Friday, November 29, 2019

Under Construction: Halloween 2019

Ever since I had my first baby I've done group Halloween costumes with the exception of the Halloween that I was in the hospital after having my oldest child. 

My oldest and I dressed up as Dorothy Gale and the Wicked Witch of the West for Halloween 2009. Then, in 2010, her brother was added to the family and we did a 1950's theme with my daughter and I dressing in poodle skirts and her brother dressed as a greaser. 

Who's the fairest one of all?
The following year it was Snow White, Dopey, and the Evil Queen. That year I made ALL of the costumes by hand where as before I had only made a few things. 

For Halloween 2012, I wanted to save myself some sewing, so I reused my Evil Queen dress and I was Mother Gothel with my daughter dressing as Rapunzel and my son dressing as Flynn Rider, again sewing everything. 

Our costumes were out of this world!
The following year I got remarried and my new husband was a good enough sport to join in on our group costumes. We did a Mario Kart theme that year with Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Rosalina. 2014 was Despicable Me 2 (Gru, Lucy, a yellow minion, and a purple minion). In 2015 I was expecting a baby in October so I needed to have a costume that would be suitable for a baby belly or baby wearing. I strayed from sewing that year and actually made all of our costumes out of papier-mâché. We did a planets theme that even included our candy buckets. My oldest was Venus and carried a Mercury candy bucket. My oldest son was Earth and carried a moon candy bucket. I baby wore my youngest son and was Mars, and my husband was Jupiter. 

You remind me of the babe.
The following year, my youngest was the perfect age to dress as Toby from The Labyrinth. 2016 also happened to be the 30th anniversary of the movie's release, and sadly, David Bowie had died in January of that year. So my toddler became "The Babe with The Power." My daughter dressed as Sarah Williams, my oldest son as the Blue Worm ('Alo!), my husband as Jareth, and I as the Hear No Evil Door Knocker. 

In 2017, we dressed as characters from Big Block Singsong: Clown, Beats, Princess, Robot, and Monkey. It was another year of crafting the costumes. I used cardboard boxes and wrapping paper. If you have a young child and have never watched or listened to Big Block Singsong, I highly recommend it!

A family of block heads.
2018 was a bit harder to pinpoint our theme. While trick-or-treating in 2017, a friend and business owner gave my husband a stocking cap. As we were walking home I jokingly suggested to my husband that he dress as our friend for Halloween 2018. That eventually led to us dressing as "Hometown Heroes" with each of us dressing as someone we knew. Firefighters, a postman, a teacher, and a sewer and drain expert. However, on Halloween morning, my toddler, who was dressing as a fireman that year, declared he wanted to be a construction worker. 

So that brings us to our family theme for 2019 which was determined by a wish my toddler had in 2018. We told our toddler he'd have to wait a year to be a construction worker, and he didn't let us forget it. So once we found out I would be noticeably pregnant for Halloween 2019, it was obvious that we needed to figure out how to incorporate a baby bump into a construction theme. After a few internet searches, I decided that my husband and I would be construction workers carrying signs. His sign would say "Bump Ahead." I debated what mine should say. I saw several examples of pregnancy construction costumes online that said "Under Construction," but ultimately, I decided to have my sign say "Bump," since it coincided with the "Bump Ahead" sign better. I made our signs out of foam board and dowels that I hand painted. We borrowed our construction vests and helmets.

I made my toddler's construction vest despite the fact that we have a vest in our dress up bin. That vest is very well loved and actually has my oldest son's name embroidered on it so that's why I opted to make the toddler a new one. I improved the vest pattern slightly by lining it, mostly since I had more than enough material to do so.

It didn't take me long to decide that his costume was almost too simple, and I opted to turn our wagon into a backhoe loader after finding images online for other wagons turned into construction vehicles. The backhoe loader is made of cardboard and painted with spray paint and acrylic paint, duct tape, hot glue, and foam board and bulletin board border for the wheels. 

Figuring out what to make the older kids was a bit trickier. After several internet searches, I got the idea to make a traffic light costume and a traffic cone costume. I just had to convince my kids to dress up as those things. Constructing the traffic light was pretty easy. A cardboard box painted black with 4 painted tap lights. After having troubles with tap lights last year, I opted to use screws, washers, and nuts to attach the tap lights to the a piece of cardboard. It proved to be a smart decision because we didn't have problems with the lights falling off the costume. I used some craft foam to make the traffic light visors.

The traffic cone costume was by far the most challenging costume I made this year — maybe even ever. I've never really made such a structured costume that didn't involve papier-mâché or cardboard. But, I knew that I wanted the costume to be sewn to keep the costume lightweight. I ended up using a tomato cage for an under structure, and I covered it in roll craft foam. I did my best to make a pattern using paper, and I used that pattern to help cut the foam and the material. Then, for the base of the traffic cone, I used a piece of black EVA foam.

