This year, Ollie and Evie went as a gnome and a fairy, respectively.
We were worried about Ollie and his beard, especially since he made early noises about not being very keen on the thing. I couldn’t say I blamed him; that beard was something. However, a more dedicated actor there never was, and he pretty much refused to take that thing off, doggedly wearing it until late in the night.
Once again we descended into the absolute madness of arguably the most Halloween-y street in Chicago. Craziness. Thousands of kids and adults in costume consuming hundreds of thousands of pieces of candy. This year, there was also a 100 foot long, singing, “composting worm” haunted house, in which Oliver and I were consumed, digested, and ejected out the rear. Seeing how small he was, they made sure not to make it too scary, but Oliver was completely unfazed by the whole thing. In fact, when he saw someone hiding and waiting to jump out, he literally pointed and laughed at him. Evie, on the other hand, decided not to be consumed by the thing at all.
This year we actually knew someone who lives on Harper, so we had a convenient base of operations. As far as the kids were concerned, the best part about this arrangement was that they actually got to hand out candy. They *loved* it. Both kids thought this was better than doing actual trick-or-treating. We don’t get a single trick-or-treater at our house, compared to the thousands that came to this house, so I will grant them that it was a lot more fun than doing it at home. Evie was particularly hardcore about it, dutifully handing out candy for hours, and only relinquishing her spot reluctantly when someone else wanted a turn.
The kids stayed up about as late as they ever have in their lives, but all in all, probably the best Halloween we’ve had yet.
As requested, a ‘happy pumpkin’ and an ‘angry pumpkin with a big mouth’.
In preparation for Evie’s Halloween costume, I made her a scrappy tutu.
This was really supposed to be Sara’s project. She found the tutorial and picked out all the fabric. However, she has such a massive backlog of projects that she asked me to help out. I probably would have helped in any case, but when she said it was for Evie’s Halloween costume, she knew she had me.
My family was always big on homemade Halloween costumes. They’re such a great opportunity to let your creativity fly. I really just don’t see the point of buying some costume off the rack and tossing it on your kid. Why even have a costume? What’s the point? It’s not like people are going to deny your kid candy if they’re not wearing a costume, not to mention that the costume is usually covered up by a coat anyway, so you might as well just send them out there with nothing on. Otherwise, you’re just making a donation to costume manufacturers. The fun of the costume is in the imagining and creating.
But I digress.
Suffice it to say, I’m keen on making Halloween costumes. Even still, I was just planning on helping out a little bit, maybe cut a few pieces of fabric or whatever. However, as I got going I realized, “Hey, I can do this thing.”
So I made a skirt. A skirt, as it turns out, that’s perfect for twirling…
This year for Halloween, the entire family went as Wizard of Oz characters (making good use of that birthday present). Evie and Oliver were Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion, respectively:
Sara was the Scarecrow:
And I was the Tin Woodsman (by process of elimination):
Okay, so my costume was a little uninspired.
Oliver was as excited as we’ve ever seen him, running around the house like a crazy man. But I’m not sure why, since he had no idea what Halloween or Trick or Treating was. We had practiced a little bit with him, but he only really liked the part where he said, “Knock knock!”. I guess maybe he just caught the mood from his big sister.
Oliver caught on pretty quickly, wandering from house to house and yelling, “More candy! More candy!” But then again, he didn’t actually *eat* any candy; he preferred to sit in the stroller and eat cheese and apples. We tried to skip some of the houses with him, but he was not having it. If Evie went to a house, he had to go to the house too.
Unlike Evie when she was little, Oliver was not afraid of anything. People in scary costumes, skeletons hanging from trees, moving blow-up cats, spiders dropping on people, nothing. He wasn’t even afraid of the giant turkey.
Yes, I said giant turkey.
You see, the street we go to for trick-or-treating is a little crazy around Halloween time. They usually have some sort of giant, scary structure in the middle of the road, and this year happened to be a giant turkey. This thing flaps it’s wings, moves its feet and mouth, and has some sort of speaker system that plays music and occasionally squawks. When I say giant, I mean giant: there is maybe a haunted house inside or something? We’re talking like 20 feet tall. Oliver thought it was fascinating.
