Happy Hallowen*

Posted on 10/31/2013 03:30:00 PM
*Spelling intentional. 
My neighbor across the street basically builds an addition onto his house for Halloween each year and one of the 2x4s they nail up under the eaves has this painted on it... every year. The other three have it spelled correctly. You'd think that at some point, they'd repaint that one, or at least squeeze in that extra E somewhere, but you'd be wrong.

I love this:

The Shortlings invented this Halloween decoration out of some left over Orbeez beads and a couple of cedar balls from my sock drawer.  I'm super impressed with how well they painted the eyes and it's maybe my favorite thing in the house right now.

I've always loved Halloween, not because of the costumes or the candy and only a little because of the acceptable gore levels, but mostly because it's the most creative of all the holidays.  I love coming up with an idea for a costume and then making it happen from random things in the house and miscellaneous items purchased from a hardware store.  It always makes me just a bit sad when the kids just want to go to a department store, pick out a costume, then open the bag and put it on as is.   Where's the fun in that?

This year, The Dormouse came up with an idea to be a shadow.  Then it was Peter Pan's shadow. Then she tried to find someone to be Peter Pan for her, but that didn't work out so well.  So the idea morphed into this.


Yeah, I know you don't really get it from this picture; she looks a bit like a misguided scuba diver.  But just give it a look with the lights off.



It works even better in motion.

 

I saw something like this (albeit on a much grander scale) years ago at a Blue Man Group concert when I was pregnant with The Dormouse and have always wanted to do it for a Halloween costume.  So I suggested it to The Dormouse for the church Halloween party since they have a no masks policy and she couldn't really wear the hood for her shadow costume to church.  Then we walked in the door and a dozen people asked me "Oh, did you get that idea from that LED baby on the internet?"

I hate it when people have my ideas before me.

The Caterpillar is more into the buy it at the department store type of costume this year, but I at least was impressed by her determination.  Plus the costume ended up morphing throughout the evening.  She went from Fierce, Scary Vampire Princess,


to tired, Goulish Dead Girl in the space of one evening.



But I'm not sure the makeup had anything to do with it.

Happy Hallowen, everyone!

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Pumpkin Carving Contest

Posted on 10/28/2013 12:33:00 PM
This Spring, a single pumpkin grew up from the mulch in our front lawn. Not being ones to look a gift pumpkin in the mouth, we allowed it to continue growing and simply mowed around the vine.


However, it did not bring forth enough pumpkins for the annual Underground Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza, so we had to buy a few more. 
  

Pumpkin carving has gotten much more interesting since The Shortlings, who are slightly less weird and even more creative than we are, have started to take an active part.  This is The Dormouse's pumpkin homage to her favorite books these days, Monster High


  
She was unhappy with the choice of designs included in the books I bought over a decade ago (never has one person gotten more mileage out of a $4 impulse buy in a drug store, than have I from these pumpkin carving kits) so she asked The KoH help her design something else.  They came up with this together.  She also carved an "MH" initial pumpkin to accompany the logo. It's a set. This one's easier to see in the day time.


 The KingofHearts likes to go with the classic Halloween-theme designs.


Mine, more often, turn into an arts and crafts project and The KoH laughed at me when I announced, "I'm going to need a glue gun, some wooden stakes, a gouge from your set of carving tools and that bucket of zip ties from your shop."

Meet Stitches.



I was a bit indecisive about Mr. Stitches' eyes and went through three iterations.



We settled on number three but now that I look at them, I think he was scarier without any eyeballs.

My favorite of all the pumpkins was The Caterpillar's because she wanted to do it all by herself and we were total naysayers.  I figured she'd spend all of five minutes attempting to work with a complex design and carving tools and then give up.  But she stuck to it and other than a couple of places where she needed some help, she did this almost completely on her own.  Let's hear it for underestimating your children.



Then she wanted to also carve a tiny pumpkin like The Dormouse's, but by that time everyone was a bit tired of pumpkin carving.  The KoH and Dormouse went across the street to talk to a neighbor and I had some important loafing to accomplish, so I gave her a butcher knife and left her in the kitchen to her own devices.  Yes, I gave my six year old a knife and then left her unsupervised to stab it repeatedly into a slimy, round object. MOTHER OF THE YEAR.  

Relax, she was fine.  She actually drew more blood with the scissors she'd been using to help me cut the zip ties earlier and she was sitting right next to me then.  The pumpkin didn't fare so well, but it's my favorite of the day.




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Guy Fieri Would Be Proud... Or Sad, I Can't Decide Which

Posted on 10/27/2013 03:43:00 PM
Me: *walks through living room late at night, spies KoH on the couch, stops*  "Are you taking frosting out of the can and spreading it on an empty ice cream cone AND THEN EATING IT?"

KoH: "Don't judge me."

"OK then. Just making sure."

"It's actually the Exact Same Thing as those wafer cookies."

