Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa Claus Parade - 2010

Our community's Santa Claus Parade was this past weekend. I am sitting here scratching my head and trying to think of something memorable about it. Mostly I am coming up empty. Liam was beyond excited about it, as usual. Mallory was 'meh' until a float came down the street blaring the Black Eyed Peas. "This is one of my favourite songs," she said. She has quite the ear for music - she really likes Pink, too. And it's not that we play a Pink CD over and over; random Pink songs come on the radio, and she says, "I like this song!" Hey, Pink just released a greatest hits CD. Might make a good stocking stuffer for Mal. Hmmm...

Anyway, we lucked out with the weather - it was very slightly above freezing, and the considerable wind from the day before had died down. I'm sure that one of these days we will be out there in a blizzard, cursing all the car dealerships who throw a string of lights on a vehicle and call it a parade entry - delaying the arrival of Santa himself, which is really the only reason we are out there.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oy, Christmas tree

Yesterday, Chad spent about twelve hours in the office, which unfortunately has been his Sunday routine as of late. (We are hoping this is a necessary but short-lived phase of life.) I had a long stretch of time to entertain the munchkins on my own, so we decided to knock a few holiday items off the to-do list. One of those items was taking the kids out for the annual shopping trip where we let them each pick out an ornament for the tree. Our first stop was Walmart, and it probably comes as no surprise that the ornaments there were pretty hideous and we did not find what we were looking for. So I took them next to the Hallmark store downtown in the mall. We had a copy of the Hallmark catalogue kicking around the house a few weeks ago and the kids really enjoyed looking through the pages and pages of ornaments, many of which feature characters they are familiar with. We got to the store and Liam spent a studious ten minutes checking out the entire selection and having me tell him which ones were missing from the display (meaning they were sold out, but we could possibly get one from another store). Finally he chose Snoopy sitting on his bedecked doghouse with Woodstock alongside. An excellent, classic choice.

Half an hour later, Mallory was still trying to decide. Liam and I were both trying to steer her toward the numerous ornaments that were right up her alley. They had Jessie. They had Rapunzel. They had the penguins from Madagascar. Tinkerbell, Cinderella, etc. Basically every cartoon character you can name. The first ornament she wanted was an anatomically correct bird, the kind that an ornithologist might appreciate but that might be a bit over the top for a three year old. "Are you sure that's your favourite one?" I asked her. She said no and kept looking. Next, she picked out a replica of Lucille Ball starring in I Love Lucy. I talked her out of that one because she has no idea who Lucy is and I would expect that ornament to be a hit among the senior set but again - not really appropriate for a little girl.Her third choice was a glittery pink Christmas tree covered with black high heeled shoes. The name of it was, "A Girl Can't Have Too Many Shoes." I knew Mallory was attracted to the pink glitter, but I vetoed that one as well.

Number four on the list was an ornament that actually made sense. She found one that was a big iceberg with several penguins sitting on top. She loves penguins, so it was appropriate. BUT. It was battery operated and when you hit a button on it, it lit up and the penguins spun around in circles. As a result, this one ornament cost $47. So I said no to that as well.We finally came home with ornament number five, Shrek, holding a stocking in one hand and holding Puss in Boots in the other hand. We saw a Shrek movie this year - good enough for me to consider it appropriate. Still not cheap, since the Hallmark ornaments tend to start in the $20 range, but much better than the spendy iceberg.So we get home, and the kids are acting crazy. Correction: Liam is acting crazy. Normally he is very good and obedient but for some reason yesterday, he just was not listening. We got out the stocking holders, which are very heavy and have glass in them, and I gave the kids the big talking-to about how we Do Not Touch Them Because If They Fall They Will Break And Also Take A Chunk Out Of The Floor. Thirty seconds later there was a huge crash. I expected it to be Mallory but nope - Liam was the Mr. Sticky Fingers who couldn't let well enough alone and caused it. When Liam does this kind of thing, he gets incredibly upset, and you'd think that would have been enough to dissuade him from being naughty for the rest of the day. Well, Chad came home and the kids were running around excitedly, trying to show off their ornaments. I don't know how many times I told them to be careful with their ornaments because they are not toys, are fragile, are expensive, etc., and the next thing you know, Liam has dropped his and it's in three pieces - Snoopy, the doghouse, and Woodstock's head. Again with the tears. I was at my wit's end at that point. Though to be fair, I did take them to McDonald's for lunch and as I told Chad, that's when the bad behaviour started - I think McDonald's put extra MSG in their food yesterday.