There was one incident that I really regretted. There was a person kneeling by the sidewalk, unmoving, acting like a decoration and waiting to jump out and scare someone. I wasn’t 100% sure it was really a person, but I suspected, so I told Evie to go over and look under the hood. Well, Evie did NOT suspect it was a real person, and it didn’t occur to me to tell her, so you can imagine her surprise. Luckily they knew better than to really jump at her, but all they did was move their hand when Evie got close, and Evie lost her mind. She was so terrified that she couldn’t even run or scream, just sort of convulse in place like she had twenty thousand volts running through her. I grabbed her up immediately, but the damage had been done. She was absolutely terrified, and it took awhile for her to calm down. Why did I ask her to look under the hood? How could I not have foreseen that outcome?? Poor girl. The incident was quickly forgotten in all the excitement and didn’t ruin the night, but I felt pretty bad.
Everyone loved us being dressed up as a set. As we were walking around, so many people would say, “Oh look, there’d Dorothy. Oh, and the Lion. Oh, and here’s the Scarecrow! And the Tin Woodsman!” And yet, a surprising number of people got it wrong (“Is she the little girl from Little House on the Prairie?”). I kind of liked having a family theme though, so maybe we’ll have to remember that for future years.
Evie did not wear her Dorothy outfit to school. She went as a doctor: not a surgeon, but a “a doctor in the emergency room”. We were told that “characters” were not allowed at school, so we decided to play it safe and keep Dorothy out of it. But then, of course, there were two other Dorothy’s at school!
Evie: “I thought you couldn’t be a character?”
Teacher: “Well…we don’t want characters from t.v., but there’s a book for the Wizard of Oz, so that’s okay.”
Thanks a lot, mommy and daddy.
As we walked through our neighborhood on the way home, there were a few houses with their porch lights on. This is very unusual for our neighborhood. We have never seen anybody trick-or-treat (ever!) around there. So we decided to hit up those houses on the way home, to encourage the trend to continue.
At the first house, the porch light was on, but nobody was home. At the second house, someone came to the door, but it was clear that they didn’t expect anybody, and just happened to have some suckers since they had a little kid. The third house was for sale, but they had their porch light on and the gate was open, so it looked pretty inviting. Well, the only person that was there was someone working on the house, so he came to the door in his grubby clothes covered in paint and drywall dust. He insisted on busting out his wallet and giving a dollar to each of the kids, despite our objections.
Evie: “Why did that man give us a dollar, even though you both were saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no”?”
After that, we decided not to bother with any more houses on the street. But it wasn’t a total waste, since Evie later said that her favorite part of the evening was, “when I got the dollar.”
Evie: “What if a monster comes?”
Me: “Well, that couldn’t happen, because monsters are just for pretend.”
Evie: “Well…what if a dinosaur comes?”
Imagine my own daughter, using science against me!
Evie: “This is a book with directions to make a stairs. You need bugs or spiders to hold them up. Or else a broken window.” - I’d like to say we decorated our stairs for Halloween, but we didn’t. I guess it’s time to clean them up a little bit?
Evie: “My tummy feels like it doesn’t want the regular good food it usual has. It just wants desert.” – Well, it was Halloween night, who can blame her?
Evie, coming down the stairs from trick-0r-treating at a house: “You could just pick whatever candy you wanted out of the bowl, and you didn’t even have to say thank you!”
Just in case you need a last minute food idea, try the tentacle pot pie.
Not only does it look cool, but it seems really, really easy (I haven’t tried it).
Link via Sara (who would absolutely just die if I didn’t give her credit…jeez, get your own blog)
Since my mom sold the house, I think it is safe to share these stories. Just in time for Halloween, these are real, honest-to-goodness ghost stories that happened to me or my family growing up in our house.
Let me just give a little background here. That house was haunted, no two ways about it. I used to be in my bedroom upstairs, and I would hear people downstairs, talking, walking around, etc. So I would go downstairs to see who was home and nobody would be there. Also, the basement creeped me out to no end. I was mostly terrified of the place. If you saw our basement, you would think I was crazy. It was a nice, finished basement, nice carpet, a bathroom with a shower, nice furniture, etc. It doesn’t make any sense. Therefore, I can only attribute it to a malevolent supernatural entity that wished me harm.
