Friday, November 23, 2012

Halloween & Thanksgiving (aka The Year I did not Overeat...Turkey)

But man, did I enjoy the candy!


This year, we went beyond our typical carving of pumpkins and decided to do some real decorating. It's the first time I've ever used that fake cobweb stuff, and I have to say it's loads of fun. The entire family got in on the action and while it's no jack-o-lantern light show to Gangnam Style, we did get a lot of compliments and one family even took photos of our decorations when they trick-or-treated our place.


Unfortunately, I didn't think to take photos, myself, until the morning after. So, some of the awesome (particularly our spooky lighting) is lost. Oh, well. (You can click on the images for larger versions.)

This is our back porch (which is quite viewable to the neighborhood). Those black dots are fake spiders.

Even the bushes in our front "yard" were not exempt.

The pumpkin carvers from left to right: C-bear (with help from Banana), Little E, Princess (with help from Mom), G-man, Banana & Lee-Lee

The lights were an eery dark purple. And that spider was my favorite!

And now the kiddie costumes! (In no particular order. And again, you can click on the images for the larger versions.)

Banana was a CSI victim. As you can see by the GSW on her head (death was instantaneous) at close range (judging by the GSR stippling around the entry wound) and probably a small caliber bullet. Before her death, she'd been having a night out with friends (see the sparkly false eyelashes?). Sadly, my camera was having some sort of issue and so the photo is blurry. :(

C-bear was a generic princess. Her dress is quite reminiscent of Rapunzel's in "Tangled." (Mommy loses brownie points for taking a head shot rather than a full body one.)

G-Man as Bumblebee from Transformers. This choice should probably come as no surprise since the boy has loved cars (particularly fast ones) from a young age. (I'm serious. He actually enjoys watching NASCAR!)

Lee-Lee, I think, should win all the awards for this year's most awesome Halloween costume with her portrayal of Dead Marie Antoinette. Lee-Lee actually does suffer from a condition where she grows faint at the sight of blood (folks, this is a real thing!) and we learned this year that fake blood will do it to her, too. However, her tolerance for fake blood is a smidge higher than for the real stuff, and she was able to stomach the level of gore on her face and neck. (The dress was made by Nana.)

Little E was our resident Ninja this year. He is also one of my more health-conscious children. He only trick-or-treated for less than half the time the others did because, and I quote, "I don't need that much candy. It's too much sugar." On top of that, he gave half of what he had away to his siblings (and parents). But he did have a grand time sitting on the porch for the evening with Mom and Dad, passing out treats.

And Princess was, well, a princess. Actually she had fairy wings (that she chose not to wear in the end), and a crown and scepter (which had gotten broken during another Halloween activity the weekend before), so this wasn't the original idea. In fact, this was a "Southern Bell" costume, but she didn't like the other princess-like offerings the store had and loved the pink in this. I have a feeling since she was so hands-on in piecing together something that fit her 5-year-old vision that in years to come, we're going to see some really creative offerings from her.

It was a fun Halloween. We had a pretty decent showing of Trick-or-Treaters as well. (Lots of little ones in our neighborhood) and I always enjoy seeing the costumes.

And I ate way, way too much candy during pretty much the entire month of October.

Now onto...


No photos for this one, unfortunately. (I never think to bust out the camera during this particular holiday.)

This year, being far from home, we invited a couple of other families (also far from their respective homes) to join us for the festivities. Thanksgiving, for me, is the biggest family holiday of the year. You just don't celebrate it alone.

I have happy childhood memories of Thanksgivings spent at my uncle's house or my grandparent's home, where my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins were all practically piled on top of each other as the house would be full of card tables and folding chairs. Everyone would bring something like a huge, delectable potluck: homemade dinner rolls, the typical Thanksgiving trimmings, and of course, meatballs. Yes, meatballs. (And the best you've ever had, I promise.) I loved it. I miss it.

And so, the thought of whipping up a crazy-big meal this year for only our six picky-eaters (who wouldn't have eaten much)... Well, how would that be different than Sunday dinner? We found another family or two who were wondering whether to bother with Thanksgiving for the same reasons (though they have decidedly less children than we, if still the same picky-ness) and decided to thrown in together for the holiday.

It was quite nice. And delicious (sadly no meatballs, however). Since we were hosting, we provided the main course stuff. Big E has cooking the turkey down to a science. (He brines it the night before. He cooks it upside down for the first couple of hours to make the breast so tender it's like butter. And he stuffs it with apples. Yep. Apples. My man can make a mean turkey.) I made my mashed potatoes (or "smashed" potatoes as Princess likes to call them) along with other traditional side dishes.

We had a buffet full of tasty food (the other families brought some yummies, too)--which, of course, with only 6 adults and 9 very, very picky eater kids, we had tons and tons of leftovers of. (I only had a modest plate-full myself this year.)

But then, despite the hours spent in the kitchen leading up to the main event, Thanksgiving isn't really about the food, is it? It's about family. It's about friends. It's about forgetting our cares for a few hours to be grateful for what we have.

This year, I'm grateful for second chances. I'm grateful that my kids somehow think I'm pretty neat despite how much of a non-Mom I've been for so long. I'm grateful that they've embraced these changes I've made without bitterness, without resentment, without holding a grudge. (My kids are phenomenal, I tell you.) I'm grateful for a husband who supports me and doesn't hold my past mistakes over my head.

And most of all, I'm thankful to God, for the wake-up call He gave me and the chance to make things right.

I'm happier now than I've been in years.