Anyway, a tube of Crazy Glue later and the ornament is almost as good as new. Now to do something about that awful dent in the floor...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

9 lives are about 8 too many

Yesterday I took this guy to the vet, which was a real treat. There is a reason why they use the expression "It's like herding cats" for anything that is difficult. Trying to herd even one cat into a travel cage to go to the vet is a nightmare. At least the kids thought it was funny...

So we get to the vet and they check him out and he now officially weighs 7 pounds and at his last visit (3 years ago) he was 12.95. And I do feel bad about this, the fact that he hasn't been to the vet in 3 years, when we used to take him every fall like clockwork. The start of the downward spiral came when we moved, and got busy with house stuff, and he has never really been outside since we have lived here which has made the need for his rabies vaccine sort of a moot point. Anyway, the vet then went on to say that he has a pretty significant heart murmur, which could be a big deal or maybe not - it's hard to tell in cats. She said that her guess at a diagnosis is that he has thyroid disease, which would explain both the weight loss and the heart murmur, but that she would need bloodwork to confirm it.

Bloodwork = $153. At this point I was ready to say, are you sure we can't just chalk up the weight loss to the fact that he has been eating diet cat food for the past six years and hey, maybe it just finally kicked in this year?? But no, I thought Captain deserved a proper diagnosis, so I agreed to the bloodwork. She took the cat into the back and I went out front to wait.

Ten minutes went by. Twenty. There were blood-curdling cat screams from the back room, and an elderly couple beside me who had brought their cat in with a fractured pelvis were holding each other practically in tears at the thought of what their poor Poopsie was enduring. Then the vet came back out, and addressed me.

"You cat has had... a bit of a freak-out," she said. "We don't feel that it's safe for him to continue to attempt the blood draw right now, so we're going to let him calm down a bit and then try again."

I wait another ten minutes... twenty... thirty. At this point the cat with the fractured pelvis has been x-rayed, morphine-patched, cone-headed and sent on his way ($395) and a dog has received a prescription for Valium. I am still waiting. The vet finally comes back out and tells me they still couldn't take Captain's blood without him being a bugger about it, and she is afraid with the heart murmur that he will literally die of stress if they keep trying. So she tells me to bring him back on Monday to try again.

There are a few problems with this scenario:

Number one - the amount of stress he will endure by me chasing him around the house again, trying to catch him and put him in the carrier, will surely not make him any better off for the Monday visit than he already was.
Number two - the howling on the drive across the city to the vet's office. Same issue.
Number three - the stress of me having to spend two hours going home, retrieving the cat, taking him to the vet's, going through this all over again, taking him back home and then getting back to work. I am freaking busy. I have better things to be doing on a Monday, which is why I brought him in on Saturday to begin with.

But she's looking at me like this heartless woman who hasn't had her cat to the vet in three years and who didn't even notice that he dropped half of his body weight until his spine started poking through his fur, so what can I do but agree??

If they can't get the blood on the first attempt tomorrow then they will sedate him to get it. Which is more expensive still. And which carries some risk because sedating a cat with a heart murmur is risky.

And then, assuming that this all goes down and they do indeed confirm that he has thyroid disease, then we get the pleasure of giving him pills twice a day for the rest of his life, which with my luck will be another fifteen years. We had to give him two or three pills, once, to de-worm him, and it was darn near impossible. How we are going to do that twice a day every day, I do not know.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. I truly don't wish any pain or suffering on this cat, I don't. But let's just say that if we were to die peacefully in his sleep while they were sedating him on account of the heart murmur... well, I wouldn't be on the warpath with the vet's office, threatening to sue and all. I would say that it was meant to be, be grateful for the ten years we had with him, and then take a break from pet ownership for a long, long time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Again with the rambling

I'm very much still feeling under the weather. Wasn't bad this morning but am now fighting a massive headache, toothache (?!) and sinus ache - which I am guessing is causing the former.

