The McDaniel boys — Jacob, 11, Jeremy, 8, and Josh, 5 — never know where they will find a well-dressed skeleton when they get home from school.
Will it be in the bathtub with a pink shower cap over its bony head?
In the swimming pool wearing one of Mom’s old floral print bikinis?
Or sitting on a toilet reading the newspaper?
Mom Debi McDaniel, 46, of Collinsville, had fun this time of year with a handful of well-dressed skeletons and Halloween decor inside and out.
She compares how she moves skeletons from place to place to “Elf on a Shelf,” the holiday book that comes with an elf that “watches” kids to see if they are behaving before Christmas. Parents move the elf around the house.
“The skeletons would move around according to events, such as wedding anniversary, Miss America pageant, Italian fest … If the kids could guess what the skeletons were doing, we would give them a dollar. The good news is that they came close a few times, but never got it right. It was a lot of fun for them.
“One day, after I picked up the boys from school (Good Shelpherd Lutheran in Collinsville),” she said, “they were running around the house looking, trying to guess where I put it. The little one said, ‘Look outside. Look, she’s wearing Mommy’s swimsuit.’”
A water spray sent the raft floating around in circles.
“They love it.”
Halloween at the McDaniels starts the end of September. It’s a season for Debi.
“It’s not just about Halloween,” Debi said. “It’s about all the stuff that leads up to it. The weather, the decorating. Two kids with October birthdays. This whole time of year.
“My husband (John) likes it, too. The only thing he doesn’t like is finding a place to store everything.”
When skeletons go on sale, Debi is there.
“We were at Michael’s. I put one in our cart. Jacob added a hat and boa and pushed it around like a baby.”
The yard doesn’t escape Debi’s decorating. Tombstones and skeletons abound.
“We do the yard up big time,” she said. “The outside decorations are lit at night. On Halloween, we project images on the windows and add for for an extra spooky effect.”
For her older sons’ birthdays, the McDaniels invited their friends to spend the night. She considered putting away the skeletons, but the kids liked them ... until one of the skeletons started talking.
“I went to Goodwill and got a baby monitor for $2,” she said. “I put it in the back of a skeleton. One person can be in the living room and talk through him. Their eyes light up when the skeleton says, ‘I want some pizza.’”