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13 Halloweens


13 Halloweens

Warning: Halloweens make me cranky.

When we celebrate Halloween this Friday, it will be my 14th one since becoming a mom. Every year I moan about it. Do I really have to retrieve that box of crap in the attic with all of the witches and skeletons? Do I really have to drape spider webs over the bushes and scatter the yard with tombstones? How do people even like this holiday? Black and orange aren’t anywhere close to a pretty color combo.

And most tiresome of all…what are my kids going to BE for Halloween?? The conversations start early, like in August when the Halloween catalog appears in the mailbox. But I’ve learned my lesson not to buy (or make) costumes too early. Kids change their minds, don’t they.

The first Halloween with our new baby daughter, I made her a cow costume. The photos are somewhere in an album, taken with a real film camera. I’m pretty sure we stayed at my mom’s during the trick-or-treating hours so that little baby girl could sleep undisturbed by noisy doorbell ringing. Those were the days! No decorations to put up or take down. If not for the little cutie pie cow, it’s like Halloween never happened.

Then she was two, and I don’t remember what she was. At three, her baby sister was born. Again, not sure if we did any trick-or-treating. I still think I might have been able to pretend it didn’t exist.

Then she was four. Four-year olds talk to other four-year olds. She started asking about Halloween, and so it was all over. No more pretending it didn’t exist. Bring on the cavities!

the one reason why Halloween will live on as the best holiday

She wanted to be a princess, so I made her a beautiful Cinderalla costume. I bought shiny blue satin, sequins, tulle. It was quite magnificent. We gathered as a neighborhood, all of the little kids in their adorable costumes. It was 4:30pm, just before it would get dark (daylight savings time). As we were about to move as one big unit to knock on the first door, my daughter decided to run inside to change. CHANGE?! I totally acted cool because that’s what I was supposed to do. But seriously, I spent like 83 hours sewing her costume, gluing on sequins. I wanted to lecture my four year old, if you must know the truth. And badly. She came back down in some polyester piece of garbage from Toys-R-us. Whatever! Lesson learned. Spend minimal time on costumes, and leave it until the last minute.

{Photo above of my second daughter wearing a costume made by me, the only other one I ever sewed again.}

trick-or-treat

I should say here that Halloweens in our neighborhood are epic. Picture a cul-de-sac with houses close together in the center of town. It is a mecca for all of the people outside of town with their four acre properties and no neighbors. Without exaggerating one bit, we have about 450 kids come knocking on our door each year. (Now you might understand my need to flee those first few years.)

Each year after that Cinderella fiasco, I learned to embrace Halloween more and more. How could we not? We would make it a party with beer, wine, hot toddies, chili, pumpkin muffins, crafts. And TONS of candy. So much candy that I just had to let go and accept the fact that I would not be able to control my kids. I didn’t know what they were eating because most of the time I didn’t know where they were!

Some years the costumes were made (bubble gum machine, Annie), some years they were slapped together the hour before (worker guy, cowboy, mini me), but more and more they became store bought. I embraced this, too. Less work for me! And another addition to the dress-up closet, which was becoming legendary.

the one reason why Halloween will live on as the best holiday

Even my husband and I dressed up from time to time. Bjorn Borg and Billy Jean King, if you’re wondering.

the one reason why Halloween will live on as the best holiday

the one reason why Halloween will live on as the best holiday

Pumpkin carving became a family affair, and every year I felt the need to out-do myself. Our house was becoming known for the artistic pumpkins. With 450 people each year, the word was out.

the one reason why Halloween will live on as the best holiday

the one reason why Halloween will live on as the best holiday

I scoured the internet for the best vintage decorations. I went with a Star Wars theme one year which we used over and over again for, like, five years. Star wars stayed around for a loooong time. (How cute is little Han Solo?)

So here is the clincher: We moved. We no longer live on the most famous street in town. We now live in a house that has no neighbors. It’s a rented house that has only one outside light. It’s old, very old. It’s actually….well, kind of creepy. The perfect house for Halloween.

