posts tagged with 'halloween'

happy Halloween

sheep Lijah, ninja Zion and bat Harvey posing in front of the house

the latest look for 2018

Another Halloween has come and gone. This one was pretty succussful; the kids wore costumes and got candy, and after trick-or-treating our friends joined us for a lovely relaxed pot-luck dinner. The lead-up was a little stressful, since I'm not that good at sewing or organizing, but the costumes got made—today, except for Lijah's, which is a hand-me-down—the cookies got baked and packaged, and we even had time for one non-Halloween chore: finally planting the garlic, on what seems like the first almost dry day in weeks.

Leah asks if we'll get to relax a little now that Halloween is over. I don't think so... there's always something. Lijah (who had a hard time deciding on a costume and so picked out something for the next three Halloweens) asked, after supper, how long it was til Christmas. Wait, my son! We have to stress about Thanksgiving first!

Happy Halloween!

glowing jack-o-lanterns


all hallows

Costumes are important for us, and the boys were all very definitive about what they wanted to be for Halloween this year. Harvey: Ninja. Zion: Asterix. Lijah: whichever cute Pokemon he had last looked at in the Pokemon book. With Leah very busy with work and other matters, I took the reins of the costume construction, and, with a great deal of assistance from Leah on certain points of difficulty, managed to produce three acceptible costumes.

ninja Harvey, Asterix Zion, and monkey Lijah posing at the farmers market

what great costumes!

You see that Lijah settled on Monkey over the weekend—not a Pokemon at all. Thank goodness, I say. We already have a couple of monkey costumes, but with all the fuss we were making over his brothers' it seemed only fair to give him a shot at something new too. He liked picking out the fuzzy fabric.

Zion's Asterix costume was the one I was most excited about. I think it came out very well indeed; that picture doesn't even do it justice (Zion was pretty cold, sleeveless, but I made him take his sweatshirt off for the photo). Harvey said, "he looks like a real person with cartoon things." I agree.

For his part, Harvey did most of the work on his costume himself, from designing at attaching his math-themed ninja logo to making his own nunchucks. I can take credit for the mask and the swords—he could have done swords, but he put it off too long ("Dada, I feel like playing with Lijah is kind of like helping..."—true enough!) and only I can manage a pair of wooden katanas in half an hour before we need to leave.

Because we were on a deadline to trick-or-treat at the farmers market in Lexington—we wanted to be there anyway, so why not pick up some treats along the way? Then we ventured into the maelstrom of costumed kids down the street in the center of town, where along with about 500 other kids they happily took candy from local merchants. It was quite a scene.

the boys walking on the crowded sidewalk in Lexington Center

crowded with revelers

We noticed with some sadness that out of those 500 we could only see three other kids with home-made costumes. Knowing the joy they took from having something created just to their specifications, the boys felt a little bad for all the poor children who had to be content with something off the rack. At least everyone got enough candy.

We certainly did, but of course that was only the first portion; then we had to hurry home in time to welcome our friends who were joining us to trick-or-treat in our lovely walkable neighborhood. (Out of the eight kids in our group there were five home-made costumes—a much better ratio.) The kids made us go out before dinner, so as our time on the quarter-mile loop stretched out over an hour we started to get a little hungry; everyone was glad to get get home and sit down to a pot-luck dinner. Then the kids ate lots and lots of candy and got really loud, so I don't remember the rest of the evening.


Halloween retrospective addendum

This evening when we got home Lijah whined for candy for a little bit, but he was mellow enough after a day and Grandma and Grandpa's that we could hold him off with the promise of dinner. After he ate his noodles Leah gave him his candy bag so he could pick out one piece for his dessert—a Snickers bar, today. He trotted off to eat it, but in a couple minutes he came back into the kitchen. "I don't like it," he told me. "I want some more real food."

So we gave him more noodles, which he ate happily, and then he asked to go to bed. The end.

Halloween retrospective

We observed Halloween last night. The boys were very excited about their costumes, made as per tradition by Mama.

Snoopy and a pair of ninjas

Snoopy and a pair of ninjas

Also about the prospect of lots of candy—especially Lijah. He got into the stash early, and after some considerable negotiation agreed to a dinner of chocolate cake as his "healthy food" before his candy blowout. A few other notes:

1. Candy is terrible. I hate having it in the house. Read a little from Marion Nestle on the subject. We made a batch of cookies to give out, but we also had lots of candy—and we only gave out a little bit of it while the kids brought lots more home.

