I did finally finish my kids' costumes so they didn't have to trick or treat in bathrobes or anything. It was so much fun to see them put these on. Laura made sure she had a book in her basket and sang and twirled everywhere she went, Tustin could be found practicing his sword fighting whenever we weren't watching (don't tell him I told you), and Kimball?...On some level, I think that Kimball truly believes that with his costume donned he actually becomes IKE from Fire Storm. I love that about him, and hope he never grows out of it--- well at least not for a few years yet.
I wish I had better pictures...but we've heard that story before.
It is a beautiful day today, so I took Warren out for a walk to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and to pick up a few books at our local library that happens to be about a 1/2 mile up my street.
**side story...I love books but stopped buying them about 3 years ago when our town sent an itemized tax sheet home which showed what percentage and dollar amount of our obscene property taxes was going towards the library... Turns out that we pay a whole lot every year for our library. A LOT! I could buy every book I ever felt like reading, and I read a bunch, in a 12-month period and still not come close to the dollar amount we pay for our local library each year. Thus, I vowed to get as close to my money's worth as possible and I use the library for all the books, music, and movies that I can.
Anyhoo......Our library has just recently re-opened after a long construction hiatus and I am always perplexed by the architectural choices that are made for these types of things. Our original library is a beautiful colonial style that was built in 1927, so when planning an addition shouldn't one stick with a similar look? Instead, they added a straight lines modern building. It's nice too, but I think its silly looking next to the old. What's wrong with keeping with the traditional style? Here's a rendering of the new library from the architects (BKSK Architects). The picture has softened it up a bit...I think it looks much more harsh in real life.
They did this at our high school as well when they added on. I don't get it.
Another issue I have with are new library is the change in flow. The new floor plan is completely compartmentalized. It's like a hotel. You walk down corridors and hallways and go into various closed door rooms in order to get books from different categories. Where is the big open floor plan with the comfy ambiance that we used to enjoy? Gone----long gone! Here is what happened to me today at the library that we pay out the wazoo for...
I wanted to find some more of my preferred reading....fun no-brainer reads from the Young Adult section. (I know it's lame, but I love all the mindless vampires, werewolves, magical creatures and fairies etc., etc.. Are they great pieces of literature? Of course not! They are, however, quick and easy and don't require much, if any, focus to read. I don't have the time or energy to read anything deep and involved, and I refuse to read anything depressing or disturbing, which is so often the focus of adult fiction. Who needs that? I just need a few fun chapters to fill the boredom when I am stuck nursing a baby every couple hours. ( yes...my 8 month old still nurses like a newborn.)
So......I checked the library directory and discovered that their Young Adult Section was moved to it's own location on the lower level. After navigating the elevators and hallways with my giant jogging stroller I arrived at the door to the YA room. I opened it, and found the lights were turned off in there. A librarian approached me and said, "Oh...this is the TEEN room. ( emphasis on "teen" with an added raise of her eyebrows) We don't usually open until 1PM..... closer to when school gets out."
What?! So now, ---not only have they made the various books hard to get to, they are deciding who can read certain books as well? There are only certain hours that these books are available?
Where once a library was an open and "free" resource to find and check out any books that satisfied your hearts content, my new multi-million dollar box says I'm too old to enter the room that houses the very books I like to read?!! Rude!!!
After making it clear that in the future I would be discriminated against and barred from coming into that particular room, due to my apparent maturity, and especially before it's proper hours, she made an "exception" for me today and allowed me to "peruse." Seriously?!! Completely ridiculous!
I was so put out and offended that all those delicious reads lost their flavor for me, and I left the library without a single one. Now, in the future I will just have to drive to a neighboring city's library to avoid the raised eyebrows and dirty looks. Unbelievable!!
A few years ago, at Halloween time, I wrote about how disgusted I was with the sort of costumes on sale for women and girls. Since I have griped about this before, I will keep my ire to a minimum. (Or I'll try).
Seriously people! Enough is enough!!!!
These days, Halloween stores and costume sections need to have warnings posted such as: "Not suitable for children!!!" They have become no better than porn shops! Who buys all those trashy costumes? Who would prostitute their teenage daughters, and even their little girls, in all those slutty outfits? What message are we sending to our girls when the ONLY costumes available for them to buy send an obvious message..."Check out my bod....I'm for sale!!!!"