"Look, if you want to put frosting on an ice cream cone and eat it in the dark while watching TV at 8:00 at night, I'm not gonna stop you, but at least own it.  Because I've had wafer cookies before and THAT IS NOT THE SAME THING."

*I go back into the bedroom and lie down.  Several minutes later, the door bursts open.*

"I've made a new discovery!"

"...?"

"Frosting and peanut butter sandwich!"  

*he hands me two slices of bread with frosting and peanut butter spread on them and I take a bite*

"Oh my..."

"Right?!?"

"That is much, much better than frosting on an ice cream cone."

"Admit it.  You want to have sex with me now, don't you?"

"No, but I want to have sex with this sandwich."

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Oh Target, You're Adorable

Posted on 10/21/2013 06:02:00 PM



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To Gillian on Her 13th Birthday

Posted on 10/20/2013 10:47:00 PM
You would be thirteen today.  I almost let this one go by with no letter, not for lack of trying. I'm finding it harder and harder to put my feelings into words when I pass by this day.  They're not any less, those feelings, just more complicated and I don't quite know what to do with that. 

The other day, someone "outed" me on Facebook as a member of the PAIL (Pregnancy and Infant Loss) club.  It's a club you never applied to join and never asked to be a part of.  I have to admit, I was a little bit taken aback.  Like I told your Dad, I'm not upset, nor do I try to hide it.  It's true.  It is. But it was jarring to me because a) I didn't know this person knew that much about me and b) it's mine to "out."  I've always been so fiercely protective of you and your memory.  I don't want to publicize it by vying for attention on Facebook.  

So instead I write you a letter on my blog.

Yes, I know how that sounds.  

At least I get to be the one who decides to write it.

Thirteen years ago, we attended some support groups and I remember how many, many people told me it would get easier.  But as time has gone by, I have to say that they were wrong.  It has not necessarily become easier.  The pain is still the same.  The hole is still there.  It's just easier to live with now.  It's become a part of my story, that brick in my pocket.  The hardest part now is that it's so much a part of my psyche that sometimes I forget to remember the day until it's already here.  The hardest part is that I don't think about it every day.  And then something reminds me. Someone says something.  "Oh right... that."  And I feel a strange mixture of calm and guilt because I haven't remembered until now.  And that's both good and bad, you know?  Because I've lived through it.  I - we - are still here and stronger. But maybe I haven't made you as big a part of my life as you deserve.  And while my head knows that's not completely a bad thing, a small piece of my heart feels... forgotten.

This would be the year you'd become a teenager.  I joke a lot about dreading the day your sisters become teenagers and would probably have done no different with you, but secretly, I would love it.  It's such an amazing time of life and you wake up to so many things.  I'd love to be there through it with you.  To see you decide who you're going to be.  

I wish you could know your sisters.  They are such incredible individuals.  Brilliant and funny.   They bicker and argue all day long, but then every once in awhile, I catch them being sweet to each other and it makes all the other stuff worth it.  This week they were off school and they dubbed the whole day "Girls' Camp." They made an itinerary together of all the activities they'd accomplish together.  Number 9 was simply, "Goof off."  If you were here, would you be the ringleader of Girls' Camp?  Would you be as sick of them both as your older sister gets of her younger sister and just need a break?  

I don't know how long I'll keep writing these letters.  Every year, I think maybe I don't need these anymore and then it turns out I think perhaps I'll do just one more.  But one thing I do know: I'll never stop thinking of writing them.  I'll always find that brick in my pocket occasionally when I reach in and try to make sense of it.  I'll always feel like maybe there's one last thing to say and one last milestone I'm missing.  And I'll always love you. 

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Box Car Philosophies

Posted on 10/19/2013 09:02:00 AM
If there's one obvious difference between my children, it's in how they approach problems.  I love both these girls and they are each brilliant in their own way.  But there is a very different process that each one uses to address a task that needs to be done.  

A couple of weeks ago, we attended an event for the kids at church.  It was the classic drive-in movie with boxes for cars activity.  If you haven't seen this one before, it's basically a party idea where kids make their own "car" out of a cardboard box.  Then once everyone has completed their "cars," they get to "drive" their cars to the movie theater and sit inside them while watching a movie and eating snacks guaranteed to make any dentist cringe.  It's a brilliant idea... that is, if you're older than forty and can remember drive-in movies.  If you aren't, you will spend your time wondering why you are making a car out of a box to watch a movie without installing a DVD player in the back seat.  Then those parents who are over forty will have to spend their time explaining the concept of drive-in movies to you and your friends and a surprising number of their parents and you'll be all, What? Why would you do that?  And that parent will have no response to that except to mutter, "Well it was cool when I was a kid."

So this was the deal.  They got to choose a box. Stuff to use for the box. Time to decorate the box. And they came up with whatever it was they wanted to do to make their box into a car.