I hope the kids are not following my lead, because they are each passed out on a couch right now. This NEVER happens!!

Took them this afternoon to see Tangled - taking advantage of a day off. We all really enjoyed and would recommend the movie. Mallory wanted to linger through the final credits as she was enjoying the soundtrack so much. I will let her listen to wholesome Mandy Moore any day of the week, so that was fine by me.The kiddos have been wearing their Christmas pajamas as of late - so cute!

I dragged out the backdrop to take these shots of the kids in them. Still putting it to good use every once in a while. You might have noticed that I updated my photography page to say I'm cutting back for a while - daily life is just getting too hectic to maintain both. I don't know if this will be long term or not, but it makes sense for now. I still get my fix by following Liam and Mallory around and having them model for me.Looking forward to a weekend that includes a date with the vet, a Santa Claus parade, and some crafty goodness with the kids. If they ever wake up, that is.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cast of characters

I've been sick all week, which has knocked me on my butt. Still battling it out at work because work is crazy-busy right now (hello, winter and hello, trying to learn a new job) but otherwise D.O.A. No running this week. On the bright side, my foot is feeling much better! Ready to get back at it... I think the clouds are finally lifting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend highlights

  • I took an extra rest day on the weekend and my foot was feeling much better for it. I went for a good run this morning and then spent the first hour of my work day rolling my foot on a frozen water bottle under my desk. My boss gave me a WTF? look but it's working for me. Debating whether I should try to squeeze in a trip to an orthopedist (?) before the end of the year.
  • Chad and I went to see Morning Glory, which we thought was custom-made for us, because he loves Harrison Ford and I love Rachel McAdams. Verdict: it was the worst movie we have seen in a long, long time. Though I would like to point out that Rachel was OK (she just had to contend with lousy writing) - Harrison was the one who really stunk.
  • I made an appointment with the vet for Captain, for next weekend. I also weighed him via the highly scientific method of first weighing myself, then weighing myself holding him and taking the difference. We were all shocked to hear that my unofficial measurement puts him at 7.5 pounds. The last time we had him at the vet, he was over 13. I honestly didn't know it was that bad.
  • I watched/listened to both the 2007 and 2008 Ironman world championship races in their entirety. Gotta love YouTube.
  • I got sucked back into the December Daily hype. Busy planning my project.
  • My parents came for a visit. I was too busy doing all of the aforementioned to get the floor washed or make the beds before they came, but they know me well enough to expect that kind of thing. Liam enjoyed playing road hockey with Grampa Ralph in our driveway.
  • Mallory showed Gramma and Grampa some of her dance moves.
  • This consisted of her repeatedly demonstrating her 'point and flex' and 'butterfly wings', over and over.
  • Liam was obviously feeling left out of the spotlight, because he proceeded to go downstairs to the dress-up box, and came back up looking like this.
  • Mallory, not to be outdone, went to put on a skirt and a Hawaiian lei before resuming her dance moves and showing us her booty-lootys. I just accidentally erased the photo of her plieing with her outfit on, so that's the end of the post for today.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Addendum: the heretofore missing other wish list

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Out of control

A couple of weeks ago, we told the kids it was time to start thinking about what they might want to ask for this Christmas. They don't watch TV with commercials so when asked for what they might want, they can be kind of clueless. Which is both good and bad, believe it or not. We prodded them a little and then, after being met with nothing but blank stares, suggested that they might want to look through some fliers or the Wish Book for ideas. We even suggested that they get crafty with it, and cut out pictures of the things they like best.


I should probably state up front that Liam took on the challenge as he always does: studiously, cautiously, carefully, and with much thought. He has come up with maybe five things that he wants, which we have suggested that he whittle down to a Top 3. His paper, which nobody can find right now and I am really hoping that it's not AWOL because it's so cute, has a picture of the Lego City fire station, fire boat and fire helicopter, and he is struggling mightily with ranking these in order of preference. ("The fire station has two fire trucks, and I already have a fire truck, and I don't need a new fire truck but I do want a fire station. I already have a fire helicopter so I don't need this one but it has a fire jeep and I like the fire jeep...") I think there is also a picture of some sort of Transformer thing, and then the game Creationary and a small tabletop air hockey game.

