How To Halloween In 2019

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Halloween.

When I was a kid, Halloween was a day that I looked forward to every year. I mean, what other day could be more catered to children than a day you get to imagine you’re anything you want to be and every house you visit gives you free candy? One day of absolute kid heaven.

Growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s Halloween was exactly that: one day of kid heaven. We would decorate our house and carve pumpkins some time leading up to the big day, and we’d go through our dress-up box to pick out our costumes, but that was about it. There was not a lot of prep work or parental stress involved in the day (Other than, perhaps, the fact that my mom had to pick up a bag of Tootsie Pops when she was at the store buying herself Tab.). These were simpler times before Pinterest and Instagram and the mass-commercialization of just about everything.

Not so now. No, today in 2019 Halloween is a different beast altogether. If you have a child in 2019, your Halloween timeline probably looks something like this:

July 5, 2019
Begin your Halloween costume shopping at Costco. If you aren’t ready to make a costume commitment by the day after the 4th of July, you risk having your kid’s favorite character and/or size completely sold out by the time school starts in the fall.

August 2019
Begin the prep work for your Halloween decorations. You should pin ideas from Pinterest boards that will really make your house stand out on the block. You’ll need a couple of months to gather the supplies and craft your beach ball googly eyes (to hang in your trees) and life-size spiders made out of styrofoam and weather-resistant papier-mâché (to cover every facade of your house).

September 2019
Return the superhero costume you bought at Costco two months ago. Now that school has started your kid’s friends have introduced him to some new video game and he wants to be an obscure character from the Nether world. After a quick search on Amazon you find the newly-desired costume (for three times the price of the Costco one, thankyouverymuch). Thanks to Amazon Prime, the costume can be delivered tomorrow by a somewhat sketchy guy who will show up in your driveway in an unmarked car when you’re home alone.

October 2019
Visit at least one pumpkin patch each weekend during the month of October. These farms are only open for a short window of time, and you must get the requisite fun out of them while they’re available. Dig deep to smile when it costs over $100 to take your family to look at gourds in the mud. It will all be worth it, though, when you get photos of your children in a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins (#mylilpunkins) and eat your body weight in apple cider donuts.

October 5, 2019
Your daughter has decided to be a VSCO Girl for Halloween. You  have no idea what this is so you Google the term. Every search result is just a photo of you and your friends in middle school. Thank goodness Amazon Prime also delivers hair scrunchies and Fjallraven-Kanken backpacks.

October 12, 2019
Go shopping for trick-or-treat supplies before the stores replace all of the Halloween candy with candy canes and gingerbread houses. Buy enough candy to fill the entire trunk of your car–you don’t want to be that house that runs out of candy halfway through the big night. Make sure your chocolates are fair trade and your gummies are organic and dye-free. Also buy allergy-free trinkets for your teal pumpkin and teen-appropriate gifts for the teens who may or may not come to your house because they still want to enjoy a bit more of their childhood (aka free candy).

October 19, 2019 
Pumpkin carving! Spend a few hours researching pumpkin designs online. Print off your desired templates and affix to your pumpkin. Break out your specialized carving kit containing intricate tools of the trade. Also make sure your Dremel Tool is available for additional artistic edge. Sharpies and steak knives are so 1993.

October 26, 2019
Attend the Fall Family Festival at your husband’s work. Marvel at how quickly your children can consume an entire plastic pumpkin’s worth of candy on the car ride home.

October 27, 2019
Attend your community trunk-or-treat Halloween pre-funk. Your children now have approximately 50 pounds of candy each, and we’re still half a week away from the main event.

October 28, 2019
Open up your NextDoor app so you can plot the best trick or treating route. Luckily there is a special Halloween feature where your neighbors have already indicated with icons whether they will be offering trick-or-treat incentives such as full size candy bars, a haunted house, or booze for the parents.

October 30, 2019
Your son rips his costume in half because he’s been wearing it non-stop since he got it over a month ago. Stay up until 2 am sewing the pieces back together.

