The last day of October this year saw 11 hours of daylight (I was counting). We had costumes laid out but no real plan for the day outside of visiting my grandmother at the nursing home and trick or treating at 4 neighbors' houses once Rob got home from work.
Ellie had needed a breathing treatment before bed the night before, and woke up wheezing on Halloween morning. So after another breathing treatment, instead of heading to the gym for Monday morning yoga (my favorite!) we picked up donuts and coffee and leisurely drove through the Arboretum.
We haven't done this much in the last year but when Ellie was a baby we would go 3 or 4 times a week! It sort of felt like a rite of passage for little Madeline.
I am thankful for new habits - replacing that old, typical morning donut drive with an exercise class - but each familiar curve of the road and the early morning sunshine cutting through the fall leaves was comforting. I've missed this place.
Fall is the best time to drive through - I can't adequately describe what it smelled like, but I rolled down the windows and thought to myself 'If Yankee Candle could mimic this scent in a candle, I'd buy a hundred of them.' Fresh, earthy, sweet, crisp, and just a touch musty.
I did not retouch this photo - it really was a gold forest!
The Three Amigos, I think to myself as we pass by this stark trio of bare trees each fall.
It was the perfect way to start the day. Did I mention that we all went in our pj's? (That's the only way to go, if you're going to do it right. Or at least "Livingston-style" as my girlfriends have dubbed it!)
We stopped in at home to shower and get dressed, nap the baby, and watch a cartoon or two.
Then I dressed the kids in their costumes and we got ready to leave for the nursing home to see Great Grandma Jessie and Mima.
Tinkerbell is a free spirit and needed to dash around for a minute or two once she had her wings on.
A quick group shot...
Just making sure baby sister is in there.
Jake the Pirate / Captain Hook (depending on the moment, he switched between characters), our Strawberry, and Tinkerbell.
Robbie - 3 1/2 yrs, Maddie - 7 months, Ellie - 2 1/3 yrs
"Tink, can you fly?!"... this is what I got.
Just before we got into the van, I caught this sweet moment between brother and sister. Oh, the mutual adoration.
Madeline's nickname Maddie-cakes has been shortened recently to just cakes.
It suits her. Everything about this little girl is sweet and edible. There was never any other costume for her this year except for the Strawberry, because of her hair. Who knows how long it will stay this beautiful shade!?
Heading out to the nursing home. Full of Halloween excitement, now that they are in character.
I was so proud of my little clan. They were well behaved, pleasant, and loved on all the residents while we were there. My mom had brought along a bag of candy for my grandmother to give to the kids, and instead Robbie enjoyed passing it all out one by one to each of the residents having lunch.
My mama heart was bursting with love at each of his sweet little acts of kindness. It was a brave job for a 3 year old, considering some of the residents either don't talk, can't smile, or make somewhat unsettling noises that children don't understand. Robbie handled it with maturity and courage.
Our little party...
I kept the kids happy with cups of water and big lollipops on huge sticks. It doesn't take much, but it does take something. (I'm not great at this gig, but I'm learning!)
Aw! My mom and Maddie...
After leaving the nursing home, we picked up nuggets and apple slices for lunch and drove around watching a movie. I took the opportunity to get gas while my crew was occupied. Then I sent a quick text to my friend Kacey and asked if she'd like a pop-in. She was game, so we drove over to see Princess Fallon, who happens to be Ellie's best buddy at church right now.
Oh dear. These two are too cute and I have a feeling could be trouble in oh, say 13 years. Peas in a pod, Kacey and I call them.
By this time I had decided to have Ellie skip her nap. While playing with Fallon, she started begging me to "Take a nap, mommy!". She fell asleep sitting up in the van on our way home.
We got home and Ellie was still asleep, so I transferred her to her crib for a late nap just before Rob came home. We freshened everyone's costumes up, gave the kids some grapes and set back out in search of candy. No rest for the weary!
Let's go this way, Mom...
We had only planned on dropping by the 3 neighbors we know personally (on either side of our house and directly across the street). It was cold, the kids were not very warmly dressed, and they were getting crabby for their dinner. One day, none of these details will get between them and their quest for candy. Hard to imagine!
Oh dear. So much about this father/daughter picture makes me want to cry. Precious.
Sometimes I look at the 4 of them (Rob and the kids) and think, 'They're all mine... How did I get so lucky?'.
After spending time catching up with our favorite neighbors, we drove over to Auntie Cheryl's house and raided her candy bowl (apparently 'take one!' sounds like 'grab as much candy as you can with your grubby little hands!'). Good thing it was late in the evening and most of the other kids had stopped trick or treating.
Maddie shows her affection by placing an open palm on your cheek and studying your face with an intent look. I finally caught it, when Cheryl was holding her.
We gave the kids a quick dinner, threw them in a warm bubble bath, and dressed them in warm pjs. After putting them to bed, we had our own dinner and then headed to bed as well. But Robbie had started coughing a lot, so we brought him into bed with us. He fell asleep hugging me with both arms (uncharacteristic of my hands-off guy), and got really sad each time I tried to move him from our bed to his crib. So I pulled his mattress into our room and let him sleep on the floor by my side of the bed.
We did not sleep last night. And I'm not exaggerating. I guess all that cold air and excitement wore Robbie out and did a number on his little immune system! If the Lord's mercies weren't new each morning and He didn't promise to supply all of our needs I would be a disaster today. He is sustaining me after about an hour total of sleep. I think He has special graces for moms.
The last image from our Halloween this year.
All in all, though? It was a better Halloween than I expected. I didn't expect much, and that seems to be when I'm surprised by how sweet the moments in our days really are right now, holiday or not.