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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween

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Tea and Pea have been begging to carve their pumpkins and we finally got around to it Sunday afternoon.  Putting the boys on the dining room table during pumpkin de-gutting was the perfect way to contain the mess.  Tea made up a song that he sang as he worked.

“Everywhere you go…there’s pumpkins.  Everywhere you go…there’s pumpkins.  Everywhere you go…there’s pumpkins.  It is Halloween.  Have a happy Halloween.”  (repeat 87 times)

After we finished scooping seeds, Kyle cleaned up the boys and they ran off to play.  I tried calling them back to draw faces for me to carve and they stared at me blankly.  They thought “carving pumpkins” was just removing the seeds.  I guess we didn’t get around to this last year as we’d been home from Thailand for only 2 days at Halloween.

Tea did draw a face on his pumpkin once I explained the plan better.  He was so excited to see them glowing with candles.

“Mama, our pumpkins are friends.  Look how happy they are.  It’s because mine is friends with yours, and yours is friends with mine.  They are so happy to be friends.”

Happy Halloween, friends.


I fear the winter

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The kids enjoyed getting together with their friend one last time at our favorite pumpkin patch before they close for the season.

all 3 heads in one shot. 4,000 tries but without photoshop. a miracle.

Where will we play now?  So much energy, so little space in my house…  I’m in denial that the cold is coming, but posts from friends have started to frighten me.

My kids are suckers for Japanese cartoon characters

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I started sewing Tea’s Halloween costume a full 11 hours before he needed to put it on.  It was admittedly not overly complicated, but I had no anxiety or fear about not getting it done on time.  Is that a sign of climbing closer to the apex of procrastination greatness or of slipping further into the pit of procrastination insanity?  I’m proud of Tea’s ears – I finagled an interior 3D foam frame that makes them more likely to be standing upright at any given moment of running around.  Not bad for flying by the seat of my pants.

I had nothing to do with their costume choices this year.  They each put in their requests last May and have been emphatic about their decision, repeatedly reminding me in case I’d forgotten.

Tea is the magical Japanese forest creature Totoro from one of his favorite movies, My Neighbor Totoro.  Pea is Doraemon, a “robot cat from the future”.  He’s not aware there’s a Japanese cartoon featuring the character – Pea came home from Thailand last year with a stuffed Doraemon that he’d had in his foster family.  It is his most prized possession.  He snuggles his “Mon” every night.  As far is Pea is concerned, he’s dressed as his favorite stuffed animal for Halloween.

Obviously these are not mainstream choices, so people assume the boys are dressed as an odd clawed-rabbit and an earless cat.  This hasn’t bothered the boys.   Curiously, one woman thought Pea was a turtle, though.  A turtle?  He’s blue.  With whiskers.  Um?

making Totoro noises

not a turtle

This is the first year I’ve sewn their costumes and I’m happy with how they turned out.  There wasn’t much too them, which in my book, makes them perfect.

a true Totoro would not be without his acorns

Trick-or-treat at the farmer’s market this morning was the perfect trial run for the real thing.  They dumped out their loot afterwards and we discussed their results and future strategy.  “This is chocolate, right Mama?  You like this kind?” “Oh yes, always pick those over suckers if you have the option.”  “And I like these.  What’s this called again?”  “Smartees.  I agree – those are great, too.  Definitely better than the Laffy Taffy.  But hide them from your father.”  Gotta have a plan.  For the kids, you understand.

talking trick-or-treat strategy

Whisker envy

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Pea got to test out his new Halloween outfit this morning when his dance class was invited to wear their costumes.  Unprepared as usual, I was sewing on the finishing touches 5 minutes before we needed to leave the house, and only as I packed his costume did I realize I didn’t have face paint for his nose and whiskers.  Washable markers to the rescue.

Every week we sneak out of dance class early to drive the 20 minutes to pick up Tea from school.  Since time was short, I threw a raincoat over Pea’s costume and tossed him in the car.  That was my first mistake.