Liam will be no problem to please.

The photo at the top of this post is of Mallory's Christmas wish list as of two days ago. There are a few items to note. Number one: she filled a full page and is onto her second. And truth be told, she filled up page two before bed tonight, and is raring to go on page number three. Number two: she has no idea what most of the things on her pages are. She just locates them in the 'girl' section of the catalogue/flier and assumes it's something she SHOULD want. Number three: she has no clue how to whittle it all down to her Top 3, partly because there is so much of it and partly because she doesn't know what it is.

When I tell her that she is free to cut out and paste as much stuff as she wants to, but that she cannot have it all this year, she is all matter-of-fact and "I know that, mom" about it. Get into it with her a little deeper, she'll tell you that she is going to save some of it for next year. But - here comes the kicker - she expects that Santa will bring it all for her this year, and she will just keep it in her closet until next Christmas, when it's time to use it.

I'm not so sure that I'm buying that.

I think I do know a few things that will make her very happy to get, and there are a few things that I also want to get for her, and know that she will enjoy them once she has them. But part of me is worried that she is going to open everything on Christmas morning and then burst into tears when she realizes that the fancy potato sack race bags were not under the tree. Even though she has no earthly idea what a potato sack race even is.

I am trying to wrap up all of this wish list stuff in the next little while, because I hate shopping in the month of December. I want them to decide what they want, stick to it, and let me finish all my errands before the crowds get really nuts. Chad and I had some free, kid-free hours this afternoon and we made the most of it by running out to several stores. The parking lots were all crazy, the lines at the registers long, and the stock looks like it's starting to get picked over. I want to finish my shopping NOW and be done with all the hassle. But I also want to make some Christmas wishes come true. Too bad it seems like these are mutually exclusive goals.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

At least SOMEBODY'S sporting life is going according to plan

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I am officially on the injured list. The suspected plantar fasciitis in my foot has worsened a notch and there is no doubting now that that is what it is.

I kind of suspected that this day would come sooner or later, after living relatively sedentarily up until 6 or so months ago. At least, sedentarily compared to the active lifestyle I lived BC - you know, Before Children. I did occasionally get aches and pains in my earlier days as a runner, but I think this is my first bout with PF.

There are two things that exacerbate PF and as luck would have it, I am guilty of both. The first is high impact activity and I suppose that running would qualify. Right now I am running 4 times per week and had my first 25 mile week in a long, long time not too long ago. The other is wearing heels, and I have been guilty of that, too. I have lost a few sizes since the spring (thank you, triathlon training!) and as a result, have bought quite a few new things lately. All pants legs hemmed for heels now, as luck would have it. Gah!Up until today my foot never bothered me while running... only afterward. But today it felt twingey for the first couple of km and then worse throughout the day than it has been up til now. The thing is, I am really not wanting to cut back on mileage or drop any running days right now. I am targeting an end-of-winter half marathon and am comfortably on track for it.Although I'd said, when triathlon season finished, that I planned to swim and bike (spin class) all winter, neither pursuit lasted that long. I tried a few spin classes but really don't like them as much as I like riding a real bike. And I swam yesterday for the first time in a couple of weeks. I kind of have to force myself to go to the pool once in a while, just so I don't lose my conditioning entirely. I have already had to knock 250m off the distance I swim in order to be able to fit the workout in before work... clearly I am slowing down. But, I've really enjoyed running again lately. And when I'm motivated, I get results.

