Happy Halloween, Or Whatever

Yeah. We were SUPPOSED to go trick-or-treating at the mall with my sister and the delightful, delicious, de-lovely Miss Makayla over the weekend, but we never made it, because it snowed on Saturday. You might have heard something about it on the news or on the Internet. It was almost as bad as when the earthquake hit.


Fortunately, I had the accidental foresight to get the girls together for a little photo shoot last weekend. You know, "just in case."


I didn't think it was going to be "just in case" of SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW IN OCTOBER, but, you know. "Just in case."


Turned out to be one of the better examples of "just in case" in recent memory that I can think of. I wish I had applied that thinking to other things, because my kid couldn't really go out to play during the first snow of the season because I didn't buy her snow boots yet. Nobody thinks to buy boots "just in case" in OCTOBER. Nobody in the civilized world needs snow boots in October.


Tonight we're going to attempt some actual trick-or-treating, because now I feel really bad. Last week's trick-or-treat adventure was a bust, what with the rain and all, so I guess we're going to go out and make nice with the neighbors.


Anyway ... Happy Halloween from Hello Kitty and the World's Cutest Ladybug. If you're going out for candy tonight, make sure you pack your snow boots ... "just in case."


Hello Kitty Has Super Powers, Doesn't She?

So. We went trick-or-treating last night with friends and it was cold and rainy and we're all going to have the plague by the end of the weekend, no doubt, especially because it's supposed to snow this weekend.

Yes, you read that right: it is supposed to SNOW this weekend. BEFORE Halloween. In PENNSYLVANIA. And not just flurries, either -- they're calling for up to 6" around where I live and work, with more possible in other areas.


So while I try to find a store that still has milk and bread and eggs and bananas -- you know, blizzard foods -- before I go to Shae's Halloween Parade at school this afternoon, I hope you can enjoy some more pictures of what is turning out to be one of the most enjoyable and simultaneously girliest Halloween costumes that I have ever seen.


She knows she's adorable. We really are going to have our hands full, aren't we?


"Hey guys, watch this!"


How is it possible for this kid to still be this tall even while she's bent in half? Does not compute.


Great Pumpkin Presents

Because I love buying treats for the adorable little moppets in my life, we gave my niece Makayla a little present this weekend and we said that it was from The Great Pumpkin. (BTW: Hi, Joey! Your birthday gift is going in the mail tomorrow!)


She had absolutely ZERO idea what to do with it. Clearly it wasn't food, so she just sort of looked at it for a while until Shae stepped in to "help." (Ha.) I don't remember what age kids are when they first start to love tearing into wrapping paper, but evidently it is sometime after 10 months. Maybe closer to two? (Which means next Christmas, 2012, will be a RIOT.)


What Makayla did love? Was watching Shae rip the ever-living snot out of the tissue paper and undo the curling ribbon holding the package together. (I didn't use tape on this one, because somewhere back in the lizard part of my brain, I got the idea that tape was "bad for babies." Why I thought a four-foot string of shiny ribbon would be okay is beyond me. I am admittedly not the brightest crayon in the box.)


And of course -- and I say this as an almost 40-something -- whipping tissue paper around the room is a practically overwhelming amount of fun. I still like to do it, I am not going to lie: tossing around balls of crumpled-up gift wrap is one of my favorite sources of holiday amusement. (Largely because we have easily entertained cats, but still.)


Everybody loves tissue paper and presents from The Great Pumpkin. YAY!


DailyBuzz Moms 9x9: DIY Kids' Hello Kitty Costume

I love Halloween, and I love costumes, and I got really super excited when Shae started talking about what she wanted to be for Halloween because, let's face it, I love living vicariously through her. Her Dorothy and Pirate Princess costumes? Total dreams come true for me. You better believe that if I could pull off twirly skirts and glitter shoes and pigtails right now at my age, I absolutely would.

Anyway. SPOILER ALERT: Hello Kitty wasn't Shae's first choice of costume. She wanted to be, among other things, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel, Tiana (at which point I sensed a theme a-brewing), a ladybug, a white cat, a black cat, a "ballerina witch cat," and our pet cat Hallie. In other words, she's four and she doesn't know what she wants, which is why she has parents. So I made an editorial decision and decided to buy her a Hello Kitty costume.

