the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Halloween 2010

Thank god it’s ove— oh, hey! Didn’t see you! How was your worst holiday of the year Halloween? Have you shot your kids yet? If not, I’m available for hire! That could be the REAL job I’m always needing to get.

UUUUUGHHH. It’s not even the chocolate-feuled, irrational outbursts I dislike so much, although aren’t those fun? You think you’ll remember next year that if you let them have that much candy in one sitting that the vomit will stain the carpet, but you never do.

I don’t even think I can articulate what I don’t like about it, maybe that it signals the long march through winter? Because it always seems to snow in Utah on Halloween, just as it did on Saturday night. What? That wasn’t Halloween? What are you, non Mormon? Trick-or-treating on Sunday is verboten. Leads straight to premarital sex just like Facebook and that one Led Zeppelin song played backwards.

Also, Mormons now do this thing called trunk-or-treating where they meet in the parking lot at church and go from car to car. I guess because it’s safer? Except then you have to teach your kids that you can’t just take candy from the trunk of any car, even if the person driving it does go by the name Elder Jensen and there’s a Prop 8 sticker on his bumper.

Forgive me. It’s just that time of year.

Anyway, what this means for a lot of people living in Utah is that we never know how many kids are going to show up to our house for candy. Some years it seems like hundreds, and then the very next year we’ll get one young couple with their newborn. So we can’t plan ahead. Maybe this is where collecting shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotels could come in handy. Sorry! We don’t have any Snickers bars, but this shit here will make your head smell like a peony!

So! To the real fun. You guys. I bought a wig and a fake dagger and had an entire Baby Rambo costume planned out for Marlo. But she refused to keep the wig on. In fact, she tried to bite me when I attempted to hold it firmly against her skull. No problem, I’ll just deduct the price of the wig from her weekly meal budget. Unrelated: Jon, don’t feed Marlo on Thursday.

We went with a hand-me-down instead.

And when we put it on her she immediately started making chimpanzee noises and would not stand still. Leta, seen here in her Mariposa Fairy costume, tried to correct her over the deafening noise. “It’s ribbit-ribbit, Marlo. Ribbit-ribbit.” Right. Leta, I have a black wig I’d like you to try and put on her head. You’re up to date on your tetanus shot, right?

We could not get a good shot of them together.

But you don’t really care about those two, do you? I didn’t think so!

  • simpliSAHM

    2010/11/01 at 3:58 pm

    Ah yes, Utah Halloweens… I was stunned my first Halloween in Utah that happened to land on Sunday when I learned that an entire state will somehow manage to change the date of a ‘holiday’ (you know what I mean) just because the Mormons declared it be so. Gah! Oh, and the “Trunk or Treat” thing…I think I was living in Happy Valley when they started that crap…now everybody’s doing it.

  • jon

    2010/11/01 at 4:02 pm

    Remind me to schedule my appointment for a vasecto

    Oh, yeah. Sorry.

    Carry on.

  • Dani

    2010/11/01 at 4:17 pm

    Whew! I was wondering where the Chuck costume pictures were.

  • curlsz

    2010/11/01 at 4:20 pm

    CoCo looks embarrassed – FINALLY!!

    Ok so Baptist have been doing the trunk or treat as well – which leave it to the church to take a perfectly great place to stash drugs and / or dead bodies in and turn it for their own purposes of candy and religious tracts

  • theurbancowgirl

    2010/11/01 at 4:23 pm

    I would like to have a dog, or a child, solely for the purpose of dressing them up for Halloween.

  • mamatabea

    2010/11/01 at 4:23 pm

    Just browsed through the pictures quickly….so funny. Heather, YOU should have dressed up as Lady Gaga, totally 🙂 We’re no luckier up here in Canada, Halloween is always coooooooold. But even the church-goers go on Sunday, us included. Well, even though it seems unfathomable, Utah and all of Canada (that is east of Vancouver…) will make it through another winter. Thanks to you there’s always something to laugh about, even on the coldest, greyest winter days. Hang in there Armstrongs!

