Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Day Preppers

So, my sangria mom party was great and a perfect way to end out an emotional week. (Really, it's the perfect way to end any week.) My blend of 6 leftover party wines mixed together in a pitcher and left in the fridge for 5 days + sliced lemons and oranges + orange juice + triple sec (because we don't have brandy, but we'll always have ingredients for margaritas) + fresca = deliciousness. The weather is still too warm, but it was beautiful to sit outside in my sleeveless maxi dress and chat with other women while our kids ran around.

[not pictured, but delicious]

Earlier on Friday, I'd taken Cora to school- something I almost never do because that's James's territory- and pulled up to find all these costumed children milling about the parking lot. Turns out, Friday was Halloween party day! And despite the sign on the door every day since Monday, James never mentioned it. So Cora and I turned around and went back home (admittedly, only 0.25 miles away) to change into Queen Elsa, grab a pumpkin bucket, and head back to school with apologies for not contributing anything to the festivities by the Wednesday deadline. And though Cora does not like changes to her routine, and last year REFUSED to wear a costume, she totally rocked the crazy morning and her Elsa dress (aka Claire's dress from 2014 and 2015; totally got our money's worth out of the original $12.99 price tag).

Isn't she a delight? The rest of the day continued apace, with big stories of the big kids I will relay later, and we ended with pizza eaten too late because I forgot to order it while I was busy on the back porch drinking sangria. It was a good day though. Yesterday was too. We started with voting, all together as a nasty family at our early polling location. We're with her all the way and I was surprised at how choked up I got with Claire on my hip, whispering my presidential ballot selection in her ear before I cast it. I couldn't finish, so she read it for me, and then we cast my vote for our hopeful first female president.

The kids were excited to get voting stickers, particularly since they were so disappointed when they found out they weren't actually voting. Cora asked sweetly, "we go to the boat now?" when we got in the car, so the whole experience was probably a let down for her. But my shirt and I had a great time (yes, I transferred my I voted sticker to my various shirts throughout the day; there is nothing I love more than voting, gets me teary every time).

The day continued with barre teaching, groceries and errands, having some kids' friends over, and then the cleaning out of the play room with the kids for reasons I can't remember and it always makes me SO crabby because it's so much work that I've already done a million times. Luckily our nanny was coming over at 6 so James and I could go out before I tried to put any of my children in the giveaway pile along with toys they don't need. Since we have a glut of date nights now that Tara is in our life, we didn't even plan this one- we just did some light shopping and wondering around, wasting time like we totally didn't have 3 kids at home and a babysitter on the clock. We ate out on the patio of a corner restaurant with live music. I had a steak salad with a side of french fries and it was perfect. I could almost forget the play room wasn't yet done and there was a big pile of stuff in the middle of it.

Today we headed out to our favorite Halloween tradition- the fabulous pumpkin village at the Dallas Arboretum! Such an incredible place, the gardens are beautiful and the pumpkin architecture is amazing. It's one of our favorite things all year.

James picks out pumpkins each year and takes their selection very seriously.

The kids ran around and played in the houses and Cora didn't even cry when surrounded by gourds! Cake and squash fears conquered, she's going to be simply unstoppable by age 3.

We visited our other favorite parts of the garden, including the frog fountains where the girls held hands and ran around in circles. They are always holding hands and it's my favorite.

After walking through all the gardens and water features, we were very ready for lunch, and I remembered that my Dallas coworkers had been torturing me with pictures of weekend lunches from Tacodeli for months and we should go there! Tacodeli was our FAVORITE taco place in Austin and they finally expanded, but to Dallas and not Fort Worth, and not even for a cowboy taco will I drive to Dallas unless pumpkin villages are also involved.

But oh my god they were every bit as good as when I'd devour them at my desk at work 2-3 days a week (there was a location right by our office; dangerously close... I had 3 numbers programmed into my phone on my desk- James, daycare, and Tacodeli).

We ordered 14 tacos, a side of beans, and a large queso and nary a crumb was left behind. Tacodeli, come to Fort Worth. Everything is better here. We don't have houses made of pumpkins, but neither does Dallas 11 months out of the year.

When we got home, Cora went to nap ("I go night night now, Mama."), James went pumpkin hunting (he couldn't find a sufficient number of his chosen varietal at the Arboretum), and the big kids and I got back to work in the play room. It was hilarious how different the two of them approached the task at hand. Landon spoke joyfully of each toy he picked up, recounting their many happy times together, and then concluded "but I don't really need it any more" and added it to the donation pile. I frequently found myself sticking up for his belongings, noting that he can keep anything he still plays with, we're just weeding out that which we don't.

