Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Best Costume Awards Go to . . .

We sorted through Nana's attic filled with elaborate hand sewn costumes, then awaited the day we could don them. Though a masterful hairdresser and make up artist, Mom's hands were impatient as she held our eyes just so for mascara or eyeliner as we wiggled and blinked at inopportune times. Finally, we opened our eyes to see the magical stranger in the mirror.

Could that mysterious person be me? Maybe I have a little royalty, wildness, sweetness, . . . or whatever the transformation suggested. We walked around that night, feeling like little strangers to ourselves and to each other. Not sure how to act around those we met, we were a little stilted in our language, so not to pop our amazing new image.

Today, I remembered. I remembered how it felt to hold and hold and hold your hand down so not to smudge your careful makeup. I remembered why Halloween was one of the BEST holidays of the year. It had nothing to do with candy. In fact, our family didn't go trick-or-treating. It had everything to do with trying on a new identity for an evening . . . feeling beautiful, daring, or funny.

I remembered when my wild Sunshine walked carefully down the stairs holding her skirts with a prim yet self conscious smile. I remembered as she told Sarah Jane on the way to preschool, "I am a pwincess and pwincesses don't act like THAT." I marveled at the shy and dainty change in behavior her dress and make up wrought.

I remembered when my other two stood, turning their heads in the mirror. "I don't know which of us looks better." Ladybug said proudly. "I'll bet the party has some sort of prize for the best family costumes."

At the party, dozens of children I love tromped by me in groups and separately to grab a doughnut hanging from a string or to have me paint their face. Each child positively preened as I mentioned how strong, scary or beautiful they looked.

As the 50 plus children paraded around the gym, I watched the different ways they expressed their joy in their "new self." Some held their skirts primly. Others tried not to smile. Some couldn't help it and laughed and twirled. Then, they began to announce "winners" of the costume contest.

Oh please don't do this!!! How can you pick when you see the looks on these children's faces? They all know they are something special tonight. Don't ruin it!

My children stood in front of the announcer till the very last prize was announced, certain if they just waited long enough, their name would be called.

Later, at home, Ladybug wondered why the witch or blown up Sumo wrestler got a prize. He was all plastic, with no makeup, nor was he elegant or tough.

I thought about giving a lecture about sour grapes or being glad for others. "Well, that's life. You rarely win. It's not important that others recognize you."

Then I rethought. "What is wrong with wanting to be recognized? With feeling amazing and wanting others to notice? As a matter of fact, I notice you. I see your beauty. I can do something about this."

My gift box produced some sparkly barrettes that were waiting for just such a purpose. I picked a pair for each of my winners and quickly created their prize. One was presented during a final rush of homework, another to a dripping baby just out of the shower, and a final one to an almost sleeping winner. "I won? For my elegance? (or good manners, best dancing)" Did you think that about me?"

"I certainly did." I replied.

Smiles like watermelon slices lit three faces. Costumes were put carefully away for the next Halloween party. Hugs and kisses were doled out. I wished that I could go to each darling child's house and tell them why they were amazing tonight.


  1. You can't tell me what we wear doesn't affect how we act.
  2. It's OK to feel beautiful.
  3. I've got to help my little ones not rely on the judgements of others for their happy thoughts.
  4. AND, while I'm at it, I'll give myself an award. (I didn't win either.) Way to get dressed up with three little kids all by yourself while bottling applesauce, making dinner and helping with homework. You are a fun mom. AND, you really made lots of kids happy tonight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Snowin' Opportunity

"I'll get my bedroom or laundry room done today." I committed to Char.
"I'll get my office done." she replied. "I'll call and check in with you to see how it went."

Seven hours later the phone call came. "I did it!" She exclaimed. "How about you?"

"Didn't happen."

"How could you not get to your room?"

I struggled for an answer. Here is how the day played out.

The first snow of the season demanded that I stop and twirl, open my mouth and let snow chunks melt on my tongue.

We raced barefoot to see who can stand the cold the longest. I lost.

The snow was perfect for molding. Our family gained a new snow friend and dog.

Pots of apples simmed, filling the house with their comforting aroma. They were squashed by hand, seasoned with cinnamon and jarred for the cold months ahead.

A friend had a witches party I missed because Briz was called out. Though I'd love an evening out, it was a great opportunity to take her kids so she could be worry free tonight. We turned it into a party.

The method of choice for Apple Bobbing was to lift one leg and gurgle in the water.