So, without further ado, here are 3 specific examples:
- The walls bleed. We never actually saw them bleed, but there were stains on the wall that would sort of start as if blood had welled out of the wall, and then the drop ran down until it ran out of liquid. Just one fat, red drop, here and there. I’ve heard all sorts of explanations as to why this could be, but none of them ever made sense to me. One common explanation was that pipes in the walls are bleeding water, and it is either rusty or just looks red. However, that room was the attic later converted over to a bedroom, and there wasn’t any reason there should be plumbing up there, because there was no running water.
- I once saw a man who didn’t exist. Growing up, people usually went to bed pretty early around my house. It was pretty common for me to be the last one up, because I had my nose stuck in a book that I couldn’t put down. In my room there was a little window seat by one of the other windows. At that time, I had my bed pushed into the little nook, with the window seat as my night stand at the head of the bed. When I realized that it was pretty late, I turned around and reached over my head to turn off the light. You know how when the light is on inside, but it’s dark outside, the window turns into a mirror? At the foot of my bed stood a tall man looking at me. He was neither smiling or frowning, just sort of looking at me somberly. Of course I flipped around as fast as I could, but there was nobody there. Aside from the fact that he disappeared, there was nobody awake in my house, and nobody in my family is that tall.
- My brother was nearly dragged off to hell. Of all the creepy parts of the basement, none was creepier than the back room. This room contained the laundry area, a workbench and a pantry where we stored canned food. I don’t know why this part was particularly creepy, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. So my mom sent my brother downstairs to get something from the pantry. Naturally he was scared, but he got the food. The lights back there weren’t on a switch, but were instead on those little pull strings. To avoid being in the dark any longer than he had to, he decided to get a running start and pull the string as he went past, once he got up to full speed. He started running and pulled the light. Right at that moment, something from under the workbench grabbed his leg. Shrieking and kicking, he pulled himself free and dove out of the room. Behind him he heard terrible crashing. He kept running until he got upstairs to my mom where he huddled at her feet, crying. When she finally got him to explain what had happened, she decided to take him downstairs to show him that he was just being silly. When they got into the back room, there were things from the workbench lying everywhere. The bench itself was pretty high, so it is unlikely he would have knocked things off, but he especially couldn’t reach the shelves which went all the way to the ceiling. He was pretty small and there’s simply no way he could have gotten some of those things down.
Anybody else have any good stories? My friend Jeremy has a good one about a teddy bear balloon that tried to swallow his soul once, maybe he’ll pop on and leave it in the comments. (I still remember it like it was yesterday, even though it must have been more than 10 years ago when he told me, but it’s his story to tell.)
Okay, now here is something that would be even weirder to see than a goat on a trampoline. A skeleton driving a car.
Basically, a guy got a European car, with the steering wheel on the passenger side, and rigged it up such that you couldn’t see that he was driving it. Instead you could only see the skeleton sitting in what you would assume was the driver’s seat, complete with a fake steering wheel. Then he drove it around on Halloween to freak people out. It’s pretty effective, there’s no way you could avoid a double take.
Go watch the video, it’s pretty cool.
Link via Urban Prankster
I realize it is after Halloween, and I kind of missed the boat on some of this stuff. But I’m not saving it until next year, so I need to clean these out.
Check out this recipe for a creepy, edible “meat hand“:
The finger nails and bone sticking out of the back are onions. Most of the rest of it is like a meatloaf with cheese melted on top.
Link via InteractiveReader (on twitter)
Second off, check out this geeky pumpkin wrap up over on MegDesk.
Third, check out this clip from NPR Science Friday, that discusses important research into zombies and how their brains work. (The audio is about 15 minutes)
Link via my mother-in-law, who actually called me on the phone to tell me I should be listening to it live.
Finally, I know a lot of you readers are big Wizard of Oz fans, so I give you this:
Link via PlanetDan.
It was a good weekend. Evie really got into the Halloween experience. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be a little too young to understand or appreciate things, but I don’t think she was. She was a little shy with saying “Trick-or-treat!” and she often forgot to say, “Thank you!” or she would mumble it to Sara or I after she had already turned away. But she caught on really quick to holding her bucket up and getting a piece of candy.
