Halloween Costume History

Six years ago today – October 31, 2013 – I put on a Halloween costume for the first time in several years. I was inspired by my then four-year-old nephew Gabriel and two-year-old niece Lucy to find a fun costume and trick or treat with them. In 2012 I had trick or treated with them and decided then that the next year I was finally going to get into this costume thing.

I was never the kid who really got into costumes. Finding a costume was a task I had to do in order to get to the fun of parties and trick or treating. I had a couple of moments of costume brilliance in my 20s, such as when I dressed up as a devil:

I tried Wilma Flintstone once, but that doesn’t count because I botched that costume by not having the right dress with the right neckline due to very last minute shopping in between a Hawkeye football game and the Halloween party for which I was purchasing said costume:

So when I decided to go all in during 2013, I wanted to get it right. Gabriel was dressing up as Iron Man, and Lucy was going as Belle. I wanted to tie into one of those. As a real life godmother, I thought being a fairy godmother would be fun. However, I did not want to be the elderly godmother from Cinderella. I wanted to put a Lucy spin on it. I came up with what I thought Lucy would love her fairy godmother to look like:

Yes – lots of pink! 🙂 We had a blast on Halloween night, and now I was hooked.

By the time Halloween 2014 rolled around, I had adopted Percy the puggle. Since Percy was a part of the family and went everywhere with me, I knew he and I had to be a duo on Halloween night. I cut it close with the online shopping, but our costumes managed to arrive just in time:

Catwoman and Batman!

In 2015, I had to engage my artistic side and free hand a Starbucks logo:

Starbucks Barista and Pugkin Latte!

I was tempted to go with food costumes in 2016 but then found a classic costume that also seemed to be a fun tribute to my brother Mitch who was serving in the Navy at the time:

Sailor Girl and Sailor Dog!

By the time the fall of 2017 rolled around, I was wondering how on earth I could top the last few years. It always came together at the last minute, and this year was no exception:

Princess Leia and Chewbacca!

Last year I had a new challenge: One more dog to coordinate!

The Incredibles!

Now I was REALLY getting into this Halloween thing. We participated in our first Spooky Paws Parade, in addition to going on our annual trick or treating night with our favorite little people.

So that brings me to this year. I had it down to two themes well over a month out from Halloween – planning ahead for the first time ever! – and ended up choosing the Peanuts theme. I bought a human 3T t-shirt for Percy and managed to find a dress for Gemma. And my costume is proving to be perfect for the especially cold weather:

Charlie Brown, Sally Brown, and Snoopy!

We participated in our second Spooky Paws Parade last Sunday and will be dressing up to go trick or treating in Bennett tonight. Stay tuned for more photos!

We also entered our very first online costume contest this year. Percy and Gemma’s doggy daycare, The Barking Lot, is announcing the winner later today. Thank you to everyone who liked, loved, shared, and commented on our photo! We had a blast during the process, so win or lose, we will definitely compete again next year.

Happy Halloween, everyone!


July Recap

Three big events consumed most of July 2012.

1. Can’t stay away:


Eight months after leaving a full time team member position at Target Optical, I was offered a position to return as the Optical Team Lead in the Davenport store. Sometimes one needs to leave something to know how much she loved it. So was the case with Target Optical. I gave my notice at Rainbow International of the Quad Cities upon returning from…….

2. Bestie Jen’s wedding in Kansas City: well worth the wait.


Jen and I have been friends since the fall of 1997. In some ways it seems like it was just yesterday we were chatting it up at random places on the Simpson campus. Then when you consider all the things we have done since then, 1997 seems like a totally different lifetime ago. This was going to be a tough one because I was so happy for her. After all of the ups and downs, she found a guy worthy of her. It was worth the wait. We had a blast that day, especially on the dance floor. Surprise, I know. 😉


3. The Bix

After thinking through all of the career move stuff and being busy and having so much fun with Jen’s wedding, it was a welcome energy release to run the Bix at 6 a couple of times in preparation for The Bix at the end of July. I finished in about 90 minutes, which was about the same time I had finished in two years ago. Maybe I need to train more seriously next year? It’s fun regardless of where I finish – as long as I am not the last one to cross that finish line.