We'll see how it goes... I am going to try lots of ice and stretching for the next few weeks and take it day by day. Who knows, maybe if I've been good then Santa will bring me a Strassburg Sock for Christmas this year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This week is 'open studio week' at Mallory's dance studio, meaning that parents and other audience members are invited into the studio itself to watch the lessons. (Normally, we are behind a one-way mirror or can only watch on a TV monitor). I was very excited by this turn of events and took my camera, vowing to use it only if the other parents did the same. I did not want to incur the wrath of the receptionist again.Luckily, as soon as we got into the studio, the parents turned into a wall of paparazzi. There were video cameras and flash bulbs and I felt perfectly OK taking my own fair share of photos. I am not posting anything here that shows anyone's face just in case... but I have enough for my own personal use that I am very, very happy indeed.

(Cindy put Mallory's hair up into an adorable little bun. That's totally her styling skill, not mine!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The beginning of the end. Maybe.

Captain has lost a lot of weight. Like, a ton. Not that long ago, people were remarking on how portly he'd become, and now they are commenting on his scrawniness. The paunch that used to hang between his legs is gone, and every vertebrae of his spine can be felt when you stroke his back. I don't know when exactly this happened except that one day we woke up and noticed it.

I Googled "sudden weight loss in cats" and my self-proclaimed internet-assisted diagnosis is that I think he has kidney failure. He's the right age, the right gender, and exhibiting the right symptoms. Kidney failure is the leading cause of death in elderly cats, so this shouldn't come as a surprise. I am a bit ticked that we have been buying his food from the vet since the day he came home with us, and one of the benefits of the pricey food is that it maintains better kidney health than the cheap Friskies stuff you find on discount store shelves. So they say. So much for that.

To be honest, we have been delinquent in getting Captain to the vet lately - I think it's been about two years since his last checkup. It's probably time to take him again so we can confirm the diagnosis or find out what else is going on with him. Captain turned ten this year, and I think cats are considered to be 'old' by age seven. Of course, Chad's childhood pet cat lived into his twenties, so it's all relative. He still seems happy and active and even though kidney failure is a degenerative, fatal disease, he could still have a lot of life left in him. We'll have to wait and see.

(The photo is from last year... we do not have our Christmas tree up. We did, however, get the stairs finished this weekend... picture to come, once I have a chance to photograph it.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fashion plate

I'm feeling so delinquent. This week just got away from me - a common refrain, yes, but it's always something different. After the trip out of town at the start of the week, I had an evening event to attend, parent teacher interviews, year end and start-of-winter work stuff... I could go on. I thought I would have time to get a few posts up by now... so much for that! Anyway, this is just a quick post of Mallory in her newest outfit. I have always loved Hanna Andersson clothes but am not one to typically buy (what I consider to be) expensive clothes for my kids when I know they will grow out of them in no time. But, there was a sale... and the dollar is at par... so I caved and got a few things. For Liam, a nice fleecy sweatshirt that he desperately needed. And for Mallory, one of Hanna's legendary striped-dress-and-reverse-print-loose-tights combos. I've always thought little girls look so cute dressed in these outfits, and of course the catalogues always extol how comfortable they are to play in, etc. Well, Mallory put this on this morning and could not stop talking about it all day. How much she enjoyed wearing a dress (which she does very infrequently, come to think of it) and how soft it was (the tights she wears when she does wear a dress often itch/hurt her legs. These loose, pants-like tights avoid that problem altogether.) I am tempted to buy her a closetful of this stuff, it's been such a hit! Well... maybe just one or two more outfits to grow on. Now that I have the sizing down, I'm eyeing a few NWT sets on eBay!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The creature of which I spoke

She is so darn proud of herself whenever she assembles an outfit like this. It totally cracks me up.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Stream of consciousness

I took a 24-hour business trip this week. Out of town Sunday night, back before the kids went to bed on Monday night. Tiring, but better than being out of town long-term.

I did, however, enjoy room service for breakfast at my hotel. I love to eat at my leisure while watching Today, something I rarely get to do anymore. Our morning TV at home is usually tuned to Treehouse. (It's an effective motivator: "If you get your breakfast eaten and teeth brushed, then you can watch Treehouse until it's time to leave!")

Liam came home with his school progress report on Monday. He scored top marks (first of four boxes checked) in all ~20 categories, except for one: Speaking loudly and clearly in complete sentences. No surprise there! He scored in the second box on that one.

