Dressed to Kill

Halloween Party 2009 012

Every autumn, as I reconstructed our home after three months of child infestation, my daughters settled into their school classes and thoughts turned to Halloween. More specifically, thoughts turned to Halloween costumes.

I’d load my girls into the minivan and we’d attack the pattern books at Joann fabric, looking for the perfect costumes. (These pattern books weighed approximately 450 lbs. and had to be moved carefully or they would fall off the narrow perch and crush your hip bones.)

Costumes ranged from Disney princesses to Death, and each outfit had to last for decades because they were worn all the time and handed down for generations. (For example, one daughter, dressed as Snow White, shredded the hem of her gown under the plastic tires of her Big Wheel. Her dress looked like Snow White had been attacked by a pack of very short raccoons. She still wore it every day.)

After finding the right pattern, we’d roam the aisles, looking for fabric that didn’t cost the equivalent of an actual Disney movie.

During my costume-making tenure, I created all of the Disney princesses, a cheerleader, Super Girl, a lion, a pumpkin and several witches. (Sidenote: A witch costume in 1990 consisted of a long black dress, a long black cape, long black hair, a black hat and a broomstick. Now a witch costume is a black miniskirt, fishnet stockings and a push-up bra. I have no idea how to fly a broom in that outfit.)

Speaking of slutty clothes, my daughters were often pushing the envelope when it came to modesty. According to my daughter, her belly dancer’s shirt was too long, so (when I wasn’t around) she rolled it up several times to display her 10-year-old abs, and the gypsy Esmeralda’s blouse kept “accidentally” falling off her shoulders.

Daughter number three used her Cinderella costume as a method of seduction as she walked up and down our driveway in her slappy plastic high heels, flirting with the men building the garage. Did I mention she was four?

During another Halloween, she wanted to be Darth Maul. I made her costume, painted her face, but refused to put horns on her head. She grew her own devil horns a few years later.

By Oct. 20, all my intentions to create the perfect Halloween costume for each daughter devolved into madness as I frantically sewed to have everything done for the school’s Halloween parade (which is now the Fall Festival).

My Singer sewing machine would be thrumming 24-hours a day as I slowly lost my mind. I’d throw boxes of cold cereal at them for dinner, while I shrieked, “I’m making these costumes because I love you. Now shut the hell up!”

Once Halloween was over, costumes went into a big box and were worn by my daughters and their friends all year. At any given moment, a girl wearing Beauty’s voluminous yellow ball gown would be chasing Super Girl through the living room, with a toddler-sized Jack-o’-lantern nipping at their heels.

My daughters have carried on the costume tradition. My grandchildren have been garden gnomes, Austin Powers, a unicorn, and even an 18-month-old Betty Boop. It makes my black Halloween heart smile.

Now, my Singer gathers dust and I haven’t looked through pattern books for years, but every October my fingers twitch and I fight the urge to take my girls to browse fabric aisles. I wonder what my husband is doing this weekend. He’d make a beautiful Disney princess.


It’s. Still. Summer.

There are people out there (yes, I’m talking to you), who love to discuss the waning days of summer; who anticipate the slow dimming of the sun as society returns to a state of hibernation. To these people, I say, “Shut the hell up.”

The only thing that gets me through stupid Utah winters, is the idea of summer. In January, I’m already counting the days until I can pack up my heavy sweaters and run around barefoot in the grass. I’m like the Olaf of Salt Lake.


(I’m totally cool with summer.)

But YOU. YOU can’t stop talking about pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice lotions, pumpkin spice spice or any other fall squash-related products. Here’s a clue–IT’S NOT FALL YET!!!! Give me just a few more weeks of watching summer sunsets, wearing shorts instead of parkas, being eaten by mosquitos while I munch on gooey s’mores and walking Ringo without having to wear LAYERS.

Plus, it was so dismally rainy here in August that I’m pretty sure we should get a do-over for the past month.


(In the house. In the rain. In August.)

I’m working with local legislators to create a law banning NFL and high school football Facebook posts, discussions or games until after Sept. 22. As part of this law, it will be punishable to sell fall-related foods, clothing or craft items until the first day of autumn. (Hey, it makes as much sense as the majority of Utah’s laws.) There will be no Halloween costumes. No candy corn. No scarecrows decorations. No delightfully arranged fall centerpieces. NOTHING until summer is officially over.

Give me time to mourn the waning of warmth without your insane anticipation for the fall season.


(My daughter and grandson enjoy summer, too.)

My mind is simple. I enjoy simple things. A fresh peach, a handful of raspberries, a BLT with real tomatoes (not grocery stores knock-offs), the sun on my face–even a few more freckles on my shoulders. On the first day of fall, I will wake up with a deep sadness, but will look forward to autumnal traditions, including enjoying the beauty of the season.

