Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Spray Painted My Pumpkin

White Pumpkin

I think it turned out really cute. I want to do more, but I wonder how many is too many? As you may remember, I have a penchant for spray painting things white. Or not truly white, but actually Krylon's indoor/outdoor paint in Ivory Satin. Same paint I use on everything. I like this a lot.

Maybe you're like me--I want to start decorating for fall, but I'm not really ready for a grinning orange jack o' lantern. This will ease me into October, I think. Not surprisingly, it is very easy to spray paint a pumpkin. So why the heck not? The only sort-of tricky part was masking the stem. As I was carefully putting blue painter's tape around it, I thought, "Is this what nature intended? I mean, what am I doing? Did my ancestors learn to walk upright, and tame fire, so that I could arrive at this moment?" I guess the answer is, "Yep."

More White Pumpkin

I can't decide, though, if I like it in the living room, or on the dining room table. I like it as a nice, simple centerpiece. But it is kind of anchoring my whole bookshelf tableau at the mo.

The Great (White) Pumpkin!

I think what I'll do is get another pumpkin and paint it a nice light celery green, and put it in that spot. Then it might sorta match some of my pottery. (As much as I thought it wouldn't happen to me, I've inherited my mother's pottery addiction.) The MSL picture I saw had a bunch of painted pumpkins on a front porch, but I'm enjoying this baby inside.

So this is what's happening over here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh HOA, Why So Sensitive?

As summer gives way to fall, our HOA is stepping up its campaign of terror. For my international readers, an HOA is a Home Owners' Association, a group in each neighborhood that residents pay dues to, and which is charged with making sure people don't put of 8-foot fences in front of their houses or keep rusty washing machines on their front porches. They also police everyone's landscaping and yard maintenance, and they send you letters and can fine you if you don't stay in line. I've written about our attempts to stay out of yard trouble before. Ha, and that post was almost exactly one year ago. A letter from the HOA really is one of the most special gifts of the season.

We received two letters last week, on the same day. Our "covenant reminders" (sounds like something God gave the Israelites) are:

  • "Please edge around the bedding areas. (redefine the beds)
  • "Please remove the Bermuda grass and/or weeds from the beds.
  • "Please address the bare spots in the lawn at the curb and along the right side of the driveway facing the house."
I love their way with language. It's that pseudo-literate officialese that is now rampant in this here American life. At least this year they spelled "redefine" correctly. Matt and I had fun with "address the bare spots." He pointed his finger toward the ground and said, "Now, bare spot, see here sir!" You would think from reading those that our yard looks really bad. It doesn't, or I don't think so. Or at least the overall effect is fine. It is time for us to put down more pine straw (I think that's what they mean by "redefine" the beds"). But jeez, the bare spots they're talking about are a couple places alongside the driveway that get driven on sometimes. I swear, they are not noticeable from the street, unless you just have a major, unhealthy obsession with lawn.

The lily bed on the left side of the yard, near the azaleas, did need attention. So Sunday I announced that we were doing yard work. I put on gloves and went out there to pull weeds. And pull, and pull. Actually it wasn't even "weeds" plural. It was one species, maybe even one plant. The scientific name is, I believe, The Vine That Swallowed Georgia. It's not kudzu, it's something cuter and daintier than that. But it sends runners everywhere, and what looks like a few little sprouts here and there among the pine straw are all connected as part of The Vine. You can pull and pull it, and you are pulling on all vines everywhere, in a huge malevolent network. Did you see that movie The Ruins? It was like that, only without the bad college-relationship choices. There were some briars too, so I spent a while pulling The Vine and ensnaring myself in brambles. Laura walked around with hedge clippers asking me if she could clip this and that. She wasn't so into the pulling. But clipping and lopping, yes.

Hank grew worried about me. He kept coming outside and saying, "Mama, it's getting dark out here!" And it's true that I was thinking about lying down in the pinestraw and letting The Vine win.