We went to a certain street in our neighborhood that is known to be a little crazy about Halloween, drawing people from all over the city. Every story I heard about the place was totally true, and we were done by 5:30. I can only imagine how crazy it would be by 6:30 or 7. My mom kept saying, “This is like a movie!” It was pretty crazy, but it was a lot of fun to be around so many people who were really into the spirit of things. There were lots of displays in yards, people dressed up, and spooky decorations, but these people really took it to the next level. One of my favorite things was a giant spider rigged 20 feet overhead with a pulley system, so it could drop down on unsuspecting people. I also remember a giant plastic knife that was rigged out on a rope, so it could go flying across the street through the air as if possessed.
There were some houses that Evie thought were too scary to go to. There was a giant spider suspended over a door that Evie refused to walk under, even though she confided to Sara, “It’s not real.” Another person in a mask took her by surprise and she just froze in place, refusing to move until the person dangled some M&M’s for her. Sara and I agreed that M&Ms were probably the only thing that could have gotten her to go any closer.
But overall, Evie had a blast. My mom remarked that Evie would probably be playing “trick-or-treat” for quite some time to come. I think we didn’t do too bad either, considering we convinced her to stop in the middle and eat a banana. I doubt any of the other parents had such luck.
Other than that, it was a pretty quiet weekend. We dealt with the time change (though I never found a suitable hour to re-live) and we did some getting ready for the impeding winter, including packing our grill off to storage and removing the tomato cages from the garden. Yesterday was officially the last day for the garden, and I expect it will either be demolished immediately, or sit tantalizingly empty forever, just out of reach. It is possible that we could get another plot in some other garden elsewhere, but I am sort of drained about the whole garden thing, so we might just sit it out. We’ll see.
Finally, we found the time to hit up our favorite breakfast spot, Yolk. Everything was delicious, as usual. But the interesting thing was that my mom ordered the “South Beach” and it was something to see. People were literally turning their heads as it was carried through the restaurant. That might have been because it looked like perhaps my mom was the Don Corleone of the fruit mafia, and she had just ordered someone to bring her the head of the Chiquita Banana lady.
The South Beach consists of half of an entire pineapple, on its side, piled high with granola, strawberries, orange slices, and other fruit. This stuff is literally overflowing off the top and piling up on the surrounding plate. After my mom ate all she could, we cut off the top and bottom and still couldn’t fit it in the largest to-go box they had. It was worth ordering, just to see the thing.
Unfortunately, the picture I took on my camera phone doesn’t really do it justice, so you’ll just have to imagine it.
Evie, dressed as the bat Stellaluna, enjoyed her first ever trick-or-treating experience! This Halloween, I hope all of you have as much fun as a toddler!
On Friday, Evie and I tried our most ambitious baking experiment yet: a pumpkin roll.
Pumpkin roll is easily in my top 2 deserts all time. I could probably eat one by myself, in a sitting, if I had to. But this is the first time I ever tried to make one. People kind of talk it up like it is hard, so I was a little worried, but honestly it wasn’t really that much trouble. And it was deeeelicious (even though half of it was eaten by a bunch of barbarians).
On Saturday we hit up the Halloween thing at the Lincoln Park Zoo, where we are members. It was a cold, wet, miserable day like you wouldn’t believe. The kind of day where nobody should be outside, everyone should be inside, under blankets, with something warm to drink. So traipsing around the zoo wasn’t really the greatest idea. Especially since Evie couldn’t wear her coat, because that would have ruined her awesome bat costume. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but most of the indoor enclosures were closed for the day, meaning we couldn’t get out of the elements. Luckily the bat enclosure wasn’t closed, so we were able to get some pictures of Evie in her bat costume looking at the actual bats. We did not stick around for the music or trick-or-treating, but Evie did ride on the carousel, so she was happy.
Finally, on Sunday we carved pumpkins. Readers of this blog will not be surprised that Evie requested that her pumpkin be crying, with tears running down its face. That being said, I am quite proud of the way hers turned out, very sad looking. Evie was a good model, fake crying for me whenever I needed it, to get the look right. She wanted my pumpkin to be angry / scary and Sara’s to be happy. She helped do hers, but got bored long before everything was done. That’s okay, I had fun doing it. Plus I have a bunch of roasted pumpkin seeds to eat now!
