Halloween, Past and Present

~ From Alicia’s Cob-Webbed Cauldron files…..

Happy Halloween!  This has to be one of my favorite times of the year!  Leaves are falling, the air is crisp and all of the Holiday’s are lining up before us.  I get all excited and sentimental just thinking about it!

10-31-03 Harrison, 1 year old, was a Spotted Dragon for his 2nd Halloween!

The last ten years I’ve spent the month of October helping my kids plan out their costumes.  I won’t lie.  I am totally reliving my childhood through my kids with each holiday, especially Halloween, and I love it!  And yes, I’m one of the silly parents that does a bit of a costume as well with the kids.  I don’t go all out though, just enough to have fun and embarrass the kiddos.  Ha ha.  Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed all of their costumes over the years.  Harrison’s 1st Halloween he was a “baby,” as he was only 6 days old.  The next year he was a Spotted Dragon and then he was Tiger (from Winny the Pooh) and he was OH so cute!  Since then, he has been Spider man several times, a few Batman and recently Anaken Skywalker.

10-31-07 Madalynne (19 mos) was a Princess for her 2nd Halloween

Madalynne’s first Halloween consisted of reusing the Spotted Dinosaur costume and I remember her being obsessed with the tail.  Ha ha!  For the next four years, she was Cinderella.  What can I say, she likes to stick with what she knows!  She did make a beautiful Cinderella and I loved curling her hair and putting the crown in!  Last year she broke tradition and was the Queen of Hearts, inspired by the Storybook Parade she was in at school, in which she chose to be the Queen of Hearts!  That was very sweet as well!

I did have a bit of a panic last year, however, as Harrison was exhibiting signs of being “too cool” for Halloween.  He wouldn’t pick a costume to save his life.  I even broke tradition and took him to the costume store to get him excited.  Nothing.  Oh my word, how can this be?!  What child doesn’t want to go out and get free candy?  That’s where I was wrong.  He still wanted the candy, but without the dressing up part.  No, no, no.  Over my Zombified Body I say!  I told him that if he was Trick-or-Treating, he had to dress up.  Somehow, we landed on Tony Hawk (the famous skateboarder) thanks to Scott.  Harrison was down with that because he just had to dress like a skateboarder.  The problem I had was he didn’t look much different than he did every day: jeans, Tony Hawk shirt, and a cap!  So he thought he’d carry a skateboard around.

10-31-11 Our 1st Halloween in our new home state! Harrison was “Tony Hawk”, Madalynne was the “Queen of Hearts” and Scott and I were just being silly! 🙂

I put the kibosh down on that one as we all really knew who would end up carrying that sucker around!  LOL My alternative to the skateboard was a CARDBOARD skateboard that he could carry:  lightweight, easy to maneuver.  He looked at me like I had snakes growing out of my head!  Apparently we hadn’t done enough creative costuming in our household for him to appreciate that idea at all!  So he went sans skateboard and still had the night of his life!  I ditched my traditional witches hat last year and bought a few wigs.  Somehow, Scott and I both ended up wearing wigs and we all had a fun night!

10-31-08 Batman & Cinderella

That experience made me realize the one thing I do NOT like about what Halloween (and many other holidays) has become over the years.  So many holidays have become commercialized and are filled with marketing for the toy and candy companies.  Somewhere along the road, we switched from homemade costumes being to norm to store bought ones.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it myself almost every year with my kids!  I buy the store bought costumes too, so please don’t think I’m knocking on anyone.  But I just remember that when I was a kid (uh oh…sounding like my awesome parents there!!) we had to be creative and make our own costumes!  We would spend WEEKS working on our outfits.  When we got older, we’d spend two hours right before it was time to go out!  Ha ha!  I also came from a large family and we didn’t have extra money laying around to spend on store-bought costumes either.

