend

My little family really needed a calm, quiet weekend after the past few super-busy weeks, and I think we achieved that even if Sunday threw us a curve ball.

Saturday

Saturday was hair cut day.  Daniel’s hair grows really quickly and even though he had a hair cut a few weeks before, he  needed another.  Happily, our stylist was able to fit him in.  Jimmy was going to take him, giving me some time at home by myself.

Pre-hair cut. Note the long bangs. Yes, that’s a Halloween shirt.

After the hair cut and a few lollipops later (if you ask Daniel, he equates hair cuts with lollipops), Jimmy took him to the bounce house down the road.  Unfortunately, every other family had the same idea, and it was packed.  After about 30 minutes, Jimmy decided it was unsafe for Daniel with so many big kids running around unchaperoned and brought him home.

Fun at the bounce house

I had intended to plant flowers, so once they returned, I headed outside to admire the gray, blustery day (thank you, Frankenstorm Sandy!) and pot pansies.

View from my front porch

I even achieved a little seasonal festiveness in time for Halloween.

Just like Martha Stewart amiright?

Daniel enjoyed the gray day too, watching the squirrels run and leaves swirl.

Daniel is really into his trains right now, but we asked him if he wanted to color and he said yes.  I’m amazed at what he can create with his crayons.  When I asked him what the big scribbles were on the right side of his paper, he said, “A big storm.”  Wow.

Petite Picasso? Pollock?

I am not arts & craftsy by any means, but before dinner, we attempted to decorate a pumpkin.

Masterpiece, n’est-ce pas?

Daniel had dragged in his “baby chair” as he calls it from his room and while we were decorating his pumpkin, Lucy decided to observe us more comfortably.  I don’t call her Diva Cat for nothing!

Sunday

Sunday was supposed to be quiet, yet purposeful.  I woke up with a migraine, though, and it rendered me useless for most of the morning.  Jimmy hadn’t slept much at all and had a scratchy throat (joy!), so I let him sleep and treated the migraine with lots of caffeine and water.  Daniel was a trooper and played quietly.  I may have let him watch 2 movies back-to-back. I blame Hurricane Sandy for all of this.

J’ai mal a la tete

Daniel was distracted from his breakfast by Lucy who decided to lurk at his feet in case he dropped anything edible.

A boy and his kitty cat

Daniel loves pumpkin muffins for breakfast, and I had promised him we would make some, so once my headache retreated, we did. He helped by adding the eggs, water, oil, pumpkin and spices.

Does a watched muffin bake?

Then it was time to prep the pumpkins for carving.  Daniel was extremely excited to see Jimmy cut out the tops.

Then it was time for me to scoop out the pumpkin guts.  This task falls to me every year.  I don’t really mind it, but OMG it is gross.  I can’t help but grimace while doing it because the pumpkin coats my hands and dries.  Ewwwww.  Another year with my arm elbow-deep in pumpkin guts!

While I was having quality time with the business end of two pumpkins, Jimmy and Daniel were looking at pictures of family and kitty cats.

We all wanted to nap (at least Jimmy and I did), but I was the only one who did (blame the migraine hangover).  Daniel was wild and bouncing off the walls post “nap.”  We fed him, read stories and got him into bed as soon as possible and within a few minutes, he was sleeping soundly.  Yay!

Then it was time to tackle the Sunday chore of making Daniel’s lunches for Monday-Wednesday.

And with that, I end the Week in My Life series.  I’ve enjoyed it a lot, and it’s been fun to document the various aspects of a week.  It’s been interesting to compare this year to last year as well.  Some things are the same, but there is a lot that is different. This is one of my favorite times of year, and I’ve enjoyed capturing it.  Thanks for reading along!

Week in My Life 2012: Friday

 

Friday was a frenetic day.  I knew it was going to be hectic because I had a few meetings and I was going to leave early because Daniel had a Halloween party and costume parade at daycare, but it ended up being even more hectic than I anticipated.

