Digging my way out from under the snow…

…to write something for once!

Halloween was a bit of a non-event this year; I decided not to pretend to be Mother of the Year (who am I fooling, anyway?) and bought costumes for the kids rather than trying to home-ec it. Ellie wanted to be a ballerina, making it easy on us, since we knew she’d be starting ballet lessons and needed the gear. Gwen wanted to be a witch, so I went to Target and found a costume that was cute, relatively inexpensive, and should last through many dress-up play sessions long after the Halloween candy is gone.

The actual trick-or-treating was even more low-key; we hit up a grand total of six houses before the kids lost interest, then went to an old friend’s Halloween party, which proved more fun (for both adults and kids) than wandering the streets in pursuit of buckets of sugar. Halloween: Accomplished.

Ellie started ballet lessons last month, and so begins the phase of parenthood where we shuffle kids to and fro for various activities. She was pretty discouraged after her first lesson — she takes after her mama and doesn’t like to do anything she’s not perfect at — but after her second lesson seemed to settle in, plus she has a bunch of friends from school in the class. I don’t know how we’re going to keep up with her social life.

We rung in the first of November with a massive winter storm that knocked out the power and dumped 21 inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground. It’s not unusual for us to have snow before Halloween, but two feet is a local record. I haven’t recovered from last winter yet, so having fall cut short is not my idea of a good time. At least the kids were thrilled.

I’ve kept myself busy with writing…but not the book. I considered doing NaNoWriMo this month, but given everything else that’s going on decided against it. I don’t need another book right now. I need to finish the series I started, and stop getting distracted by vignettes and short stories. Although now I have this idea in my head for a Walking Dead/X-Files crossover fic…

Speaking of zombies, I’ve been walking more lately, thanks to the treadmill, The Walking Dead on Netflix, and Fitbit’s new Weekly Challenges feature. One of my coworkers started a work-week challenge, so I’m keeping a closer eye on my step count. Also, I’m a teensy bit competitive. And now I really want to set up the treadmill with a desk or shelf of some kind so I can walk while I work.

We’ve been mostly sitter-less for the last couple weeks, so my patience has been worn to a fine thread. I love my children, I really do, but I think a date night is in order very soon.

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how to make a cupcake costume the lazy way (aka no-sew)

(If you’re looking for actual instructions, you may want to click this link.)

Ellie's cupcake costume (licking the spoon)I have this annoying aversion to buying Halloween costumes.

Annoying, because that puts the burden of effort on me to make something, since the kids are too young to make their own.

Annoying, because I will spend just as much (if not more) on supplies to make said costumes than I would on a mass-manufactured, made-in-China number.

Annoying, because the kids could care less about the costume as long as they get candy.

In other words, this is a neurosis of my own making, and I know it.

Unfortunately for this neurosis, I don’t sew. I don’t even craft, when it comes down to it. Last year I basically glued some felt onto plain-color clothes and that worked.

Side note: Ellie kept telling everyone I was going to crochet a Halloween costume this year — not only for her, but for Gwen, myself, and Tim. I’ve never crocheted in my life, but I’m glad she still has that kind of faith in me.

Originally, Ellie wanted to go as Rapunzel from Tangled, and I was thisclose to buying the costume dress and calling it good. But then she asked if Gwen could go as Pascal, which started a frustrating chain of events that led to a new plan: Ellie and Gwen would both go as cupcakes, and I would make the costumes.

I have a tendency to approach these things full speed, head-on, with little planning and big expectations. Anyone remember my infamous gingerbread house experiment?

So, here’s how you, too, can make an adorable cupcake costume the lazy way, no sewing required. I can’t promise your kid will still talk to you when this is done, though.

How to make a cupcake costume, sanity not included

Gwen's costume from the front1) Don’t use a pattern — that would make too much sense. No, just take rough measurements of your kids while they’re squirming around — even better if they’re naked and coated in Crisco — and follow the detailed instructions that sound so simple in your head.

2) Buy fleece fabric at the store. Eyeball it, because you’re not using a pattern, so you don’t know how much you actually need. You have the money, why not waste it?

2a) Buy fancy, $9-a-tube fabric glue at the store, after being assured by the saleslady it will work. Get it home, realize it takes 24 hours to dry — screw that. Plug in the trusty glue gun.

2b) Also buy scissors, since you don’t have any that are sharp enough to cut through tissue paper, let alone fleece.

3) Attempt the hat design first, because it’s simple, in theory. Overcomplicate it by cutting out a series of isosceles triangles and spend an hour and a half gluing them together. Realize later you could have Googled “no-sew fleece hat” and been done in ten minutes. You barely have enough fabric for the second hat now. Feck.

4) Move on to the frosting part. Don’t make the smaller, easier infant costume first — that would be silly! Go big! So big, in fact, that you size the costume for a ten-year-old instead of a three-year-old!

5) Experiment with sizing. Bully your three-year-old into trying on multiple variations of the frosting to get the measurements right. If you have difficulty with this, bribe her with TV and candy.

Gwen's cupcake costume from the back6) Using a large needle, thread yarn through the outer edge of the cupcake frosting to gather it. Yarn will break and fray after you’ve spent half an hour with this. At this point, your significant other may want to bring the children upstairs, “until it’s safe to be around Mama again.”

7) Brilliance ensues. Substitute the frayed yarn for a spare shoelace! You are a crafting genius! Children are allowed to return to the room, Mama no longer a threat.

8) Cut out sprinkle shapes from colored pieces of felt and hot-glue them to the surface of the cupcake. DO NOT DO THIS WHILE YOUR CHILD IS WEARING THE COSTUME. Especially if she’s still coated in Crisco. Ahem.

9) Realize the frosting piece is stupidly huge. Cut it back to a manageable size, re-thread the shoelace for the third time.

10) Cut out a rectangle from the brown fleece, and poke holes along the top. Realize you have to re-thread the shoelace for the fourth time to connect the frosting and the base. Cry.

11) Put it all together. Force your child to try it on “just one more time.” (You may have to promise her a pony.) Put $20 in the therapy jar for good measure.

12) Step back. OMFG it looks like a cupcake! You did it! Now, where is the awards committee? What do you mean there isn’t an awards committee?!? Disappointed.

13) Realize this took five hours and you still need to make another costume. Cry.

Continue reading

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halloween with dr. seuss

One of the biggest benefits to being on maternity leave right now: I actually had time to make Halloween costumes this year! And by “make” I mean “cobble together from random stuff.” This mama doesn’t sew, but give me a glue gun and a bunch of felt and I’ll figure it out. Ellie came up with the idea for her costume this year; guess who she’s currently obsessed with:

Dr. Seuss Halloween costumes

"You stuck WHAT on my head?!?"

Yes, I can practically recite The Cat in the Hat Comes Back from memory. Once we’d decided on Ellie’s costume, I couldn’t resist dressing Gwen in a compatible outfit–she’s Thing 2, of course, because Thing 1 was technically Ellie.

This was also Ellie’s first real year of trick-or-treating and when she realized that meant FREE CANDY, it took her no time to catch on. Although we need to work on her selection process–she turned down way too many fun-size chocolate bars in favor of the cheap stuff. Cardinal rule of trick-or-treating: ALWAYS GO FOR THE CHOCOLATE FIRST. Those orange-wrapped nut things barely count as candy.

Mama and Daddy also had a Halloween treat of sorts–we spent the afternoon buying a car! Actually a 2008 Honda Odyssey–a *gulp* minivan. I would have scoffed at the idea two years ago but after riding practically on top of our Sentra’s dashboard for a couple weeks, I was more than happy to climb into something a little roomier. Totally worth the loss of cool!

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