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Halloween once again

It’s November 3rd now. Monday was Halloween and we’re speeding toward Thanksgiving and then all the winter holidays. I swear it was JUST the 4th of July yesterday.

Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. Except when you’re a teacher.

It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to pass out candy. It’s fun to eat candy. It’s not fun to wrangle 34 10-year-olds in their costumes and get them to do any sort of activities resembling learning while at school.

To top it off, Halloween was on a Monday. I repeat, a MONDAY. Not only does that suck because it’s Monday, but it sucks because we have a short day and there’s literally no time to do anything. And after a day with crazy kids, we had to sit through a staff meeting and actually focus and do work.

It was a beautiful day and we walked to the neighborhood senior community, who wanted to give our kids candy.


Our noon aides and behavior specialist were dressed for success.


After work, it was time to go home and do a few last minute preparations for one of my daughter’s costume. I also was worried about how much candy we had to give out, because this is our first Halloween here and we had no idea how many trick-or-treaters would come by. (Turns out, not a lot. We have a lot of candy sitting around here.)


This year Halloween was a little different. I guess that’s what happens when kids get older. The boy went to a party with friends. Luna stayed home and passed out candy. Only our little donut wanted to go trick-or-treating.

I wonder what next year will bring. I’ll still never forget their little faces when they looked like this on Halloween…




2014 Year in Review

It’s been a few years since I’ve done a year-in-review. I was looking back at my blog posts and it seems that 2011 was the last one I did. So this year, I’ll bring it back.

2014 saw some good and bad. Some ups and downs. Some successes and frustrations.

The new year started with my middle child having two broken wrists.

Getting the second one.

Getting the second cast put on.

and a new car for the family!


My husband and son both celebrated birthdays – and my son became a teenager. How on earth did that happen?!

The big 1-3

The big 1-3

He also participated in a local Science Olympiad invitational, started playing basketball, and gave his first tour at the Gamble House as a junior docent.

In February, my second book was released!


It’s always exciting to find your own book on the local bookstore shelves.

On Valentine’s Day, my son gave a tour to my youngest daughter’s class. Here he is talking about the grounds.


In February I also started substitute teaching. My first day I had to go into town to get lunch, and they were filming something. They turned our little town square into Breezy Shore, NJ.IMG_2333

We also finally finished our backyard by tiling the bbq area!!IMG_2531

In March I finally got to see the Space Shuttle. Amazing.IMG_2676

And the boy competed in Math Field Day for his 7th grade team.IMG_2776

In April, we celebrated my father’s retirement.

My dad is adorable.

My dad is adorable.

and celebrated Easter


My 10-year-old made a from-scratch coconut cake and it was delicious!

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The brownies went camping in covered wagons.IMG_3812

In May, my darling girls performed in their 3rd musical.IMG_4162

and the 5th grader performed in her last dance show at school.IMG_7435

She also “graduated” from 5th grade.


In June, she turned 11.IMG_4430

We started swimming again.IMG_4599

We also headed out of town and went on vacation.IMG_4744

We saw snow in June!IMG_4760

We visited Seattle and saw my brothers and sister-in-law.IMG_4840


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We went sailing.

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After Seattle, we headed down to Ashland, Oregon.


The kids saw “Into the Woods” and “The Coconuts” and Wayne and I saw “The Tempest.” We met my parents there, which was fun – and they watched the kids while we had a date! 🙂IMG_5239

We also explored Lithia Park together, after a picnic.IMG_5290IMG_5303

In July, the youngest and I marched in the 4th of July parade with the local Brownie chapters.


We saw a few shows at the Hollywood Bowl – one of our favorite summer traditions.IMG_5965

And my best friend since 4th grade came to visit – and brought her oldest daughter. ❤IMG_5931 IMG_5927

In August, we did more swimming, and went to the beach (it’d been years).


We also went to Legoland.


The kids started school (it’s earlier every year, it seems) and started 8th, 6th, and 4th grades.IMG_9241

In September, the girls started silks and gymnastics. It’s a change of pace from tapdancing, and they’re loving the new classes.



We made our annual trek to Oak Glen for apple picking with friends.IMG_9355

We saw dinosaurs.


In October, I participated in an Author Fair at Art Night, which was fun. I only sold one book, but it was a good experience.


We went to JPL’s Open House, which they haven’t done in a few years. Here’s Sean posing with “Mohawk Guy” (aka Bobak Ferdowski).