October 31, 2019
Halloween Day!
Wake up at 5:30AM so you can make your traditional pumpkin pancakes and hot chocolate breakfast.
Get your kids dressed in their costumes so you can take pictures before school and post them to your social media accounts.
Arrive at school 30 minutes early so you can help decorate the classroom for the Halloween party.
Rush home after school starts so you can change into your costume (no weapons or masks) and get back to school in time for the party.
Drop off your toddler with your neighbor’s mother because all of your friends who usually help watch your kids are also at school for the Halloween party.
Get to school just in time for the first party. Enjoy watching first graders decorate “cookies” covered in an entire jar of frosting and bajillions of sprinkles.
As soon as the first class party is done, rush across the hall to your other kid’s party. Marvel at how many video game characters from the Nether world exist in the third grade.
After the party, rush home and pick up your toddler from the sitter so you can rush back to school to pick up the older kids after school.
Get home from school and try to force feed your children something with nutritional content before the next deluge of sugar.
Double check that your flashlights have working batteries. Realize that none of your flashlights have working batteries, so call your husband and have him pick up some extra batteries on his way home from work (which is taking approximately 4 hours anyway, because every other parent is also rushing home from work right now).
Attempt to bundle up your children for trick-or-treating because you live in Washington which means the weather on Halloween will either be A) cold, dark and rainy or B) freaking freezing cold (This was also the case in Washington during the late-80’s. Some things just never change.). Your children will have none of this bundling up business because the coats you’re asking them to wear cover up important details of their costumes. They say things like, “Dragons don’t wear rain coats.” and “Elsa doesn’t get cold because of her magical powers.” and “Kung Fu masters don’t wear shoes.” 100% of your children reject 100% of the weather protection you offer. May the odds be ever in their favor.
Spend the next 1-2 hours wandering your neighborhood in the dark while your children complain that their candy bags are too heavy and they are too cold.
Get home from trick-or-treating and allow your children to empty their candy loot and indulge in their every gluttonous tendency.
Finally wrangle the over-tired, over-sugared children to bed an hour past bedtime.
Print off a certificate of achievement for yourself because you have survived Halloween 2019.

Happy Halloween, friends! May it be a day you’ll always remember.

October Visitors

October has been a busy month for us: it was our first full month in our house, our boy turned four, and we celebrated our first Halloween in California. And, to make the month already sweeter (not that we needed any help with sweets after Halloween…) we had some very special visitors come to stay.

First up was Jon’s mom–better known around here as Grammy–who flew down from Leavenworth, WA for a quick birthday surprise. David came with me to the airport to pick up his “present” and he was ecstatic to see Grammy walking out to greet him. Grammy stayed with us for a long weekend. In usual Peterson style, we crammed as much into that long weekend as we could.

