Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Megow Costumes Through the Years

It's no secret that our family loves costumes. I've had a side job working for Bouncin' Balloons and Costumes since I was 18. It's fun, easy, and something that comes pretty natural. However, I think having unlimited access to thousands of fantastic costumes for so long kind of ushered in a new way of thinking about dressing up. I just loved the challenge of trying to come up with things for me and the kids, that I'd never seen in a store before. Granted alot of these are kind of generic, but we do what we can with the free time we have right?  ;) One other challenge I enjoy about creating our own costumes is trying to do it for inexpensive as possible. I mean, I normally have to run to hobby lobby at least once, but for the most part it's exciting to stretch the ole' creative noggin to see what I can produce with just random supplies/things lying around the house. It all starts with the concept. Some of my favorite costumes were so basic and easy to make, but they were just the neatest idea so they stand out.

Another reason that I really love building fun costumes for the kids or dressing up as a family was my divorce. They were so shaken by it and still experience confusion/pain from it. I discovered that these costumes were something tangible the kids could have, wear, and show off. They could see the time/effort I was putting into building them since they normally would sit and watch while the costumes were being made. It was something they could touch & see that reminded them that they were worth people's time and effort. Also, after the divorce there were little signs of a lack of self confidence within everyone in our house. I think when the kids hear positive feedback about how cool they look, really helps lift their spirits and feel more secure in their awesomeness.

So let's take a look back at some costumes. Not all of these are from Halloween. Some are from birthdays, holidays, and other random events. I think it's neat seeing how our level of making costumes has evolved over the years. As my kids get older they start having more imagination and input, so that just makes things way more fun. This isn't an extensive list by any means. Just a few of my favorites that I picked out:

 Link from The Legend of Zelda. 
I think she wore this outfit two years in a row. 
Stevie sketched out the shield and we made it with card board and painted duct tape. Even years of play and being beat with play swords, that thing still is holding up. Besides the ears, we didn't have to buy anything else. Whenever I think of Stevie in costume, I always picture this.

Titus as a detective. 
Side note: I seriously loved this costume. 

Stevie and Neela as My Little Ponies. 
Of course, Stevie thought the boa mane was "too itchy" :)

McDonalds worker and French Fries
We had Titus's 3rd birthday at McDonalds. We wanted to blend in, so Stevie dressed up as some fries and I put together a McD's uniform. My favorite part of the party was asking random people if they needed anything and just pretending like I worked there as I strolled behind the counter for condiments. :D hahahaha

Captain Underpants
One of our more recent additions to our costume collection. At first, Olive was pretty adimant that the costume wouldn't be acceptable unless she was wearing only underwear and a cape. Fortunately, we comprised with some skin tone colored tights/shirt (you know... since she would be at school). 
Side note: I really dislike buying clothes specifically for costumes if I can avoid it. It just seems wasteful; so if you notice a lot of these shirts are just inside out and backwards to make them more plain. 

Lion Tamer
We found this old sequence shirt from a yard sale and got the top hat from Bouncin Balloons and Costumes. We were ready to go... Until Neela swapped toy animals and decided to be a "Moose Tamer" at the last minute. hahaha 

Ninja Turtle (Michelangelo
Titus and I had been planning to go see the Ninja Turtles movie in the theatre for a few weeks. The night before I thought it would be fun to put together a costume for him to wear to the event. So I just scrounged together some supplies (plastic toy bin, old t-shirt, pipe cleaners, and a magnetic fridge letter) and started after he fell asleep. My favorite part was the girls noticed what I was doing and stayed up late with me building the costume and helping me size it just right so it would fit perfect! I still think about both of those nights fondly. Building the costume with the girls the night before, and Titus loving his outfit a little 'too' much, while running up and down the isles, swinging his nun-chucks, and doing karate during the movie. I threw something together just so we could be ninja turtle twins together that night. 

Fox in Socks
Pretty proud of this one too. The reason? Stevie did the whole thing by herself. So proud :)

When Neela told me she wanted to be a cowgirl, I was a little disappointed that year because I was expecting something a little more 'out there'. However, when we started putting the costume together, it quickly became one of my favorites. I love the little twine rope we made. 

