Sunday, October 31, 2010

Boo! Guess Who!

Well ... we survived yet another Halloween!  And while my work is done, I do feel for the teachers today who got the really scary job trying to teach a class full of sugar-coma-ed, sleep-deprived, running-on-fumes students!  Sorry!

Our Halloween weekend began on Saturday morning, actually.  We decided to carve our pumpkins after breakfast, mainly because we weren't sure of when else exactly we would have time, and now I have decided that mornings are the perfect time to take on such a task.  Sure, it's a little different carving pumpkins by the morning light.  And sure, we had to remind ourselves to take pictures that night of them all aglow.  But it was wonderful tackling this job when Daddy & Mommy were fresh ... and when the kids were in good moods, too.  There is nothing that takes the fun out of a tradition like Mom losing her temper (with a knife, no less ... ha! ha!) because the kids have lost interest; or kids changing their minds about their design 15 times because they are tired and can't think straight.  Also ... who wants to clean up pumpkin guts off the floor at 9:30 at night?  Not me!  So ... this year, we did it a little different ... and found that it was much more fun!

We started by taking a few pictures of our kids in the pumpkin patch (i.e. the living room ... we'd brought them in the night before so we wouldn't have to scoop out frozen guts!).  These are three pumpkins that we grew in our very own garden this year.  The pumpkin plant was called "Big Max" ... just so you know.  That way you can either choose to grow 100 pound pumpkins ... or avoid that! :)

Yes ... Aaron has blue hair.  No need to adjust your monitor. :)

The kids and Big Bertha ... No foolin' - she was a big 'un!

Then it was time to talk designs.  Aaron was pretty set from the beginning:  a football helmet.  We got on the internet and printed off two team logos for the sides:  the "C" from the Chicago Bears and the bull from the Texas Longhorns.  Ashley was unsure, but quickly decided that a cheerleader pumpkin made perfect sense ... seeing as she would later be dressed as a cheerleader.  A trip back to the computer yielded us a silhouette of a cheerleader to trace ... perfect!  Then it was Norah turn.  She and Lydia were sharing the third pumpkin, but in spite of Norah's efforts to involve Lydia in the decision-making process ... she was pretty much on her own.  After a few sketches, she decided on a bunny pumpkin, complete with standy-up ears.  Okay....

Due to the sheer size of the pumpkins, Brett and I were giving ourselves extra time for the cleaning process.  That and the fact that Aaron's weak stomach prevents him from participating in said cleaning ... unless we want a different mess on the floor.  In light of his squeamish tendencies, he was delegated to camera-man.  Luckily, we have two and a half girls who didn't mind!

Ashley arm-deep in Aaron's pumpkin helmet.

Norah scraping and cleaning.

We cut into the tops of the pumpkins of Ashley's and Norah's but for Aaron's we laid it on it's side and cut the bottom ... it looked more like a helmet that way.  To our surprise and delight, the pumpkins, while massive on the outside, were minimal in the muck department on the inside.  Of course, there was still plenty of guts to scrape out, but we were done in just about a half-hour!  Whew!

Lydia playing the spoons ... very loudly.  We nipped this "help" quickly!

Next I traced out designs on Ashley's and Aaron's pumpkins ... Norah was contemplating some re-designing.  By using a pencil, I was able to mark a thin line around my stencil ... easy enough to follow with a knife and easy enough to ignore when I made a mistake.  Ashley's pattern was pretty straight forward so Daddy tackled that one.  Aaron's still needed some creative interpretation, so I worked on his.  Our favorite carving tool is my Pampered Chef paring knife, but since we only have one, we had to use our sharing skills and go back and forth. :)  We were all pretty proud of our pumpkin creations ... none for than the kids.  Whew!  Two satisfied customers!

Da Bears!
Hook 'em Horns!

Eventually, it was time to work on Norah's pumpkin.  Now, remember what I said about being fresh and in good moods ... that was starting to wane by this point.  We were about 90-minutes into this project and while I had the end in sight, my most challenging design (and designer) was next.  My Norah is a particular child and while she had a very specific design in her head, she was having trouble transferring that idea to paper.  And in spite of any rumors ... I do not read minds and so we were in a pickle.  We traced the eyes on first ... and ran into our first problem.  The plan in her head involved pupils ... that floated, apparently.  Nix that idea.  After a few discussions regarding this impossibility, she resigned herself to "plain-old diamonds".  Okey-dokey.  Next was the nose ... that was a cinch:  one circle, coming up!  Then came the discussion of the mouth.  Naturally, Norah wanted buck-teeth.  The problem was that she didn't want a mouth behind them.  Hmmmm ... that's a tough one.  In spite of my logical reasoning that these 2-D teeth needed a mouth to give them dimension, she wouldn't budge.  Brett, who was busily cleaning up the rest of the kitchen, tried to give his two-cents, but she was determined to have what was in her head.  Eventually, I sent her to the computer to find me an image that matched her idea.  Within a few minutes she was back ... with a smile:  two buck-teeth ... with a mouth behind them.  Alrighty!  As long as it's your idea! :)  Then we added a few whiskers, her paper ears and a cotton tail.  I think that between the two of us (and the internet!), we ended up with a pretty cute little pumpkin-bunny!

Gimli "helped" to clean up ... ewwww!
Here are a few snapshots of our pumpkin creations all aglow ... and their proud owners.

We opted-out of him wearing the helmet.

Little Peter Pumpkin-Tail

Rah-rah-rah!  Sis-boom-bah!

