A Halloween Party in the Woods

A Halloween Party in the Woods

Two years ago, probably a day after Halloween, I was struck with another of those impossible-to-ignore urges to throw a specific party for my favorite little kiddos.

A Halloween party.

In the woods.

And I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like…

I saw a spread in Country Living once (hey look! I found it: click here) featuring an outdoor Halloween party inspired by festivities of yore where costumes were less “dress-like-your-favorite-Disney-princess” and more festive and Halloweenish. Here’s an example of one of the antique costumes at the party:

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I was completely taken with the idea, and tucked it away in the back of my brain where it sat for years. Every Halloween, I would think about it and pine for such a party and costumage (you can go ahead and add that word to your handy-dandy-Mrs. Gore-Dictionary); and as Halloween 2011 drew to a close, I made a decision. We would have our old-school Halloween party next year, or I would die trying.

Only one problem.

Vintage Halloween clothes are ‘spensive. And rare. And just like there weren’t a lot of WWII-kids-party supplies out there when it was time for Gid’s 6th birthday, I had trouble finding any reproductions of old-school Halloween clothes on the market today. I know, right? Cray-cray.

So we did the next best thing and bought every Halloween dress and accessory that Cracker Barrel had to offer. Every year, they sell an assortment of black, orange, purple or gold dresses with lots of tulle, and by the time we bought them after Halloween, they cost about as much as an Arby’s value meal.

Thus, for a full year, my Mom had bags of poofy dresses and funny hats hidden in her closet, waiting to surprise the children on a beautiful October afternoon in 2012.

Oh, and there was one bright orange shirt for Gideon from the hunting section at Wal-Mart.

And here were the goals of our party: 1. The entire concept had to be a surprise - when the kids arrived at Grandmother’s house for the party, we wanted them to have NO IDEA where they would be going or what they would be wearing, 2. We wanted to allow them to walk through the woods to the party alone – with the oldest being 8, this would be a big and memorable deal for them (and Amy would shadow them with her camera, of course!), and 3. Have a festive and magical hole-in-the-wall-type party all set up when they arrived.

And shiver me broomstick, we did it! I will admit, I almost died of fatigue before this party even started, loading and unloading mountains of supplies, single-handedly arranging all those haybales and pumpkins, and then there were the three giant wasps nests we discovered above the party table about an hour before go-time (my Mom is a rockstar and slayed every single one of them without fear)…

but this afternoon will forever be cherished in my heart as one of my favorites. The kids loved it. And I loved watching them love it. Take a look…

Amy made these labels that we taped over vintage milk bottles and filled with assorted candies.

Amy made these labels that we taped over vintage milk bottles and filled with assorted candies. We placed one at each child’s seat and they passed them around so they could sample all of the different flavors.

Welcome to our Halloween party in the woods!

Welcome to our Halloween party in the woods!

A sparkly bat greeted our little guests.

A sparkly bat greeted our little guests.

I lined the pathway with pumpkins we borrowed from a nearby farm and filled in the path with crunchy leaves. Very fun!

The pathway was lined with pumpkins we borrowed from a nearby farm and was filled in with crunchy leaves. Very fun! And free!!

We made a simple sacklunch for each child and had it sitting on a real plate with real silverware - we wanted this party to have an authentic tea-partyish feel, but heavy on Halloween.

We made a simple sacklunch for each child and had it sitting on a real plate with real silverware – we wanted this party to have an authentic tea-partyish feel, with a heavy emphasis on Halloween.

The table was simple, but festive, and very easy to put together.

The table was simple, but festive, and very easy to put together.

Donuts from a Tulsa bakery - I considered for two seconds making some from scratch, but Mrs. Gore ain't got time for that.

Donuts from a Tulsa bakery – I considered for two seconds making some from scratch, but Mrs. Gore ain’t got time for that.

Very rustic caramel apples, speared through with a twig from the backyard.

Very rustic caramel apples, speared through with twigs from the backyard.

