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Halloween 2017 Costume Reveal

21 Oct


I’ll admit it, I wasn’t always a huge fan of family costumes until recently. They always felt a bit… forced. Dressing up our 7 month old like a kangaroo for our own enjoyment two years ago was one thing, but more often it feels like parents pushing their own interests onto their children — I mean, the cast of Stranger Things? Really? Do your three and seven year old watch the show? I bet dressing up as Mom and Dad Tiger from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood would be happening if we were being a little less vain here, people.

Moana quickly became E’s favorite last winter so there was hardly even a discussion that we’d be going as Moana, Te Fiti, Maui and Pua — Emilia assigned us our costumes in February. I just wish I’d been able to pivot her birthday party theme to Moana because I think her obsession was at its peak just in time for the Frozen invitations to get out the door. Naturally. But that’s another story for another.

I was just relieved she didn’t want me to be the crab, Tamatoa, so I leaned into Te Fiti hard. I was going to do the moss wig, I’d make the heart with some green flowers. I even grabbed some green body makeup to make it really come to life. My goal was to make it happen on a budget, so I spent months hunting down all the pieces we’d need to pull it off. Here’s one of my inspo pictures above. I was excited because Emilia was so excited.


Then we had a major kitchen floor renovation fiasco and all of October was shot and I found myself scrambling to pull the pieces together. Above, you’ll note Brian in a “leaf” grass shirt made of a dollar store table cloth. [I’d envisioned sewing some gorgeous felt monstera leaves using my felt stash and hand shaping Maui’s shark teeth necklace using salt dough and twine. You know, as one does.]

Thankfully, both friends and family pulled together to help us source what we needed (and reminded me that it didn’t need to be perfect) and we made it to the local Halloween parade outfitted as Moana and crew.

With all the controversy about cultural appropriation after the release of a culturally insensitive “Maui” costume, I was nervous to even attempt a Moana family costume. But after reading so many articles, including this one, about the board of Pacific Islander scholarly advisors that Disney consulted with as the movie was being developed, I realized that we could pull it off respectfully by not donning tattooed muscle suits and painting culturally symbolic designs onto play clothes.

The message of Moana and the strong female main character obviously spoke to our family, (and my daughter), but I made a point to take some children’s books out of the library about Polynesian culture to read with my daughter too. No offense to Disney, but there is only so much that an animated movie can provide context for, so we enjoyed reading about the social lifestyle of Pacific Island cultures and how family and community are very much intertwined and celebrated through traditional music, dance, and food.


Although Hawaii is just a part of Polynesia, it’s especially close to our hearts because we celebrated our honeymoon there. As a child, I also read about Queen Liliʻuokalani, the first queen and last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Later, as I became interested in quilting, I learned that she’d also been an accomplished quilter herself.

Anyways, here is the breakdown on everything we put together for our costumes:

Maui Costume DIY

Since we weren’t going the muscled Maui route, I just cut out and had Brian iron the letters M-A-U-I onto a Jo-Anne’s t-shirt I’d purchased for another project (cost: > $5 for the fabric). I also grabbed a green table cloth at the dollar store for some leaves. Brian’s parents found a green grass skirt and a matching “teeth” necklace and bracelet and my mom found a sword that we fashioned into a hook using cardboard, duct tape, prayers, and tears. Hah! No, it was twine and an old shredded white sheet remnant I saved in my fabric stash for years, waiting for this day when it would come to the rescue of some crazy project I’d left for the last minute. It delivered.

Moana Costume DIY

There is a Disney version of Moana’s costume that is actually pretty cute, but I like to sew and it’s important to me to make my children’s costumes as much as I can, versus buying something off the shelf so when my mom found a long, two-piece, skirt and tank set on clearance at Target over the summer with a slightly “Moana” feel to it, I decided to work with it and make things a bit easier on myself. I found some rope-y looking trim and twine, grabbed the hand shaped, yellow plumeria hair clip I bought as a souvenir on my honeymoon, and dusted off the embroidery floss necklace-making skills I honed in elementary and middle school, and quickly fashioned Moana’s blue shell necklace using an actual seashell, some twine, and some pearlescent white beads. Brian drilled a super fine hole into the top of the seashell using a teeny tiny drill bit. A little paint and some shimmer dust, and we had a necklace that only elicited 4 or 5: “But where is the heart, Mama?!” Whoops. Sorry, E. I’m not that good. The shell necklace isn’t going to open up to reveal the heart of Te Fiti, my bad. If I’d had more time at home, I’d planned to paper mache

Hei Hei Candy Bucket

My piece de resistance.

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10 Fall Activities to Do With Your Active Toddler in New England

16 Oct

FullSizeRender 18I claim that every season in New England is my favorite, but fall might just be my favorite. The golden light, the foliage, the decor, the baked goods, and the style potential…? It checks all the boxes for me!

