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…

Halloween Costumes = Family Fun (Part 1)

I love Halloween.

Always have.

Always will.

When Mr. Gore and I were first dating, it didn’t take long before I dragged him into the realm of my holiday madness. I’ll never forget our first Halloween as a couple. We dressed up in costume (I was a princess and he was a gangster), I made him an absolutely awful home-cooked meal (on accident, not on purpose), we went trick-or-treating at the homes of some of our friends, and then we went, in costume, to the movies – my giant puffy dress wafted up and over my theater seat, and I loved every minute…even though I hated the scary movie we watched with a passion.

Then we got married and moved to Kentucky. I cannot share a picture of the costume I wore that year, as we “stayed in” for our Halloween “party” (you know what I mean?)

Not surprisingly, the next year I was pregnant, and dressed as a miserable pregnant woman. Mr. Gore wore jeans and a t-shirt.

Had we lost our Halloween spirit? NO. WAY.

Because the next year we were joined by our first baby, and our Halloween spirit went up about 2,000 notches when I learned what fun could be had in dressing up as a family unit. Poor, poor Mr. Gore…

It should be noted that, I always come up with fun ideas and spend August and September being so excited about our costumes…until I am getting dressed on Halloween night. There, alone in my room, I berate myself for being such an IDIOT who still gets dressed up on a decidedly children’s holiday…

But that all washes away when I step into the living room and my kids just nearly die of excitement over what I’m wearing. Little ones are so very easy to impress, and I will gladly look like the dork of the century for them every October 31st, so long as they will enjoy it. And then probably when they don’t, just so I can embarrass them.

So. Our first Halloween with baby. Gideon was 7 months old and an absolute mizer. He didn’t like to be held by other people and he didn’t like festivities. Which was a problem, as Mr. Gore and I were playing a key role in our church’s Halloween festival…it was going to be loud and there were going to be lots of people there. Gid was sure to hate it. So I dressed him as a chicken (I glued a felt “beak” to his pacifier) and put him in a “nest” (a cheap laundry basket wrapped in burlap) of raffia, surrounded by Hobby Lobby craft eggs for him to play with. Throughout the entire party, he was able to be happily unsociable, and I was able to enjoy the party! Mr. Gore dressed as a gentleman farmer, and I was his doting wife, dressed in my Granny’s old pioneer costume that just happened to fit my new Mama body perfectly. I will admit, this was a very throw-together year for us – I spent very little time on our costumes (note the cardboard sign and the office clip), but we had such fun!

The next year was one of my favorite Halloween themes ever. We dressed as the “First Thanksgiving” – Mr. Gore was a pilgrim, I was an Indian maid, and Gideon was a turkey. We did not eat him. (and we kept news that I was pregnant again a secret until November – we didn’t want to get the Pilgrims in trouble).

No, I changed my mind…the NEXT year was my favorite theme ever. My brother and his wife (Amy! You know her!) had moved back to town, and we had more kids to play dress-up with us. Gideon was absolutely in love with Peter Pan at the time, and my little nieces were thrilled to play the part of Wendy and Tinkerbell. Mr. Gore reluctantly dressed as Mr. Smee, and I displayed just how much I love my kids by donning a faux mustache (my real one wasn’t impressive enough) and dressing as Captain Hook. I actually loved this costume, as I felt comfortably fashion forward with my knee-high boots, white ruffly sundress and black J. Crew 3/4-sleeve velvet dress coat (that I borrowed from my Mom). The hat came from the Disney Store, as did our Peter Pan costume (and all of these items are still being enjoyed today!). The sad news: I ordered a precious mermaid costume for Miss Sunday to wear, but it arrived the day AFTER Halloween. Tragedy.

The next year we went Biblical. Gideon was the young shepherd David, Rebekah was his little lamb, Mr. Gore was dumb Goliath and I was Goliath’s dumb groupie, who carried around a sign that said “Goliath Rocks!” (Get it? “rocks”…slingshot…yeah, it was the best I could do). We ordered some cool headgear off of Amazon, and the rest of our costumes were pieced together from our church’s closet full of nativity costumes. Rebekah’s lamb costume came from Chasing Fireflies (I think).

Man, that was fun. But now that I think about it…

the NEXT year (last year) was really my favoritest Halloween ever.