June Recap

Saying this summer flew by is certainly an understatement.  Thus, here is the June recap, a full 10 weeks late.


Jen’s Bachelorette in Chicago


Business Trip in Waco


Primary Election Day


Jen’s Kansas City Shower


G’s 3rd Birthday


Mitt Romney in Iowa


Red Cross Picnic on the River



Shelly’s Wedding


Tagg Romney at Scott County GOP Headquarters


Quad Cities Chamber “In the Q”


Denver With Cousins

UBWP: Day 8

Jen’s Wedding Day:  Sunday, July 15, 2012

Today’s Date:  Saturday, July 7, 2012

Days To Go:  8

How is it only eight days until Jen’s wedding?  Sure, these past few weeks have been crazy, but it still snuck up on me.  I had my dress and shoes in hand about three weeks before the wedding date.  And the dress hung in the plastic bag for a good three days before I mustered up the courage to try it on.

I tried it on, and it fit!  Well, mostly.  Needed to take in the top.  Story of my life.  Not mad, just a predictable fact.

I also tried on my bridesmaid dress from sister Sarah’s wedding.  Still fits!  Woot!  So what if I never followed through with this UBWP thing?  (In my defense, I have run/walked the one and only Bix at 6 that has been held so far this year – 7 miles!!!)  The dress still fits!

And one must not forget the shoes!

I finally took my dress to be altered at the beginning of this week.  Delorus Bockwoldt near Durant is amazing.  She’s an older lady who took care of all of the dresses for my sister’s wedding.  I called up Delores, trecked on three miles of gravel with Smurfette, and the dress was pinned and ready to go.  One day later, I received the phone call that it was ready for pick up.

One week from today at this time, I will be at rehearsal in Loose Park in downtown Kansas City.  Unreal that my bestie from college is getting married.  So happy for her!

UBWP: Day 25

Jen’s Wedding Day:  July 15, 2012

Today’s Date:  June 20, 2012

Days To Go:  25

“Ultimate Bridesmaid 48 Day Workout Program” is definitely not the best title I’ve come up with to date.  Must have been the bottle of wine I drank during Mad Men a few Mondays ago that blocked my ability to come up with neat – and short – titles/names.  I decided to shorten it to an acronym: UBWP.  I googled it to make sure I was in the clear, and the only thing it can really be confused with is Upward Bound Wichita Prep at Wichita State University or this rural development organization.  Different enough to not be infringing on any brands, I’d say.

The UBWP was a great concept.  And I have a feeling it will finally be put into action when I run the Bix @ 6 tomorrow.  I have proceeded pretty well with the baby steps.  However, going to Chicago, Waco, and then Kansas City – all in a ten day jaunt – was too much for even baby steps to deal with.  And then I get run down, and when I am run down and super tired, I just don’t care about something as lame as the UBWP.

I made an awesome discovery during this past weekend though.  That size 6 bridesmaid dress I wore in my sister’s wedding six years ago?  STILL FITS!  Woot!  Tried on the dress for Jen’s wedding and other than some adjusting to take it in up top (story of my life), it fits beautifully.

But no pigging out yet.  I still need to get a bit more toned.  My bestie Jen was very kind in choosing a dress that hides the belly pudge that I noticed in a photo I appeared in at the Romney event on Monday.  I hate the belly pudge.

So UBWP continues, or maybe starts soon, however you want to look at it.  I’ll be the first to proclaim I am a work in progress.  If you want true workout motivation and inspiration, check out my sister’s new blog.  She is the workout rock star.

Ultimate Bridesmaid 48 Day Workout Program

On Sunday, May 20, 2012, I declared the following day to be the beginning of my self titled “Ultimate Bridesmaid 48 Day Workout Program.”  Actually that would be the following Monday.  Seems I miscounted and shaved off a week from bestie Jen’s wedding date.  Good thing, because I didn’t start on May 21 anyway.

Jen’s Wedding Day:  Sunday, July 15, 2012

Today’s Date:  Friday, May 25, 2012

Days To Go:  51

I don’t consider myself to be obese or even fat.  And my bridesmaid dress measurements were taken in early February – in the middle of winter when I had not been exercising at all.  However, my pants have been feeling a little snug lately.  And the photos taken on July 15 will be around for FOR-EH-VER.  And I want to make my bestie proud.  I want to look my best for her wedding.  No, I’m not worried about showing up the bride.  She is going to be the most stunning lady, even if I’m at my hottest.