2. In a blog post about their awesome trick-or-treat experience, Eric and Kelly of Root Simple point out a valuable truth: "the fun that Halloween provides really helps get to know neighbors. We need more festivals in our lives like this, where we take a break from day to day concerns and work together, on the neighborhood level, to create space for joy and unity." I've heard folks talk about lovely Halloween community experiences in Somerville and Cambridge and even Arlington; we have a little of that here in Bedford but not enough to balance out the individualistic pursuit of ever-more candy.

3. In the aftermath today the boys found and collected a plastic diamond, a spider ring, and an adult-sized hot-dog costume. One of those might come in handy one day...


the season's waste

What delightful jack-o-lanterns are to Halloween night—and really, folks in our neighborhood have some impressive skills and creativity in that regard—smashed left-over pumpkins are to November 5th. Some folks get them into their trash; others just toss em to the side of the road. Either way, I'm appalled at the waste! And I'm not the only one: even real writers now have something to say on the subject.

I wouldn't want to eat a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Pumpkin cultivation is now so focused on the decorative market that even sugar pumpkins are often disappointing, never mind the big field pumpkins. But when I see one tossed carelessly aside, I wish I could grab it and bring it home to feed to the chickens. And if we had a pig I'd do it! As it is our hens were delighted with the guts of the jack-o-lantern we carved on Saturday, and we'll see how they like the waxy, slightly toasted pumpkin itself in a day or two.

What do you do with your used-up pumpkins? If you want to keep them out of the trash—where, as they decompose, they release gases that contributes to global warming—we know someone with a big compost bin who's always looking for more organic matter to turn into dirt!


our halloween

jack-o-lantern's fanged grin in the dark

carved just in time

We did Halloween on Saturday; I have mixed feelings about it.

There are lots of things I enjoy about the holiday. Carving pumpkins, for example. After the boys' little ones (pictured here) they were out of steam for another big pumpkin effort, so I picked one up myself and carved it just before folks arrived for our party. I did have a little help from the littlest one.

Lijah, cookie in his other hand, reaching deep into the pumpkin to pull out some goop

one-handed helper

I also love costumes, and the boys had some awesome ones this year. Only we didn't take many pictures, and Leah has all of them. The high point of the evening for me was when Lijah, who had resisted all efforts to get him to dress up earlier in the day, was finally inspired when he saw Mama helping Zion into his Snowy pants. "Tep, tep?" he repeated, miming stepping into a costume himself. Seizing the moment, I dashed upstairs for Zion's old monkey costume and, because it doesn't come with the crucial step-into portion, his king pants too. Lijah was delighted to put them on and cute as a button trick-or-treating.

The big problem with trick-or-treating, of course, is the candy. The boys started sugaring up pretty early in the day, and their behavior suffered accordingly. Between that and the late night they were pretty ruined for Sunday and even some of Monday. And now we're stuck with bags more of the stuff that we hope to keep anyone—myself included—from eating. Couldn't folks find something more wholesome to share with their neighbors?! We did our best: once again our main offering to trick-or-treaters was homemade cookies.

the cookies in their basket, with pumpkin

the treats

Of course, it was nice to share the experience with friends: we advertized a party and two families joined us for the festivities. After the trick-or-treating was over it seemed like a shame to send everyone home right away, so we started a board game. It ended up going a little long; Leah may forgive me some day for my role in the debacle. And I didn't even win!

On Sunday—despite how tired we all were—we headed out west to an afternoon party at the home of our friends Ashley and Jim. It was a lovely affair, and pretty quiet: by the time we arrived there were just a few other families. The little kids ran around (well, most of them; Zion lay on the couch under a blanket) while the adults ate and ate: Jim is a great cook and likes to work in quantity. There was plenty left at the end of the evening, so he sent us home with a big bag of cornbread and another of ribs. Now that's the kind of trick-or-treating I could get behind!


pre-halloween fear-mongering

Q: When Can Kids Trick-or-Treat in Bedford?