I truly don't know where my day went. It's nine o clock. Everyone is cuddled in blankets in front of Halloween movies. There is still time to get to my room and fulfill my commitment. Char! Just wait! I'll clean my room before I hop into bed!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Miss Zelda strikes again

Miss Zelda substituted music classes for Miss Midodi today. She does this every year. She is a bit snotty and has a really stuck up laugh, but the kids love her. She teaches major/minor recognition (Minor keys are her FAVORITE!!!) Then she teaches how to use the body in communication by turning the children into a statue garden with her magic wand.

I'm not so sure if the middle school kids like her or not, but she keeps their attention.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Good Bye dear friend

We waved as the truck drove out of sight, bearing Ginger, our old, blind dog who has been in our family longer than our children. I shut my heart, refusing entrance to memories, or guilt for the moment. I only allow myself the small indulgence of recording this event as a small vent for my feelings.

On the humorous side, this morning, Briz announced in a cheerful voice, "kids, say goodbye to Ginj today. Today is her magical day. Today she becomes a spirit dog!" The children did not share his enthusiasm for Ginger's future progression and broke into tears. Tears on the sofa, tears in the corner, and tears in the back yard. After awhile, my all male husband had all he could take. "There is no reason to cry. Ginger is old, her body doesn't work any more. She'll be much happier." He looked at me incredulously wondering why his explanation wasn't working. I intervened with loves and a family prayer asking for peace and understanding that death is not the end. Then Briz offered Gingie some baloney.

Ginger has some amazing qualities: Unlimited patience and love were her best. I hope she is romping with Ming chasing rabbits and squirrels. I think this is about all I can take right now so I'll go think about laundry. One little ladybug just returned with her father and needs a snuggle.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween Hope

Thirty women looked suspiciously as we marched in armed with root beer, ice cream, sugar cookies, and story books. One can hear them thinking, "Who are these goody goodies and why on earth are they here?"

It's a new group of women. Most aren't familiar with me or Jodi who goes so much more often. They are new to drug rehab. This group still appears unsold on their own recovery. I notice a few petty comments and snaps at each other that show one house in peril.

Six years ago when I first started coming, this would have unnerved me a little, but today, I simply meet their eyes with a smile. I look with love, knowing I will leave today with new friends.

Jodi begins the class. Good news goes on for a bit. It is an opportunity for Jodi to teach - to witness the recovery and hope she has witnessed here. Are they listening? How many really want to change? How many are only here because of a court order? Well, I can't judge which ones will make it, nor do I care. I have a few hours to love.

In circles we yell, "Monster! Pirate! Candy Corn!" Someones head gets bopped, then another and another. Laughter roars through the three circles. Women exchange names. Laugh. Night comes and the werewolves come out... the villagers hold court and vote on who to shoot with a silver bullet. "Please can we do this again?" We do. "We can do this in our houses." one says.

"With our kids."

"We can use this for bonding time."

"Who'd have thought we could have fun without drugs?" Adds another.

Jodi passes out root beer floats while I tell silly children stories.

Never have I seen better shoes go "shake shake!" or pants go "wiggle wiggle." The women laugh. They even cry. I wonder what memory or thought is triggered by the Little Old Woman Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. I said, "This little old woman was like the woman here. They'd seen it all. Nothing could scare them." One girl answered, "You have no idea."

"I knew it." I continued. This is YOUR story about how you face things that try to scare you and get in the way of your treatment. You look at them head on and say, "You can't scare me!" then you deal with your demons in a creative way."

As we left, the women crowd us. Gratitude beats on us from faces turned sunny from sullen.

"This is the most fun I've had since treatment began."

"Didn't this morning go by fast?"

"Will I ever see you again?"

Thankful for my circumstances and the opportunity to stretch for a few hours I return to my more mundane tasks of laundry, car pool, home work, and the prevention of habits in my small ones that would steal their agency.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22

I was born 38 years ago today. I'm glad of that. It is a perfect time for me to reflect and think about what and who makes my life so worth while. It's the PEOPLE! The lovely ones that inspire, touch, teach and care for me. How can I thank them? I have an idea, a hope to inspire and lift others today.

Sweet husband turned my plans on their head by having some special people express their appreciation for me in written form.

I read. My heart, already warm, becomes gooey. The love and kindness shown to me today enlarges me, makes me quicker to respond to others, more patient with my little people, more appreciative of my sweetie. For one evening, I become what they see in me.

Oh that I could make others feel better their best, the way they have made me feel today. Happy Birthday you silly little girl grown up!


