Just call me Jiji

…me, just pretending to be me ….now, where did I put that cape??

Archive for the tag “Halloween”

Hunker Down

We were told to “hunker down”, Sandy was on her way. It was going to land in Jersey, and New York was going to feel its impact.

On Saturday night to avoid Sandy’s wrath, we celebrated Halloween early at the Shyne’s. They are known in the neighborhood for their amazing decorations and interactive costumed players, including a chainsaw wielding Michael Meyers and a chef that serves brains, heart, and worms to willing foodies.

To avoid Sandy’s wrath, we celebrated Halloween early at the Shyne’s


Chef Nancy and her Roach Farm

Mmm Dessert

I am glad they decided to do it. I just love dressing up. It is what I look forward to every Halloween, and I was especially eager to try out a new make up technique I had learned. What do you think?  I am pretty impressed with myself. 🙂

On the following morning, Sunday Oct. 28, 2012,  it was time to get serious and hunker down. Sandy was definitely on her way!!

I imagine that most people  stayed glued to the local TV station all day long. I know I did. Ron helped our neighbors across the street breakdown and secure the holiday decorations that we had just enjoyed the night before.

We ran out at the last minute to pick up some water, fruit, dry goods, batteries, etc. We filled the gas tank and headed back home to watch Sandy’s approach on TV.  It dawned on me that we were taking this (warning) a bit more seriously than we had in the past.

We live in Nassau County on Long Island. We were warned that the south shore in particular was going to get the brunt of it on Long Island. The warnings made comparisons to Hurricane Irene and how this hurricane was going to be worse than that. We were to expect high winds, flooding, and power outages through out NYC and Long Island.

We’ve heard these warnings before, and not that we doubted that Long Island was going to get hit, but for the most part, because we (Ron, Leon & I) live in Central Nassau, we don’t expect to get hit as hard as the north and south shores. Most flooding happens at the shore, and winds have felled a couple of trees and knocked out some lights for a day or two here where we live, but in comparison to the damage the shore gets we barely feel it.

Last year Hurricane Irene got New York’s attention big time, and while it did hit hard, there were some areas of New York that did not get as much of a beating as was expected.

But, that morning, the day Hurricane Sandy was due to hit, the air felt different. The news reports  were much more urgent than I remember storm watches and warnings ever being in the past; evacuations were being ordered and shelters were popping up all over the place, and talk of widespread power outages were practically guaranteeing we would all be in the dark for a few days.  Recorded messages from the town came in on our phones listing items that we should keep at the ready. Yes, this time I was taking the warnings a bit more seriously.

It was a windy day from the get-go, and as the day wore on and it got later the winds got stronger. At the supermarket I watched 3 shopping carts speed past me with out a driver, so to speak. I felt the push of the wind on my back. The clouds darkened the sky, they seemed somehow heavier, like they were being weighed down. I could feel it in my body.  Then came the heavy rain (and a heavy flare-up). Lots and lots of rain.

By this time we were all safe and comfy in our home. There was nothing else to do but wait till it was over, just like we did during past  storms and even hurricane Irene. We could hear the rain beating against the house, and we heard the winds howling past us.  But I felt secure enough, after all as long as we stayed inside, the storm wasn’t going to touch us.

Then I hear Leon yell for us to “come quick; my bed and all my books are wet”. We discovered that the ceiling in his room just above his bed had a crack in it and was leaking.  Ron grabbed a bucket and set it down under the leak; what more could he do?

Leon, was distraught because now all his books were ruined. A meltdown ensued. It was clear to me that the anxiety of the storm was getting to him. Throughout the day, as we watched the news reports or listened to the radio, I discussed some of the things we might face during the storm with Leon. Leon does not like surprises or sudden unexpected changes, so preparing him ahead of time  was necessarily. But the leak was not expected at all.

 As I held him while he cried over the loss of his precious books, I reminded him that we had talked about the storm and how it could cause damages. He interrupted me with “yea, but you didn’t tell me it would rain in my room!”.

It was true, I did not tell him it would rain in his room. I did however prepare him for the power to go out, and soon after we discovered the leak, the power did go out at 6:31pm. Ron gave Leon his own wind up flashlight while, Ron and I got out the candles.

Some how with the lights out, the howling of the wind seemed louder, and the moaning and groaning and creaking of this old house straining against the 80 mph gusts of wind became more obvious. Poor Leon jumped at each new sound. Once we had sufficient light in the kitchen, we huddled around the kitchen table together. We read,and played games to pass the time and keep Leon’s mind off of the sudden noises. And we listened to the local radio station report on what was happening outside our cozy candle lit kitchen at the same time.