The 4th grade performance.


And, all 3 of my kids participated in the local window painting contest. My middle child’s group won 2nd place in their age group.

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Halloween is one of our favorite times of the year. My kids went as a zombie baker, Marty McFly, and young Maleficent.


November brought a wonderful trip to Disneyland. It was our first time going for 2 days and staying in the hotel. Love seeing the Haunted Mansion decked out for the holidays!IMG_8829

My youngest had a birthday, and turned 9, two days after my birthday, where I turned a much bigger number than 9.


And Thanksgiving was fun – somehow my kids convinced the family to do improv together. Here’s my husband and my sister-in-law doing a scene together.IMG_9433

Finally, in December we met a brand new baby, Riley Sophia, born on 12-13-14.


The girls performed in another musical – this time with bigger parts! Here they are, each getting ready to go on stage.

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We also had a wonderful Christmas. Each of my kids made each other – and Mom and Dad – special gifts. Every year they blow me away with their thoughtfulness.IMG_7983

We saw my family, too. Here we are after brunch before one brother and his wife went back to Seattle. It’s almost everyone – missing brother Terry, who’d already gone home, and the husband, who’s taking the photo.IMG_8105

These are all mostly good things. Each year brings sadness and tragedy. This year was no exception. We said goodbye to my husband’s uncle, to a dear family friend, to a work friend of Wayne’s, and a friend from our world of preschool and community. Each loss was felt deeply, and always brings on reflection of how we live our own lives, how we hold our dear ones, and makes us remember others we have lost.

I hope for everyone that 2015 brings many wonderful things. I know there will be sadness, but I wish for nothing but love and peace and happiness for all those dear.

Happy New Year.

It’s Almost Haunting Time!

I can’t believe Halloween is merely 3.5 weeks away! Usually by now we’re well underway with the costume-making and the shopping and whatnot. This year, we at least got the decorations up, thanks to Maddie. As far as costumes… only two of us know what we’re doing and exactly zero of us has all the pieces for the costumes.

In the past few years, my kids have had amazing ideas for costumes that we’ve been able to realize.


Jan and Cindy BradyIMG_5566

A cute little cupcakeIMG_6894

Luke (and Yoda)


Emily, the Corpse BrideIMG_9680

Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas

This year, my youngest wants to be young Maleficent.

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I love that my girls are so creative! I only wish I could sew. That would make this process infinitely easier.

My son, the oldest, doesn’t like Halloween nearly as much as the rest of his family. He rarely makes a decision about his costume without suggestions, and never before October. Two months ago, after we started watching “Mork and Mindy” after Robin Williams died, I suggested he go as Mork.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 4.07.38 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 4.03.44 PM

I think he could pull off either one of these!

As for my middle child, who usually has half her costume finished by now? She doesn’t know. I suppose that’s the middle school girl in her who just can’t make a decision, but we’ve given her several ideas.

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Elsa, only as a zombie!

(any Disney princess as a zombie, actually)

Monster Mash-up : part Mummy, part Frankenstein, part Werewolf, part Dracula

Fire queen: kind of the opposite of the snow queen. Would work well with her red-tipped hair.

(Apparently I’m not the only one who has thought of this: this is a smattering of images that comes up when I googled Elsa Fire Queen.)

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But, she doesn’t like most of my ideas. She’s 11. I suppose that’s par for the course. 😦

I will say that I found the base piece of my costume this year. I found it by happenstance while looking for clothes for the kids.


If you’re not sure who I’m going to be, it’s Emma Swan, from Once Upon A Time.

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Granted, it’s not the exact jacket. Actually, she’s had several versions of that same jacket. But I think if I do my hair, wear skinny jeans and boots, and maybe a sheriff’s badge, I think Oncers will know who I am.

As for my husband, I’d love it if he dressed as Emma’s love interest, Captain Hook:

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but he’s not down with that. 😦

However, he can always be his favorite go-to costume, the Jedi


OR, if Sean decides to go for Marty McFly, he can be

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1.21 gigawats!!! Dr. Emmet L. Brown.

What are YOUR plans for Halloween? Do you buy or make your costume? Have any ideas for my picky pre-teen? I’d love to hear it!!


Halloween Hangover

When my firstborn was a baby, Halloween was easy. We got his costume as a gift from my brother, and he had a cute pair of Halloween jammies he wore when not in costume.