I love it so much, I’ve decided it needs its own post. Comin’ up tomorrow…

Her Haunting Halloween Homeschool Hoopla

Without further ado, I bring to you…

~ GRANDMOTHER’S HALLOWEEN HOMESCHOOL PARTY ~

The children line up for the party with NO idea of what fun awaits them!

If the kitchen didn't scream "Happy Halloween!!!" loudly enough, the Halloween music playing in the background did. "They did the Monster Mash..."

The table's centerpiece was a Halloween cup filled with yummy candy for each child to take home. I did NOT eat the M&M's hidden at the bottom of my kids cups. Excuse me...I did not eat ALL the M&M's hidden at the bottom of my kids cups.

My Mom whisked the kids to the back for a surprise - they came running back into the living room with these horrid teeth in their mouths!

Kate Belle was kinda proud of hers, giving her good tooth a polish.

Next, we played a mummy-wrapping game in the yard.

Rebekah stood as still as a statue! She's not in homeschool yet, but I give her an A+++.

Next it was time for a craft that my Mom found in Southern Living magazine. Each child was given a mason jar to paint orange...

(I most certainly had to go back and paint Rebekah's when she was finished...)

After they dried, Aunt Amy drew jack-o-lantern faces on them and then they were sprayed with a clear gaze and set out to dry.

The finished product! An LED light was placed inside and each child had a new nightlight to carry home.

The children were sent back into the playroom while lunch was placed on the table. When it was time to par-tay they each had to run down the hallway and make a scary face! Then they were shown to their seat. Here's Abigail!

then a kinda scary (but too cute to ever be scary) Anna...

followed by Rebekah with her one-trick-pony always-the-same scary face...

then a fierce-faced Gideon…

followed by Baby Kate, who is still working on her scary face!

Let the party begin! I saw a quotation on Pinterest last week that said "A grandparents house is where cousins become best friends." I could not agree more!

There was Orange Crush soda in bottles...

(sluuurrrrrrp...)

and Orange jell-o with a dollop of Cool Whip on top...

and a caramel apple for each of us with a ribbon-wrapped stick (not to mention popcorn balls, trail mix, goldfish, cheetohs, oranges, carrots, ham/cheese/crackers, cheese dip and chips, peanut butter crackers, iced gingerbread cookies, and enough special candy to give a cavity to each tooth in the house!!!)

Oh, and a precious little box of treats to enjoy at home. (purchased from Kids at Heart Designs at etsy.com)

And finally, while the grown-ups chatted and cleaned, the children watched "Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", easing our Halloween extravaganza to a happy end.

Do these children have any idea how blessed they are to have her in their life? I doubt it. But they will, I am sure of that.

As we pulled out of the driveway to return home for afternoon naps, I asked the kids what they thought of that Halloween party…

Gideon had one word: “Awesome.”

“What was your favorite part?” I asked.

“…All of it.” he said.

I’m inclined to agree.

Continuing on with Halloween Remembrance…

~ Okay all you Grandmothers out there…prepare to be inspired! ~

We’ve talked before about how my Mom is the queen of holidays (and I, her loyal princess). What I love most about her is that her holidays are a total expression of her love for her family. She doesn’t show off, she doesn’t waste time being fussy, and she never ever gets in a tizzy (pretty much my polar opposite). Sometimes I think that even her sneezes spray goodwill and love out into the air! She lives and breathes for others, especially us lucky ducks that used to live in her tummy.

This past year she has whipped up a brand new pot of holiday magic, and I have to say, it is her best yet…

She is the doting Grandmother of seven grandchildren, 5 girls and 2 boys, 6 of whom live within 12 miles of her house, 3 of whom are in homeschool. And what she has launched this year in their honor just makes my heart swell right out of my chest, as she has single-handedly taken it upon herself to give them holiday school parties, kind of like the ones I loved in elementary school, but amped up about 5 thousand notches and sealed with a grandmother’s kiss.

Here are a few random but noteworthy facts concerning her party-throwing efforts:

1. She always sends the kids invitations to her parties in the mail and asks for them to R.S.V.P. Precious!

2. She does all the work and simply tells the mommas to show up with the kids. As a busy mom of 3, this takes a huge load off of my shoulders and ministers to me so deeply.

