#TBT – A Halloween Story

It is Throw Back Thursday…and Halloween, so I am going with something I posted 6 years ago on Halloween.

One October about 8 years ago, my my local newspaper issued a challenge to write a Halloween “story” on Twitter using only 128 characters. (Their designated hashtag took up the remaining 12 characters.) They published the top entries which included two of mine. Here is one of my entries expanded into a 500-word short story.

The original tweet:

His fangs lock on the zombie’s neck. Growling, he thrashes his head as he saves me. Never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

The new short story:

It was a dark night. The moon hung high in the air as I took my evening walk. I had been pouring over the books for so long that I walk in the brisk air was just the thing to clear my head. Dexter, my Irish wolfhound, padded silently beside me. His ears twitched as he listened to the night sounds.

grave1My path took me by old village cemetery. It looked creepy enough in the daytime but now in the dim moonlight the bare branches looked like gnarled hands reaching down toward the graves. They shook slightly in the wind.

I smelled freshly turned earth which seemed odd since there had been no recent burials that I could recall. I stopped and surveyed the scene. It was then that I noticed the figure coming toward me. He walked with an unusual gait dragging one leg behind him as if it was heavier than the other.

Dexter gave off a low warning growl as the dirt on the nearest grave began to move. I stared in horror as a hand shot out from the ground. The dirt tumbled away as a figure arose from the grave. I took a step backwards, tripping over a large stick. As I scrambled to my feet, I grabbed it. Immediately, I liked the way it felt in my hand. I gave a practice swing like a batter warming up before the game.

When I looked back up, there were now three of them, one blocking my escape. Dexter sprang into action. His large paws hit the closest figure in the chest. The creature hit the ground hard. I caught a whiff of decaying flesh. The smell caused my stomach to lurch. I swallowed hard as I hefted my club over my shoulder. I swung with all my might at the closest figure. The creature grunted as the stick hit its chest. It reached out. A clammy hand brushed against my arm. Goose bumps prickled my skin. I swung my stick again, aiming higher. This time my aim was better. I hit the creature’s head with such force that it sailed through the air landing in the brush some distance away.

I turned my focus to the last creature, a mere three feet from me. Before I could move, Dexter bound forward, crashing into the figure. They landed on the ground. irish wolfhound grey dayDexter’s sharp teeth sank into its throat, his fangs locking onto it as if it was his favorite bone. Growling, he thrashed his head side to side, tearing the flesh.

“Good boy,” I whispered as my legs felt weak.

Dexter let go of the creature’s neck and lumbered over to me. He brushed up against my leg. My fingers curled into his rough fur. I patted the side of his body as I turned for home. As we trudged home, I remember my grandfather’s warning – never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

 

Making Comic Con or Halloween costumes

If you have been following my blog, you know that typically we go to our local Comic Con and when we do, we dress up. And of course, the kids dress up at Halloween. Some of these times – for either occasion – we buy a costume online, but many times, we make our own. Sometimes that means finding all the different pieces and putting them together or it might mean just buying a costume and creating props.

Now, I don’t sew and don’t really consider myself a crafty person. Luckily for my family, we have my husband who is much better at costume making. It started with making his own Jedi costume.

Jedi Costume

Store bought robe and boots and scrubs for the pants

Made tunic belt and light saber

 

 

 

 

 

Han Solo Costume

Store bought pants and shirt (and boots from last year)

Made vest, gun, holster and pouch, added red stripe to pants

 

 

 

Night Wing Costume 

Store bought boots and black jumpsuit

Made weapon (which had magnets to allow the 2 pieces to become a staff), mask, armor and added blue logo and trim to jumpsuit

 

 

Harley Quinn

Store bought boots, shorts, tattoos, wig and fishnet hose

Made the bat, dyed the wig myself, gun, holster, bracelets, choker and bag

(Find out more about making this costume here.)

 

 

Deadshot

Store bought shoes, pants and shirt

Made armor, mask, gun

 

 

 

 

 

Rebel Pilot

Store bought orange jump suit, gloves, belt and boots

Made helmet, white vest, grey air supply accessory

 

 

 

Lara Croft

Store bought tank, shorts, boots and wig

Made guns, holster and bags

 

Indiana Jones

Store bought pants, boots, shirt, hat, gun and whip

Made holster and scuffed up/tore shirt

 

 

Canary (left)

Store bought jacket, corset, boots and wig

Made mask, eskrima (staff – which could break into 2 and slide into the leg holsters)

Dragon Hunter (middle)

Store bought leggings and boots

Made tunic, armor, bow, & sword

Imperial Tie Fighter (right)

Store bought costume, gloves and boots

Made helmet. breast-plate panel and gun

Fleet Trooper (from Star Wars)

Store bought boots, pants and shirt

Made vest, helmet, 2 guns and holster

 

 

 

 

So as you can see, we have made quite a few costumes which is more fun than buying one but it does take a lot of work.

