Minutes ticked by.
“Is it Halloween yet?”
“I want to get my costume on. Now!”
“When are we carving pumpkins?”
“No kids. Chill. It’s Monday. Halloween is Thursday.”
This was the conversation that started early last week at our house. Having to downgrade this blog to a once a week posting due to my other writing committment, a preschooler who has dropped their naps and Halloween, it is only now with Jacob taking a bit of a rare nap due to the time change, that I can try to post something about our Halloween experience.
Usually in our house, pumpkins are carved the weekend before Halloween. It saves my sanity instead of trying to squeeze carving jack-o’-lantern faces during the after school rush. In our house, three kids equals three pumpkins to gut and carve. However, Mr. L and I took a rare opportunity having my in-laws babysit the Saturday before Halloween and whom agreed to stay overnight to go on a “super date night” complete with renting a hotel room in downtown Toronto and ordering room service for dinner. (And yes, for breakfast the next morning too.) A little reprieve which was so exciting that Mr. L fell fast asleep halfway into the rented movie we were watching from the king size bed. Another luxury.
Although a little piece of personal heaven, getting back mid-afternoon on Sunday rushing through homework, dinner and all the rest, the pumpkin carving time was pushed to early in the week, after school.
I tried to plan the week carefully. Monday – piano lessons equals no time for pumpkin carving. Tuesday – free except normal homework. So an early dinner was planned, homework for my grade two student completed so we could get right into pumpkin carving as a post-dinner activity. I even managed to paper the table pre-bus pick-ups and lug in three good-sized pumpkins to warm up. Homework went a little later as did dinner prep and the light outside was fading fast as were my three little monkeys. Gulping back a scalding cup of coffee I rolled up my sleeves, put away the spelling duotang and opened up each pumpkin letting each kid start digging. While they made their first foray into the still cold, although thankfully not freezing pumpkins I tried to capture their grossed out faces on my camera, finish dinner and help the smaller ones. Dinner was served alongside pumpkin guts and seeds plunked onto the waiting baking sheets and my crew took bites in between pulling out stringy orange goo. Mr. L walked through the door,
“Where am I supposed to eat?”
Shrugging I suggested he get changed first or risk a splatter of pumpkin juice on his nice blue suit.
Thankfully, after a meal, he got right into the last part. The carving. As each kid chose their face, I stenciled and he carved I was able to clean up from dinner and finish the final cleaning of the other waiting pumpkins. Team work at its best. Elizabeth wanted to roast the pumpkin seeds that night but I explained they had to dry.
“Can we have them Halloween?”
Next came the dreaded Halloween cake.
“Mom, I want a homemade Halloween cake this year.” Said my 7.5 year old Elizabeth her hazel eyes pleading with me.
“Oh honey, you know Mommy doesn’t bake very much. Really?”
She looked so forlorn that I immediately gushed, “Of course I’ll bake you a Halloween cake.”
Wednesday. Time was running out.
“You’re making the cake right?”
“I want to help.”
“How about I make it before you get home from school and we’ll decorate it together?”
So after gymnastics, lunch and all the rest I started the cake. Not hard. I’ve done it before. Devil’s food cake from Betty Crocker. Best mix ever. Actually got it done before bus pick up and the three cakes were cooling on the racks. I was so proud of myself when I realized. Crap. Dinner. Wednesday is also the night I have a writing class. A must-go for me. So scrambling I pulled out leftovers for another attempt at an early dinner. During homework time, I quickly made the homemade icing. Three little hands reached for the beaters and I passed them off ignoring the “you’ll spoil their dinner” mantra in my head. Their faces were amazing. I vowed then and there always to make homemade icing. After half eaten dinners, we melted marshmallows and four sets of hands reached into the warm gooey mess stretching the white goodness all over the iced cake making spider webs. Lastly, Elizabeth added the plastic spiders. Cake complete.
“Can we have a piece?”
“No. It’s for tomorrow night.” I call blowing kisses as I run out of the door. Thankfully I am only five minutes late to class.
Halloween Night. Costumes are all tucked into three knapsacks ready for costume day at their respective schools. Little treat bags, made post-class last night at 11 pm for my kindergarten daughter and her friends are ready to go. It’s pouring outside. One nudged onto a waiting bus. Another is gratefully picked up by a neighbour as she doesn’t want her son’s costume getting too soaked before he gets into school and has offered my daughter a ride.
“Don’t forget to roast the pumpkin seeds!” Elizabeth calls as she skips out the front door.
The third is dropped off with his big hammer. Little blonde Thor in all his glory.
Halloween celebrations have started. Having all three out of the house allowed me time to finish decorating, get the dinner table ready for a planned pre-trick or treating pizza dinner with another friend and her two sons.
After school is a blur as the kids anxiously await their friends dancing around the table. Soon our friends arrive with pizza balancing pizza boxes and we commence convincing five kids (all 8 and under) to eat at least one slice while we give out popcorn and cut up veggies. Finally it is cake time and it is a success. All of them got a huge piece, took two bites and then the doorbell rang. Our first trick or treaters of the night. That ended our dinner as five kids went flying to get their costumes back on and out the door not caring if they had coats on or it was drizzling rain. Thankfully, we got a reprieve from the rain and spent an hour and a half chasing the kids up and down our neighbourhood.
“Mom, where are the pumpkin seeds?” Elizabeth asked as she counted her candy warming up on our family room floor.
Shoot. Caught red-handed. They were still on the baking sheet in the oven, but not roasted. I had forgotten about them.
“Umm…how about we do it this weekend? They still have to dry.”
“Okay.” Distracted by the bucket of candy, she is easily distracted.
Halloween complete. Week complete. Thank goodness for the extra hour on Sunday night.
But then I wake up this morning. Puttering around the house, cleaning up while Jacob nicely plays with his toys. We go to get groceries. Come home and I’m opening the oven door to get some pans out. I spot them. There they are. The pumpkin seeds, still “drying.” Damn. Thankfully Elizabeth hasn’t mentioned it yet. Maybe I can surprise her and roast them this week. A nice reminder of Halloween.