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You can’t see them very well, but we also hung black bats and festive lights from the ceiling.

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The kids LOVED their surprise costumes. Each one was different (but similar), and each girl had a funny hat to wear (Gideon got a black superhero mask). Anna’s hat had a giant spider on the top, but still looked very beautiful and fancy.

Funny...Amy and I dressed in all black and wore funny hats and accessories with absolutely NO intention of looking like witches. But we totally look like witches.

Funny…Amy and I dressed in all black and wore funny hats and accessories with absolutely NO intention of looking like witches. But…we totally look like witches.

Time to walk down the wooded path to the party! Everyone lined up, including our very uninvited guest, Batman the Cat.

Time to walk down the wooded path to the party! Everyone lined up, including our very uninvited guest, Batman the Cat. More on him later.

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Marching to Halloween! I was pretty giddy about this part of the party…

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Which way do we go?…

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That way!!

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They found us! And good thing, too, because I was about to eat all their candy.

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Ready to party.

I swear to you, just like our witch costumes were accidental, we did NOT invite my parents' cat, Batman, to our party. He followed the kids, and was by far our best Halloween decoration.

So. The cat. I swear to you, just like our witch costumes were accidental, we did NOT invite my parents’ cat, Batman, to our party. He appeared out of nowhere and followed the kids, but was by far the best Halloween decoration we had at our party. Way to go, Batman!

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I had to take a minute to get a picture of Amy and her girls (and the cat). They all looked so beautiful! (You too, Batman).

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And I have to brag on my party guests…

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they are used to their weird Mama/Auntie, so they gladly took a few “fake party pictures” for my blog before digging in to their treats.

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I’ve never been so proud. :)

Rebekah and Kate enjoy their party and some lively conversation.

Rebekah and Kate enjoy their candy and some lively BFF conversation.

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After their meal was consumed, Grandmother had a special game planned for them where they had to find special treats and surprises she had hidden in the woods.

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It took some earnest searching…

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but all the treasures were eventually found…

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and the rest of the evening was leisurely spent, playing, talking and daydreaming. One of my favorite things about children is that they need very little to entertain them. Just give them the great outdoors…

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and some playmates…

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and they’ll stay happily occupied for hours.

~

As a fittingly full moon began to shine through the trees…

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our Halloween party in the Woods mozied to an end and we made our way back to Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house…

tired?

Oh yes!

With a huge mess to clean up?

Indeed.

But our Halloween-lovin’ hearts were oh so full and happy…

especially Batman’s.

~

Happy Halloween, dear friends!

A “Tea For Two” Birthday Party

On Saturday morning at 11:00, after working harder than I think I did for my own wedding, we welcomed guests into our completely-transformed house for a special “Tea for Two” birthday party for our little girls, one of whom was turning 4, one of whom was turning 2…

get it? Tea 4 2?…

How sad is it that I sprang out of bed late one night to write the name of this party down, and then clapped my hands with glee and dubbed myself a “genius”?…

Don’t answer that.

Anyhow, why was our house transformed? Where was our typical and expected party backdrop of the great outdoors?

Four words: Tornado watches. Rain. Oklahoma.

But after my initial disappointment over moving our par-tay indoors, I discovered that this was quite a blessed turn of events, and I was able to spend days setting everything up “just so”, rearranging our entire abode like it was a life-sized dollhouse, cleaning, scrubbing, baking, and decorating like there was no tomorrow. And, by the grace of God, I actually had fun doing it.

Little girls are some kind of magic, aren’t they? I’m still giddy over this entire party, full of sweets and treats and flowers and nostalgic sugar-and-spiceness. Take a look…

(but first, if you want a little background music while you peruse our party, just push play. We love you, Doris!)