 

Dropping one of my volunteering jobs

Time.

It is the one thing I always wish I had more of. There never seems to be enough time to get everything – writing, work, volunteering, parenting, housekeeping – done. So, I finally decided to give up one of my volunteer jobs – Activities Committee Chair for our neighborhood.

I am not sure how much time this will free up, and honestly, I am not dropping it because I don’t have time. I am dropping it as my children are getting older and I am tired of not having help with our 3 activities we do each year.

I joined the Activities committee back in 2007 – I think. I am not totally sure how long I have been a member. I do know that I was on the newsletter committee from 2005 to 2015. That is probably how I joined the Activities committee. At the time, I was just one of the members. But as those other members’ children grew older, those members moved on to other things and I took over.

I never really minded. As I always say with groups like this or the PTA, if you have good people there to support you, running these things is no problem. And for many years, I had that group, and the work isn’t hard.

Our most popular pool party game – kids must find the gummy worm hidden in the pile of whip cream with only their mouths.

We currently have just three activities each year – 2 pool parties and a Fall Festival. The pool parties are easy since we use the same formula. We serve popcorn and ice cream sundaes. Sometimes we add in dinner of pizza or hot dogs or even chili dogs. We play at least one game – usually the same one each time. Sometimes we add another game but usually enjoying the pool is enough. And then we give away prizes to the kids – pool/summer toys in June and school related items in August.

 

Then there is the biggest event (in cost, volunteers, and time) – our Fall Festival. I held my last one yesterday.

Fall Festival 2013

For this event we have 8 games, face painting, prizes, candy, food and for a number of years even balloon animals. We have served dinner (pizza or chili dogs). We have done cotton candy, and yesterday we did snow cones in addition to popcorn. (Popcorn is at all our events as our neighborhood association has a popcorn popper machine.)

While the pool parties are super simple and I could do them probably by myself, the Fall Festival is more work. There are more prizes to buy, cleaning up the games from last year, organizing the door prize drawing, figuring out food, and securing volunteers. That last one is a big one. Volunteers are my biggest problem whether it is for the neighborhood or the PTA. People want events but they don’t want to do the work behind them.

In this case, I am usually looking for teens who need service hours to volunteer. And it is always a scramble to get people to sign up and then actually show up. Every year, I worry about having enough help. Some how it comes together but I sure won’t miss the stress of finding volunteers.

But now that my kids are older (11 and 14), I know it is time to turn over the reins to another mom with kids the age that these events are geared toward. And while I don’t know how much time this will free up, I am definitely looking forward to not being stressed about the Fall Festival next October.

Letting the kids pick their own Halloween Costumes

When the kids were babies and toddlers, we picked out their Halloween costumes for them. Of course, they couldn’t decide or even understand why they were dressing up. So parents get the opportunity to decide what cute or interesting costume they will dress their little one up in. But once kids reach about 3 years old, they start having their own ideas. And this was the time that we let them take the lead in deciding what they wanted to be (within reason, of course).

Now I know that some parents like controlling their kids Halloween costume. Maybe it is to get them out of being the popular character of that year or maybe it is because they want to create costumes that fit a family theme. I’ve known parents in both these categories. Sometimes their kids are all for these choices, but I know mine – at least now at the ages for 11 and 14 – would not want me to pick their costumes. Heck, I think I might have been able to do it until about 5 but that would have been the final age.

So, starting at the age of 3, we let the kids pick their own costumes. The first year, Jase picked out a pirate costume. The next year, he didn’t want a new costume. He wanted to be a pirate and wore the same costume from the previous year. The following year he outgrew it and went as a handyman. But as soon as he found the cartoon Star Wars Clone Wars (and later the Star Wars movies) most of his costumes have been Star Wars related with the exception of 3 DC characters (Deadshot, Batman and Nightwing).

Lexie has been more varied in her choices. She has been Batgirl (in pink), Wonder Woman, Cinderella, Elsa, the pink Power Ranger, Pikachu and a dragon hunter.

Sometimes – especially in the beginning – we simply bought the kids costumes online or from the store. Of the pictures displayed on this page, this would be all of costumes except the fighter pilot (orange costume) which my husband made. Actually, for the past four years, all of Jase’s costumes have been custom jobs. Lexie’s dragon hunter was also a custom one.

Image result for hatsune mikuThis year, Lexie will be Hatsune Miku. I always just say it is an Anime character though really it is a the characterization of a singing software creation. Yeah, like that helps anyone. Needless to say, we bought her costume off e-bay this year include the aqua wig.

Jase is going to be a fleet trooper – yep, you guessed it. That is from Star Wars. This one was a custom design on the gun, vest, and helmet. I bought the pants, shirt and boots at Wal-mart. Once we get the kids costumes finishing touches done, I’ll post pictures.

Image result for fleet troopers

All I can say about this year is that you can definitely tell that I let the kids pick their own costumes.