While I did battle with The Vine, Matt took a trip to Home Depot to get some necessary supplies. Do you know how many bales of pine straw you can fit into the back of a Jetta stationwagon? Ten, if you fold the backseat down. He also bought a new rake, and some organic fertilizer (fact: organic fertilizer is poop), but alas for him, it got dark before he could really get into spreading the straw. Too bad! I know how he hated to have his raking cut short. So the bales of straw are sitting alongside the driveway. Maybe if the HOA spies come around again in the next couple of days, they'll think, "Oh, they're totally on it! No need to hassle these good people further." Sure they will.

So that's a work-in-progress. And darned if it doesn't feel like fall today. I went outside last night to go to the store, and it was positively crisp. So I bought our first pumpkin of the season at Target. When Hank saw it this morning, he said, "Mama, we need more pumpkins. We need FREE!" I assured him that there would be at least two more.

I have a crazy plan, actually, to spray paint the one I just got. Long ago I saw a thing in Martha Stewart about painting pumpkins cream or different shades of green. It was simple and it looked pretty. It also lets you make use of the cheaper scratch-and-dent pumpkins. Might be a good thing.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Met A Buncha New Moms

A mother of a little boy in Hank's preschool class called me out of the blue one afternoon this week, and said that she was putting together a last-minute birthday part for her son, to be held the very next day at one of those bounce house places. And even though she was having the party at 10 am, I thought this was a swell idea.

What piqued my interest about this woman is that she showed a real inclination to talk my ear off, right there in the first conversation we'd ever had. She was more than outgoing, she was actually bubbling. Her true reason, she said, for wanting to have this party was to meet the other kids' moms. She said that the after school pick-up scene, where everyone mills around waiting for the door into the classrooms to be opened, makes her feel like she's in high school with nobody to talk to. I like it when people are really deliberate about their social needs, you know? So I pulled a little something out of the gift stash, and to the party we went.

At ten o'clock on a weekday, the bounce place was blessedly deserted. We were the only people in the place, which meant we could let the kids run loose without our trailing them every minute. We sat in the middle of the room and had a good time chatting. I had met a few of these women at open house, but we didn't really remember each other's names. Bubbly Mom was talking a mile a minute to everyone, and she repeated her bit about how school pick-up makes her feel all high school awkward. Everyone laughed, as though in recognition, and I did too, even though I realized in that moment that I don't really feel that way at all. When I approach a group of people I don't know, especially other moms, I feel just fine. Age has its privileges, I guess. I wondered if she really meant what she was saying? Or if this is just something women say. I have heard it before. I wonder if it's how we bond? The way that teenage girls initiate social bonds by complaining. Anyhoo.

I asked everyone if they were bothered by the fact that, in preschool, our kids have specific spots on the carpet that they are supposed to sit on at certain times of the day, like circle time, or if I am some kind of crunchy California anarchist on this subject. Bubbly Mom said, "Yeah, it's just part of the culture here, the way we're all supposed to have our toes done and play tennis." It's funny 'cause it's true.

So another notable moment was when one woman arrived and spoke to another mom, who was there with her three year-old and two younger toddlers. The newcomer said, "So you have twins?" (Which made me wince, remembering when I'd last asked that question.) But she said yes, and pointed out her two one year-olds. The other mom said, "But you're so skinny!" I thought that was weird, but the mom of twins said, "I never get to sit down," which was fine, but it just reminded me of Ms. Manner's dictum to Never Make a Specific Comment on Another Person's Appearance, Even To Say Something Positive. Because it makes people uncomfortable, and you never know what their private circumstances are. You can say, "You look terrific." And that is all. I am getting all prescriptive up in here today! It could be the rain.

Then Bubbly Mom was asking me to recommend books for her very-precocious eleven year-old, who she says has read the Bible cover-to-cover three times. (I reported that to Matt, and he said, "No she hasn't, not really." Hmm.) So I suggested those Philip Pullman books, The Golden Compass et al. Bubbly Mom said that her daughter had read the entire Twilight series in a week. A silent "NOOOOOOOOooooooo!" formed in my throat. I said, "She read all four?" And she said yes. Holy, wholly inappropriate, Batman!

