Our First Halloween in Abu Dhabi

Happy Halloween, ghouls and boos!

I am writing this post on real Halloween – October 31 – but the university hosted their big holiday to-do last night, because today is a weekend day (and a holy day – but I don’t know if that had any bearing).

If I had written this last night after we had celebrated, the whole post would have been me complaining about how awful I felt. Oh man, I have never felt so exhausted and sore and uncomfortable and mentally spent. Thing is, I was already feeling sick. I should absolutely have stayed home, probably even in bed, but LIKE HELL I was going to miss out on taking my babies trick-or-treating. Nuh uh. What made it a lot worse was that I had to take them both out on my own, since we thought it would be nice if Jeff stayed in the apartment to be able to hand out candy to other kids. So, I hauled those two kids from one side of campus to the other, carrying May when she would no longer walk, along with all of the detritus they accumulated along the way, with the pokey parts of my costume jabbing into my skin. It was hard. It was loud. It was crowded. It was sensory overload. I finally had to cut the night short when I just couldn’t physically stand it (or up) anymore, but I think the girls had a really fantastic time, so that is all that matters. And someday they can read this blog post and say, “Man, we have the best mom ever. She sacrifices so much for our happiness. Let’s make her breakfast in bed.”

We take Halloween pretty seriously in this family. I have made an oath (to myself) to never to use a store-bought costume, unless, of course, there comes a year when that is precisely what my children want. But until then, even if Adele or May wants to be a known-character, I will try to make the costume myself. Why? Well, it’s not because I have any skills in sewing. I do not. It’s not because it saves any money. It does not. It usually ends up being much more expensive when you factor everything in. It’s in part because my mother did it for me and my sister, when we were young, and I have really positive memories of that. It’s also because I don’t want my children looking like every other child out there. But it’s probably primarily because I love the creative challenge!

Also, while they are young enough to allow me, I will make every costume fit a family theme! It’s so much more fun that way!

I just went to gather photos from Halloweens past and then tried to remember what I went as for Halloween before I had children…even before Jeff and I were technically “family.” I remembered that we went as Nick and Nora Charles for our second Halloween together in our first apartment together (which was our third Halloween together, though I can’t remember what we dressed up as in Munich or at Lewis & Clark):


That would have been 2006. I have no memory of what we went as for the next couple of years in Chicago. Anyway, fast forward to 2010. For our first Halloween with child we went as beloved children’s book characters:


I was Eloise, two-month old Adele was Madeline (topped off with a red yarn wig hand glued piece by piece by me into that little yellow hat!), and Jeff was Scuppers the Sailor Dog.

We also threw in this extra family costume for a Twin Peaks viewing marathon:


In 2011…we kinda copped out. I guess that first year with baby Adele was a bit exhausting. We just went with stuff that we already had in our closet, but we looked RAD:


I still think I look good as a blonde (better in this blonde wig than the previous year’s wig).

2012 brought with it a big old belly, which could have been a challenge, but I saw it as an opportunity!


This is also the first year that Adele had input into her costume. She went through a maaaajor Beatrix Potter phase, so she got to go as Peter Rabbit, Jeff went as Mr. McGregor, and I went as Jemima Puddleduck. That was for the child-friendly portion of the night. After Adele went to bed, we changed costumes and we (along with Aunt Lisa) went as “Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon,” with the moon being, as you can see, my naked painted belly. So comfortable! I love both of these costumes. This was the first year that Adele really “got” trick-or-treating and it was one of the most joyous experiences of my life!

In 2013, Adele wanted to be Goldilocks. I’m not sure how that actually came about, because it was not one of her favorite stories, Maybe we read it once and she got it stuck in her head. Anyway, I jumped at it, so that we could be the three bears and Baby May could be Baby Bear!


And that brings us to present day!

Just like every other child out there, Adele was enchanted by Frozen. It was the first movie I ever took her to see in the theater. So many nights she would ask if we could play “Anna and Elsa,” but it was less about the actual characters and more about being an ice princess. So that’s what she asked to be. Not Elsa per se, but an ice princess…who then morphed into an ice princess fairy. She briefly considered Princess Leia, but I guess we’ll save that for another year.

So we started with her idea and I turned that into a family costume of the four seasons. Adele got to be Winter:


May (being named May) was Spring:


Jeff was Summer and I was Fall. Unfortunately, I did not have access to my usual sources for bits and pieces and craftiness, so our costumes were seriously lacking. I’ll adapt next year. Here’s the full family shot:


Let me back up a bit. In between the end of the school day at Cranleigh and the formal start of trick-or-treating, we quickly squeezed in some pumpkin carving. We never got around to it at our party the other day!


