Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just in time for Thanksgiving...

... I'll finally post about Halloween.

With Ellie's party consuming the first half of the month, our Halloween crafts and field trip season was cut short, but we did manage a trip to a cute, boutique-laden shopping area called Gardner Village that decorated the grounds with a variety of curiously engaged witches. Unfortunately, it's an outdoor shopping area so our fingers and faces nearly froze, but knowing there was a discounted cookie at the end of our witch scavenger hunt pushed us to our reward.

I didn't get good pictures, but some of the animatronix witches were doing pretty interesting things, like the one biking in the sky you can see in the background. I'm waaaay too cheap to purchase any of the merchandise being sold in such a shopping venue, but I did a whole lot of adorable window shopping.

Halloween afternoon, Kyle helped the kids carve pumpkins.

Erik has recently developed a love for violin-playing and requires only simple props to do so.

We knew the kids would be up late Halloween night, so tried very hard to coerce them into napping. On account of her head full of sponge rollers, Ellie never fell asleep, and this is how she felt about her new hair-do.

And this is how Charlie felt about being ignored all day while I finished up the kids' Halloween costumes (actually I was trying to take a picture of him sleeping in his bumbo-- poor, neglected third child-- but he woke up as I was taking it).

It was hard to get a picture in which Ellie was more than a blur-- she was almost as excited about candy as I was that Erik finally agreed to wear his costume.

Why Mario Bros? When my kids found out Carter and Holden were planning to be Mario and Luigi, they were determined to complete the video game's cast.

Rowan was the star (I've never played it myself, but I believe stars are claimed for temporary invincibility or some other desirable), and Charlie went as Toad.

Mish crocheted the cute turban hat for him.

Erik kept insisting Bowser is an elephant, though I corrected him showing him pictures like this numerous times, and made sure he really was partial to being a fire-breathing turtle/dragon villain for a night. He never entertained the thought of being anything but Bowser for Halloween, though he clearly misunderstood the full commitment...

He was thrilled about it, all the way up until Halloween, at which time he utterly refused to have anything to do with his costume. It wasn't until all the other kids already had lollipops in their mouths that he consented to make his transformation. I threw orange poster paint in his hair and eyebrows while he wasn't looking (though not nearly as much as I'd planned to).

Oh yes, and I had yellow clothes for him to wear under his shell, but given his unpredictable moods, we didn't dare remove his red Incredibles pajamas, which he's been wearing under his clothes (interchangeably with skeleton jammies from his cousins L&L, and sometimes one over the other) daily for several weeks. The other day at the library, he stripped off his sweatshirt and waddled around with his pants around his ankles for the hour or so we were there, unwilling to cover up the Incredibles pajamas under his clothes. We got a lot of bewildered and disapproving looks, but it's truly not worth arguing with this stubborn two-year-old on such trivial matters as wearing pants in public.

Ellie was naturally pleased as punch to be the token female character in the cast of Mario Bros: Princess Peach.

You may notice that Princess Peach doesn't have tight ringlet curls a la Shirley Temple. See, I figured Ellie's hair, being thin and fine like mine, would not hold curl well so would require such a drastic measure to achieve even the subtle waves of Peach's hair. Turns out her hair holds sponge roller curl quite well. In fact, it was still holding attractive curl for church the next day. And was still pretty cute three days later.

When Carter first saw Ellie, he knew exactly what to say: "Ellie, you look so silly.... and beautiful!" We couldn't help but smile as he called her Peach all night, saying things like, "I'll wait for you, Peach" and "I'll hold Peach's hand."

I have to give proper credit to Kjerstin, who made Ellie's dress with her own bare hands, as a birthday gift. She did an incredible job and saved me weeks of stress and further sleep deprivation by taking care of that costume. It is definitely Ellie's prettiest and new favorite dress-up item, and will be for a while, I'm sure.

We wrapped up trick-or-treating when five out of six of our kids were being held, complaining of exhaustion. The weather was, amazingly, not very cold, and it made for a perfectly enjoyable evening. The occasional school-aged child even recognized my children's costumes for what they were! (I mean, only a few young guys recognized Bowser, and though people appreciated Ellie's pretty dress, only video game generation-ers could appreciate how closely she resembled Peach.)

Here they're showing off the pumpkins they designed, with Dorito-stained mouths, the first treat they both chose to open from their goody bags.

After I rinsed that paint out of Erik's scalp and scrubbed the sugar out of the kids' teeth, they were out in a wink and the real partying began! For a celebration at the Paul's, I convinced Kjerstin to fill the role Kyle refused to with me. We were Sick and Tired, cuz that's about how I feel about being sick and tired for the past some odd months.

Somehow Kyle preferred to go as a Libyan capitalist. Yes, everyone thought he was a terrorist.

And as long as we were rejecting political correctness, Mish just plain went as a Mexican. Donning stick-on earrings, Charlie went as her illegitimate child.

We had fun playing games and stuffing ourselves with more sugar even than our kids consumed, including these eyeball doughnuts Kjerst made with Ellie,

and these from-scratch pumpkin pies by Mish.

Delicious, delightful, de-lovely and wonderful Halloween, my best one yet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seussmania part III: the rest

Several hours worth of attempts later, inexplicably still can't upload my short video clip of the party ambiance... boo hoo. A few snapshots will have to suffice.

Kjerstin's school and the local library supplemented our Dr. Seuss collection (though we still had nowhere near all 62 of his published books) and it made for some mighty simple and cost-free decor.