If you would like to read a hilarious and spoiler-filled explication of what was so disturbing about that, read this review. It articulates why I think those books are bad for young girls way better than I've managed to do in the past.

Then again, nobody exercised much control over my reading when I was a kid. So I read a lot of Stephen King, which was scary and had dirty parts, but as an adult I think I can say that it was 100 times better than the Twilight stuff.

I didn't mean for this to become a Twilight post. It's probably the rain.

Bubbly Mom has already called me again to invite Hank and me to go with a few other people to see the Wiggles live. Should be fun even though Greg is no longer with the band.

I hope y'all are having a nice weekend. Last night we made hamburgers and had our buds over for some Beatles Rock Band. In Kelly, I've found a friend who likes to sing as loud as I do. We were deafening. Deafeningly awesome.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whatever Happened with That?

I thought it might be a nice idea to tidy up around this blog and close some open loops. Sometimes with the blogs I read regularly, I find myself thinking, variously, "Well how did that paint job/tummy tuck/potty-training/in-law visit finally turn out? Did she keep her closet organized? Is the baby still waking up every two hours?" So here's a follow-up on some very pressing issues of the last couple of months. If I've left out something that has you wondering, do ask.

So whatever happened with:

Lord, renewed, finally. We had a bizarre paralysis around this issue. Like, Matt and I are fairly with-it, smart, and productive adult humans. But this was just not getting done. I think we were playing chicken with it. If that makes sense. We had the following conversation:

Matt: Okay, if you will figure out what I need to do this and print out all the forms, and hand them to me in a stack, and tell me where to go, I will do this.

Me: Okay, there is nothing to hand you. I already had the emissions inspection done. Just go to the tag office, next to the park.

Matt: Okay, isn't there a form?

Me: Okay, yes there is, but they'll fill it out right there for you.

Matt: Okay, so can I have the emissions inspection report?

Me: Okay, but you don't need the paper. It's all electronical.

Matt: Okay, I will go at lunchtime.

Me: Okay.

It works beautifully. This wasn't, perhaps, something you were wondering about. But I am reminded of it daily by the legions of people who arrive at this blog by googling "Oh noes, my iphone got dropped in the toilet!" or something similar. Let me tell you, EVERYONE is doing this. Let's be careful in there.

Well, he returned, with a vengeance. As I said in the linked post, he apparently mowed our grass weekly while we were away, because there was an invoice waiting in our crate of mail when we got back. Before I could get my bearings he sent another invoice. Dude was somehow billing us for 8 weekly mowings in a 6 week period. I don't know how he has the power to warp time. When he came back the next time, I asked him to come inside. Then I laid out the calendar next to his invoices, then he agreed he'd gotten a little crazy with the billing. I think we'll cut him loose when the grass no longer needs mowing.

Reader, we eated it. For the month of August, we made a major dent in our stored food. For the first time in ages, there was room in the freezer for the actual cold air. We never did eat that box of instant pad thai. The instant pad thai, we shall always have with us. Then, imagine my surprise when one day on, they were featuring this video, "Family goes without shopping for a month."  (I would embed it but it's, like, hard.)  I thought, "Whoa, to be on cnn, this family must be really hardcore about it."  Not so!  They had the SAME RULES  we did: eat what's here, we can buy milk and fruit fresh.  Except they allowed themselves to eat out once a week. Well, Matt brought in take-out a couple of times, but we certainly didn't eat out once a week.  Then I was all, "Why didn't I get to be on CNN? Me! Somebody call the wahmubulance!"  That nice lady totally stoled my idea. (Never mind the fact that all the froogie bloggers have covered this at various times in the past. Shh.)