The last time I was a bridesmaid was on July 22, 2006, at my sister’s wedding.  I lived in Houston then, worked out a lot, and had a nice light tan.  I was also six years younger.  Something about the thirties just makes pudge stick to the belly.

My last bridesmaid appearance (I’m on the far right): July 22, 2006. Oh, to be 27 again! 🙂

After going down to Creston for Jen’s bridal shower and festivities last weekend, I decided I need to get on the ball.  It’s crunch time.  The wedding is less than two months away.  And then panic set it.  THE WEDDING IS LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY!

Yet, I didn’t jump on the running trail as soon as I got back to Davenport.  I looked at my to do lists each day during the five days since I came home from Creston and decided social butterfly activities and volunteer projects should fill my evenings.  I skipped a few lattes this week in favor of plain black coffee, but that was about all I did to forge ahead with my plan.

Today: Adding “work out” to my planner so I have no excuses. Also munching on animal crackers while drinking my black coffee. It’s all about baby steps. 🙂

Step 1:  Add “work out” to my planner to do list.  Must treat this as a real task.

Step 2:  Give kudos to myself for drinking more black coffee.  I like black coffee, just takes a larger amount to get me going in the morning since it’s not laden with espresso shots.  Small steps make a difference.

Step 3:  Be ready to literally hit the ground running on Monday, maybe before.

Step 4:  If I hit said ground running prior to Monday, realize this does not give me a break on Monday.

Step 5:  Enjoy my weekend without going too crazy on the calories.

Ultimate Bridesmaid 48 Day Workout Program preparations are complete!  Ready to officially commence in three days!

When It Rains, It Pours

Deep breaths, Melissa.  This has been my mantra for the past week.  Everything is due at once.  I love all of my jobs and business ventures, as well as my volunteer activities.  I can usually juggle it all seamlessly…..until it pours.

A lot of my stress is self imposed.  I strive for a level of perfection that is often not realistic.  But I don’t do anything less than 100%.  If that means I get a few hours less sleep, so be it.  I can sleep when I am dead, right?

And then when I talked to my friend Jen on the phone this morning, I realized I have it a lot more together than I think.  It will all be OK.  Just a few more days, and these big projects will be completed.  My progress is steady and deadlines will be met.

I must squeeze in five minutes to purchase a bottle of wine – to be opened when all of these items are checked off the to do list.

Plan a Priceless Party

Tis the season for fall and winter parties!  I enjoy throwing parties and totally immerse myself in planning them.  My favorite parties planned have been a baby shower for my sister and brother-in-law, bachelorette party for my friend Lexi, Silpada jewelry party, and a card party to introduce others to my new business

Steps for a Successful Soiree

1.  Set a realistic event date and time.

Check in with your key players before setting a date.  You need the guests of honor to be present.  Also, check local event schedules for football games or festivals that could potentially deplete your turnout.  Finally, be honest with yourself about how much time you need to effectively execute your plan.  Don’t be afraid to push the date back a week or two if it will ensure everything goes off smoothly.

2. Visualize and select a theme.

bachelorette party
Themes can be fun!

Visualizing is key when choosing a theme.  Think about how your theme will play out on paper, invitations, online, with decorations, and food.  An idea is worthless without being executed, so choose one that you can knock out of the park.  The baby shower theme I chose was an Anne Geddes / nature theme.  My friend Beth is a graphic designer and took my vague ideas and made them into neat Anne Geddes graphics with quotes.  The bachelorette party was titled “Sexy Lexi & Her Ladies” and had a simple hot pink and black color scheme pulled out of a graphic I found on iStock.  If you are stuck on coming up with a theme, think about what the guest of honor likes.  Search online for inspiration.  Have a big brainstorming session and then whittle it down.  The brainstorming may take a few days.  Keep a notebook nearby so you don’t forget a random great idea!

3. Develop your full plan and timeline.

This item is number three on the list because you must know your party date and time, as well as your theme, before you have enough information for a plan and timeline.