My little bubby, 9 months old.

The following years we bought costumes from online shops and the Disney store – we had pirates, princesses, Jedis, and fairies.

There was one year we bought my son’s costume and built our own around his theme, for a party we attended. He was the Tinman.

My little Tinman and kind of sad little Lion.

My little Tinman and kind of sad little Lion.

This was my first go at “making” a costume.

My husband went all out for his, and outshined us all.

My husband went all out for his, and outshined us all.

As the years go by, my kids get more creative and they want homemade costumes that take a lot of effort.

There was the bat wings and cupcake costume, made by me with LOTS of help.

Gracie's awesome batwings a friend helped me with.

Gracie’s awesome batwings a friend helped me with.

Le Bat, Cuppiecake, and 2 homemade Jedis.

Le Bat, Cuppiecake, and 2 homemade Jedis.

My husband made both of those Jedi cloaks, as well as the tunic he wore.

Last year’s undertaking for my then 9-year-old was, well, ambitious. She wanted to be the Corpse Bride, and I didn’t like the costumes online, so I decided to make it myself.

We started with a simple dress I bought at a thrift store.

We started with a simple dress I bought at a thrift store.

I took a scissors to it.

I took a scissors to it.

I mean, I really cut it up!

I mean, I really cut it up!

My daughter and I spraypainted floral trim.

My daughter and I spraypainted floral trim.

And we painted the dress.

And we painted the dress.

She and I painted details.

She and I painted details.

It was starting to look good!

It was starting to look good!

We needed to sew on the trim and do a little tailoring, so I asked my husband for help.

He's so much better with the sewing machine than I am!

He’s so much better with the sewing machine than I am!

It was starting to come together!

It was starting to come together!

We also had to figure out the makeup, so we did some tests.

Test one - needs work.

Test one – needs work.

Test two, looking a little better.

Test two, looking a little better.

A friend of mine, and fellow knitter, offered to do her makeup for trick-or-treating.

Kristy is amazing!

Kristy is amazing!



Finished product!

Finished product!

This year she wanted to be another Tim Burton character. Again, we looked online for Sally costumes, but I really didn’t like how cheap they looked from all the costume shops, so of course, we tried to make it ourselves.

I bought a simple black dress from Old Navy for $8. We found colorful quilt squares to use. I cut them out and looked at photos of Sally to get it as close as I could.

I cut and pinned the best I could.

I cut and pinned the best I could.

My husband, attempting to sew together my mismatched pieces.

My husband, attempting to sew together my mismatched pieces.

Dress before sewing.

Dress before sewing.

We also made her a yarn wig. I cut it and placed it and he sewed the seam.

We also made her a yarn wig. I cut it and placed it and he sewed the seam.

We got M's outfit from a woman on Etsy. She's Ethel from I Love Lucy.

We got M’s outfit from a woman on Etsy. She’s Ethel from I Love Lucy.

The boys wore Trek costumes.

The boys wore Trek costumes.

Last year we didn’t make it to the costume contest, so we wanted to make sure that if she wanted to enter, we’d make it happen.

After all the work put into the costume, she entered the contest, and was one of the winners!!

After all the work put into the costume, she entered the contest, and was one of the winners!!

We had a great Halloween complete with the contest, trick-or-treating, seeing friends, and lots of candy. We’re all still suffering from a bit of a Halloween Hangover, especially since we went to the Convention on Saturday.

Here’s to a calmer November!









How is it October Already?

When I was a kid, waiting for things, especially holidays, was like torture. It always took SO LONG for everything to happen.

Now that I’m an adult, time goes by much quicker. And when you have kids, the speed of time seems to multiply.

Somehow it’s already October, which means it’s almost Halloween, which means I need to get or make costumes for everyone.

This year, what my kids have been thinking about for costumes are…

(WordPress isn’t letting me upload photos, so I’m linking instead.)


Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas

Lucy at the Chocolate Factory

A Ghostbuster

Also in the works for the grownups and maybe one kid.


In the past, we’ve done all kinds of things, from buy our costume to alter clothing to make our own, to downright making a costume from scratch.


Last year’s hand-knit and altered costumes – Little Red Riding Hood and The Corpse Bride.

Etsty-bought Jan and Cindy Brady costumes, 2011


Han Solo vest bought on ebay, Improvised Luke Skywalker, 2011

2010’s homemade bat, cupcake, and Jedi costumes

We’ll see what we can come up with this year. It will most likely be a combo of buying something handmade by someone else, improvising, hand-making, and buying pre-made costumes all together.

