October 31, 2012

I LOVE Halloween

Sometimes, you just need to be a zombie.
While I guzzle my tea in between costume touchups, I'll let you in on a secret.

I LOVE family costume themes.  Love 'em.

More than that, I just freakin' love costumes.

Tonight, we're a themed family.  Last year, not so much.

Last year, I didn't even HAVE a costume.  That's probably the first (and hopefully ONLY) time in my life that it's the case.

Anyway, I'll wait until I have pictures for the big reveal, but here is a picture of the last time we did a family themed costume:

Get it?  We're all Adam West Batman villains!!!!!

...shut up, it's cute.

This year is cuter.

I love to make costumes.  I used to do it for a living.  If you don't mind, I'm just going to spam you with a few of my favorite costumes I've made.

A dancing pack of "Suicide Brand" cigarettes
Thor.  I didn't make the hammer or helm, but you get the idea.

Cat woman.  That's right- I made myself a full body vinyl cat suit.  And yes, this is on a rooftop. 
Close up
And one year I actually dumped red paint all over my body (and historically accurate undergarments) to go as Countess Elizabeth Bathory- google it if you don't get the reference.  M was part of a different group costume- the entire cast of Clue.  He's Col. Mustard.
This is a bear suit I made for an independent film
And this is the costume for a witch in a post-apocalyptic werewolf-and-vampires type film

Back before I was a wife and mother (which is to say, back when I had time and energy for that sort of thing) I was in the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast- Dynamic Tension- back in Michigan.  I played Magenta (and occasionally Dr. Scott, Janet, and Frankenfurter) for NINE YEARS.

That's right.  I'm one of THOSE Halloween crazies.

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2012

End Of The Month Controversy: The Presidential Election

From election night 2008
In 2007, I was a volunteer in an AmeriCorps program.  It was a corrupt program, and a part of my job was not lobbying- as lobbying isn't allowed by organizations that run on government money.  So I was not lobbying our elected officials to support public service, and I was not going around, visiting with every potential 2008 candidate who came through Chicago, and I was not telling potential candidates how important public education is, and how much my organization supported it.  Or how important early intervention services were, and how my organization partnered with them.  Or how important food pantries, school lunch programs, SNAP and WIC, and other forms of public aid were to the kids of Chicago.  To the kids in every city my organization served.

I have always been a good judge of character, so I wasn't often surprised when my meetings with politicians, both local and national figures, went well or went poorly.

I remember being not so sold on John Edwards in 2004, despite his focus on poverty.  And I remember staring into his frozen, fake-smile eyes, seeing only spray tan and hair dye and capped teeth, and believing that this man wasn't taking in a word I was saying- all he saw was a friendly photo-op and a bunch of boobs.  He was easily the sleaziest man I'd ever met,

I remember meeting Bobby Rush, the long time activist and politician in Chicago, and as he looked right past me and barely grasped my fingers as we "shook" hands, I thought to myself that here was a man who simply accepted that he gets to do this job until he chooses to retire, and while that doesn't inherently make him a bad man, it seemed that he really didn't care as much about the well being of his constituents as he should.

I'll never forget meeting this guy
And I remember meeting Barack Obama, recently elected senator.  He took one look at my partner and I, in our matching jackets, and grinned.  He told me, specifically, what sort of good works our organization was doing.  And he looked me in the eye, and I actually felt that he cared about the kids we served.  He knew their districts.  He knew the numbers.  He knew what we were working against.

He hadn't decided to run for president yet.  But despite that, and despite my explicit orders to not express any sort of political opinion, I looked him in the eye and asked him to run.  I asked him to remember how much so little had already done for so many people, and I asked him to keep fighting for them.

He smiled, but he didn't look me in the eye.  He looked at his hands and he said, "We'll see."

And I said thank you, because I knew he would.  I knew he would fight for people like me.  People like him.

You see, he'd recently talked about how becoming a senator had finally allowed him and Michelle to pay off their student debt.  Two law degrees take a lot of cash.  Harvard isn't cheap.

I knew him as the state senator from Chicago's south side who turned up at rallies downtown to support undocumented immigrants and women's rights.

And I knew he actually, truly, honestly cared about those things.

A few weeks after meeting him, I was waiting for a meeting with our then-state senate majority leader, she was running late because of an unexpected phone call.

The unexpected phone call was from Obama, asking her to be on his investigatory committee- to help him get ready to run for president.

I thought, from spending a few years paying very close attention, that I kind of knew Barack Obama.  Not personally, of course.  But I had a sense for who he was, and what he was capable of.  I knew he could be a great president, not because of his brains or his experience, but because the Obama I was familiar with was a pragmatist.  He would rather compromise and get something done than get nothing done.  And I thought we needed that.

I believed in Barack Obama.  I really, truly did.  But I didn't believe he could get elected.  I didn't believe that America was ready to vote for a black man.

Obama's election was an emotional night for my friends
I was wrong- America was ready for a black president.  But the GOP wasn't.  They made obstructing him at every turn, ensuring his failure, their top priority.  Forget the Violence Against Women Act, forget equal pay, forget a jobs bill for veterans... if it was Obama's, it was bad.

And despite that, he has accomplished so much.

And so I'm going to vote for him again.

I'm going to vote for him again because, thanks to him, soon my husband can't be denied health coverage because of his pre-existing conditions.