The plan needs to be detailed.  Don’t just list “make decorations”.  Plan the steps for making decorations:  finalize what they will be, buy the materials, assemble (if required), and budget decorating time the day before the event.  If you are renting a space and do not have access the day before, then decorate as early as possible on the day of the event.  Remember, be realistic and give yourself enough time to complete tasks.  If you run ahead of schedule, great.  That is much better than being pressed for time and having to do things halfway.

Build your timeline beginning with the event date and work backwards.  Some people can merely list dates, but I prefer to use a blank calendar format so I can visualize the time involved.

4. Delegate.

Julie created this table centerpiece for the baby shower.

Even if you like to be in control of the details like me, you can find a way to delegate.  The key is to delegate the right things to the right people, and then follow up.

Keep each person’s task simple.  With my sister’s baby shower, I knew her mother-in-law was super creative with decorations.  I bought a couple of basic items that caught my eye, showed her my theme, and asked her to take it from there.  She made the cutest table centerpieces, everyone loved them, and she could take some of the credit for the event.  Meanwhile, I didn’t spend hours on decorations and could move on down the list.

Lexi’s friend found a van for her bachelorette party, and she also picked up a few random last minute items.  My sister cooked the food, because besides Lexi herself, she is the best cook I know.  I even bought her a shirt with the title “Mama Sarah”.  🙂

Be clear and concise with what you need people to do for you, and follow up with them regularly to see how things are going and if they need your help.  You should tailor the amount of follow up to the specific person, as some people will take it all and run with it, while others may get stuck but won’t tell you they need help until you ask them if they need it.

5. Invite lots of people.

If you are lucky, about 1/3 of the people you invite will show up to your event.  So, invite with the motto of “the more, the merrier”.  Develop a strong mailing list, complete with phone numbers and emails you are able to collect.  Double check name spellings and update addresses ahead of time.  Assemble one master list.  Do not use random scrap pieces of paper!  I have an awesome online contact manager with SendOutCards, and it can be converted to or from an Excel spreadsheet.  Excel is your friend.

If you schedule the event far enough ahead, send simple Save the Date cards three to four weeks out from the event date.  The best format is a postcard with the essential details.

Send your official invitations 7 – 10 days prior to the event.  Have fun with these!  Use your iStock images, neat quotes, and personal graphics/photos with your theme.  I prefer hand addressed invitations, and I cheat by “hand addressing” online.  If you opt for labels, they must look good.  No letters should be semi cut off, they must be affixed straight, and the label color should not clash with the style of the invite.

Utilize other methods of inviting people, such as Facebook, Twitter, email, phone, and face to face.  If you used all of these with every single person, it may be overkill, so during your planning, decide how you will invite each person.

Everyone should receive the snail mail invites.  When inviting people in person, have a flyer handy to give them.  The name of the game is turnout.

6. Be the hostess with the mostest and execute the party day plan.

One of the most common mistakes I see with parties is the lack of attention paid to hosting the party.  If you are the planner and the host, ensure that you have other people taking care of tasks once the party begins.

During the baby shower, my sister and brother-in-law, along with their parents, greeted people as they came.  Thus, I was able to check on the food and drinks, sign in table, and gifts.  However, during Lexi’s bachelorette party, I was hosting at my place.  That (and the fact that she is a great cook) is why I recruited my sister to cook.  The Silpada and card parties required little attention to food or products from me, so I was able to host and handle everything without help.

Someone needs to play photographer!  This is another problem I have witnessed.  The party is a hit, everyone is talking about it afterward, and then they realize that no one was taking pictures.  Or, with larger events, the photographer was hired and present, but he/she did not take enough pictures or was not present for some of the best photo opportunities.

7. Send thank you cards.

Sending a thoughtful thank you card is the final step.

Thank people for coming to your party.  A simple thank you card is very thoughtful and will give you an opportunity to keep in touch with those you invited after the party is over.  If you can afford it, send a small gift to those who helped you with the party planning and execution.  A $5 Starbucks gift card or a nice photo from the event are inexpensive but show appreciation.

Hope you find these 7 tips helpful as you plan your fall and winter get-togethers.  If you need more specific planning services, I am willing to help for a small fee.  😉