Some Things

So! October! It’s ending. (Hooray?)

I may or may not have inadvertently, without proper consideration and apparently ANY foresight, scheduled a few too many autumnal activities for myself and my family this month. October has been nuts, filled with soccer games and festivals and birthdays and family visits and meetings and parties and work possibilities and school volunteering and an overarching feeling of general panic whenever I look at my calendar. I loved every minute of this month but I am WORN OUT. And, we still have Halloween to go! (Even though it feels like we’ve thoroughly celebrated this holiday at multiple events for weeks now, doesn’t it?)

I do this every single year because I simply love October. It’s my favorite month of the year because it’s so… October’ish; full of changing leaves and pumpkins and mums and cooler weather that makes wearing sweatpants and fleece socially acceptable again. To me, the arrival of October signals the official end of summer, when I typically come out of hot-weather hibernation. October always makes me want to do all of the outdoor activities all at once. So, I say yes to a ton of things and then complain incessantly about having to do all of those things. October is always the same story for me and each year, I vow to not repeat the insanity the following October but I can absolutely guarantee that next year, when the first leaf falls to the forest floor, I will be unable to stop myself from cramming our days full of assorted events celebrated while consuming specialty coffee drinks.

In addition to all of the regular life things, because we met the catastrophic out-of-pocket cap on our insurance this year, we’ve also been visiting as many doctors for as many ailments as possible before the calendar year ends. Because: FREE! Everything’s FREE. (But, actually not free because all of the free-ness was preceded by thousands and thousands of dollars we spent in co-pays that were totally not free.) Still, when my dermatologist prescribed a special cream and she looked at me and cautioned, “Just to warn you, it’s very, very expensive,” I was like, “NOT A PROBLEM!” So, there’s been lots of visits to lots of doctors getting eye appointments and dental visits and well-child exams checked off before the end of the year rolls around like some big race to an arbitrary finish line lined with lab coats. I don’t ever wish illness for my children but if they’re going to get hit with some horrible virus, do it before December 31, kids! Also, that hangnail looks red. Should we get that checked out?

My point is, we all feel a little like this around here:

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The other day, at lunchtime, I set Millie’s plate down on the table in front of her, where she was impatiently waiting. While her plate was filled with a delicious variety of her favorite foods, that didn’t stop Millie from passing instant judgement on what I had prepared for her. She started to complain about her sandwich but somewhere between the deep sigh and resigned grumbling, she noticed the bendy straw I had placed in her water glass. She paused, smiled broadly and exclaimed, “OH! A STRAW! Never mind. I’m happy now.” It was the most rapid about-face I’ve witnessed.

Living with a three-year-old girl must be what it’s like to live with a really fun, slightly crazy, super opinionated, elderly aunt. One that’s easily distracted by shiny objects, wears tons of costume jewelry and doesn’t always make it to the potty on time. Millie is all of those things. She is an absolute hoot.

I have no neat way to wrap this up other than to show you Charlie dressed as Davy Crockett. Well, if Davy Crockett took a midday nap with a Pottery Barn duvet. (As I pointed out previously, we’re all very tired around here. October, man.)

To no one’s surprise, Charlie desperately wanted to be the King of the Wild Frontier for Halloween. Bob obliged by finding a pint-sized Davy Crockett costume online. (There’s pretty much nothing that Amazon doesn’t carry.) It came complete with a coonskin cap which was great because for weeks Charlie has been trying to convince us that we need to hunt a raccoon in order to fashion our own cap. We weren’t enthralled with this idea so having the whole outfit shipped to our front door in two days’ time was perfect. He’s been wearing his costume since Tuesday. I’m hoping the fringe holds up through tomorrow.

The History of Halloween

Growing up, Halloween was not a holiday celebrated in our family. I was raised in a conservative Christian household and Halloween was associated with rituals and theories that did not align with those of my parents. As a result, my siblings and I did not dress up in costumes, nor did we trick or treat.

To compensate for our exclusion from a childhood tradition, I can remember my parents taking us places on the night of Halloween so we wouldn’t be home. One year, my mom gave my sister and I a significant bowl of candy and let us watch the trick or treaters from our upstairs bedroom window. We always had our lights off on Halloween and we never answered the door.

It sounds very dreary but it wasn’t. I didn’t know what I was missing really; I was only about Henry’s age. I definitely don’t remember being bothered or upset about it too much. And, as the youngest of four children, I was the beneficiary of a more relaxed parenting style as my siblings and I aged. By the time we moved to Indiana, I was permitted to celebrate with the pagans a bit and can remember canvassing the neighborhood for candy in middle school.

Having an untraditional introduction to a traditional holiday like Halloween has thrown me a bit as an adult. And, especially as a parent. Since I didn’t grow up celebrating Halloween, its rituals and conventions are a bit lost on me. I GET the point of the holiday, I’m just COMPLETELY unenthused, if that makes sense.

Historically, Halloween has been a last minute endeavor around here. When the sun starts to set on October 31, I usually look at the boys, ask if anyone wants to go trick or treating, pull out the dress-up bin from the closet and say, “Have at it.” There is no forethought put into costumes or adornments. I definitely remember buying pumpkins last year but carving them seemed super messy so I think they were relegated to Autumnal Decoration on the front stoop.

The thing is, people in the suburbs really love Halloween. You should see my neighborhood. It’s all orange lights, fake bodies emerging from fake tombstones, cotton cobwebs on bushes, bats and ghosts swinging from porch rafters. Someone has even set up an honest-to-goodness haunted house on their front porch that trick or treaters can traipse through. Last year, our first Halloween here, I ran out of candy. And, I had a lot of candy. I also ran out of patience because, goodness kids, it’s 9:30 at night so stop ringing my doorbell and go home. You have school tomorrow.

Bowing to peer pressure, this year, I vowed to put about 50 percent more effort into Halloween. Which means, I started discussing costumes with the kids two days ago.

Henry is going as a character from Lego’s Hero Factory. He designed and drew his own chest emblem with the Hero Factory logo and while it is admirable for its creativity, I can’t help but think it resembles a health textbook sketch of the female reproductive system. I guess that’s a costume idea in and of itself.

I'm just going to go ahead and let this happen.

I’m just going to go ahead and let this happen.

Charlie, inspired by his Uncle’s four-wheeler, is going as an ATV driver. The puffy vest is an integral part of his costume (according to him), even if it is two sizes too big and 80 degrees out there today.

Definitely top-heavy.

Definitely top-heavy. Combine this with a giant bucket of candy and I’m not sure he can remain upright.

Millie doesn’t really have time for this ridiculous exercise or whatever other nonsense we throw in her path to becoming a two-year-old tween but I forced her into a hand-me-down strawberry costume. Because if I’m going to put 50 percent more effort into Halloween, I want 50 percent cuter pictures.

She is merely tolerating these shenanigans.

She is merely tolerating these shenanigans.

Have a Happy Halloween you guys! Here’s hoping you and your kids have a safe night of politely asking other people for food. And, may your kids bring home only the good stuff. None of that Laffy Taffy crap.