My Love-Hate Relationship with Halloween

While there are plenty of things to love about Halloween (costumes, candy, parties, oh my!), there are some things that just bug me about Halloween. I wrote about it for my friend Kim. I want to thank Kim for asking me to participate in her Halloween series, Listing Toward Halloween. It’s been fun reading everyone’s take on this holiday.

I also want to thank my mom for that fabulous costume pictured with the post. I tried to get one of the girls to wear it, but their PC-meter must be way more sensitive than mine ever was.

A few ironies to note for Halloween 2013:
1. Trick-or-treat is actually on Halloween this year — tonight, for those keeping track!

2. We did NOT carve pumpkins.

We had every intention of carving pumpkins; as a matter of fact, we were going to do it this past Sunday.

My children have had their pumpkins since October 19. Kate even had a green one because she was going to carve an Angry Birds pig. I kid you not.

The pumpkins were victimized this week by the local critters that live around our house. From the size and positioning of the holes, I’m guessing chipmunk.

3. I did do some heavy construction on the girls’ costumes this year. Come back to see pictures tomorrow.

Here are my favorites from the Listing Toward Halloween series (aside from my own, of course):

Halloween apologies (I could’ve written the costumes one).

Trick-or-treat defeat: The life and times of a Halloween failure.

Halloween costumes for men with glasses.

Halloween Dance: A Poem.

Read through them all. Someone probably feels the same way you do about Halloween!

And have a happy and safe evening of trick-or-treating.

What do you like the most about Halloween?

Random Thoughts: The THIS WEEK! Edition

1. Day 16 of the government shutdown.

Are you effing kidding me?

2. Work is a veritable shit storm. I need a raise.

Seriously, if you have tips about asking for a raise — separate from a review, because HA! Like we have time for reviews around here — enlighten me in the comments. Or at least cheer me on.

3. I am making the Halloween costumes. The girls are helping. They have to be ready for Saturday evening, the “Boo Bash” at the girls’ school.

Stitch Witchery is magic stuff people.

4. It used to be really easy to embed my photos in my posts. Picasa made it super simple.

Google+ apparently wants it to be super hard. The Share option will let me send it via email or post it to my circles. But I can’t seem to find the link to embed it on my site.

Which is tragic, because Flora had a really apt picture I wanted to share. (Some of you probably saw it on Twitter.)

5. So I’ll just share this instead: Flora’s band name? Rock Dove.

6. To clarify number 3: I am not creating costumes from scratch (i.e. a pattern and a sewing machine), I am putting together the girls’ costumes.

M’s costume is a hand-me-down, and we love it. No worries there.

7. M had been poking at his ear for a few days, so yesterday I decided I better have a pediatrician look at it. He never ran a fever (although he quite dramatically will push his bangs up, put the back of his hand on his forehead, and declare, “I’m wohm.” i.e. “warm” No idea where he got that from.)

We went to the doctor yesterday. When the pediatrician came in, he said to M, “What’s going on, buddy?” M said, pulling on his ear, “I need a new ear.”

No infection, however, the amount of wax the ped had to pull out of M’s ears to even check for an infection, and make sure the tubes were still in place, was impressive. And gross.

8. What I want more than anything right now, excepting money, is an entire day completely to myself. Coffee uninterrupted, a day of pampering, reading a book, watching a movie start to finish. A day I don’t have to feed anyone else, or put someone on the potty, or bathe them, or put them in bed. From start to finish, a ME day.

I know in five to 15 years, I will have all the me time I can stand. (I say five years because surely M will have grown out of the phase of “be as close to Mommy as possible” by then.) I will have that uninterrupted time occasionally. I know how selfish I am for wishing for that time now.

I don’t care. I am stretched to the max between home and work, and I just want to take care of myself and my needs for an entire 12 to 24 hours.

It’s futile to wish this today, this week, this month, this year.

But still, there it is.

9. My friend Kim is running a number of Halloween-themed guest posts over at her place in Chicago Now magazine. You should read through them; they are very entertaining.

Yours truly has an upcoming guest post. Keep an eye out!

10. What would your band name be?

Moving Target

I love Halloween — for my kids. I think it’s a kid’s holiday: pretend, dress-up, candy, and fun after dark. I have always enjoyed my children’s excitement about Halloween.

But this year, it’s been a giant pain in my butt. Halloween, that is, not my children’s excitement.

First, I had every intention of constructing my kids’ costumes. I was going to use clothes and crafts materials to build Pokemon costumes for them, Dewott for Flora and Pikachu for Kate. I even got everything I needed — except for time. I mostly blame the bathroom renovation for this. It caused a lot of upheaval in different ways (primarily, of course, by completely disrupting our ability to bathe at home). I have to say, the girls took the news that I wouldn’t be able to make them Pokemon for Halloween extremely well.

Primarily because my husband brought home super hero costumes for them.

Second, actual Trick or Treat has been an issue this year. For the eight years I have lived in my community (and for some years before to my understanding), ToT has been the Thursday before Halloween.