Because I conceived my twins through IVF, and if Romney's "personhood" amendment promises go through, that would become illegal for other hopeful parents.  Because someday, Aunt Green might want to get married to the girl of her dreams, and I want that for her.

I'm going to vote for Barack Obama because when M was out of work and we had two infant girls, we relied on WIC and food stamps, and we wouldn't have made it to where we are now without that support, and I want a president who doesn't consider us "less-than" for having been poor.

I want a president who doesn't think that single moms, like his own mother, are to blame for mentally disturbed individuals killing innocent people.

I want a president who doesn't have to worry about re-election, and can actually do his job.

I hope that Obama wins.  And I hope that, once he's assured of this second term, he can actually accomplish all those things that the GOP were so determined to keep him from doing.  Things that shouldn't be controversial.

Things like making sure I earn the same money as a man in my job.  Or making sure that my husband isn't denied insurance because he used to have brain cancer.  Or making sure that there are services making sure my family is safe when natural disasters strike.

Despite all the rhetoric, government is a good thing.  We need it.  We need somebody to ensure that we have roads and bridges, that we aren't going to be charged a fee before somebody will put out a fire engulfing our home, that there's a process to ensure that medicine is safe- and that if it isn't there is a way to punish people for selling tainted drugs.  We need government to make sure that banks don't steal our money, that the seismic and meteorological activity around our nation is monitored, so that people can safely evacuate before danger strikes.  We need to make sure that our sick, elderly, children, and very poor are cared for.

And nobody is better equipped or more able to do those things than our government.

And so I'm voting for the guy who thinks that the job of the government is to make the government work, not to dismantle itself.

We take elections very seriously over here.
I'm not as enthusiastic about Obama now as I was four years ago.  Not quite.  But I know why- it's because I've seen what he's up against.  And it's not just the Republicans, it's reality.
I hate that he's authorized drone strikes the way he has.  But I believe he's not doing so lightly.

I hate that he took so long to take a stand on marriage equality.  But I'm glad he did it.

I don't know what happens every day in the oval office.  And I'm not sure I want to.

But I do know that I want the person in there to be somebody who cares about me.

And I think that's the guy who's in there now.

October 28, 2012

Sunday Blogaround - 10.28.2012

Hello, and welcome to another edition of the Blogaround!

This week, there were a lot of events that rattled the blogging world, particularly in mommy blogging circles.  It was another week of chaos, confusion, and the general happenings of life on Earth.  Enjoy!

"Dear Ann Coulter: This is Who You Insult With Your Words" - The Squashed Bologna
This spectrum mama writes about the hurt that can be inflicted with malicious word choices, but also about what damage you do to the country at large with the kind of vitriol that went around on Monday night.

"It's 'Just' A Word" - Kidneys and Eyes
In case you ever wondered what this sort of language does to the people it ridicules, read this.  It broke my heart.

Down Wit Dat"Retarded" - Down Wit DAT
This sums up everything.  Literally.

"Ann Coulter- a repeat offender (an r-word thing)" - Herding Cats
I think this family is great, and I think that every person should get to know a family like this, in person or remotely, and become a little closer to these issues.  On a personal level.  (And what I mean by "family like this" is one where despite individual needs, everyone cares for each other, protects each other, and defends each other.  Really, it should be every family.)

"Eclairs" - The Crazy Life of a Pantry Cook
Crap.  Now I have to make these.  :::sigh:::  But it's good to take a break between angering/upsetting subjects to remember that incredibly delicious homemade pastries are actually easy to make and make everything better.  Oh yeah, you know I eat my feelings.

"Rape is Rape" - Pile of Babies and Blogger Idol
This week, the remaining Blogger Idol competitors had to write about a controversial topic.  Now, I HATE that this is even close to a controversy.  But I agree with Pile of Babies 100%.  Oh- and as she wrote it for a competition, you can vote for her to win right here.

"My Friend Liz" - Ask Your Dad
This breaks my heart.  I know I've done this a lot recently, but really nice people keep finding themselves in horrible situations, and other really nice people keep... you know...  So if you have a few dollars to spare, think about sending it to Liz's widower, three year old, and week old baby.  Thank you.

"A Fair Share" - Daddy Knows Less
DKL experiences both sides of the win/lose parenting philosophy.  Me?  I had two kids from day one of parenting.  They've both had to learn to lose sometimes and win sometimes, because there are two of them.  Only children and oldest children are a much more complicated problem.  Great read.

"Man Weekend Goes Viral" - The Hossman Chronicles
I saw the title of this post, and immediately got nervous.  I'm familiar with man-weekend, and I was afraid that "STIs" might be the theme of the facial hair... however that might work.  I was completely surprised to discover that I was dead wrong.

"Just Stop... by Jess" - The Poop Whisperer
Oh man, this could be my house.  Not my story, I still haven't really gotten through toddler hurdles round one, so hopefully my transition to toddler #3 will feel simple and as though not much has changed.  We'll see.  But this could really be my house.  The wipes thing?  Happens here ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME.

"Anna Karenina, Runway Diva, or Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Gap" - All the Russias
If, like me, you've spent much of your life fairly obsessed with Russian literature, reading nearly the complete works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Bulgakov; and if, like me, you have an innate distaste of our culture's determination to turn everything into cross-marketing ploys that detract from the substance of the things you love... you'll like this.

October 24, 2012

Livin' the Dream

Me and my favorite sleepy baby.
Hello, lovely readers.

