i have to admit i was horribly neglectful with the pumpkin carving this year. it kind of feels like a burden, but tradition must march on. besides, most everything feels like a burden these days. fun is a burden. it's all so tiring.
the sunday before, we rolled on down to the old traditional pumpkin patch on lower greenville, where the movie theater burned down. we had had several days of rainy weather and everything was kind of squishy and muddy and even a little moldy, truth be told.
we carefully plodded along the few areas where the treads in our shoes might not become mired down in the mud and selected our victim. we let oliver pick out a couple of gourds that didn't look too mildewy. and i pulled out brian's dad's old canon ae-1 to see if it produced fewer images than mine that looked like the subject is being sucked up in a ufo tractor beam. we thought this was our first go with it, until brian had the mystery roll of film developed. i was prepared to be all teary-eyed, thinking they were the last photos his father had taken. instead, it turns out we shot a roll back when oliver was still young enough to keep confined in a pen.
in the days leading up to the big day, oliver was busy recovering from a case of the pink eye. but we didn't let that stop us from having some fun. i forget now why brian didn't participate with us, but i loaded up the kids on my own and hauled them down to the Y for some neighborhood halloween carnivality. little did i realize they were busing in kids by the busload this year. there were five million of them running amok, with little supervision. it was far crazier than the year prior. rather than do something fun, like wear a costume, oliver dressed in his monster tshirt.
as usual, oliver was fascinated by the presence of the bouncehouse obstacle course and we stood in line and stood in line and stood in line. waiting waiting waiting for our turn. half the kids there would just come and stand right in front of you in line and when you would say, "you need to go to the back of the line," they would just stare at you like they had some form of cretinism. and by you, i mean me. i formed alliances with some of the other mothers there and we finally gained some kind of control. otherwise, we never would've gotten through that line even once. so, we get up to take oliver's turn and, as feared, he totally chickened out. we went and sat on the bleachers, defeated. then, he was all hot to go to the bouncehouse again. i tried one more time and we waited waited waited for our turn and knocked uncivil children to the side and we got up there a million years later and he started to chicken out again. i finally convinced him to give it a try and the teenaged boy admitting the kids helped me shove him into the little entrance hole. i ran around that thing like a crazy woman, trying to get peeks of him through the little, net-covered windows. an older girl was in there helping him and the teenaged boy in charge of pushing kids down the slide helped him up the shoepeg wall.
he ended up going through about four or five times and i was pretty impressed with his bravery. however, after an hour or so of being there and holding violet in her car seat on my arm like she was a fashionable handbag, i could feel pain radiating deep into my muscles and bones. oh, how it ached. and the nub from my sweater had formed a weblike pattern of broken capillaries on my forearm that lasted for days.
defeated on the bleachers. pink eye!
friday was the big day at school. after fretting about halloween costumes for a month and searching over and over online and driving to those awful costume shops, oliver said he would like to have the costume where it would look like he was riding a horse. at target, it was something obscene, like $20, which reeked of chinese sweatshop labor (what doesn't?). we also got this orange and brown flannel shirt, which reminded me of my father in the 70s and which i thought would look cute on oliver, but was just too much brown. so, that morning, i dressed him in his new shirt and brown corduroys and brown slip on shoes and hauled him off to school. i knew, after last year's hatred of costumes and his daily shyness upon arriving for class, that there was a good chance he would not want to put on the horse, but i couldn't put it on before and fit him into his car seat. so i took my chances. and i lost. he stood there in the hall and silently looked at me like i had some form of cretinism when i tried to get him to tell me what his gameplan was for the costume and i finally just handed the whole kit and kaboodle off to one of his teachers like she had plenty of time to dress my child for me, and then violet and i set ourselves up in a spot i thought would be prime, at the juncture of the hallways, so that we could watch the parade. more and more parents began filing in and pushing in and leaning into your line of view to take photos. i was too polite to do the same and thusly wound up with only shitty photos.
when they started marching out of his classroom, i was pleased to see oliver was dressed like a horse-rider. he moseyed on by a couple of times and immediately ditched the costume as soon as the parade was over. i drove away to go find a pumpkin bucket for oliver to trick-or-treat with, since i couldn't find the one i already have somewhere, purchased during the early 90s. and i found one. a totally cheapo version, reeking of chinese sweatshop labor, but i guess that's all they make these days.
i returned at 11:15 for the class party and could barely move from it being so crowded in there. we didn't even make it to the snack table because it was oceans away on the other side of the room. instead, i went to a couple of the craft tables with oliver and took some more shitty photos.
saturday, we were supposed to meet up at the arboretum with former classmate beck and his family, but there were some crossed wires and they had family show up at the last minute, so we just kind of ran into them once we were already there and went separate ways. there were too many people out there anyway for traveling in large groups.
they had a bunch of trick-or-treat stations set up at each of the storybook playhouses. i prepared in advance by purchasing from the party store a curious george puzzle of sweatshop quality, a dinosaur egg with a 3D puzzle that makes you want to shoot your eye out if it means you can stop trying to figure out how to assemble it for your three year old, and a little mickey mouse activity book. brian would run ahead of us and ask the table attendants to please give a puzzle piece, or what have you, to the boy in the plaid shirt (of course he wasn't dressed like someone riding a horse). so that worked out pretty well. he did get an organic lollipop in his school party favor bag and we let him eat that later on. his first lollipop!
upon our return home, i could put it off no longer, considering we were already halfway through halloween day. we carved the pumpkin. and by we, i mean i. oliver continues to be freaked out by pumpkin guts and only barely touched them. you would think that would be a little boy's dream come true to squish pumpkin goo through his fingers, but he prefers to have nothing to do with it. he did a pretty good job of at least watching me work on it and he did scoop out one or two spoonfuls of guts. he seemed pleased with the results and was very understanding when jack-o-lantern had to fly away back home to the pumpkin patch a week later. this was the beginning of his fascination of moldy things.
lookit there. i found plenty of things to say after all.
violet wore oliver's old superman dog costume for approximately long enough to have two photos taken. she needed the larger dog size for a proper fit.
he was very good about not stabbing anyone with the pile of knives.
there was a lot of mud there.
violet was also there.
it turns out pumpkins float.
brian and i had a misunderstanding of where to place the pumpkin's scar and be able to cut out the moldy spot while making his face. i suppose it gave him character. i should give brian props for making the jack-o-lantern's nose this year when i wasn't looking.