Monday, November 10, 2014

The Many Faces of Halloween

There is what seems like a blizzard going on outside, and it's only November 10. It's the first significant snowfall of the year and the National Weather Service has declared a winter storm warning. There are school closings. Meteorologists are predicting anywhere from 12 to 18 inches. 

I can't even.

I waited 30 minutes in the blowing snow and cold (all buses were running late), cursing myself for not wearing my warm winter coat, but thankful I had thought to wear my hat and scarf, and a coat with a hood, then sat on the bus from 8:10 to 9:30. Usually I'm a half-glass-full kind of girl, but I don't feel cheerful/optimistic about this. It's NOVEMBER 10. Can't we have another month free of snow before winter "officially" starts? It makes for a very long, very drawn-out season. 

The kids, however, thought it was great.

It almost seems weird to be writing about Halloween when I can hear ice pellets outside the window and see snow blowing all around, but really, Halloween was only 10 days ago. So here goes. 

Halloween was on a Friday this year, and despite the freezing weather (weird that I'd be mentioning the weather twice in one post, isn't it? It's what we do in Minnesota, dontch'a know?!), and despite Adam not feeling well during the "getting-ready" phase (due to the usual battle of not eating lunch - another post for another day), this Halloween will forever go down as the Year Both Kids Finally "Got" It. 
It's a big deal (to me, anyhow), considering the fact that we've been taking one or both of the kids trick-or-treating for five years now without much fanfare. 
I was getting worried that my love-of-Halloween gene was going to skip a generation, or my kids wouldn't understand the fun in getting dressed up (not an option), or maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't see the point in getting candy from strangers. Which, come to think of it, is what we tell them NOT to do every other day of the year.
And if your kid doesn't care about dressing up and/or getting candy, then what's the point in trick-or-treating? 
All of the galaxies must've aligned this year, though, because Adam was excited about being a kid zombie (face paint! In first grade! YES!!!) and Ben was excited about being Mario instead of Batman (and then he wanted to be Bob the Builder, and then he wanted to be a Power Ranger ...) and I have to tell you, it PAINED me to purchase a costume for him that I knew I could make, but it seemed impossible to find a pair of overalls in his size, and just the right red hat, and so I gave in and spent $30 at Target. And he insisted on carrying his costume around the store—he was so excited!—and wore it to daycare ("Everyone said I was a perfect Mario!") and again on Halloween, and he loved it, and that's really all that matters. 
Anyhow, when we were all bundled up with winter coats under costumes, Aaron had perfected Adam's facepaint and "zombiefied" his outfit, my dad had found his flashlights, my brother and I had decided very last minute to dress like we were in the Army, I had made my hot cocoa and Bailey's, Aaron and Trish had their big cans of Coors Lite, and Adam started feeling better, he and Ben got INTO it. It was music to my ears hearing those happy choruses of "trick-or-treat!" (and "thank you") ... right up until the last stretch of houses, over an hour later, when Ben said he couldn't feel his feet—they were SO FROZEN (Oh, Ben, see all those little Elsas out there?! Just "let it go!" wink, wink)—and Adam dramatically announced that he was so tired he just couldn''t.walk.anymore. (Thankfully we had a wagon.)

I've been excited about introducing my offspring to the joys of Halloween since I first accepted the mind-blowing fact that I was going to be a mom.

Adam wore his first costume when he was only 11 weeks old. I showed him off to friends and family and that was about the extent of it. I mean, he was 11 weeks old, I wasn't going to take him trick-or-treating. That would be ridiculous. But MY GOD, little baby costumes are the CUTEST, aren't they? Especially when you can get an expression like this one? "Egads! What on earth is going on?! This is horrifying! Why am I dressed this way and who is this imposter beside me?!?!"

The next year, my daycare provider Mary offered to loan us an adorable lion costume she had originally sewn for her grandson Sam, who wore it at 8 months. It fit Adam perfectly at 14 months. It even had a long lion's tail! We went to a friend’s Halloween party prior to Halloween, a party just for the kids. That was a first. It was so much fun—especially with so many of us having little ones around the same age—we were hoping to make it an annual tradition. Lo and behold, that friend moved out of state (and eventually back again) and the tradition never caught on. 