I have some good news, and some bad news.

The bad news is that for the next month or so, there will be only limited blogging from Yours Truly.

The good news?

It's because I'm finally jumping in on NaNoWriMo.  That's right, I'm writing a novel.

The truth is that I've had this novel rattling around in my head for a while now, and NaNoWriMo was pretty much the last bit of motivation I needed to get it out.  Well, to get a first draft out anyway.

So wish me luck, and if you're missing me over the next month, don't worry- things are probably fine.  And if they're not, I'll blog about it.

In the meantime...

50,000 words, here I come.

Also- I just realized... this is my 400th post.

Thank you all for sticking around for 400 rants, stories, and random excerpts from my life.

You're amazing.

October 23, 2012

Building Bridges

Send Your Message
As always happens in election years, a lot of major issues are being reduced into convenient sound bites.

Much is made out of small things, they're blown up and used as examples for government waste.

Opponents of incumbents love to talk about government contracts that pay out outrageous amounts for everyday objects.  In truth, it is always more complicated.

One of those issues that is always up for scrutiny is foreign aid.  Money spent abroad to help people that could be spent domestically instead.

So where does that foreign aid go?

In fact, it doesn't go very far.  And that is why there are so many international organizations dedicated to picking up the slack.  Organizations like the World Food Programme.  And in actuality, much of the "foreign aid" that the United States spends is funneled through organizations like this.

The World Food Programme tend to focus primarily on feeding women and girls, as they have incredibly limited access to resources across much of the world.  But currently, there is a specific initiative of the World Food Programme that is focused intensely on a very specific need.

The World Food Programme is trying to provide school lunches for children in Bolivia.

This is a wonderful idea.  In a place where children have limited access to food, and limited access to education. tying the two together creates a wonderful incentive.  Send your children to school, get them an education, and they will be fed.

I live in Chicago, and here the majority of students in the public schools rely on the meals they are provided away from home.  Breakfast before classes, lunch during school... these are two whole meals that these children are guaranteed.  And that is a guarantee they don't necessarily have at home.

While the need in Bolivia is greater, the children are essentially the same.  They are the burgeoning individuals, real people with dreams and goals and stories.

...and the World Food Programme is helping us learn those stories.

You can follow the link to the right, and ask questions about school children who are receiving meals through the World Food Programme.

Your questions will be translated into Spanish, the children will answer them, and their answers will be translated and sent to you.

You can get to know these people, these children.  You can take a few moments and actually learn about the anonymous mass of "aid recipients" that our government allegedly spends too much money assisting.

The world is our community, whether we like it or not.

And as many problems as we have at home, we must never forget that our problems are nearly always small and petty in comparison to those of people across the world.

People without access to water, or without access to medicine.  People who face persecution for their gender or their religious beliefs.  People who don't have the opportunity to spend a few years in school, learning to read and write.

These are real problems.

And yes, we also have real problems.  But there is a scale of needs, and our needs are mostly met.

Go and learn about another set of people, another set of needs.  Go and get to know somebody who has only ever been a vague set of numbers to you.

Build a bridge.

October 22, 2012

Because You're Mine

Here it is- another post-breakfast Dance Party video!

This week, we had some post-pre-school dance parties.  And one night, M came home mid party!  It was nice to get to boogie as a family.  Well, RH watched once M was here.

I'm trying not to think about the weight.  I'm trying to just think about feeling good about my body and in my body, not about numbers.

And I am feeling better about it and about how it's working.

Not there yet, but... progress, definitely.

Also- any good Halloween song suggestions for next week?

October 21, 2012

Sunday Blogaround 10.21.2012

Hello, and welcome to another blogaround!

Well, it's been quite a week in the blogosphere!

"Quidditch in the Yard" - Happy Hippie Homemaker
Okay, so Rachel may suddenly have become my role model with this idea.  My children are still too young for Harry Potter, but I hope that in a few years I can share my addiction with them.  And let's be clear- the movies?  Awful.  We will be sticking to the books 100%.  I plan to tell them that the movies are to the books what carob is to chocolate.

"The Crime Scene" - The Hossman Chronicles
Hossdad delivers another hilarious story from the Hoss family files.

"554" - the Kopp Girls
Kyle has been blogging for three years now, and the changes in his life are astounding and beautiful.  By all means, read this.

The Family Pants"The Purple Purse" - The Family Pants
Did you know it was Domestic Violence Awareness Month?  I know, Breast Cancer Awareness takes all the charitable spotlight in October, but domestic violence is no less a real and terrible problem.  This incredibly thoughtful post might help bring some of it home, and also shares a way that you can help.  I urge you to read it.

"Talking with boys about sex and masturbation: Keep Calm and Spank On!" - Moms Who Drink And Swear
I don't have boys, so I don't know if I'm ever going to be in the market for advice on this sort of conversation, but I think that Nicole did an AMAZING job!  It's funny, it's light, and she covered pretty much all the bases.  Most important, she started a dialogue that might one day make all the difference to a teenager having trouble coping with their budding sexuality.  So, kudos!  And read it!

Photobucket"a baby story" - googiemama
A lovely and thoughtful post on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.

"Song" - Good Times Dad
This is so sweet.  My kids occasionally request "Come Sail Away."  We're those kinds of parents.