Every so often I could feel the house shift, it was bracing itself against the strong gusts of wind that the radio and TV news had promised. There were loud noises that came from outside. There was crashing and banging and booming sounds, and bursts of light in the sky that I mistook for lightning. I eventually learned (over the radio) that the burst of light was not in fact lightning, but transformers blowing out all around us, hence the widespread power outages.

It was getting really scary, and not just for Leon, I was getting scared too. I had never experienced something like this before. Now I was jumping at every sound this house was making too. Did I mention it is old? Yes, very old; 120 years old, old. Which means tons of creaking and moaning and groaning. And then there were the external sounds of things falling or flying or god knows what. Now I was getting anxious myself. There was a loud sound that came from the front of the house. We peered out the window into the normally well-lit street, now buried in darkness to see what had made the sound. It was like a cracking sound followed by a crashing sound. Ron went out to get a closer look. A large limb from a tree directly in front of our house had fallen down onto our gate and taken two wires that were connected to the house down with it.

Peering out the window to see what hit the house

The radio was reporting live, about all the dreadful things that was happening all around the Island and in NYC.

Hurricane Sandy Building Collapse 2012 NYC 3841

Front facade building collapse

Fire Island during Hurricane Sandy

The whole front facade of a building in Manhattan just crumbling to the ground, exposing the apartments inside, trees and electrical lines falling on homes, people who refused to obey the order to evacuate, now needing rescuing . Yeah I was getting a bit anxious myself. But I surely did not want Leon to see me shaken.

To keep from totally falling apart I felt I had to keep busy doing something. I made Ron run all over the house, collecting items to pack as a go bag, find the fire extinguishers, put the shoes by the door;  while I collected my portable hard drives and my engagement ring and wrote out ID cards for each of us detailing who we were and who to contact in case of emergency. I then made sure Leon and Ron put them in their pockets, as did I.

My thinking was if something falls on the house or the wires spark a fire, and we get separated  they (rescue workers)would know who to find for us.

….Okay so I get overly cautious when I am frightened. While this was going on in the house a few fire trucks pulled up outside the house. As I watched out the front window a fireman motioned for me to meet him at the door. When we opened the door he informed us that the wire that was pulled down from our house by the tree limb was laying across our metal fence and a fire hydrant.

We were instructed to stay in the house till it was determined whether or not the wire was live. Ron was convinced that it was the cable or phone line. The fireman said it may be, but to be sure, stay inside. If we must leave the house, make sure we had on rubber sole shoes and stayed off the grass, only walk on the walkway.

I tried getting in touch with my mom and my sister by cell phone. When the power went out, so did our home phone and internet. Our only choice for communication was the cell phone. But it really was no choice at all. There was no getting through to anyone. And if I did get through, the call would drop immediately. Eventually I got my sister via text message. She couldn’t get in touch with my mom either. I was getting worried because she was home alone. I was also kicking myself for not being more forceful about her coming to stay with us. My sister was doing the same.  Mom was very adamant about staying home. She’s quite stubborn when she wants to be.

That night I had such a hard time getting to sleep, all I could do was watch the two trees in our front yard sway back and forth in the wind and the utility pole across the street pull the wires attached to our house taut  and then slack  again.  Eventually my eyelids were too heavy and I no longer could stay awake.

The next morning, Oct. 29th  in Sandy Aftermath, our power was still out, no electricity, no heat, no hot water, no phones, and no internet. Cell phones were not getting good reception either.

We surveyed the damage outside and are thankful that it wasn’t worse. Aside from the branch taking down a wire, Sandy took a few shingles off the roof, some siding and part of the gutter.

Shingles, shingles everywhere

Down with the gutter

Branches downed

Anyone lose an antenna?

The side of our house

That’s where the siding went

The planter is made of cement & oh so heavy

One of the fences that collapsed

We checked on our friends as we drove around our neighborhood assessing the damage. It was unbelievable to see so many trees down. It looked as if they were just plucked out of the ground roots and all and left there for us to clean up. Some of them ripped up the side-walk and even the road in some cases.

These are pictures of the damage found in my neighborhood




Ron managed to get in touch with his parents on his cell. Thankfully they were safe, and they hadn’t lost electricity. While Ron stayed at home to wait for his parents to bring us their generator (insert happy dance here), I took Leon with me to see how my sister and her family were doing before heading on to check on my mom. Both my sister and my mom had also lost power like most of the rest of Long Island.  Of the three of us my sister’s home got hit the hardest, with tree branches all over the yard.