I was totally ready for ToT to be the Thursday before Halloween. I’m so glad I thought to double check the township web site. Because this year they decided Trick or Treat would be on Halloween! Whheeee!

Now, the Thursday before Halloween? October 25? Was gorgeous. About 65 degrees, clear skies, no wind.

Actual Halloween? Long story short: the weather was going to be so inclement because of Superstorm Sandy, they postponed ToT until Saturday. Which, while it will be cold, at least should be dry.

Now, the girls have had Halloween events: the Boo Bash at the school Saturday the 27th, and classroom parties on Halloween, so they will get plenty of wear out of their costumes. As of today, they feel like ToT is never going to be here.

Don’t worry, my super girls. It’ll get here.

Halloween 2010

Because I promised my dad:

We carved pumpkins the Sunday before Halloween. These were our friends’ jack-o-lanterns.

These are the girls’. Dan carved Flora’s cat; I carved the ghost carrying a candelabra, at Kate’s request. Because of the size of the pumpkin, I had to freehand this. (I drew it on the pumpkin first, and then carved.) Kate was happy, and that’s all that matters.

This is the other pumpkin Dan carved, for Nephew. It turned out awesome.

On Thursday, Kate dressed for school as Minnie Mouse. No one got a picture of her. But she ripped her dress (and I still haven’t sewed it). Fortunately, I had all the stuff for a pirate costume, thanks to a co-worker, and here she is, in her glory.

Here is Flora-cat.

Here is a girl pirate hugging a cat giving the peace sign.

They trick-or-treated Thursday night with a school friend. R’s mom called me the Sunday before Halloween to see if she could take my girls around with her girls — it was a call that came out of the blue, and I sincerely cannot thank her enough. I dropped off the girls, and went home to hand out candy.

The girls had a great time, and brought home their weight in candy. I have already divested them of half of it, and donated it to my workplace. We’ll just work through the rest, one piece at a time.

Snippet: Sweet

As is noted, the Halloween extravaganza has begun. As a result, the girls have some candy already.

Yesterday I packed them each a 3 Musketeers “fun size” bar in their lunches. Flora saved hers — my children often “save” a part of their lunch to eat on the ride home…because it’s such a long 5 minute ride.

So yesterday when I got them in the car, Flora opened her lunch pack, and got out the chocolate bar. She opened it, broke about a third of it off and handed it to Kate.

I hadn’t asked her to share. Kate hadn’t asked her to share. Just, “Here, Kate. You can have some of my chocolate.”

Although I was utterly flabbergasted, I simply said to her, “Flora that was a very nice thing you did. You’re a good big sister.”

Sometimes, my kids just blow me away.

Ladybugs and Butterflies and Candy, Oh My

Yesterday was the first of several Halloween parties/events that my children are attending this week.

Wednesday is the Halloween party at St. J’s for Flora. Thursday is trick-or-treat in our neighborhood (and WHY it’s not on the actual day is a post for another day), Friday is the Day School’s party for Flora and Kate, and Saturday is actually Halloween (ironically, we have no plans right now for Saturday).

I am ready for the onslaught of Halloween activities, although we are, sadly, without carved pumpkins. I don’t know if that’s going to happen this week. The girls will be decorating pumpkins tomorrow evening — permanent markers on small pumpkins that we picked at the Pumpkin Patch.

I have treats, stickers, treat bags (although I have to put them together — twice), and the girls have costumes. I love their costumes this year, for a number of reasons:

1. They are not trampy little-girl versions of trampy adult women costumes.
2. I got them at a consignment store weeks ago.
3. They cost $10 (Flora’s) and $5 (Kate’s). Talk about getting our money’s worth.
4. The girls love them.




Of course, the very fact that I am so very prepared for this week’s festivities, combined with the fact that my girls have had multiple exposures to H1N1 in the past week, means we’ll probably all be sick by Wednesday. I put the chances at about 75 percent.

What I Am: Reading this Week

A little less than mid-way through the month, I have two of my spooky books read, and I’ve started on the third. Not too bad for a mom who works outside the home and had a major infestation of fruit flies (we just have a minor one now) and is still cleaning up from the bug bombing. I also managed to finish Season 1 of Mad Men! (Hey, there’s nothing else to do when you’re folding laundry.)

Of course, I’m a little short on sleep.

A Prayer for the Dying, Stewart O’Nan
This book was heartily suggested by more than one person. It is, true to their words, haunting. I may have to re-read it in short order, because it inspires more questions at the end than it answers, which is perfect for a Lost-phile such as myself. Spoiler alert, kind of: Is he simply a madman? Cursed? A murderer? The last few pages are chilling. I’m sure there are some biblical parallels to be found as well — Job springs immediately to mind. The book ends right in the middle of the Job parallel though, after he’s lost everything, but hasn’t regained anything yet. Faith rewarded or abandoned?

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I love everything I have read by Neil Gaiman (okay, American Gods had way too many endings). This book is the 2009 Newbery Medal Winner. It kind of surprises me that some of Gaiman’s books are called “children” books. They don’t really (IMO) mean children, they mean young adult or middle school-aged children. I read Coraline, the graphic novel anyway, and it’s scary.

