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Our Storybook Halloween

Before you click out because that title makes me sound like a real bloggy asshole, wait…

I decorated six monster cupcakes on Halloween–six because I ran out of eyeballs and got tired of slapping frosting and arranging candy teeth, and six because that’s exactly how many it took to fill a plate so that my efforts looked intentional and festive, possibly tricking anyone who happened to stop by into thinking I had my Halloween shit together instead of what they were really thinking which was, “Your kitchen’s a pit.” This also keeps me from feeling like everything’s falling apart when the kitchen’s a mess and I can’t find the pieces to the costumes and the sun is setting and there’s chili bubbling out of the pot and two kids are running around naked and Brett’s not home from work yet and neighbor kids are prematurely knocking on my door asking for candy when I can’t remember where I put it. But look! I made monster cupcakes! I cropped out all the mess in this photo, and there’s a candle burning and little pumpkins, and everything is perfect!

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I had great intentions for a storybook Halloween. The dinner, the clean house, the music, the way we’d huddle as a family over the table while a nice candle glow illuminated our laughter. We’d clean up dishes with just the appropriate amount of time left to put on costumes which kids would slip into effortlessly and then hold hands as they walked down sidewalks–certainly not darting in any other direction except forward, together–and chirp in unison, “Trick or Treat!” while Brett and I held hands behind them, grinning and gazing at each other like cheesy parents, our silent but obvious “we’re so blessed” ringing through the night like the theme song to our own made up family sitcom. Family Ties but better.

There are two things I should point out here.

1. I do this with everything. Even though nothing ever turns out like the movie-like stories I create in my head, I still envision them, over and over. I think Einstein defined this as insanity. I blame it on all the movies. What can I say, my imagination is a very optimistic stallion that cannot be tamed. A stallion with a horn and wings and a rainbow mane, thank you.

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Decorating luminaire bags which we filled with kitty litter and lined up along our driveway but never lit because we couldn’t find the lighter. Or the candles.

2. I’m rarely disappointed anymore when my stories don’t line up. I may be a rainbow-maned winged creature on the outside but, believe it or not, there is some crazy voice of wisdom that lives within. God bless her, she’s a survivor. She understands a little more about reality and smiles in a grandmotherly way at the silly glittery part of me who has a lot to learn. Wise Voice knows that Unicorns Gonna Unicate. When pretty family sitcom vision plays out to be a little more frazzled–a little more “don’t you dare roll this tape, dammit!”, Wise Voice takes over. She says things like “that didn’t go like we intended” but says it as matter-of-factly as reporting the weather. No big deal. Then she opens the gate for Unicorn to come running back in to sniff out the silver lining which she always finds. Or makes up, whichever comes first.

That said, we never even ate the chili I made before trick-or-treating. We didn’t have time. Brett got home late, and I barked “Can you please help me get them ready?” with enunciation on just the right syllables to infer that he never helps me do anything even though that’s simply not true. Dash wouldn’t keep a diaper on, Lainey’s Wendy nightgown needed to be ironed, and our house must have sent out some secret “NOT NOW” signal because neighborhood kids started knocking right when I was about ready to lose my shit. I was this close from answering the door, “Are you kidding me?! My husband’s in his underwear, we haven’t eaten dinner yet, and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I CAN’T FIND TINKERBELL’S WINGS!” But I smiled instead, overcompensating with enthusiasm delivered right on cue–“ELSA! Nice braid! Love the gloves! How’s Olaf?!”–and a fist full of Rolos.

We made it outside which always makes everything better. Just walk outside, even for a minute, and breathe fresh air and feel the walls fall down and watch your kids be cute and rock their Peter Pan get-up like nobody’s business. You’ll feel that cheesy “we’re so blessed” thing hit you like a brick.

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Holding hands lasted for very little because Dash would have nothing of it. Dash would also have nothing of walking on designated pathways or with the group or at an appropriate trick-or-treating pace. He is wild and free and funny and tireless, and while that makes for some very demanding parenting days right now and consequently some funny quips about his never-ending energy, make no mistake these personality traits are cherished and seen for what they are–keys to the future! Whether it’s part boy (we get it: not all boys are energetic and not all the energetic are boys), part baby or most likely all Dash, we’ll pull our hair out while he summits the countertop and make jokes while he scans the room for what he can take apart, but we’ll simultaneously celebrate the beauty of what makes him tick–Curiosity! Determination! Perseverance! Problem-solving skills! You know what this means? He’ll start a company! He’ll run for Congress! He’ll invent something that will change lives for good!