But until then, I will rage against the dying of the light!

Top 5 Ways You Know Summer is Over

fall(Exactly how I feel about fall today.)

I promised myself I would enjoy every single day of summer. I would slow down, smell the proverbial roses, sit in the sun and drink fruity drinks. Now, it’s September. I didn’t slow down, my roses are dead, I avoided the sun (due to a fear of skin cancer) and the only fruity drinks I enjoyed came in a juice box.

Now it’s too late. Here are the Top 5 Ways I can tell summer is officially over:

1–All the summer TV shows have ended. I always say, “I don’t watch much television” but I think I’m lying. I’ve been HEAVILY invested in what happens to completely made-up characters in shows like The Bridge, Newsroom, Falling Skies and Perception. Time for me to talk with some REAL people.

falling skies(More good-looking people surviving, yet another, alien invasion.)

2–It’s darker. And not just in my mind. No more waking up to birds singing and sunshine, now it’s waking up to the drone of school buses and total darkness. And Ringo the Dog gets walked with a flashlight.

3–The kids are tired of each other. When your kids start fighting about how their siblings are breathing too loud, when they’ve played every level of every video game, and when they’re so bored they watch you fold clothes, summer’s over.

4–No enthusiasm. When you say, “Who wants to go on a picnic?!” and you’re greeted with frosty stares and silence, that’s when you know it’s time to shove the kids back into a school classroom. Plus, they’re already planning their Halloween costumes.

Hulk(Halloween costumes at a summer picnic. Not a good sign.)

5–Along with leaves, magazines turn colors. Instead of the “How to Get a Beach Body” article, the cover story is, “How to Make a Halloween Centerpiece.” Nooooo!!!! Shorts and tank tops are stored away as bulky sweaters, jeans and boots get pulled out of closets.

I’m in denial. I’m sure there’s time for one more hike, one great big margarita or one more day in the sun (with shorts). I’m like the grasshopper having too much fun to prepare for cold weather (Aesop’s Fables, people. Read them.) But everywhere I turn, there are pumpkin candles, apple spice air fresheners, candy corn displays–and even Halloween costumes.

Even the trees are sad, with drooping limbs and falling leaves. Cheer up, trees! We can try again next summer.


Top 5 Ways to Tell It’s Fall in Utah

There are many signs that fall is upon us, especially in Utah. The mountains are gorgeous with autumn leaves, the air is crisp and clean, and tank tops are put away for another year. (Sigh.) But there are other, more subtle signs, like these top 5 ways to tell it’s fall in Utah.

#1. Orange is everywhere. Usually reserved for the ever-present road construction barriers in the state, in autumn, the men start wearing bright orange clothes so, when they go deer hunting, their friends won’t shoot them. But friends still shoot their hunting buddies. (“That’s part of the adventure, sweetie.”)

(This is how your hunter friend sees you after he’s downed a six-pack of Miller Lite.)

#2. School Vacation Days.  Because going to school EVERY weekday is EXHAUSTING, October brings many days off of school for our young ‘uns. Fall recess is a 4-day weekend that parents can “bond” with their kids over the autumn splendor. And by “bond” I mean spend the weekend fighting until school starts again on Monday. Then there’s a day off for parent-teacher conferences, and any other day the school board throws in. I’m surprised they didn’t have Columbus Day (Columbus’ Day? Columbus’s Day? Columbi Day?) off. Or National Boss Day.

#3. Halloween candy. My nemesis. My downfall. My albatross. My secret love. Tis the season to stash bags of Halloween candy around the house. Not to give away to cute little princesses and cowboys on Halloween, but to sneak away and nibble on when life gets stressed. Like every day from dawn to dusk. And sometimes midnight.

(This is how I want to die. Face down in a pile of Halloween candy.)

#4. The Annual Deer Hunt. Once a year, the testosterone level in the state reaches its peak and men take to the hills to hunt the elusive, and dangerous, white-tail deer. Of course, they usually end up just getting drunk and shooting at each other (see #1) or wandering off and getting lost in the Rockies. Either way, it’s Darwin’s theory at its finest.


#5. Temperature Fluctuations.  You wake up in the morning and it’s a brisk 45 degrees. You don sweaters, wooly socks and pants–and two hours later, when the temperature jumps to 75 degrees, you’re slowly roasting in your own juices. By bedtime, it’s freezing again. It’s like a striptease all day long. Take off the sweater, put on the shorts. Take off the shorts, put on the Snuggie. Repeat at least two more times daily.