"A Tale of Two Playgrounds" - Short Fat Dictator
I know all about this problem.  I've had it myself.  There are a few playgrounds I just can't STAND to take my kids too- simply too judgmental.

October 18, 2012

More Than Meal Plans

Mmm... cheese...
I have a weird relationship with food.

First of all, I love food.  I love to eat it.  I love to cook it.  I love to smell it.

I'm a total (albeit vegetarian) foodie.

That said, I totally suck at eating.  If I'm hungry, and I'm the only person around who's hungry, I'm not going to bother cooking anything.  I'll just eat something- anything- already edible and on hand.

The most "cooking" I do when I haven't eating in six or eight hours tends to be the assemblage of a s'more.

That said, I try to cook dinner every night.  I love sitting down to dinner as a family, all eating the same food, all talking, catching up on our days... you know, the idyllic family scene.  I live for that.

So once upon a time, I was incapable of cooking a dinner for just me and M.  Every time I cooked, I made about eight people's worth of food.  That's how I learned to do it.  When I was a teenager, there were four teenagers living in the house, two parents, and usually a random friend or two for dinner.

There needed to be lots of food at each meal.

So over four years of marriage, I slowly and meticulously trained myself to cook for two.  For just me and M.

And I've finally figured out how dumb that was.  Why?


I am now almost entirely subsisting on leftover food.

It's great- I'll cook dinner one night, have the leftovers for brunch (I only tend to eat two meals a day- brunch and dinner), and then make dinner.


And that is why now I'm eating leftover gigantes (that's incredibly delicious Greek style lima beans) and day old bread.

The best part?  It's really helping with the girls' picky eating.  If they liked it, or just sort of tried it but didn't really eat it, I can present it to them again the next day.  Let it become familiar.

So hopefully, cooking all sorts of delicious and relatively healthy foods (how healthy is a hunk of bread even if you DID make it yourself?) will lead to me starving less, and therefore screaming less.

Hopefully, it will lead to me not counting a s'more as a meal.

And best part?  So much cheaper.

You plan your meals for the week around what you already have, and what ingredients you need to buy.

I know that every time I buy parsley, at least half of it goes to waste.  So I planned three meals this week that include parsley.  BOOM- a whole bunch of parsley, eaten up!

Two meals with chard.

Two meals with the can of fake chicken I'm going to open up tonight.

And of course, a bottle of wine for the week.

This week's meal plan was:

Baked polenta with swiss chard
Spinach salad

Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup
Oatmeal bread


Roasted potatoes
Grilled chicken/fake chicken

Cauliflower curry soup
Whole wheat raisin bread

Vegetable chard Soup

Roasted pepper soup
Honey wheat bread
Spinach salad

So how am I accomplishing this remarkable feat of culinary acuity?

MIT has cooler food robots than me.

Yeah, that's right.  Robots.

I have this super awesome slow cooker- it comes with three different interchangeable dutch over type pots.  That means that even if I don't get to cleaning one before nap time the next day, I have a different pot.  I just have to make sure that I'm not counting on using the same size pot two days in a row.  So, I have a slow cooking robot.  This week, it's in charge of the lentil soup, the cauliflower soup, the gigantes, and the roasted potatoes.  Boo-ya.

My other robot?  The bread machine.

Dear god, I love my bread machine.

And that, lovely readers, is how I am able to enjoy a meal while my children are at school.

October 17, 2012

A Tragic Comedy

I can never use this chair as the background for pictures again.
When you start having kids, you start thinking about all the inevitable firsts.

The first time they roll over.

Their first foods.

Their first words.

Their first steps.

But there's a bad side, too.

Their first nightmare.

Their first fight.

Their first illness.

Their first trip to the ER.

Okay, so sometimes their first sad thing is hilarious.
Does any child get through to adulthood without at least ONE trip to the ER?  I had a few- the first was when I was about four years old.  My father yelled at me.  I had been trying to share my ice cream with the guinea pigs in the basement.

I was SHARING.  I was being GOOD.

At any rate, he yelled.  And I went running up the stairs, slipped, and broke my finger.

I believe that as I was bundled up and taken to the ER for my cast, I kept yelling, "You're the worst daddy in the world!"

Aunt Genocide cracked her head open a few times.  Aunt Something Funny got nail polish in her eye when she was eight.

Things happen.

And between SI's fearlessness, and DD's refusal to keep her eyes in the direction that her body is moving, well...

It was a tossup who was going to make that first trip to the ER first.

But as in so many races, it's always those dark horse contenders.  The quiet ones.  The ones you least suspect.  You're watching the front runners, and then BAM!  Somebody else surges ahead right at the finish line.

That's right, RH got to visit the Children's Hospital ER last week.

She was exactly a week shy of four months old.

And that is why her sisters are in time out forever.

Everything is cute when it's small
Wait- I should step back a moment, shouldn't I?

Okay- starting over.

My children are girly girly girly girls.  They LOVE makeup and pretty dresses and fancy shoes and glittery things.  I got them "Fancy Nancy" for their birthday, and they want her to be their best friend.  They're that kind of kid.

And I occasionally indulge them.  They play pretend with their crayons- using them as an impressive rainbow of lipsticks.  SI seems particularly partial to green lipstick, so I suppose there's hope for my kids turning into outcasts and weirdos yet.

At any rate, occasionally, I paint their finger and toenails.

This is a special treat.

