Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkins and a Party...

Confession time…I don’t love Halloween.  It’s never been my favourite holiday.

Of course as a kid I loved to dress up and go out trick or treating…but I never really gave my costumes much thought.  I went with the crowd…picked whatever was cool at the time.  There was certainly never any creativity put into it.

And carving pumpkins?  Meh… I could take it or leave it really.

That all said – when I had my kids I made a deal with myself to not let my own preferences rub off on them.  I wanted them to make their own independent decisions about what they liked and what they didn't.

So for the past 6 Halloweens I have tried to make Halloween as much fun as possible.  We do everything you are supposed to do – trips to the pumpkin patch followed by carving our jack o’lanterns and roasting the seeds, costume shopping and Halloween make up, etc.

And you want to know something?  I still don’t love Halloween but it’s certainly starting to grow on me.

This week was all about Halloween in my house. And I must admit I was grateful for the escape from reality it has provided.  It’s been great to be able to unplug from all the troubles and focus on my kids and what makes them happy.

And that meant 2 separate trips to the pumpkin patch (both in the rain) and the throwing of a Halloween Party for all the kids in our complex.

First up – Pumpkin Patch Trip #1 with my youngest.

We have a fantastic local pumpkin patch…they go all out.  There are farm animals, hay rides, a dancing pumpkin and corn, free apples, mini-donuts and a Pumpkin Princess.  All of these things – it has to be said – are much better when enjoyed in the dry. 

Sadly…the Pacific Northwest in October is rarely that.  And this day was no exception.

Little T and I donned our requisite galoshes and rain gear and headed out into a lovely downpour with 17 of her closest friends (and their equally soggy parents).  It could have been a disaster…should have been a disaster…but it was actually a ton of fun.

Once I came to terms with the rain and the mud and the cold wind I was so taken by the enjoyment I saw in my daughters face. She was absolutely LOVING it…and so I decided to as well.

Our day in pictures:

we got there a little early and had some time to kill in the car...
not really sure what was going on here...
say cheese!

...self portrait taken by T.

a little rain couldn't dampen her smile!

trying to get  a group picture. everyone say "matching muddy buddies"
rain boots...

on the hay wagon...heading out to the patch.

Getting closer to the patch...friends are getting excited!


somebody LOVED the mud...and only fell down 6 times!
The best apple ever!
Of course the pumpkin she picked turned out to be completely rotten and we had to throw it out…but no big deal because there was always Pumpkin Patch trip #2.

Friday morning I headed back to the patch – this time with my oldest and her grade one class.  It was raining even harder this day and I was again having trouble psyching myself up for the day ahead.

With my little one it was just her that I was responsible for – it was like it was our own private little field trip.  This time however I was assigned 3 other kids to watch over. So four kids to account for at all times, four pumpkins to carry, four noses to wipe, four hoods to keep pulling back up.  Awesome.

Not surprisingly…it wasn't nearly as enjoyable a trip as the last one.  But I still loved watching the joy on my daughters face…and riding on a school bus for the first time in over 16 years!

Another day at the pumpkin patch in pictures:

School bus flashback...
we’re heeeeereeee

my little group for the day.

on the hay ride...

sooo muddy...

still smiling...just barely.

finding some hay to chuck around helped a lot!

high fiving with Korny Korn.

another day...another apple.
By the time I left my daughter’s classroom I was in dire need of a shower and a nap.  But I still had much to do – for the next day – I had committed to putting on a Halloween Party for all the kids in our complex.   And that meant decorations to buy, sandwiches and treats to make and more…

A little background on how this party came to pass.  For more than 20 years one or more of my family members have lived in my apartment complex.  My aunt was the first to buy in – and we rented from her for a while – then my mum bought in and my grandparents followed not far behind.

When my aunt lived her and my cousin was little there were kids running around everywhere – I think there were kids living in practically every unit.  So of course there were tons of kid’s events – Easter egg hunts, Canada Day fireworks, Christmas parties and – of course – Halloween parties complete with costumes and pumpkin carving.

They were all awesome…I remember enjoying them so much even though I was a fickle teenager by that time.  When we bought my mum’s apartment 4 years ago I expected that it would be much the same – kids everywhere.  It was one of the key selling points.

But that wasn't the case – the place was a wasteland in terms of kids.  For the first year we were here I don’t remember seeing (or hearing) one other kid. It was a big disappointment.  We spent a lot of solo days in the playground.

And then – it all changed – there was either a huge influx of families that bought into the place…or they all came out of hibernation at once.  The park was full of laughing kids, the roadways full of bikes with novice riders.

When our oldest started kindergarten - 4 of the 18 kids were from our complex. Bonds were formed between the kids…and similar bonds were formed between the parents.

It was the kind of community I had always wanted to raise my kids in.  And it got me thinking about the days of old…and all the parties I had attended with my cousin.

I decided to bring up the subject with the other mum’s from the complex and see if they wanted to help bring the kids parties back to “The Cove” (the dated moniker given to our common room).

They were all on board and the 5 of us put our heads together to form a plan.

Saturday afternoon – in the midst of another dreary downpour – The Cove was transformed into a haunted house and played host to more than 20 kids and their families.

It was – in a word – FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!! 

Kids and adults alike had a great time.  We played games, coloured and ate ate ate.  My god the food…so much sugar…I don’t think I have come down from high yet.

The party in pictures:

Let the party begin!

musical mats...

table decor

Busting out the TP...

...time to turn our volunteer dads...

...into mummies.

both dads were such good sports...

...but need to work on their mummy moves.

a selection of the less-shy kids and their awesome costumes!

The kids reacting to the story of how a Zombie came to lose his brains...

Love the look of horror on my girls face!

brains in a pot!


time to carve some pumpkins.

design by committee...

this is what the day was all about!

As soon as the party was over the other mum’s and I were already talking about what we can do for Christmas.

The tradition continues...

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