Here are the top 10 activities we have on our fall bucket list:

  1. A trip to the pumpkin patch. It’s an annual tradition to visit with one of my best friends from college and its amazing to see how our families have grown through the years.
  2. Nature scavenger collection. No matter the season, a daily walk is on our to do list and a snap to keep a toddler entertained if you provide a bucket for treasure collection. In the fall, it’s usually acorns, pinecones, sticks, pretty leaves, and dried seed heads.
  3. Pumpkin bread baking. Emilia loves helping me bake and starting her young has helped teach her precision and patience. Me too!
  4. Mosiac paper plate pumpkin. My toddler absolutely loves any crafts involving a glue stick and handling the small pieces of paper is great for developing fine motor skills.
  5. Go on a hayride. I don’t think there are many vehicles my toddler doesn’t love, from tractors to garbage trucks to air planes so this is a must for her.
  6. Decorate the house. From stick-on window decals to helping plant mums, there is so much learning potential with little tasks like these.
  7. Paint a pumpkin and compost the pumpkin guts. Emilia loves to check out the worms when we turn the compost heap. She has her own little gardening gloves and trowel and loves to plant seeds. Oh the learning!
  8. Visit the park to check out the foliage. The days are numbered before the temperature really drops, so we’re getting our fill of outdoor fun before we have to really bundle up.
  9. Apple taste test. You never know what’s going to taste good until you try. We talk about the flavor differences and see what can be improved with a dusting of cinnamon. You can then graduate to providing different “dips” and toppings. We like almond butter sprinkled with chia seeds and cottage cheese with a little maple syrup.
  10. Stuff a scare crow. As you work, it provides a great opportunity to practice naming anatomy and pieces of clothing as well as thinking creatively. What can we use for a head? What would make good eyes? (Think: a pumpkin, sticks and acorns, etc)

    I’d love to hear some of your favorite fall activities. Is there anything you do that is specific to where you live, kid-friendly or otherwise? 

Emilia, Lately

15 Oct

IMG_5484This is my favorite age to date. I love seeing E’s personality developing on a daily basis, from her sense of humor, to her imagination, to her empathy. Every day, her vocabulary grows and she blows me away with her memory. Her ability to follow directions and make connections is also mind-boggling. I’ll be a very sad to see her sentence structure smooth out and her pronunciation improve so I thought I should capture some of my favorite “Emilia-isms” while they’re still fresh in my mind. She is already pronouncing “Caroline” with more fluidity than when we brought her sister home three months ago, and it just about kills me…

From the mouths of babes:

“You no look my mama” said to me in the saddest voice everrrr, complete with pouty, sad lips and large, actual tear-filled eyes one afternoon after she woke from her nap while I was doing a face mask.

Now you clap for me!” – After putting on any performance of her repertoire of songs. Lately it’s: Bah Bah Black Sheep, Mary Had a Little Lamb, London Bridge, and I’m a Little Tea Pot.

Can I have some toilet paper, meow meow.” – I absolutely killed myself the first time she did this. I know it’s from Daniel Tiger, but my mind went straight to Super Troopers. I don’t want to ever forget the mischievous look in her eyes when she did this the next time knowing I’d crack up. Her sense of humor is so great.

“NO! But I don’t want to change my PJS, they’re so comfy/cozy!”

“MAMA YOU CAME BACK!!!” [Usually said while running to me with her arms outstretched.] These are the moments that remind me: Oh yea, THIS is why I wanted kids. This is the best.

Pronunciation + Phrasing

– Eee-ce Cream [ice cream]
– Yunch. [Lunch]
– I yuv my samily [I love my family]
– Co-see [Coffee]
– Bidge [like garbage] – the bidge” is the trash can but then there is also the “Bidge truck.”
– Yiddle [Little]; Can I have a yiddle bit of Daniel??
– 1…2…3…6…7…8…9…10…11…12
– I had SO MUCH SUN! [fun]
– You a good cooker, Mama.
– I yuv when you give me a spesal [special] treat, Mama. 

Other favorite mannerisms

– [Puts a little fist to her lips and pauses to clear her throat] Ahem
– Pretty consistently will sneeze into her inner elbow
Can I have a medium sized snack please? [After I ordered my coffee at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through]
– Sings whatever Daniel Tiger song is appropriate in any situation:

Let’s find out what’s special at night…”
[while walking home after watching the sunset together]

Taking care of you makes me happy too!”
[After getting me a tissue when I sneezed]

Stomp three times…. [stomps] and you’ll feel better.
[Does this constantly because, well, ALL THE FEELINGS lately.]

Milestones

  • Can walk down stairs without a railing
  • Completely potty trained, including though the night
  • Climbs in and out of her carseat herself and buckles herself in
  • Attended her first drop-off play group session and absolutely loved it
  • Can dress herself with minimal assistance

Misc. Things to Remember

  • When she recounted an entire episode of Daniel Tiger to my mom as if it had happened to her. The episode was about Daniel visiting Grandpere and sleeping over in a sleeping bag and included something about Daniel feeling left out. Emilia changed the story to “PaPa playing with her so she wouldn’t feel left out. [My mom asked me how the weekend in CT had been to which I replied: What are you talking about?! And then I pieced it all together.]
  • When she taught C all the sign language she knows when we were on a walk and I had both girls squeezed in sharing the bassinet attachment after E decided she no longer wanted to walk anymore.