On Sunday afternoon it was time to get ready for trick-or-treating by getting the kids dressed up ... by far my favorite part of Halloween!  It really is fun to dress-up and be somebody else for a spell.  I love to see my kids as they take on the personality of this new person.  They may not walk differently or talk differently, but they certainly pose differently for the camera!  Right before the flash, they are suddenly embodied by the spirit of their character and they strike a pose!  What a hoot!
Yo, Tulo!

Aaron decided early on that he wanted to be Troy Tulowitzki, the Colorado Rockies' short-stop.  This was a relatively simple costume to put together seeing as Aaron had most of the gear in his closet.  He had a Tulo jersey and baseball pants from Fall Ball.  He also had the socks and batting gloves to go with it.  We borrowed one of Brett's Rockies caps to complete the look.  There was only one thing missing.  Tulo has a mullet.  Too late to grow one out, I afraid.  :)  Seeing as this is Tulo's signature look, it was important that I figure this out.  A trip to Goodwill was the ticket:  we came home with one abandoned doll, gave her a hair-cut, taped this hair with packing tape and attached it to the back of the ball-cap.  Ta-dah!  One Major-League ballplayer!

Norah also chose a relatively simple costume:  Shawn Johnson - Olympic Gymnast!  Seeing as our own little gymnast lives in a leo, this isn't much of a stretch for her.  The significant differences to her costume were the taped wrists and ankle and the medal that she chose to wear.  For her birthday, we bought her the warm-up suit, so when she finally got to cold in just the leo, she could bundle up and still look "the part".   While Norah might just be "dressing-up", I think deep in her heart, she was the "real thing" last night!

Wow, Norah ... uh, I mean, Shawn! :)

Ashley, as I alluded to earlier, chose to be a cheerleader this year.  She is in awe of our neighbor girl, who cheered for the first time this year, and it was pretty much just understood from Day 1 that this was the costume for her.  We took a trip to Hobby Lobby about a month ago to buy fabric and a t-shirt.  All the way there, Ashley was talking about her hot-pink costume.  We came home with parts for a blue one.  Go figure! :)  I bought blue fabric for the skirt and then some sequined fabric to go on top for bling.  For the t-shirt, I bought some t-shirt transfers by "Purple Chimp".  Simply print your design on the transfer, peel off the backing and iron it to the fabric - super simple!  I found a fun cartoon cheerleader design to use ... something that I think Ashley will enjoy wearing even now that Halloween is over.  The ribbons in her hair and her pom-poms finished her ensemble!  I'm not sure about the hot-pink tights ... maybe some of her left-over pink plans.  My favorite part of her character, however, had nothing to do with her costume.  It was her cheering.  For the week leading up to Halloween, Ashley could be heard practicing the cheer her Auntie Allie taught her ... a tad bit modified:

Awesome, Awesome
Is what you are!
You're a mmmbdldmmd
Snooper Star!

Yep ... pretty awesnop! :)

Our patriotic hero-cutie.
Finally it was Lydia's turn to dress-up.  Seeing as this is probably the last year that I can dress up little Liddy without having to consult her, I thought it would be fun for her to be one of my child-hood heroes:  Wonder Woman!  At the same Hobby Lobby trip as above, I went in search of some shiny fabric ... you know, the type that is impossible to sew! :)  With plenty of input from the older kids, we came home with all the parts necessary.  Then it was up to me!  I have a standard pattern that I have used over the years for the kids' costumes.  It has a pattern for shirts (long or short-sleeved), pants (or shorts) and a robe.  Each time I use it, I fudge a bit depending of size and style, but I do follow it ... at least in the most basic sense of the word. :)  This costume consisted of a long-sleeved red, satin shirt.  It fit like a glove!  I added the silver cuffs after the fact with the help of my trusty glue-gun.  In retrospect, I would have sewed them on, but for this purpose, it looks great.  Next I sewed her blue-starred skirt.  Pretty basic - but fluffy.  I also sewed the gold belt and attached it in the back with velcro.  For the cape, I gathered the fabric at the top and sewed the silver edge and then used velcro as the clasp.  Finally, I made her crown using a foam visor as the frame (good idea, Auntie Allie).  I turned the visor upside down and traced the scalloped edge:  kinda like this { only horizontal.  I then used some of the left-over gold fabric and wrapped it tightly around the foam and hot-glued it in place.  For the finishing touch, I also covered a star (cut out of the same foam) in some of the red, satin fabric and glued it in place.  She looked so cute ... and powerful!

Once everyone was dressed it was time to head out to trick-or-treat with our friends and neighbors.  The kids came back with, as Norah put it, "a quarter of my bag filled!"  Oh, goodie!  Then after a soup dinner (at least I think the kids ate soup ...) it was off to our church's Harvest Fest where the kids filled up the remaining 3/4 of their bags.  Then it was time to head home and off to bed amidst the choruses of cries and weeping.

Yes, in spite of our fun, it's a tough trip back down from the Halloween highs!  I'm pretty sure that they had a good time, even if my last interactions with my kids were as follows:

Aaron:  "Aaron?  Aaron, honey?" ... maybe already asleep.
Norah:  "I feel sick ... too much candy."
Ashley:  "I didn't have any fun today" sniff, sniff ...
Lydia:  While screaming and crying she chucked her milk drink at me.

Hmmmm .... I'm sure our memories of last night will be better today.   :)

While we don't go in for all the scary business of Halloween ... we certainly enjoy the creativity and lighthearted fun of this season.  A wonderful weekend of memories, costumes and plenty of snapshots!

Happy Halloween!

Now I wonder how long until the kids start plotting their next costume ...

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