Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pumpkins, Costumes & Halloween Parties

Sit back and relax...this is a long one!

Halloween is really not a big deal holiday to me.  It's probably my least favorite.  However, I have gotten a bit more "into" it since having kids.  I don't care for the witches and goblins and gore and scare, but rather for the cutesy kind of Halloween.  And the candy doesn't hurt, either. :)

So along with hitting the pumpkin patch every year as a family tradition, we also tackle carving pumpkins as a part of our fall holiday celebration.  Even though the neighborhood pumpkin no-good-doers decided to attack our front porch over the weekend, we didn't let that stop us from spending eight more dollars so that the boys could watch me do all the work.

 At least this year they stuck by my side and saw through the entire process.  As opposed to last year.

My husband is wonderfully sweet, humoring me by picking up our new pumpkins so that we'd have them to carve.  But I know that he is really shaking his head inside because it's all kind of silly - I sit there and do the work while the boys look on - or, in Drew's case, he's telling me everything I'm doing wrong.  Is it really worth it?  And I really thought about that, because some of things I like to do with the boys as "tradition" really is a lot of work for what can sometimes end up being frustrating and stressful and really no fun after all.  So I thought to myself, "Why even bother?"

And I remembered this quote that I saw a while back...

"Do not kiss your children so they will kiss you back, but so they will kiss their children, and their children's children."

While "we" were carving, I joked to Drew that one day he'd look back on these sorts of things and say, "Man, I have the coolest mom ever!"

And while that would be pretty sweet if that's the way he felt (I won't hold my breath), it reminded me of the above quote, and reinforced for me the reason why I do these things... for my boys, for when they're dads, for their children and my grandchildren.

{Who knew you could turn a pumpkin carving blog post into such sap???} 

After a short time, we had ourselves a happy mouse and an angry bird.
And I'm happy to report that they're still in one piece on the front step.


Credit must go to Reed for the boys' Halloween costume idea.  I starting asking a few weeks ago what the boys would like to be.  I knew that whatever it was they chose, we would need time to either find it to buy it, or pull together the materials for us to make it.  When I asked Reed what he wanted to be for Halloween, he replied, "A pirate!"  And when I prodded a little more, it was revealed that he was thinking of Jake and the Neverland Pirates of Disney Channel fame.

This show is definitely at the top of the TV favorites list for both boys, and after a bit of discussion, and Drew, too, wanting to jump on board, it was decided that the Neverland crew would be it for Halloween.  But now, who will be who?  Drew just couldn't decide between Jake and Peter Pan.  Although Peter Pan only appears on the show for special episodes, he was especially drawn to him for some reason, but he eventually decided to be Jake.  Reed, too, was encouraged to choose whomever he wanted, but I won't deny that I didn't try to steer him towards Cubby, Jake's right hand man (I am a sucker for themes --- remember Halloween last year and in 2010?)  He did really want to be Cubby because Cubby carries a map (not sure what the deal is with the map, but Reed really really really liked the idea of having one) although for a while he thought being Jake would be pretty great, too.  I finally put a deadline on the boys' decision making, as I had to get started on pulling these costumes together, so Jake and Cubby it was!

So here's the lowdown on how I whipped the costumes together.  I'm doing this primarily for myself, as in the future I might enjoy knowing how I pull off some of these crazy things that I decide to do!

After looking through my own stash of fabric, I spent a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon running errands to three different stores to gather all the supplies I'd need for the costumes.  Once I had everything on hand, I started to whip these babies together.

I found a free online pattern for a vest HERE, and it worked perfectly.  I had to alter the pattern a bit for both vests, although primarily for Drew's.  His needed to be a bit larger than what the pattern is, and it needed a collar.  I used this tutorial as a reference to add on the collar, and while it certainly didn't end up perfect, I kept reminding my perfectionistic self that this vest will probably never see the light of day after Halloween.  I used felt for both vests, and I used bias tape around the edges.  I also purchased the large yellow buttons for both.

The other major part of the costumes were the shoes and boots.  We own neither brown boots or brown shoes for the boys, and while it would have been perfectly OK to just let them wear their tennis shoes (or green froggy boots, in Reed's case)...what fun is that?!?!  So, using this as a guide, I set out to make shoe covers (using felt and elastic) that mimic'd the boys' respective characters.  They didn't turn out too shabby, if I do say so myself!