When Adam was two, we once again borrowed a costume from Mary. This time, he was a Dalmatian. How perfect! My family used to have a Dalmatian (RIP Lucky, you crazy, loveable, hyper-spaz of a dog). This was also the first year we decided to bring the little guy trick-or-treating, and it was kind of a no-brainer to go to my parents’ neighborhood. There was a small part of me that felt guilty for abandoning our 'hood, but since we don’t feel close to our neighbors, beyond the occasional wave-when-you-see-one-another/make-polite-small-talk-when-you-both-happen-to-be-outside, and my parents are part of an association, and therefore friends with their neighbors, AND they wanted to see Adam in his costume, it just made sense.

My dad bought a few bails of hay for us to sit on, attached a flatbed behind his four-wheeler, and pulled me, Aaron, Adam, and my niece April, who was along just for the heck of it. My mom stayed back and passed out candy to the neighbor kids. We didn't last too long, and that was ok. Baby steps.

Sweet puppy!

By the time Adam was three, he had a fairly new baby brother to accompany him. I don't remember much about that Halloween, other than the fact that Adam was a very warmly dressed duck (I bought the costume at a second-hand shop), Ben was a pumpkin (also purchased second-hand), we were on foot while trick-or-treating and Ben was heavy to carry around, mainly because he was a whopping 22 pounds at four months. I think we went to 10 houses. I assumed this would be the last year to dress both boys as I wanted to dress them, and I was right. 

Daycare Halloween party

Oh! And that was the year that I brought Ben to our friends' annual Halloween party. We were pretty sneaky about it, since it was adults only. Most of the guests didn't realize there was even a baby in the house. He slept upstairs in the pack-n-play while the party was going on in the basement, I went upstairs to feed him occasionally, and probably around midnight, he woke up and I brought him downstairs to meet the few party-goers who were still around/still awake. And then THIS happened!! Cabbage Patch Ben! 

The next fall was the first year Adam wanted to be a superhero instead of a cute animal. I knew it was only a matter of time before the superheroes barged into our lives, but I was still sad about it. Thankfully I had Ben to fulfill the "cute animal" factor. He wore the Dalmatian costume that Adam had worn. (Thanks again to Mary!) 

I made this scary alien guy and put him in my parents front yard. Adam thought he was funny.

Take this dumb thing off me!

In 2012, Adam was a storm trooper and Ben was Batman. Batman, Batman, Batman. This was the year that Ben became OBSESSED with Bruce Wayne (he even wanted to change his name to Bruce). He wore that Batman costume until he wore it out. We had to replace it twice. He honestly believed he was Batman when he was wearing it. (He once wore a Batman costume to a Saints game, much to the enjoyment of the fans around us.) We brought that thing everywhere we went.

Halloween party at Grandma's - missing cousin Kayla

In 2013, Batman was proud to show off his new muscular figure (weight training and eating clean) and Harry Potter was ready to take on the wizarding world and overcome Lord Voldemort. This was the first year that my brothers, Shawn and Nick, my sister-in-law Trish, and my brother's girlfriend Ashley joined us for the Halloween festivities. My younger brother wore a Freddy Krueger costume and may have traumatized both kids. 

No, not scary AT ALL for a three and six year old, Uncle Nick. Also? My dad made those pants with fabric paint.

And now! This year!! Success! 

Can you find me!?

I've been "into" Halloween ever since I can remember. I blame my dad. (The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.)

My dad, the long underwear devil

My mom is Cleopatra, back row, between Raggedy Ann & the belly dancer - circa 1976.
My parents hosted an annual Halloween party for many, many years.

I learned, at a young age, that the very best costumes are not the generic/overpriced store-bought versions. They're home-made. They are also immediately recognizable, not offensive, and—in my opinion—require a little bit of effort. My favorite childhood costume was the year I was a ladybug. My dad made my costume out of poster boards. Sadly, I don't think we have any photos. I did find this one, though. I was supposed to be an old lady. All I really remember is my mom laughing as she made my boobs big and saggy. I was trying to look crabby, but it comes across as "tortured fourth grader/bored out of her mind." I'm wearing one of my mom's antique hats—she bought a box of them at an auction. I loved wearing them. My friend Ann was a baby. Notice that she had a pillowcase for her loot. I had a little bag.

