Monday, October 31, 2016

This is Halloween

In spite of (or because of) all the excitement surrounding Halloween and trick-or-treating, I was a bit of a grumpy mom today. I felt like no one would listen and that everyone was constantly whining. Zoë woke up early and refused to nap, which was a bad combination paired with the late-night gab session I'd had with Rosie. She and Benjamin were doing their best to pull the house apart. And then their sisters came home and everyone was fighting and I was going crazy. 

Maybe I'm just not used to being so outnumbered (thanks for pampering me, visitors) but four kids can be a lot of work. Phew!

We still managed to have a pretty okay day. It was beautiful and sunny out so I took Benjamin and Zoë outside to prepare our pumpkins for carving. They had fun scooping out the guts.

When Miriam came home from school she helped. She and Zoë didn't mind getting messy but Benjamin didn't want any pumpkin gunk on him at all. He chose the scoop with the longest handle and avoided getting messy...which was kind of weird for him. Zoë got about as messy as I figured she would (so it was a good thing she was only wearing a diaper). Rachel wanted nothing to do with pumpkin guts (and missed most of it because she was at choir, though she did get home in time to help do some carving).

Miriam was all about the goo.

In mean mom mode, I told the kids that they had to have their bedrooms and the living room clean before we could go trick-or-treating. This caused a lot of fighting. Rather, the children decided this was something they were going to fight about a lot, which only fuelled my temper.

Poor Daddy did not come home to a very happy household.

And even with him home certain children still wouldn't listen and kept doing silly things like stabbing the screen door with a fork (little butler). Andrew sent Benjamin to his room to play, excusing him from any further chores, and admonishing him to "just leave everyone alone for a little while because we're all trying to do stuff and you are keeping us from doing stuff."

We said we didn't care what he did in there: read books, play LEGO, build a marble run, turn his bed into a fort, whatever! We said we didn't care what he did in there, but we were wrong! Because what he ended up doing was open his bedroom window, push the screen out, and attempt to escape into the wide, wide world.

Oi, vey!

Eventually we got our house in order(ish) and managed to scarf down some dinner before heading out to go trick-or-treating. I wish that we'd been able to take pictures with a little better lighting, but these will have to do (perhaps I'll make them put their costumes on another day (but who are we kidding?—I probably won't remember to)).

The bigger kids were all in their planned-out costumes that we'd spent weeks working on together. Zoë found another gem from the dress-up box: Dorothy Gale, from Kansas. I guess that's the beauty of a pre-made costume. I don't feel bad if she wants to change her mind every day because I didn't put a lot of effort into her costume.

Now, if the other kids had changed their minds I wouldn't have taken it so lightly (especially not today). I would have been like, "Are you kidding me?! I spent hours on that tricorn hat. We spent weeks on that lion head. Putting foil on that mocking jay pin was so infuriating. You're wearing it!"

Luckily, none of them got that lecture because they were all happy to wear their costumes to every Halloween event we went to this year.

Rachel remarked this year that she really enjoys putting together costumes at home, rather than just buying them online. I'm glad she does because I do, too! This year we gave ourselves a budget of $0 so some details were tough, but we figured everything out. Some things were disappointing, like when I told Miriam that I wasn't going to buy a Ravenclaw badge to sew on the Hogwarts robes. She didn't think that was fair because we'd bought a Gryffindor badge when we originally made the robes. But I ended up drawing a badge for her and Miriam coloured it in.

In the end she was pretty proud of her handiwork, so I think it was a good experience for her.

Anyway, back to Halloween day...

After I stripped the sheets off the air mattress I put them in the laundry basket. But then as I was tidying up the front porch I thought we may as well use them as a ghost (since we'd have to wash them anyway) so we put them over our clothes rack. It turned out really well, I think!

Here's little Dorothy Zoë by our big, scary ghost:

Her costume was easy because Rachel was so obsessed with The Wizard of Oz when she was about four years old that we amassed a huge collection of Dorothy props.

And here's General Washington:

Benjamin's wearing a sweater (that used to be David's?) with shiny orange card stock buttons (from Miriam's carrot costume) sewn on front. He's in a regular Sunday shirt with a frill (made from old IKEA curtain scraps from our very first apartment) pinned to his neck. He's wearing a pair of too-small sweat pants tucked into some red soccer socks that are so big they're folded completely in half. And then he's also sporting the tricorn hat I made him out of felt scraps and ribbon a friend gave to me. He's even got a yarn wig made from white yarn that I sewed into the hat and pulled into a ponytail. It's colonially adorable.

Many people knew exactly who he was. Other guesses we got were: Benjamin Franklin, a founding father, a revolutionary, Ichabod Crane, and a coachman for Cinderella.

Here's Miriam as Luna Lovegood:

She's wearing the Hogwarts robes we made (out of an XXXL t-shirt) for Rachel's birthday years ago (with the handmade Ravenclaw badge) as well as the scarf that Aunt Shayla crocheted. She wanted me to crochet a new scarf with Ravenclaw colours so that she could be Luna, but I said that I didn't think I'd have time to do that, which is why she suggested the lion head—that way she could wear Gryffindor stuff but still get to be Luna. So I went with it?