Joe Dirt(s)
After much begging and pleading with his mom, she agreed to let Titus have a mullet for his first haircut. Why? Because seeing a three year old with a sweet mullet is hilarious and awesome. So we took advantage of this every chance there was and dressed him like our favorite "Firework loving, Sweet Home Alabama singing, radio station custodian."

'Eevee' from Pokemon
Stevie begged for an Eevee costume. So we sat down together and whipped one up together with some old clothes, felt, and a hot glue gun in about an hour. I think I included this one of the list, because Stevie loved it so much. She was so proud of how good it looked, that in turn of course made my heart explode with joy :)

'The Wizard of Oz' Tornado
Hahaha. You knew this one would be on here. Titus asked me to come up with something "super cool and different than anyone else". I suggested the tornado, and he was all in. This is probably the best costume on the list, but oddly enough it was maybe the easiest to make. We found some old cardboard and brown packing paper. We cut a hole out of the cardboard, taped on the paper, spray painted it, added some printed pictures, and make a little belt and head mount. I just love when my kids say how much they love their costumes. And for sure, that boy loved his costume that day.

Strawberry Shortcake
I mean seriously though.. does anything in the world exist that's cuter than 2 year old Neela in this costume? 

Uncle Sam/America's National Animal Bird (Eagle)
Two of my absolute favorite things to do are:
1) Dress up for events that aren't costume parties
2) In the middle of the event, take off my costume to reveal my other secret costume hiding underneath (in this case it was a female cheerleading top with Eagle across the chest)
This was one friends the Orozco's birthday parties. It was "America" themed. So of course, you gotta go full patriot on everyone in that scenario. 

'Young Kristoff' from Frozen
This was thrown together in 3 minutes, but it has stood the test of time in my mind as one of my favorites. 

David Blaine
Titus loves street magicians. Of course, he wanted one of those "beards that are there, but hard to see". Hopefully, he just won't actually grow one when he's older. haha

Steve Irwin
She's rocking her cowgirl hat with a safety pin to the side. That girl loves some nature/animal explorers almost as I love her in this costume. ;)

Monster Truck Enthusiasts
There was a monster truck show close to where we live. To blend in with the crowd, Titus and I dressed accordingly. 

'The Wizard of Oz' - The Wizard/Man behind the curtain
This one was overkill. I admit it. hahaha. But Titus was so so pumped about the Wizard of Oz day because of his tornado last year. I threw around some suggestions but he really wanted to be "the wizard and I want a BIG costume." So we did just that :)

The rig we built to hold up the costume so he could actually wear this thing. 

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from 'Alice in Wonderland'
Recently, our friend gave us tickets to go see a children's play of Alice in Wonderland. The girls LOVED the play and begged to be these guys for Halloween. So we put these together last Saturday. Super easy. Super cheap. Super cute :D 

'Sexy' Wilson from "Home Improvement"
This one was for an actual ADULT (not kid) event! hahahaha. So I wanted to do something fun. Even though this is still probably my favorite costume I've ever made for myself, I think a lot of people just didn't get it at the event. But I'm still laugh imagining that Wilson was secretly wearing a daisy dukes and a tied-button shirt behind the fence. Plus, I couldn't help poke fun at the way costume companies will basically release a "sexy" version of every character in the history of ever. Seriously, I've seen a 'sexy poop emoji' costume. hahahaha. We are the weirdest generation. 

Dress Like a Senior Citizen Day' at School:
Crazy Cat Lady and Grand dad who records every family get together with his video camera from 1997.
Still proud of these. Hahahaha.

Shark Mask
As you can probably tell from this list, Titus is main "costumer wearer". That kid loves a good costume. (Side note: He already has a job at the costume shop waiting for him. hahaha)
This year Titus saw some 'shark masks' for sale in a store. They were super expensive, rather cheap looking, and terribly hot/uncomfortable. To his major disappointment, I wouldn't buy one and encouraged him that "we could make one even better at home!" So before we left the store, we bought some light blue poster board. It was relatively easy to build it in my mind before we started, and to my delight, proved to be not that hard to actually put it together with random supplies/stuff we had lying around the house.