  • TropicalPopsicle

    2010/11/01 at 4:27 pm

    Alejandro! Rah Rah, ah ah ah!


  • nuttermother

    2010/11/01 at 4:30 pm



  • gail37

    2010/11/01 at 4:33 pm

    A young friend of mine, born and raised here in Utah, recently moved to New Haven, CT. She got raised eyebrows and weird looks, not to mention absolute amazement, when she asked a local if kids would be trick or treating on Saturday. “But Halloween is on SUNDAY!” Finally, I get to say, “Poor Chuck, she makes you balance so many things! You are sooooo put upon!” And how did you get Coco to stay in that costume?

  • Essembee

    2010/11/01 at 4:38 pm

    Gorgeous photos! It’s a bit trippy seeing how tall Leta is compared to Marlo now.

    Also, I very much enjoy the irony of Coco dressed as a sheep, although I’m not sure she gets it…

  • LizC

    2010/11/01 at 4:38 pm

    A lot of places are doing the trunk-or-treating now. They do it here and I don’t think it’s always church specific. They just find an empty parking lot. I think it takes all the fun out of Halloween.

  • Tobie

    2010/11/01 at 4:49 pm

    LMAO @ “Alejandro.” Will never listen to that song the same again.

    Yeah, a lot of the little neighborhoods do “trunk or treat” here as well, with people saying that it’s “sooo much safer.” Is it, really? Teaching kids to…take candy from strangers’ cars? Is that really ~safer~ than going to houses, just ringing doorbells with your parents standing right behind you? *Sigh* whatever, I’m agreed that it takes all the fun out of Halloween.

  • apostate

    2010/11/01 at 5:20 pm

    The trunk or treating thing gets me riled too. Aside from the fact that it’s offensive to imply that those of us of a certain religious persuasion are more trustworthy, I think it’s incredibly dangerous to have little ones wandering around a parking lot in the dark as cars pull in and out. Trick or treating should be done ON THE SIDEWALK with parental supervision. That means that you walk by your little ones and hold their hands. You don’t unleash them in a giant parking lot and give yourself props for being safety-conscious.

    Sunday Halloweens in Utard are always the worst. Back in 1993, I lived in Nevada where people didn’t kowtow like they do here. I slept over at my friend’s house because the following day was a state holiday with no school and her mom (who was also Mormon) let us go. I was 16 and way too old anyway. But it was fun. My mom was not happy when she found out how I had “worked” on the Sabbath for all that candy. LOL.

    My son was the same frog as Marlo when he was one year old. My husband taught him how to growl like a bear because apparently, saying “ribbit” was too hard. So he was a growling frog. Somehow, it was adorable. I guess whoever designed that costume at Old Navy didn’t consider how hard it is for a one year old to say “ribbit”.
    We used the costume for pajamas for the rest of the winter because he looked so adorable in it. Nice and warm.

    ps: It didn’t snow on the West Siiiiiiiiiiiiiide. Just a little drizzle. I guess that’s the price you pay for prime Utah real estate. 🙂

  • Becky Cochrane

    2010/11/01 at 4:52 pm

    I do, I DO care about the beautiful Armstrong girls, but OMG–Coco and Chuck. Best Halloween moments of this year, and I had some good ones.

  • juliemewood

    2010/11/01 at 4:55 pm

    GRRRRRRRRRR!!!! Trunk or treat is no good. No good at all! And that’s from a full fledged mormon girl! Love, love, love the costumes, especially coco’s!! hahahaha! ( I hate lol) 🙂

    Loved the post too!

  • Midnight

    2010/11/01 at 4:58 pm

    If it comforts you to know that Utah hasn’t spread it’s Mormon tentacles everywhere, here in the Philly burbs, we had trick or treating last night. In fact, we had a big neighborhood party with pizza/beer/wine/juice boxes, followed by 2 hours of trick or treating. AND, despite the cold, instead of hiding out in our respective houses, a bunch of us sat at the end of our neighbor’s driveway in camp chairs in front of a fire pit with wine/beer and handed out candy to the kids and beer to the adults.

