Thursday, October 30, 2014

Zombie Hill! (And Other Halloween Fun)

Bay View does a lot of Halloween decorations in October, but hands down the best display every year is Zombie Hill on Kinnickinnic near my kids' school.  (And I never get tired of the word "Kinnickinnic.")
How awesome is that?  The first few zombies appear on the hill on the first of the month, then more, and sometimes they get moved around (usually closer and closer to the sidewalk as the month progresses).

The guy eating someone's arm is new this year.  At night they are SUPER CREEPY.  On a windy day they sway and jerk around a little.

My kids and I were speculating on how funny it would be if they were up year round, and got decorated for other holidays.  Lights and tinsel for Christmas, bunny ears for Easter, green hats for St Patrick's Day....  And then they could hold pumpkin baskets or dress up when Halloween comes around again!  But I suppose it's best to put them away in November so we can look forward to their arrival again the following year.  And we do!

On the less scary side of decorations in our neighborhood are the dancing ghosts in the park, and there is an annual event called the Pumpkin Pavilion with hundreds of carved pumpkins on display for a weekend (along with music and a magic show and games and beer and food).  My husband was trying to impress upon our kids how nice it is to live only a couple of blocks from a park that always has something going on.  He said the park by his house growing up in Portland never did anything.  Humboldt Park is pretty great.

We did our own pumpkin carving a couple of weeks ago.  The kids did all their own pumpkin gutting!  I just cut open the tops and cooked the seeds.  I also let the kids experiment with using a drill.  Pretty fun.  Less dangerous than knives.  I did one all just in patterns of dots, and Aden used the drill to add stars to her wolf pumpkin.

It continues to be weird that for us Halloween is over before most of the country gets to it.  Everything here (except the zombies) is pretty much all packed up and put away.  Our neighborhood does nighttime Trick-or-Treat on the last Saturday of the month, which meant we had it on the 25th this year.  The weather was perfect, and after doing Trick-or Treat in our own area first we even drove over to the other side of Bay View by the violin store to experience a street that is blocked off for a good distance (so you can walk safely in the road) and goes all out with the candy and fun.  One house was a giant Wizard of Oz display, and another was surrounded with psycho clowns.  It's a big, spooky block party and we will definitely go back.

Since Milwaukee at large does Trick-or-Treat on the Sunday before Halloween, my kids also got to go up to the north side of town to Trick-or-Treat with friends there.  They enjoyed the extra candy and another day to wear their costumes, but they all agreed Trick-or-Treat at night is better.  (Duh.)  Next year will be bizarre because I think Halloween is on a Saturday, so our neighborhood will have it on Halloween proper, but the rest of Milwaukee will do Trick-or-Treat on Sunday six days earlier.  That will stretch out Halloween for a week!

The sorting and trading of candy in our house goes on for days.  They still had some from last year to add to the piles, which is sort of ridiculous, but sort of good in a "at least they are not eating it all at once and making themselves sick" kind of way.   Aden set aside candy for a friend who wasn't able to Trick-or-Treat at the last minute because of an injury, and made sure to examine all the labels for nuts.  Apparently there were more Twizzlers this year than last, and the oddest candies were "Lemonheads with Friends."  Quinn had the only regular Lemonheads, which were sadly friendless.  (I think this is the first Halloween of my life where I haven't eaten any candy.  I'm being good about the no sugar thing.  And the kids will be surprised at how their chocolate doesn't vanish while they're at school this time around.)

The only bad part about the holiday for us this year was after my kids spent a whole day putting up decorations in the yard someone stole some of the things from their display.  Mona had woven a toy snake up through a plastic skeleton so that it popped out of its mouth, and she also put a pair of creepy eyeballs in the skull, and someone took the snake and the eyeballs.  The snake was a souvenir from the Bronx Zoo that my kids were really attached to, so they were pretty upset.  I had told them we could go ahead and leave their display up through the actual Halloween, but after the snake disappeared they just wanted to bring everything in.  So, as I say, Halloween here has been done for days.  The pumpkins are composting and we're moving on to birthday plans and Thanksgiving.

But you out there!  Celebrating holidays on the days they are supposed to be on!  Have fun!  I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Costumes 2014!

Trick-or-Treat is tonight in our neighborhood, which at least does nighttime Trick-or-Treat.  There will be Trick-or-Treat in the rest of Milwaukee in the daytime on Sunday.  I have no idea if anything Halloween related is happening anywhere on Halloween.