I can tell you that about 15 years of wearing large character costumes, that the key to comfort is a good halo. We made one out of duct tape, got it snug, and attached it to the the back of the mask, so it would rest comfortably on his head. That way he could put his focus where it needed to be: Getting Candy.

My favorite part about this mask is the coloring. It looks like it was some killer paint job in my opinion. Actually though I was originally not even going to paint it. After wrapping it with the light blue poster board, I accidentally scratched it. So I took it to the garage and did a quick pass of dark blue spray-paint on the edges and back. It's neat how our little mistakes can turn out to be blessings in disguise. :D

Making costumes- Yes! 
Cleaning up the mess- Ugh... the worst. 

Homemade costumes are just the best! So let those creative juices flow :D Get out the old hot glue gun and see what you can come up with! 

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,

Monday, October 1, 2018

My “Traditional vs Single” Parenting Truths

I’ve wanted to write this post since I started, but I never did for two reasons:

1) I didn’t want to offend anyone

2) It’s hard to put it into words

So considering that it’s impossible to never offend anyone (I promise I will try to do my best), and mentally I haven’t made any progress on how I should write this, I figured I would just sit down and crank this mamma-jamma out. Pretty much Seth is going to take the classic Calvin and Hobbes approach to life with this post.

First off, let’s just clear up a few things. One, I’m not the best parent. I think I try, but I know people that can parent circles around me. Take for instance the following example: Last night for dinner, I put my kids in bathing suits brought my kids out on the trampoline and gave them a “kids choice” dinner. This consisted of a cold hot dog and a miniature cupcake. Following dinner, I hooked up the sprinkler under the trampoline (with no safety net) and let them fight with pool noodles while bouncing. All this was happening while I was bleaching and scrubbing our family tent that a stray male cat apparently used is its personal urinal for the past few weeks due to my forgetting to close the outside storage closet properly. After cleaning the tent, I unhooked the sprinkler and gave everyone a backyard hose bath before sending them inside. :D #realife Soap Box Alert: Let kids are freaking kids. Growing up, our generation just played outside, did crazy stuff, and had fun. Parents weren’t insanely overprotective. They just told us how to be safe and gave us rules, and then sent us out to create fun. Hand making rope-swings from trees or just going off in the woods (filled with snakes, wasps, bobcats, etc.) was just part of being a kid. While I’m a big believer in overall safety and parental responsibility, it feels our society has made this giant push for “free range” animals, while simultaneously caging up our kids with a billion overprotective rules and unnecessary devices that tie down and limit their imagination, creativity, and need for exploring. Told you I was gonna Calvin and Hobbes this thang. Whatever comes out I’m just going to freaking type.  End of soapbox.

Ok, now that I have established my “non-pro parent status”, hopefully everyone can just take this for what it is, my own experience on both traditional and single parenting; nothing more or less. I understand there are probably 12,342,864,342 possible scenarios of co-parenting and single parenting. (Married/Un-married, full/partial custody, healthy relationship with other parent/unhealthy relationship, single and active co-parenting/Disney world dad and Mall shopping moms). Again this is my opinions as it pertains to me. 

For this post, I think I’m just going to stick with the idea of two people together as a couple/parent team vs doing a majority of the parenting alone. Whew!! I finally feel I can get started ;)

To be honest I feel like single parenting is one of those things that people can’t grasp until have experienced it yourself (like the loss of a loved one, divorce, being homeless, etc.). I used to have so much pity for my single parent friends. In my head, I constantly just felt sorry for them. Little did I know, my knowledge of their struggles were extremely out of touch. It was just drawn on snippets of stories they told, what I saw on tv, and my overall guess of what it must be like. Based on my experience as being a partner in a wonderful co-parenting team and my experience as a sole responsibility single parent, I can somewhat related to both groups. I have noticed that people that always belonged in one category sometimes have misconceptions of the other. Again, this is in no way a judgmental or “I know it all” stance, it’s just kind of how I feel about the subject based on the criteria I listed earlier.