Fly, Peter! Fly! I can’t stop with the exclamation points!!!!
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He was banished gently repositioned to the stroller two houses into trick-or-treating, and our storybook Halloween evening reconvened.

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The kids tired quickly this year. They were happy to come home, count their few pieces of candy, get their costumes off and slip into pajamas, and we were happy to take their lead. They were more excited to pass out candy than to get it, and between doorbell rings and the mustered enthusiasm for all the beautiful Elsas who came our way, we finally found time to get a bite of chili and clean up the kitty litter that spilled all over the driveway. We took Lainey out later for a fun Round 2 of trick-or-treating which made her feel older and special and very seen, and somewhere during the night I took a mental picture of my Unicorn and Wise Voice slow dancing together. To Michael W. Smith’s Friends are Friends Forever if you must know.

This is holidays with real families and lots of kids and roll-with-the-punches.

We never used the luminaires, but I remember watching Lainey make them and how she showed Dash what she was doing when he crawled up to investigate.

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We didn’t trick-or-treat for very long, but kids who knocked on our door were greeted by all the little drawings that Lainey made to welcome them.

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We don’t have very many Tinkerbell pictures, but I’ll be damned I got one of Nella swingin’ her hair the cold cozy morning that followed Halloween.

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Our Halloween was perfect. Our kids were happy.

Here’s the cool thing about storybooks. Anyone can write one and any way they please.

Once upon a time, a mom made beautiful monster cupcakes on Halloween for the children she loved.

Don’t you forget those cupcakes.



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  1. I had to laugh at this. How wide is the gap between mind and matter, plans and reality. Wouldn’t have it any other way though, the planning and the dreaming are essential parts of the reality.
    J x

  2. Michael W. Smith. Classic.

  3. Oh Kelle, I love your voice.

    “What can I say, my imagination is a very optimistic stallion who cannot be tamed. A stallion with a horn and wings and a rainbow mane, thank you.”

    Magic and real life = balance

  4. We are kindred spirits in our majestic unicorn yearnings combined with our where the holy hell are the ears for this halloween costume realism. Beautiful.

  5. Dash by name … Dash by nature. This is my favourite post by far.

  6. “What can I say, my imagination is a very optimistic stallion who cannot be tamed. A stallion with a horn and wings and a rainbow mane, thank you.”

    This will be my new explanation of why for just about everything, thank you. (i’m also a mom of three of similar ages to yours, and even have a a middle child with a rare condition, so I’m glad your skill with words and images exists to help me explain my world.)

  7. I love the way you write and tell a story! It’s definitely helped me become a better writer over the years. And your funny honesty reminded me I forgot to mention in my own halloween post how as we were waiting in the dark for friends to show up…and my tween was getting antsy because she was missing out on candy….I suddenly felt very warm holding my one year old in her very cozy mouse costume built for a four year old. Diaper peed out. I confirmed it an hour and half later when we got home.

    I was just telling my kids the other day how things that go wrong and even the most terrible days, often make for the best stories later on. (We happily remembered many as I drove down the street.) Thanks for sharing yours with us!!

  8. 4:00!!!!!! They started knocking at 4 freaking o’clock in our neighborhood!

    As always, love your honesty, Kelle…and Nella’s swingy hair :).

  9. very nice! Sometimes we mamas make things too complicated! I’m glad the kids had a great Halloween

  10. Beautiful. I’m all for the choose-your-own-adventure style storybooks that don’t look as pretty as the fairytales but make just as many good memories for our kids. PS. Your monster cupcakes were very cute x

  11. Snap! My cupcakes sunk, only found the extra pumpkins which WE MUST have TO CARVE at 4pm, Dylans ghost costume kept slipping so he couldn’t see and I stayed home to carve said pumpkins whilst the boys trick or treated without me….
    But the husband had decorated the porch fantastically and we had sweets to give out and I put on my witches hat and Dylan loved it all.
    And I didn’t… Snap.

  12. Oh so very true!!! Like your pictures, mine never turn out that we’ll :-)

  13. Friends are friends forever is definitely my go to mental soundtrack!!!!! Hahaha It feels great knowing we had the exact, identical Halloween experience!

  14. I felt massively guilty on Halloween because we took both our girls out and didn’t get back in time to hand out candy- but my husband left a lit jack o lantern on our porch so I’m sure lots of disappointed kids rang our bell. Now we have 75 leftover tubs of Halloween play dough that never got handed out. I feel better seeing that you guys all went out together too.