I dropped off Daniel at daycare with kisses and a reminder that we would see him at his party and then I dialed into my conference call, my first meeting of the day, as I headed into Raleigh.

I had one mug of coffee that I drank during my commute, but I needed more, so in between meetings 1 and 2, I headed to Cup A Joe for another shot of caffeine. It’s always fun to go there, especially because you often run into the reporters from one of the local stations whose office is up the street.

Local campus favorite

Freshly caffeinated, I headed to my second meeting at another building on campus.  It also happens to be the building Suzanne from Pretty Swell works in although she wasn’t there today.

There were some really pretty leaves on the ground as I walked into the building.

Fall is here!

After that meeting ended, I headed to my office for my weekly staff meeting, my third meeting of the day.  Normally that meeting is on Thursdays, but I had rescheduled it since I had to take my car to the dealership on Thursday.  At 10:45 Friday morning, I was questioning the wisdom of rescheduling it since I had precious few hours to actually accomplish anything that day.

My office building. My office s behind the tree in the middle. Eventually those trees will become a gorgeous shade of red.

After my staff meeting, I was pulled into an unexpected fourth meeting with my organization’s executive director AKA my boss’ boss.  After that meeting, I scarfed down lunch and caught up on emails before heading out for the main activity of the day: the daycare party and costume parade!

OMG the cuteness.  First of all, 18 3-year-olds and cookies, cupcakes, fruit and veggies (ignored–what a shock!) could be perilous, but they all did well.

Daddy and Daniel looking at his party plate. Looks yummy to me!

Daniel hadn’t napped, so the extra sugar was like heaping fuel onto the fire, especially since he was so excited to see us.  We put him into his costume, and he looked adorable.

Oreo cookie!

I had been worried that the costume would be too small, but it fit well and actually would fit a bigger child too.  We’ll use a white shirt on Halloween.  Daniel thought it was great fun that he could bump into walls and be well-insulated thanks to his costume.

Finally as the sugar took hold in everyone, it was time for the parade.  The parents gathered outside while each class paraded around.  It was very, very adorable.

Our cookie!

After the parade ended, we took our sugared-up, hyper little boy home.  It was a good day.

Capture the Everyday: Something I Collect

I’m trying to build a village.  A miniature village that is.  I started collecting Lemax buildings and figures a few years ago.  Perhaps not surprisingly, given my love for Halloween, I have several pieces from the Spookytown collection, but I also collect Christmas pieces.

Houses

I started collecting the Christmas pieces because I like the nostalgia they evoke.  I loved the Department 56 collections that I would see in the mall, but by the time I finally had the space and the money to start my collection, I didn’t like their themes. I bought my Christmas piece in 2003 and my first Halloween one in 2005.

Halloween fair and pumpkin patch

I’m fairly choosy about what piece I buy for each collection.  I try to buy a new piece every year, but sometimes time gets away from me or I don’t see anything I like.

Christmas collection...only a few more weeks until they come out!

Right now I display them simply.  I don’t have an elaborate village scene set up or even have them plugged in.  I’ll get there one day.

Capture the Everyday from Adventuroo

Halloween Redux

Yesterday’s post on Halloween was just a teensy weensy taste.  I couldn’t possibly let that post stand as the only glimpse into our Halloween!

I mentioned yesterday that our Halloween was full of more tricks than treats. First of all, if you were in the Raleigh area, you know how wet and cold Halloween was.  J and I were so disappointed because we had planned to take Daniel trick-or-treating and wondered if we should do so in the rain.  We took Daniel ToTing when he was 6 months old just for fun but skipped it last year, so we had considered this year to be his first genuine trick-or-treating experience.

After a few trick-or-treaters came by at 6:30, we decided to brave the rain and take him to a few houses.  I carried him, and J held the umbrella over us and we  had a good time.  He couldn’t quite say “Trick or Treat” but he did whisper, “Happy Halloween.”