So we ate our pantry until Labor Day, when it was Matt's birthday and we had a friend visiting. So I shopped.  But I feel another pantry-eating bout coming on.

About the same. Not totally loving it.  Actually, he's managed to miss both Monday and Wednesday this week, due to his cold virus with fever.  We're on day three of his running a fever.  His condition is not that serious, but I might be going crazy.

Growing in beauty and wisdom.  Her doings are chronicled by Amy, who, like the rest of Sydney, is currently covered in a layer of weird orange dust.  Amy, keep the dust off the baby, okay?

Any other old business?  Now, I encourage everyone to take a moment and police her area.  Do a blog post telling us how that all turned out.

Your friend,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This Is Just To Say

That my internet and cable are down, and I am blogging via the magic of iPhone. Also, the kids are home from school, and Hank is feeling under the weather. He's been running a fever on and off since yesterday.

Also also, I am supposed to be wrestling with a mountain of household paperwork and filing. Some days progress seems very slow in this life, you know?

In the plus column, the housecleaner came today, and now my feet are making sweet love to the wood floors.

Please send news of the outside world.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Love A Loveseat

And I don't care who knows it. The kids and I went up to the mountain house this weekend, in western North Carolina, where it rained, and rained all the time with the raining. We still had a nice, cozy time, and even got out a little bit on Saturday. But since I was inside a lot, I had a chance to spend time with a certain piece of furniture. And I want you guys to meet him (her?), so here:

In mom's sunroom

There she is. I am so proud of my mom for rocking this Ikea loveseat in her sunroom. It makes a statement, and the statement is, "Well HELLO THERE, FRIEND!"

Speaking of Mom, that sainted woman played Scrabble with both my kids. And somehow she let them both win.

Scrabble trio

And Dad brewed me some tea from White Pine needles. I guess that used to be a thing? Supposedly early Americans drank it to keep from getting scurvy. Anybody ever had any pine tea? We took a walk down the road, in the rain, to get the needles, then he chopped them up and steeped them for ten minutes. The resulting tea is light green, very aromatic, and nicely astringent. I'd definitely drink it again. A dab of honey would make it even better.

White Pine

I drove back to Atlanta, very slowly, in drenching rain. It is raining all over the Hundred Acre Wood, it seems. I intended to arrive home and write a more involved blog post (oh, how witty and thoughtful it was going to be!), but then Matt came in with a little game called Beatles Rock Band. And suddenly nothing seemed as important as the total crushing we gave "I Wanna Be Your Man." It appears that I can totally play guitar now. Yay!

I hope you all had a lovely, cozy weekend, perhaps more eventful than mine, but not too eventful.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mysterious Movements in the Frenesphere

Okay, I just made up a word. But obviously, the "frenesphere" is the entire physical, social, and mental environment surrounding my Frenemy Neighbor, truths about her that are both reality-based and imagined only by me, in the past, present, and future. All of these intersecting dimensions constitute the frenesphere. Walk with me a moment.

Earlier this week, Hank's preschool sent home a class directory, listing the contact info and addresses for each family. So naturally, tonight, I spent a few moments Zillowing all of their houses. What, aren't we all doing this? If it surprises you that I will go out of my way to find out what someone's house is worth, then helloooo, please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Becky, and I am that person.

Well, I spent a moment looking up our address, and when you look up a house, the website shows you an aerial Google map of all the houses in your neighborhood, with their "zestimate," or estimated fair market value, pasted right on top of them. Definitely a fun website. Don't judge me.

And guess what I found out on that aerial view of my neighborhood? Frenemy Neighbor has her house on the market. Understand that I can go outside and walk up our hill and see her house. She has no sign in her yard, and she hasn't said a word about this. But there it is, listed with a glowing description that I recognize as her signature style, and twelve photos of the house's various charms.

