Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloweeeeeeeeeeen 2017

If I'm making my carrot pumpkin, you know what time it is.


But first, the non-carrot pumpkins.

Our approach: adults carve, but kids must design. And, in the case of James, he has to smile like his design, too.

Patrick got pretty creative this year, but let me tell you: Carving near the stem is hard!

Elliott designed this winker and then left for a party. Only because it was a Halloween party, he got excused from the rest of the punkin fun.

Luckily, I have 317 children, so there's still plenty of fall wonder to go around.

Now the moment you all (my mom) have been waiting for...their costumes! Here are a couple of hints and the suggestion of assistance--

Have their themes figured out?

Before I reveal those two, Matthew had an announcement. He's no longer going by "Matthew."

Check out his rebellion shoes--

Yep, he dyed his hair and announced his new name is Mat Skullz.

I said, "OK, Dorothy Hamill."

I made the bad wig go away soon after, and his big baby mood improved. But LOOK OUT!

Why, yes, Elliott found a costume that allows him to dress sharply and carry a gun!

He's Bond. James Bond. And he admitted later he didn't identify himself like that even once. WAY TO BE TOO COOL FOR YOUR COOL CHARACTER, ELLIOTT.

He disappeared early to pre-party, trick-or-treat with friends and then count/sort/trade/gamble their spoils. It's very little fun. It's more like a job. If he's got another year of trick-or-treating rounds in him, I suggested he simply hand out campaign materials and ask for votes.

But let's get back to The Good Ones, shall we?!

Patrick, my favorite son, once said, "Mom! It's August! Shouldn't we be planning our Halloween costumes??" My heart nearly burst.

This year, he was super-sure he wanted to be his favorite contestant from American Ninja Warrior. I think I finally talked him out of it by telling him how much it'd slow him down if most every homeowner said, "I don't get it. What are you?"

And so, he listened to his mother and became the perfect scarecrow!

Eeek! We were so excited by how it turned out! We made the hat out of leftover felt and an outgrown baby shirt. (Big, messy stitches is my kind of sewing!) I made him a candy bag from burlap and handkerchiefs, and it promptly fell apart. (Whoops!) But, his makeup was all brown eyeliner and eyeshadow, and I kinda love how it turned out!

Also, because he's Patrick, he broke into a smile and couldn't even scare the crow that settled right onto his shoulder.

And then, there's James!

Hot dogs! PeaNUTS! POPcorn!

See, what happened was I bought a case of peaches at Costco and thought, "This box would be perfect for a food vendor at a baseball game!" The belt from Patrick's old Taekwondo uniform made the strap possible. James decided he needed a red bowtie--a fine point!--and the mustache. One well-intentioned neighbor opened his door and said, "There's Mario!" Ugh, dude. Check your context clues. (The middle bit reads, "CANDY accepted as payment--get it?")

The mustache was a good call, right?

Anyway, after we got those two squared away and photographed, I put the warm and cozy jack-o-lantern out for Matthew.

Aaaaaaaand that was as close as it got! He was burning up with a sudden fever and trick-or-treat didn't seem all that important anymore. :(

So, we made a quick appearance at our street's garage dinner party.

Isn't it funny that I caught the hotdog vendor eating his own inventory?

Along with her parents, the best pal from preschool (and of Wild Kratts fame) showed up, so I ducked inside to take care of Matthew. (He went right to sleep and appears to just have rising temp from teething.) Outside, adults kept trying to interact with James, but he clearly wanted to focus on candy. He started yelling, "WE RAN OUT OF POPCORN." and "I DON'T HAVE ANY HOTDOGS." Hahahahaha!

As you know, it's all over in the blink of an eye, and all of those play kitchen accessories fell right on off. So the friends came back, surveyed their haul and promptly moved onto Lincoln Logs.

Then, everyone got the dump-stuff-here memo. Our house became like a clown car as character after character made a spot in our messy house, and we passed beers to the adults who'd earned them.

And it was pretty dang perfect.

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen 2017!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Birthday Season 2017: Elliott is 12!

Remember when I talked about easy birthday dinner wishes? (Matthew wanted milk. Patrick and James asked for pizza.) Yeah. Well, then there's Elliott.

For his last birthday before teenhood, Elliott requested steak, mashed potatoes and green beans. Because he is and always has been a responsible adult who eats balanced meals.