Claire on the other hand, felt deep emotional attachments to every single thing in the play room. Broken erasers, key chains with Landon's name on it, pieces of toys we couldn't identify, notebooks with most of the pages torn or filled in... all treasures, all essential to her happiness, all followed cries of "Oh but I LOVE that!". I'd give her a discrete task and find her on the other side of the room, just sitting and staring out the window, decked out in all the necklaces we'd just untangled, four purses on her shoulder each stuffed with items from the trash pile, and a game with missing pieces in her lap. We finally had to send her outside to help James put out Halloween decorations because her heart couldn't handle our approach to organizing.

Inspired by our cleaning, Landon directed his energies to his own room and called me over an hour later, proud as a new papa at his labels and organization. The force is strong with that one.

Meanwhile I confiscated a Target bag from Claire filled with broken pencils and unidentifiable pieces of plastic. I also found Cora's princess backpack stuffed with 4 flashlights and 2 smooshed cereal bars. Doomsday prepper? I feel like I learned so much.

James dove into the pumpkin carving, something he take very seriously. There was research and an assembly line and a LOT of tools.

And Landon and Cora put on a show.

Claire was involved, but objected to her stage position and decided to put on her own show in her room, which did not allow audiences or video cameras. Landon slipped her an invitation to their show under the door, and she came back. Artists can be so temperamental.

Speaking of artists, I think our pumpkins turned out pretty great.

I was impressed by the detail work required for the Fike Swim logo. Maybe next year he should also do the SEC seal?

May you all have a fun and safe Halloween- looking forward to lots adorable kiddos dressed up in my facebook feed tomorrow!


  1. I'm traveling from Minneapolis to Dallas in a few weeks (with 3 kids, one of them 15 months, please send happy road trip vibes my way...) and have now added Tacodeli to my list of places to eat :) We're actually staying in Murphy (husband's family lives there) - any other recs?? I know everything is so ridiculously spread out, but I do want to try to do one day in Fort Worth... maybe, depending on how much I can tolerate driving after the trip down. We'll be there for 4 nights and primary goal is to eat as much good food as possible! But if there are a few other kid-friendly options that you know of up toward Murphy, I'd appreciate any recommendations :)

    1. Tacodeli is the BEST. The Heather taco is the best vegetarian taco in the whole world and the Cowboy is the best steak. Also get the queso. And basically everything else on the menu.

      Everything is super spread out and Murphy is a ways out, but if you head into Dallas to go to Taco Deli definitely go to The Arboretum. It's a spectacular outdoor set of gardens and they're beautiful and great for letting the kids run and the Children's Garden is AMAZING. One of my kids' favorite things in the whole world, full of learning activities and things to climb. Depending on the ages of your kids the Perot Museum (science museum) is also incredible. Klyde Warren park is supposed to be super cool (by the Perot), but I haven't been. If you like BBQ Pecan Lodge is my coworkers' FAVE, but I haven't been (honestly, being in Fort Worth, we don't get to Dallas much!). I'll let you know if I think of anything else, but I'd also just download the yelp app and google "best margarita" -- anywhere with a great margarita is going to have great food to go with ;). Have fun!!

    2. Thanks so much! My kids are 6, 4 and 1 so I'm sure the older 2 would really enjoy all of that - and I will FOR SURE enjoy all the margaritas I can get.

  2. I laughed out loud at "all together as a nasty family". I get Election Day off (but DAY CARE IS OPEN HALLELUJAH THE ANGELS SANG) and so honestly the easy thing to do is vote after I drop the small person off, but part of me also really wants to take him along to vote after I pick him up at the end of the day. I so loved voting with my parents as a kid and our nasty family is also with her and I'd love for him to be part of that. That said, he's 14 months.

    1. A day off with daycare open is THE BEST. So rare, but so amazing. Voting with your kids/parents is awesome too. At 14 months you could probably wait; he won't know, but you could also just take a picture holding him with your "I voted" sticker after? Or go vote on the way to daycare. But no matter what, keep the holiday + daycare open combo sacred.

  3. Thanks! I love it :). I'll be wearing it on election night while I drink and stress-watch the results coming in.

  4. I take my kids voting as much as it is logistically possible (and they have been going since they were babies). I was a history major for my undergrad and get very excited about voting. My poll place's line has only been 10 deep at the mostime, so it is super easy. The poll volunteers love having children there too.

  5. I wanted to let you know I've seen Fike Swim Products mentioned on the SwimSwam Facebook page more than once. Kudos to your husband. :)