Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day Eight in Days of Joy: Trick-or-Treating

A joy of childhood with no equal; running up and down the neighborhood streets in the dark, dressed up and gathering insane amounts of candy. It was, according to my husband who stayed home to give out candy, rather than freezing his sitting-down-parts out in the cold like some of us, a perfect Halloween night. The wind picked up and with it the leaves went flying in great waves everywhere. The rain abated for a few blessed hours and all was color and wind and spookiness. Truly a grand occasion.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Days of Joy: day seven, getting better and one long nap!

Yesterday, many of the little people in the household began to look a little more perky. Some of them even got dressed, others promised to do so tomorrow. The littlest one gave me a fright however, he went down for a nap at 1:30 or so. He awoke around 3, and fell immediately back to sleep in my arms. I finally settled his heavy self on the sofa in the middle of everyone at 4 and he stirred not a muscle until 6:45. Upon waking, however, he was jubilant and noisy and full of ideas to keep us on our toes until way past my bedtime!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for trick-or-treating tonight. We do have a plan B the kids came up with: take all the candy Mama has not yet eaten and play trick-or-treat in each room in the house, "helping ourselves," as one put it, hurrah for ingenious ideas!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Look Gorgeous in Fifteen Minutes or Less

I have just been informed that this is my 100th post. It seems to me I should have chosen some momentous topic to write about for the occasion, but sadly enough, beauty will have to do. If just one thing in here rings true with you, then perhaps this be "all ye need to know."

I firmly believe in this, by the way. Laugh if you will, but staying home on many days with my children could be enticement to "let myself go" or be too busy to wash my face or get dressed.

No one is paying me, (darn it), and there is no one but my children to see me on some days, but I've decided no pay does not need to mean no self-respect. Same thing for a high-power job or career in academia; being busy or smart doesn't have to mean you look like you couldn't care less about your appearance. So this is what I do each morning.

Shower or bath; this takes the most time, so if you shower the night before, your prep time can be cut to 5 minutes. Start with a good hair cut or really long hair which doesn't take you half an hour to untangle. Wet head, brush, throw in product, finger-style, voila. That's all I do. The good hair cut costs more than my frugal self will admit, but it makes all the difference to the amount of time I need to spend on it each day.

Wash face, apply moisturizer. I quit using foundation this summer, when it would just sweat off anyway. How liberating, how much cheaper! Apply some of whatever makes you feel prettier. For us red-heads with no visible eye-lashes, this means mascara and eye-liner for me, it might be lipstick or blush for you. With practice it takes one minute to "slap face" as a friend once put it. Put some decent cloths on, sweats are for running or for days when you are too sick to get out of bed. For more polish when going out, I keep a compact in the car and brush on powder and a little lipstick at the first red light. Or powder at the first, lipstick at the second. If you live in a small town, you might want to do this in your drive-way or in the orthodontist's parking lot. Try not to park outside an office window.

Have a beautiful day!

The Rest of the Story

I used to think that Paul Harvey was the cat's meow. Then I grew up and listened to his news and commentary and was horrified. But this is my story, not his, those just happen to be five words from the English language whose harmony suited me this morning. Lest I sound too goody-goody and lovingly grateful in my days of joy posts, let me tell you how things also look around here.

I'm writing with a konked-out baby sprawled across my lap in my bed and I've run out of tea. One week of children with the flu has left me brain-addled. I made myself a cup of chai this morning and very hypocritically dipped into my personal supply of Stevia because I don't "do" sugar and I decided long ago that life was too short to drink chai with no sweetener. I proceeded to tilt the minuscule quantity of Stevia into the sugar bowl instead of my tea cup. The hypocritical part of the story is that to a poor-me syndrome led me to break into the Halloween candy this week before trick-or-treat night. I bought it early this year, figuring it would be one less thing to try to do at the end of a weary week, and I did NOT resist temptation, even though I hid it (from myself) in the garage in a far corner inside a pink shopping bag all crumpled up. I tried Babe Ruths for the first time in years (yucky, waxy chocolate), Mounds Bars (very satisfactory), more than one of those escaped the bag, and picked up a couple of bags of Milky Ways to compensate for the missing quantity, as I was yet again buying kiddy acetaminophen and ibuprofen at the pharmacy last night...I only had two on the way home. Note to self; never tell yourself where you hid the candy, and use the pharmacy pick-up window, for goodness' sake!