3. That fear in me that my kids are going to “miss out” by not going to public school is soothed by her thoughtfulness; as I watch my children’s delight and hear their laughter, I know once more that they are going to be okay and that we haven’t made a bad choice. If you are a grandparent and your children homeschool, I highly recommend adopting this tradition of hosting “class” parties!

4. She isn’t trying to be Martha Stewart. Rather, she has two tricks to planning a party: a) Holiday colors and b) Family traditions. Which means that at this party, her entire kitchen was decorated in orange and black and every food we ate was either orange, black, or something she made us growing up. Easy? So she says. Fun? Yessiree-bob.

5. She takes health and naptime into consideration. Thus, hidden amongst the candied apples and Orange Crush soda were bowls of carrots, a raisin snack mix, a meat and cheese platter, and mandarin oranges. And we were completely finished with all the festivities in time for afternoon naps! It is just like her to make sure that her parties fit easily into our days, and that our children are not retching before they go trick-or-treating.

6. She also ministers to the mommas by making us treats, as well; in this case, a big copper pot of chicken tortilla soup. So good, so comforting.

7. She is amazing. And I want to be just like her someday.

I will share the full party photos and details tomorrow, but here is a sneak peak…

This lady IS my holiday.

Meet Me at the Patch, Pumpkin!

I’ll start off our Halloween extravaganza documentation with our little outing to the pumpkin patch ~

First of all, when did taking your picture with a big pile of pumpkins become as important a tradition as your photo with Santa? My Mom always took us to the local farm shop to see the giant mounds of pumpkins they were selling, but we didn’t dress in orange and do a mini photo shoot on top of them. I also think we were too poor to buy any. So we just looked at them. Said “Wow! Look at all those pumpkins!!” Bought a bag of pecans in preparation for Thanksgiving…

And so it kind of makes me chuckle that I coordinate my children’s outfits and fix their hair every year to go join the hundreds of other parents propping their babies up on pumpkins for this annual Fall craze. The main problem nowadays (did you hear that?! I just said “nowadays”…awesome) has nothing to do with buying pumpkins…or pecans, for that matter…but trying to stay out of each other’s photographs! It is a fine art, I assure you.

My kids and my Mom and I met up with my sister-in-law and a friend at the patch. Between the lot of us, there were 8 children to keep up with; thus my Mom made it her job to count them every 30 seconds or so. Mom, my friend Megan, and myself kind of tag-teamed on keeping the kids happy while Amy (remember? My amazing photographer/sister-in-law?) snapped away, taking outstanding photos for the entire group. So thankful for her.

We packed our lunches and really had an outstanding outing. I came home with a very happy heart, a small box of small pumpkins, and a strong desire to go back to the pumpkin patch and steal the baby lamb that let us feed it corn. I will have a farmyard around here before too long…watch me.

"Grandmother" walks her ducklings to the pumpkin patch

These poor pumpkins didn't know what hit them. Kids nowadays...

Sometimes I force Amy to hand over the camera so I can take HER picture. She's beautiful, isn't she?

The eldest of our bunch, my niece Abigail Grace

My niece Anna Ruth

my smallest niece, Kate Belle

my sweet friend, Megan, and her precious children

Megan's daughter Gabbie

and her baby boy, Jackson

this picture shows how happy I am nowadays. I'm not pregnant anymore!!!

Gid the Kid spent a lot of his time loading and unloading pumpkins into a wheelbarrow

Miss Sunday, keeping all the pumpkins in line

and bringing up the rear is my sweet Betsie Fair, 1 of 156 babies propped up on a pumpkin that day

and one more, just cause she's cute

evidence of a fun and lazy day

this was for reals, we just prolonged it. "Tell Gid another secret, Anna!"

Life is good. Three cheers for pumpkin patch fun!

Fun…inexpensive…fresh air…animals…great photo backdrops…picnics…you really can’t beat a trip to the pumpkin patch. Just STAY OUT of other people’s pictures.

Oh, and we also learned a good trick. Why buy a bag of food to feed the animals when you can pick up stray corn kernels that all the dummies dropped on the ground? It was quite comical to see 7 of our little ones bent over in concentration, filling their dirty little hands up with corn. They have no idea how cheap resourceful their mommies are...