We had some great creative ideas come out of those years of making our own costumes.  The costumes of mine that I remember well are those of when I was a bit older.  I remember one year, my friend Sarah and I were a Two Headed/Three Legged Conjoined Twins:  we put on my Dad’s green Army coat together (thus joining our upper bodies together) and tied our right/left legs together, giving us three legs.  What in the world we were thinking, I do not know.  This was one of those “two hour planning” type of costumes I’m sure, and it was quite the experience walking around all night with a leg tied together with your friends!  Ha ha ha!  Another year, we decided to be “Punk Rockers”.  This one cracks me up because somehow, I decided that gluing shiny foil circles to my forehead (in the shape of an eagle’s profile mind you) would somehow constitute a Punk Rocker outfit and that EVERYONE would know what I was.  Sarah wore a puple wig for her punk rocker outfit.  Here is a picture from that year and you can see us in the back row.  Sarah looks more like a clown and I look like….I don’t even KNOW what I look like!  But you know what, it didn’t matter because we were creative and we had FUN!!!  One of my brothers in as ARMY dude, one is Superman I think, and my little sister looks like Strawberry Shortcake maybe.  The rest of the kids are some of our neighborhood friends that we walked with every year.

I think this was taken around 1994. Chrissy was Nancy Sinatra and our friend Ann and I were Woodstock Hippies. How cute were we? 🙂

I don’t recall Trick-or-Treating with Chrissy too many of our early years, as I think we ended up with different groups of kids in our neighborhood.  I do know I’d pass her in the streets and we’d compare bags of loot and be so excited!!  We did, however, have a grown-up Halloween party experience during our college years.  We both dressed up in some very retro outfits.  Chrissy was Nancy Sinatra (those boots are made for walkin’!) and I was a Woodstock Hippie.  I think we dad a smashing job on our costumes, and they were homemade to boot! Those are some good memories right there!

10-31-12 Harry Potter & Hermoine Granger, from the “Harry Potter” series! They look fabulous!

It is because of memories like that, I was tempted to be all Suzy Homemaker this year and sew the kids’ costumes myself.  They are both going to be characters from the Harry Potter series:  Harrison will be “Harry Potter” and Madalynne will be “Hermione Granger” (Harry’s good friend and fellow witch).  I figured, I can sew a cape and we can snap a few branches off of the tree for their wands!  Well, between my busy schedule and those weird looks I got again, I opted for some bargain hunting on the internet.  I managed to get some smashingly great deals on all of the accessories I would need for their costumes.  I told Harrison “NO” to the face paint for his scar…my eye liner will work wonders for that! (Again, what is with the silly faces?!)  Madalynne is very happy to wear braids in her hair for school that day so we can have wavy and ratted out hair on Halloween night.  I drew the line at dying her hair brown….

There is something special about a day when you don’t have to be YOU and can be whatever you want to be, even if it is just for a few hours.  I think that it shouldn’t matter what age you are, if you want to have fun with a costume, let go of your worries and have fun with it!  I am so happy that we are making such fun memories with our kids and I hope they are at least HALF as awesome as the memories my parents gave us as kids.  Remember, your kids are only young once and you only live once, so seize the moment and have some fun!!  Happy Halloween! Boo!

~ Alicia

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Summer Reflections & Back to School Traditions

A few thoughts from Alicia….

Well hello there my friends!  It has been quite a while since I’ve sat down at the good ‘ol computer and hashed anything out!  This summer has flown by for me and my family.  I thought I’d have all these lazy days of summer and would just blog away.  WRONG!  Ha ha!

We have had such a fabulous summer with so many great experiences!   One of the great things I love about summer in our new home state is that our new community is small enough that we actually get to run into friends and do play-dates with them throughout the summer.  Going to the pool is like a class reunion as half of the students and teachers at the kids’ school are all there as well!  So we have not been lacking in the camaraderie department this summer for sure!  We also took a two week vacation back home over the 4th of July to be with our families and see a few friends.  That was such an amazing visit!   My family just LOVES the 4th of July and it was such a blast.  (This 1st picture is of one of our firework displays!)  My son turns into a mini-pyromaniac on that day and it takes all my efforts to make him stop blowing things up long enough to eat some dinner.  My brother also came in for a visit as well so I got to see all four of my siblings along with my parents!  That was an awesome treat right there.  We did so many things back home that I’ll have to write a whole different post on how to treat your home town as a vacation destination.  I’ve got that down to a science! 🙂 Oh yes, and of course I got to see my girl, Chrissy!!  She is the best and we can never seem to get enough of each other!  Other than that, we’ve been relaxing, playing video games, sleeping in and trying our best to do a little bit of school activities to keep the kids’ brains working in full gear.  I hate to send them back to school with brains for mush. 😉