A: Whenever the #&*% they want!

glowing jack-o-lanterns: a bat and an H carved and illuminated in little pumpkins

our early display

Alas, my sensible answer isn't the one proposed by Chief John Bryfonski and the Bedford Police Department. As the article I linked above explains, they want to keep kids safe this Halloween; and apparently the safest hours are between 6 and 8. Or something. I'm sure it's not any reflexive desire for control on their part.

If Halloween is dangerous at all it's because of drivers being idiots (I almost wrote, "because of cars"... but it's the drivers who are the problem). It seems to me that holding an alternate activity in a parking lot isn't the best was of avoiding that hazard; I suppose they must close part of it to make room for the kiddies. I hope so! At "Trunk-or-Treat" representatives of local businesses give out candy from the trunks of their cars, because taking candy from strangers—strangers representing corporations, natch!—is such a better idea than getting to know your neighbors.

At least local businesses would never poison the candy (or I should say they wouldn't add additional poison... I've tried Laffy Taffy). Your neighbors trying to kill you is what the police chief is worried about when he suggests we should "[e]xamine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before you eat them.... Eat only factory-wrapped candy. Avoid eating homemade treats offered by strangers." Never mind no one has been poisoned or injured by any Halloween treat, ever (well, except that kid who was poisoned by his dad); it's important to make people aware of made-up threats so they'll... be more attuned to real threats later? Feel like the police dept is a worthwhile expense on the town budget? Watch more news reports? I confess I have no idea. It might just be that none of us has any idea what's going on in the world these days and why everything feels out of control, and mythical dangers are something we can wrap our heads around.

Now if you're so inclined, there are plenty of reasons to hate Halloween. We tried it for a little while! (We backed off pretty quick, because of costumes. Who can resist this little mouse?! Or these monkeys?! You prefer kings? Pirates?)

mousie close-up


But please, don't pretend to love the holiday and then do all you can to stifle its proper observation.

We're going to be doing Halloween this year. As of the moment Harvey and Zion have their costumes planned (though plans can change—and have more than once already) and we fully intend to make homemade treats, like we do. And we'll be trick-or-treating, of course. Probably around 6:00, too.. but not cause they told us to! That's just when we finish dinner.


Halloween Recap

It behooves me to post a photo of Harvey and Zion in their halloween costumes, since I made them and all, and there should be a running record somewhere of my sewing exploits. Although really, I'm not too proud about this year's costumes. Once the children decided what they wanted to be for Halloween I dashed off their tunics in an hour as shoddily as possible. The pants took a bit more time, but only because I mistakenly cut out a pattern that needed pockets, and then I had to go ahead and make the stupid pockets. So there you have it, crappy Peter Pan and Sharky the Pirate costumes, complete with pockets. And not hemmed because I encouraged them to go for the "ragged" look. I bet that's the way Wendy would have done it.

Peter Pan and Sharky at the Wilsons Farms costume contest. They didn't win.

One of my great joys as a mother is fulfilling my children's desires through sewing. A little bag for lost teeth, a treasure sack, theses are the requests that warm my heart down to its very cockles. That said, I feel like taking a break from big sewing projects right now, at least until the Easter suits demand construction. The simple halloween pants took me weeks to complete, as each five minute burst of sewing inevitably woke the baby. In this light I've decided to scale back my normal Christmas expectations. Just sweaters and candy this year, no late nights in the sewing room. Sweaters because they are an important (quiet!) tradition and candy because I'm always in the kitchen anyway. So this year expect a lot of candy. Peppermint bark naturlicht, but I intent to branch out.

Speaking of candy, you might be wondering how the rest of Halloween went. The answer is delightfully sugar-filled. And now the boys can't stop talking about Christmas...


more about the king costumes

At the beginning of October I asked my kids a question that used to be a favorite from my own childhood: "What do you want to be for Halloween?"

Harvey said, "A king!"

Zion said, "A pirate!"

"No, you were a pirate last year," I said. "What NEW costume do you want me to make you for Halloween?"

"A pirate."

"Nevermind," I said, "I'll make you a king costume and you can wear it if you want to. Or you can wear last year's pirate costume if you'd rather do that."

