Halloween Festivities

“I know you’re really busy tomorrow…” he said.  It was a guess, of course.  A good, accurate guess, but a guess nonetheless.

“What do you need, honey?” I asked.  It was just Mass, and school, and the usual stuff on my calendar.

“Can you post pictures of the costumes?  Please?”

And so, I interrupt my “I’m too busy to blog” life, by special request, to post Halloween pictures.  I don’t know if the children will ever forgive me for ignoring their schoolwork for a bit. 

The kids had a piano recital last week, in costume.  Therefore, the weekend before was all consumed with sewing, cutting, gluing, painting, etc.  But some of the children did not perform, and some of the accessories were not required, therefore, this past weekend was also all consumed with more of the same.

I am very happy that Halloween is over.  Life can resume.

First of all, the disaster that was my house for over a week:

Working on hard tile does nothing good for your back.

flotsam and jetsam

everywhere

crucial bike pump
debris…everywhere

work in progress

kitchen table, where are you?
Then there was Jenny.  When the lady at the fabric store saw my selection, she said, “Dorothy?”  I just sighed.  I did not have a pattern; I just winged it.  A pattern would have been better.  But patterns are expensive, and I was feeling cheap.
It was too bright to face me
 

Her hair was cute.

She used birthday money to buy her own Toto and ruby red shoes.

Dorothy

I wish my children were into themes, but we couldn’t get anybody to agree to be a Tin Man or Scarecrow or Lion.  I finally convinced Mary to be Glinda the Good Witch.

Glinda the Good Witch

Of course, everybody thought she was dressed as a princess.  Everybody except for one woman a few doors down who knew exactly who she was.  The Wizard of Oz is her favorite movie, she said.  This was another costume without a pattern.  I should have used a pattern, but I could not find my princess dress pattern.  I think I need to organize my supplies.

Katie wanted to be Black Cat Girl from 1960’s era Spiderman.  Her father killed Peter Parker’s uncle.  Google some images and, um, well, if you don’t have a filter, then don’t do that while children are present.  Here is one appropriate pic:

All other online pictures are rated R.  I used a black velour warm up suit found at Target and just added some white fluff.

I told her lipstick wasn’t necessary.

Black Cat Girl

While the girls’ costumes required mostly my labor, the boys’ were in their father’s line.  It’s too bad there is no money to be made in this business.  Bill has quite a talent.

Billy was a samurai warrior.

Nothing we could do about the blue eyes.

Peter wanted to be a Roman soldier.  He is on a Roman soldier kick.  Loves all things…as long as they are Roman soldiers.

He had so many people remark how cute he was.  Cute?  Does this kid look cute?  Fierce.  Determined.  Deadly.  Not cute.

Fritz was a Ranger from the Ranger’s Apprentice series.  We forgot to put on his oak leaf insignia.  I made the cape – very nice cape, if I do say so myself.  Bill (and Fritz) did all the accessories: bow, quiver and arrows, various knives and scabbards.

I used the same pattern and made a black cape for my nephew.  I had the good fortune of finding two flat queen size sheets in black at the thrift store for $3.  Thrift stores are a gold mine for fabric.

Action shots (my nephew is merely an armed thug):

My niece was a skeleton kitty.

Group shot of the girls:

Samurai vs. European-esque warrior:

Dorothy defends Toto against the marauding Goths:

East and West united against the barbarian:

We had a great time last night, although Mary got halfway through the neighborhood and declared she had enough candy and that it was time to go home.  She was asleep before 8 pm.

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Pictures

I found the camera right were I thought it ought to be.  I just didn’t see it at first glance.

Garden gnome with homemade sign

Full length shot.  He wore this costume
late on Friday, so he didn’t change
before coming home.  “Just don’t ask
me to stop at the store,” he said.
Yard decoration.  That’s one HUGE gnome.

World’s cutest witch.

When it was time to go, she refused
to wear the hat, and decided yellow
rain boots were a better accent.
Note the “true to life” sweaty hair.
That jacket is a lined raincoat. 
It was NOT made with Georgia
Halloweening in mind (temps in the 80s).