Oh, and remember the store-bought cupcakes and brownies from a box? Elliott here requested homemade Boston Cream Pie because you're not even surprised anymore.

(P.S. I am grateful for whatever ridiculous singing voice Pete employed to elicit this genuine smile.)

Blowing out candles kinda makes him look like young again, doesn't it?!

Alas, he's a single parent, raising these three hooligans.

Just kidding. But he did get a sweet phone. That might be nicer than his mother's. But he's more responsible than me and needs it for making mobile mortgage payments and the like.

Ahh, the homemade brother cards! I will push this tradition as long as they allow it!

Now at this point, I can guess what you're thinking. (This is you. Read this in your best you voice.) "See? Things settled down, right? By the last birthday in Birthday Season 2017, I bet she was thinking she could handle it all and that four kids wasn't THAT big of a deal."


To prove it, we had a bowling birthday party for Elliott because he hasn't asked for a party in years. We made a cake and iced it, but as we packed up two cars in order to transport friends (since our own children take up 28 seats all on their own), I thought, "Wait a minute." I had iced the cake on our glass cake stand, and I just knew that was asking for a birthday cake disaster! Don't be a dummy! Pleased with my thoughtfulness, I moved the cake to a plastic cake carrier.

Karma always rewards geniuses.

Soooooo, the handle--the part I was holding--broke right off.

Luckily, no one could tell I dropped it.

Then my friend, Matthew, (seen here, practicing a new eye roll) went from unimpressed and peacefully asleep to blow-out diaper, free of pesky poop clothing, in mere seconds.

But James is still really good* at bowling. (*Lie.)

No matter. Patrick wrapped up this game*, and Pete popped those stylin' shoes in his pockets**. (*Can't actually remember, and **another lie, galldarnit.)

Can you believe a bunch of tweenage boys were THIS cooperative for a group photo??!

Those sort-of pleasant tweenage boys eat like fully grown truck drivers who skipped their last seven meals. (Thank goodness for an endless pizza buffet!) And with all that nourishment, they were really solid bowlers*. (*How many lies can one post contain?) Still, it was adorable that they were pretty equally bad, and they all applauded each other's successes and failures.

That looks like success in the friend and party arenas, doesn't it?! I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Birthday Season 2017: James is 5!

Realizing there was juuuuuuust enough time to sneak one more birthday into May, James turned the big 0-5 on the 31st!

But don't worry. He remains the shy, shrinking violet you remember.

His birthday dinner wish was to make pizza. (Bless you for easy pizza-kit wishes!)

Know what else? I bought some store-made ice cream muffins, and he thought he'd gone to birthday heaven! (P.S. I hope he never outgrows that uncertainty where he can't tell if he's supposed to sing to himself.)

A Spiderman ball (that sprung a leak and required dozens of air pumps before I hid it in the trash) was a big hit. In the hazy, just-had-my-73rd-baby days and weeks that followed, kindly people would ask James what he got for his birthday. He'd answer, "a ball." Kindly people would then glance at me with that awkward eyebrow-life and shoulder-shrug, like, "Way to go, Mom."

But there was other stuff, too!

Probably my favorite tradition is reminding the boys to make cards for each other. Just LOOK at the pride in Patrick's face and also in James' puffed-out tummy!

My second favorite thing is watching big boys get excited for little boy toys. Ya know. For James. They're not interested. They're just, ya know, being polite.

(Related: James' birthday trip to Toys R' Us)

Anyway, who am I kidding? The hit of the whole birthday was the Hot Wheels Ultimate Parking Garage from Grammy! It required two adults for assembly and an entire room for its residence.

That Saturday, we threw together a backyard party. I cared about one thing: the Krabby Patty dessert James found in a SpongeBob cookbook months ago and hadn't stopped requesting.

I mean, I can drop a whole lotta balls from here on out because even Eugene Krabs was jazzed about how these suckers turned out!

It was 1,000 degrees in the backyard, but with his best buds and an assortment of neighborhood kids who had swim trunks, we got this level of happiness out of the big guy.

Inflatable pool and water guns! The theme was, "Wet," and it was super-Pinteresty.

His bestest filled a pencil box of exploring items and adventures they can go on together, and it was about the damned cutest thing since the movie, "Up."

But here's the money shot. Aside from Elliott, who is entirely too old and mature to even be included, the fun on these faces tells me they'll remember, not that Mom was a zombie in 2017, but that awesome backyard party. Win!