So what the hecks? Is Frenemy Neighbor wanting to move? Based on her listing price (it's for sale by owner), they won't be leaving anytime soon. It's listed for fully 70k more than I think they could realistically get. And she seems to know this, because in her listing she says, defensively, "Neighborhood comps might not include all the updates/upgrades this house has got!" Hmm, well, if you call a serious commitment to DIY tile work an "upgrade," that may be true. No kidding, five of the twelve photos seem intended to showcase her kitchen backsplash. Okay, I am starting to sound like a total bitch. Maybe I just want her husband to come down to MY house and work his tile magic, his grout groove, his mystical, mosaical way with a trowel.

So that is what I have for you. To review: I like to gossip, and I want to find out what your house is worth. Get to know me!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Parenting Hack: Bread Heels

Last night I was preparing to serve Laura a supper of grilled cheese sandwich and applesauce. Yes, I know it sounds like a lot of work, but for my children I go the extra mile. I realized that I had two bread bags, each with both heels left inside and nothing else. Tell me truly, isn't it always the Mama in your house who eats a sandwich made from the heels? Sure, you may like the heels (such a grown-up opinion to have!), but the heelwich will not be eaten by children, in my experience. When I make myself a sandwich using the heels, I do so with a faint sense of noble sacrifice. Anyway.

So I thought, hmm, a grilled cheese sandwich made from heels is less-than-optimal, because the diminished porosity of the heel side makes for less butter absorption. It is also, I admit, less cosmetically appealing than a sandwich made from the mid-slices. Then I had a fiendish realization: I could turn the heels over and hide them on the inside of the sandwich. Then the child would not notice the heeliness, as it would be sealed inside by the melted cheese, and the bready side would be soaking up the butter in the pan. Why had this never occurred to me?

So I did just that, and the heels went unnoticed and were consumed whole. The real test will be whether Hank will eat a covert PB&J heelwich. Is everyone already doing this but me?

I just realized that I tend to post about grilled cheese a lot. Two times is a lot, I think.

Go check out more of these little problem-helpers at the Works for Me Wednesday round-up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not Totally Loving It

Lego Time

I think at this point it's safe to say, after three days of going, that Hank would rather just stay home and play Legos than go to school. I don't really blame him. Home is pretty fun.

I thought that the second day, last Friday, would tell the tale, and it did. When I pulled up in the drop-off line, Hank turned limp like a rag doll. He hadn't been fussing or complaining about going, but when it came time for the teacher to unfasten his car seat, he sat there unmoving, neither helping nor hindering the process, like he was practicing toddler civil disobedience. Matt picked him up that day, and apparently the teacher said he did fine, but later on, Hank said to me, confidingly, "I fussed a little bit in there."

Today it was the same rag doll/spotted owl protester, passive resistance routine--We shall not be moved--but no actual tears. When I got to the room at 1:00, both his teachers said that they had been to Spanish class, and that Hank had loved it. They prompted him to show me how he could say "Hola" and "adios" and "rojo." He seemed much livelier. They said that he never cries--he has a few droopy or lethargic moments, but then he perks up. I don't know, that's pretty much how I am all the time. So I guess we're doing okay for day 3.

He had a stamped "R" on his arm, in red, and I supposed it must stand for "rojo." I said, "What's that stamp, Hank?" And he said, 'Oh yeah, that's a letter. It's an 'H' for 'Hank's school.'"

I think it's all going to be fine, but I'm glad he has Tuesdays and Thursday off so he can have plenty of chill time. He loves his chill time almost as much as his mama does.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Accomplished on Saturday

Spoiler alert: It was not much.

Matt got up with the kids and I slept until 11:00.

I beeswaxed my dining room table and bench. As I did this, I kept muttering, "Yes it IS my beeswax." Not that that's especially funny.

I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher twice.

I lay on the couch for two hours, from 4-6. About forty minutes was spent reading books to Hank (My Truck is Stuck and The Human Body), then I dozed while Hank took a bath with Matt in the big tub. Then Hank and Laura played upstairs. I think they were tumbling on my bed. I continued to lie on the couch downstairs and look out the big window.