It was a good night overall.  We had about 25-30 trick-or-treaters, which was decent considering the rain.  I eagerly anticipate Halloween all year and then by about 8:30 pm, I am so ready for it to be over. It is rush, rush, rush all evening.

Happy Halloween to you, my little caterpillar!  I hope it was as fun for you as it was for us!

Halloween, very hungry caterpillar

On our porch after trick-or-treating.

ooohhh, is that candy?

First Kit Kat

 

Holding on to a bar of dark chocolate

Tired bebe ready to crash

Capture the Everyday: Halloween Closeup

Halloween seemed to have more tricks than treats yesterday, but we still had a good time!  And most importantly, Daniel had fun despite the rain and enjoyed his very first Kit Kat.  I think I have a chocolate fiend on my hands!

Without further ado, I present my Very Hungry Caterpillar!

very hungry caterpillar, halloween

A little blurry but cute

I love how his antennae(?) dominate the picture when he bends down.

Very Hungry Caterpillar, Halloween

Top heavy!

 

Capture the Everyday from Adventuroo

Seasonal Reads: Fall and Halloween Books

I’ve mentioned several times how much I love Halloween and how much J and I love Fall, and I hope to instill that love in Daniel as well.  This year I went a little crazy and bought him several books to introduce him to the season – hey, no child was ever spoiled by having too many books, right?  Here are a few thoughts on them:

Apples and Pumpkins (Anne Rockwell) is about a family’s visit to a farm, and the little girl’s experience picking apples and choosing the perfect pumpkin for Halloween.  It’s a very simple book with a sentence on each page, and the illustrations are beautiful. Daniel loves this book and grabs it out of my hands to turn the pages himself when we read it.  It is an older book that has been re-issued, but it doesn’t feel dated at all. The only downside to this book is that it’s not a board book, so the pages can be difficult for toddler fingers to manage.

Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin (Mary Serfozo) is about a young tiger named Peter’s search for the most perfect pumpkin to carve (with the assistance of his father) into a jack-o-lantern. The book is darling, the story sweet and the illustrations excellent, but I don’t like it as much as the others.  I wanted to like it a lot since we are cat people (not this  kind of cat people), but I don’t because of the writing.   It rhymes, awkwardly, and it makes the story difficult to read.  I can’t get the words to flow when I read it as if I were stumbling.  Daniel likes the book, though.

Ghosts in the House! (Kazuno Kohara) is about a little girl and her cat (notice a trend?) who discover that their new house is haunted.   The story is very simple and easy to read, but it’s the illustrations that make the book stand out.  The pages are a bold dark orange, while the little girl and her cat are black and the ghosts white.  The characters leap from the page and while the book has a modern feel, its message is simple and old-fashioned.  It is definitely not your typical Halloween book. This is another book that Daniel grabs from my hands and tries to turn the pages himself.

Mouse’s First Fall (Lauren Thompson) is about a little mouse and her sister’s enjoyment of a beautiful fall day.  They study leaves, noting their color and shape, pile them up, jump in them and play hide and seek.  This book is completely about the season with no mention of Halloween.  It’s illustrated in bright, beautiful fall colors and while the story is very simple, it’s a great book to use to point out the different shapes of leaves and work on colors.

Corduroy’s Halloween (Don Freeman). Who doesn’t love Corduroy?  This Lift-A-Flap book takes Corduroy and his assorted friends through typical fall activities such as raking leaves and visiting a pumpkin patch to getting ready for Halloween.  Daniel loves this book because of the interactivity with the flaps, and it was a great book to use to introduce him to Halloween without any worries of it scaring him.  I also like that it’s a book with which he can interact on his own and doesn’t require me to read it to him for him to enjoy it.

For older readers looking for a novel Halloween treat, I suggest my friend Katie’s spooky three-part series “Buyer’s Remorse“: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

What are your favorite fall or Halloween reads?