Category Archives: fancy dress



Thanks to my parents, we managed to drag Halloween festivities out over multiple events.

Niko at Brookfield Zoo, on a lion statue

My parents have a family membership to Brookfield Zoo, so we met them up there on the last weekend DINOSAURS ALIVE! was there. Niko had previously decided he wanted to be “a fancy Baryonyx” which is to say a Dinosaur (Baryonyx) in a top hat and fancy clothing. We picked up a assemble-it-yourself out of felt and foam stickers costume for $10 at Target, consisting of a mask, tail that hooks into a belt loop, and gauntlets that slip over the hands/lower arms and have foam sticker “claws.” Since October in Chicago is usually pretty gross, we suited him up in his fancy red wool coat. The pants he selected didn’t have belt loops so we added a belt, and wound up putting it on the outside of the coat so the tail didn’t get squished/bang against his legs.

Niko pushes buttons on a plaque to make an animatronic dinosaur move and roar.

He wasn’t too fond of the mask or gauntlets when it came to actually wearing them, but he kept the tail on. We saw a bunch of animals including lions, wolves, and bison, as well as free range peacocks, geese, pelicans, and guinea hens.

A Wandering PeacockNiko admires geese in a fountain.Guinea Hens wandering around the zoo grounds.

And, of course, we saw Dinosaurs!



He also sat on a Polar Bear statue.


Two days before Halloween, his costume already purchased, we got a letter from the school saying that masks and face paint are both not allowed.


We brainstormed at home the 31st to decide what to wear instead. We weren’t able to get to the store and buy a different costume, so we had to stick with stuff we had on hand. Possible suggestions included:

  • A Magician (he had a top hat from his fancy dinosaur costume)
  • A Paleontologist (jeans, plaid shirt, bucket hat, bucket with shovel and paint brush and dinosaur skeleton toy)
  • A Pirate/Captain Hook (we had NO items to make this costume, but it’s what he wanted)
  • A Ballerina (see above)
  • A Firefighter (he had rain boats and a rain coat that were vaguely fire fighter looking)

He settled on firefighter which actually turned out to be a great costume because it was a gross chilly rainy day.

Once in class for his party he promptly stripped off both the boots (hard to walk in) and coat (hot) and didn’t look like he was in a costume at all.

DSCF5186-cropNiko at school, not in costume.

Nesko and I stayed in the classroom for the whole day, walked home in the rain, and then finished carving the pumpkins we hadn’t had a chance to carve earlier. Nesko works 12-15 hour shifts so wasn’t around to help with them, and if you carve a pumpkin too early it just rots.

Niko demonstrated the face he wanted on his pumpkin, I drew it on a paper, and Nesko cut it out.

Niko demonstrates his pumpkin's face.

Because it was still raining we wound up trick or treating at the mall, but most of the stores had run out of candy, so Niko only got about 5 pieces TOTAL for an hour of walking around. He did, however, get to ride in a train.

Nikola riding a train ride.

.Niko has the day off school today and is working on every nerve I have OH MY GODDDDDDD. It’s not even a too-much-candy issue because I’m super mean about candy consumption and put it all high up pretty much right away.

How was YOUR holiday?


How was your Halloween?

How was your Halloween?

Niko almost filled his blue plastic pumpkin bucket with candy, a nice feat considering we only hit 2 1/2 blocks (albeit both sides of the blocks) and those blocks had a lot of apartments and darkened not-at-home-or-else-faking-it houses. It helps that his bucket was padded out with:

  • A beanie baby dog that is his puppy that needed to go Trick Or Treating so it would experience Trick Or Treating and be a Halloween Dog and grow up into a big boy dog and is named Harry.
  • A gourd that some woman picked up off her porch and gave him because he liked it. SCORE.

Niko refused to go into one house because it had, and I quote, “A g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-GHOST!!!” hanging from the porch rafters. He actually said “guh guh guh ghost” and it was HILARIOUS and made other people laugh. Also some older kids dressed up as zombies scared the crap out of him. They were so adorable and called him “little dude” and “little guy” and apologized for scaring him and promised they weren’t going to hurt him it was just costumes it’s ok little guy it’s ok. They backed way off of him to give him space and skipped a house that was giving out candy, moving to the next one, so they wouldn’t freak him out again. Oh, young teens. You are so awesome with your zombie clown bloody faces and tattered clothing and rainbow wigs and hooks for hands. Halloween forever.

We kind of broke All The Halloween Rules, by which I mean Niko was dressed all in dark clothing with no reflective strips, and his mask was too big and he had a hard time seeing out the eye holes. But I figured it was ok for our short walk around residential streets that dead end and don’t see a lot of traffic.

If you’re wondering what Niko’s costume actually was, it was a track suit, a green wool duffel coat, and a white papier-mache cat mask that he colored with crayons to be a rainbow kitty. I was feeling like a bum that he didn’t have a nicer Halloween costume, even though being “a rainbow kitty” was exactly what he wanted to be, when I remembered that October 31st in Chicago is cold and windy and usually rainy and he was going to be wearing a coat anyway. So I got out a super awesome coat I picked up at a thrift store last year that is still a bit big for him and it covered up his lack of costume. And really, a mostly-white cat mask over a big duffel coat is kind of spooky in its own serial killer way.

Anyway, I hope your Halloween was super ace. How’d it go? What’d you/your kids dress up as? Did you give out candy? Get a lot of Trick Or Treaters? Did you get much loot?


Halloween is coming. Got your costume yet?

Halloween is coming. Got your costume yet?

Halloween is On! Its! Way! and I have no idea what Niko will dress up as. His current suggestions include:

  • Shaun The Sheep
  • Bitzer the Dog, from Shaun The Sheep
  • A cat
  • The Brown Line – no, the Red Line. No! The purple line!
  • A crossing gate
  • A steam engine!
  • A dinosaur
  • A conductor
  • A dump truck
  • a ghost
  • A snail with a big shell
  • A penguin

Oh, these ideas? They are all from one day.

Other things he wants to dress up as include various imaginary friends of his, and a character from a short story (by Betsy Byars) he read that is a tiny cat (Finley Nox) who dressed up as a watermelon but really it was a cucumber because watermelons don’t come that small. So he wants to dress up as a cat dressed up as a watermelon but really it’s a cucumber. OF COURSE. That will be a SNAP to do!

I was actually pretty jazzed about the sheep idea because I can make a sheep costume. Just sew a bunch of cotton balls to a white shirt! So we went to Target where… they did not have white t-shirts in the appropriate size. A size smaller? A size larger? Oh hell yeah! Overflowing! The size that would fit over his black sweater? All gone. Well then. We perused the costume aisle and he flirted with the idea of being a butterfly, a fairy princess, a pink sparkly cat with wings, a ninja, or just plain buying a be-ribboned sparkly star-topped wand so he’d have a new “hitting stick” (that is my hitting stick! I use it to hit things! I mean no, that is my waving stick. I use it to wave good bye to people.”). I lingered over a $30 dinosaur costume but can’t really justify spending $30 on a costume. Then I saw a papier-mâché cat mask for like $2 or some cheap price and asked him if he wanted to be a cat. He said yes. I’m going to pick up some (more, we’re running out) tempera paint and he can paint the mask himself and we’ll get a sweat suit or track suit or something in similar colors and a feather boa for his tail and TADA, cat.

And maybe I’ll get a big oblong balloon and make a papier-mâché cucumber and he can be Finley Nox after all. Or we’ll toss a sheet over him and he can be a ghost cat.

What are you/your kids going as?

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