Here are my two honest truths about Traditional vs Single Parenting:

1) The biggest and most draining element of Single Parenting is Loneliness/Isolation.
 I always thought the hardest part of single parenting would be finances, not getting “me” time, being overwhelmed, etc. I was wrong. In my opinion, it’s the isolation that’s the worst. Granted I work with amazing people and have amazing family and friends. Mostly though, I was gifted with the most amazing kids ever placed on this earth. Seriously, my kids literally shock me with how loving, creative, self-sacrificing, and hilarious they are. However, all of that that doesn’t fix on that loneliness issue. Granted, the biggest void in our lives can only be filled by God. That hole is filled in my heart, thank you Jesus! But I truly believed humans are wired to parent as a team; however, the roles and duties might differ as each partner from couple to couple. Not having that solid team mate can be soul crushing. As any parent can tell you, the responsibility of raising children can be mind boggling heavy at times. Doing it alone creates this unexplainable feeling of isolation. That feeling always hits me the worst at night, when all the kids are tucked in and asleep.  I feel like I’m a pilot flying a plane solo at night. There are no co-captains, no flight attendant, no air marshals, or crew… it’s just you. I think that’s my point, before I became one, I viewed the main struggle with single parenting as all of the turbulence that the plane is going through, but in reality, I feel the hardest part is being in that dark, tiny cockpit all alone. I can get through the storm, but not having co-pilot to help navigate, talk to, or simply scratch an itch on my back while my hands are tied to the controls makes life extremely bleak at times.

2) Traditional Parenting isn’t necessarily any less stressful
Some people might not agree with this one, but I honestly (at select times) feel less stress now as a single parent than I did with my previous marriage was rock solid and the partnership was amazing. Here’s why I think that… A true partnership goes all in. They help, build up, support, encourage, and trust each other completely. So yes, when I was married I didn’t have to do crazy things like bringing a giant quilt into Toy-R-us while Christmas shopping to cover the cart and ensure that presents stay a surprise since the kids are with me all of the time. It’s great having a helpmate! Having someone be able to clean or read with the children while I cook dinner is an amazing feeling! My argument on this issue is that while having another parent brings so much support to the table, they also bring their own issues, problems, responsibilities, etc. But these issues are also yours. Remember, we were one. That means good and bad. So not only are you managing children, but trying maintaining a healthy marriage. There is a profound amount investment of time and energy that has to be poured into it. Sometimes with kids, that investment gets overlooked and becomes a challenge. Even the best marriages take constant upkeep, nourishment, time, and sacrifice. So juggling the responsibilities of being a spouse vs parent can be freaking tough.

Also, I feel that we are wired to have stress in our lives. One, it’s impossible to escape it. Two, healthy levels of stress keep our minds critically thinking, our bodies physically working, and also teaches us how to express feelings and emotions in a positive manner. Basically, I think we are wired to take on as much stress as we can handle. This is similar to the idea “The more money you have, the more you spend and the less money you have, the less you spend”. When I was married, we had more resources (finances, free time, and a larger support network).  So naturally as I think we did what we are wired to do. We maximized our resources doing various things, bought unneeded items, took on extra responsibilities, volunteering, etc. I believe I also had different standards on the importance of certain things in my life. So I was running about an 80% stress level based on what I could handle.  Once I got divorced and became a single parent, I lost a lot of those resources. So naturally I made adjustments.  I began to limit and remove unnecessary stressors. I also re-evaluated my standards. By accepting realistic expectations for myself and cutting out extra responsibilities I did not have the time/mental capacity to handle, life began to balance out again. Even though I have more on my plate as an individual, I can still operate on an 80% stress level due to being freed up in other areas.

So in conclusion, by far, I preferred parenting with a partner. If all of the kids are screaming in the van, instead of being solo and getting frustrated, I could look over and see some equally wide eyed  and about to crack. Those always made me laugh and lightened my mood. But in reality, God is good. There are things I have been able to experience and bonds with my children I could have never established in a two parent situation. So be encouraged. Don’t always assume that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes the poop left behind by the other animal fertilizes the ground, which can grow some greener, better quality grass than before. Although… just remember that at first you’ll still have to deal with the smell of that crap they've left behind until it’s decayed. 

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,