I am sorely tempted to leave my living room set up this way…wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to a beautiful dessert table every morning?…

new tea for two

I purchased the old screen at a vintage show in Tulsa a couple of weeks ago, and can’t wait to see how many ways I can use it. The wooden “Tea for Two” letters were purchased at Michael’s and spray-painted a light aqua color, and then hung with crocheted ribbon and twine.

party table

On the treats menu: strawberry cake and cupcakes (from a box) topped with Paula Deen’s delicious strawberry icing, mini Kentucky butter cakes, Paula Deen’s lemon blossoms, strawberry shortbread cookies, miniature buttermilk pies, raspberry tarts, Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers, and fresh strawberries.

side view

To decorate, I used pink roses (of the regular and miniature variety) and baby’s breath, teapots and teacups, vintage handkerchiefs, doilies, and our typical collection of cake and treat stands. If you have any questions about where I purchased anything, please ask in the comments section and I’ll try to help you locate what you’re looking for.

treats

We came up with the raspberry tarts recipe “on the fly”, but as they seemed to receive more compliments than anything else, I thought I’d share the “recipe”: phyllo cups from the grocery store freezer section, instant vanilla pudding, canned whipped cream, and a raspberry. You are so welcome.

raspberry tarts

Since the only tea we actually served was iced with lots of sugar in it and guzzled from huge glasses, we put the cupcakes in teacups to go with our party theme. So easy. And the cupcake toppers were made with toothpicks from Cracker Barrel (they have pretty tops), and red twine tied in a little bow. Also…so easy.

cupcakes

We only have approximately 400 cupcakes left…

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Inspired by this party, I made bagged lunches for each child with a brown paper bag, craft paper from Michael’s (that somehow exactly matched my girls’ dresses), a white doily and red twine. Inside was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a little pouch of raisins.

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Simple and sweet!

lunch and lemonade

We set up a drink station on the vintage rolling cart we keep in our pantry and served raspberry lemonade, sweet tea, and water. The mason jar lids were purchased here (TOO cute!!), and the aqua-striped straws were purchased here.

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Any of the paper decorations you see are from the Martha Stewart line of party supplies and were also purchased at Michael’s.

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The old buffet in our dining room served as a nice gift table, and a wooden “2″ and “4″ indicated whose gifts belonged where (these numbers were also used in the girls’ birthday pictures)…

gift station

This precious birthday-card-download was purchased here. All I had to do was print it on cardstock, cut it out, back it with our extra paper from Michael’s and frame it!

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Don’t you think gift tables look especially nice when they are full of GIFTS from loving family and friends?! Me too.

gift table with gifts

The party schedule was pretty simple. While the girls were having their pictures taken (by my amazing sister-in-law, Amy), Mr. Gore took all the party guests upstairs to teach them a fun birthday song to sing for the birthday girls. When everyone was finished, we set the girls on our barstools and brought all their friends downstairs…

stoolsThe song was hilarious, and so much fun. Thanks a million, Mr. Gore!

kids singing

And the girls loved being serenaded by their friends!

happy girls

Then, before the girls got dirty and sticky like I knew they would, we blew out candles…

Betsie blowingFirst, Betsie Fair…

Betsie candlesthen Rebekah Sunday.

Rebekah candles

Lunch was then served on the front porch…

Boogie

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and it was good.

good eats

After lunch, the kids were free to partake of the treat table and to play in the designated areas we set up for them, the girls in the super-girly sunroom, and the boys in the upstairs nursery…

tea party

It was a beautiful day to celebrate two of the greatest gifts God has given us…

2 and 4

Betsie

Tea for two…

Rebekah and Betsie

and two for tea.

~

Want to remember this idea? Pin it!

a birthday tea party

~

To see more of my inspiration for this party from Pinterest, click here.

My Night with the Emporer

I’m going through this year’s pictures and came across a funny story I forgot to tell you…

~

It was past 1:00 a.m. and I was sitting up late in bed, reading what I am sure was the latest ground-breaking historical Christian fiction book on the market, when I heard Baby Betsie crying. My gracious husband – who, unlike me, does NOT sleep like a giant, inanimate boulder from the Rocky Mountains – usually handles the middle-of-the-night stuff, and so I was happy to hop up and handle this situation for him while he slept.