Actually, it's a treat for both of us.  They think that it takes at least ten minutes of sitting perfectly still before your nail polish is dry.  I wonder where they got that idea?

And me?  I am not a girly girl.  I do not wear makeup.  I don't wear fancy clothes.  I wear skirts, yes, but... you know... I'm not anybody's idea of a fancy lady.

Not fancy.
What I am is busy.  Exhausted.  And I have a lot to do.

So on Thursday, I was getting my dinner made.  I've been doing a debate/soup/bread theme, so I had a loaf of whole wheat bread I was getting finished, and a nice big pot of mushroom and wild rice soup.

To accomplish this, I put RH in her swing, and put on Shrek 4, and pulled out some of the girls' birthday swag.  But of course, mommy cooking is SO much more interesting than baby ogres.

And I kept dealing with the intrusions of my children by saying, "PLEASE just go play in the living room and watch Fiona while I make dinner!"

And so they did.

And this is what I imagine happened.

A condo's living room.  Cartoons play on the television, the floor is strewn with Cheerios and abandoned My Little Ponies.

What, ho! SI!  What manner of play doth thou suggest this eventide?

Methinks I know not, dear sister.  Hast thou no dreams or fancies that thou mayest perchance to impart to thine great friend and sibling?

Alas, methinks not.  Our mother, Bless and Keep her, commandeth that 'til dusk has settled o'er the moor, we must ourselves entertain.  But, alack, I find my mind doth wander through and past these frivolous games of our youth without finding cause to stop and take enjoyment.

Indeed, dear sister.  But be not afeared!  It may be so that our toys reciev'd not yet but a fortnight pass'd have already weathered the affections that could be spared for them, that we find ourselves bereft of playthings and alone with our unhappy thoughts but for the company of the wee babe in her rocker, but all hope is not yet lost!

Do tell, sweet sister, how can this be so?

Dost thou see what mine eyes behold?

Where, sister, where?  What can you see?

There, up near the window sash, naught but a yardstick's length from thee.

Tis nothing but the mantle.

And upon the mantle, dearest sister?  What dost lie upon the wood, above the fireplace, anear the chimney?

Why, tis the lacquer of our mother!  The colors most varied of orange, purple, gold and blue!  The delightful hues I long to place upon mine fingers and toes!  But what of that, dear sister?

Fetch it down for me, and I shall paint thy fingers and thy toes.

Thou jokest fearfully!  And how doth thou propose that I retrieve these treasures?  My height is nay but half that of the bookcase, and it is above that case that you propose I am to come.

Climb the case, dear sister, and you shall reach the prize.

Foolishness!  Wherefore must I scale these fearsome heights?  You must climb, sister!  You must strive and reach the top, and from thence thou must decorate mine dainty toes and nimble fingers.

Aye, I have the knowledge to accomplish this task.  I go!

SI scales the bookcase.  DD watches, apprehensively.  RH calls out to her mother that something is horribly awry, but being only three and a half months old, her cries are misunderstood for those of cheerful amusement.

Success!  I have stolen the goods!  I have purchased our freedom from this ennui!

Oh please, dear sister, please- arrange yourself beside me and adorn me with all the colors of God's rainbow.

I shall, dear sister!  And you, me!


Oh, tis a delight!  And look- my fingers glisten with the shining paint!  It drips down mine arm, and mine eyes cannot take in enough for their delight.  What else canst we decorate, dear sister?

Why, mother's couch... it seems a bit drab, does it not?  Methink a splash of glit'ry blue will bing out the shades of variance in its upholstery.

Indeed!  It is a vision!  But, nay, more still is yet require'd.  If I may, shall I apply this shade of mauve upon these cushions?  I shall!  B'the Gods, tis glorious!

It is, it is!  And now, the green and gold!  Upon these quilts, let us mark our names and write the story of our lives in this glorious paint!  We shall live forever!

Forever!  Forever and ever and all who come after will marvel at our works and say, 'Here there wast a greatness of talent, two lives lived and etched forever into this couch... and this chair... and THIS chair...

...and this rug!  And my vestments!  And thine frock!  And all that this room might hold!  And all who pass through will know that we were here, and we lived, and we found joy!

Huzzah!  but look- the child that layeth upon the swing... does not she too deserve adornment?

Indeed, dear sister, indeed.  Here- rub thine painty hands upon her bedclothes.

It is done!  Six, nay, seven bottles of paint- emptied upon the canvas of our joyless prison cell!  

But soft, dear sister.  Now this babe sleeps- perchance too overwhelmed by the joy of colors within this room.  Let us not wake her.

Indeed, dear sister, let it be so.  Let her sleep in this room, thick with the sweet perfume of our endeavor.

This is truly a glorious night!  Let us go find mother and let her share in the joy of our creation!

They know they're in trouble.
Imagine, if you will, that you have a pot full of soup that isn't soup yet.  And a loaf of something that might be bread in the evening.  And then your daughter comes to you, and for some reason, she's... purple... and she smells awful...

I went RUNNING as fast as I could.  It was a bit much to take in.

The nail polish, all over EVERYTHING.

The blankets, the furniture, the children...

The fumes, oh god, the fumes... the fumes that a room with no open windows and covered in seven bottles of nail polish can accomodate... it was practically like huffing paint thinner out of a paper bag.

The picture is nowhere near doing this sight justice.
The baby, slumped over, unconscious.

...in a haze of toxic fumes.

