Halloween Time Archive

Halloweenie No More

by Alison Friedman in Halloween Time, Marvelous Madelyn

Every Halloween, we go trick-or-treating with friends and I do my best to throw a little festive, pumpkiny cheer around the house in order to honor my Pinterest board. But in all honesty, and I know it’s going to get me in trouble, I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween. It’s a lot of stress to decide who you’re going to go trick-or-treating with (it’s kind of like the big question of where will you be at midnight on New Year’s Eve; or where will you spend July 4th in order to enjoy prime fireworks viewing), and I am also kind of cheap and don’t love spending money on seasonal stuff that sits in a box for 11 months out of the year, and I’m also still a little PTSD-ish about the pressure to be a slutty noun during college Halloween. But when you have kids, Halloween gets reborn and Mom-o-ween unfolds.

Madelyn's First Halloween. as a cow. I dressed up like a farmer and phoned in my costume that was a pre-existing outfit that consisted of a plaid flannel from Target.

Madelyn’s First Halloween. as a cow. I dressed up like a farmer and phoned in my costume that was a pre-existing outfit that consisted of a plaid flannel from Target.

I want Madelyn to have a pretty normal childhood and she’s a little behind in the Halloween department right now. At Jewish preschool, there are no Halloween festivities (pumpkins = Fall!). They get to don costumes for Purim, but not Halloween. I was secretly glad about this because Madelyn escaped that month-long buildup of anticipating October 31st. For her, Halloween was just a few hours before the start of November. For me, Halloween was easy.

But all I’ve been hearing about since Starbucks released their first PSL of the season is that “OMG Halloween is this mooooooonth!” and Madelyn keeps asking if it’s Halloween yet. Public elementary school is to thank for the constant talk of costumes and candy and decorations.

I had a pretty weak collection of Halloween decor — a few decorative pumpkins, a wreath, a witch that hangs from the bushes in the front of my house. My mom buys me scarecrows every year that Madelyn has affectionately called Mr. Corny. But I’ve kept it pretty light; more cutesy Halloween than blood-curdling screams scary Halloween.

Today Madelyn and I were walking through a parking lot for some errands and she saw the Halloween pop-up store that peppers the shopping centers where we live. She begged me to go in, but I hesitated because we had a to-do list to complete and this wasn’t on it. Also, Madelyn tends to be a delicate flower (read: wuss) and I knew there was no way in H E double hockey sticks that she’d enjoy the interior of the Halloween store.

The girl knows how to beg so I gave in and knew she’d want out of there the second she walked in. After all, right at the front of the store was a whole display of expensive animated figures that jump out and make noise or flash bloody machetes.

Well. Joke’s on me because Madelyn could not get enough of these new friends. Cloaked ghoul, zombie girl, giant hairy spider, werewolves with a fog machine — she. did. not. blink. She giggled and smiled and basically found her new Disneyland. It’s like I don’t even know my own spawn anymore.

Wheeee! Scary things that jump out at me! Yay!

Wheeee! Scary things that jump out at me! Yay!

She was unstumpable. Surely, she’d completely freak out at the bloody appendages hanging from chains?

No. She held them up and swung them around like a lasso. If anything, she thought it was kind of gross that there was fake blood on them, but the concept of a plastic foot made of raw details didn’t even faze her.

"Look, Ma! It's like a necklace with a hand charm!"

“Look, Ma! It’s like a necklace with a hand charm!”

Madelyn is so thoughtful that she's always willing to offer a helping hand.

Madelyn is so thoughtful that she’s always willing to offer a helping hand.

There was a section of skeletons whose bones looked pretty real. There were all different sizes and some even wore capes. They were hanging on a rack in a row. Among them was a scary-ass clown.

She laughed and pointed.

In the back was the equivalent of the XXX movies at the video store from the 90s. There were entire scenes of the scariest creatures I’ve ever seen inside dioramas with pretty gory details and if you push a button next to each scene, it lights up and makes loud shrieky noises. One of them had the unfortunate luck to be electrocuted with zap sounds and all.