I ran up the stairs and tiptoed through our large, dark nursery, and, arriving at Betsie’s crib, gave her her pacifier and was covering her back up when I heard a sound behind me.

Turning around, I couldn’t believe what I saw…

I blinked.

I squinted.

I blinked three more times.

Yes, this was really happening…

A robed figure, unaware that I was in the room, was rising from the twin bed by the window. Standing up next to his bed, he pulled his hood up over his head, and bending down, quietly retrieved his lightsaber from the floor beside him. Standing back up, lightsaber held high, he shuffled noiselessly out of the room.

And I, snapping out of my open-mouthed, fascinated gaze, took off like a flash of lightning, and, running past him, fled down the stairs and to the office to retrieve my camera. By the time I made it back to the stairs, he was sitting there near the bottom, apparently waiting for me.

“Can I take your picture?” I whispered, in the dark.

He nodded, keeping his head down.

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Then he stood up…

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and shuffled into our bed, where we all spent the rest of the night snuggled close together, him, me, his Papa, and his lightsaber.

It was the first time I’ve ever slept with Emperor Palpatine…or anyone from Star Wars, for that matter.

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It wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be.

But one thing is sure. If it weren’t for these pictures, I would be certain this had all been a dream…

The Best Days…

The best days are not necessarily holidays or Christmas-bonus days or personal achievement days.

They are the days when you wake up in January to 70-degree weather. You have your husband open the bedroom windows before he goes to the shower and you lay in your bed for a near hour just drinking in the fresh, balmy air that shoots a steady breeze right across your pillows.

They are the days when you make yourself a breakfast tray and sit in your bed with the windows still open, slowly drinking your coffee and orange juice and marveling over how beautiful an ordinary day can be.

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They are the days when your Princess lays on her fluffy pillow bed nearby, gazing out at her Kingdom and mirroring your own appreciation for nature and fresh air. “Doing good, Mudder?” she regally asks as you continue to sip your coffee. “Doing REALLY good,” you answer, thinking that only the addition of a ladies’ maid could make this morning better. (Cause somebody’s got to fix that hair…)

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They are the days when you dress how you want and you spend the hours how you want, and the only thing you need is a good friend to give you a push or two.

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They are the days when you sit on the front porch and watch your greatest blessings, and you think you might just be tasting Eden…

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You thank God all day for the reminder of what life should be like, and you pray over your children, yearning for the day when all of you will live, and work, and play there forever. Together.

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I think we should have more days like this, don’t you?…

(And I mean that).

A Storybook Halloween – Outtakes and Info

 Did I say in my last post (a week ago) that I would share this post “tomorrow”? Silly me. Little Red Riding Hood’s Mother has been super busy taking care of Granny and hasn’t had too much time for blogging… 

~

First of all, I am so thrilled with your feedback from our Little Red Riding Hood “storybook”. Thank you for all the encouragement and kind words and ‘likes’ and shares…I’m a lifetime fan of compliments, which is probably why I run a blog that shares posts about every 5 minutes or so.

And if you’ll indulge me for a bit, I’d love to share a little about the day we had this “photo shoot”.

When I have big ideas, I get all atwitter, but if I’m not careful, my excitement can turn into tension, especially if the idea I had is not translated into real life with all of its spontaneity and childish behavior and, sometimes, weather complications (welcome to Oklahoma!).

And the Thursday of our scheduled shoot, as I was ironing dresses, and pulling props from all the nooks of our house, and sweeping the shed, and willing the children to take good naps, I could feel that tension hovering in the distance, enticing me to leap in and see my joy obliterated.

I desperately wanted to refrain from taking that leap.