Today's big dilemma: how to have a no sugar day (mostly for myself) to fast before Halloween's big candy orgy when I promised we would make a haunted house from our gingerbread house kit. Can you tell I've had no adult to talk to for a week or so? But I hear your voice, dear reader, telling me to buck up and have some self-control, for goodness' sake. Got it, thanks. Or stop fixating on sugar? I like that advice even better, thank you again.

I did manage a shower while baby howled in hubby's arms for three minutes, and I thought I would do a short piece on how to look gorgeous in fifteen minutes or less. Please see next post.

Days of Joy; day five and six; feet and fire

Once my little guy came down with this nasty flu, my arms have been full of him for hours on end, so no blogging, despite my best intentions to make this a daily affair.

I am most grateful to have a healthy body, including feet clad in speedy sneakers, to run up and down stairs, bringing tea, treats, remedies, hugs and kisses to my munchkins.

Having a home with a fireplace in it is another on my "most grateful" list. For me, it makes everything cozy and homelike to be able to bring in wood, shake the snow off my boots and light a fire. It has been extra nice this week as a source of warmth and a place to gather to hear stories or play Nintendo or draw.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Defenders of Fair Damsels

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Renaissance Fair and the Child in Us All

Each year our family dresses up and heads to the Renaissance Fair. I could find lots of excuses for this; former theatre major honoring Shakespeare's time, history lesson for all, a fun day for the kids. The truth is, we all love it, and it was my idea, just for me, with kids as an excuse. I don't like to sew, but months before, each year, we start dreaming up and concocting a new variation on Renaissance-type characters we will invent garb for this year. This year we had a messenger, two knights, a page, an assassin, a pirate and a peasant. We saw demonstrations of alchemy, a tournament between two knights on horseback and lots of bards and troubadours. We got to try our hand at medieval martial arts and try on fun costumes and dream a little all day.

Pirates at the Ren Fair

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Ren Fair Fun

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Day Four in Days of Joy: Staying Home

Working from home and staying home were blessings beyond compare yesterday as three out of five came down with the flu and daddy was still trying to get over it but battling severe aches and stuffy nose. Our son was everywhere and helping in every way; making scrambled eggs when I finally made it downstairs at 9 in the morning, fetching things, adding wood to the fire. Our day consisted of lots of tea and blankets and reading "Anne of Green Gables" in front of the fireplace. Oh, and we did move our blankets to the playroom mid-afternoon to watch a movie together. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as baby (I know, he's two, but he is the baby) woke with a burning fever a couple hours ago.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Candle makers

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Candle rolling

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Day Three in Days of Joy

Monkey bread for breakfast. Now that took me down memory lane of the best slumber-party breakfasts. I told my children about monkey bread a week or so ago and they didn't believe me. I got up yesterday, googled a recipe and had it ready by 9. I really just used my regular sweet-dough recipe, rolled it into little balls and dipped each in a butter/brown sugar sauce and put it all in a pan to rise and bake. They thought it was great.

Day Two of Days of Joy

Family pizza night! In which, each week, we make pizza (and I was the chef since the normal one was down with the flu), rent a movie and hang out together. It was a fun night, we saw the old Freaky Friday, the one with Jodie Foster as a 13-year-old.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day One; Cardboard Boxes

We did have a lovely day yesterday; the kids came together with great enthusiasm to open up the wax and make a few candles. The boys most liked the idea of making red candles and bundling them together to look like dynamite. The eldest boy and ringleader of these little hoodlums, had the idea of making "fake candles" for his cardboard tank. I did not have the same level of consideration for the project. I let them know that this was an important job, we were making candles for our winter's supply. This pretty much went in one ear and out the other, if that; "Yada, yada, yada, mama." Who was I to prioritize in this cool game of rolling up wax into fun shapes? I agreed to one candle each for the endeavor. Luckily, they wanted really small candles, and everyone ended up making a personal candle with string for wicking.

