A Very Ghibli Halloween

My kids are the luckiest ever — they have a cool aunt.

A cool, childless aunt.

A cool childless aunt who works in the apparel-design industry . . .

. . . and who decided that she wanted to design and sew costumes for all my kids this Halloween!

[jumps back and forth doing happy dance]

Seriously, this was the most adorable thing ever. The kids decided they wanted to be torotos from “My Neighbor Totoro,” except for Eleanor, who had already decided to be Kiki from “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”

Kristen borrowed hoodies from the kids to get a baseline set of measurements, then came up on different Sundays for fittings. She even made “bellies” for the kids to wear underneath to give them extra plumpness.

One of the perks of Kristen’s job is salvaging all the scraps and leftovers of the various high-end fabrics and notions. There’s some interesting details to the costumes, such as micro-velcro on the hoods (for folding back the “teeth”) to the extra-puffy Japanese filler inside of the belly-stuffing.


Aren’t they incredible! Katie wore her white suit as pajamas for three straight days in a row before Halloween.

Eleanor took time to make herself a cute “witch broom” out of felt, with a pocket for Jiji the cat. I was so proud of her ingenuity!

The suits had their first outing at Trunk-or-Treat at church. Brian and I signed up to do a “black light room,” with various glow-in-the-dark fun . . . except our black light wasn’t as powerful as we hoped, so the room was kind of lame. At least we tried.


I dressed up as a Pale and Tragic Mysterious Widow, which allowed me to wear a fascinator and say things like “I can’t talk about it, the pain is too near,” or “Richard always loved the water,” or “How dare you — you are mistaken! I was NEVER in Monte Carlo!”


But the best costume by far was this one:

My friend Michelle painted her husband to look like Vincent Van Gogh! Even his shirt and face have streaky marks to look like Impressionist art!

The following day, the costumes had Outing #2 at the autumn piano recital at Frances’ house. Katie, William & Jeff all played little Halloween songs. For some reason, Eleanor didn’t perform . . . but then again, she’s doing more advanced repertoire (Gollywog’s Cakewalk! Hooray!) which takes longer to master.

I should also mention that this year I was a little envious of my kids’ Halloween music . . . so I decided to pick out and learn a Halloween piece myself! I chose the piano solo arrangement of “Kiki’s Delivery Service” from my book of Ghibli music. This was a challenging piece, but I loved learning it — it reminds me of my own amazing 13 year old Eleanor.

On Monday for FHE we carved pumpkins and ate apple pie caramel apples. I’d never made them before, and they were SO GOOD. Definitely taking time to make them again next year. Jeff had 0% interest in pumpkins until we suggested he carve his with power tools. Boom — teenager engagement accomplished. (Look for the pumpkin below filled with holes. And yes, we had a totoro pumpkin.)


Totoro Outing #4 was at school on Halloween day . . . and then Outing #5 for the Big Event Itself.

You’ll notice that I don’t have a group picture of the kids in their costumes. This is because everyone split up for Halloween this year.

Eleanor went to trick-or-treat with a friend from school (hoooooray, thank you friend for inviting her!)

William and Katie went with Brian to trick-or-treat near their elementary school.


Meanwhile Jeff stayed home, and we had a Teen Halloween Movie Night for anyone aged 12+ who wanted to come.

The kids voted to watch “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and I had fun making Halloween goodies like whoopie pies and candy corn Krispie treats. Unfortunately, I also whipped up two batches of kettle corn before I realized that most of the kids wear braces. (including Jeff! Whoops!).

Most of the kids hadn’t seen Holy Grail before, and were kind of baffled by it. I admit it is kind of bewildering the first time you watch it. But they enjoyed it, and had a game of Apples to Apples afterwards. It was so much fun — I think we definitely need to host more teenager kickback nights in the future.

Finally, the morning after: I came downstairs to find William and Katie piling a giant tower of candy bags on top of our kitchen scale. Miraculously, it stayed upright just long enough for a picture and a reading: 16.8 pounds of candy. (“My fingers still hurt from carrying my candy bucket,” Katie complained. Oh, what a trial.)


Which sounds like a lot until you realize that in previous years we’ve gotten twenty-two pounds of candy. That’s what happens when your candy-gathering force is down by 25%, I suppose.

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