Speaking of back to school, I thought I’d share with you one of our Back-to-School Traditions.  Every year the kids and I make small signs for them to hold up in their 1st Day of School pictures that I, without a doubt, will be taking that morning.  I started this tradition when my son was starting Kindergarten.  The picture above is my daughter’s sign from the 2011-12 school year.  Ever the First Born and planner, I was thinking about all of the future “1st Day of School” pictures and was a tad worried about mixing up the pictures over the years.  I could just see myself tying to be a sleuth and figure out what year certain pictures were from:  “Was this 1st grade or 2nd grade?  Hmm…well, he’s missing 1 tooth so I think it was 1st grade.”  Oh the torture!  So I thought, how about a sign that says “1st Day of School – _______ Grade.”  So I drew block letters out and had the kids color them in and decorate it however they wanted.  It turned into a great way to get them excited for that 1st Day of School and also helped them get their minds off of the 1st day jitters as well.  That 1st year was such a hit that we’ve done it ever since!  This last sign is my son’s 3rd Grade sign from the 2011-12 school year as well.  They turned out so great!

I’ve since had several friends take on the same tradition and they have a blast with it.  One friend suggested one addition to the signs which I am all for.  At the bottom of the sign, add an “When I grow up I want to be _______________”.  This is cute because, as we all know, kids change what they want to be as a grown up from day to day, or year to year.  This month alone, my 6 year old has wanted to be a Mom, a Bank Teller, a Grocery store cashier, a Bartender, a waitress, a lifeguard and a few others.  Can you tell she was wanting to do whatever we were experiencing at the moment?  Okay…yes, let’s talk about it.  There is a “Bartender” in there and no, it’s not what you think!  I’m not bar-hopping with the kids just yet…we were waiting for a table in the bar area at Outback Steakhouse and she was enthralled with the goings-on behind the bar as they mixed drinks and rang them up!  Ha ha!  Anyhow, I think it would be a fun way to capture that little extra memory coupled with a picture of how they looked when they actually wanted to be a police officer, a ballerina or a Mommy.  I think I’m going to add that line in and see what we come up with!

As we all get ready for back to school, take some time to reflect on your summer memories.  What was the most exciting thing you did?  What was the silliest thing you did?  When were you the most relaxed?  Put those memories in your mind’s scrapbook and cherish them because before you know it, those sweet little munchkins will be off conquering the world.  Most likely it will be in one of the endeavors they put on their “1st Day of School” signs.

Children’s Books: Charlie the Ranch Dog

I’m always on the lookout for a great new children’s book for my kids.  I was so excited when I found out that one of my favorite Chef/Bloggers was coming out with her own children’s book!  If you are a fan of the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) like I am, than you will know all about the book.  Her dog Charlie has become quite the character on her Blog and her new television cooking show.  So popular in fact that she’s written a book about him called “Charlie the Ranch Dog.”  I just love Charlie.  He’s a sweet Bassett Hound who will work his way into your heart in an instant!

When this book showed up at the Scholastic Book Fair at school, I had to buy it!  It is so endearing and the kids love it!  Not only has it captured the attention of my now 6 year old, but my son loves it as well.  I love the fact that she wrote it from Charlie’s perspective and it focuses on all of the things he “takes care of” on the ranch.  In reality though, he’s getting on in years and everyone on the farm humors him and lets him think he’s still running the show.  If you are in the market for a great book for your kids, or a gift for a little munchkin, I highly recommend the book!  And if you haven’t discovered Pioneer Woman yet, take some time to see her blog above, as I love it SO much!  She is real, down to earth, has fabulous recipes and is just wonderful!  Enjoy! 🙂   ~ Alicia