Jenny dressed as a witch for the piano
recital, but switched to Rapunzel later on.

I made this dress for Katie two years ago.
We didn’t mind splurging on the wig ($8).
We were going to make her a really long
wig out of yarn, but she didn’t like yarn.
So, she got a short wig instead.  Pfft.
I did the whiskers for the piano recital.

Bill did the whiskers for Trick or Treating.
I think the musketeer costume turned
out very nicely.

I had to purchase the blue fabric, but
the silvery ribbon adorned a present I
received years ago.  I’ve used it for
many costumes.

I basted white, lacy ribbon to the collar of
an ordinary dress shirt.  No permanant
damage done.  Bill made that ostrich 
feather out of paper and a drinking straw.
The hat is a black foam top hat to which
Bill hot glued a brim made from black foam. 
Halloween 2010

No pictures

My home is a testament to last-minute Halloween scrambling.  Sewing machine, fabric, lacy ribbons, white fluff, black foam, scissors, and other debris are covering the dining room table.  The kitchen table is piled high with things we haven’t put away because we were working on costumes.  Other areas of the house show vague neglect, and various costume pieces and accessories drape chairs and fill corners where they were thrown after our late night return from our neighbor’s party.

I would love to post photos, but I can’t find my camera.  The last time I remember having it was when I took pictures.  I do not recall what I did with it after that.  Hm.

The costume that made me giggle the most was Fritz’s.  The kids dressed up for a recital at a “retirement community” and one of his pieces was entitled something-or-other gnomes.  So he wanted to be a garden gnome.  It was a simple costume made from things I already had (besides his own clothing, I needed some red felt and some white fluff for a beard – everybody has white fluff in their craft supply box, right?).  I made Bill his own beard when he said he would dress up at his office, because the one for Fritz was too narrow for Bill’s face.  But they could use the same hat, thank goodness, because I had only a little bit of red felt (Bill: wide jaw, skinny head; Fritz: narrow jaw, fat head?).

Fritz was left behind to hand out candy while we took the other kids around last night.  The weather was mild, so he sat out, in costume.  Many of the little kids in the neighborhood were scared of him, because he looked like Santa Claus.  Jolly old elves are terrifying to 3 year olds.

Billy was a musketeer, and looked fabulous.  Since, I don’t have a picture, I’ll offer a thousand words to describe him…(yeah, no).

Katie was a cat. 

Jenny was Rapunzel.  We even bought her a wig (we spoil our children).

Peter was a fireman, because he is a 5 year old boy.

Mary was a witch – heh heh heh.  Really.  If you asked her what she was going to be, she would say, “A witch! Heh heh heh!”  I don’t know where she learned evil laughter, but it was disturbingly funny to listen to it.

I went as Cinderella, before the ball, which means I went as is.

Bill was an off-duty soldier.

Hopefully, I’ll find the camera after the sun rises.

Costuming

I think this is the first year I’m finding the end-of-October festivities to be more fun than overwhelming.

First of all, my husband is home.  Even though he really hasn’t done much, other than add some creative suggestions, it just makes everything better.

Secondly, neither the church nor the homeschool group has had a volunteer step forward to organize an All Saint’s Day party, so I have only one costume to worry about.  Yes, I know some people restrict their children to just the saint costume, and more power to you.  My kids and my husband enjoy more traditional Halloween costumes.  And this is the one time of year that I consent to add to the dress up bin.  So I’m happy there’s no saint party…call me evil; I’ll call me less stressed.

Thirdly, my youngest is 3.  That makes a huge difference.

And then, this year, I have found my older children have finally reached an age where they are very useful in envisioning and creating their own costumes and very helpful in assisting with younger siblings’ costumes and very cooperative in accepting homemade alternatives to store-bought perfection.  Katie wants to be a cat.  Older brothers offer and produce black baseball pants, black socks and a black turtleneck shirt.  She finds me ingenious when I use pink nail polish to paint black foam ears with a triangle for the inner ear.  Years ago, she would have insisted (did insist) on a store-bought costume.