Here are my two major problems with the pre-made Hello Kitty costumes I saw in the store: (1) they were really, really trashy-looking (by which I mean "inappropriate," not cheap) and also (2) they want HOW MUCH? For THAT? That she'll only wear ONCE? Are they INSANE?

So -- another SPOILER ALERT -- I decided then and there that I was going to make my own Hello Kitty costume for her. Except, well ... I can't sew. Or draw. And I'm not particularly clever, really. But I am a human Garanimal, and I know how to take a couple of regular pieces and throw them together into something that sort of works. Also, by using regular pieces, I knew we'd be able to get our money's worth, because she'd be able to wear every single item in the costume many times, because they're all regular pieces. And it wouldn't end up costing much more than a pre-made (possibly less, because you might already have some pieces at home).

Without (much more) further ado, here is how I made -- more like "built," really, but still -- my own DIY Hello Kitty costume, in just ten easy steps, entirely out of stuff in the girls' department of our local discount department store (in this case Target, except where noted):

1. Start with one mostly-willing little girl in her great-grandmother's kitchen. (I recommend having bribes handy for this. We used candy because that always works with this one.)


2. Replace grotty sweatpants with new sparkle tights and shorts (model's own).


3. Add sparkle leg warmers. (Deploy bribes at this point if necessary.) NOTE: If desired, replace tights, shorts, and leg warmers with a pair of leggings (which I totally could have done but I didn't think of that first).


4. Add white tutu underlayer (model's own, re-used from 2009 and 2010 costumes).


5. Replace existing T-shirt with layered-look Hello Kitty tee. (Model will probably ask for water at this point, because it's taken about seven whole minutes to get to this point, and model is very impatient. If you indulge the model you might get some unexpected but totally appropriate sass in the remaining photos.)


6. Add pink tutu overlayer, held up with a hair clip or rubber band because the one you bought is accidentally a size too large. NOTE: You can use just one tutu, or any skirt that matches, really. (We were originally going to go with just the pink, but Shae remembered that we had the white one in the dress-up drawer, and who am I to discourage her from contributing to the creative process?)


7. Root around in your sister's purse for an eyeliner pencil because you forgot yours. Draw cat whiskers on cheeks. Add glitter spray to child's hair (optional, and not used at this time because, again, I forgot it).


8. Add shoes. Sequined shoes completely optional, but highly recommended, if this model is to be trusted.


9. Finish with cat-ear headband with Hello Kitty's signature bow added or, if you are glue-gun impaired (as I am), use a pair of Hello Kitty earmuffs.


10. ENJOY.


By my calculations, the total cost for this costume (including shoes) was about $45, which was more than what the pre-made Hello Kitty costume cost, but EVERY SINGLE PIECE of this costume will be re-used. (The shoes were the most expensive single item in this configuration, and I could have gotten away with regular old shoes, except my kid has giant canoe feet and needed a new pair anyway. Honestly, tall girls ...) Shae has already declared the T-shirt to be her "new favorite," she wants to sleep in the tutus (they'll be going in the dress-up drawer for future use if I can't figure out a way to turn them into a skirt for myself because, let's face it, it's pretty rad), and I basically had to hide the shoes to keep her from wearing them out before trick-or-treat.

Yeah, this one is a total winner.


Disclosure: I received compensation to thank me for my participating in the DailyBuzz Mom’s Halloween Costume 9×9, but my opinions are completely my own



I count.

I don't mean that in the sense of "I matter," but in the sense of actual mathematics: I count. One, two, three. Things. Items. Steps. Calories. Breaths. Cigarettes. Paper clips. M&M's.

I am a counter. A person who counts. Counts all the things.

I don't know when it started. My best guess is that the counting of things is an offshoot of my habit of counting to ten -- there it is again, the counting -- when I find myself getting overwhelmed, angry, frustrated. Previous therapists have suggested this as a coping strategy, a way to get my head straight, a method of stopping myself from doing or saying things that I know I should not.

Sometimes it works, the counting to ten, and sometimes it doesn't.

I guess when the counting to ten stopped working regularly, because my stress and anxiety levels got to be too much for little life-hacks to be able to handle, I started counting other things. I fixate on things that are insignificant but repeatable. Scientific method: How many steps to the bathroom? How many squirts of hand soap? How many ice cubes? How many packs of Post-It Notes? How many hours between meals?