So I did the exact same thing I would have done if it turned out my children had come to show me zombies.

I screamed.

I screamed and screamed, as though it was blood covering my living room, and not paint.

I screamed and wept and screamed some more.  At this point, I noticed our downstairs neighbors fleeing the building.

I screamed, and jostled the sleeping baby to consciousness.  It was harder than it should have been.

This is the blanket that was on the baby.
I screamed and scrubbed nail polish off my my children.  I screamed and threw away blankets and pillows that were never going to be close to being the same as before the incident.

I screamed and screamed and put my children to bed without supper.  I opened all the windows, and I screamed and screamed and screamed some more.

And then I poured myself a glass of wine.  The last of the open bottle of Cabernet in the fridge.

And then I called my mom in London, to find out if my baby was going to die.  She said my baby was probably fine, but I should call her doctor if I was still worried.

So I drank my glass of wine, and I tried to nurse RH.  For once in her life, she just wasn't that into it.

So after a while of calming down and drinking a little more, with RH not really eating properly, I called my pediatrician.  She said that RH was probably fine, but that I should call poison control.

Kissing my monkey
I pulled out the remaining half bottle of Merlot from the fridge.

And I called poison control, and they told me that RH was probably fine, but that she should go to a hospital and get an EKG.  You know, just in case she was to start having seizures or something.

That was when M got home.  And I very, very sadly put the wine back.

And so it was that RH became our first child to make a visit to the ER.

Did you know they have baby sized hospital gowns?  WHY?  Why on earth would a baby care if she were naked?

They poked her a bit, and prodded her a bit.  She got an x-ray and an EKG, both of which she was utterly amazing for.  It probably helped that, really, she felt just fine.  I think she really enjoyed being the complete center of her parents' universe for a bit, with no big sisters competing for attention.

RH- my first child in a hospital gown
Everyone was very nice, and very impressed with how well behaved our infant was.  And I kept thinking to myself, "At least ONE of them is well behaved..."

And of course, we were there until midnight.  One of our wonderful neighbors came up and sat in our place while our big girls slept, and she passed out on our nail polish covered couch while she waited and waited for us to bring home the baby.

And in the morning, I started researching ways to get nail polish out of upholstery.

And my children?  They've been sentenced to Time Out for Life.

And I'm making a note to keep even more wine on hand.

October 16, 2012

Oogie Boogie-ing

I know, I said I'd post these every Monday.  Yesterday was an interesting day though, so I'm posting it now.

I figure, it's October.  And there's still plenty of time for me to keep the music thematic.  After all, come December I think all of you want to see us dance to the Maccabeats or Joan Jett's "Little Drummer Boy," don't you?

So for the rest of October- we're doing Halloween!



So what made yesterday so interesting?

Shots.  Freakin' shots.

As you probably recall, I am pro-vaccination.

I believe that it is part of the social contract that we vaccinate, in addition to doing what I believe is best for my children's personal health.

So yesterday, poor little RH got four shots, as the producers have run low on combo vaccines.  It put her out of sorts all morning.

DD and SI each got a flu shot, that they took like CHAMPS.  For real, I wish *I* was as good at taking shots as those kids.  SI was a little surprised- "The doctor POKED me!" she exclaimed, over and over.  And I explained that while it is not okay to poke in general, her doctor needed to poke her to get the medicine inside of her body.  She seemed fascinated by that, and accepted it well.

Neither big girls cried a single tear.  Neither screamed.  Nobody fought.  It was almost eerie.

...and then I had my first day of therapy in about six years.

So yes, for all of you who have been concerned about me and my PPD, I have sought help.  I am seeking help.  And I'm pretty happy with my therapist so far, so that seems like a very good thing.

Hopefully, come spring, I'll be a whole new person.

Months of dancing will have made me happier with my body.
Months of therapy will have made me happier with myself.

And maybe by then, months of experience will have made me happier with my movie editing.

I feel like I'm going to finish off 2012 strong.  Now all I have to do is make/plan holiday gifts and find an out-of-the-home job, and I am golden.

October 14, 2012

Sunday Blogaround - 10.14.2012

Hello, lovely readers!  And welcome to yet another blogaround!

"Can Someone Pass the WHINE?" - The Poop Whisperer
Let me put it this way- I HATE WHINING.  And DD?  She is a freakin' whiner.  I deal with it by telling her that whining isn't "talking," and that people can't understand her if she whines.  And then I basically feign deafness until she makes the effort to calm down and speak normally.  But it IS yet another reason why Caillou is banned from our house.

"Rec Boating; Ur Doin' It Wrong" - Antarctica. Srsly
I have this friend who lives the sort of life that would make a pretty awesome book, if not a killer movie montage.  After spending the last few years on an island paradise, scuba diving and photographing turtles, or pulling pranks that involve hooking up a car horn to his boss's chair, he has returned to the land he loves... Antarctica.  Seriously.  And he's having an absurdly good time.

"Today I failed... but" - Sorry Kid, Your Mom Doesn't Play Well With Others
I relate so hard to this whole post.  You just have those days, those weeks, those months... but I think I need to take a deep breath, and make the last sentence my mantra for a while.

"The Great Masterpiece" - Rediscovering Our Family
Right now, this is a particularly touchy subject for me.  Which makes it all the better that I can laugh my ass off at somebody else's misfortune.

