Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween! I love the costumes, and parties, and trick-or-treating, and I just love how everyone smiles at cute little kids all dressed up and excited. As a child, I remember getting our costumes ready every year. My mom always had dad remove the screen from the top half of the screen door. She would lock the screen door, and stand there and hand out candy to the kids through the empty screen door portion. I think she did it that way to keep the dog inside, but I often remember her hanging out at the door all night, chatting with the parents and passing out candy.

Pumpkin carving was also a big deal at our house. Actually, the trip tot he pumpkin patch was the bigger deal. Every year, Mom, Dad, my brother and I would drive out to a local orchard. I remember how far out it seemed then - the roads were bumpy and gravelly, and I remember my brother and I bouncing around all over the way back of the wagon on our way out to the farm. We would take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch and pick our own pumpkin (they've now turned it into a full festival with a petting zoo, face painting, rides, and more). I also remember that my mom had to institute a rule...we could pick any pumpkin we wanted, but we had to be able to carry it back. That rule was for my brother - he liked these enormous pumpkins, and my mom didn't want to be stuck carrying or paying for a 50 lb pumpkin.

My brother always grabbed the biggest pumpkin he could find. I liked to find the perfect shape, with few markings on the outside. I liked the perfect pumpkins...clean, rounded, slightly elongated. I would imagine a nice cheery jack-o-lantern face on it, and tried to find the happy pumpkins.

My father would have us draw our jack-o-lantern faces on a sheet of paper (and in later years directly on the pumpkin). He would open up the tops, and Mom would scrape out the insides and collect the seeds. I'd watch her stand there for hours as she emptied out the seeds, then sorted through the muck to pull out all the seeds. She would spread the soaking wet seeds across the counter top on paper towels to let them dry. Once dried, she would transfer them to a cookie sheet and bake them up in the oven - lightly salting them afterwards. We'd spend the next day or two munching on pumpkin seeds.

While Mom dealt with the pumpkin seeds, Dad would carve our pumpkins. He was very precise. He always got my brother's mean pumpkin face *just* right, and he'd make a lovely happy face for me. He'd carefully transfer our designs onto our pumpkins, put a candle inside, and display the pumpkins for the world to see. I loved those times - I really only remember a lot of happiness.

Halloween was often cold here. We'd buy our costumes, and we never knew if we would need to layer heavy sweaters and jeans underneath. Some years, Mom would suggest we would dress up in something easy, like a bum (flannel shirt, ripped jeans, hobo sack, and she'd burn a cork and rub the black on our faces). As children, I remember my brother always going as a super hero. I know I went as Wonder Woman a few times, and Raggedy Ann, too. I also remember my brother's best friend being afraid of masks...she'd come over, see us put on our costumes...and start screaming. We'd take off our masks, show her it was us, and she'd smile and say "I know." But, masks on again...not so happy. I'm still not sure how her mother managed to get her trick or treating - my brother might have had to take off the mask! I do remember one year dressing as a witch (well, several years) and at least one of the years I was on crutches. I remember Dad decorating my crutches to look like broomsticks. It was a cold had dressed me in jeans and a navy blue turtle neck and sweater to wear under my cape. As I hobbled around on the crutches, the nose started to fall off...then the hat...then I tripped over the cape. One by one, I removed the items and handed them to Dad. By the end, I was just in my sweater, and everyone thought I had dressed as an invalid for Halloween.

This year, I had planned to take the kids (well, Micah) to the pumpkin patch for his hayride and pumpkin experience. With everything going on, we never made it there. Instead, DH just picked two pumpkins up at the store. I was kind of sad looking at them - pumpkins should come from the orchard, not the grocery store. I noticed that the pumpkins had no stems...Mom NEVER would have let us get a pumpkin without a long stem - too hard to get the top off!

I did, however, get the costume thing right. We dressed Micah up in an adorable fuzzy Elmo costume - he LOVED it. We also had a pumpkin outfit to put on Maya. I was a little sad that Mom wasn't getting to enjoy Halloween with I decided to bring a little Halloween to Mom.

Last night was a really rough night for us...Micah wouldn't go back to sleep when he woke up at 2:30. He was intermittently crying or clinging for the rest of the night. At 4:00 am, his cries managed to wake the baby, too, and I was NOT a happy camper. At 5:00, I brought both children into bed, turned on Sesame Street, and nursed Maya to sleep. At 6:00 am, I took Micah back to this room and he went right to sleep. Maya was easily transferred to the crib. Maya woke up again at 8, but Micah slept until 10:30. We got up, fed Micah, and got both children ready for Halloween.

We arrived at the nursing home around 12:30. We showed Mom the kids in costume and took photos.

Dad was unabe to come today - he had a show for his stationery business, and was there all afternoon. On our way out, Mom had requested a burger for dinner. We decided that DH would run out later and get her one.

We sat with Mom and the kids for a few hours, and around 2:00, two of my mom's friends arrived - with another corned beef sandwich and some cookies for Mom. We had a wonderful visit with them in the lobby area. We all chatted, Micah ran around in his costume - it was a good day.

I took Mom back to the room to do our cleaning and lotioning ritual while DH ran out to the restaurant to get Mom a hamburger. Mom's friend spent some time chasing Micah and watching the gave me a chance to sit with Mom alone for a few minutes.

I had hoped to leave by 3:00, but naturally it was almost 3:45 before we got in the car. On our way out, we ran into two other friends, who were just arriving for a visit on their way back from a weekend trip. I actually didn't get to speak to my mom last night, so I have no idea about their visit. I know that she was also expecting a few more friends.

We raced back at 3:45 to get the kids ready for trick-or-treating. We tried to feed Micah dinner (I don't think that child ate anything yesterday), and we put Maya back in the pumpkin costume. Dad came over to see the kids all dressed up and join us.

We sat down to quickly carve pumpkins (I had drawn simple faces on them in the morning), and I had tried to quickly carve the top out. Dad is much more skilled...he took off the tops, and I emptied the seeds. I only had a chance to roughly carve one of the two pumpkins, but it was fun. Micah was fascinated with the pumpkins, and we were able to light them up and set them outside.

I don't think Micah fully grasped the concept of Halloween. We went to a party, and he did not seem to really notice the costumes. He did, however, notice the slide. He ran around the yard and played on the slide, and generally had a good time.

We left to start trick or treating just before 6. Getting Micah to walk up to doors and say "trick or treat" was a challenge. He did love grabbing the candy and dumping it in his bag. Unfortunately, he cried every time we left a house.

By the time we hit the 8th house, I'd had enough. Dad had taken Maya back already and was standing there handing out candy when I arrived back home, so I joined him. DH continued on for another hour and a half with Micah, but eventually transferred him to a stroller.

Dad left around 7:30 and headed home. The kids played a bit longer. We had to fight Micah to take off his Elmo costume, but they had a great time. Dad said he spoke to Mom, and that she was thrilled to see the kids in their costumes. All-in-all, a great evening. So far, both kids have been asleep all night. Maya was a bit of a challenge to get to sleep, but she finally crashed around 10.

We bring Mom home in four more days!

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