I was absolutely sure Madelyn would lose her mind and need therapy after exploring this section despite my suggestion to walk a different way.

Instead, she gleefully pushed the buttons down the line of the display and frolicked through the cacophony of dioramas that were a heartbeat away from becoming real, live Charles Mansons. She was like Maria in the mountains in the opening scene of The Sound of Music. I tell you. I do not know where my daughter went this afternoon.

She seriously just saw the scariest thing i've ever seen and she was hysterical.  Cracking up. Comedy club.

She seriously just saw the scariest thing I’ve ever seen and she was hysterical. Cracking up. Comedy club.

We explored the costume department with the kitschy crayons and slutty fairytale characters, and cheapened 1920s flappers. Then she found the political costumes where people can dress up like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They even had masked heads of donkeys and elephants, just to really camp up the joke that is this year’s election. Halloween is a scary holiday, but the real Halloween happens a week later when we all get to vote. Trick or treat? What will it be?

Madelyn for President!  Make America Silly Again!

Madelyn for President! Make America Silly Again!

And after all this — after all the creepy, gruesome, horrific, and nail-bitingly scary things she saw and heard in the Halloween store today — Madelyn still insists on dressing up as Rapunzel. She may play a toughie on the outside, but deep down, she’s still a soft princess at heart.

Patchy Days Are Here Again

Hard to believe that we’re going into Madelyn’s third Halloween. Even at two months old, we took her to the pumpkin patch to get traditional photos started even though she had no idea what was going on and couldn’t do any of the fun pumpkin patch activities.

Last year was different when we took her to Underwood Family Farms where she seemed to have an appreciation for her surroundings and could toddle through the pumpkin fields by herself and trot after the animals in the petting corral.

Pumpkins change. Hair grows. Cuter happens.

Pumpkins change. Hair grows. Cuter happens.

This year, Madelyn basically owned the place. We took her back to Underwood Farms and she seemed to thoroughly enjoy and understand all the aspects of fun on the farm. She pointed to things she recognized and made sure to show us every single pumpkin, or in Madelynese, tun-tun.

Where will she land next year?

Where will she land next year?

It was a hot Saturday; one of those tricky days that appeared cold from the bedroom window and sent chills through our house walls, but then turned out to be sunny, bright, and warm. We shvitzed our way through the long line to get in and Madelyn picked through the easy grab-and-go pumpkins in the crates.




We only had a couple hours to spend at the farm and Bryan was feeling a little ghoulish himself, so I was extremely goal-oriented as we made our way through the peopled grounds.

We headed toward the petting corral so I could hug and cuddle every single available animal Madelyn could see her fuzzy friends. She loved the goats and chased around this one sandy-colored little guy, calling out, “Hi, Goat! Hi, Goat! Hi, Goat!” She saw a chicken and had a conversation in full-on, fluent “Bock bock.” (She also says “Bock bock” to her dinner, soooo…). And Madelyn loved the sheep, despite offering salutations to the “Shit.” (FYI: letters P and T are completely interchangeable). I would say the petting corral was a success.

You WILL love me.

You WILL love me.

Listen here, pal. You stick with me and everything will be OK.

Listen here, pal. You stick with me and everything will be OK.



One thing we didn’t get to last year was watching the pig races, so I was determined to get seats during the hours we were there. Fortunately, the next race was only a half hour after we were finished with the animals, so we headed over to the grandstands early to get a spot to see the little piggies race around a semi-circle.

The track had seating on three sides. We sat toward the end of the long run and could see the piggies as they came out of their pens and then craned our necks to the left to see them prance the rest of the long run, round a corner, and end up back inside a holding area. The stands were packed (sweaty) shoulder to (sweaty) shoulder so I had Princeton at my feet in our second-level-up benches. His leash was under my tushie so I could have my hands free to share Madelyn duties with Bryan.