"The Power of Two" - Short Fat Dictator
More of the same.  Still good to laugh at somebody else's home disasters.  In this case, a little closer to home with the amazing destructive power that your children working in tandem possess.

Fine and Fair"LGBTQ Pride: Child-Friendly and Age Appropriate?" - Fine and Fair
As you probably know by now, I have virtually no hesitations when it comes to bringing your children- even small children- to protests, marches, and the like.  The main reason I have yet to bring my kids to Chicago's Pride festival is that I wasn't sure I could trust them not to run off and get lost in a crowd- sort of a nightmare of mine.  But this coming summer?  I'm all about it.

"The Smoking Gun" - Married With Toddlers
I also used to smoke, so what am I going to say to my kids?  I've always said I'm going to be honest about everything, so I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens in the moment.  I don't blame this mom for her choices.  After all, what would you do?

"This Pink?  I'd rather raise a stink." - Double X Science
I'm totally on board with this post.  It drives me crazy when all this pink crap hits the shelves- and it's mostly just crap- that people buy believing that they're actually helping somebody.  Well, sometimes they are.  But frequently?  They're not.  If you want to help, educate yourself.  Educate somebody else. Don't just slap a pink ribbon on something and call yourself a champion.

"A Race of Our Own" - The Spin Cycle
I. love. this. post.  I don't compete in athletic events.  I never have.  I sincerely doubt I ever will. despite my short lived desire to become a marathoner.  Who knows, maybe someday I'll still do that.  But for the foreseeable future?  Not I.  But I hope someday I have moments like this with my kids.  Moments where we're locked in happy competition together.  Moments when we get to be friends.

"In Memory Of Matthew Shephard" - That Blog Is So Takei
As you may or may not know, George Takei has pretty much taken over the internet.  And I'm glad.  I'm so glad that the person who has more and more come to define what can and cannot be done with social media is somebody like George Takei.  A mainstream American, but also part of several minority groups.  A relatively conservative old man, but a relatively conservative old man who is also Asian and gay.  I like to think that George Takei doesn't just represent the bulk of the internet, but the bulk of American citizens.  And this is what he had to say on National Coming Out Day.

Also, as recently I've been including one non-blog a week, here is this week's selection:

"All Hallows Read" 
When I was a kid, my mom would have two baskets for trick-or-treaters.  One of "treats." little candy bars, and one of "tricks."  The "tricks" were frequently tiny books of fake tattoos, stickers, or other itsy bitsy toys.  But some years?  They were BOOKS.  Really, really cheap paperbacks of The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce, or Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  They were a remarkably big hit.  You'd be amazed how many kids when presented with the choice between a book of ghost stories and a box of Milk Duds will choose the book.  So I think this is a great idea that Neil Gaiman has here.  And I think that if I'm ever in the situation where kids actually come to my house to trick-or-treat, I'll be giving them books, too.

October 11, 2012

International Day of the Girl

Today is the International Day of the Girl.

All across the world, girls are abused and ignored, denied basic rights and taught to accept a life where they can never even dream of becoming equal citizens.

So why is this important?  What are the stakes?

Malala Yousafzai
On Monday, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban.  Malala is a fourteen year old Pakistani girl, who won the National Peace Award.  She won it for fighting for the rights of girls to simply attend school.  And this week, she was shot for that.

She's alive, although still in critical condition.

Today is the International Day of the Girl.  Think about the freedoms that you have.  That your daughters have.  Think of all the rights that are still denied them.  And think of the girls around the world who have to fight even to the death in order to attain even the simplest of those.

Think of the child brides.

Think of Malala Yousafzai.

It is the International Day of the Girl, and here in the United States, that's almost something we could take for granted.

Learn more about it, and take action:

October 10, 2012

I Can't Pour My Heart Out

SI and RH
It's been a really hard week.  Month.  Year.

And I want to bare my soul and weep onto the page, but I can't.

I can't simply air me and my husband's dirty laundry all over the internet.  I don't want to make things worse during the hardest time my husband and I have faced in our relationship.  Yes, harder than brain cancer.  Harder than newborn, preemie twins.  This is the hardest it has ever been.  But I can't talk about it here.

I can't bemoan the loss of my friends or past friends or whoever and whatever they are publicly.  I don't want to burn any bridges.  I want the people who I love, who are angry at me because I'm wrapped up in my own world, trapped inside my own depressed thoughts, to be able to forgive me my selfish self pity and come back someday.

I can't pour my heart out, empty it of all the pain and grief and confusion, because I truly fear that if I do, I'm just going to make things worse.

It's a helpless, trapped feeling.  And I've spent so much time feeling helpless and trapped.

They tell you that having kids is hard.  But you never really stop and think that maybe, just maybe, it's just as hard as they say... but for all the unsaid reasons.

That it's so hard because everybody knows, but it all happens inside your own head.

It's not being "stuck at home" with the kids.  It's having the kids be the only people you spend time with.

It's not being needed 24/7, it's the sociopathic need- the moment to moment total obliviousness as you as a human being, and not just as the provider of all their earthly needs.

My children are wonderful, and I love them so much... every day they do something new, something wonderful, something hilarious.  Every day I am overwhelmed by how deeply I can care for them.

But that is a trap too- an emotionally exhausting cycle that never ends.  You never get to idle in neutral, you're always running through extremes- jumping straight from first into fifth and then suddenly dropping it into reverse.