Tea climbed up into the car, overtired from a cold and a field trip, and eyed his brother’s face.  “What’s THAT?”

“Those are the whiskers for your brother’s costume – he wore it to dance today.”

“But I want whiskers too!”

“Your costume has whiskers – don’t worry.  Halloween is coming soon.”

“No, I mean, I want whiskers now.”

“Oh.  Right.  OK.  How about with lunch, then?”

Tea: "I *really* wanted whiskers." Me: "Um, I *gave* you whiskers, goof balll."

Tea: "Oh, that's right. I forgot!"

My second mistake?  The term “washable” apparently does not apply to skin.

This is what 1000 tomatoes looks like

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We finally got a frost that killed the tomato vines a couple of days ago, so this morning I grabbed a bowl and headed outside to pick what was left.

Then I grabbed another.  And another.

I stopped picking when I ran out of bowls.  At least they aren’t all ripe at once.

Neighbors, start locking your doors – the Tomato Elves will be on the prowl.

On an unrelated note – does anyone have any great recipes to share that do not require mixing or serving receptacles?

“Thank you for this messy idea”

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We spent today playing outside with friends.  It was such a perfect morning, we postponed breaking for lunch until late.  That meant that none of us were very hungry once we finally got home and dinner time rolled around.  I knew there was one lone chocolate bar I’d hidden in the back of the freezer, so I talked Kyle into an ultra-healthy dinner of s’mores.

Tea, who has been requesting a campfire for months, was beyond thrilled.  He spent an hour carrying more wood than we could burn in a month over to the fire.   Tea knows I don’t generally choose supremely sticky activities.  Between bites of marshmallow that threatened to glue his mouth shut, he said, “Thank you for this messy idea!”

Kyle's roasting technique is a little rusty

One of the best things about an autumn campfire is that the boys thought they were getting the treat of a late bedtime because they were enjoying the fire in the dark.  I’m not in a huge hurry to teach them to tell time – they were still tucked into bed by7pm, smelling smokey, sticky smiles on their faces.

flower girl photo shoot

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This summer my friend’s sister got married, and, being from a big family, she asked all 10 of her nieces to be flower girls. Three girls were told to wear pink, three yellow, and four green… in any style dress they wanted. Somehow I convinced my friend to let me make dresses for 3 of the 4 green girls. We conducted an expedition to the fabric store, chose a couple patterns that we liked elements from, and found some awesome glitter-y green fabric. I told the girls I would make their dresses only if they agreed to a photo shoot of the dresses once they were done. So, three months after the wedding, on a gorgeous fall weekend, we finally headed out for a photo shoot.


Pia wasn’t a flower girl in the wedding, but I had enough fabric left over that I made her a simpler version of the dresses I made for the other girls. K and J (below, on swings), cousins who are also very good friends, wanted matching dresses… and ruffles. I wasn’t entirely sure how to do ruffles, but figured it out as I went along. I went the bubble ruffle route, which allowed me to fold under a big hem on each tier and attach it to the bottom skirt. That way I didn’t have to mess with a fussy hem, because each seam was hidden under the next ruffle up. I now think all skirts should be bubble skirts.


E, the older cousin/sister went with a more streamlined look. I used McCalls pattern 5574, but true to my hack sewing skills, this dress needed the most modifications. I seem to be pattern-challenged, and do better when I can just wing it.  I love the look of the simple belt ‘buckle’. After spending much too much time trying to find the perfect belt buckle online, I ended up making a buckle by wrapping fabric around 3 of Pia’s thin, cheap, metal, dress-up bracelets. Love it when a simple solution like that can work.

My favorite shot of the girls is this last one. I call it the Greg Erzen shot (a boy in high school we all had a crush on… one day we saw him leaning up against the side of the school, one leg up, letter jacket draped over one shoulder… the image was forever burned in my memory). I told them to look bored and sullen. Pia nailed the look.