02 November 2008

Halloween and more

Originally, the plan was that we would leave exactly two years from the time we arrived, which would have been last week. Thanks to everyone being flexible because of Jack's school schedule, we were able to stay a bit longer. Because of this, we're able to be here for a couple holidays THREE times, instead of just the planned two. Last weekend we celebrated our third Halloween in Thailand, and although it is a completely "American" Halloween, we were impressed by how many people actually got into it. The Japanese families in our building (roughly 80% of the tenants) decorated their doors WAY more than we did. Of course, because we thought we'd be gone, our Halloween boxes are in the bottom, back corner of our storage room. (Jeff was so relieved I didn't ask him to help me dig them out. We just got by with homemade decorations this year.) The Japanese moms at Jack's school (can you tell we live in the Japanese part of Bangkok?) almost all had some kind of costume, cape, or devil's horns on for his school's party. I was impressed! I thought for SURE I'd be the only one with any kind of a costume! Our first Halloween, which was two days after we arrived, we saw NOTHING having to do with Halloween. Obviously, we were living in a hotel, we knew no one, and we spent the evening at the mall getting dinner and were all in bed by 8pm. Thank you, jet-lag! So, you can bet I was feeling the "mom-guilt" for that one. Luckily, the last two years I've been able to redeem myself as far as providing a fun Halloween for the kids.

We went with Jack to school that morning, and Jane was SO excited because she knew she got to actually "go" to school, instead of just waving goodbye to Jack as he went into his classroom. So, the plan was for Jane to be Tinkerbell, as she had requested since Halloween was first discussed. I thought that was awesome since we already had the costume (thank you, Santa). Come Friday
morning, Jack's getting his Spiderman suit on, I'm putting on my Super Cape and mask, and Jane decides we need to be a super family, something that Jeff started a couple weeks back. He'd dress everyone up in capes and give us secret missions (e.g. rescue all the stuffed animals and take them into Jack's room into the super helicopter, A.K.A. the top bunk). Jeff's brilliant. Even Jane got into it. So she wanted to be Batman instead. Batman? Awesome, even EASIER! I don't have to do anything special to her hair! (Is it wrong to be excited about one less thing?) So, we were the "super family", and we were getting all the looks as we walked the 10 minutes to school.

I kind of like to see their faces too.

I volunteered to be in charge of Jack's classroom activity that all the other kids would rotate through. I was happy for a chance to be a "room mother" as my mom seemed to be every year I was in Elementary school. She was the coolest. And still is. I always looked forward to her bringing a huge smokey bowl of punch that no one could take their eyes off of. I thought about doing that too. You can EASILY get dry ice here, just order something take-away from Dairy Queen and you're set. I decided to keep it simple and stick to just providing sugar cookies for the kids to decorate. Next year, I think I'll go for the dry ice punch too. Way cool for six-year-olds. Anyway... we enjoyed Jack's general assembly with all the children. Then entered the best clown I've seen in Bangkok yet. And honestly, I've seen a lot of clowns. He was totally geared for six and under, not too squeaky or loud (some clowns have squeakers in their mouth and that's how they "talk". It's fun for about two seconds). He did magic, balloons, and was just really low-key funny. Jack and Jane were completely entranced the entire time. I loved watching them sit there together, laughing and looking so big.

It was fun to be involved with Jack's class and get to know the kids a little better. I think maybe three kids out of the fifty that came through had decorated cookies like this before. Is this an American thing? It was hilarious to watch the nursery class (mostly two-year-olds, give or take six months) come through. Are these kids REALLY in school? I know it's totally normal here, but I can't imagine sending my two-year-old to school for three to four hours a day!

Jack had a fun day at school and loved playing the games (pin the tail on the black cat, musical chairs, monster bowling, etc.) as well as eating chocolate fondue and other delicious treats. He was a little wired when he got home, so I was happy we had a few hours of down time before our evening began.

Even though our building was planning a huge Halloween celebration, we committed early on to head out to Nichada (the big American feeling neighborhood) to the Gibbons family's home for their annual Halloween party. They are so good to open their home up to us inner-city folks who would otherwise have a very non-traditional Halloween for our little ones. Jane was funny with her costume AGAIN! She certainly looked cute, but it was hard to convince her of how much she REALLY wanted to be Tinkerbell. (I just wanted ONE last use of that cute costume!). She loved it once it was on and Jack danced her around the house.