And, as influential as I am with my kids, nothing beats having an older brother to convince a 5 year old that his navy blue church pants are perfect to go with the borrowed, yellow firefighter coat.  He had wanted red pants, and I had dreaded informing him that we don’t happen to own red pants.  Problem solved by my 12 year old.

Fritz sprang a costume idea on me yesterday afternoon, which I would not normally permit.  But it is so funny and so easy that I jumped right in.  When Bill came home, he saw our work, said that his office was having dress up on Friday and he thought he’d steal Fritz’s for the day.  It has me giggling, since I’m sure most people in his office think he’s the most humorless man to walk the planet.  I will be sure to post pictures tomorrow, but won’t spoil the surprise today.

We’re definitely having fun here, and that’s a really nice change.

A Devil of a Time

Fear of Football Fans Prompts Massachusetts Town to Reschedule Halloween

I’m surprised this is such a big deal.  Does anybody actually “do” Halloween on Halloween anymore?  I’ve been waiting for about a week now to catch a neighbor outside and ask when they trick or treat in the area.  Sure enough, Sunday night is a no-go (I think mainly because it’s a school night, not out of respect for the Lord).  She assumes it will be on Saturday, but final decisions are forthcoming (town-wide).  Personally, I think it’s silly to move the event, but having moved around enough, I have come to expect that each area does it differently.

The nice next-door neighbor with the inside scoop on local customs was also apologetic about her yard decorations and warned that she wasn’t done yet.  She dubbed herself the ‘Ween Queen and invited us to her party, which would include a viewing of the Georgia – Florida game.  I’m guessing that’s a big deal?  Who needs the Superbowl?  (When in Rome…)

While we talked, I realized that her hand-wringing, in part, was concern over our feelings.  Everywhere we have lived since we moved from our little community in New Jersey, the new neighbors have suspected that perhaps we were one of those families that didn’t participate in Halloween.  Have a bunch of kids, go to church every Sunday, and people assume you think putting on masks and demanding candy from your neighbors is evil. 

I once went to an adult-only dinner party when I was pregnant with Mary.  Very pregnant, like due any day.  As I requested something benign like water to drink, another guest was questioning my selection and trying to find out what I might have ordered had I not been ominously with child.  I felt the need to assure him that I did not have a moral problem with alcohol, lest he think I was one of those crazy people

The Halloween question that comes up in every new town is much the same.  And actually, I appreciate that neighbors try to be sensitive to the customs of others.  I imagine it must be difficult to raise children next door to your local ‘Ween Queen if you felt that Halloween was wrong.  I imagine it must be difficult to be friendly and personable when you attend a party where alcohol is served if you think drinking is immoral (or I suppose you don’t go and are labeled “stand-offish”). 

Fortunately for our neighbors, now and in the future, I am married to a ‘Ween King wanna-be.  Bill loves Halloween, so the question of “To Treat or Not To Treat” was never up for discussion.  But of course we celebrate Halloween.  And we drink.  And dance, too.  Following that wide, well-worn path…

I think once I conceived my 4th child, I crossed the line from mainstream to “other.”  And it wasn’t that I was mainstream before, it just became obvious to the world that I wasn’t like everybody else.  So I have spent more than 7 years as a flashing neon sign for Christ.  Whether I like it or not, people notice me, count little heads and make assumptions.  They watch me interact with my children and with people around me.  Am I smiling and joyful?  Am I impatient?  Are my children polite?  What’s in my grocery cart: fresh fruits and veggies or Lucky Charms?  Does my shirt have today’s lunch on the sleeve?  Are my children in torn or stained clothing?  Do we wave at the neighbors when we walk around the block?  Are there weeds in the flower beds? 

Little things that mean nothing for most people are for us taken as signs of something greater.  We are proven every day to be either devout lovers of Christ or hypocrites.  And we can be that witness in a pleasant manner or in an offensive manner.  We can inspire people to be like us, or we can make them so uncomfortable that they want nothing to do with us.

Last year we went trick or treating in my friend’s neighborhood at a military installation.  Generally, the chaplains’ offices on posts will throw a Fall Festival type alternative to Halloween festivities.  Homes that are not handing out candy leave the lights off, and most kids know to not ring those bells.  There were several homes with the lights on, but nobody home.  There was simply a note posted saying, basically, that Halloween was the work of the Devil and that we should go home and put on sackcloth and ashes and repent.  Um…

I’m not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to celebrate Halloween.  But I do think there are right ways and wrong ways to evangelize…and this way falls in the latter category. 