I thought about people, places, and things. So, basically, nouns.

I dressed a child a lot.

I brought in the mail and threw it all away. That was the only time I left the house, if that even counts.

I messed around on the internet machine trying to deal with various administrative issues.

I warmed up leftovers for supper and we all ate together.

I took the side off of Hank's crib, turning it into a toddler bed for the second time in its life.

I read If You Give a Pig a Pancake aloud.

That is all. Nothing too taxing.

My advice to y'all is to keep it chill today.

Foot in Mouth Moment

In brief: Last night we had five people over for dinner, two couples we see regularly (hey y'all!) and a guy Matt used to work with. I don't really know him, though I had met him once, a few years ago. He is married with children, but he was flying solo at our house. When we sat down to eat, talk somehow turned to childrearing, and I said to to him, "So, you guys had twins!" It was the one fact I remembered about his family life. He said, "Yes, we had twins, but one of them didn't make it."


Then I remembered this other, very painful fact. He went on to say that one baby boy had only lived for two days, and that now his brother was two years old. It all came back to me, and I couldn't believe I had forgotten that this was that man--Matt had brought me regular reports of his twins' premature birth and struggle, and had told me when the surviving baby boy had finally gone home. I said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I remember, I'm so sorry." And he was very gracious and we went on and talked about his other kids.

When I was younger, I thought that these kinds of conversational moments were equivalent to total social agony and failure. I prided myself (still do) on saying the right thing and making people comfortable. If I had put my foot in it like that, back in the day, I would have either gushed in apology until we were all even more uncomfortable, or just have brooded about it for the rest of the night.

But now I feel that, in adult life, everyone is going to say the wrong thing sometime (surely it's not only me?), and you just apologize and move on. Bad things have happened to people, and bringing them up in conversation doesn't make them any worse, though it may lead to an awkward moment. I would tell my younger self, when you make a social misstep or hurt someone's feelings, be quick, warm, and honest with your apology. And then leave it. People get it. And if you are a third party witness to such a moment, do not remark on it, even to try to ameliorate it. Just let it be. A painful or awkward exchange is nothing shameful.

I am actually developing a whole theory of awkwardness as a productive force in social life, based largely on a block party that we had here on Labor Day. But more about that later. I hope y'all are having a good weekend, with few or no forehead-slapping moments.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Hank Going Off to School

This was the scene yesterday. Hank loaded up and ready for his first day of school. The contents of that tote bag are: a ziploc bag holding a change of clothes; and his Star Wars lunchbox holding a PB&J, banana, cheese crackers, and sippy cup. Yet Hank could only hold his bag with his arm up high, because it was so heavy, he said. When I was making his lunch, I cut the crusts off his sandwich so, so carefully, in case there is a correlation between neat crust-removal and academic success.

At promptly 9:30, I was in the drop-off line and at the school's front entrance. His teacher saw me roll up, and she came over and opened Hank's door. She greeted him and chattered while she unbuckled his seat, and she had his feet on the sidewalk before he knew what hit him. I had told him how this would all go, and he seemed okay with all of it. We called out our goodbyes, and I then tried to simultaneously drive away and twist my body 180 degrees, to catch one more glimpse of his little white face.

Then I went home. Where I had time to turn around completely one time and drink almost a whole cup of coffee before I was thinking, "Almost time to go get the boy." I was holding my purse and keys twenty minutes before I needed to leave.

When I got to his room to pick him up, I could see him through the window. He was studying the faces of the moms, waiting for me to appear. His teacher said that he never cried, but that he said, "Can we call my mom now?" a lot, all day. He did play, though, and she thought he'd had fun. He told me that he liked school, but his chief complaint was that they hadn't been allowed to go to the playground where there are swings. But he also said, "The teacher did let me go with the music lady," and he liked that. I think overall, it was a good first day. He hasn't said anything about not wanting to go on Friday. The second day will tell the tale, I bet. He might be, like, "Wait, we did this once already. There's no need to do it again."