    Trunk or treating sounds like a bunch of crap to me.

    Love the costumes! My kids went as Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters this year. I might be biased, but they were hilarious.

  • jan001

    2010/11/01 at 4:59 pm

    I was all “awwwww, how sweet, that’s the keeper” when I was looking at the picture of the three of them. And then I saw Coco in sheep’s clothing and busted out laughing. Hard. And it only got worse (better) when I saw Chuck-Ga. And Alejandro.

    At the risk of being all schmaltzy, “memories are made of this”. Cool pictures.

  • greeblemonkey

    2010/11/01 at 5:06 pm


    Declan had the EXACT same frog costume when he was M’s age. And it was the year Kerry was running and we were out campaigning and there was little Declan on the corner with a sign that said “Frogs Love Kerry!”

    OF COURSE I can’t find the photo anywhere right now. But… IT WAS CUTE.

    He has grown up quite a bit since then… He went as a Dementor this year:

    And I have to say I love Halloween, but you are so right about the sugar-high.

  • grad.nauseam

    2010/11/01 at 5:09 pm

    The look on Coco’s face is priceless. She’s just completely demoralized. I’d be sleeping with one eye open.

  • amyptucson

    2010/11/01 at 5:14 pm

    That first photo of Marlo wins the prize! File it under Prototypical Reaction of Young Child First Seeing Herself in Costume in the Mirror.

  • c_kidman69

    2010/11/01 at 5:17 pm

    I was raised in Utah and did the trunk or treat thing, then we moved to North Eastern Washington, we were kind of rual and the local Wal Mart hosted a trunk or treat, they provided ALL the candy and the cars had to be parked by a certain time and could not leave until it was all over and the kids were gone. I was shocked, shocked to learn that outside of Utah people did a trunk or treat also.

    Love the costumes, I love Marlo’s long toes, I have kids with long skinny feet and they are just precious to me.

  • apostate

    2010/11/01 at 5:22 pm

    “the cars had to be parked by a certain time and could not leave until it was all over and the kids were gone.”

    Here’s the question though: If you arrive with your kids and leave with them, then how do you regulate it so that the cars can’t leave until the kids are gone? Do you have to sit in the car with your kids for 45 minutes? A car full of kids who are hopped up on chocolate. Sounds like fun.

  • msjo

    2010/11/01 at 5:40 pm

    I live in SLC. We had two forlorn little boys show up Sunday night. Apparently new to Utah and did not get the message. I had leftover candy, hoping others in the neighborhood did too….

  • nelsonsmama

    2010/11/01 at 5:44 pm

    Trick or treating was on Saturday night here in good old Middle Tennesse, but I’d like to think it was more about the wisdom of a weekend night rather than a school night.

    For the record, I love Halloween! It’s a wonderful time in our small town – everyone is out and about, golf carts are decorated, lots of cocktails are consumed, kids are pumped up on sugar…it’s one big block party.

  • gretchie

    2010/11/01 at 5:45 pm

    Chuck, you had me at ‘Alejandro’.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/11/01 at 6:01 pm

    Hahahaha! OMG I loved this post. Everyone was so fricken’ cute but Chuck takes the award for best costume again! And Marlo’s feet are so big! Perfect frog flippers:-)

  • Amber_D

    2010/11/01 at 6:24 pm

    Great post. Hilarious pictures, but I have to take a moment to say how much I love the new masthead.

    Also, I think my whole life is one giant chocolate-fueled, irrational, outburst. Is that bad?

  • Amy K

    2010/11/01 at 6:28 pm

    It was cold here in Michigan too but we got to go house to house. My daughter Emily is just a bit older than Marlo (17 months) and it still pretty much confuses her 🙂

    I love Leta’s and Marlo’s costumes 🙂

  • goodfairyofny

    2010/11/01 at 7:06 pm

    Best dog costume. EVER. Now I finally understand why walmart was selling so may lady gaga wigs this year.