Mallory's new favourite thing to do is to dress up in the cast-offs of all of our Halloween costumes. At the same time. And then make up names for herself, like "Cowboy Jessie Lightyear" and "Stinky Woody Buzz" and so on and so forth. It is actually pretty funny.

On my way home from my business trip, I stopped off to do a little shopping. I was itching to get home and nearly drove straight through, but there's no denying that Liam has been growing like a weed lately, and he was sorely lacking in clothes. So I picked him up some new duds and in hindsight, am glad I stopped. It's easier to do it that way, when I'm on my own and not weighed down by whiney kids who want to leave the store. (It is difficult to eyeball something and try to guess Liam's size when he's not there next to me, but I think I did OK, because it all fits.)

On Sunday I took the kids to see Megamind, which they enjoyed, though Liam says it's no Toy Story 3.

Liam's class photo came home from school and this year, they printed all the kids' names at the bottom, so we know who they are and could find them in the phone book if need be. Hooray! Now, if only Liam would agree to letting us set up a playdate for him. (I tried and tried to get him to invite a kid or two from school to our Christmas party, and he just kept saying no.)

We still don't have garland up on the stairs. We plain old ran out of time on the weekend. Maybe we'll get to it on Friday, which is a day off, although it's supposed to be 60 degrees and that means we are going outside, baby!

I think I have a touch of plantar fasciitis, but (a) it doesn't hurt when I run - only when I walk and (b) I've been ramping up the number of times per week that I run and it's not getting any worse. I'm doing lots of calf stretches and seem to be holding my own.

Right now I am really enjoying a book called 17 Hours to Glory and the infamy of someone known as "IMFL Poop Guy". These are triathlon-related stories that, I admit, maybe don't appeal to the general population so much.

I have a new pair of shoes that I adore - the Bates booties by Naturalizer - they are hands down the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. And sassy, too.

46 days til Christmas!

Saturday, November 06, 2010


...the Inspired Ideas Christmas issue, located here. I found it earlier this week and have been just waiting for some time to devote to it. Funny... Liam was asking today about making some Christmas crafts, and I think I've hit the motherlode here.

The changing of the guard

This week utterly got away from me. Number one: even though this managerial thing will be a long-term transition, everyone thinks I need to be involved in every last thing now. Number two: one of my major systems failed this week, and despite all the other happenings that I got dragged into, that was still my responsibility to fix. Number three, it's the first week of winter... here we go again...These pumpkin carving pictures are the last ones I pulled off my card (Halloween night aside) but already feel so outdated. On November 1, the seasons just instantly change. I can see how that wouldn't be the case if we had Thanksgiving in between Halloween and Christmas... but we don't. So one day it's full-on fall, and the next it's full-on winter.The kids and I were on our own for most of the day today, and we made the most of it. I feel like time is more of the essence now than ever, and I want to do what I can today in case tomorrow it's just not possible. We went to our local nursery, both to check out the Christmas open house they ran today, as well as to make sure our living rock is safely put to bed for the winter. Then we went out to buy new winter boots for the kids... the dusting of snow on the ground this morning made that one seem a little more urgent. We took a break from the to-do list to get Liam over to the rink for hockey, then finished off the day by getting the seasonal changing of the urns underway. (I caved this year and bought some artificial greenery. I dislike having empty urns but I'm sick of buying stuff early and not having it last long enough... like the fall mums that didn't make it to Halloween... barely past Thanksgiving, really.)Tomorrow we'll soldier on by getting some garland strung on the bannister, and make headway on some holiday party invitations. Making these jacks even more of a distant memory.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

After 20 minutes with a flatiron. Think it was worth it?

I'm not so sure. It gave me straight hair, but it was still puffy straight hair, not sleek-like-Jennifer-Aniston's straight hair. I thought the flatiron would help compress it somehow, but I'm not sure that it did.

I do like how it looks, though. There is only so much that you can do with curly hair. I like the change of pace. Not enough to get up half an hour early on a weekday to do it, but maybe now and then on weekends... hmmm.