The Salvation Army store supplied the white shirts for the boys.  Originally a long sleeve top, I simply snipped the sleeves from Reed's shirt.  And Drew's was a plain t-shirt that I made look like Jake's by cutting notches into the sleeves and making a "V" at the neck, then stringing an old black lanyard string through to make the "X".  Reed already had red shorts that I very loosely sewed an orange piece of fabric to, and I picked up Drew's blue pants at Kohls.  He needs them for the season, anyway.  I borrowed a pair of white leggings from a friend's daughter for Reed.  Cubby wears long socks, but with the colder weather we had, I wanted to be sure more of Reed's legs were covered.  With a bit of blue painter's tape wrapped around the leggings, I think we pulled it off.

I had the blue and red fabric for their bandanas, I just had to sew them appropriately to fit their heads.  And I also picked up a small bit of gray fabric at the fabric store to make Drew's belt.  We had a sword on hand, thanks to cousin Addy's birthday party earlier this summer.  I painted it brown so to resemble a wooden sword like Jake's.  But the map!  Cubby's map that Reed was just so crazy about!  I had completed everything for the boys' costumes on Tuesday morning, and it suddenly dawned on me we had nothing for a map!  The one thing Reed was so crazy about regarding his costume...He wanted to carry that stinkin' map!  I Googled "Cubby's map" and found this image, so I quickly attempted to replicate it using some felt I had on hand.  Whew!  That was a close one!

So I think that's about it.

Here you have them... Jake and Cubby!

And because I am the coolest mom ever, the boys convinced me that I should be Izzy, the girl pirate.  I happily obliged, not really because the boys wanted me to, but because they wouldn't shush up about it already!  A little pink fabric for the bandana and a little bag of sugar covered in yellow fabric for my pixie dust, and I was set.  Drew was disappointed I didn't have the purple pants or red boots.  I told him it was enough I was sportin' this bandana all night long!

 Brad was already at church getting ready for the evening's festivities, so this was the best picture I got of the three of us. :)

Oh, and as for Brad's costume...

there you have it.


I feel so lucky that I am able to make it into Drew's classroom on a weekly basis to help out, but also to participate in his class parties.  On Wednesday afternoon his classroom turned into party central as a host of other moms and dads brought Halloween fun to a bunch of kindergarteners!  Organized entirely by parents, the party lasted for just over an hour and included all kinds of fun activities and foods.  The kids rotated through stations, doing crafts, getting tattoos, eating snacks, and doing activities, all Halloween themed, of course.  It was fun, and a great way for Drew to celebrate with his friends.

 He wasn't so crazy about sticking his hand in the black box to feel "intestines" and "eyeballs".  But he did it and got a little container of Play-Doh as a prize. :)

 Getting tattoos.

Snack time!

Decorating a pumpkin.

Drew's school party lasted until the end of the school day, which gave us just enough time to get home to recuperate before heading to church for the next party.  Because Halloween landed on a Wednesday, which is when we have regularly scheduled church programs, the Family Ministries Pastor (Brad, ahem) along with some wonderful volunteers pulled together our own version of Truck-or-Treat.  But because the weather had been threatening for rain all day, we pulled the party indoors.  We have an awesome children's ministry area in the basement of our church, which provided the perfect location for trick-or-treating and party games.  There were four doors to trick-or-treat at, and then more prizes and candy could be won at all of the games in the large center room.

Not to toot my hubby's horn...but I will.  It was really great. :)

Drew really wanted to go trick-or-treating door to door, but I convinced him that heading out to a couple other churches that were doing Trunk-or-Treat would be better.  It didn't end up raining that night, but it was quite chilly as the winds were blowing pretty fierce, and with Brad sticking around at church to do his job, it was just me. So the boys and I headed out to two other church parking lots.  Our neighbors had invited us to their church, where we found about 16 cars packed with candy.  Then we headed to a second church which had about 24 cars loaded with Halloween goodies.  After we finished up there, I think Drew was convinced that we'd had enough.  Even Reed said, "Mama, we have enough candy now."

Yep, I'd say so!

Home for our pajamas, hot chocolate and one piece of candy before hitting the hay.

Until next year!

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