The Graveyard Book is delightful. Although the story is fantastical — about a boy named Nobody Owens raised by the inhabitants of a graveyard — the deeper messages of friendship, loyalty, and love are touching. Gaiman’s writing, to me, is always so effortlessly… something. “Witty” is too light a descriptor — Gaiman is in turns whimsical and serious, yet never heavy-handed. His turns of phrases remind me often of Douglas Adams, but Gaiman brings a darker element to his narratives. This book has ghosts, assassins, a werewolf, and a vampire — although Gaiman himself never uses that word. It also has a number of humans in it, and tons of humanity throughout.

Here’s something that recommends Gaiman’s writing to me: It is perfectly non-pretentious. If you are a student of classic literature, or schooled in mythology, or know a bit about pop culture, Gaiman makes allusions to things you will recognize and appreciate. If you are none of those things — if you are a 10-year-old boy or girl, for example — you do not need prior knowledge of mythology or literature to “get” Gaiman’s stories. Your appreciation will probably be deeper for having prior exposure to fairy tales or mythology. As with the “message” of his books, the allusions are as light-handed as can be.

I am part-way through The Prestige by Christopher Priest. It is remarkably different from the movie, such that I am not 100 percent sure where it is going. It’s not creepy and there are not monsters (per se), but it haunts, and it deals with themes of magic, spiritualism, and illusion, so it satisfies the October reading requirement.

Random thoughts: Housecleaning

Not the real house, unfortunately.

Here are a few things to clear off my blogging table.

First of all, the very sweet Allison at Allison Says gave me not one, but TWO blogging awards, and said nice things about me, too (uh, I can’t seem to link to the images of the awards. Advice welcome. In the meantime, you can see them at her place). Allison is the mother of Alex, a baby that apparently everyone loves to touch, which bugs his mama. But I’m telling you, that boy is so adorable, I want to grab him and gobble him up every time I see him.

Allison already gave these awards to some of my other favorite bloggers, so I will pass them along to only one, my buddy now hailing from Nashville, Tenn., Misfit Hausfrau. She is completely irreverent, the mom of two girls, and a Lost lover. I especially value her blog because it makes it easy to check in with a friend who moved away. We still get to see each other once or twice a year, but I can always be up-to-date on what’s happening. And she’s funny, too.

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Secondly, I recently signed up at Freepeats.org, and things have been flying out of my house. I have given away about three boxes of toys and a box of maternity clothes. And it’s so easy: just post what you have to give away, or check the Wanted forum. The people who want what you have will come pick ’em up. I feel better about doing this than giving stuff randomly to Salvation Army or Goodwill. You know that what you are giving away is needed and is going to be used.

So if you, too, need to do the Great Toy Purge of 2008, I heartily recommend Freepeats. I did not have enough toys to give away to the takers!

Now, I still need a good home for the girls’ old stuffed animals. Still no takers there. They may just hit the curb, although if i do that, they will haunt me. I just know it.

Of course, if I manage to unload everything I want to, and I do manage to have baby number four (technically) (and not that we’re actually ‘trying’) I will be looking to get it all back. If I stay with Freepeats, though, I don’t think that will be a problem.

I actually have a bunch of stuff I am trying to get to moms I know. If they decide they don’t want them, I’ll just post them to Freepeats. Also, my sister-in-law WonderSIL is expecting another baby in March. If it’s a girl, I want to pass on clothes. If, on the other hand, she has another boy — her fourth — she is well provisioned.

Well, maybe she’ll need a little more wine.

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Thirdly: Happy Halloween.

I know there is a lot of confusion (or people are confuzzled) about when and why Halloween is scheduled in Pittsburgh. I can understand the frustration. I’m of the opinion that Holidays should be celebrated on the day they occur. (Anyone else remember when Pittsburgh celebrated July 4th on July 3?)

I like that they have set hours, I will admit. I can expect people to come between 6 and 8 p.m.; the earlier time is great for little kids because there is still daylight. In my neighborhood they had trick-or-treating on Thursday because of the high school football game. Since DearDR couldn’t be home, we just handed out candy, and the girls are trick-or-treating tonight in an adjoining neighborhood with friends. So it worked out well for us this year.

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Monkey had a Halloween party at her preschool yesterday. They sang little songs and everything. Bella went in my stead (thank you, Bella!). She called me later at work to tell me how cute Monkey was.

“Some of the parents brought treats,” she mentioned. “I put them in a bag for Monkey.”

Okay, I thought, so she’s already got some stuff. Cool.

Turns out that “some parents” means “almost all of the parents in Monkey’s class” and “treats” means “treat bags with fun stuff, cookies, candy and personal notes.”

I win clueless mother of the year award. I better get my sh*t together for Christmas time.

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And lastly: I am getting my hairs cut tomorrow (as is the bang queen, Monkey). Please help me pick a real style. The color will be a brown closer to my natural color. It’s time to go away from the red. Thanks.

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