So, silly as it sounds, I took a moment to pray. It went something like this…

“God, I know there are people starving somewhere in the world today, and that it is of little consequence whether or not we successfully capture the story of Little Red Riding Hood. But I DO want to glorify you today, so please…please…let this be fun for everyone. Let Ben get good photography practice, and let the kids enjoy themselves, and help me to relax and keep things in perspective…(and if this doesn’t work I will try not to throw myself in a lake). Amen.”

And it was amazing. My prayer was answered so graciously, and about 45 minutes after Ben arrived at our house, our entire storybook had been acted out and captured with no crying, no stress, and no whispered threats on my end. I think that was definitely the favorite part of my day. I had fun! The kids obviously had a blast. And Betsie…oh, Betsie. Who knew that my unpredictable little whirlwind would play the part of Granny like a pro?! I still haven’t stopped kissing her for it.

So, as thrilled as I am that the finished product turned out how I had envisioned it, I am even happier that our day was memorable and laidback and that, at the end of it, I had no regrets for acting like a b-hole. Thank you, God, for hearing even the silliest prayers of your silliest children.

Moving on, some of you have mentioned that you might try making your own storybook – I hope you do! And because I love you, I would like to humbly offer a little advice to help your project run smoothly…

1. Photography has become so accessible in our culture, and there are usually amateur or budding photographers in every community. When I heard Ben mention that he would like to add to his portfolio and was eager to practice, I nearly tackled him and said “What day can you come?!” And photographers who are just growing their business are usually very reasonable in their prices. All that to say, the thought of having a real photographer with a real camera capture your “storybook” for you isn’t nearly as far-fetched as it might have been even 5 years ago. And supporting your local photographers is a win-win, for they grow in expertise while you receive a finished product that is both affordable and WAY better than anything you could do on your own.

2. Go outside! Even with your own point-and-shoot camera, outdoor lighting (especially on overcast days) is the best and will do wonders for…well, everything.

3. In my opinion, the more homespun your costumes and set are, the more authentic your storybook will be. Thus, we didn’t purchase much for this project – Granny’s “room” was pieced together from all the stuff in my house that looks like it belongs to a little old lady (I’m an old soul…) and most of our costumes were pulled straight out of our closets. In fact, the only things I bought this year for our Halloween “theme” were…

  • Gideon’s fur booties and wristlets (he got the hat last Christmas), both purchased from Restoration Hardware during their 20% off sale. Click here to see their collection of faux fur gifts. Very warm and very “cool”, these would make great Christmas gifts.
  • The little lace mobcap that the Wolf wore came from Amazon (click here).
  • And Ben’s amazing wife, Leslie (who also edited the photos like a champ!), made Rebekah’s cape for me – and a wonderful job she did!.

4. I like 2-for-1′s…shampoo+conditioner, Swiffer Sweepers, turducken…and so I recommend photographing your storybook around the time of Halloween. By the night of October 31st, we had already taken all of these pictures in our costumes, and I wasn’t worried about them getting dirty, resulting in the most laidback Halloween we’ve had yet. I even thought, “Meh. I might not even dress up tonight…” (But you know I did).

5. Conduct your “photo shoot” after nap time and have supper waiting on the stove as a reward to your cast and crew. It felt rather like a cast party as we all sat around the table and talked about our storybook adventure and slurped up bowls and bowls of potato soup.

6. Speaking of food, have a few snacks hidden amongst your props in case you need to resort to bribery or distractions for your little actors and actresses.

7. And most importantly, be prepared and ready for showtime. When Ben arrived at our house, we were dressed, every scene was set up, and I had a detailed list of every shot I could possibly need to properly tell our story. I had also thoroughly gone over that list with Mr. Gore so he could “be in my head”, and help Ben know what to do should I have to tend to the children or run back to the house for props. Children don’t do well when adults stand around and discuss what to do next, and so we did everything we could to have none of that.