  15. Just beautiful!! I have found that the memories that are looked back at the most and laughed about, are the ones where everything didn’t go right . And believe me, I like to stage my life and everything in it but thank god our children come with a much different plan!

  16. Oh do I hear you. Over here in England, where we Americans long for a proper Halloween, my husband was working, my 3 littles were roarin’ to go and of course our trick or treaters showed up early too.

  17. I totally get it, i do the same thing at every party, or holiday, i have these grand ideas, and things never go according to plan. parties are chaotic and messy, but at the end of the day the kids have had a beautiful time, loved the holiday or party and although i never seem to be able to enjoy the effort while the event lasts, i always love looking at the photos of all the happy kids after <3 let the unicorns be who they are, and christmas is here soon!!!!

  18. I think most little boys are made of endless energy and can wreck a house in under 5 minutes…but oh they are such fun

  19. A beautiful and hilarious post once again Kelle! I love your realization of mixing our dreams and our reality – and you crack me up sister! Happy Halloween and let the holiday season begin!!!! (Love those exclamations!!!)

  20. I love the hell outta you. The unicorn/Wise One thing?? Me. Me. Me. SOOO me. I don’t stop. Won’t stop. The next holiday will be the same: Thanksgiving. George Winston will roll his fingers across the keys in the background while I swing the baby on my hip whilst stirring the gravy over the stove in my cutest sweater and apron. The kids’ table will be complete with cups of Crayolas and coloring books I printed out weeks before. The adult table will be set with a vintage cloth and a bouquet of orange roses and a beautiful “Thankful Tree” in the middle with pointed Sharpies to write down our thankfuls and hang them on it’s branches. It will all be perfect. And yet, it won’t look like this at all. Well, let’s be fair, maybe it’s look like this 25% or so. But it will be perfect regardless. The kids will be happy and poke their fingers in my pretty pumpkin pie, but they will be happy and they will remember and that’s all I can hope for.

    Again, I freaking love you. Cheersing your Unicorn with my Wise One, gearing up for the next big day.

  21. Oh thank you. My twins are the same age as Dash. They are confined to their stroller all the time in public, because they don’t stay anywhere near me or each other. And it’s just me, and I can’t chase them in two different directions at once. So they go from strapped into car seats to strapped into strollers and high chairs repeat times infinity.

    I have worried and wondered if it was an attachment thing – they are a foster placement and we’ve been together five months. I had been convinced it was because they don’t ~KNOW~ me enough yet and they didn’t know we stuck together. While I expect they’ll have their challenges stemming from trauma it is so relieving to hear this isn’t one of them. This is just being not yet two year olds.

    Thank you.

  22. Yup, that’s pretty much how it goes. And it’s always awesome how ever it ends up. :)

  23. I love your blog – I love your voice, how you are who you are whether it’s trendy or not.. but really now, this post has to be one of the best you’ve ever written. Who doesn’t love you now? That is some awesome lemonade you just made.

  24. Sounds darn near perfect to me!!

  25. Friends are Friends Forever! You just took me back to my youth group days! Love this post. :)

  26. You are so right. (BTW-I love the costumes.)

  27. Friends are friends forever! What a great flashback. I love this post – made me laugh so much and such a good storybook vibe. Happy November!

  28. there is beauty in the unplanned! love this!

  29. you are an AMAZING Mom!! I always did the same kind of thing only 1) we didn’t dress up to go along and 2) I didn’t blog about it lol

    Even now I have wonderful ideas about pictures and cute quips but never get around to blogging it lol My last blog post was probably in March 2014 lol

    you are doing a GREAT job and don’t you forget it :)

  30. LOVE IT! And LOL’d at the Michael W. Smith reference…we sang that song at my (Christian school’s) 6th grade graduation. :)

  31. Oh good! I’m not alone in my picture perfect Halloween and my perfectly happy realistic version that fell short in my head but was full in my heart!

  32. This is fantastic :)

  33. Great costumes! Sounds like a very fun, Happy Halloween! ������������

  34. This made me laugh, I have perfect plans in my head too. It’s a mom thing, but rarely works out. Now and again, the skies part and it does. Let those festive stallions out of the barn now!

  35. HAHA! Yes.

  36. I love this post. My little guy is the same age as Dash and is crazy busy and such a handful. Love him all the more for it. <3

  37. Kelle, as always, some wonderful perspective. Thank you for keeping it real, for the rest of us. It snowed on Halloween in Chicago, so we hit 4 houses and called it a day. And we all had fun (and ate chili!).