I catch myself, sometimes, when I am in the middle of counting things. Why? I ask myself. Why are you doing this? What does it matter? What are you trying to do here? How is this helping? When I catch myself doing these things, doing these weird things, doing these crazy things, I stop myself, deliberately change the environment. Move papers around. Put the paper clips in a different slot of a different drawer. Use the ladies' room in another department. Make a cup of tea. Grab a handful of candy.

I do other things then, too. I only eat M&M's two at a time, one candy on each side of my mouth, and I won't eat two of the same color at the same time. I can't. I won't. I will arrange them all in front of me, in pairs, a red with a green and a blue with a yellow and a yellow with a brown and a red with a blue and a blue with a green. If there are extras, an uneven number, or too many of one color to split them all up without making a mismatched pair, I leave the stragglers, the troublemakers, in a paper cup at my desk and I save them for the next time.

I know that this behavior is abnormal, irregular, unhealthy. Most people don't observe and analyze everything around them before utilizing these same things. Most of the people I know don't observe or analyze hardly anything.

I have a new therapist now, because I need one. I am losing my mind, losing myself, losing track of all the things I have been counting, losing track of all the things that still need to be counted. I cannot count all the things. I'm not sure that I even want to. It's just something I do, now. Count all the things. Why? To control all the things, because there are other, bigger, much bigger things that I cannot control.

I am anal-retentive. A classic Type A personality. Detail-oriented and deadline-oriented to the nth degree. Relentlessly perfectionist, even as I know that there is no possible way that any one person could ever achieve what I unreasonably expect myself to achieve. There are not enough hours in the day, so I do what I can to take every single minute, every second, every nanomoment, and make it count.

I can't do it by myself, and nobody expects me to. But still I fixate. "If you want to get something done right, do it yourself." I know I can do it right, so I expect that I will always do it right, all the time. It's up to me to save and protect the world, or at least the little slice for which I am responsible. I am a control freak. I am obsessive-compulsive. And the rest of the world is anything but.

So I count. Count all the things.


Surprise Cake Face

You guys, these pictures are SO DAMN OLD (taken on 10/1) that I had forgotten I even had them.


October 1st was Shae's half-birthday. Yeah, I know we're grasping at straws, but it's been a while since we had a birthday - the last one was G's birthday, way back on August 28th. So we let Shae pick out a cupcake so we could have a little "party." There were all kinds of cupcakes decorated with footballs and baseballs and Phillies logos - remember, this was way back at the beginning of the playoffs, when we still had high-cherry-pie-in-the-sky-hopes - and even a couple that looked like the Phillie Phanatic.


But she picked out this one, a Halloween-decorated number, with purple icing and a ghost-shaped Peep and a little decorative pick that said "Boo" on it, which she didn't even noticed because OMG YOU GUYS PURPLE ICING AND A GIANT PIECE OF CANDY WHOOOOOOO! The "Boo" pick was my favorite part, because we still call her Boo at home (after Boo from Monsters Inc. and also Boo-Boo Kitty from Laverne & Shirley. I AM OLD SHUT UP GET OFF MY LAWN.)


Yes, she is kissing the Peep that she is about to stuff into her mouth. This kid has a very bizarre romantic relationship with her food. Whatever. My sister once wanted to marry a Brussels sprout or a broccoli, I can't remember which, so it's not like messed-up relationships with food are unheard of in my family. (Now that I think about it, my sister was around this age at the time that she fell in love with a vegetable, so maybe it's just preschoolers, and not something hereditary.)


Anyway: Happy Friday! And Happy Surprise Cake Face Day!

PS - Purple cupcake frosting? DOES NOT COME OUT OF ANYTHING.


Legends of the Fall

YOU GUYS! Let's pretend we like autumn! (The season autumn, and not my COUSIN Autumn, whom I love with all my heart and soul, and I'm not just saying that because her sister would totally kick my ass. Autumn-the-Person rocks. Autumn-the-season sucks. Carry on.)


There are things ABOUT the fall that I love -- when the leaves change color and turn those lovely shades of pink and bronze and gold, being able to turn off the air conditioner but not having to immediately turn on the heat, Halloween candy.


