My Halloween Involved Orcas On Ice

I didn’t bother with homemade Halloween costumes this year. (Gasp!) There are too many other projects towards which I wanted to invest my time.

Instead, we scoured the clearance sections of online costume retailers, and this is what we ended up with:

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Katie is Pikachu, William is an orca, Eleanor is a “Spanish swordfighter” (we were trying to find a costume that matched up with the Venetian mask she bought at the Shakespeare festival this summer) and Jeff abstained from trick-or-treating for the first time this year. He figured he’s grown out of it, what with the growth spurt and lowered voice and all.

Halloween weekend kicked off with our ward Trunk-or-Treat, which is always combined with a carnival. For the first time Brian and I decided to sponsor a carnival booth, and planned to put on a shadow puppet show.

This was very exciting because it’s been probably six or seven years since we’ve put one on. It was an annual tradition to perform one for Christmas parties when we lived in Pittsburgh (and I would develop other shows for library programs) but then our family grew, and holidays became more chaotic, and it fell by the wayside. Doing one for Halloween seemed perfect!

We fished out our folder of past-years’ puppets and backdrops, and Brian scratched his head for a good long time but finally remembered how to put together our PVC-frame stage. I storyboarded a new show and cut out a new backdrop for a haunted house story.

Then we set up our overhead projector and flipped it on — only to have the bulb burn out.


Turns out that it requires a specialty bulb that you can’t pick up at hardware stores. Oh, and right at the moment our bulb burned out, we found out that our credit card number had been stolen (so the cards were invalid) and our downstairs toilet flooded all over the kitchen. Fun day.

At this point, the carnival was only a few hours away, so Brian and I came up with the easiest booth we could think of:


Professor Guesser!

Prof. Guesser tries to guess your age and weight. If he guesses correctly, you get one piece of candy, and the Prof keeps the other. If he guesses wrong, you get TWO pieces of candy.


We had an old-fashioned scale with a spinwheel for kids to stand on to see if the guess was correct. Add some spooky magical music, and voila: carnival fun-times. Parents liked how offbeat it was; a few adults even gave the scale a try! Brian wasn’t so great at guessing adult weight, but he was very accurate with the kids. (Those pediatric medicine rotations paid off!)

By random coincidence, Halloween was on a teacher workday, so my kids had no school. We initially planned to visit a pumpkin patch, but torrential rainfall put the kibosh on that idea. Instead, we went skating.

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The orca blubber — er, costume — provided plenty of insulation

I thought there would be more skaters on the rink, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves. All of my kids can skate well on their own, which is great because I don’t know how to skate at all and can’t help them out. Eleanor and William spent time showing off their “crossovers,” which they learned how to do in their Basic 4 class.

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I stayed rinkside with a thermos of cocoa

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Later, we stopped by at Francis’ house for a Shirts-family-only mini recital. The kids were supposed to go to an official recital the night before, but I mixed up the performance time. Frances was nice enough to invite us over to play. (That’s where the picture of all four kids in front of the piano came from.)

That evening, Eleanor went off to a party/trick-or-treat session with friends from school (her second party of the weekend! Nice) and Brian took the little kids around the neighborhood.

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Most people thought Katie was a bunny, and William was a penguin.
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Off to see the wizard!

Our pumpkins were carved with Studio Ghibli themes this year. Totoro, Catbus, and Jiji the cat. (Jeff saw a picture of a huge pumpkin with a tiny face on the Internet, and wanted to copy that.)

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Eleanor carved the Totoro herself. The pumpkin nearly collapsed, and she dissolved into tears. Thank heavens Brian thought of propping up the carving with toothpicks
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It was William’s idea to make Catbus, which lead to the Ghibli theme

I had invited a lot of Jeff’s friends over to hang out and play games, but only one of them was able to come, so instead of games we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was awesome. It was the first time watching it for both boys, and I loved hearing them quote the movie to each other afterwards.

Perhaps next year Jeff and I can tackle Young Frankenstien.

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