Wednesday, November 7

A Quick Thank You

Families like mine in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota
have new protections and rights.
Parents can rest easier knowing that their children
won’t be taken from their partners if tragedy strikes.
Partners won’t have to fight to see each other in the hospital
 if sick or injured. Can’t be denied health care or life insurance payments
because of who they love.
That our country can see that
the LGBTQ community is made up of people.
That who you love isn’t the only important thing about you. That it shouldn’t preclude anyone from being treated with equality and respect.
To the voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington: Thank you.

Thank you for accepting and including a community
that has been so often denigrated and overlooked.
Thank you for supporting everyone’s right
to marry the person they love, regardless of gender.
To the voters in Minnesota: Thank you.

Thank you for standing up for the rights of
your friends, family members, neighbors . . .
For not allowing bullies to use the law
to justify harassment and discrimination.
Thank you for taking the first step toward equality.  
Together we are powerful. We can change the world.
 And yesterday, in those four states, we did.

Thursday, November 1

All Hallows Eve

Halloween at my house . . .
When I was pregnant with Elroy my due date was Halloween. I was thrilled but since he decided to come just a bit early, I spent the evening tending a newborn and the candy bucket at the door.
The following year we decided to have a 1st birthday (the ‘see everybody, we all survived the first year’) party.
Easy enough.
Everyone came in costume, broke a piƱata full of Halloween candy, and had a grand old time. And while I was prepping for the party I made a decision that has affected how we do things ever since.
 I decided to get pictures of Elroy done in his costume to include with the invitations. 
The pictures came out so cute, and the response I got from everyone was so overwhelming, that the following year I decided to do costumed pictures again, even without the party.
And we’ve done so ever since.
Each kid gets the choice once they start school to do an ‘in costume’ birthday picture or a school picture. We haven’t purchased school pictures yet.
About a month before each birthday I either take the birthday kid to a same day photo place in our mall, or having Granddaddy come to the house and take the pictures (since my dad is an amateur shutter bug, with an eye to potentially making it a real job in the future). Since Bam-Bam’s birthday is earlier in the summer (and less than a month into the school year), and the girls birthday is just after Valentine’s day, I have to be more organized (and creative) with the kids’ costumes.
This year I thought I’d share what my brood will be wearing . . .
Usually I try to steer the costumes in a ‘let’s not scare your siblings’ direction, but as Elroy is in 3rd grade (hold on, I may need a moment here), I agreed with his choice of a grim reaper.
The boys’ school does a costume parade for Halloween, so for that morning he will be without both his scythe and the mask.
I found the robe for $3.50 at a small thrift store, the hour glass (plain wood) for $2 at a kitchen / home imports store. The skull beads were from a pair of bracelets (2 /$1) at a 99¢ store. I made the belt from some leather laces my sister gave me, and the scythe was a plastic sword (also dollar store) a cardboard wrapping paper tube, some black duct tape and a couple of pipe braces (about $3 each) from a hardware store. The mask we already had. For safety reasons I got him the light up jars ($3 each at Target) to make him more visible after dark.
So . . . a unique reaper costume for under $30 dollars, which is the price of the basic store bought reaper costume at any local retailer.

This year Bam-Bam threw me a curve ball. I try to reuse the boys’ costumes by dressing Bam-Bam up in the costume that Elroy wore for that age (i.e. Elroy was a pirate for his 3rd birthday, so Bam-Bam was a pirate for his 3rd birthday picture). This year Bam-Bam was supposed to be a musketeer. I had the tabard, the boots, the belt, I had the blue hat ready for the feather. I thought I was ahead of the game.
Less than a month to picture time Bam-Bam decides he wants to be puss in boots instead. And not just a cat in boots with a sword . . . the puss in boots from the Shrek movies. *sigh*
I couldn’t find anything to use as a cat suit. Not camel colored sweats, not leggings, not a leotard, not anything. Happily I was able to convince him to wear black dress pants and a collared shirt for his pictures, but it was a near thing.
In the nick of time (less than 2 weeks ago) my mom found a handmade faux fur cat costume at a thrift store. In the right color!  Yay Grandmommy!

The cat costume my mom found (and paid) for $8 at goodwill, the boots I bought 3 years ago (for Elroy’s musketeer costume) and this is, I think, the 4th costume they’ve been used with. The cape was from Elroy’s centurion costume last year (and near constant dress up since), the belt was from a Narnia play set one of the boys got as a gift a few years back. The sword was part of a zorro kit (came with a black plastic mask the kids immediately broke) from the 99¢ store for (you guessed it) $1.  The only part of the costume I had to manufacture was the hat. I started with a 99¢ store black foam cowboy hat ($1), glued on some red bias tape ($1.50 ish), stuck a yellow ostrich feather ($1 at craft store) through one side and safety pinned a button (already in my craft stuff) on to cover the slits.
Puss in boots costume  . . . Grand total under $5 for the hat and sword, $13 if I include what my mom paid for the cat suit. The only retail puss in boots costume I found started at $35, and looked horrible.
Raspberry, Peach and Strawberry   
I shop post holiday clearance for everything, so the girls were relatively easy. I’ve actually had the main pieces of their costume in the closet for the last 2 years. All I had to do was gather up the accessories. The girls actually wear their costumes the Halloween before their birthday (in February), and again for their pictures.
Although I prefer to let the girls pick their own clothes most of the time, they have worn matching Halloween costumes so far. I do hope to have a superhero girls year in the future but haven’t been able to get the costumes on clearance yet . . . 
The dresses and hats came as a set at Costco 2 years ago, once again Grandmommy did the actual purchasing. I made the necklaces for their renaissance princess gowns last year (from buttons). The shoes I got (these are their everyday shoes) at payless over the summer. I hope to get them boots on clearance by their birthday pictures. For trick or treating I’ll put some black leggings under the dresses (for warmth), and for individual birthday pictures I plan to get a dollar store pirate sword as a prop.
Total cost : zero out of pocket for the girls this year.
Anybody else have a strategy for Halloween?