Tag Archive | kids

More homemade Halloween

When I was but a wee tot, I came up with my own vocabulary for the world around me, as children are wont to do, whether through mispronunciation, misunderstanding, or just the notion that I had a better term than the one that was already in place. Thus, the jack-o-monster was born. Growing up, my parents shied away from Halloweeny things, but they did allow us to carve pumpkins. I remember that being so fun, so of course I would want my children to share in that experience, too.

Well, somewhere between when I was a kid and the births of my own children, jack-o-monsters gave way to all manner of detailed and artsy pumpkin carving. The pros of that are that 1) it’s amazing to see what can be done with a large squash and 2) it allows for greater personal and artistic expression. I’m all for those things. (And for a prime example of both of those reasons, check out my friend Elle’s pumpkin display!) But the con, Good Gourd, is that the kids can’t do it themselves anymore.

In previous years, we let the kids choose any design they wanted and then Mr. Gren and I would painstakingly cut out their picture of choice. The kids were always thrilled with the results, but the only part of the whole process in which they could participate was the pumpkin gutting. And if you have a kid with texture issues who would rather die a fiery death than touch slimy pumpkin guts, then that means that you, the parent, are doing that part, too, while the child sits by hounding you to just finish already so that they can please light it patiently, offering up encouraging words like, “Ewww! Dear God, what is that thing?!” “It’s looking really good, Maman.” So, if you had any hope of doing a pumpkin for yourself or even getting done before the kids’ bedtime, that just went right out the window. And really, just the thought of spending the whole evening carving pumpkins made me tired. It had ceased to be fun.

This year, Rana insisted that she be allowed to carve her My Little Pony pumpkin all by herself. She is 9, you know. And I thought, “Yeah! She is 9! I know I was carving my own jack-o-monsters when I was 9. But, the knives, oh gosh, the knives… I’m going to be picking up fingers off the floor and those reattachment surgeries don’t always go so well, plus if we have to go to the ER, who’s going to watch the other kids? Oh, no… they’ll probably be with us. I just hope we can tell their fingers apart…”

Then I came to my senses: when I was 9, I was not carving cartoon equines; I was carving triangle eyes and toothy grins. And I sho nuff did that all by myself. But there was still the question of knives. Granota had given herself a pretty good slice a couple of months ago trying to cut potatoes (her idea, not mine) and I couldn’t believe that her manual dexterity had improved all that much. Rana, being older, of course is a little better, but still… Then Mr. Gren picked up one of those pumpkin carving kits with the little spade-shaped gut scoopers and the chintzy little carving tools that seem like they’ll snap the instant you look at them wrong. The little tools are sharp enough to cut through pumpkin, but the ends are rounded and they’re tiny; they just don’t have the deadly aura that knives do. So I broached the subject with the girls (because, Granota, having heard Rana’s plea, had chimed in with one of her own): I would allow them to carve their own pumpkins, but, because this was their first time (their first time? At 7 and 9?! Shameful), they needed to do something simple. Say, a face. With triangle eyes. And a toothy grin.

“Oh, yes, Maman! Yes, yes! That’s what we’ll do!” And if angels sing at Halloween, they did at that moment. I was freed from the oppression of intricate pumpkin carving! My soul rebounded, there was joy and light in my life again! I still managed to keep myself sufficiently busy cooking dinner that I couldn’t be called upon for assistance. I was present, just not “available.”

We gave the girls Sharpies and told them to draw on their jack-o-monster faces first before just diving in all willy-nilly. A little planning never hurt anyone. Mr. Gren cut off the tops of their pumpkins and the girls set to work scooping guts — yes, even Granota, with only a few whimpers. Their first carving experience was not without a few bumps in the road — Mr. Gren had to help them (at their request) even out a few cuts that had gone awry , but overall, it was so much more fun. The girls enjoyed it and they were so proud of their very own honest-to-goodness jack-o-monsters.

Rana's vampire pumpkin

Rana’s vampire pumpkin


Granota's true jack-o-monster

Granota’s true jack-o-monster


Now, Konik in all of this had decided that he was not ready to carve his own pumpkin, nor was he ready to give up the enticing thought of seeing Lightning McQueen glowing by candlelight. Props to Mr. Gren for patiently and carefully making his little son’s dream come true.


Next, Mr. Gren carved his own pumpkin — an homage to former Mariner right fielder, Jay Buhner.

IMG_6079 - Copy

This year’s carving party was a success! We had a nice family evening, the kids were thrilled with the outcome, none of the little tools broke, and all fingers remained intact. Who knows? Next year, I might even be persuaded to carve one of my own again.

A family of pumpkins, minus Rana's which must have been out sucking the blood of an acorn squash.

A family of pumpkins, minus Rana’s which must have been out sucking the blood of an acorn squash.

Slugs in spaaaace!

I forgot to post this the other day! So many distractions around here, namely Rana, Granota, and Konik. And then I had to put the camera way up high, otherwise Konik fancies himself a photographer, too. But then, you know how it goes: out of sight, out of mind. But I remembered this morning! And you’ll be glad I did.

Slug on the window was a first for me.

But doesn’t it kind of look like he’s just floating out there?