But probably making a new scarf would have been less work than making that lion head hat.

The base of the hat is a helmet and a box and two grocery bags (for the lion's cheeks). Andrew suddenly became a reader of the campus newspaper and started bringing us home copies to use for the bottom layer of papier-mâché. We used yellow construction paper for our final layer (and put some yellow food colouring in the papier-mâché glue as well). Then I used some material I picked up at trading tables a while ago (for a different costume Rachel was working on at the time) to make the mane with ribbon, yarn and fabric scrap tassels.

In theory we'll be able to take all of this off the helmet.

Under all her Hogwarts/Gryffindor regalia, she's wearing the wackiest, tackiest, clashiest clothes she could find in her closet.

She was an awesome Luna! Everyone recognized her as a Harry Potter character right away (the scarf and robes are a dead giveaway), but only a few diehard fans knew that she was Luna Lovegood. People who recognized her always went a little crazy—because her costume is perfect!

There were a lot of Hogwarts students running around tonight. At one point we met up with two little Gryffindors about Miriam's size and they all went to a few houses together. They all thought it was so cool to just find all those Gryffindors in one place!

Here's our own Katniss Everdeen:

Aside from Zoë's costume, this was by far the easiest costume (for me) to make. (I am just now noticing that Rachel wore Crocs instead of boots—oh, well). I helped make Rachel's bow. Did I tell the story about how I was like, "Just get a stick in the yard and turn it into a bow." And Rachel was like, "No. That's dumb. I want a real bow and arrow." And I was like, "No way that's happening because I don't have those skills. I don't know how to find a hickory branch of appropriate length and have no desire to cut, sand, and saw it down to size. Just choose a stick, any stick." And Rachel was like, "No. That's dumb."

So I asked my friend Rachel what they'd done for a bow when her daughter had been Katniss a few years earlier and she said, "Oh, we just found a stick in the yard..."

So then I came home and told my Rachel, "When Lauryn was Katniss she just found a stick in the yard..."

And Rachel was like, "That is such a good idea!"

And then that's what she did.

I'm pretty sure that's a parenting milestone of some sort—having your idea shot down by your kids, but having them accept the very same idea from a different source. Yeah.

Rachel made her own arrows from twigs and feathers, and she put together the quiver by herself, too (a box and a belt) after I told her that I didn't have to be the one to engineer all the costumes because she has creative juices, too.

The mocking jay pin is made from cardstock, a toothpick, and foil from a chocolate bar (Andrew brought back 9 and 3/4 chocolate bars for the kids from King's Cross Station).

Oh, and we put a 12 on the back of her jacket, which she didn't even end up wearing because it was so warm today.

I'm not sure many people knew who she was without being told. But Naanii recognized the pin as "a Hunger Games thingy" so that was a pretty close guess!

Here are some more pictures of Zoë because she wanted another turn in the spotlight after watching all her siblings take their turns (Zoë had gone first as well):


And here are the kids on our front steps with our jack-o-lanterns:

We made a Hamilton lantern and a spooky skeleton:

We went out trick-or-treating with one of Rachel's friends from school (and her little sister). It was fun to have so many excited children running around together (and it was good to have another parent to help keep an eye on them all).

Benjamin and "the little sister" were holding hands and gleefully chasing their big sisters from house to house. They were so cute! After every house Benjamin would say, "I AM SO LUCKY!" And when he got tired of going up to houses he would sit on the curb and wait for the girls to come back explaining that he'd "just been so lucky tonight" and that he didn't need to visit any more houses.

When we first set out it was still a little light and things didn't seem very scary, but it was pretty dark by the time we were heading home and a lot more big kids in scarier costumes out than there had been at the beginning of the evening. After passing a couple of people dressed as Freddy Krueger, Benjamin said, "What?! Why are they spooky? Halloween is NOT about spooky. Halloween is about love and kindness and getting lots and lots of candy!"

I hope that's what he'll remember about this day. I'm glad that even though our day started out a little grumpy and lame that we were able to turn our frowns upside down and have a good time together, while Daddy stayed home and passed out candy and feverishly worked on papers, which is his tradition.

This is what I wore out trick-or-treating: my super-mom uniform!

My friend Melissa recognized it right away, but she's the only one, though most people understood that I was going for a superhero of sorts. Our backdoor neighbour Christopher said, "What are you supposed to be? Wonder Woman?"

"Not exactly," I said. "But something like that."

"No, no," he said. "It's a good costume. You can be whatever hero you want to be!"

Haha! I hope so! I sure didn't feel like a supermom when I put this cape on (I'd done too much yelling today for that) but I certainly felt a bit better after spending the evening having fun with my kids!


  1. Well you are super mom to me because we did zero pumpkin carving this year. I gave that job to j a long time ago and since he was carving. Of course we live in a neighborhood with no kids, and went with friends somewhere else so the kids were like, well I guess that makes sense....