  38. Thank you! Your “stories” are always amazing. Thank you for sharing with us!

  39. It took me awhile to lose the anxiety and disappointment I felt at myself for not achieving my dreams in reality. But now, I can take delight in the way we do things, laugh at the little disasters and be so thankful that we have a house full of love (no matter the mess!) Thanks for sharing your stories in such a beautiful voice.

  40. Sounds like you had a great Halloween!
    When are we going to get another Thrifted Sister installment? 😁

  41. So very true. I think I hit this point with three ambulant chidlies too. Then we were blessed with a fourth bouncy personality and now there’s a whole lot more of ‘what HAPPENS is ok’. I’ll plan the story but the characters are all individuals with their own ideas and plans. So we lead and follow in our own story.
    I so much enjoy sharing yours. Thank you. x

  42. I’m with you, Kelle. All three of my kids had a stomach virus the whole week leading up to Halloween. We’re talking diarrhea and vomit all over the house except in the toilet. My in laws both suffered a stroke a day a part from each other and my sis in law was in the hospital with a newborn baby. But DAMNIT! my kids were still going to have a Halloween. I made albondigas (my family’s tradition of our witch’s stew) and I made jalapeno poppers and mummy hotdogs. I had a whole spread out and my husband turns to me and say, “Who are you expecting? No one can make it tonight.” But guess what? My kids didn’t have a clue their cousins and grandparents couldn’t make it, they thought the whole spread was for them! Luckily, we are the only parents our children have and they can’t compare us to the really cool and put together parents. We’re perfect in their eyes. For now.

  43. I didn’t even put my baby in a costume for his very first Halloween. In fact, we put our little 11 month old to bed early, had one trick or treater and ate junk food and watched TV. Then we took a moonlit walk – around the yard, baby sleepin yo! – And we each said 5 things we love about the other, because 5 years ago on halloween, one Tim-Burtonesq corseted girl met one bald Slash and now we have this <3

  44. Beautiful Kelly! & so true we all can write the story any way we like- thanks for the reminder:)

  45. You must do a once a week beauty blog post. Love the new hair color!

  46. I trucking love you Kelle Hampton! You and your gorgeous family, your insightful words and magical images and blessed perspective on life. Thank you for sharing it all so authentically with us. Never bridle your imagination stallion or shush Wise Voice – between them you are finding a beautiful balance. xx

  47. Lately I really really enjoy your blogging. (I always have.. just lately I am LOL’ing for real. A lot) I feel like it’s just more “you” – I don’t know if it’s because you have someone weeding through commets and you’re not really paying attention to the trolls anymore (AMAZING IDEA BTW) But whatever it is, I love it. This post spoke to me on so many levels. It was just perfect :)

  48. Huge sigh of relief! I’m not the only mom whose Halloween was nothing like she had planned. Phew! My first grader informed me that this Halloween was a “COMPLETE DISASTER!” We didn’t get around to carving our pumpkins, I didn’t make a special breakfast like I usually do, and her poor butterfly antennas wouldn’t stay up straight as planned. Such is life! I did manage to get apple cider on the stove (which no one drank) and caramel dip with apples so our house smelled yummy! :)

  49. I’m a lurker who usually doesn’t post but this made me laugh, as we had the same kind of Halloween. I was working FT until spring. This fall, I went all out trying to do all the stuff I never had time to do before with our 6,4 and 2 year old. And I’m 31 weeks pregnant and this is my husband’s busy time so I was on my own. We pumpkin farmed, we made cutout cookies (sprinkles everywhere), carved two pumpkins (cut myself), baked pumpkin seeds (does anyone even really like them?). Made it out to trick or treat in the frigid Wisconsin cold and came back to my carefully planned broccoli cheese soup and “mummy dogs” that turned out NOTHING like the Pioneer Woman’s did. The kids wouldn’t eat it and ended up having PBJ & candy late at night. I was completely shot and a grumpy mess. Yet, I think they had a great time…even if it didn’t match my vision!!

  50. Thanks for keeping it real….hilarious!

    I love the color of your hair now!

  51. You are adorable, your kids are adorable and it simply is a storybook, only a real one! LOL.. I so get it!
    xoxoxoxo

  52. The best part, the bravest part, is that your Unicorn still flies year after year even though you know by now it’s not gonna be at all like the movies. To keep trying, and to keep believing in all that magic and memory-making even if it’s not perfect is what makes it memorable for the kiddos.