One last thing to mention about the weekend, I opened my first jar of pickles! They were very good. If I had been given that jar by my grandma, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But, since I was the one actually making them, I was maybe a little over critical of them. They were a little vinegary and a little salty. Still, all in all, not too shabby for my first time out!
I’m sure lots of exciting stuff happened since the last time I posted but I’m too tired to think about it. Halloween was pretty uneventful since we got no trick or treaters and Evie was a little too young to appreciate the holiday. I’ll put some spooky ghost pictures up on myspace sometime.
I haven’t posted any games on here in a long time. You know I like Tower Defense games because I post them all the time, so here is the latest take on that. It is called Bloons and instead of the standard Warcraft/Starcraft ripoff this one involves dart throwing monkeys that pop balloons. I appreciate the new take on the old concept. Also I like how you always know how much “power” something has by the color of the balloon. Anyway, I think I actually like Bloons 2 a little better. I haven’t beaten any of them yet, but I can get into the 40s.
Create your own ”motivational” poster. Oh, the possibilities!
Not much to report here. Things are definitely slowing down now that it’s getting colder! Saturday night we went to a Halloween/Chad-going-away party. Sara and I didn’t have costumes and when we got there we were the only ones! It was fun, we haven’t been to like a party in a long time. Dan and Dave L. came from Ft. Wayne. Stayed up until like 2 a.m.! Amazing. Then Sunday we helped Chad move, then went out to eat. Sunday night I fell asleep on the counch watching Children of the Corn at 8 p.m. Sara woke me up and made me go to bed and I fell asleep at like 9. I was worried I would wake up early or something, but I slept until 7 a.m. the next morning!
P.S. I’ve got my vacation all planned out for next year…the 4th 2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational!
If you liked the Bacon Snack Bars, then you are bound to like Bacon Caramel! Something about the picture is just so disgusting to me, I can’t even contemplate what it would taste like. WHY WOULD YOU RUIN PERFECTLY GOOD CARAMEL??
So, since it is close to Halloween and all, and since if you can’t do it on a computer it ain’t worth doin, why don’t you carve a virtual pumpkin? Fun for everyone!
Finally, I will leave you with an excerpt from an article you would not find interesting, except for this part:
“Myhrvold then makes an interesting point about the amount of storage required to capture human diversity. If..
* the human Genome is approximately 1 gigabyte of data;
* the individual difference between any two humans is 0.25% of their Genome;
* we assume a lossless compression rate of 2:1;
The individually unique part of the human Genome can be stored in ~1.2 megabytes. Thus, you fit on a 3.5″ floppy disk.
In fact, the entirety of human genetic diversity for every living human being could be stored in a 3.7 terabyte drive array. And the entire genetic diversity of every living thing on earth could be stored in roughly the size of the internet circa 2001.
I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but I love the idea that I can fit myself on a 3.5″ floppy disk.”
(Thanks to Sylvain for that)
I spent the evening as it should be spent, gorging on Halloween candy until I felt sick. Don’t know if we got any trick-or-treaters since I was at class and Sara was at work, but that just means more candy for me!!
No costume this year, which makes me a big loser. I got spoiled because growing up my mom always made me GREAT homemade costumes. So now I feel like if I can’t make a good costume then its not worth making me a costume. I did get a Halloween package from my mom except instead of getting candy this year, she sent me a check for $10. I gotta tell you, I’d almost rather have the candy.
Apparently my mom started dating some guy 10 years younger than her. You go mom! Rawr! She was out looking for her dog Queenie Houdini (Houdini on account of the fact that she escapes every 10 seconds and my mom always has to pick her up at the pound) and she was knocking on doors asking if people had seen her and she gave her phone number to this guy. So then he called a week later and asked if she ever found her dog. Then he called back again to ask her if she was single. That’s all the details I have!
In other news, I got sick of Sara hogging the laptop 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You might think to rectify that problem by buying another laptop, but Sara won’t let me (of course not, she’s happy as a clam with the laptop) so instead I moved the T.V. from our bedroom into the spare room where my desktop is. We never watch T.V. in bed anyway. So I plan on spending a lot more time in here on MY computer! Although really I’d still like to get a laptop…
So, if you are bored on this Halloween night, you can always shoot kitties out of cannons. My personal best is 870.