But I got all the costumes done!  Check out my kids as a pigeon, a snowy owl, and a tapejara:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mona as a Tapejara

No, I didn't know what that was either.  Definitely one of the most interesting parts of having kids is learning about things you wouldn't have been introduced to otherwise.

A tapejara is a specific kind of flying dinosaur.  Mona was clear she didn't want to be any pterosaur, she wanted to be a tapejara.  And she wanted to help!

I was apprehensive about working with Mona on her costume, not because she's not perfectly capable of making something on her own, but because we don't always communicate on an artistic level very well.  She has her own ideas, and I have mine, and sometimes they mesh, and sometimes they don't.  I'm happy to report it all went well and Mona is very happy with her costume!

I started with the basic jumpsuit where I traced around Mona on the fabric.  The biggest challenge to my sewing costumes (aside from finding the time) is probably the dog.  Chipper wants to lie on all the fabric all the time, and he doesn't like when I use the sewing machine.  While I sew he begs to sit in my lap, trembling pathetically until I give in and then can't do anything.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Swim Team

Swimming is one of those basic skills I feel all of my kids should have a handle on before they grow up and leave my care.  We've done basic group lessons at the Y sporadically over the years, and my kids are comfortable in the water, but this last summer I decided I wanted them to have training in more specific strokes rather than just let them keep paddling around however.  We ended up enrolling them in private lessons, and that worked out really well.

The Y was nice about letting us sign up for the regular blocks of time and then splitting that time up amongst our various kids.  They each got at least two private lessons, and they advanced much more quickly than they would have in another group class.

The teacher was particularly impressed with Mona's abilities, and told me that she expected by the last lesson Mona would be ready for the Swim Team if she wanted to join.  The Swim Team met at the same time in the evenings as our private lessons so we could see it in action in the next couple of lanes.  All the kids were about Mona's age, happily doing laps and being coached by some young, energetic Y people.  It looked fun, so I introduced the idea to Mona and let her think about it.  She can be shy, so I knew it would need time to sink in before she'd consider giving it a go.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Snowy Owl

Two down, one to go.  I'm heading into the homestretch of the Halloween costume making.  Quinn's pigeon costume is essentially finished.  And now Aden's snowy owl is done!

I'm glad Aden wanted a costume.  She's worried she's getting too old for it, but I believe you can wear a costume at any age.  People I think get rightly annoyed with teenagers trick-or-treating who just walk around in normal clothes with a bag, but wearing a costume for Halloween is fun at any age, and people appreciate grand displays of imagination.  Why not be a snowy owl for a day?

I started with a basic fleece jumpsuit, but with a wider hood than normal and an extra piece fastened with Velcro across the front of the neck to kind of blend her head into her body more like an owl would be.  I have to say, I am getting fast with the jumpsuits and I make fewer mistakes.  They aren't perfect, but I can trace the kids on the fabric and then pretty much sew the whole thing without them around and just have them try it on again when I finalize the hems, etc.  I used to have to do the whole thing up in safety pins and have them keep putting it on and taking it off and I'd make lots of adjustments.  But after so many years I've got the basics down and can just see it in my head enough to do it on the first try.

Anyway, this was the plain jumpsuit and hood:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pigeon's Progress

Quinn asked to be a pigeon for Halloween this year.

That may seem mundane to many, but to my kids pigeons are exotic.  In Milwaukee we have seagulls, which apparently eat pigeons, so what few pigeons we have congregate in minor numbers under bridges here and there.  One of the great joys of visiting New York when we go is seeing so many pigeons and my children adore them.  So when Quinn asked to be a pigeon I could see the appeal.  (And yes, he's already been told by several people he will not get to drive the bus.)

I felt up to a pigeon challenge!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Blog Silence

Just a quick note, because I tend to get worried emails when I don't update my blog in a timely fashion....

So many blog posts in my head!  No time to get any of them down!  Because I am in the midst of a costume crunch. 

Milwaukee does trick-or-treat on the Saturday before Halloween.  This year Halloween is on a Friday, so I lose a whole week of time before costumes need to be ready.  Plus I have two concerts coming up which means rehearsals at least two nights a week between now and Halloween.  And, you know, work, husband, dog, kids, life....

I've been up very late the past few nights working on Quinn's costume, and with a little luck I should finish it tomorrow or the next day.  He's going to be a pigeon.

Aden wants to be a snowy owl (which should go fine) and Mona wants to be a pterosaur (which I'm not feeling optimistic about).  So all my kids will have wings this year, and they're all pretty monochromatic.

Anyway, that's where I've been.  More soon.  (Maybe when the snowy owl is done.)