Sunday, October 30, 2016

Villainous Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.  My mother has never been a big fan this holiday, but she was such a good sport about letting me and my siblings participate.  Almost every year, I hovered behind my mother marveling at her talents and creativity as she sat at the sewing machine piecing together homemade costumes.  Inspired, I swore I would make all of my children's Halloween costumes when I was a perfect little homemaker.  Predictably, that naive dream was shattered on Annie's first Halloween.  Lack of finances and energy led me to dress my first born in some hand-me-down pumpkin jammies and call it a day.  In fact, Annie didn't get a real costume until after her brother was born, and it wasn't homemade either.  She wore kitty ears and a tail from the craft store. Although I had to wade through mothering guilt and fear of disappointing my children with my laziness, I realized that no one else on the planet cared.  The world did not stop turning because I purchased a costume.  Go figure.

Still, I loved the look of homemade costumes, and I realized that adding some homemade aspect to a store-bought costume gave the ensemble that custom appearance my mother's loving hands always infused into her projects.  I have used this method ever since, and this year was no exception. For Halloween 2016, my children wanted to dress as their favorite bad guys: Darth Vader and Wreck-it Ralph.

I considered buying Annie a Darth Vader suit but was stricken with an idea to save money and incorporate that homemade touch I love.

I purchased a three dollar, long-sleeved, plain black t-shirt from Wal-Mart along with eight 8.5"x11" sheets of felt ($.26 each).  I studied pictures of Darth Vader and cut out matching buttons and mechanical boxes which I easily hot-glued into place.  (You'll notice I forgot to mirror the belt boxes. Opps.)  The belt boxes were not glued to the shirt.  I glued more black of felt to the top and bottom of each box to create a loop which I could string a belt through.  The shoulder piece was also only glued to the shoulders and neck, leaving the bottom free to float away from the body and create a 3D effect.

The boots and pants were just black things we already owned.  The gloves were as well, though they had white fingertips that I colored black with a permanent marker.  I sewed the cape from an old bedsheet that my sister, Janell, was no longer using.

The lightsaber came from Janell too (just borrowing), although I did see some faux lightsabers at the Dollar Tree that I could have picked up had I not had access to my sister's.  The obviously manufactured part of the costume was the mask, which Janell was kind enough to buy for Annie. Behind the mask, Annie wore a hat to mimic a helmet.  I had a winter cap from the Dollar Tree that had ear flaps. I had to snip off the tassels and turn it inside out to hide the white snowflakes, but I love the way it turned out.

At school and Trunk-or-Treat, no masks are allowed.  For those events, Annie just wore the hat with a Darth Vader face I cut out of some clearance fleece from JoAnn Fabrics.  I spent maybe a dollar for the fleece.

Overall, I think Annie made one killer looking Darth Vader.  Pun intended.

Duun Duun Duun Dun da Duuun Dun Da Duuun!

My total cost: Less than $10.
You can buy the mask for $8-12 at a party store or Wal-Mart, so if that cost was included, it would be about $20 to replicate this look if you already own the pants, gloves, and boots like we did.

To match her costume, I slipped on my Yoda pajama shirt.  It wasn't very elaborate, but it made her happy.

This year was the first Halloween that Sam expressed an opinion.  Honestly, after seeing me create Annie's costume, he wanted to be Darth Vader as well.  I talked him off that ledge, and we settled on Wreck-It Ralph instead.   Sam loves this movie and equally loved this costume.  The best part was, it was sooooooo easy and cheap.  My kind of costume.

The green undershirt was something he already owned.  The orange shirt and overalls were purchased at the thrift store for $5.  I cut the sleeves on the shirt to make them look torn like Ralphs, and I dyed the once-white overalls a beautiful shade of brown.  The gold medal was $.99 from the party store.

I drew eyebrows and sideburns on that tiny head with my eyebrow pencil, and then I spiked up his hair.  Originally, I bought a "70's" wig to spike up like Ralph's hair, but it was sewn in a way that forced the hair to lay flat, and when Sam wore it, he looked more like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite than Wreck-It Ralph.  So, I vetoed the wig.

I think he turned out pretty cute anyway, even sleeping in the brick-filled dump.

My Total Cost: Less than $10.
I love that I was able to put together this adorable costume that didn't wreck my bank account.  Get it?  Wreck!  You know, 'cause it's wre-- nevermind.

 Because I'm a dork, I made Paul play along this year as well.  He was Sam's counterpart, Fix-It Felix Jr.  This outfit mostly consisted of clothes Paul already owned with the exception of the hat and the hammer.  Together, they cost about $12.  The dang hat alone was $8.  I'm still a little salty about that.

I did this more for Sam's benefit than anything else.  He is so obsessed with his daddy's costume that he has since insisted that I am incapable of helping him with anything because I do not have a golden hammer.  When the handle of his Halloween bucket broke, Fix-It Felix saved the day.  When his glow stick burst, Fix-It Felix rescued him.  When he got tangled in his car seat buckles, he screamed for Fix-It Felix.  I've created a monster.  A cute monster, but a monster nonetheless.

Overall, I'd say this was a successful All Hallow's Eve.  To celebrate, here are more pictures of my cuties:

Don't tell me this isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen.

My blue-eyed Rowbabies.

Ringing the doorbell with the force.

"Smile for the camera, Vader."

"Don't tell me what to do, Ralph."

If you choke Ralph, he will wreck you.
For previous Halloween costumes, click here or here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pity party for one

This last week has been a doozy at my house, and I have kept my chin up and managed to swallow any anxiety I might have felt.  But today, it all came crashing down on me, and I just needed a pity party.  I decided to write down my feelings so I can acknowledge them and move on.  Here it goes.

I remember my elation when I saw the seven-day difference between completing Ethics & Social Responsibility and Literary Theory.  Could it be?  A week off?  I haven’t had one of those since last Christmas.  Brimming with excitement, I sat at the kitchen table and made a list of things to do with all of my free time.

_Finish sewing Halloween costumes for my two children (ages 3 and 5)
_Reorganize the storage room and find Halloween decorations
_Help set up and take down PTA fundraising carnival
_Mow the lawn one last time before the grass goes into hibernation
_Winterize flowerbeds and vegetable garden
_Write one blog entry
_Write short talk for Relief Society meeting
_Plan Relief Society lesson for Sunday
_Wash windows
_Binge-watch Chuck on Netflix
_Take a nap every day to fight off bronchitis and a double ear infection (Eww.)
_Run a steaming hot bath to clear out sinuses
_Cook dinner every night (preferably soup)

Sadly, the weekend before my seven-day sabbatical, my water heater burst and flooded the basement and garage.  Instead of relaxing, healing, and catching up on housework, I spent the week on the phone with the insurance company, home warranty people, plumbers, cleanup guys, and my husband.  I watched my beautiful laundry room and hallway get ripped apart while large fans whirred all day and all night for over a week to salvage as much drywall and flooring as we could.  It felt like I was living in a wind tunnel, and missed the sound of silence.  The industrial dehumidifiers sucked every bit of moisture from our already dry Utah air, which seemed to exacerbate my incessant coughing.  Since we were short a water heater, a steamy bath or shower was not an option for relief.  Dishes piled up in the sink before I caved and boiled pots of water for handwashing in a sacred moment of connection with my pioneer ancestors.  I watched every hamper fill up and spill out onto the floor as I avoided the laundromat.  One by one, I gave up on my to-do list to manage the soggy situation downstairs.  So much for a week off.