What do YOU do for Halloween costumes?

25 more days til Halloween!!




What Makes a Successful Halloween?

So, what makes a successful Halloween, anyway? How do you know if your Halloween was a good one?

I suppose the opinion is in the eye of the beholder (or trick-or-treater). Is it all about the candy? Is the measure of a good Halloween how much haul you come home with?

Or is it how many people recognized your costume?

Is it because you have the coolest Halloween decorations?

Or is it measured by how many trick-or-treaters you have?

Well, for us, it’s how much fun we had and how tired we are at the end of the day.

Yesterday morning started early, with everyone getting up and dressed and makeup done.

My attempt at The Corpse Bride and Little Red Riding Hood

Parties at school

After school, wigs came off.

Wig’s off – carrying her long dress so she can move unencumbered.

In the afternoon, a friend graciously offered to do my daughter’s makeup. Not only did she do her face, but her neck and arms, too.

Once we were dressed and Daddy was home, we went up to trick-or-treat.

Ready for TOT- Tony Stark, Red, and Emily. (Notice Red’s wolf glove.)

Wayne HAS to wear that Jedi robe every year.

There were HUNDREDS of people where we went trick-or-treating last night. ALL night, Gracie (my Corpse Bride) got comments. Everyone loved her costume, even if they didn’t know who she was (although several people did recognize her).

It was almost as fun to look at the decorations and other costumes as it was to get candy… Almost.

My husband picked up some takeout so we didn’t have to cook. We didn’t eat until 8pm, and still had some trick-or treaters. The kids did a GREAT job handing out candy. G took off her costume, but stayed in makeup. Even the trick-or-treaters loved her makeup.

She didn’t want to take her makeup off. She loved it!!

After dinner, our littlest trick-or-treater was done.

Dressing up? Check!

Make up and accessories? Check!

Class parties? Check!

Trick-or-Treating? Check!

Take out dinner for parents too tired to cook? Check!

Tuckered out family? Check!

And candy, too? Check!

I’d say that’s a good measure of a GREAT Halloween!!


Halloween, You’ve Snuck Up On Me!!

Oh, dear! I can’t believe it’s already time for Halloween! Just 8 more days til Tricks and Treats! Usually I’m so on the ball far ahead of time, but I find that this year, the holiday has just snuck up on me!

I don’t know if it’s because I’m otherwise distracted, between the book, the election, and our home improvement project. Or maybe it’s because as my kids get older, they get more indecisive. Whatever the case, I find myself scrambling for costumes and costume ideas with only days to spare!

Last year, we were planning things far in advance. I was blogging about Halloween in August.

Now, to be fair, I’m not COMPLETELY behind. My littlest girl decided the minute she saw me knitting up one of my designs that she HAD to be Little Red Riding Hood.

So, Here’s the hood I knit.

She’ll be wearing it with this skirt, I found on etsy. Isn’t it the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen?

My middle child has changed her mind a few times. First she wanted to be a “Frankenstein girl” and I was all ready to knit her up a choker with bolts on the side, but we had no other items for the actual costume.

Then we saw “Corpse Bride” the other night and she wants to be her.

Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride”

There are a few actual costumes that we can buy, but I’m not that crazy about them, so I’m off today in search of something resembling a wedding dress that I can hack into and dye. Plus, I need to find make-up. Bluish lavender makeup, like this, from :

I’m no makeup artist, but hopefully I can figure out how to do that.

Now, my son… my middle schooler who really doesn’t like dressing up all that much… I had a BRILLIANT idea.

I hope he lets me give him a goatee!!

How cool would it be to be Tony Stark? Not in the Iron Man costume – because really, that’s just a pain in the butt to walk around in – but in a simple tee shirt with his little light-up chest thingy!  Am I right?!?!

After I focus on the kids’ costumes, maybe I can come up with something fun for Wayne and me. Not that we’ve been invited to any parties or anything, but because we love dressing up as much as the girls do! 🙂

I’d still love to dress up as Grace Kelly in “Rear Window”, but I don’t know how I’d feel pushing Wayne around in a wheelchair all night. Or perhaps Tippi Hedron from “The Birds” – I saw this costume. How fun is that?

What are YOU doing for Halloween??