It kills your transmission.  Or, if you don't like that metaphor, you just get totally burnt out.  Worn down.

And for some reason I believe that most moms have other mom friends.  That they have other people they can talk to about it.

I have so few other mom friends.  And like me, they're too busy to talk about it.  It's hard to have a conversation when any second you might need to nurse, or wipe a butt, or kiss a boo-boo.  When on top of the childcare, there's laundry to be done, and food to be made, and floors to be swept, and somehow in all of that you need to find time to do something as simple as make yourself a cup of tea and some toast.

It doesn't matter if you have a three day migraine, or if you have a cold, or if you're queasy and tired, you don't get to stop.  You still have to feed the baby, clean up the oatmeal from the floor, moderate battles over who gets to play with the ninja.

And you still want to do all of it- to give your kids the best possible childhood they can remember.

Because they will remember.  They will remember you yelling.  And they will remember you crying.

And while they might not remember the details, you will.  You'll remember sitting on the floor and weeping while your children take turns hugging you, kissing you, wiping your cheeks, and asking you not to be sad anymore.

You'll remember that.  Until the day you die, you'll remember that.

Because that is not their damn job.  That is your job.  It is your job as the adult to suck it up and be a fucking parent.

It is not their job to parent you.

And so I'm not going to tell you about how hard it's been.

Instead I'm going to say how desperately grateful I am to the friends who have reached out to me in the last week.  Offered to meet me for lunch with my kids, offered to come by with a bottle of wine, offered to come crash on my couch and have some fun with me.  Offered to let me come and stay with them, if it came to that.

I am so, so incredibly grateful.

And getting those texts, those emails... the occasional phone call... the note on facebook suggestion a play date...

The comments from strangers on my blog, telling me that my lovely readers care, that they might not know me, but that they care.

These things mean so much more to me that I can say.  These things make it kind of okay.

These things make me feel so much less alone.  So much less lost.  So much closer to putting this very, very hard time behind me.

This time that I can't really talk about, but that I am grateful to have somebody willing to listen to.

Thank you.

October 9, 2012


That's right.  Last year was Pandamonium, this year was a Unicornucopia.

Otherwise known as, a Unicorn themed party for my newly three year old daughters.

I knew what they probably really wanted was a Princess party, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  As you may know from reading this blog regularly, I despise the whole Princess thing.

So I figured, what else do my children love that will appeal to the same aesthetic?

Why, unicorns, of course!

After all, I have previously turned my daughters into unicorns, why couldn't I turn all the kids into unicorns?

It was incredibly simple, and cheap.  Nearly a perfect party.

See those cookies?  Grandma made a heap of unicorn poop cookies!

First, the favors.  I have lots of paper hanging out- it's kind of a side effect of being an artist.  One large sheet of watercolor paper and a little rainbow ribbon became...

DIY unicorn horns and puppets
That's right- unicorn horns for all!  I cleared off the girls' little table, set out the markers, and let them go to town.

Even RH got to be a unicorn!
Bonus- lots of little unicorns for them to color, and some popsicle sticks so that the kids had the choice to make their unicorns into puppets, or put them on...

The castle!
It's a castle!  We always have tons of cardboard recycling around here.  Disposable diapers, pull ups and wipes come from Sam's Club or the like, and what with the regular packages filled with toys for the girls... there was tons of cardboard to go around.  One of these towers is actually made of a Mrs. T's Pierogi box.  I used packing tape to put the whole thing together, and then covered it with art paper.  Best part?  This is hiding the awesome toy kitchen... which is great for a few kids, but when presented with the likliehood of total toddler chaos at a party, I decided that hiding the kitchen was best.  With all the food and magnets and whatnot, it seemed like a recipe for disaster.  So- the kitchen became a castle.

So, the favors for the kids were, unicorn horns to color themselves, unicorns to color and turn into puppets or art, and...
I picked up these little ponies from a local toy store.  Local?  Awesome.  Unicorns/ponies?  Perfect.  When half the kids coming are two year olds, you can be confident that they won't notice that their "unicorns" are horn-free.  So, I picked up a heap of two dollar unicorns/ponies, stashed the little things that could be choking hazards for little kids, and gave them each a tag with a kids' name on them.

But the most important thing for any birthday party?  The cake.  We were anticipating eleven adults and eight cake eating aged children, so I figured that making each of the girls their own cake was a safe bet.

SI insisted that she wanted a yellow cake.  DD insisted that she wanted a pink cake.  So rather than use food coloring, or just color the frosting, I kinda went all in.  I made DD a strawberry cake, and SI a lemon cake.  From scratch.  The only artificial anything that went in was a little yellow food coloring to make that yellow frosting just a *bit* yellower.  And to decorate?  Unicorns, of course!

Recipe here

A pink strawberry unicorn cake
Lemon sour cream cake- yeah, it's as good as it sounds

A yellow lemon unicorn cake
 Aren't those unicorns cool???  I made them using this super easy technique.  The only thing?  You've got to make sure that the frosting is *really* frozen before you try to transfer your decals.  Really, really frozen.  And just in case, keep some frosting for fixing any... injuries.  Also?  Unlike me, you might want to have real decorating tools.  I think some more precision tools would have really helped me out.

So how did it go?

This castle has a few princes and princesses, a dragon, a cat, a gargoyle, and plenty of unicorns!
I think everyone had a pretty good time.  :)


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