Friday, October 31, 2014

The Many Faces of Halloween

One of the things I love about Halloween is its versatility. It does not restrict itself to certain mandatory activities like opening presents at Christmas, shooting fireworks on July 4, or cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving.

It also allows itself to be celebrated on gorgeous October days other than the 31st. That is especially helpful if distance and family schedules don't always allow Googie to see her kids on that particular day.

In past years the kids and I have embraced the Halloween spirit in numerous ways. When they were smaller, the older ones sometimes trick or treated on our subdivision, or we moved the festivities to the farm for a family wiener roast. Three years ago Sooby, Pooh, and I resurrected "Scarecrow Man" (see the post from Sept. 24, 2011) for the first time since my own children were younger.

This year our Halloween celebration took its spooky, fun-filled place a week early. When the kids got to Googie's last weekend, this is the list they found posted on the pantry door, giving them a variety of Halloween-themed activities to choose from:

Following is a pictorial chronicle of some our accomplishments. First, the foam Frankenstein crafts, followed by the poster-making, aptly demonstrated by Bootsie:

Then, on to the anatomy lesson afforded by our skeleton puzzle, a new-in-the-package garage sale treasure I snagged earlier in the month:

Our "spooky dessert" was a duet of chocolate cake and orange sherbet, but, sadly, it did not last long enough for me to capture digitally. The veggie skeleton, our contribution to a neighborhood wiener roast, fared better:

Finally, in time-honored Halloween tradition, we carved a pumpkin (facial features designed by Sooby and Bootsie). Although it wasn't on the list, Sooby decided a spontaneous toasting of pumpkin seeds was appropriate. (I had forgotten exactly how to do this, but we washed them, put them on a cookie sheet, sprinkled them with olive oil, shook on some seasoned salt, and baked them at 350 for about 13 minutes, turning once.)

The one thing I was looking forward to that didn't get done was wrapping the kids up like mummies in toilet paper, but we can always save that for next year. For several years I have also been saving a plastic jack-'o'-lantern leaf bag for the kids to fill--but I forgot to put that on the list, and we ran out of time anyway. Maybe next year.

Tonight my little spooks will be trick or treating in their home neighborhoods, and I will be home by myself dispensing candy to other little goblins--but that's OK. We have had a large dose of Halloween fun for this year, and October 2015 is just eleven months away.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Faces

I love the kind of stuff that stores put on sale after a holiday, and last year's Halloween clearance at our local Kmart did not disappoint. That is when I bought three wonderful bags of body parts.

By "body parts," I mean little plastic eyes, teeth, noses, and other colorful facial features. Their purpose is to make a Mr. Potato Head look-alike out of your pumpkins. The three bags, all containing different pieces, gave the kids and me several dozen objects with which to give our leftover pumpkins one last spooky hurrah. The results, as you will see, were quite captivating.

The pumpkin faces were funny enough in and of themselves. But before I snapped a photo of each child with his or her Mr. Pumpkin Head creation, I told them to try to mimic with their own faces the expressions they had created on their pumpkins. Here is what Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie came up with:

There are two shots of Sooby because she was our most prolific purveyor of pumpkin art, and I just couldn't pick between the two. You can clearly see that the kids had a great time with our little post-Halloween pumpkin episode--but, in all likelihood, the one who had the most fun was Googie.

And now, off to the closet where last year's pumpkin-face parts are stashed in a three-pound plastic coffee container. There may be leftover pumpkins this year too, and I need to be ready.

Disclaimer: No pumpkins were totally demolished as a result of this activity.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bootsie's Pink Lemonade Birthday

Even though I lived it over half a century ago, I remember many things about my childhood quite vividly. When it comes to the goings-on associated with specific birthdays, however, I remember very little, and there are no pictures to nudge my memory.

I have clear recollections of only my sixth and tenth birthdays. Mom threw a surprise party for my sixth birthday, and that was also the year I got to appear with Happy the Clown on "Birthday Party," a half-hour program broadcast from the TV station in our small town.

Specifically, I remember winning the game of musical chairs on that program and, secretly, lamenting that the grand prize--a large jar of peanut butter--fell a little short of the something more glamorous I had envisioned. But I got over it--and the peanut butter, I'm sure, glued together many pairs of square Krispy saltine crackers that summer.

I begged a long time to have a party for my tenth birthday, and Mom finally caved. At that one, I remember all my friends gathering around our dining room table while I opened presents--although the only present I can actually name is a Nancy Drew mystery book titled The Whispering Statue.

So, Bootsie, chances are, you may not recall much about the great time we all had at your house nearly three weeks ago on the day you turned four. That is why I want you to be able to come here to Googie's Attic years from now and see a little about what went on then.

First, you asked for a "lemon cake with pink icing," and your mama gladly complied. That day, Pa-pa and I picked up your cousin Beenie and made the three-hour drive to your house to watch you blow out your candles and share some "pink lemonade" yumminess. Here is what it looked like:

This dessert capped off a great menu, also chosen by you, of turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes--a little preview of Thanksgiving that your daddy cooked up for us.

The unveiling of the presents came soon afterward, and you hit the jackpot this year. Pa-pa and I brought you a couple shirts, a Buttercup (a horse from Toy Story) flashlight, and a Lamb Chop puppet. Your great-grandma sent along a puzzle.

Mama put together the cutest assortment of playthings based on a Little Red Riding Hood theme. Along with a basket and the storybook, you got a reversible doll that could be the wolf, the grandma, or Red Riding Hood herself. The best part was this bright red cape that was just your size:

Another big hit was the Little Mermaid guitar that Beenie brought for you. While you spent a lot of time that night tripping your way through the woods to Grandma's, the rest of us pretty well fought each other for a turn at the guitar, which you are demonstrating here:

Sooby, Mama, and I even burst into a spontaneous rendition of "Dooley," a bluegrass song from the old Andy Griffith Show. Pooh caught us on video with my iPhone, but with any luck that particular performance may be lost over the years.

It was definitely a night and a party to remember, and it makes me sad to realize that as the years roll by, your own memory of this fourth birthday will likely grow dim. By the time you get to be my age, many years from now, you may not remember it at all.

So you will just have to look at these pictures, read this story, and trust me when I say that your fourth birthday was a wonderful time for our family. You were the queen of the evening, and it is an immeasurable blessing to see you happy and excited and thriving in your four-year-old element.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. Your pink lemonade birthday will be a hard one to top.