  • relativevirtues

    2010/11/01 at 7:18 pm

    Best. Costumes. Ever.

    The look on Coco’s face. “Woman, what have you put me in…?!”

    And I laughed out loud, for real, at Chuck. Those songs will never be the same for me again.

  • ln8r

    2010/11/01 at 8:22 pm

    The Alejandro modesty patch actually made me cackle. And not in an intentional Halloweeny way, in an “I can’t believe that sound came out of me” way.

  • preppypitbull

    2010/11/01 at 8:50 pm

    I love love love the costumes for all 4 ‘kids’. We tried putting our pitty in a dinosaur costume last year, and thought he loved being in it, only to find it ripped in 1,000,000 pieces when we came back downstairs. So, no go on the dog costumes in our house anymore. As always you made my day with your post. Too bad about the Trunk or Treating thing, sounds sad. I love that we have lots of kids come to the house, even though the doorbell makes the dog go crazy, it’s worth it.

  • jennisdrinking

    2010/11/01 at 9:00 pm

    Ok, I’m in Ohio and you know what?? About half the state did trick or treating on Sat, the other half on Sunday, and there were a few nutjobs who did it on FREAKIN FRIDAY. And we have that “Trunk or Treat” thing here too. Some churches use it as a way to lure people in, “oh hey, here’s some candy for your kids…now that they’re all sugared up, come on in and hear about the flames and brimstone”.. Um. No.

    Some of the truly masochistic ones hit 3 or 4 (or even FIVE, God help me) T&T events in one weekend. One Boo at the Zoo, then hit the mall where the tortured retail people hand out candy with grim expressions, zip a few miles for a trunk or treat, then trudge thru the streets for actual old-school trick or treating. Our town even had a classic car/trunk or treat event downtown with INFLATABLES. Cause ya know, what good is a floorlength Princess Belle costume unless you’re climbing a bounce house while clutching a bag of stale tootsie rolls?

    Long story short (too late, I know, ba dum bum), you’re not alone.

  • jennisdrinking

    2010/11/01 at 9:03 pm

    Oh, but thank you for posting your costume pics, I really needed that. I love it when you dress up Chuck, and now Coco! Serves her right!! I must ask though- no drunkenstein this year?

  • Britta

    2010/11/01 at 9:04 pm

    In our township, in PA, we trick-or-treat the Thursday before Halloween. Even if Halloween is on the NEXT Wednesday. Our liquor laws are stranger than Utah’s (where I’m from, by the way) as well. Who knew the Beehive State was so normal?

  • EvilG

    2010/11/01 at 9:31 pm

    That is the best dog costume ever!

  • joni l

    2010/11/01 at 10:11 pm

    Too, Too, funny! I think I peed a little reading this all!

  • HDC

    2010/11/01 at 10:42 pm

    Ah halloween.

    My four year old is just getting over a cold. Too much candy last night. This morning, a sneeze plus a surprise. The husband and I coined a new term to honor the gift. Ladies and gentle persons, I give you snomit, the lesser known known cousin of the vorp. Yes, sneeze and vomit at the SAME TIME! Twofer bonus!

    We’re still trying to decided if we’re laughing at or with the boy. In the end, the jokes on me cuz I got to clean it up. But there we are.

  • AussieMel

    2010/11/01 at 10:42 pm

    I thought “how cute” at the frog and the butterfly but oh my God, Coco’s expression!! She looks soooo huffy but as usual the unflappable Chuck had me laughing out loud. Happy Halloween anyway(we try but it hasn’t really taken Down Under)

  • JessicaM

    2010/11/01 at 11:08 pm


    I love all of their costumes, even if Chuck is the only one who can really pose.

    Leta has bershon DOWN in that last picture.

    Coco – hilariously demoralized, and the fact that you dressed her as a sheep is deliciously ironic.