If I’ve learned anything over these fast thirteen years it’s that KIDS LOVE HALLOWEEN!!! My own three would be heartbroken if that box stayed in the attic. They never want to stop being a kid, they want to dress up forever and eat candy like there is no tomorrow. How can I end this now?

I have not decorated yet. But I will. I will do it while they are in school. I’ll surprise them. I will buy candy and put it in a big basket, even though we won’t have anyone come knocking. I’ll fill the house with the smells of apple cider and chili. I think this year it will be more important than ever to keep the traditions alive.

I wonder if nostalgia will drive me to decorate even after the kids have moved out? It’s ironic that my least favorite holiday might some day be the one I can’t let go of. Or at least, the one that will fill me with the most happy memories.

In truth, Halloween lives on as the best holiday because of one reason: the photos! Every year there is that one photo that tells a thousand words. The pacifier in my sons mouth, the snow on the ground, the two lost teeth, the year Halloween was canceled! It’s impossible to look at Halloween photos and not smile.

Time to go to the attic.

Happy Halloween everyone!!

xo, Bar

PS: To find out what my kids will be wearing, or if I stay true to my promise to decorate this creepy, old house, follow me on Instagram. My other happy place.

 

Graduation Day + Summer Sign


Graduation Day + Summer Sign

Yesterday was their last day of school. I celebrated by making a sign. No more making lunches!! No more homework!! The calendar is clear of teacher conferences, recitals, carpooling and tutors for the next eight weeks. Woohoo!!!

graduation day ~ hang artwork through the years

graduation day ~ hang artwork through the years

graduation day ~ hang artwork through the years

graduation day ~ hang artwork through the years

It also happened to by my daughter’s graduation day from 8th grade. I wanted to create a little something special for her. She had some friends over for sandwiches so I made a little art gallery in tribute to her creativity over the years. I chose artwork starting from age four up until this year and hung it on clotheslines with photos of her at about the same age. She loved it! I think it’s a pretty big deal getting through middle school. Every one of those 14yr-olds deserves a medal. I have a new found loved for teens. I know, it’s weird. But their struggles and awkwardness just make them so endearing. (I don’t love them as much as 4-yr olds, though. Still my favorite age.)

Isn’t she so cute? She really is the sweetest, loveliest and wisest person I know. She pretty much has surpassed me on every level. It’s just so fun watching her grow into whoever it is she is going to be. I do see bits of her 4-yr old self that will always be her essence. But I also know how hard she has worked at creating a world for herself where she feels strong, confident and appreciated for who she is. I just love being around her.

Have a great weekend! Next week I’ll share some art from my art camp that I’ve been having for the last two weeks. It rocks!!

xo, Bar

 

Sugar Cookie Making {dairy free}


Sugar Cookie Making {dairy free}

We had our good friends over on New Year’s Eve, making cookies into the night. We then moved on to prosecco while the kids played, snuck out for a quick bite (it’s a good thing I have a 14 year old built-in babysitter), and watched the ball drop in our own beds at midnight. It was a lovely and quite perfect way to start fresh in 2014. Plus, I got to eat cookies all New Year’s day!

http://www.artbarblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2014_insta_photo.jpg

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

Making cookies with my kids around the holidays has become my absolute favorite tradition. It’s messy and takes all day, but they are so happy. And I love watching them choose their colors and use their best fine motor skills to create their pirates, penguins, stars and hearts. And hammers.

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

This year, I made our recipe dairy-free, and used half sugar-half coconut crystals (sap from a coconut that is crystalized and looks and tastes like brown sugar without the processing). I really wanted a cookie that I could eat that didn’t make me feel as guilty. Plus, we are dairy-free in our house. So I replaced the butter with Earth’s Balance. Here’s the recipe I used, but you can use any recipe and replace the butter. The kids did not taste the difference at all, except that the “healthy” cookies were a little darker.

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

This picture is my favorite. She worked so long and hard on creating these amazing, colorful, sparkly cookies and was so proud to show them to me. LOVE!

Here’s hoping your new year is off to a nice, mellow pace. Let me know if you have any good dairy-free cookie recipes of your own to share!

xo, Bar