Too cold for short sleeves, but I haven't pulled out the winter sweaters yet. I have 22 minutes till I pick up Sunshine. Only twenty two minutes to prove to the world that I was alive and kicking today. I race my sewing machine up the stairs, cut off the heel of two pairs of knee socks, cut off the toe, stitch the hole closed, and cut a slit 1 inch down for my thumb. Ta Da!!!! Warmies!!!! With 5 minutes to go I try one pair on. My mother-in-law stops by. After chatting for a minute she asks, "What are you wearing on your arms?"

"Socks." I reply. "I was cold." Hmmmm. Some people don't appreciate my genius.

Little Mother comes home. "Cool! Man. I want some of those SOOOOO bad."

Well. With appreciation like that, I think I'll give her my purple striped pair.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tomato thief caught red handed!

"I know what's been eating your tomatoes. Can I keep it?" Ladybug's new buddy is a 3 inch long fellow commonly known as a Tomato Hornworm. Together we looked up his name, care, feeding, and relatives. Common sense tells me to destroy the pest, but he will burrow under ground for the winter and emerge mid spring as a gorgeous and rarely seen tomato or hawk moth with a 5 inch wingspan. Beauty like that can share my tomatoes, so he is wintering underground in Ladybug's room.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tea with Mrs. Jones

Frantic in an effort to overtake 10:30 a.m., I wanted to finish my "list" before I finalized my music curriculum and left to teach. I applied make up, wiped my bathroom sinks, then began to put away the weekend's accumulation of grooming aids. Since I have banned television on weekdays, I carry a heavier entertainment role. Sunshine stood watching, then shut herself in my closet and hid among the shoes and formal dresses in the back.

After awhile a small knock sounded on the closet door. "Oh come in! I'm glad you came to visit me, please sit down and take some tea." I sang in a sing song voice as I motioned her to a seat on the rim of the tub. I poured from an electric shaver into a tall container filled with water balloons (that was looking for a home). We shared pleasant chit chat as I continued to wipe and put away.

Sunshine began the chat in a conspiratorial tone. "My biggest pwoblem wight now is shoes. My chiwden take off their shoes evwywheo and make such a mess! They aw aways making me late because they can't find theiw shoes."

Hmmm. I think. This is one of my biggest problems with Sunshine. In fact, her father had a long discussion with her yesterday over her shoes. "Man." I exclaim. "That must be Sooo annoying. What do you do about it?"

"I give them an extwa thing to pick up. They don't want anothoe job so they pick up theo stuff."

"My, Mrs. Jones, what a clever solution that is."

I am now wondering if she thinks all women do is complain about their lot. I am duty bound to add, "You, know, Mrs. Jones, I LOVE to be a mom. It's my favorite thing to do."

"Oh, I know." She replied. "It's like you rule the house. Isn't it."

"Yes. It's kind of like that." I choke out.

"Well," Sunshine continued, putting down her water balloon tea, "This has been weally nice, BUT, when I came ovow today, I thought we'd have some tea that didn't taste like plastic. I thought we could have some special time together. My mom nevow let me have tea pawtys when I was litto, and I so hoped we could do that."

Time is running short . . . I need all the time I have to prepare for music classes . . . AND, I so love to check off those boxes next to my list.

Oh, well. I throw my hands in the air. Sometimes procrastination is a legitimate response to a trivial task. Because love is what matters most, it takes top priority. Why is now the best time to express love? Because now is when it's needed and now is when I have the opportunity. The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time is now.

So, ten minutes later, we pull up our chairs to cream cheese and jelly hearts, apples and caramel dip, and hot cocoa for "Mrs. Jones"; rice cakes, fresh almond butter and sliced bananas for the mama with ice water with lemon oil. We daintily bite, stir, and sip.

Mrs. Jones has many questions for me. "Which of your kids is the best wookor? How do you make youw sandwiches? Did yow mothow ever do this with you?" Then finally, "Youw house looks fweaky. My kids awe scawed of it, so I nevew weally bwing my kids."

So. I learn something new.

1. My witches that I thought were so cute, festive and harmless are freaking poor Mrs. Jones kids right out.
2. Sunshine is internalizing her shoe problem.
3. Kids can be sneaky about getting information.

Well tea is over. In fact, music classes are over and as I review my day, I want to remember my tea party. I imagine that will be a bit like how I will feel as I prepare to leave this life. I won't ask Briz to bring me in my diplomas or work history so I can gaze fondly at them one last time. I doubt my checklist will mean so much to me. But I'll probably count and relive moments like these . . . each a pearl on my necklace, each moment of love a treasure.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Halloween Ghouls

Every year at the first part of October, we rush to the copy center and make tons of copies of our Halloween Ghost.

Night after night we venture out, masked for secrecy, bearing Halloween treats. My ghouls bent over and monsterlike, race silently over the grass. They hide behind trees, cars, and sneak alongside houses till we reach the houses they choose.