Mallory looked at me and said right away, "Your hair looks different, mom." She and Chad both said they like it curly better. (I'm sure that's just because that's what she is used to.) Liam looked at it for 0.003 seconds and then asked for another banana muffin.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The one where I nearly run out of hard drive space, I've taken so many photos

I was so looking forward to Halloween this year, mostly because I was really jazzed about the costumes. This is the first year that the kids have chosen matching costumes. It will probably be the last year, too, which made it all the sweeter. And of course, the kids didn't know that Chad and I were planning to dress up, too. So I was very excited to do our big reveal.(To go off on a tangent for a moment - I'd like to do a little something extra to jazz up the front porch next year. We are sooo plain jane compared to the neighbours, and of course my shriveled up mums, which I made the mistake of buying in August so they peaked about three weeks ago, don't help the situation. I don't need anything gaudy or over the top, but I think we have potential... just need to put the thinking cap on.)I digress. This year was all about the costumes. The kids decided to be Woody and Jessie, and then when I saw this inflatable jet pack for $12 I knew I had to buy it and dress up along with them. Once Chad heard that, he decided to be Stinky Pete, the other original member of Woody's Round Up gang. My pants came from Value Village and the gloves were purchased... otherwise, everything I'm wearing is just my own clothing/gardening gear (OK, the kneepads were also bought specifically for this purpose but will find new life in the garden.) I am wearing five layers on top: t-shirt, cardigan, purple hoodie, turtleneck, and then tank top over that. So pardon me if I look a little thick. It was FREEZING last night. Boo!!I was questioning whether the kids' shirts were too big, but thank goodness they were, because we were able to fit multiple layers (including fleeces) underneath them and didn't have to wear winter coats over top. The kids did decide to wear mitts though, and I don't blame them. Note to self: keep the costumes baggy again next year!I thought Chad did a great job of dressing up as Stinky Pete. However, one older lady made a disparaging remark about his 'attempt' to dress up like Santa Claus. I thought that was pretty funny. Chad got a priceless reaction from the kids, who thought he looked hilarious. We got them into their costumes and then told them we were going upstairs to put on some warm clothes. I came down first. Liam thought I looked OK but Mallory was starting to cry. At first I thought she didn't recognize me and was afraid, but you know what the problem was? She was upset that I dressed up as a boy.She got over it by the time we were out trick-or-treating and kids would pass us and say, "Hey, it's the Toy Story gang!" As soon as she saw that other people thought it was cool, she thought it was cool, too. Once again this year, I took a whole bunch of pictures of the kids trick-or-treating at the houses in our neighbourhood, at least until it got dark. In looking at these I realized that they are pretty much all the back view. And while I love the back view, I really should mix it up a bit! Ah well. There are some nicely decorated homes around here so it's a very photogenic place to trick or treat!Liam was getting awfully bold. If someone wasn't right there to answer the door, he was peeking in their windows!This pumpkin cracked me up, big time. We ran into the woman whose house it was from and I complimented her on it. She said she had been out of town and asked the babysitter to tend to the pumpkin carving, and this is what resulted. Either that, or she's just a 36-year-old closeted Justin Bieber fan.The kids wanted to bring their flashlights along, and they had fun playing with them in the dark. It was actually a really good idea.Also a good idea: one of the neighbours said she'd seen me out taking pictures of the kids in their costumes when it was still warm on the weekend and was all like, why didn't I think of that! I thought she was going to say she thought I was psycho. Phew!The kids are not yet old enough to really care about how much candy they get. We did not go far, though we travelled pretty slowly, so it was well past dark by the time we got home. Liam loved handing out candy to the kids who came to our door after that. We had about the same number of kids this year as last, though from the looks of things while we were out, it seemed like an older crowd - lots of tweens/teens.Back at home we allowed them to pick out their favourite treats to keep for themselves, and then we made a communal bowl with the rest. Chad and I will help them along and it will be gone before you know it. Moreso than the candy though, I will remember this Halloween as being a very fun family-centered year. It was a lot of fun for us all to dress up in a theme, to surprise the kids, and enjoy the night together. I am thankful that my in-laws are willing to come hand out candy at our house so both Chad and I can go out with the kids. The years are passing by quickly, and we have to do it while we can.