And I like making soups and stews and roasts and casseroles in the crock pot and the oven, and busting out the bread machine, and spending Sundays in a house that smells so delicious that I sometimes consider gnawing on some of the old lead paint.


But I DON'T like when it starts to get cold and damp and wet and windy and all the leaves start to fall off the trees and they turn to mulch right there on the grass and the branches are all naked and sad and creepy.


And, yes, my kid gets no end of amusement playing outside when the weather changes, when you can tolerate the fresh air for more than 15 seconds without dissolving into a sweat puddle on the ground where you stand.


And also, she loves dressing up in her costume and going door-to-door with her little trick-or-treat bag, so naïve that she fails to notice that I have been secretly hiding the mini Twix bars in my pocket for the last half hour.


By the way, you guys, if she ever finds out about the Twix bars, you're all out of the will. And it won't work, anyway, because then I'll just start stealing the Kit-Kats and the Milky Way minatures, too, and you'll have to live with the guilt.


Sliding Into Home

This past weekend was gorgeous, or so they tell me -- I didn't really notice because I was stuck in the house with some kind of plague or whatever. Damned sinuses. So here are some more pictures of my kid from two weekends ago, when her "Flyin' Hawaiian" shirt was still a sign of hope and expectation.


She might not quite be able to work the swings yet, but we have no noticeable issues with the sliding board, except that this particular one is all plastic and seems to attract static electricity from other solar systems.


I love that, even after all these years (because, you know, she's 517 years old, God could I be any more melodramatic? [DON'T ANSWER THAT]), going down a sliding board still makes her so happy.


Still diggin' the teeter-totter, too. Not that I blame her for this one, really. Aside from the merry-go-round, which seems to have been removed from every single playground in the world, pretty much, the teeter-totter is one of my favorite rides.


See that Dora watch? It's about three hours slow -- or nine hours fast -- and the date is completely wrong, and if you ask Shae what time it is, she usually says something like "Time for a snack!" No dummy, that one.


This is the closest we've gotten to cake face in a while. Haven't been many birthdays lately.


Swinging for the Fences

One of the most unintentionally hilarious things that I have ever seen in my entire life happened over the weekend, when my kid was trying to teach herself how to work a "big kid swing."


I know I am a bad parent for being unable to control the laughter, but jumping Jeebus on a pogo stick, watching her try to work out the physics of the thing with her little body was just ... oh my God.


She sat there for like half an hour, saying over and over again, "Head back, head front, legs back, legs front," trying to move herself in time with her new mantra and getting nowhere.


I know, I know, it's not actually funny, but oh my lands, to watch her try to figure this out, practically throwing all 45 pounds of herself up and down in the swing, but not actually moving anywhere.


Guess you just had to be there. I'm glad that I was.


Les Bicyclettes de Belsize

Oh, hey, remember when we were on vacation and the kids spent, like, a day and a half riding their bikes around the garage of the beach house?


Yeah, that doesn't happen so much any more. Ever since we got home, Shae has been extemely bike-adverse, and nobody really knows why. All she'll tell us is that she doesn't want to ride her bike. Her bike that last year she couldn't wait to visit.


It kind of reminds me of some of those old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, where Calvin was afraid to ride his bike because he was convinced that his bike was trying to kill him. She is suddenly very skittish about the whole ordeal, and there is a lot of fussing and fighting.


I totally don't understand it all. I mean, yes, once I learned how to drive a car I stopped riding my bike completely, but when I was a kid I couldn't wait to have a bike. One of the greatest days of my childhood was the day we moved into the neighborhood where my parents still live, where I could ride my pinky Huffy 10-speed to my grandparents' house. Maybe the only day of my extremely misspent youth that was comparable to that was the day I actually got my pink Huffy 10-speed.


But right now it's a struggle to get Shae to ride. She'll beg my mom to bring the bike down from her house, and she'll spend all day with her helmet on, but she'll only ride the bike for, like, ten minutes in my grandparents' driveway, and then she pitches a fit and kicks the bike over, and that's the end of that. Five hundred kids could ride by on their bikes, but Shae wants nothing to do with it. It's really weird.

Kids these days. Humph.