Within ten minutes the first two boys had made two or three candles and were back in their tank. The girls lasted a little longer, but soon took up residence once more in their box house. It was only the baby and I. He had a great time. We rolled together and after rolling all of the apricot ("YE-YOW") candles on the table, he consented to roll the other colors too. He would have stayed there all day, happy as a lark. Normally, the others would have too, but a greater force was pulling them away; big cardboard boxes.

They had been cutting, creating, scheming and imagining for three days. The first box was actually the one the wax arrived in; it was big enough to play in, not because of the quantity of wax we ordered, but because of the necessary padding for it. For one whole day, I was delivered packages wrapped up and containing either the baby or the five-year-old. Even my husband joined in and delivered one to me while I was making dinner. Man, if having babies were only that easy!

The second box they recovered the next day from the recycling box, taping it back into shape. My daughter, 7, thought of a source for the third one yesterday; an unused wardrobe box in the basement. This REALLY big box of course occasioned much jealously amidst the tank team, which led to the negotiating and side-changing and mixing up of who was "living" in whose box that lasted until evening. Is this learning? the grandparents may be asking. If every diplomat in the world were as talented at bargaining and working out deals as these four, there would most likely be no need for war.

Fantastic diversion for two days of incessant rain and cold. Our first day of joy was a success, I am grateful.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Days of Joy: Playaways

Not being in a particularly creative mood and feeling the pinch of "days left to finish up" our study of Medieval Times, I am allowing myself to be inspired by two friends and fellow bloggers: and They have each set out to have 30 days of happiness, full of fun projects, activities and the attitude to go with them. In laughlivelearnlove you will find photos and recipes and ideas galore if you are in need of a little extra fun these days.

It might be the cold, incessant rain, it could be the sickness of one family member after another, but things are feeling a little dull around here. I do not have plans for tomorrow, but today,... today we are going to open up those five lovely boxes of beeswax that arrived a few days ago and make candles until we are sick of making them or run out of wicking, whichever comes first. Then we will play our penny whistles and read "Anne of Green Gables" aloud. I have no doubt we will be able to incorporate the Middle Ages into this program. We'll turn out all the lights, make our candles by candle-light and cook our lunch in the fireplace, a little wild boar would be perfect.

While we're doing that, we will recharge our AAA batteries for a nice afternoon of napping or knitting with our playaways. I'm afraid I've become a little addicted to the idea of a story in my ear. It's all the fault of "Sense and Sensibility" and the fact that it is just as satisfying to listen to it read by a marvelous Englishwoman who does voices for each character than to have to bear the tolerant, amused expression on my husband's face, or his exasperation, as I rent the movie one more time. I had never dared check out a playaway at the library. I don't do books on tape, since I rarely have time to listen to them. I was at the library alone the other night for a moment, with my knitting, but feeling the pain of being surrounded by books and not reading. I happened to have my little guy's walkman in my bag, he must have handed it to me at some point in the day, so I had a set of earphones. I meandered over to the playaway section to see what was available. If you have never tried a playaway, it is a tiny little gadget, about 2 inches by 3 inches, real skinny, that contains a single recorded book. It comes with a AAA battery, that you will usually need to change before the book is over, and you plug a set of headphones in, hit the "power/play" button and away you go. My kids have been using them forever, but it looked too complicated for non-techie me. It's not! Amazing! When you are interrupted, you hit the same "power/play" button and it saves your spot for you until later. If you are simply trying to absorb something less enlightened than Jane Austin, you have a choice of 2 or 3 voice speeds. I accidentally bumped it in the pocket of my bathrobe the other morning (I've found I can listen in alone moments like throwing in a load of laundry or brushing my teeth), and it went to a hyper-speed rendition of the story, not at all as nice, but understandable.

There are my plans for a joyful day, how about you?