Halloween Snapshots

Our weekends have been packed this month. After Crow Teepee Weekend, there was Crow Vision Quest Shield Weekend, and this past weekend–Crow Governance and Social Structure Power Point Presentation Weekend. And of course, we’ve been engaged in Halloween preparations and Beth has been working at least several hours every weekend (and will continue to do so until her union’s phone banking drive is over in early November).

Two weekends ago, we trekked out to Potomac Vegetable Farms in Northern Virginia (http://www.potomacvegetablefarms.com/), our traditional source of pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns and soup. It was an all-day outing, also involving a trip to Michael’s craft store for shield and Halloween costume supplies, lunch at Noodles and Company, pastries from an Italian bakery and a trip to Lake Fairfax Park (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lakefairfax/) where the kids amused themselves running around, rolling down a big hill and playing on a tiny beach at the canoe-launching area. It was a mild, sunny day, perfect for spending the day outdoors. The trees were just starting to show some fall color, especially at the tops.

The next Friday, June and I got into the Halloween spirit by hanging the little ghosts in our dogwood tree, arranging the skeleton that seems to emerge from the lawn and hanging the giant cobweb and spider from the porch. Later in the day a package arrived with June’s costume–she’s going to be Tiana from The Princess and the Frog (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6DmEgtibOg). There was also a raven with light-up eyes for our Halloween candy table, and best of all, a combination coffin with skeleton/fog machine. You simply must see it for yourself:

Saturday we baked Halloween cookies. While we were at Michael’s the weekend before and Noah was taking a long, long, long time to select the materials for his shield and costume, we placated June by letting her pick out some hot pink tempera paint and a set of twenty Halloween cookie cutters in the shapes of ghosts, tombstones, coffins, cats, bats, pieces of candy corn, witch’s hats, etc. So now we had to make cookies. They came out very nicely. Beth did a really great job mixing the colors for the frosting to June’s exact specifications. Because the dough had to chill and then the cookies had to cool before frosting, this was another nearly all-day affair.

That evening we followed up the cookie extravaganza by carving our jack-o-lanterns after a dinner of homemade pumpkin soup. June wanted a trumpet on hers (yes, a trumpet—we don’t know why); Noah chose to carve a pattern of a pile of pumpkins onto his pumpkin (it’s kind of a meta-jack-o-lantern); I chose a ghost, and Beth did the headless horseman. We used a kit with templates to tape to the pumpkins and they all came out well except mine. While I was trying to punch the ghost’s mouth out, I broke the whole specter out of the mostly carved pumpkin. I patched it up with toothpicks as best I could and decided it was Jacob Marley. The toothpicks, which show, are his chains. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I have no good explanation for the single eye. It’s a Cyclops-Jacob Marley mash-up, I guess.

The day was pretty much everything June had been not so patiently anticipating for the week between the weekend we acquired the pumpkins and cookie cutters and the weekend we put them to use. When I tucked her in Saturday night, I said, “You had an exciting day today.”

With a little intake of breath, she said, “I made cookies! I carved a pumpkin!” And then almost immediately, she fell asleep.

On Sunday Beth spent much of the day at her computer and so did Noah. He was working on his Power Point presentation. He wants to show it off to all of you, so here it is:

The Crow project is almost over. He’s writing the culminating five-paragraph essay at school. It’s supposed to be finished next week (unless they get another extension on it) and I think that will be it. He’s learned a lot, but I think he’s ready to move on to the next thing.

After dinner Beth and Noah got to work on his Halloween costume. Noah’s never been one for store-bought costumes; I think his last one was the tiger costume he wore when he was two. This year he’s going as a question mark. Beth and Noah cut a question mark out of poster board (a shade of dark blue Noah chose because he thought it looked the most mysterious of all the blues available at Michael’s, and believe me, he gave this question a lot of thought). Then they attached the dot to the main part of the mark with some fishing line. They haven’t decided how to attach it to him, but I’m sure they will figure something out over the next few days.

Through all the bustle of school projects and holiday preparations of the past couple weeks, I’ve been seeing our family life through a new lens. After years of consideration, my sister started the adoption process as a single mom. She hopes to adopt two sisters. Last month she attended a weekend-long parenting workshop for prospective adoptive parents and she’s starting the three-month home study phase now. She also joined Facebook recently, so we’re in closer touch about the daily minutiae of our lives than we had been. It’s been tremendous fun but I sometimes wonder what she makes of all the photos and the little complaints and celebrations of my kids she now sees on a daily basis. Does it make her more impatient for her own family or does it fill her with happy anticipation (or the occasional moment of trepidation)? I’m impatient, too, to see her snapshots of my nieces carving pumpkins, decorating Christmas trees, dyeing Easter eggs, or twining crepe paper into the spokes of their bikes for 4th of July parades. In fact, I can hardly wait.