From July to October, a mother works magic to create costumes for her little goblins.



It would have been perfectly understandable -- expected, even -- if Kim Federico, mother of five, had simply walked into a store a few days before Halloween and grabbed the first five packaged costumes she saw.

Ever try shopping with a 13-year-old, 12-year-old, 5-year-old, and twin 3-year-olds? Just finding the right sizes and escaping the store without tantrums, time-outs, or unplanned bribes is impressive. But you haven't met Kim Federico yet.

Some people do their Christmas shopping all year round, and then, when the post-Thanksgiving crush commences, smugly announce that they are finished. Kim isn't one of them.

But Halloween well, Halloween is another story.

This year, it arrived in the middle of a steamy Baltimore summer, when Kim sat down in her Towson home with a stack of books and magazines and dreams about the possibilities. Soldiers and Witches. Red Riding Hood and the Cat in the Hat. Davy Crockett and Dracula.

She savors the planning process, drawing it out as long as possible. After all, she has only five children to dress. Five costumes to assemble and accessorize with the perfect little flourishes. Well, six costumes, if you count Kim's husband, Michael. Actually, seven, if you include Kim.

But Halloween is really for children, and that's why it's Kim's favorite holiday. It's a day when they can be anything they want: Superhero or scientist, fairy or firefighter. Christmas teaches giving, but Halloween celebrates imagination.

Then, a month ago, Kim's two oldest boys approached her. It wasn't that Michael and Andy didn't like Kim's costumes anymore. The G.I. Joe uniforms she spent days designing and sewing were very realistic. And everyone loved the movie-usher and box-of-popcorn ensembles, with real popcorn painstakingly sewn onto a baseball cap. But in junior high, Halloween $l costumes are no longer cool.

"Part of their childhood is over," Kim thought, and she hid her sadness.

She busied herself with her to-do list: Ask the dentist if she can borrow some tools to go with 3-year-old Anne's Tooth Fairy costume. Pick up witchy green face paint for Anne's twin Caroline and a Batman cape for 5-year-old Barrett. Buy hot dogs for the neighborhood Halloweenie roast. In between errands, she ran her catering business and organized an auction for the juniorhigh school.

Then yesterday, Halloween finally began. It was dress-up day at preschool. Kim awoke early and hurried into the twins' bedroom. She pinned wings on Anne's back, sprayed gold glitter into her hair, and tore up a sheet to make a money sack. She wrestled Caroline into a pair of black tights, draped a gray wig over her head and plopped a witch's hat on top.

Caroline consented grudgingly to the wig, but not to the green face paint.

"No, mommy!" she yelled.

Kim was gently coaxing her when a voice from the door interrupted: "C'mon, Caroline! Put it on!"

It was Andy, the 12-year-old. He had been standing in the doorway the whole time, watching his sisters get ready for Halloween. Watching his mother work her magic.

"Mom," he said. "I think I want to dress up after all."

By now you know Kim, so you can probably predict her response. She didn't think about the luncheon for 75 women she was putting on in four hours; she didn't worry about the dozens of auction items she needed to move from her living room to her sons' school. Instead, she thought about the sheet she had just used to make the Tooth Fairy's money sack.

She grabbed it and ripped off a long strip of fabric, then another, and another: "You can be a mummy!"

Pub Date: 10/30/98

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