Our first Thanksgiving of the season

Thanksgiving mantle
This year for Thanksgiving with the big boys we got a chocolate turkey.

Thanksgiving spread 2013
First we had dinner.

Gavin made rosemary walnuts.

And stuffing.

First turkey of the season 2013
And real turkey.

Everything on the table Thanksgiving 2013
He also made green beans and cranberry sauce.

Chocolate turkey 1
After dinner, came the moment our little one had been waiting for.

Chocolate turkey 2
Carving the chocolate turkey and eating it!

Happy Halloween!

Jack-o-lanterns 1
Last night we carved pumpkins.

Jack-o-lanterns 2
Our two year old was very clear that he wanted his to be scary.

Monster cake in the box
This morning we picked up our monster cake from the grocery store. Here he is in the box.

Rocket costume 1
I dressed up as a rocket. Those are flames around my knees.

Rocket costume 2

Gavin was an alien.

Trick or treating on Montana 1
Our little boy was an astronaut.

Trick or treating on Montana 2
We went trick-or-treating on Montana Avenue.

Halloween party
Afterwards, we had a little tiny Halloween party, with friends over for pizza…

Our monster cake before we ate it
…And monster cake.

Jack-o-lanterns on Halloween
Happy Halloween!

My favorite links for Halloween

Time to Make the Costumes (Or Not) – “…I love Halloween. It’s the most un-baggage-y of holidays. No one’s parents ever got upset that she couldn’t come home for Halloween; no one worries that we’re missing its true meaning. Glue-gunning yarn onto cardboardis its true meaning, especially if you eat candy while you’re doing it. So is ripping open that wizard costume (as long as it’s not the size 6 “naughty wizard” costume I saw at the party store last week) and putting it on.”

What you need to know about 6-foot trick-or-treaters – “Don’t tell them they’re too old. They already know that. Let them pretend it just isn’t so.”

The sticky topic of Halloween candy -Ellyn Satter wrote Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, which has been a fantastically helpful guide for me on how to feed my son in a way that supports him in exploring new foods without making a big deal out of meal times and without stressing either one of us out. Her take on Halloween candy? Let your kid eat as much as they want on Halloween and the day after. Then “put it away and relegate it to meal- and snack-time: a couple of small pieces at meals for dessert and as much as [they want] for snack time.”

Fourth of July books with a bang

One of my favorite ways to build up anticipation for the holidays is to get a bunch of books and read them for weeks in advance. Then we read them for weeks after — or, well, maybe sporadically all year long — to process the holidays and remember them and look forward to them coming back again.

So of course we’ve been getting ready for the Fourth of July this year by reading books. Here are our two favorites:

Hats Off for the Fourth of July
Hats off for the Fourth of July by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Gustaf Miller

A small town parade marches through the pages of Hats off for the Fourth of July. I love the rhythm and repetition — this book just feels good to read. My son especially loves the cowboy page (“Yee Haw!” he says if I don’t read it fast enough), and the motorcycle page which he also recites. (“Music and vroom! Music and vroom. The motorcycles need plenty of room.”)  We checked it out from the library to get ready for our own local Fourth of July parade, and I’m starting to think we might want to order our own copy.

Happy 4th of July Jenny Sweeney
Happy 4th of July, Jenny Sweeney! by Leslie Kimmelman, Illustrated by Nancy Cote

In Happy 4th of July, Jenny Sweeney!, Jenny chases her dog Rags through their small town, trying to get him bathed and beribboned as the whole town gets ready for the Fourth of July. We see people hanging flags, a firefighter washing his truck, a family celebrating having just become citizens, an older veteran getting dressed in his uniform, the mayor writing her speech, a family outside grilling, band members practicing their instruments, and finally the big parade, which Jenny and a clean Rags help lead. And after dark, everyone watches fireworks over the town lake. We like to look for Rags on every page — he’s always up to something.

For next year I have my eye on picture books of patriotic songs: America the Beautiful, another America the Beautiful, and My Country ‘Tis of Thee. I also liked the look of The Star-Spangled Banner, which is beautifully illustrated with scenes from the Revolutionary War, but we might wait until our kid is out of the toddler/preschool years for that one.