May told me what shapes she wanted for the eyes (diamonds), nose (“round”), and whether she wanted a happy or scary face (scary!), so I drew it with her approval and Jeff carved it. Adele drew her own:


And Jeff carved it:


Here are the final products:




Nothing fancy. Just good old fashioned jack-o-lanterns!

Then I quickly got the girls into costume, threw mine together last minute with whatever autumnal stuff I could find (ohhh, to still have my wardrobe from back home!), and took tons of pictures!




May was absolutely hilarious to take pictures of. She’s only about 75% there on Halloween – she doesn’t really want to be in a costume, but she really wants candy. We kept telling her that the only way to get candy was to keep her costume on, which garnered these PRICELESS reactions:

may faces

Oh, and while Adele and May were posing for that really sweet sister photo up above, Adele tried to kiss her beloved little sister, who responded like this:


She loves to arch her back when she’s upset! It’s so cute! I can say it’s cute, because she’s not really upset. She’s more playing at upset. She alternated within seconds between whining and laughing at her own ridiculousness. That girl.

And this girl was just sooooo excited for trick-or-treating:


So away we went! First stop: allllllll the way two feet across the hall to our friend Lisé’s apartment:


She handed out rice krispie treats, because you can do that here! No one is afraid you’re going to hide a razor blade or arsenic in the unsealed treats, because we all know each other.

We continued on to our other next door neighbor:



May did really well at walking from door to door, though her “trick-or-treat” and “thank you” were barely audible.

The way the campus had organized it was that everyone who was interested in either trick-or-treating or handing out candy could pre-register and then a list of participating apartments was disseminated and there were those pumpkin print-outs to hang on your door. There were some in our building, but more in the other faculty residence on the opposite side of campus, which is why I had to carry May all the way over there. But before we left our building, we ran into one of Adele’s best friends Libby in our lobby:


And right outside our building, we added another little one to our troupe:


That’s Sofia, daughter of my friend Michelle, who comes from Brazil (along with her husband Marcos, who is doing a postdoc in Theater). This was (obviously) Sofia’s first time trick-or-treating, but also Michelle’s!

Some adults got really into it too:


That’s Kathy, who is in Community Life and organizes our Coffee Mornings, though I hardly recognized her!

There were soooo many kids trick-or-treating. Even though we went back to the grocery store to double up on candy that morning, Jeff texted to say he was rapidly running out. We would sometimes have to wait for multiple elevators, because they were just too full of revelers to squeeze into. But everything was very positive. Everyone was in a good mood and the kids – even the teenagers – were respectful and enthusiastic.

We had to take a break from trick-or-treating though. So we sat on the grass and examined our haul:


I wouldn’t let the kids have anything since we hadn’t eaten dinner yet. (Damn, now they’re not going to make me breakfast in bed anymore.)


Nope. But I did let her have a box of raisins (at this age, a box of raisins is just as exciting as candy. No need to egg that apartment).


Adele ran off to hide around a corner at some point and I followed her and reminded her that she was not to eat any of her candy without permission. She said she was “Just counting it.”

After a little rest, all the children and their parents gathered to start a parade of costumes across campus. Here are some of our littlest friends:


That’s Sofia the ladybug, Christina and Super Lulu and her older daughter Jojo as a kitty cat (Christina is the wife of another political scientist), and Julian, who was either a biker dude or a pirate.

There were all sorts of musical interludes along the way of the parade:


That’s Adele dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.”

That was about as far as I made it. I called Jeff to come out and meet us since the trick-or-treating was officially over, and I needed HELP. The girls were not at all misbehaving, but I was just feeling so poorly. Such a headache. So we told Adele we were going to “lead the parade” and led it all the way back to our apartment. She was so excited to lead, she never even noticed that no one was following us.

I collapsed in bed as soon as we got inside. I didn’t even come out for dinner. I also couldn’t get the glitter that I was covered in off of me, so I just fell asleep with it still on. Now I think our apartment will be covered in glitter forever. That stuff is insidious. I also spent all day in bed today (though I did get up to launder the glitter out of our bed linens). I have the best husband ever who makes it possible for me to do that when I need to (I’m not referring to the laundry). Of course, the girls had to come in for periodic kisses, but that’s the best medicine I could hope for. That and fresh ginger tisane.

Today, real Halloween like I mentioned at the beginning, was a lot more low key than yesterday. We had a visitor from the States (hello, Beka!) who came and watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” with the girls and Jeff made jack-o-lantern cheeseburgers:


This may have been our last year of family costumes. Next year, May will be old enough to assert her own opinions. But then again, these girls get along so well that they might easily agree on a theme!


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