This is my sister’s home;


Even little Kiera helped with the clean up

Mom admitted that she was very afraid during the storm, but she still insisted on staying at home on her own. Before leaving her, I wanted to make sure she had a few things. I ventured out looking for a battery operated radio and batteries. Five stores and 2 hours later I still had no luck finding what I was looking for. By the time I got back to my mom’s house to deliver the bad news, her power was back on. Go figure.

  I was hot to get home before dark. It was scary enough driving from town to town with no working traffic lights during the day, I certainly did not want to drive home in the dark with out traffic lights to regulate traffic.

As anticipated our power was still out. Being without electricity, heat, and hot water is no picnic. But it is doable. It’s the lack of phone, TV or internet that had me itching to find a hotspot. We did have the radio to report on what was going on out there. But I wanted to be able to see what was going on and I hated not being able to communicate with my mom or sister. I, of course, wasn’t the only one missing technology. But, for as much as Leon complained about being bored because there was no TV or internet, we did have a lot of fun as a family doing crafts and playing games.  And the added bonus for Leon was that school was closed.

There was some worry among the kids that Halloween would be cancelled this year. The concern being that there were too many trees down and sidewalks ripped up. A group of us parents decided to get the kids all together for trick or treating keeping safety first in mind at all times. We were not going to let Sandy ruin our children’s day! The kids were happy and so were we.

As luck would have it, by the time we got back from trick or treating on Wednesday the house was all lit up. Hooray we had electricity and heat and hot water!! We still did not have phone or internet but we only need wait one more day before we were connected again. Boy were we happy to have power again.

We were one of the lucky ones. Sure we lost power for 4 days, didn’t have heat or hot water, and could not communicate with our family. But there are so many who are far worse off than we were. Far, far worse than even some of my neighbors or my sister’s family; who are still in the dark even now. We’ve been able to help out our next door neighbor by sharing our electricity via an extension cord. At least they can plug in their fridge. And my sister, brother-in-law, and cousin  are staying with my mom, to avoid the cold. Let’s just hope they don’t drive each other insane. They are lucky too.

Being without electricity, TV, internet, etc. can really isolate you from what is going on in the rest of the world. When we were without power I had no idea how bad things were. Granted we had the radio, but it didn’t sink in till I  was able to  really look at what Sandy had done.   So many people left homeless, with all their mementos and memories washed away. People have lost home, cars, furniture, clothing, everything. After seeing all of this, I know I have no cause to complain about the things that were going wrong in my life.

It is heartbreaking to see how badly other parts of New York have been hit. I feel so terrible for those people who have lost everything. I just could not imagine the heartbreak they are going through right now. My prayers go out to them.

There isn’t much I can do financially to help. But I will donate clothing and whatever else I can to help.  Another thing I can do is at least help spread the word. Please do what you can to help these people who have had there lives turned upside down. Make a donation if you can to the Red Cross and pass the word on. There are people out there who are just like you and me, who really need your help.

  Stay safe, and stay positive.

Happy Halloween 2011!!!

Here is a PDF of a sign I make each year to hang up while we are out Trick or Treating. Feel free to use it for yourselves.

Dear Trick or Treaters

Another thing we love to do is BOO our friends;

Yipee Skipee it’s Halloween!

I love Halloween! It ties with Christmas as my favorite holidays..

Both are fun and festive! Christmas lets me get my shopping on and Halloween lets me get my costume on.

Last weekend we enjoyed yet another Halloween Celebration. I say another, because this year is no different from any other year, where we attend many different Halloweenie events.

Traditionally Leon gets to go trick-or-treating at least 3 times each year.  First Leon starts his candy collecting in PA at Ron’s parent’s summer retreat, a campsite on the Delaware river, that they have been seasonal members of since Ron was Leon’s age, that hosts a costume parade, trick or treating, and a Halloween party at the close of the season in the end of September. His second T.o.T. collecting is usually at Pumpkin Park, a local amusement park that opens itself up for safe trick or treating every year, however there was scheduling conflict and we did not get to go this year. And lastly we always enjoy having a few friends meet up at our home for a light snack before we roam the neighborhood on Oct. 31, forcing our kids to collect candy for our – umm I mean their enjoyment. 

This year we have a packed Halloween schedule once again. In September, we had fun at the campground as usual. Leon wore a grim reaper sort of costume because as much as he wanted to be Emperor Palpatin from Star Wars, I knew the make-up involved in it would try his patience and his sensory issues. So I nixed it for the campground. He enjoyed himself none the less.

He’s the one all in black

Two weeks ago we went upstate to enjoy the fall scenery and do some apple picking as described in my previous post.

