Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I got a late start on Halloween this year.  Between the birthdays and the floods and the preschools and the back pain, carving pumpkins got placed on the back burner.  But no Halloween would ever be complete without crazy pumpkins carved with love by a family huddled together over the table on a cool autumn afternoon.

Who are those people?

Here's how it went down at my house.  Between Walmart, the pumpkin patch, our local grocery store and my uncle's farm, I'd managed to accumulate four giant orange pumpkins, three pretty Casper pumpkins, countless gourds, 5 to 8 squashes, a pumpkin pie pumpkin and a partridge in a pear tree.  I had many jack-o-lantern ideas and since the partridge seemed pretty resistant to being carved, I dove into the pumpkins on Sunday afternoon.

For the first and biggest pumpkin, I wanted to do a twist on the traditional pumpkin face and I was also looking forward to letting the boys dig in and get their hands dirty.  Cael was already requesting a train pumpkin, but knowing that was a little beyond my skill level, I took control of the design and simply let the boys sort the slippery seeds form the gooey insides.

After the pumpkin was finished, I was left with two thoughts.
1.  Some jobs are better left to adults.
2.  I hope my sons never become surgeons.

With chunks of pumpkin pulp in my hair, on my clothes, in Cael's ear and, to be discovered later, in Graham's butt crack, I surrendered to the fact that my children were possibly too young to fully appreciate this activity.  My one completed pumpkin sat, shunned, on the deck and I promised to sculpt him a friend or two later that evening.

We ate dinner at my sister Amy's house while my boys attempted to bring Halloween to life by scaring the bejeezus out of me as they launched themselves over the couch and chairs.  Their behavior on the whole was like a low-budget horror flick... gory, inappropriate, shocking and yet so awful that I couldn't help but laugh until their naughtiness had escalated to the point that I had to leave, which literally brought me to tears.  With Daddy out hunting, I was on my own to corral them but promised to come back when Joel returned home so that I could carve some pumpkins with my nephews.

Joel was home shortly thereafter and I eagerly handed over the children after a quick behind-the-ear search.  Aside from some pumpkin goo and a little melted chocolate, there was no sign of "666", so I jumped in the car and headed back to my sister's for some pumpkin carving.

As it turns out, I didn't get to my pumpkins, but instead helped to design a jack-o-lantern with the Gibson logo and the outline of a Les Paul guitar for Ethan, and a Yankees logo with "Jeter" in caps above for Keaton.  We also put some final touches on Keaton's Boba Fett costume before I started getting some strange texts from Joel.

He was strangely concerned about some funny noises he was hearing in the house; sounds that I have grown used to but cannot explain myself.  Given that I live in a house that is younger than I am and I know all of the previous owners, I am confident that the house isn't haunted by anything other than the ever-present horror of my kids' behavior.

And yet, Joel continued to hear sounds.  I packed up my pumpkins, hugged my kind family that loves me even when we are unlovable, and returned home to find my husband in the basement-- in the dark-- watching Paranormal Activity.

Am I the only sane one in this house?

I got drawn into the movie for a good 25 minutes before I was able to drag myself upstairs to revisit my pumpkin project.  I saw a neat "cannibal" pumpkin idea on the internet a few days prior and, with all of the decorative gourds in my kitchen, thought it would be a fun and easy alternative to the tired triangular-eyed pumpkins I carved every year as a child.

Two hours and one really severe case of perfectionism later, I put the cannibal pumpkin to rest and turned to the white Casper pumpkins. 

Creak.  What was that?  Must have been the dog. 

Crack.  What was THAT?  Could that have been the cat?

Even though I hadn't watched the whole thing, the scary movie had me jumpy and paranoid.  I quickly cleaned out the white pumpkins and resolved to let the boys help me design them the next morning.

After breakfast, I asked the boys what they wanted on their pumpkins.

After refusing to tackle a train pumpkin for weeks because it would require tools and detail work that I wasn't capable of mastering, I finally gave in.  With an "it is what it is" attitude, I sketched a basic train outline and initially planned on simply cutting it out and handing it over.

But as I started in on it, I realized that I could shade part of it and cut out the rest to make it look a little more lifelike.

It took me all of Toy Story 3 to complete his pumpkin, and when I presented it to him he promptly announced that I "ruined it".  I told him that if he disliked it that much I could just throw it away, but he decided that it could sit on the front step after all.

You know, since it wasn't good for much else.  

Throughout the day, I caught him peeking at it from the front door and telling his toy trains about it as they crashed repeatedly into chair legs and baseboards.  I guess he was really traumatized by how bad it was.  Next year I'll just have to take Graham's advice when it comes to pumpkin carving.  When I asked him what to put on his jack-o-lantern, he was adamant that it should have "mouse toots".  When I first sat down to tackle his pumpkin, I smelled it and made a goofy face and told him that mice had definitely tooted on the pumpkin, but not wanting to further perpetuate my reputation as the "weird mom" on the block, we opted for a more socially acceptable jack-o-lantern, and Mickey was born.

Many of the kids that came to my door for candy were very impressed with our pumpkins and I even had a few tell me that the train jack-o-lantern was the best in the neighborhood.  Could I have missed my calling as a procrastinating, paranoid pumpkin carver? 

Maybe I'll carve that "mouse toot" pumpkin and see where the future takes me. 


  1. Your train pumpkin is definitely cool!!!! You have more patience than me. I left the (very fast) pumpkin carving to Lee this year :-)

    Shawna www.nopaparazziplease.blogspot.com

  2. Shawna- I'm completely exhausted and short on sleep thanks to four (mostly) average pumpkins! Trust me... you're very wise.


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.