Ding Dong! They race back to where Briz or I are hiding. In excitement they wait for the door to creak open, then shut.

Two or three houses per night for a few days gives our neighborhood a good start on Halloween goodwill. They excitedly sneak back home and wait for the ghoul to visit us.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Crazy Love

Yesterday the doorbell rang and joy of joys, a package was on the front porch. With excitement I opened Michael Buble' Crazy in Love. I mentioned yesterday how I be bopped around the kitchen, but I thought I'd tell you a bit more about this CD that I am CRAZY IN LOVE with.

The CD opens with a bang, literally. The instrumentals in the first title, Cry me a River are amazing. I have never heard a CD quite like it. Each song comes from a different era, Elvis, 80's, WWII, yet Buble' makes each song new, current, yet timeless. I felt transported to a happy time, a nostalgic time, a love time. I felt love for my sweetie, felt like swing dancing, and crying all at the same time.

All albums have songs that are less than favorites, and this one is no exception, though in this case it is the last two on the disk. The new twist on tracks Stardust and Whatever it takes is just a bit off, almost dissonant. They are still not bad, just average. The rest are exceptional.

At our house, every task needs it's own music accompaniment. There is cleaning music, reading music, background music, party music, romantic music, silly music, listening music. This album fits the bill for cleaning, crafting, cooking, romance, listening, and party music. How versatile is that?

Anyhow, that's my review and I'm sticking to it. Anyone have a current favorite album they want to share with me? Also, what do you use it for . . . meditation, dance, what?

Home Made Tomato Sauce

So I'm saving the last of the garden tomatoes from frost. They CAN'T go to waste. That would be a sin - truly. Not enough to bottle, not enough for juice, so I thought I'd experiment. As is often the case, there is no recipe here BUT...
  • Washed tomatoes
  • Pureed them in food processor
  • Melted about 1/4 cup butter
  • Added tomato puree
  • Sprinkled about 1/4/ - 13 cup sugar over top
  • Sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Simmered until nice and thick . . . 1-2 hours
  • Added just a touch of Italian Seasoning
  • Placed in freezer Jars
LICKED the pan clean. . . then the measuring cups, then the spoons. Yes sir. I have rarely had anything quite so amazing. I can't wait to use the sauce in pizza or lasagna or soup or maybe I'll sit down with a bag and a spoon and eat the whole thing. Gotta try it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

After yesterday's decorating festivities, my front door looked sad and un-cheery. I used my sacred preschool time to fix the problem. Inspired by thrify decor chick, I took apart some leaf wreaths and hot glued the individual leaves to a foam wreath form spray painted black. I listened to the upcoming Michael Buble' album Crazy Love while gluing and stuffing. I tapped, grape-vined and did the chorus line across my lonely kitchen floor. It was such great therapy. I LOVE the color on my door!!! Bonus... Total $8.30 (including the ribbon)!!! When I picked up Sunshine from Tae Kwon Do, I saw a hideous wreath at Roberts with about 10 scraggly leaves on sale for $19.99. Oh, the cleverness of me! Now I feel decorated.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall Decorating

As I drive, I am attracted to houses decked with pumpkins, leaves or even scary things that I don't like. They seem to be sending a warm sort of message to the world . . . A beckoning invitation to join them for their celebrations.

I fear the day when the fingerprints are gone and the squeals of joy no longer accompany the fall ritual of unloading the orange boxes. Don't come too soon!!!

But, today, I have the squeals, the helpers that put things in the wrong places, the excitement, and the feeling that I am sharing happiness. Mannheim Steamroller thunders in the background. Witches fly overhead in halls, greet guests at the doorway, and sit in trees. My signature crows are placed everywhere, over doors, in trees, on the dining table . . .

The festive atmosphere makes us feel like dancing.

Those without partners ask the ghost of John, our music prop for years, to dance. Fall is here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Garbage Surprise

The doorbell rang. I answered. This is what I found. What is it? Did someone leave me a gift? Is it hand-me-down clothes for the girls? Is it a secret Santa? Perhaps it is what it looks like, garbage. Weird. I reach down and place a hand on the tops of each bag. Hmmmm... knobby. Each hand runs over a face. One of the bags giggles. "I guess I'd better get this garbage out to the cans." I remark to myself. I try to pick up the bag but 11 year old girls are WAY too heavy. The bags giggle uncontrollably and then try to run away. I lift off the Hefty and find some of my primary girls, with another giggling in the bushes.

I hold them tight, laugh with them, kiss the tops of their little heads and send them on their way. A gift of self!