I continued trick-or-treating until I was entirely way too old to be knocking on doors and asking for candy. I was 14 (!!). At that point, I was strictly just in it for the candy. I was on the cross-country running team and I dressed up as a cross-country runner. (Laaaaame.) In the years that followed, I gave up trick-or-treating in favor of helping my dad get our big green house "spooky" for the kids in our neighborhood. We had an old record of Halloween sounds—chains dragging, moaning, screaming, witches cackling, cats meowing—and we put a speaker in a side window and played it every year. We screwed a green lightbulb into the front porch fixture, and made a dummy out of newspapers, old clothes, and my brother's Spiderman-head piggy bank (then covered it with a mask). One year we put my mom's clothes chest in the front yard because it looked an awful lot like a kid-sized coffin, then we put my life-sized doll in it for added effect. CREEPY. I took great pride in the fact that some kids were too scared to knock on the front door.
I was overjoyed when I got to college and realized it was ok—even encouraged—to dress up on Halloween. The costumes were just a LITTLE more rated-R than I was used to (so much cleavage!!!), but it was all part of the college experience. The Halloween celebrations I remember most were the three I spent in Madison. State Street was craaaaaazy.

I was a poor college kid. This was the best I came up with. (It was the same year my roommate Webs was a bear—white sweatsuit, sock ears, painted nose and whiskers, Tonya was a geisha girl, and our friend Kay wore yellow scrubs and a beak in an attempt to be a duck, but instead wound up with the nickname of "toxic waste.")

I had a squirt gun and secretly "shot" the bitchy girls on the dance floor.

When JJ wasn't standing near me,  people thought he was Teen Wolf. I had real cookies in my basket ... a big hit with drunk college kids.
 Bad 70s cop and Cruella. I had a stuffed Dalmatian, too, not sure where it was for this pic.

Dominatrix!! I bought my pleather outfit at Hot Topic.

 We went to Half-Time Rec in St. Paul & SO MANY DIRTY OLD MEN WANTED ME TO WHIP THEM. I wrote "I bite" on my arm. They loved that, too. This was my only attempt at sexy.

What a FUN night. We went to Aaron's house after this. (We had just started dating.)

Ice Queen & masquerade ball attendee Katie - some bar somewhere. 
Aaron didn't want to dress up.

From dominatrix & Ice Queen to THIS. Richard Simmons and his groupie. 
Sweat to the oldies with me!
Beauty pageant winner Tonya (home from Idaho), Kay the Himalayan (drove from Green Bay), Rads as Oscar the Grouch (she WORE THAT GARBAGE CAN ALL NIGHT!) and drove from Milwaukee, yours truly, and cowgirl Jods. It meant a lot to me that some of my dear college girls were in attendance for my & Aaron's first annual garage Halloween party, 2003.
The start of our "wig swap" tradition

Old lady with baby on her back. Aaron was EPIC.
What? You didn't know Ronny liked to party?!
Tennis great John McEnroe and Annie. "The sun will come out, tomorrow ..."
Loved the costumes; hated the cheap face paint.
Fairy "ghoul" mother and Beetlejuice (I love this girl!)

Alfalfa Aaron, German dude (my dad), Dog the Bounty Hunter's wife Beth (Trish)
With my brothers. My mom stayed in the house with Adam. I breastfed him looking like this. 
He was unfazed.

Aaron was Richie Tenenbaum, but most people guessed the Unabomber. My face paint was ITCHY but I kind of loved being Grinchy.
Whatch'ya gonna do when the HULK comes for you?!! 
I made my 'stache out of Adam's Barbie's hair. 
SNL sketch - Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley (my SIL's sister, Tara, made her "fat suit"), Chippendale's dancers, complete with a dance-off.
(Aaron had to have a few cocktails for that.) 
Nerds. I really channeled my inner theater geek to get into character.

La, la, la-la-la laaaa
I was a little disappointed that Rem didn't have her annual Halloween bash this year, but it all worked out, since we went on a haunted hayride instead.