For us, trick or treating (and drinking and dancing) is a harmless way to be in the world.  Not every action has moral weight.  Serving your children Lucky Charms is not sinful.  The cleanliness of your shirt is not a refelction of the cleanliness of your soul.  Dressing up as Snow White or a Power Ranger or even a witch or ghost and blackmailing your willing neighbors for candy is not worshipping the Devil.  Really.

Riding roller coasters.  Eating cotton candy.  Riding in a car with the windows down and the music blaring.  Trick or treating.  Some things are just simply fun.

Happy Halloween

To Bill, who loves Halloween much more than I, and who loves details, and who loves homemade costumes, and who is not here to enjoy the fun.

This is my usual Halloween photo. Here are the kids. Aren’t they cute?

But I knew my husband would love more pictures, more details. Here you go, hon.

Fritz was Zorro. Most of the kids we saw tonight had no clue who Zorro was. The grownups thought he was cool. And he is his father’s child. “No, Mom, Zorro’s cape has openings for his arms.” Would not be happy with anything else.
His sabre. Love the extreme weather fencing gloves. By L. L. Bean. Never know when you’ll have to fight in a snowstorm.
Yes, the hat is too big. It was my first hat. Hopefully it is my last hat. I hope to only supervise any future hat construction projects. Peter’s hat (which I supervised, mostly) was much better, but then he changed his mind about being Zorro.
Billy was Obi Wan. Of course.

Shhh. He’s concentrating.

A HUGE thank you to Charlotte for posting the directions to do a Jedi Robe (also useful for many many other costumes).

The other pictures were taken before dinner. This is what he looked like with his “beard and moustache.” Thanks to my husband for the burnt cork suggestion.

Peter changed his mind repeatedly about what to be and finally settled on police officer.

Everybody thought he was adorable. He is.

Your well dressed policeman is sporting fashionable cowboy boots this season. Very “in.”

And blue neckties. And orange flashlights. Fritz made the badge. Isn’t that sweet of him to step up and help his brother? He also made him a cardboard gun, but Peter didn’t want it. I told everybody he was a Britsh cop.

My girls decided to be a choir of angels. They also decided to do their own wings and halos. (Un)fortunately(?), Dad wasn’t here to “fix” anything. Mom was more than happy to let them do it (less work for me).
Katie’s halo. Also note the blue electrical tape used to hold the string to her wings on. Classy.
Katie’s wings.
Jenny’s halo. Katie helped Jenny with her costume. Isn’t team work wonderful?

I stapled the 1/2″ elastic to the cardboard. That was my part.

Jenny’s wings.

Sweet Mary who likes to have her picture taken, but is not a natural poser.

I knew she would never tolerate wearing wings, so I stitched on some pretty gold scrap fabric that I had.

They forecast rain, but it mostly held off until after 7 pm. We had just enough time to fill the treat bags before it started coming down. And I didn’t mind that the kids would be up late (between the sugar and the excitement) since the clocks move back tonight. Wonder what hour my early bird will get up tomorrow?

Halloween

Katie and Peter were the only ones to use the same costumes for Halloween that they used for the All Saints party.

Fritz was Indiana Jones (as were about 1 in 10 other boys).

Jenny went as an ice skater. Do not confuse her with a ballerina just because she had to wear shoes to get around!
I made this. Leotards are surprisingly easy to make.

I managed to get a picture of Mary before she fussed her way out of her dragon/dinosaur costume. Peter wore this last year. I made it and a green one for my oldest boys many years ago.

Billy went as The Scarecrow. Not Dorothy’s friend…
…rather, Batman’s enemy.

And Peter passed out after I got him in his PJs, but before I got him washed up and with brushed teeth. No mother of the year awards here, I’m afraid.

And can anybody tell me why the company that manufactures Mary Janes (the candy) is still in business? And why, oh why, do people hand them out? Nostalgia? Sadism?