While he was at school, Pretty Neighbor called and said that her kids wanted to have cupcakes for Hank at their house, in honor of his first day. We did not need convincing.


They made cards for Hank, and generally made him feel celebrated. I feel good that the first day is behind us, but it is so strange, this feeling of our children having a world separate from ours. He now knows people I don't know, even if he can't remember their names. He said, "Mom, I made new friends! But I don't know who they are." Anyway, one day down, three thousand something to go.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Freak Flags Are Flying in the ATL

I am married to a nerd, I love nerds, and many of my closest friends and associates are nerds. Nerds pay our bills, in more ways than one. And yet I have a conflicted relationship with nerd culture. Or maybe "nerd culture" isn't a capacious enough label for what's going on downtown at DragonCon right now.

Two Dudes

There are 30,000 people down there for the weekend, partying and going to conference panels and generally letting it all hang out. (Some of them are letting too much hang out.) Kirk and Spock are there, of course. And the kid who plays Draco Malfoy. But there's also a guy from the CDC and a bunch of astrophysicists. Hmm. And look! There's Adam Savage from "Mythbusters"! I am positive that if I weren't married, we would be dating.


As I mentioned the other day, our old friend Rick is visiting. He is selling his novels in one of the exhibit spaces at the conference. Matt went down with him yesterday to check out the action, and I went today.

Hyatt Lobby

My conflicted relationship with nerd culture stems from the fact that I don't know that much about most of the source materials that those 30,000 people are celebrating. I can recognize most of the superheroes, and I am devoted to "Lost" and a few other pop-culture monuments, but a huge portion of it all is unknown to me. Also, I have some kind of mild allergy to any kind of exuberant Renaissance Faire-ish costuming. You know, like vaguely medieval corsetry and buskins? (Okay, I don't know what a buskin is but just go with it.) Or Goth-pixie-naughty-Tinkerbell efflorescences? Not into it. Not not not.

That said, I do love a spectacle. And I love it when people try hard to make or to do things that they like. So I grabbed my camera and went down there. Keely, I needed you to be my wingman! (I also went to a panel discussion on the H1N1 flu virus, and an astronomy panel on looking for other life in the galaxy. Not that different from an academic conference, actually, except there were multiple people dressed like Harry Potter in attendance.) Here are some of my favorite folks that I saw.

A League of Their Own

Klingon Lady

Batman and Friends

I should note that Batman and his friends did not plan their outfits together. They just more or less converged on this shoeshine stand. And here's one for you, fellas.

Red Sonja and Electra

Cat Head Girl

I love her everyday blue hair peeking out from under her cat headpiece. And I was kind of sweet on this guy too.

Dharma Guy

And look who else showed up?

Klingon Elvis

He's Klingon Elvis. Go on, love him tender, until he tires of you and destroys your home planet.

So that's where I was today. It was pretty fun, and I have a feeling that after that, Halloween is going to seem kind of boring.

Friday, September 4, 2009

We Got Married in the Last Century

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. Sometimes I tell people that I was a child bride, and it's basically true.

Note the no-nonsense ponytail. I would like to go back in time and work that hairstyle a little more. And here we are a few weeks before our wedding.

I look at this now and think, "Oh my lord, somebody tell those people that they are CHILDREN." Our friend Rick, who was with us on this day fourteen years ago, is here visiting, and last night we were reminiscing about the high-powered careers we had when we got married. Matt was cutting grass, and I was unemployed. Our fortunes took a turn for the better when I got a job as a temp at the local medium-security prison. I am not even kidding about that. And they loved me there. They offered me a permanent job. AS A GUARD. Again, I am totally serious. So it's been a long and interesting journey for the two of us. When I hear people say they can't get married because they're not financially ready, I don't understand what they mean. It seems the opposite to me. Pick the right person and then join forces with him or her, just as soon as you possibly can.

