Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pumpkin Carving & Halloween Festivities

My last post was all about our trip to the pumpkin patch... naturally, this post has to include what we did with our pumpkin plunder after we were home. OK, technically, we waited a few days between our trip to the pumpkin patch and the actual carving (much to our kids' chagrin), but moldy pumpkins on our porch wasn't exactly the aesthetic Eric and I were aiming for.

The Sunday before Halloween, we whipped out a ton of old newspaper, covered the kitchen table, and went to work readying our pumpkins for their big night. Everyone got to design their own pumpkins, but once the kids realized the pumpkin carving tools came with templates, they opted to ditch their original ideas and go for some of the more complex designs we could pull off with the templates. For the most part, Eric and Annika teamed up to work on hers while Conor and I worked on his (please read as: I worked on the pumpkin while Conor stood behind me saying 'Are you done yet?')

Naturally, the kids favorite parts of the experience were gutting the pumpkins... but really, who doesn't get a kick out of that experience. How often do you get gross gunk all the way up to your elbows and not only is it allowed, it is encouraged??

This year, I purchased a new pumpkin carving tool: a carving drill. While (not surprisingly) it was a pathetic drill, it did work well as a precision knife. We just didn't use its motor and it was great for small cuts, such as corners of mouths and eye holes.

There's something about the smell of pumpkins (moreover, pumpkin guts) that really gets me in the holiday mindset. There are a few trigger events that tell me "NOW this holiday is truly under way" and the smell of pumpkins being carved is one of those triggers for me. It smells of fall, excitement, and ... well ... pumpkins!

About an hour after we began, our four pumpkins were proudly on display on our front porch, just waiting for Halloween night.

Conor sketching his pumpkin's face

Annika figuring out her original pumpkin design
Eric making the first cuts

Eric and Annika working on her pumpkin's face

Conor having fun with pumpkin guts

Our final results
(L-R: Conor's, Meredith's, Annika's, and Eric's jack-o-lanterns)

There's no point in carving pumpkins if there isn't a Halloween, right? The kids' excitement for Halloween really started bubbling out of control about 2-3 days before Halloween's actual arrival. The ideas of costumes, trick-or-treating, and Annika's class party were just about more than they could stand. The night before Halloween, Annika even wrote a note that said "Big day tomorrow" and stuck it to the bathroom mirror ... lest we forget.

Once Halloween finally arrived, Annika and Conor were practically buzzing with enthusiasm.

Weeks ago, Annika decided she wanted to be a ninja for Halloween. NO problem... well, sort of problem. Because of the school's costume guidelines of no weapons and nothing covering the students' faces, she's be in a black sweatsuit and explaining that she's a ninja. So, we convinced her to go to school as a cheerleader (she got to pick between her UW and Seahawks cheerleader outfits) and then could dress as a ninja that night. It took some convincing, but the promise of pom poms did the trick. (WHEW!)

After dinner, the kids donned their costumes and, we must say, looked freaking adorable!!! Conor in his pirate costume absolutely melted my heart. He was too cute for words. (Conor didn't have school that day, so no school costume issue for him.) Annika's ninja costume worked out beautifully. We put her in a black sweatsuit (applicable and warm) and her basic ninja hood. They looked marvelous and it really took very little effort on our part, which we were grateful for. :)

Once it was time to head out for trick-or-treating, it started to rain (naturally). Fortunately, the rain wasn't too heavy and not a constant. As we wandered down our street, we came across a couple of other families, one of which included one of Annika's classmates. We combined forces and wandered the neighborhood together. The kids had a marvelous time, and the parents enjoyed chatting and getting to know each other a bit more.

One great perk of where we live is a lot of our school families live in the area. When I was  kid, I was the only neighborhood kid in private school. That is anything but the case for our kids. Quite a few CKS families live within a stones throw of our house. We crossed paths with at least 6-7 CKS families while out trick-or-treating and a few more came by our house to get candy from us. I really do appreciate and value that school's sense of community.

After scouring the neighborhood for candy galore, we called it a night. The kids dumped out their plunder to evaluate their booty, choose a few treats to nibble on, and then they were off to bed. We were all pretty darned tired and grateful for our heads to hit our pillows.

Go Huskies!

Ninja Annika

Conor the Pirate and Annika the Ninja

Yo ho ho!!

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