I could hear Princeton grunting and squealing — like a pig — when they came out for each race. His ears were perked and I could tell that he was really interested in the like-sized 3-month-old porkers 20 feet away from us. I just kept petting him to give him attention, but I could tell he just really wanted to be a part of it all.

So the determined dog did.

Oh, look! That cute little dog looks like Princeton. IT IIIIIIIIIS PRINCETON!!!

Oh, look! That cute little dog looks like Princeton. IT IIIIIIIIIS PRINCETON!!!

Just as the pigs were in front of our part of the stands, going for the long stretch, I saw a very cute and furry salt-and-pepper terrier running alongside the fence that separated the track from the stands.


Bryan tossed Madelyn into my lap and ran after Princeton while the announcers joked that a dog was now wanting to be part of the race and everyone was cheering. I was in a fog of laughter, panic, and embarrassment, but my eyes were clear enough to see Princeton, his fur blowing in the wind and his usually-tight jowls flapping in a wide smile, playing and fraternizing with the athletic piggies mid-race.

He trotted back to our seats and returned to sit very contentedly at our bench, basking in the memories of what just happened like a school girl who successfully snuck out of her house to steal a midnight kiss from her boyfriend. Princeton had had his eye on the piggy prize, pulled one great, big, swift yank on the leash under me, and in nanoseconds, he was free, even if only for moments. I’m quite certain this was the highlight of his entire life.

After the races, people passed by us in the stands as we gathered up all of our stuff and they cheered on Princeton for his bold move. His ears were pinned back and his tail wagged high. He was one happy farm pup that afternoon.


By then, Bryan was pretty fried, especially after his Olympic sprint to catch Princeton the Pig-Dog, so we made our way to the open pumpkin fields to finish up our day with photos of Madelyn in the sea or orange.

She loved seeing all the “tun-tuns” and immediately began hugging them and talking to them. I swear she had a whole conversation with one.

Tun-tun! It's you!!!!!

Tun-tun! It’s you!!!!!

She also discovered the scarecrows that are probably more decorative to set the scene than to actually scare any crows… or children. Madelyn was drawn to the scarecrows like crows to the corn or farmers to the overalls or Princeton to the pigs. She stood two inches from the stake, looked up, and continued the conversation she previously had with the pumpkin. She played with their fake, empty, creepy scarecrow limbs and incessantly said with excitement: “Hi, tare-tow! Hi! Eeeeee!! Tare-tow!!!!!! WOW. Tare-tow!”

I half expected her to flash them and ask for an autograph. But she was wearing a onesie and overalls, so…





Kids, man. Their imaginations are amazing.

She sauntered through the fields like Maria in the green hills (which are alive with the sound of music) with her happy little girl voice trailing behind her as I snapped photos.

Do Re Me Fa So La Ti TARE-TOW!!!!!!

Do Re Me Fa So La Ti TARE-TOW!!!!!!

Madelyn loved looking up at the “cha-chur” — the tractor — which she also posed in front of last year. She was much bigger this year, and yet, still so small next to this green giant. I think we need to take pictures of her with the cha-chur every year from now on. She’ll be 17 and hating me because she’d rather be getting ready for high school homecoming with her friends, but I will insist on getting her mug in front of the dusty, dirty pumpkin patch cha-chur. What if she’s still calling it “cha-chur” by then?





After our frolic through the pumpkin fields, we made our way back toward the exit of the farm. As we passed the things she’d seen earlier that afternoon, Madelyn politely said goodbye and thanked … things. “Bye, shit!” “Bye, tun-tuns!” “Bye, {pig snort sound}!” “Bye, tare-tow!” “Bye, farm!”

I love that little profile and those pouty lips.

I love that little profile and those pouty lips.

She’s so polite! And during this Halloween season, she is constantly no trick and all treat!