We rode the train to meet Jeff mid-way from his work. If the kids didn't already draw enough attention... my goodness.

We caught a taxi out, and half way there (it's about 40 min. out of the city) Jane started freaking out about her costume. So, before we even arrived for the party, she was wearing her pajamas I'd brought for her to wear on the way home. She was happy, so that's what matters, right? At least they had Care Bears on them!

The kids loved Trick-or-Treating, and it was definitely like a traditional Halloween. The kids walked up to each house (minus the scary ones for the girls), and got all kinds of good candy! Jane caught on after about two houses and was completely sold. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is only to her benefit! I wished I could have gotten a picture of all the decor; some of these homes went all out. Some of the houses were even providing treats for parents. Have you ever been offered a jello shot while Trick-or-Treating? I have. You just don't see that in Utah!

We had a wonderful evening with our friends, enjoying the Gibbon's beautiful home, visiting with everyone, letting the kids play, trick-or-treat, and watch fun Halloween movies. It felt just like home. Michele even cranks up the air so it's a little bit cold (luxury!), so we can enjoy our hot soup. It was awesome. I love this tradition, and have always been grateful for other friends (thank you Heatons!) who have provided a fun place to go after (or before) the kids do their
trick-or-treating where we can all unwind and enjoy each other's company! I would definitely like to keep this tradition going. Plus, I just love soup, but in this heat, it's NOT enticing to cook over the stove all day!

Here are all the little ones after they collected their loot. From the left: Alina, Narissa, and Anna Ungrangsee, Jane, Madeline Beck, Lucas Beck, Jack, and Isaac Beck. I don't know how we missed getting Sophia Gibbons in there!

It's been fun to see everyone's Halloween traditions through your blogs. Such cute costumes, fun parties, and cute kids! This is our last year to be out on Halloween without jackets, in sandals, and sweating. It's been fun, but like I said, I'm ready.

So, here's the question for all the parents. What do you do with all that candy? Every year until now, I've managed to recycle it back into the candy to give out, after my kids have had their night's worth. They've never noticed, they're always so sugar happy from all they've eaten that night. This time, we ended up with two buckets of serious candy! Do you eat it yourselves? Do you let your kids have free reign? Do you ration it out for each day? Do your kids ration it on their own? I've been using Jane's for rewards, and Jack hasn't questioned my authority over letting him choose a little bit each day, but that won't last forever. At what point do you just let them just have it without interceding?

Am I a mean mom?

I didn't get a good picture of Jack's class doing the cookies, but can you tell JANE enjoyed the process at home? This girl loves flour. She was eating it and spraying it all over the kitchen. Yes, very fun, until clean up time! We sure enjoyed all that hysterical laughter!

Jack's latest quiet time creation. This kid loves building stuff, and I love it because he'll sit and read, or play with Jane in his forts forever. He is so cool.

So, honestly, what do you do with your children's Halloween candy?


Bevany said...

First of all, I still can't believe how cute your kids are. The picture of Spiderman and Batman is the cutest ever. I love that Jack wanted you all to be "super". Second...you are so not a mean mom. You seem like the funnest mom ever and I'm serious. I totally eat my kids candy. The rest I ration. Two or three after lunch...two or three after dinner. It's almost gone! Looks like a fun Halloween!

Mimi and Papa in Provo said...

Happy Halloween! That was a fun blog. I could almost feel the sugar running through my veins. Well, the candy is always a quandary. I read an article from a dentist that suggested that you let the kids eat all they want then brush their teeth and wait for the next "feeding" or day to do it over again. He said that just eating it doesn't really hurt teeth. It's when it sits on your teeth for a few hours or overnight that hurts them. Sometimes when you guys were little we'd use them for practice treats but as you got older I just said "eat all you want, but don't whine when it's gone." There is always one kid who "savors" and saves theirs that become the envy of those who ate it all quickly. You can't escape it but as far as healthy goes, maybe you could sub some of the worst surger with some bags of nuts or fruit leather. However, the leather is really clingy to the teeth but the nutritional value is better. It's inevitable that this is just a "sooooooweet" holiday we can't avoid and don't want to actually.

Ann's ART said...

I let my kids just eat whatever they wanted. I gave them 2 days and then I chucked the rest. I found that they were pretty much sick of it after one day anyway and didn't really care that I threw it out. Kind of a waste. Adri was telling me that some dentists will buy it from kids and send it to troops in Iraq. So, when you get back to the states...you will have that option