Overall, I'd have to say that I really enjoyed making our costumes this year, and I know that people enjoyed seeing them. People tend to remember us from year to year because our costumes are memorable, and we seem to be the only family in the neighborhood that consistently dresses up together. During our candy travels on that big night, my husband overheard a teenage boy sincerely stating to his friends that he wished his family was like ours. Cue collective "awe" with the Full House theme song trailing in.

Next year's theme has already been decided. My daughter declared that SHE gets to choose the theme as retribution for the fact that I made her a traffic cone this year. Even if I basically forced the idea on her, I know she enjoyed having a unique costume. And I KNOW she enjoyed the attention it garnered at the houses we went to. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Oh, The Places Running Has Taken Me

The feeling of crossing the finish line. I still feel this way.

I ran a marathon. I. Ran. A. Freaking. Marathon. Twenty-six point two miles. Even though half a year has passed, I’m still sort of in disbelief. If you had told me two years ago that I’d be able to call myself a marathoner, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me fifteen years ago, I would’ve tried to have you committed. Sixteen years ago, 2003, I was in Basic Training. I was in really good shape, but I hated running. After I had been in the Army Reserves for a few years, after I had spent a year in Iraq, all of the running endurance I had gained in training had disappeared. The Reserves encourages soldiers to stay physically fit, but it can be difficult for someone who isn’t necessarily motivated to do so. I was a college student at the same time that I was in the Reserves. I was trying to graduate, and as a senior graphic design student I had gallery shows to prepare for. I also had choir concerts to perform in for my music minor. My marriage was falling apart, and I found out I was pregnant. My senior year in college was stressful to the max, but that’s a story for another time. The point is that during my senior year, fitness was anything but a priority. 

Now look at me. I’m still not in “basic training” shape, but I can run farther than I ever imagined. Just this month, I ran the TC One Mile. I took 21.1 seconds off of my time from 2017—I ALMOST broke an eight minute mile. My mind is still having a really hard time comprehending that. 

In November 2018, a little more than a month after the Twin Cities Marathon, I ran a Turkey Trot. It was a 10k. I was 45 seconds shy of running it in an hour. I blame the fact that I stopped less than a quarter mile in so I could tighten my shoelace. Were it not for that I'm sure that I would've broken a one hour time. 

The other thing that happened after TCM is that I started a run streak. My husband had been streaking for months, and I was looking for my next challenge. On October 22, 2018, I started running at least a mile a day. As of this writing, I am 214 days and 449 miles in. I am also "running the year" with my husband. We've teamed up to each run half of 2,019 miles. Our team is currently over 700 miles for the year. 

Running has given me so much since I found a passion for it. It has proven to me that I am so much stronger than I ever thought. It’s shown me that I’m capable of doing amazing things.  It’s also given me opportunities I wouldn’t have imagined. 

At the beginning of 2019, I learned that I was selected to be a Nuun Ambassador. Because of this, I’ve not only had a chance to try new products at a generous discount, but I also get to meet up with other ambassadors in the area for special events. I’ve met some incredible people. And, I’m so grateful to have been given the chance to represent Nuun alongside other Twin Cities Nuun ambassadors. Go to and use code hydratewithus25 for 25% off your purchase through May 29, 2019.

Another big change for me started around the beginning of April. It was prompted by my friend, who is a Zyia Active Independent Representative. She was in the process of trying to grow her team, and she reached out to me, as one of her Zyia Ambassadors, to ask me if I wanted to become a rep myself. My initial reaction was, “No way!” I’ve done direct sales, and I’ve failed miserably. As a stay-at-home mom, I just don’t have the reach I need to be successful at direct sales. I started talking to my husband about my friend asking me if I wanted to sell Zyia. I told him I knew the question was coming from her, but at that point, it just made me roll my eyes. As The Husband and I were talking, I mentioned that my friend has likely been successful at selling Zyia in part because she is also a group fitness instructor. Suddenly it hit me: Why couldn’t *I* become a group fitness instructor?  The conversation shifted. I decided to start asking my friend how she became an instructor. I told her I felt that being an instructor would be step one. 

I contacted my local YMCA and got a trial membership. I attended a few classes and asked the group fitness manager about the requirements for becoming an instructor. I learned everything I needed to know, and I started working on the steps I needed to take. 

I’m still working on my online classes. In fact, I really haven’t even started. The last month of school has been a busy time for my family, and I’ve had a lot of places to be. However, I did decide to become a Zyia rep myself because I got tired of referring people to my friend when they could be buying from me. My husband invested in my Zyia starter kit, which included a few new active wear items of my choice. Now I can share this clothing line that I love and also hopefully earn an income doing so. 

I just had my launch party, and the shopping link is still open. I still need a few orders to reach my goal for the party, and once that goal is reached, I will be drawing a name for one of my customers to get a free item! You can check out my page at

I'm not sure what my future has in store, but my goal is to become certified as a group fitness instructor and eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, become a certified POUND instructor so that I can start teaching POUND classes at the YMCA. I never thought that this would be something I'd do with my life, and it all started with running.

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