    Marlo–cutie patootie, and I love that the frog costume got another shot. Chimpanzee costume next year!

  • PunkinP

    2010/11/01 at 11:43 pm

    Yeah, I feel ya sister. Halloween just wasn’t the same this year since my 15 month old can now walk/run/barge-into-complete-strangers-with-the-force-of-an-ox. We took him down to our local festival. Streets were blocked off so no cars, but it wasn’t the strollin’ with our baby thing it was last year when all he could do was sit in the stroller on his butt. No, he wanted to go the OPPOSITE way than where we wanted to go, and he wanted to do it at 50MPH. I was freakin’ out of breath following him. And when we tried to put him in the stroller? MELTDOWN to end all meltdowns. Yeah, maybe next year…hrumph;-)

    But the girls looked way cute! Leta gets lovelier as she grows up. They’re both such photogenic kids.

  • ilovelucy1976

    2010/11/01 at 11:59 pm

    I love the trunk or treat. I live in a good part of CA and we still have ER’s that will send your candy through X-Ray machines because people are mean. At least I know my kids candy is safe. I also think that kids don’t care where or when they go as long as they can get dressed up and go. The only thing that brings them down is our attitude about change.

  • JetLime

    2010/11/02 at 4:44 am

    I laughed my head off :)) Halloween sounds like fun in Utah! Luckily my flat is in a secure building where trick or treaters aren’t allowed in so I never have to worry how much chocolate (or shampoo, interesting idea) to buy.
    The pictures are hilarious, I’ll try kermit on my nieces. Or maybe Lady Gaga. The last picture of Leta is fantastic, she looks like a painting of a fairy princess. Actually, I might use it for a painting if you don’t mind.

  • thecattylife

    2010/11/02 at 7:36 am

    Wow Leta has grown up so much. She’s like stretched out or something, but in a really good way. Guess she has tall parents!


  • akhowell

    2010/11/02 at 7:55 am

    It’s ironic that you can say anything in your blog posts, crude, rude, socially unacceptable, whatever (not judging! I think you’re hilarious) but when it comes to Chuck, you always include the modesty patch. What’s wrong with showing a dog’s junk?

  • Dharma

    2010/11/02 at 8:13 am

    Coco is finally broken! Hah!

  • tonya

    2010/11/02 at 8:41 am

    Girl, those kids aren’t the only ones on a sugar high. You are WOUND UP! It took me forever to get through that post because I was laughing so hard. Then I’d pull it back together only to lose it again. I texted my friend, who is another faithful follower, “Go read dooce NOW. She’s in rare form. Even for her.”

    Whew. Thanks for the laugh. I needed that on day FIVE of strep throat with my super needy ten year old who’s about to drive me loco.

  • WebSavyMom

    2010/11/02 at 8:45 am

    –>Thank you for the pictures of Chuck and the “edits.” That just cheered up my otherwise dull morning with a nice couple of laughs.

  • peppylady

    2010/11/02 at 8:59 am

    Halloween here is matter fact dead. No trick or treaters which I can complete understand “no are home isn’t over haunted. Homes are so far apart. That people drives there children into town.
    But I did get some full size Reese Peanut butter cups. See we have had trick or treaters in past.

    Hey my mom said she was going door dress up like a hillbilly asking for drinks. Instead of saying the regular saying what kids do “Trick or Treat” she was going to say “Trick or snort” and hold out her shot glass and see if they would give her a drink

    As living in Idaho I’m not sure if the Mormons goes around trick or trunk or not. You see I live in the North part of the state I understand the Mormons up here is a completely different breed.
    I know there some of the church here host party. “You know Halloween is holiday to promote the devil” and one of local church gave out, crap I can’t get one word spelled right.
    “Huliaha boxes”

  • Cooky

    2010/11/02 at 9:07 am

    The November masthead is wonderful and my favorite pic from the whole group is with Jon trying to get both girls to pose.

    Thank you for your hilarious posts. You always brighten my day.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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