The Caterpillar took a hyper-literal approach to making her car.  First she chose the box, decided what kind of car it would be (an El Camino), then set about adding details to that box to make it resemble a car as much as humanly possible.  Steering wheel, headlights, brake lights, wheels.  Those were the standard on pretty much everyone's car.  Then she turned into the OCDterpillar that we all know and love and decided the car needed a few more "details," which included a door (that opens and closes, despite the fact that she could just step into the car and that made most of the kids happy but no, we had to make a door that opens OR THE WORLD MIGHT SOON END), a handle on the door, a handle on the inside of the door, seats (which she drew on the inside of the box), upholstery over the seats, a license plate (she ran out of time to create the license plate for the front of the car and I suggested that it would be fine without one and believe-you-me, that was an Issue, until a stroke of brilliance in me remembered that in some states a front license plate is not required by law and then we had to adjust the license plate on the back so it came from one of those states), a steering wheel, instrument panel, and a cargo area in the back.  She even drew groceries in the cargo area in the back.

I don't even think I have a picture of the completed car because I grew tired of the, "OK! You're done now, let's go watch the movie!" "No, it just needs this One. More. Thing" exchange that was repeated over and over. The leader running the activity had to call time on her creation or they wouldn't have time to show the movie.  That was the only way she could be done.





The Dormouse was at the activity too and she had grand ideas as well.  She and her friend chose a gigantic box and dubbed it "the mini-van."  Then they spun their wheels for more than an hour, while they schemed and planned and chattered endlessly about all the things their mini-van would have.  They ran around, hunter-gathering supplies to use for their grand plans.  They asked to borrow tape. They used all the tape and asked for more. They threw their bodies upon the floor and rent their garments when there was no more tape and begged me to go to the store for more.  They tried to pin things to the box with thumbtacks.  They asked to borrow flashlights.  They wanted to use a spare tire from my car.  They needed paint. They wished they had flame stickers.  They wanted to take booster seats from someone's car to put in the back of the box.  They needed an iPad.  They went to the kitchen and got one of the biggest knifes I have ever seen, which sent more than a few adults into a tizzy.  They changed their minds about every single decision they made.  Multiple times.  I watched them buzz around this box like worker bees, babbling about how amazing their mini-van would be until time ran out.  Finally, when the leader who was running the activity had to call time on their creation or they wouldn't have time to show the movie.  We all stepped back, looked at their hard work and realized that they had created....

a box.



A box with two rolls of tape stuck to it and a couple of holes cut in the top, but no matter how you look at it, that box did not resemble a car in any way.

There could not be any more obvious example of the differences in how my two children navigate through the world.  This is the procedure each of them follows to do everything from finishing homework to eating dinner.

What's weird is I can see myself in each of them.


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At Least She Understands Me

Posted on 10/14/2013 04:39:00 PM
Why hello, poor neglected blog. I am currently finishing up a Big Work Thing or at least a trip that was connected to said Big Work Thing.  Unlike most of my Big Work Things, this one has been a rather pleasurable experience and not fraught with headaches, hand-wringing and fantasies of quitting and applying to be a Maggot Wrangler or a Spam Copywriter because not only would that be less stressful but it would also be a much more satisfying endeavor.  

This Big Work Thing has at least allowed me to work with some amazing individuals who were not only good at their jobs and accommodating but who also appreciate me and reported in my Board of Directors' meeting that I was, and I quote, "ferociously, terrifyingly competent," which is maybe the best compliment I have ever received in my life.

I want to put that on a business card now.

There have also been a bunch of Big Family Things.  But the most recent of the Big Family Things is that the cats got a new toy.  I got lectured about the overweight-ed-ness of my BoyCat at the last vet's visit and have been searching for ways to exercise BoyCat without resorting to walking him because when you put cats on a leash and try to take them for a walk, it's an exercise in passive resistance that ends up really more like "taking them for a drag."  Both cats are obsessed with it and even when it's turned off, they claw at it and try to find the Thingy.  (That's a technical term, right?)

The Dormouse came home from school and saw it sitting in the middle of the room where BoyCat had been playing with it for an hour before he started panting and sat down, too tired to chase anymore.

Dormouse: "I don't think the cats really like that thing.  They don't seem very interested."

Me: "Well, you should have been here an hour ago."

Dormouse: "Oh?"

Me: "Or last night at two a.m. when they managed to push the button and turn it on in the middle of the night and then I had to get out of bed and stumble around in the dark before I figured out what was making that noise and how to stop it."

Dormouse: "That's funny!"

Caterpillar: "Not for Mom."

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Gov't Shutdown Explained to a 9 Year Old

Posted on 10/01/2013 06:32:00 PM

"It's like if you and your sister were arguing over what to have for dinner.  And I say, 'If you can't agree, NO ONE EATS AT ALL.'"

Dormouse: "Oh. I get it. Wait, that's stupid."

Yes, yes it is.
 

In other news, some of my favorite Government shutdown related news pieces of the day:



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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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