The 3 of us collected twigs, acorns, and leaves and put them together; and Leon snapped this photo.

Last weekend I spent Friday and Saturday putting our costumes together. I’ve always enjoyed making costumes and dressing up in either couples costumes or coordinated family costumes, and luckily Ron and Leon enjoy it too. Our theme is usually determined by what Leon chooses to be and then we work around that.

Being HUGE fans of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, it was only natural that we would portray characters from the movie. I am the Lovely Sally, Ron is Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King, and Leon of course is Oogie Boogie.

Putting costumes together for Jack and Sally was simple enough. Ron’s was completely store-bought and in the interest of saving money, (along with having an excuse to wear my leather corset) mine was put together from pieces of clothing that I already own (with the exception of the wig which I borrowed). Leon’s costume of the other hand was something entirely different. Oogie Boogie is not a readily available costume, in other words it had to be made. And Leon was very specific about it looking true to character.

I spent four hours creating Oogie’s head on Friday and about five hours creating his boogie, I mean body on Saturday. It turned out truly amazing if I do say so myself, I am quite pleased with the result!!!

You’re joking, you’re joking,
I can’t believe my eyes”

Mr. Oogie Boogie, Nightmare Before Christmas

We wore our costumes to a friend’s Halloween party Saturday evening and had a blast! Leon’s favorite part was getting to watch Nightmare Before Christmas and Scooby Doo with the other kids. My favorite part was the look of surprise on people’s faces when they found out Oogie Boogie was not store-bought. Well, that and getting together with friends.

On Sunday, Ron’s parents joined us at a street fair. We went in costume to participate in a costume parade and enjoy the farmers market and a wonderful musical group, The Bari Koral Family Rock Band. They were terrific but we had to leave early, Leon was having an off day due to the previous night’s activities.

Ron, Leon, my niece Kiera, and myself

You will notice that I did not go as Sally in the pictures; instead I was an eco-friendly witch. I felt that it was more appropriate daytime attire, and it gave me an excuse to wear my green dress that just happened to match my green witches hat that I had received as a gift from my sister a year or so ago. Hmmm.. Do you think she was trying to tell me something?

This whole week continued to be about Halloween festivities for us. Leon’s school hosted a pumpkin patch for the students during recreation time on Wednesday. He was happy to come home with a pumpkin, a pint of apple cider, and some candy corn. We decorated the pumpkin when he got home from school

It’s Not So Spooky Snoopy!

On Friday, Leon went to school in costume, as did the majority of the other students in his school. The principle, whom I adore as y’all know; led a costume parade in front of the school, and invited the parents to come and watch.

Jedi Leon

It was just so adorable to see them all dressed up and enjoying themselves. Our principle by the way dressed as Sponge Bob, which I thought was great. So did the kids, they just love her! Leon was excited to come home with his “crabby patty” prize for scariest costume. Funny enough, Leon did not wear his Oogie Boogie costume.  The student’s were not allowed to wear masks, so he donned a previous year’s costume, Jedi Luke Skywalker. Which, isn’t a scary costume, however, knowing my SPD son and his issues with clothing, I allowed him to wear a pair of skeleton pajamas as a costume underneath his Jedi costume, in case all that extra fabric was too much for him. So he went to school and marched in the parade as a Jedi; but by the time the principle got to his classroom afterwards he had stripped done to his bones, won scariest costume, and came home as a skeleton.

That same evening the PTA hosted a Fall Harvest Costume Dance. We  really, really wanted to show off the Oogie Boogie costume, and even though masks were not permitted, I allowed Leon to walk in as Oogie, knowing that my extremely hyper-active, run wild as soon as he hears music, ADHD child would take it off within 10 minutes of getting there. I was right, of course, and Leon spent the rest of the evening as a break-dancing skeleton. Which is quite funny to watch! Ron and I attended in costume as well. Ron as Jack, and I as the Green Witch, once more – I figured my leather corset would raise more than a few eyebrows in a school setting.


CIt was very nice to see some of the other parents wearing costumes as well! My favorite adult costume was the Sleestak! As for the kids, the home-made Sally was great, as was the Mini Mad Hatter, the Peacock, and my favorite Little Witch in Training (just because she is the sweetest little girl).

Sleestak and Jack rev up the dance floor

The funniest part of the evening was when the DJ called the Sleestak and Beetle Juice over to help lead a dance. Funny because, he was pointing at Ron (aka Jack Skellington) when he said Beetle Juice.

You could not see his face under that mask but I am sure Ron was cringing every time the DJ (who was really great with the kids) said Beetle juice, which he said a lot. At one point Beetle juice, I mean Jack; I mean RON was asked to lead the conga line.