8. After you make your list of needed shots, go back and schedule them in the best possible order. For example, we did the scenes of me and Rebekah first, followed by our group pictures, so I could run back into the house and change into comfortable clothes, leaving me free to help Ben with whatever he needed. Betsie (the loose cannon), was next, before being buckled into her wagon with a box of raisins and some fruit snacks. And then we filled in the middle parts. I am positive that if we hadn’t had this planned out in detail, our day would have been a disaster.

9. One last thing. If you are using a 1-year old as one of your main characters, do not put her in place or put on the final details of her costume until you are truly ready to take your shots. Ben was in place with his camera ready before we sat “Granny” on her bed. We handed her a handkerchief to keep her hands busy, perched her glasses quickly on her nose and then we all stood behind Ben clapping and jumping around like idiots to keep her from fleeing the scene or yanking her hat and glasses off. And what do you know? Heavens to Betsie, it actually worked.

And now, for your further entertainment…

~ Outtakes and deleted scenes ~

We’re so used to looking AT the camera…

One oversight: I forgot to clean all the junk up out of our yard. I am quite sure that Little Red Riding Hood’s mother did not have a big, ugly, green waterhose next to her little cottage house, and had certainly never even heard of a Spiderman bicycle or a Radio Flyer tricycle.

In many shots, our “Wolf” was less than vicious…

and had a little bit of trouble with freeze-frame “running”.

And I can’t get enough of the Granny pictures. Dressing my baby up like an old lady was one of the best parenting moves I’ve ever made.

A few times, my “actors” took dramatic liberties.

For example, the script does not call for Red Riding Hood to hand Granny the flowers that were already sitting on her bedside table (but that’s a great “sick Granny” face, Gid the Kid!)…

and the Wolf is supposed to be afraid of the Woodsman, not bite him!

Sheesh. Thesbians.

A few times, near the end, we had sheer chaos on the set…

but Ben caught some awesome photographs, nonetheless. This one looks like a new twist on “American Gothic” and might have to go on my wall…

~

Again, thank you, dear readers, for taking a trip with us into the land of fairy tales and make-believe. Oh, to stay there forever…

and if you do happen to make your own storybook someday, please come back and let me know. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

~

Want to remember this idea? Pin it!

A Storybook Halloween – Part Two

…Continued from “A Storybook Halloween“…

~

So as I was saying, Granny was just sitting in bed waiting for someone to come visit her, as sick people are prone to do…

but she most certainly wasn’t expecting a wolf.

a BIG…BAD…WOLF!!!

“Oh dear me!” Granny cried.

and she sprang from her bed in terror.

For even those who are very old and very sick can become quite spry and hasty when there is a wolf at their heels.

But alas, she was no match for a fast and hungry wolf.

He caught her, and tied her up in the closet to save her for his dessert…

and Little Red Riding Hood would be his supper.

He put on a hat and shawl and crawled into bed, for he had a sneaky plan: to trick Red Riding Hood into thinking that he was her Granny, and not, in fact…

a mean. sly. horrid. cruel. dastardly WOLF.

Just as he curled up under Granny’s covers, Little Red Riding Hood arrived.

“Hello, dear Granny!” she sang with a smile…

and walking up to Granny’s bedside, she presented the basket of goodies that her Mother had sent.

But when she looked at Granny, she thought something seemed a little…strange.

“Granny…what big eyes you have today…” she said.

“Well, the better to see you with my beautiful dear!” replied Granny.

“And what big ears you have!” said Red Riding Hood.

“Oh, well, the better to hear you with, silly!” replied the wolf, growing more nervous – and hungrier – by the minute.

“And…what big teeth you have!” said Red Riding Hood, leaning in closer to figure out what in the world was wrong with her Granny.

The Wolf knew his time was up.

In his vicious wolf voice, he lunged forward and growled, “the better to EAT you with, my dear!”

I’m afraid it all would have been over for Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny if something quite extraordinary had not happened next.

A most handsome woodsman who was out hunting for his supper happened to walk by at that very moment and heard the Wolf’s growl and the little girl’s shriek.

