The ghost of Halloweens past

Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I realize I don’t have a single picture of my sons in costume this year. At 13, 12 and 9, they still dressed up and went trick-or-treating, but not with me. They scattered with friends and didn’t need (I won’t even consider the possibility of want) me with them.

I sat on my couch waiting for trick-or-treaters to ring my bell at felt the gut-punch that my years of walking door to door reminding my sons to be polite and say thank you were over. I saw the weary look of moms and dads braced against the wind and snow, holding toddlers hands on the stairs, and wanted to tell them to treasure every second of it.

I’m not sure where I read “the trouble with last times is that you hardly every realize they’re the last times,” but I’m sinking with that realization. I wasn’t done marking the moment before it slipped from my grasp.

I bought their costumes. I packed their bags. I sent them off.

I hope they said “thank you.”

Alena’s Favorite Things – Fall Edition

In true Oprah style, I return with “My Favorite Things” for fall. Before you get too excited, there’s no giveaway attached, but I do hope you discover some of your favorites too. (And, yes, I know I wrote about my love of fall a few short weeks ago, but I can’t help it — it’s my favorite time of year.)

Favorite Flowers

Bushel baskets full of mums are the visible sign of fall in my neighborhood. They mark the entries to many homes and businesses. I love their richness and complimentary hues, plus their strength, standing up to the highs and lows of Chicago fall temperatures. I wish they lasted longer, but I’m thankful for the time I have them. (This particular basket in front of our house comes compliments of my sister-in-law Liz. Thanks for the smiles.)

Favorite Sport

Truth be told, I’m a big fan of American football, especially the Chicago Bears, but soccer (aka futbol) has grown on me. It’s hard not to get excited by the enthusiasm my husband and youngest son feel for the sport. I caught the Olympic Women’s Soccer fever and enjoy the skill that even the youngest players show on the pitch. Of course youth soccer is year-round, but fall soccer is when I really started to see that I could have many years of “soccer mom” ahead of me. My little guy loves it and “he’s got skills” if I do say so myself.

Favorite Fall Nail Color

Tired of the nude-pink I’d been wearing for 6 weeks, I went to Walgreens in search of something deeper for fall. I discovered “Over the Knee,” which is definitely in the brown family (on trend) but not so deep or dark that it draws too much attention to my stubby little fingers. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but, trust me, it’s a terrific fall color — fingers or toes.

Favorite Fall Activity

It’s gotta be carving jack-o-lanterns. Truly a family get-together, last year we welcomed my brother-in-law and [future] sister-in-law for a family carving night. We designed faces, scooped pumpkin guts, carved and roasted seeds, all while spooky music and movies kept us company.  From simple pointy-toothed smiles to intricately designed spooks, our pumpkins each reflect our personalities (and carving skills.) While my NY in-laws can’t join the fun this year, we will bravely carry on the rest of the creative tradition.

Favorite home decor

I love decorating our mantle come fall. Beginning October 1st, the top of our place remains decorated in some holiday theme all the way through New Years. My sons (and I) look forward to the day when we bring up the decorations from our basement and unpack each one, placing it in its proper place. There are stories to accompany each, books to be re-read and something new to add every year. There’s nothing better than a crisp fall evening with a fire roaring and all our candles lit. It puts me in a great mood every time.

Favorite Fall Beverage

OK, so I’m still a white wine girl, it’s true. But I do like the release of fall beers each year. For the past few weeks we’ve been enjoying Goose Island Harvest Ale, but I’m usually game to try a couple of others each year. Just keep me away from those German Weiss beers — I know Oktoberfest lovers would argue with me, but, Yuck!