  53. I loved your thought about how everyone can write their own storybook! So often this happens to me–where I plan a special event and it doesn’t go the way I want it to. I have to remember to look at it with “unicorn” eyes! This doesn’t come too easily to me. :) Thanks for your inspiring words.

    Also, love the costumes! I thought about doing this for our family too, but it was too late by the time it occurred to me. We already had other costumes chosen. I’m hoping maybe next year!

  54. For the past few months, I haven’t been able to drop by this corner of your world, that you share with us, Kelle! Working 2 days a week – and – spending the other 3 day-caring (please read ‘chasing’) my overactive, beautiful, funny, engaging 19-month-old grandson while his Mom is at work, leaves me very little ‘leisure time’……But – when I decide it’s time for Rosemary-time, I do drop by! And – it’s always like opening a really great book – one that you love to read – and has amazing pictures as well! A book that has some moments of wit, some of wisdom, some of humour, some of whimsy, some of strength, some of vulnerability – and sometimes – a few (very few) of pathos. An all-’round good read! Today, I loved the little bridal attendants, the thoughts on trolls on the internet (hi-five, girl for standing up for *your* space!) the smiling, adorable little girl with her first tooth missing, the kids in the pumpkin patch – and – the trick or treat event! :) Great chapters. Thank-you for creating these short stories – because I really love being able to return, pick up the ‘book’ – and devour the most recent chapters!

  55. The part that struck me the most with this…when we do reflect on what has just passed and concede that it didn’t really turn out the way it was planned, slapping a coat of whatever sparkly varnish happens to be laying around, is what eternally optimistic people like us do.

    In the end, our best at the moment is just fine. I don’t think people are paying nearly the attention we think, and most likely don’t notice our imperfections, or if they do they’re most likely happy that we are as imperfect as they. :)

  56. Kelle….
    I am sorry for being away all these months!! I’ve missed every single Blog that I read/comment on!! It feels so good to be back!! At last!! ;-D
    “What can I say, my imagination is a very optimistic stallion that cannot be tamed. A stallion with a horn and wings and a rainbow mane, thank you.” Crack. Me. Up!! ;-D
    “I may be a rainbow-maned winged creature on the outside but, believe it or not, there is some crazy voice of wisdom that lives within. God bless her, she’s a survivor. She understands a little more about reality and smiles in a grandmotherly way at the silly glittery part of me who has a lot to learn. Wise Voice knows that Unicorns Gonna Unicate. ” Crack. Me. Up!! ;-D
    Michael W. Smith!! I grew up loving him!! And you just put “Friends Are Friends Forever” in my head, by the way!! Not complaining!! 😉
    Love you later, Raelyn

  57. Hilarious and so very true. We each write our own story books. I have a few horrors on my shelves =) =). I love the cupcakes. And I shuttered just a tad when I saw Lainey using a permanent marker on the pretty white table cloth. I mean she wasn’t coloring on table cloth but you know what I mean 😉

  58. sooooo süß!!! danke für die wunderschönen bilder und inspirationen!!! einen schönen sonntag wünscht angie aus deutschland

  59. Oh Kelle. I love this. I hear you on the ‘decorate enough cupcakes to fill a plate’ and then move along. Story of my life in many ways.

    xoxox
    lina

  60. Oh my gosh I think this is the best one yet! Love your honesty. Your kids are so adorable I love watching them grow😊

  61. Thanks for sharing. I think we all get caught up in making the perfect experience and it needs to be this way to make everything wonderful. Many years ago (the baby in the story is now 14) One of the Girl Scout moms said she was making treats to give each of the girls. Well my competitive spirit kicked in and I was making something too, it would be better. :-) So I found these rod pretzels you make into snowmen. I had a 4 month old and a 4 yr old home with me when I started this horrible project. I ended up screaming at everyone but the baby. The project wasn’t as easy as I thought. I was all kinds of crazy–when we got to the event- the other mom had made treat bags with store bought candy. So that slowed me down on trying to out do another mom.
    My children don’t remember this but I do and it made me feel all sorts of crazy. Thanks again for keeping it real.

  62. You just keep getting better girl. And you’re right I was thinking geesh that’s an overblown blog title;) Thanks for keeping it realistic and beautiful all at once. Lainey being seen…so good. Yes!

  63. Oh my gosh, this is totally “my house too”! Hilarious!!! Almost as funny as the “Rainbow Loom” post!! Dinner before trick-or-treating, I know, never works out for us either! Peter Pan is adorable!!

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