We looked at portraits of English kings online to see what they looked like. We decided to make capes, crowns, pantaloons and vests. Harvey's would be red of course, and Zion's would be blue because those are their favorite colors. Which you know, obviously, if you've been around my kids for longer than five seconds. Favorite colors are a BIG DEAL in our house.

While I was planning our trip to the fabric store Dan took me aside. "Does Zion's pirate costume still fit him? Can he wear Harvey's old one? Should you make a new pair of pants?"

"Oh he'll want to wear the king costume," I said. "He just doesn't know it yet."

a kingly bow

The costumes are all fleece (cheap!) except for the trim which is some polyester fur thing I bought very little of because it cost over $10 a yard — thank God I don't make fuzzy stuffed animals for my hobby! The vests and pants are as simply constructed as possible, both from patters that I'd cut before so I didn't need to trace anything new. I embroidered the edges of the vests by hand, and I had wanted to do more hand embroidery as embellishment but Harvey put a stop to that. He wanted the vest to be soft to touch, he said. Mostly he likes to wear things as soon as possible, and as soon as I fitted the vest on him he refused to take it off. "It's done" he told me.

Dan masterminded the design of the capes and of the hat, telling me how much the underside of the cape should curve and where the darts should be. The crowns were a similar collaboration, with Dan dictating the shape of the pieces and handing them off to me to sew. The gold cross pieces are from thick stabilizer that Dan spray-painted gold. I sewed them late on Monday night and I think I'm just now recovering from the fumes.

follow the leader

This is Harvey at 10am on Halloween day, which is the lastest I could hold him off from putting on his costume. I even used the costume as an incentive to get him to submit to a haircut and a bath. Then we put on the whole ensemble, with me saying some things I never thought I'd say to my son like, "Let me cut your toenails before you put on your tights - I wouldn't want them to run."

Zion, for his part, barely submitted to a very quick (moving target) haircut. And though he likes taking a bath, he did not want to put on his costume following it. He wanted "regular clothes" he said, which you can see from the photo above include his green cape. This should not be confused with a costume. His green cape is his normal street attire that he wears each time he leaves the house.

At 4pm Zion still didn't want to put on his costume, but Grandma showed up with candy that proved to be an incentive. There was some negotiation over the cape. He wanted to wear his regular cape and I wanted him to wear his king cape and in the end he wore both, one over the other. As we stepped outside after a 15 minute dressing session, Dan said to me, "You know, this is the last year you make them dress the same. Next year they can wear whatever they want."

Fine, I thought. As long as I get to force them into matching Christmas sweaters one more time.

Zion was initially unhappy but still photo obedient

Then Grandma gave each of them a full-size bag of M&Ms and Zion started warming up to this Halloween thing.

are you serious?

Though he really enjoyed the M&Ms, Zion was fading through dinner and by the time we got out trick-or-treating we said we'd only hit three houses and then go to bed. Dan decided to take the kids out while I stayed home wrap up and hand out homemade Halloween cookies. Well, I quickly wrapped the cookies and sat down to wait for my family's return, but three houses turned into an hour-long excursion. When they got back Zion was bubbling! He showed me a lolly pop which was BLUE! HIS FAVORITE COLOR! Could I open it for him please?

Dan said, "We tried to be quick but one of them kept wanting to go to more houses."

"Harvey?" I asked.

"No, Zion! He kept saying, 'One more house? Two more houses? All-the-all-the houses have candy?"

It was nice to see him finally enjoying himself, even if the stimulus was a poisonous looking amount of sugar. But the first thing he did after showing me his blue lolly was hand me a big peanut butter cup and say, "This one for Mama."

I looked up at Dan. "Did Dada tell you to give that to me?"

No, both of them shook their heads. He thought of it on his own.

One of my kids can't wait to jump into his handmade costume, the other one picks out the best candy for me. Honestly, I don't know how I lucked out with these boys.

So that was Halloween here. Meanwhile I ate way too many cookies while waiting for my family to get back, and then following that a peanut butter cup. Now I'm wondering whether I can plan three meals tomorrow made up entirely of carrots.

Until next year!


Happy Halloween!

King Harvey and King Zion the 1st

From King Harvey who 's been wearing his costume since 10am, and reluctant King Zion who needed to be bribed into his tights with M&Ms. However you participate in our national pagan ritual, may your evening be sweet.