I made the birthday banner with paper scraps and the birthday bird I drew on printer papers taped together. Kjerst and I stayed up late one night coloring him in with markers.

Mish made this cute sign for our newest pet, inherited via Emily as a sort of birthday gift for Ellie, although Mish was more than pleased to welcome another reptile into the family.

My other lucky break on party decor was a second-hand Dr. Seuss trivia game I bought at a yard sale months ago (that we've still never played), but even if we never end up playing it, it was still by golly worth the $2 for the sake of this event. I threaded all the big cards together for this garland, and we put up the tiny little book cover cards around the room. Without the game pieces, I would've still decked the room out, but the theme wouldn't have stood out much.

I held the party in early evening so a couple good friends could make it, but I knew this would put a damper on my children's moods (as evenings have since the cessation of afternoon naptime some months ago). Erik is especially affected by the time evening rolls around, when crankiness can escalate into one prolonged tantrum. Soooo, a couple hours before the party started, I sent Kyle off on a drive with the kids (which I figured would knock them out, as it often does). They finally succeeded, but Erik took his nap to the fullest and was out solid until halfway through Ellie's party, when Kjerstin finally went up and revived (and re-dressed) him. I don't think he was fully awake until about when the party ended. Anyway, if we hadn't done what we did, he would've been ACTING a bit too much like Thing 2 instead of just looking like him.

Is anybody out there considering throwing a similarly themed party? If so, don't you dare try to make Cat-in-the-hat tophats as a party favor (especially if your sewing machine breaks a week before the party). I will save you time and sanity by just assuring you it's not worth it. Actually, I could give you the dimensions that, after hours of trial-and-error, produced hats that actually fit on children's heads without swallowing them. Then it might be worth it. But only if you have a Laurisa to lend you a sewing machine and figure out a pattern with you while your six kids wreak havoc on her home, and a Kjerstin who is willing to stay up until the wee hours of the morning whipping them up with you.

And even then, you might have some kids at the party who throw screaming fits refusing to wear them, or even refusing to take them home. So maybe dollar store candy would make a better party favor (we had that, too). (And yes, outsiders attempted to dissuade me from tackling this project many times, but sometimes I refuse to take the easy/sensible way out. I think I learned my lesson. Maybe.)

Apparently the party was not so riveting to some...

At least Rowan appreciated my hard work on those hats. (Haha, pretty pathetic if a baby is really my biggest fan.)

Costumes may seem a bit excessive, but I picked up the shirts/onesie for $1 each at a thrift store and painted them on in under an hour. Nothing like their Halloween costumes...

As for entertainment, we started out with an egg toss. Green eggs, of course. I made the beanbags out of felt scraps.

Then I read them brief excerpts from Horton Hears a Who, just to orient everyone with the look and idea of the pink clovers, and particularly of the pink clover housing the extensive community of Whos that Horton searches for fervently for hours.

Our little Hortons searched for more like 30 seconds for the pink clovers (that we hurriedly scattered while Kyle kept the kids busy in the basement), and even though only one bore the teeny dot that was Whoville, they all found some so everyone was a winner. This was, by a long shot, our most popular game.

This was, by a long shot, our least popular game. What was supposed to happen was the kids put their socks half on and then crawl around pulling each others' socks off in a jovial manner, a la Fox in Socks. What really transpired was the kids put their socks half on and then took turns crying (Ellie started it) when one of their socks got pulled off until everyone was crying or still wearing two socks. Guess I don't know much about kids because it sounded fun to me.

Here's the display table again. I originally wanted to color the party red, pink, and baby blue (the colors from The Cat in the Hat), but ultimately, for such a theme, no less than twenty-three colors would do.

P.S. I stole the cupcake idea from Lindsey at kitchendoughdough.blogspot.com. They were my inspiration for the entire party. Before I discovered these delights, we were planning a fairy princess party. I hope more than just all of Ellie's male friends appreciate the direction we took instead.

Presents! Finally! She did have to wait an extra week after all (since I postponed the party to finish the silly party favor hats I MEAN because of a family emergency), and thanks to our friends' generosity, it was well worth the wait.

And this is about how we all felt at the end of it. Happy, sleepy, and unmotivated to undo any of the party magic we'd slaved to create. And actually I still feel like that, and that's why some of the party decorations still aren't down.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Seussmania part II: the feast

Thanks to those who took the time to try out my little quiz. I can finally put that endeavor to rest and get on to reporting more exciting pieces of business, like Halloween, Ellie's first ballet recital, and of course the rest of the Dr. Seuss extravaganza. This post features the menu-- yes, I went a little overboard. In retrospect, I would definitely make less than half of what I did ("I" including my loyal friend and family minions), since again I think most people (all of the kids, for sure) failed to recognize that each dish was calculated for the effect of the theme. Oh well.

Actually, I had a blast reading every Dr. Seuss book I could get my paws on and marking each reference to something edible, and then recreating each dish. I hanged (or is it hung? I can't decide) photocopies of my inspiration above the food table. The house favorites were the hot dogs (they were Hillshire Farm hotdogs, after all) and ABC cookies (props to Aunt C for the cookie cutters).

Happy Birthday to You:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas:

Green Eggs & Ham:

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish:

Fox in Socks:

Dr. Seuss' ABC:

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish:

Oh Say Can You Say:

The Butter Battle Book:

The Cat in the Hat: