Number of houses visited: 22
Number of candy-givers apparently familiar with UNICEF trick-or-treating program: 3
Percentage of houses at which Devlin gave a short dissertation on exactly how much mosquito netting could be purchased for $19, as per the back of the collection box: 100
Number of kind souls who physically attempted to stuff a fun-size candy bar into the coin slot, despite my protests that the box was actually meant for pennies: 1
Number of extremely generous residents who gave each child a dollar: 2
Number of houses featuring railing around their porches, prompting Eve, dressed as Juliet, to exclaim "Look, a BALCONY!" and proceed to swoon and fawn over an imaginary Romeo presumably waiting just out of sight: 6
Number of times Iris yelled "Yappy Noweeeeeeeeen!": 5,480,287
Amount collected for UNICEF: $18.30
Number of children declaring themselves to have LOVED trick-or-treating: 3
Amount of candy said children brought home tonight: nada
Number of mothers silently, pleasantly surprised how much her kids enjoyed doing something so outside the typical Halloween experience: 1
Will we be doing this again? absolutely.
Number of houses visited: 22
I've felt a new batch of letters coming on this week. Without further ado:
Dear 90 degrees,
No, not the band. I mean the weather. I believe I've made my position on this point quite clear, and now here you are, back again and most unwelcome. Seriously, GO AWAY. I heard on the radio today more 90 degree days forecast into next week, which, for the record, is NOVEMBER. I'm not having it. Pack your things, and toddle off to the Southern Hemisphere, where I am sure they are ready to embrace you with open arms.
A Heat-Intolerant Northern European Redhead
* * * * *
I used to really enjoy your company. We've had some good times. I love dressing up, I like candy, I think pumpkins and spirits and witches and skulls and such are pretty dang cool. But since I was a child, you've bloated, metastasized, and otherwise expanded yourself from one night of ghoulish fun to an entire week of sugary, chaotic, stressful festivities. I'm tired. Children's costumes, no matter how lovingly assembled, are not designed to survive multiple launderings, and you can't seriously expect me to send them to eat lunch at the park one day, bob for apples another, and still another night consume cupcakes as big as their heads, without getting their precious outfits dirty! I love you, but I really think you make a much better one-night stand than a long-term relationship.
The Halloween Grinch
* * * * *
Dear Bearpaw Boots and Famous Footwear,
Because I am a rational human being, I wasn't ready to cough up $100+ for Uggs for my 4-year-old with imaginary, chronic "ant bites" on her ankles that evidently make most shoes and all socks mortally uncomfortable. But with your sale, I was able to indulge on her behalf in real sheepskin boots - and now that I have them, I concede that even if I had paid that much, they would have been worth it. You've saved me from a battle I've fought several times a day, every day, for the last 4.5 years, and that is truly priceless. And to think - I used to say they were ugly!
(Actually, they're still ugly, but they do beautiful things to the Whine-O-Meter in Eve's bedroom.)
I love this blog, and I love this event that they've hatched. I'm blogging to enter to win 2 free tickets, and because I want to get the word out! Let's face it, the more people who know about it, the more people that come - the more better stuff there will be to choose from! I'm planning to go in any case, but free tickets would definitely make my weekend.
Please - dress up, get rid of things I'm not using, dinner I don't have to make, good company, AND pick out some new treasures? What's not to like?
I can take a friend, so you'll want to be extra nice to me if I win!
So, I've been stewing a little bit about how to handle Halloween this year.
I'm Mormon, and I live in Mesa (aka Little Provo) and Halloween is on Sunday. I'll preface this by saying that I don't have any problem with any choice any individual makes in this situation (can't seem to bring myself to get worked up about someone going with the flow of their own locality and visiting their neighbors on a Sunday evening once every seven years) but I personally was having a little trouble. We just moved, and our new neighborhood is definitely peppered with Mormons, but it's very far from every house, or every other house. I didn't know how everyone was going to handle it. Do people here observe Halloween on Sunday? Does everyone mutually agree to "move" it to Saturday? I couldn't seem to get a straight answer.
My ward held a trunk-or-treat a few days ago, on a night we could not attend. And besides - no offense to anyone who isn't with me - but I think trunk-or-treating is the most soulless activity ever invented, and I hate it. Hate. Really, we have an opportunity to go around and say good evening to all of our neighbors (what a rarity that is at all anymore!) and we section ourselves off into groups (yes, Mormons, I kind of am looking at you), remove ourselves from the neighborhood at large, and line our cars up in a parking lot, depriving our kids the fun of ringing the doorbell and literally making it *all* about the candy grab? Whose genius idea was this? I can see it if you live in an unsafe neighborhood, or in a place that is too rural or spread out to allow for walking, but that's definitely not what is going on here in my town.
My kids don't fall for it, and neither do I. I'm old-fashioned in a lot of ways, and this is one of them. Trick-or-treating means going door-to-door, saying "hello" and "thank you" and introducing yourself if you don't yet know the person handing you a Baby Ruth. Devlin looked at me like I had snakes for hair when I asked if he would be satisfied with only going to a trunk-or-treat this year.
Still, we agreed that running door to door hollering for candy was not an ideal sort of Sabbath activity, and if possible we should make other arrangements. My parents' ward is hosting their trunk-or-treat on Saturday night, and we have planned to go to that to satisfy the kid-approved candy-grab quotient of the holiday. But I still wasn't sure what to do about Sunday night. Should we just cave and go around our neighborhood? Would people even be expecting us Sunday night? Would they be expecting us Saturday? This doesn't exactly come up very often and I was getting different answers from everyone I talked to. My fellow Mormons thought I was nuts for worrying about it ("why not just go to the ward activity?" *headscratch*) and my non-Mormon friends are sort of irritated at the whole situation because they, too - like it or not - now have the problem of trying to figure out what the devil (pun intended) is going on this year.
Tonight, I came up with the perfect solution, and I'm sharing it not because I'm out to toot my horn, or because I think everyone should do it, but because I had a legitimate dilemma and I think I've hit upon a fabulous compromise and I thought someone else might be in the same ghoulish boat and could use an oar.
Saturday, we will trunk-or-treat in a scenic church parking lot. Sunday, we will trick-or-treat for UNICEF. If you don't know how it works, you go into Toys- or Babies-R-Us and get a little orange box for free. Each kiddo takes the box around, rings the doorbell, and says "trick or treat!" But instead of filling a pillowcase with candy corn, the little orange box fills with spare change from each house, and at the end of the night we have a nice little pile to send to UNICEF. I can hardly think of a more appropriate activity for the Lord's Day.
My kids get their candy, I have a clean conscience all around, and we all get a much-needed reminder that not everyone's biggest problem is how many times they get to fill a plastic pumpkin with sugar in any given weekend.
The Primary program was Sunday. For all that I like to think I'm an unconventional free bird, it turns out that I'm right at the front of the June Cleaver parade when it comes to watching my children perform. I sit on the front row, I wave, I make big eyes, I eat it up with a very traditional spoon. I dare you to find a mom who doesn't!
(The "good" picture):
It was, as the Primary program often is, life distilled into its most basic truths.
Devlin gave his recitation with scientific accuracy, but still managed to make everyone laugh with a wry smile and a "fancy" finish. His new pants, belted and cinched as tightly as they could go, did not fall down. This was not a given.
Eve walked to the microphone, turned to the prompter next to the stand who was leaning over to whisper Eve's line in her ear, and said very clearly "I know my part." Dismissed, the prompter sat back while Eve did, indeed, give her part perfectly.
Iris stood on my lap, somersaulted over the bench, played roller derby through everyone's legs, and wished with all her hedgie might that she was on stage with her brother and sister.
(The "real" picture: Eve staring dreamily into space, having not moved an inch from the other photo, Devlin looking tremendously annoyed at something - probably Eve - and Iris looking up at her dubious role models).
Everyone within the sound of my voice: if I ever, EVER say anything that indicates I am planning to so much as take in a hem on a Halloween costume in the future, please lock me in a broom closet with my hands tied behind my back until November 1st.
That is all.
Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 9:34 PM
I just got back from my alma mater's homecoming football game, and I just have a few observations:
1. Cheerleaders aren't nearly as intimidating as I remember from when I was a smart, skinny choir nerd in a black velvet cape and combat boots. They're kind of little, and sparkly, and...just...girls in ponytails. How about that?
2. My husband's little sister, Holly, rocks. Her junior class float (that she basically built with her family) was the best, and it totally won, and she totally deserved it. Go Holly!
3. I find it incredibly amusing that the Beatles, who set many a parents' hands to wringing a few generations ago (something about hell, and a handbasket, and "kids these days") were the basis of the theme for this year's festivities. The homecoming royalty nominees, in between stating their plans for college, a mission for their church, and 5 fat babies, all gave their favorite Beatles song as part of their introduction speech. I can't wait until my kids are in high school and the Valedictorian waxes poetic about Lady Gaga.
4. My two older children, at ages 4 and 7, having participated in the halftime proceedings tonight, have just officially reached a higher social standing at Mesa High than I ever did. They still wear Pull-Ups and happily trot off to school with jam on their faces, and they are cooler than me. Awesome.
5. Mesa High was a great school. It's a very mixed demographic bag, and it's not the fanciest, but it's the oldest has the most spirit and mostly the Mormons and the Mexicans and the cowboys and the stoners really do all get along. When we moved a few months ago, we moved into the Mountain View boundaries, and I'm really worried that it's going to be a bunch of overprivileged white kids (oh wait - like my kids) all talking smack about the purple and gold losers across town. I never gave two hoots about the rivalry when I was actually in high school, but I get meaner and less patient the older I get, and I'm not afraid to kick some Toro hiney if the situation presents itself.
6. I was a selfish, self-conscious, self-centered (notice a pattern there?) brat in high school, but I did have one thing straight: in my current time of life, I think I could do with a little less bill-paying, meal-planning, and housekeeping, and a little more making out under the bleachers. My husband, my high school sweetheart, is in the other room right now, multi-track-recording a Collective Soul song all by himself, and I have to say it's pretty damn hot.
Carry on, everybody. Carry on.
She pushes me roughly backward onto our couch, the blue one, the biggest and most comfortable. Releasing the corner of the spine from between her teeth, she grins and hands me the object of her affection: a well-worn Little Golden Book copy of Cinderella.
Again, the demand. "Weed! Weeeeeeeeeed!"
One girl climbs up and curls beside me, the other on my lap. We do it their favorite way this morning: at every instance of Cinderella's name, I replace it with one of theirs. There once was a kind and beautiful girl named Iris; the fairy godmother waved her wand and turned Iris's rags into the most beautiful ballgown she had ever seen.
At every mention of her name, her nose wrinkles and she chortles exultantly. She buries her head in my shoulder and looks shyly up at me.
Iris slid her delicate foot into the glass slipper...
...and the sheer mass of it broke the shoe into a thousand pieces!
Iris and her prince lived happily ever after, in peace and kindness all the days of their lives.
Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 7:45 AM
If someone handed me a hundred million dollars, there are a few small and simple things I would like taken care of. I don't want a private jet, or a huge mansion, or a pile of diamonds (definitely not a pile of diamonds). Just a few little niceties would make me smile.
1. A haircut every three weeks. I cut my own in the bathroom sink a few days ago, and I think I did all right. But this is #1 for me. If I cut it the way I like it, by week 4 I'm shaggy, grouchy, and desperately seeking Callie the Stylist. If I have it cut to last 6 weeks without a trim, I get a suspicious amount of attention from a lot of very nice ladies in flannel shirts.
2. I've been dithering about whether a housekeeper, chauffer, nanny, or chef would be most desirable, and I decided that what I need is a wife! I need another me, preferably one who is neutered, and with the personality of my best friend and the patience of a saint. This request might be a little unorthodox, but I figure with hundred million dollars we can make something happen, right?
3. Two child-free vacations per year. I know, just one would be awesome, but since I'm dreaming, I think two would be even better. I'm gearing up for my first one since before I was pregnant with Iris and just the anticipation of it is so marvelous that I can scarcely imagine the thrill of the actual event! I've got the with-kids traveling well in hand: we have enough family just far enough away to make for a few nice yearly trips, and I enjoy and look forward to those occasions very much. But for me, if you have to pack diapers, a leash, and a baby monitor, I cannot in good conscience qualify it as a "vacation".
I think I have some of my hundred million left over, so I hereby bequeath it to all of you, on the condition that you have to comment or post and link what you will do with it. Reading over your ideas will give me something nice to do while I look over the "wifey" applications that are sure to come rolling in now!
because it turns out that buying the HUGE KitchenAid, which seemed ridiculous when I got married almost 10 years ago, was definitely the right move.
Behold, my new favorite cookie recipe.
That's 4.5 sticks of butter, most of a big bag of brown sugar, and every last chocolate chip I have. (I buy in bulk).
If you're not utterly disgusted, then stop by and visit me tomorrow because I do plan to give most of them away.
I don't make it a big secret that a lot of the day-to-day drudgery of parenting makes me seriously question my sanity. I spend what feels like the bulk of every day teaching people proper bodily elimination habits, not to eat chalk, and how to communicate without poking each other in the eye.
But once in a while, I get the opportunity to offer the little dears something that really matters, and see it actually hit home.
My children and I are public library devotees. We are there every two weeks, rain or shine, for as much of the knowledge of the ages as we can carry. (Actually, it's about equal parts Junie B. Jones, Harry Potter, and folk tales from all around the world). A few months ago, we happened upon a little Chinese story called The Empty Pot, about a kind, gentle, honest boy named Ping who becomes Emperor. The pictures were so beautiful, and the story so touching, that we read it over and over. Eventually, though, its time was up, and we returned it so another family could discover it.
Tonight, Eve selected a bedtime story from our newest pile of literary treasures. Sanji's seed started off in India, with a poor, honest little boy who has a chance to prove himself worthy to be the next heir to the throne.
Devlin, who was sitting at my feet, apparently concerned only with his Lego "supersonic helicopter", suddenly started to attention, his eyes bright with recognition. "Hey! I know that story! It's The Empty Pot!"
And it was. The names were different, the telling was a little preachy and heavy-handed for my taste, the pictures less magical, but the story was the very same. And I was able to share with my children a lesson that I hold very dear: China, India, or Mesa Arizona, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist, we treasure the same values. We want the same things. We love our children. We search for happiness. We journey on this earth together, to learn from each other, to discover the wonders that unfold when we open ourselves to them.
And where did this delightful story really come from? Does it matter? Who had it first? Can any of us claim the wisdom we gain as truly our own? Which of us has the truth? Who has the most truth? The more I learn about my own beliefs, and about the beliefs of others, the more I see how much we borrow from each other, how much we share, how sad and silly it is to divide ourselves and try to compartmentalize something that doesn't belong to any one of us.
It is my great joy to learn everything I can, from wherever it is available. I love my life right now, in all its wonderful banality, and I look forward to the time when my motherly teaching can include more about humanities and philosophy, and less about what is and is not appropriate to flush down the toilet.
But for today, I'm satisfied that Devlin recognized something of himself in Sanji, and in Ping.
It really is a small, small world.
Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 8:48 PM
1. 2 squares of dry toilet paper on the floor renders a restroom "dirty" and entirely unusable, but placing one's bare palms on the ground beside the checkout counter and break-dancing, then picking one's nose and eating it is perfectly sanitary.
2. All horizontal surfaces are undercover gymnastics equipment.
3. In delighted response to Devlin's scruples with regard to skipping the blessing on dinner: "We don't have to say a prayer at Taco Bell!"
4. The new XXL Chalupa looks even more disgusting than the Duggar tater tot casserole. (Eve didn't teach me that, I figured it out all by myself).
5. For a little girl with a big imagination, any rock means a chance to be a mermaid.
You've probably all seen me carrying my babies in cloths like this one. I am so completely devoted to this practice - babywearing, we call it - that I just want to stand on my roof and sing it out loud, so everyone of childbearing age for 30 miles in every direction can hear the good news!
You may have heard some vague rumblings recently about recalls of slings, or concerns about babywearing safety. The facts of the matter are that any carrier can be used in an unsafe way, but a good quality carrier used correctly is not only safe, but vital to the well-being of mother and baby.
- cry less
- nurse better
- develop better socially, mentally, and physically
- have opportunities to interact with the world around them, instead of a forest of knees!
- are kept safe and close to their mothers, where they belong
Mother who wear their babies:
- are able to meet their babies' needs completely, hands free!
- are more easily able to tend to other children
- can get around places that a stroller wouldn't dare to go
- nurse anytime, anywhere, invisibly
- look chic and fabulous, like Earth Mother goddesses (okay, I just put that one in to make myself feel good)
I am going to be teaching a seminar on this subject later this month, so pass the word along if you know anyone who could use this information. Or, come join us on Facebook if you are local: we have monthly meetings and we can teach you everything you need to know!
We have known each other a long time. Our kids play together. You're super fabulous. I pretty much love everything about you.
I thought we were friends.
Then you posted this recipe on your Facebook page. I am weak, and of course I made them. Now I am surely doomed to gain 500 pounds, and I am putting you first on my speed-dial for when I need someone to come roll me over on my California King and clean my bedsores because I am too fat to move.
Then again, if I get a Discovery Health Channel show deal (I Love Cookies And Now I'm Too Fat To Move!), it seems only fair to give you half my earnings.
Perhaps we could open a bakery.
Licking my lips,
Dear Devlin and Eve,
That's 3 days in a row. The next allegedly-potty-trained little person whose stinky, peed-on sheets I have to launder is going to have to wipe MY bum for the rest of the weekend.
- The Management
Dear Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar,
I went grocery shopping today. I bought eggs. I bought FIVE DOZEN. I am fully expecting to use them in the next two weeks. However, I did not purchase any tater tots, so your TV show is safe from me.
Yours in procreation,
Got the idea here. I think this might be downright therapeutic, and the format is definitely a match for my current energy level, blogging time commitment, and attention span. Thanks for the idea, Heidi - I think I might do this more often!
* * *
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
* * *
Dear Steve Ross, Urban Yoga, Lifetime Fitness, and Monday-Wednesday-Friday Church Aerobics Class (the one with all the nice old ladies),
I hope you're doing someone out there some good, because it's just not going to happen for me right now. Or in the foreseeable future. I'm not sure exactly what it would take for me to join the ranks of the fit and fabulous again, but I think it might involve a chef, a nanny, a hundred million dollars, and a time machine.
Feeling fat but definitely not lazy,
The Delinquent Yogini
* * *
At what age is common sense developmentally appropriate? Can we skip to there please?
* * *
Dear Elementary School Car Line,
It hasn't been easy with two young opinionated tagalongs, afternoon naps, early dismissal, and the Summer that just wouldn't die, but as of today I have found a satisfactory way to get Devlin there and home without partaking in your very special brand of insanity. We all get fresh air and exercise, reduce our carbon footprint, and it doesn't take all day. I'll be delighted when my kids are old enough to transport themselves safely without my supervision, but in the meantime I am happy to thumb my nose and kiss your hellish twice-daily ritual goodbye.
A happy cyclist mother of three
* * *
I really, really think we should see each other more often. Frugality does have its limits.
You complete me,
Co-Chairman, Dixon Enterprises Ltd.
* * *
Dear Front and Back Yards,
I am so, so very grateful to have you, don't get me wrong. I wished for you for a long time, and every day I look out my windows at you and eat lunch under your lovely big tree and I just think you're all around pretty fabulous. But is there any chance you just want to, like, whip yourself into shape real quick? The neighbors just informed me that our hedges are threatening to become their hedges too. I didn't think hedges were contagious.
Learning something new every day,
A Clueless Gardener
Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Monday, October 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM
I've had this post fluttering around in my mind for a couple of weeks now, but I haven't quite been able to pin it down to write it.
Maybe that's because the photo at right depicts a half day's worth of dishes. That was Thursday. I didn't get them all done until Sunday. I didn't get the photo uploaded until just now.
And I've been trying to organize my thoughts, so that I can say what I want to say about my life, honestly, but to convey the peace and satisfaction that support the drudgery, chaos, and hilarity of my life every day.
Because I find, suddenly it seems, that I work longer and harder than ever before. There is, literally, no end to my labors. I don't even think I find the halfway point most days. When I think about what I accomplish on any given day, it sounds trite, stupid, small, like nothing. Boring, mind-numbing, relentless.
But mostly, it doesn't feel that way. I have to admit, it really doesn't.
I like doing what I do. I love the freedom I have to take a day like today, and stay in my pajamas until dinnertime, crossing tiny-yet-annoying tasks off my list. I love my silly, wild, brilliant children. I love making our home.
I've been trying to come up with a frame, a way to tell the story of my life right now. And I think the best way to do it is just a list - a list of things that bring me joy, satisfaction, even adventure, in their way. It's the same way I structure the days that are hardest, the way I remind myself at bedtime that I did live that day, I did *do* something, I do just keep moving forward.
One step, one day, one moment at a time.
- reading stories on the blue couch
- organizing legos by color in tidy bins
- a new stack of library books
- getting all the laundry done in one day - yes, even the sheets
- having dinner in the crockpot by noon
- reaching the bottom of my mending pile
- a full fridge, pantry, and a meal plan
- being clean, dressed, and fresh toenail polish all at the same time
- going to get free donuts after we pick up Dev from school (45 minutes of no fighting, no mess, and listening to our beloved audiobooks)
- rolling the trash and recycling to the curb
- rolling them back to the house
- putting the mail away
- cutting the kids hair
- making chore charts
- remembering to give the children their allowance
- getting a big bad stain out of Eve's favorite dress
- finally remembering to buy batteries
- letting go of Huge Complicated Family Theme Halloween Costumes and embracing Simple Just-As-Fun Every-Man-For-Himself Halloween Costumes
I keep track of all these things in my mind, and sometimes on paper, the way people tally their days in prison or on the wall of the cave on the desert island where they are stranded, to keep themselves from going crazy.
But I can truly say that I love it.