He burst through the front door and presented something even sharper than the Wolf’s teeth…

a sturdy and trusty axe!

The Wolf tried to weasle his way out of the Woodsman’s grasp and ran as fast as his feet would fly…

but just as Granny was no match for the Wolf…

the Wolf was NO match for the handsome, manly, ruddy (and married) Woodsman.

With his own trickery, he was tied up and sat waiting for his deserved death…

while Little Red Riding Hood and the Woodsman laughed at his foiled plan.

And what happened to Little Red Riding Hood and the rest of the characters after this fateful day?

They lived happily ever after, just as they should have.

Except, of course, for the Wolf, who was made into a batch of hamburgers, providing a very fine supper for Little Red Riding Hood’s family right after this picture was taken.

The. End.

~

Costume details and outtakes coming up tomorrow!

~

This telling of Little Red Riding Hood and all photos are property of Mrs. Gore’s Diary and Benjamin Grey Photography. 

Halloween Costumes = Family Fun (Part Two)

So, yes…

last year just happened to be my favorite Halloween EVER.

But how could it not be?

Gideon was in love with Davy Crockett.

My nieces were studying “Little House on the Prairie” in homeschool.

Amy’s parents made a covered wagon for us to trick-or-treat in.

The stars had obviously aligned for the perfect Halloween theme for an extended family of 10. Is it okay for a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife to thank God for Halloween blessings? Don’t answer that…

Anyway, Jerry, Amy and their 3 girls dressed as Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Baby Carrie Ingalls.

Our family dressed as a hodge podge of frontierspeople, starring Davy Crockett (played by Gideon), accompanied by his pioneer friend (who also doubled as Pa Ingalls friend, Mr. Edwards), his friend’s Indian wife (my very first costume repeat), and their two daughters. Our favorite part of this costuming was that Rebekah Sunday looked like the picture of a frontiersgirl who had been kidnapped in her infancy and raised by Indians, with her cornflower blue eyes and golden yellow braids. And I obviously read a lot of Christian fiction.

Truly, though. I have never in my life experienced such a joyfully fun Halloween, and I hope I never forget sitting in the back of the electric Mule watching my son and nieces being toted around town in a super-awesome covered wagon.

I seriously don’t know how we’re going to top it.

Actually, yeah I do. Halloween 2012. Coming soon to Mrs. Gore’s Diary…

The Birthday Girls

Although I have been singing their birthday praises all day long, I simply cannot let this day pass without saying it here ~

A very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to two very special girls, Abigail Grace and Betsie Fair.

My niece Abigail was born on May 30th, 2004, and God used her birth to turn my life upside-down…in a good way. Her arrival into this world took my self-absorbed eyes off of myself and allowed me to truly begin living for others, an art I am still perfecting 8 years later. The moment I laid eyes on her, I was hooked, and I got a glimpse of what it meant to be a nurturer and a mother. Living in the room beside hers during my final semester of college, I learned to change diapers, I learned to make bottles, I learned all the special tricks to getting her to sleep, and I was a pro at keeping her out of trouble and keeping her tender heart protected. We were soul mates, the two of us, and we just “got” each other from day 1. She changed my life, and I will love and champion her until the day I die.

And because of that love, I was determined to give her an extra special birthday present last year, nearly begging the hospital staff to induce my labor when they said I could go home and wait a couple of days…

Abigail’s baby cousin, my own Betsie Fair, made her arrival late on May 30th, 2011, with 30 minutes to spare. We all rejoiced, not only because our precious baby was safe and healthy, but because Abigail’s oft-repeated birthday wish had come true! The two seem to share a special bond, and I think it will always be great fun for them to share their special day with one another.

My sister-in-law posted these photos on Facebook today, and it made my heart hurt and rejoice at the same time. I obviously expected to see how Betsie had grown in her first year of life, but Abigail, too? Life is truly bittersweet. But mostly sweet…

I don’t know how special May 30th is at your house, but in ours…

it’s epic.