Conga, conga!

 I am very lucky to have a husband who is such a good sport (and doesn’t mind working up a sweat! – that is a rubber mask he was wearing). I think he really enjoyed it too, the notoriety, not the sweating.

On Saturday, Leon and Ron started their day early. Aside from Leon’s first Drawing class, they went to the Boy Scout Jamboree for the day, which being scheduled for Halloween weekend had to of course include a Halloween parade. Unfortunately they missed the parade, but they enjoyed the day none the less.

Happy Birthday BSA!!

When they returned, we got ready for a party at the haunted house across the street. Our friends (who are also our neighbors) go all out on Halloween. The outside of their r home gets totally transformed a week or two before Halloween, and is ever-changing. The house draws a lot of on lookers. This year the theme was a Cannibal Cafe and aside from the typical masked persons scaring the bejeebers out of passerbyers, including one who chases them down the street wielding a real chainsaw (sans blade); they added a new character to the mix. The zombie chef was working up his magic for the crowd, offering up; grilled upper intestines (because the lower ones taste like crap), liver and fava beans, fried fingers, leg of Sam, eyeballs, s.o.s. (shit on a shingle), and “The Exorcist” special. He was a crowd pleaser for sure.

The Spooky House day & night

(click pictures to enlarge)

Sunday, Halloween; was a very long day for sure. We spent the morning preparing for a Pre-Trick-or-Treat Get Together at our home. I planned games for the kids to play for prizes, including the ever popular mummy-wrap game which was a ball. The kids enjoyed a few crafts, some games, some chicken nuggets and cupcakes, and spending time with each other, at about 3ish we set out on our merry way, around the neighborhood. Keeping up with the kids was a task and a half. We managed to hit quite a few houses, some of them more than once, before we made it back.

Trick or Treat!

(click pictures to enlarge)

We had been invited back to the “cafe” across the street to enjoy yet another party because this year they decided to host a party on both nights of Halloween weekend, rather than just their usual one party on Halloween night.


The second night was by far more crowded and busier than the first night, with both the invited guests and the passing onlookers. The live entertainment was a huge draw. Even Ron got in on it as kids high-fived him and asked to take pictures with him.

Ron enjoying the spotlight

And now I get to suffer the Day After  Halloween Hangover….

                                                                  ….that’s okay I got the cure


There is a light at the end of the tunnel..


…and it’s got

Mickey Ears!!!!



Yup, we are going back to Disney, …AGAIN!

Originally we had planned for a fall visit in Oct, for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. But given all of Leon’s problems in school I am wary about taking him out for 5 days mid-year. So we are leaving in 2 months. We will be there from Aug.29 – Sep.8. Unfortunately this does mean that Leon will miss the first day of school. It stinks, but it was the lesser evil. We can’t wait.

Things have been busy and hectic around here. Leon is completely off the zoloft and seems to be doing better, and by better I mean not as bad as he was. When people ask how’s Leon doing, I usually answer “he is doing good”, and in my head I am silently thinking “…well good for Leon, anyway”. He is more manageable, but the fact remains that he still has to be managed. Now that school is out, I think things may be a bit easier for Leon now because we will have alot of one-on-one time together. We still have not recieved any word on when his CSE meeting will be, but it should be soon. I am hopeful, the school psycologist seemed very positive about the outcome. We’ll just have to wait it out and keep our fingers crossed. I have yet to find him a child psychiatrist to manage his medication, we may go with a neurologist instead, it will all depend on our insurance and what Dr Petrosky thinks. We will meet with him once the school sends me thier neurologist’s report for him to include in his assessment.

 I am somewhat excited about summer but dreading it too. Summer vacation means I need to be even more ‘on’, for more time during the day, when it comes to dealing with Leon. Aside from the half day camp he will start next week, I am hoping to fill our summer with  play dates, trips to the beach, to the pool, free movies courtesy of REG’s Free Family Film Festival , and free bowling courtesy of KidsBowlFree.com. We are also hopeing to get away on one or two weekends to PA to visit his grandparents at the campground were they have a seasonal site.

For myself I would like to put time aside just for me,  to work on planning for Disney, organizing my photos, and working on my new hobby of digital scrapbooking. I’ve been promising to do a trip report on my last two Disney trips for some time now and I figure I better get to it before my next one. And since my photographs are what help me to tell my story I will incorperate my scrap booking into it.

Here is my first 2 pages:



I’m still fiddling with them, .. I am unsure if I really like the first one, but I think the second one is cute. What do you think?



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