And it didn't take long before kids started showing up.
I went inside to get something and when I came back Charley and Wes had added a sectional sofa from the neighbor's trash pile to the yard. It added *just* the right touch of frat party flair.
The view from the porch where the other moms and I were hanging out (Mary was with us eating a hot dog in her high chair).
I dropped the cupcakes off and backed away slowly.
When Ryan came home I was sitting on the porch drinking a glass of wine with all the moms and one dad and I kind of felt like I'd been caught doing something wrong. Kids were running EVERYWHERE, half of them in costumes, our yard was strewn with cast off furniture, empty juice boxes, cupcake wrappers, and paper plates covered with half-eaten food. He looked like a deer in the headlights. Finally, since someone has to be the grownup, he quietly gathered some of the larger pieces of trash and took them inside. When he came out, Mary had her costume on.
We lined everyone up for a group shot and just before we took it James came running across the street in his monster costume yelling "ROAR ROAR! ROAR ROAR! ROAR ROAR!" Harry Potter looks scared.
We trick or treated with some other neighborhood kiddos. This is the last time we saw them as a group. As soon as this picture was taken they took off running like a herd of cattle. The older boys (Charley and his friend) broke actual land-speed records as they tore through our culdesac, capes slightly askew, jamming candy into their buckets then mowing down anything in their path on the way to the next house.
James held back, WAY back. Savoring every minute of the experience, talking to the neighbors, attempting to eat everything he was given while still standing on their porch. From my point of view, he and Ryan looked like a green speck in the distance. Finally we corralled all the big kids an waited for them to catch up. It lasted for about half a house and then it was off to the races again. We reconvened at my friend L's house, where they were projecting the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown on her garage door. Usually we stop there and watch the movie for a while before turning left off her street and heading home, but as we were walking away Charley and Wes and some of the other older boys took off to the right and we were on the hook for another twenty-five or so houses. They got SO MUCH candy, you guys. It is awesome (and not awesome, all at the same time).
Team Straggler. Limited conceptual understanding of houses/minute:candy quantity relationship.
They paused mid-stampede to consider whether it would be better to cross the street or continue hurtling down the same side of the street. Happily, they chose to cross the street and head back down the other side, which meant they were actually heading back toward our house.
After ToT we headed out to a friend's house for the after-party because we hadn't had enough wine and candy yet. I hastily grilled two more hotdogs for Ryan while simultaneously hollowing out a pie pumpkin and making a cream cheese cinnamon dip to take with us and overseeing the MASS CHAOS created by four kids already up WAY WAY WAY past bedtime and who ate hotdogs and nine pounds of red dye #40 for dinner. James, who doesn't get out much, paused in the driveway to look up at the sky and shrieked "OOOOH, look at the STARS, SPOOOOOOKY!" which implies that he thinks stars are only there on Halloween as spooky decorations and also that he's never been awake after dark before. PARENTING WIN.
Another parenting win was the next morning when we all woke up still glowing with good cheer after the incredibly fun and remarkably incident-free night of revelry to find this scene in our yard, looking much tackier in the glaring sun. Upholstered furniture all over the place, both van doors open with costume pieces, unfamiliar blankets, and candy wrappers spilling out all over the driveway, wine glasses and beer bottles on the porch, and a carpet of juice boxes and cupcake wrappers all over the lawn. Wow.
Ryan quietly put all the furniture back in our neighbor's trash pile while I picked up the trash and empties. Mary went down for what turned into a four hour nap, shortly after she woke up around 9, the other kids played all morning with the kids across the street and THEN IT WAS TIME FOR CHARLEY'S 8TH BIRTHDAY PARTY AT THE BOWLING ALLEY.
Because what better way to keep the party rolling than to take a pack of 3-8 year old kids BOWLING, yes?
James with a bowling ball is kind of terrifying. Amazingly, no one went home with a broken foot. There were a couple of close calls. And it wasn't just James who kept bowling in the wrong lane and dropping the ball (literally) in the seating area FAR from the lanes, One of Charley's friends managed to skip his ball sideways out of our lane and down the concrete pad between two lanes, where it hit a post, causing a large metal panel to come loose and clatter loudly to the floor. Or the time one of the other kids didn't roll the ball hard enough and it stopped short of the pins so her dad bowled a second ball to knock it down to the end, but then THAT ball got stuck too and two balls were stuck halfway down the lane? I highly recommend putting taking kids bowling on your bucket list. Also we bumped our party host's tip from twenty to twenty-five percent. It probably should have been higher.
Mary was over it the second we walked in the door. Evidently the four hour nap wasn't enough. We tried holding her but ultimately it became clear that eight kids bowling is an all-hands-on-deck activity and she was relegated to her stroller. This did not stop her from throwing back an adult-sized piece of cake, however.
Because I have met my children before, I knew we would be up for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING after bowling. We picked up Little Ceasars on the way home then popped in a movie and laid around eating pizza and leftover cake and resting, finally. Sunday, Charley's actual birthday, was also low key with breakfast cake, church, a Cub Scout meeting, and a fancy candle-lit spaghetti dinner for the birthday boy in the dining room. Mr. Grown Up asked for cheesecake as his birthday cake so we had that and also passed around a thing of hot fudge as a topping because NO, you are EIGHT, not THIRTY. Guess I have some issues to work out before the next birthday! He fell asleep last night clutching his gifted Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. It was a GREAT weekend.