We went to our new church’s annual Trunk-or-Treat (where the kids go from car-to-car rather than house-to-house begging for candy. It was a good pre-funk to the actual holiday):
IMG_0070 We visited the Winchester Mystery House, a very beautiful–and even more unusual– landmark in the area. You see, Mrs. Winchester’s late husband created the Winchester rifle in the late-1800’s and the guns were used as the primary battle weapons through two world wars. After Mr. Winchester died, Mrs. Winchester was left with loads of money…and a very unhealthy fear of the ghosts of those killed by her husband’s rifles. Fueled by her fear and financed by her riches, she spent the remainder of her life constructing the most insane house that has ever been built. In order to confuse the “spirits” she built rooms with no doors, windows at strange heights, uneven stairways, secret passageways…and she just never stopped. Her house was under construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for nearly two decades. Eventually poor Mrs. Winchester passed away and construction on her house finally ceased. Today you can pay a cool $40 to tour the inside of the house (bah!) or tour the extensive gardens for free (that’s more like it):IMG_0144 Grammy helped us bring David to preschool on his birthday so he could celebrate with his classmates. To the teacher’s delight, we even brought neon blue cupcakes to share (in this photo you can even see the blue mustache lingering on David’s face):IMG_0147 After school we had a little birthday dinner for David at home, then invited our neighbors over for cake and ice cream. The adults enjoyed wearing birthday hats, but the kids, not so much:IMG_0158 On Grammy’s last day in town we visited Jon at work. We got a small tour of the Apple campus and brought a picnic lunch to eat on the lawn outside of Tim Cook’s office:IMG_0168 And, just like that, the weekend was over and it was time to say goodbye to Grammy. We made one last stop at the San Jose rose gardens before dropping Grammy off at the airport:IMG_0183 After Grammy left, we had a day to clean the house and stock up at the grocery store, because our next visitors were already on their way! Next up: Aunt Jessica (my sister) and Uncle Chris from Seattle!IMG_0232Again, this was a quick long-weekend visit, so we didn’t waste any time getting the fun started. As soon as we’d picked Jessica and Chris up from the airport, we headed out to Santa Cruz for some beach time. We watched what few surfers there were (apparently we had just missed a huge surfing competition that wrapped up an hour before we arrived. Dang!) and then walked down to the beach. The boys had a great time building sand castles (read: throwing sand at people) and wading in the water (read: getting knocked over by waves as they broke on the shore). This is one of the only G-rated photos I got at the beach because it literally took about 15 minutes before both boys decided it would be best to run around stark naked. Gotta love October in California!
IMG_0256 The next day was Halloween. We spent the morning at David’s preschool Halloween party where all the kids played games, ate loads of food, and marched around in a costume parade:IMG_0289 Later in the day, we got our next group of visitors who had driven up from southern California: Aunt Erin (my other sister), Uncle Toph, and cousin Noah!IMG_0304The boys had a great time playing together and dressing up in their Halloween costumes. They were the cutest Wolverine, giraffe, and pirate I’d ever seen:IMG_0320 We all went over to our neighbors’ house for a pizza dinner before it was time to hit the streets:IMG_0344 Then it was time for what is probably the most unusual American tradition: Sending our children to strangers’ houses in the dead of night to beg for candy. This was Jacob’s first time trick-or-treating, and he handled the event like a pro. After about 45 minutes everyone’s treat bags were overflowing and we decided to call it a night.IMG_0352 The next morning after we’d all recovered from our candy comas, we moved on to our next great adventure: San Francisco! Here I am with my sisters at the end of Pier 39 with the infamous Alcatraz Island in the background:IMG_0396 We spent our day in “The City” wandering around the waterfront, eating soup from sourdough breadbowls, and taking in the beautiful views (if you look closely, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background here):IMG_0406 We went to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory where we saw how chocolate is made and sampled their offerings:IMG_0412 We wanted to ride on the cable cars, but they were really expensive and the line was massive and we had tired children…so we just hopped onboard a parked trolley and snapped a photo instead. Good enough.IMG_0422 We made our way down to the marina where we boarded a boat for a short tour of the bay:IMG_0429 Our captain was awesome and he even let all the kids take turns steering the boat. David was having so much fun that he started spinning donuts and nearly steered us right into a pier:IMG_0450 From the boat, we got some incredible views looking back at the city skyline:IMG_0455 And we even drove up to the docks where hundreds of sea lions were basking in the sun:IMG_0461
Thus concluded our epic day in San Francisco.

The next day we decided to head south for one last adventure before Erin, Toph and Noah had to drive back home to L.A. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was right off the road they would be taking home, so we all went along for some fun:IMG_0487 The aquarium is incredible, and we liked it so much that our family bought an annual membership so we can return. There were massive tanks filled with every imaginable sea creature:IMG_0490 Our favorite spot, though, had to be this room where you got to stand inside a “wave” as the “tide” came in. IMG_0506 The kids were fascinated by the water running over their heads and splashing down by their feet.IMG_0510 We spent a bit of time wandering around Cannery Row outside of the museum so we could find some lunch. Monterey is such a cute little town, and I’m excited that we live close enough to visit again soon.

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Then, after an amazing couple of weeks, it was all over. Everyone went back home and we were left with a house that was a lot more empty, yet full of so much more joy. We made wonderful memories with our even more wonderful visitors–and hopefully we’ll get to host and explore and memory-make again soon!