So today while Laura was at school, we had a romantic lunch, with Hank in tow. A romantic lunch for three at Chipotle. I'm not sure what we'll do to celebrate properly. We agreed that we're still feeling the celebratory effects of our trip to Australia and to Vanuatu, and that we've had a lot of good couple-time this summer.

That lunch was the high point in the day. A not-so-high point was when Hank pooped in his pants at Home Depot. It's the first time we've had a Level 2 Event in public. I will spare you the clinical details. I'll just say that we avoided major public embarrassment and nobody cried. I called Matt from the car and told him I was incoming with a bio-emergency and to please clear the decks and give me everything he had. And we all made it through. Also, while I was pushing a toxic Hank to the car, a dude who worked at Home Depot told me, "Hey, I like your top." So, I guess we put that in the plus column? And I got a gorgeous huge pot of white mums.

I need a cocktail now. Please enjoy a long, langorous weekend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What, Me Worry?


School? Who's going to school? I'm going to where? WhoBob WhatPants?

Today I took Hank, Prince of the House, to a teacher meet-and-greet at his new preschool. He'll be in a class of three year-olds for a few hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Any time that this subject has been broached in the last few weeks, he has allowed that while doesn't want to go to school, not really, he will go later. Okay. Later is fast approaching.

Last week I had him riding in the buggy at Target when he espied the sale lunchboxes in the school supply section. Thinking this might be a new marketing strategy, I let him pick one out and told him he would be carrying it to school. He gripped the lunchbox handle and said, "Can I go to school right now?" I thought, hmm, surely that was too easy. In the days since then, I've been weaving a beautiful narrative about his matriculation at preschool, but the lunchbox is the only part of the story that holds any appeal for him. We've packed it with a sandwich and a banana many times in our imaginations. What happens after that is a little fuzzy.

This morning, though, I dressed him in his favorite t-shirt, the one that says, "Pow!" and off we went, into the very belly of the beast. There are two teachers for his class of 12 kids, and they are both very warm and welcoming. We spent half an hour in the classroom--Hank playing with racecars and me chatting up the moms--and he seemed perfectly happy to be there. He brought his Star Wars lunchbox to show the teachers, and he gave one of them a full tour of its features, pointing out "the Stormtroupers, who are bad guys, and Yoga." Then he came up to me and said, "Can we get out of this room?"

We went out to the playground, where another half hour of fun was had. Then, of his own accord, he told me he was ready to go home. That just doesn't happen on the playground. He said, "When we get home, can we have some juice and play a TV game?" I said sure. He added, "And maybe we can take a little rest?" I think his one hour of school visiting wore him out, but somehow he's gonna have to make it from 9:30-1:00.

Matt and I went to the parents' meeting last night, and we like the program. It's long-established, it's not far from our house, and people love it and send all their kids through there. My only concerns are:

  • Their car drop-off routine in the morning is that the parents pull up, the teachers get the children out of the cars and escort them to their rooms. The kids carry their own little bags and eventually learn the way to their rooms. The parents don't come into the classrooms in the morning, but only at pick-up time. This will make it harder for us to spend twenty minutes hugging goodbye, which is the minimum amount of time I need.

  • Pottytraining is a requirement for the 3 year-olds, which we've got covered. Whew! But the children are expected to pretty much be pretty self-sufficient with all the toilet-related behaviors: wiping, dressing, washing hands. This set of expectations may put a damper on Hank's practice of emerging from the bathroom twirling his undies and pants in his hands, yelling, "I'm a naked boy! I just pooped! I want a treat!" They may not look as benevolently on that behavior, and I would hate for his little spirit to be stifled, you know.

  • Mostly I'm worried that they won't know he is the Golden Child--that they might not see the subtle glow that shines from him at all times. But that's silly! They'll see it, won't they? WON'T THEY?
So next Wednesday is the day. I've got a week to sell the idea to him. I've got the Stormtroupers and Yoga on my side. Do not doubt that I will keep you posted.