He decided that he’d gone high enough and was heading back for the windowsill.

What would have done today without slug pictures? You’d have been lost, that’s what; and you wouldn’t have even known why. Just that general malaise, plaguing you all day: “I’m in this funk and I don’t understand it. Just can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing something…” But I’ve got your back. I don’t want you to suffer like that.

What’s that? You don’t really like slugs? You think they’re kind of gross? Awww. Well, you probably wouldn’t want to dine chez moi, then, because slugs are on the menu every night.

Kids: What’s for dinner? What are you making?
Me: Cream of celery soup.
Kids: NOOO!! Ew!! Grosss!! I hate that!! Maman is making gross food tonight!! AAAAAAHHH!!!

Alternate scenario
Kids: What’s for dinner? What are you making?
Me: Slug soup.
Kids: Blech! Eww…Wait, really? What are you really making?
Me: Cream of celery soup.
Kids: Oh. Ok.

*     *     *     *

Kids: I’m huuuungry!
Me: You can wait.
Kids: But I’m HUNgreeeee! Isn’t it snacktime?
Me: No, not yet. But I did see a nice slug by the wood pile. You could have that.
Kids: {grumble grumble} Nevermind.

Clearly you see there is a method to my madness.

In sewing news, I’m so very, very close to completing the purple floral dress that I talked about last time! All I’ve got to do is put on the sleeves and hem it! Hurray! So, I should be able to post about it very soon. And then I’ve got to get busy making wedding clothes for the little man and, should there be enough time, an appropriately “sister-of-the-groom” dress for myself.


Mama said there’d be days like this

Today was supposed to have been a good day. After Mr. Gren was gone all day yesterday, I was looking forward to having him corral the kids so I could get some sewing done. Last week, a friend said she would pay me to make two baby dresses for her new granddaughter; I showed her my patterns, she chose the views that she liked and I bought the fabric and lace last Saturday. This morning, all I needed to do was attach one sleeve, hem the skirt and do the buttons and buttonholes; then I would be ready to move on to the second dress. Before I had even gotten out of bed, though, plans were already changing: Mr. Gren remembered that he was supposed to help mow the church lawn today at 10. {sigh}

At 11, Mr. Gren was done mowing and I escaped to my sewing room. The sleeve went on fine, the hem and lace looked great. And then it all started going downhill. While attempting to pry The World’s Tiniest Buttons off their little card, I stabbed myself with my seam ripper. Luckily, I didn’t bleed on anything important.

Scene of the tragedy

I ran downstairs to get a band-aid (oh, I mean a Kroger Sterile Adhesive Bandage) and then headed back up to sew on The World’s Tiniest Button. Funny, I had never noticed how much I use my left thumb — threading a needle, knotting the thread, holding on the dang button while I sewed — all this became much more difficult. I did prevail in the end, but that’s the end of my sewing for the day.

One finished dainty baby dress

I put away the pattern I was working from and went to get out the pattern for the second dress, thinking I could at least get the fabric cut before lunch. But I couldn’t find it! I had had it just two days ago, where the heck had it gone? Shuffling through my patterns, I was relieved to finally find it, right where it should have been. I dumped it out and thought to myself that those pattern pieces looked awfully familiar. Upon closer inspection, I realized they were the ones from the first dress. I studied the pattern envelope, thinking I must be losing my mind, and wondering which one of those dresses I had just made. After a minute, I realized that the envelope to match those pieces was stuck neatly on my message board — the place where I always stick the pattern I’m currently working on. I really did think I had gotten enough sleep last night…

The elusive pattern

Now, with the correct pattern pieces in hand, I began to search through them to find the 12 month size. 18 month front, 18 month sleeve, 18 month back… What’s going on here? My friend had asked me to make her dresses in approximately 6 month and 9 month sizes; I didn’t have a 9 month, but I figured the 12 month would be close enough. Why isn’t it here? I flipped over the pattern envelope and saw something I had never noticed before: It was solely an 18 month pattern. No additional sizes, despite the fabric requirement listings on the back. 9 and 12 month are pretty close; 9 and 18 month are nowhere close and I’m not comfortable enough sizing down patterns, especially when someone’s paying me for my work. What to do, what to do…

I flipped through my fabric store flyers to see if anyone had patterns on sale this week and it turns out that Hancock’s does have Simplicity for $1.99. Not a stellar deal, but it’s pretty good. I also found this weird image. Still trying to figure that one out. Before I waste my time heading down there, I decided to check the Simplicity website and see whether they’ve even got anything similar to this pattern anymore. I came downstairs to learn that the kids had had a free-for-all while Mr. Gren was washing the dishes. Konik had crawled up onto the secretary and found some highlighters. The girls were happy to relieve him of them and then proceeded to color all over one of my idea notebooks and Rana autographed her rainboots. After that, Konik dowsed the notebook with water, pulled my crochet hook out of another project I’ve been working on and dragged yarn out of the bag it was in. The notebook is drying out, but I still haven’t found my crochet hook. Simplicity does not carry a style like this, and, my band-aid is already peeling off. Is 4:30 too early to go back to bed?

ETA: Before I could even get this posted, Konik chewed up a mouthful of animal crackers and then spit them out all over the carpet. Nice.