It used to be that I could just avoid the Halloween stores, and my inevitable irritation, all together by going to the safe haven of a fabric shop to find appropriate costume patterns. Simplicity and Butterick, you have been my friends and my safe haven from the commercialized hoochie-witches and slutty-Dorothys.
Uh....No more!!! You sold out!!! Shame on you!!!!!
What did I find when I went to your pattern selections this year? Page after page of prostitute costumes! You have whored out Dorothy, Alice, Cinderella, and Belle. Even innocent Raggedy Anne is now a royal slut out to sell her wares. Why would I want to sew that? Who would bother? There is no shortage of corsets, thigh high boots and cleavage bearing costumes on the shelves. I can buy them for cheap at any local Walmart or Target.
Can I just say how tense this subject makes me? Our society is so screwed up! We are training our little girls from a very young age- even at Halloween- that their value lies in their bodies and their sexuality. It is so perverse. Parents put their six year olds in slutty clothes and think it is "so cute!" No- it is not! It's gross! It's wrong. Stop it all ready!
Every self respecting woman and mother needs to take a stand and say NO! If everyone of those stupid costumes- or patterns-- or clothes on the racks---are left on the shelves catching dust, then someone will get a clue.... right? If they aren't making money....they will have to be retired and we can look forward to a future where the innocence of Alice in Wonderland, and our little girls, is just that---innocent.
I have said my piece (or is that "peace?")...at least until next year.
I love the weather- about 6 weeks of crispy mornings and nights with sunny vibrant days. I love the decorations and the pumpkins, and loading up my little porch with hay and mums and scarecrows.
I love the flavors of fall with pumpkin-everything, apples and warm spicy cocoa and cider.
I love trick or treating! I love free candy! I love that smell that comes from my kids pillowcases and buckets- a sweet mixture of chocolate and sugary confections. Cavities be darned!
And I love costumes! I love making them and I love wearing them.
However, speaking of making them....my boys love to pick hard costumes. After last years 20 + hours of labor making these...
...which turned out awesome and were so worth it, I told them that this year they had to pick something easier and less time consuming. They agreed, put their heads to thinking and decided on the following...
Kimball- Ike from Fire Emblem and Super Smash Brothers Brawl ( yes...those are video games)
Tustin- Link from Zelda ( yes, yes.. also a video game. Pick your battles people!)
Laura- Belle ( the blue dress provencial Belle- NOT the princess Belle)
Ummmmm....can we say NOT easy? I'm a pretty good seamstress, but I am NOT a good pattern maker. It is really hard for my brain to figure out how to construct something without clear instructions. Not one of these costumes has a pattern available. ( Not one of them is available for purchase either-unless you want to spend $200 from a Cosplay website. As if! Speaking of Cosplay- I get such a kick out of all those gaming adults into their character dress ups. Some of them have way too much time on their hands. But you have to respect their passion- and in some instances their amazing costume construction skills.)
So...I spent an hour or more sitting at the pattern book table at my "local" Joanns searching for clothing patterns that I could alter to work for me. I came up mostly empty handed. How am I supposed to make that neckline on Belle's dress? And Tustin is pretty sure his sword should be real....made of wood...shaped and painted just right...Urrggggh!!!
I have a mini Project Runway going on in my dining room as I try an invent these things. So far I have clocked about 5-6 hours and I've only just made Kimball's blue coat!!! It is all trial and error. Who knows how I'm going to make all that leather armor! (which he's convinced needs to have leather studs and spikes...I bought a bunch of brown pleather and will just start going at it...maybe I can use some tin foil here and there.....)
The Man asked me this morning..."Why don't you just tell them no? Make them choose an easy costume." My answer is a simple one. How many years do I have where my kids want to dress up as their favorite characters? How many years do I get where their little faces light up with adventure and make-believe as they head out into the night dressed up as pirates, knights and princesses? 10-12 years maybe?All too few.
Still, some days I wonder if it's worth my time. They are kids....do they even appreciate it all? Then last week Kimball wrote an essay for school and, no joke, here is an excerpt from what it said:
Halloween is going to be the best ever. I am going to be a character named Ike,
from Fire Emblem which is a video game....
....My mom says that my costume is a
very complicated one because Ike has a lot of little elements. On his left
shoulder he has a leather piece of armor. He also has a cape, a headband, a
blue jacket with tales, gloves and boots with metal on them, blue spiky hair,
and a sword. I think that my mom works a super long time on these hard
costumes, and I am only going to wear it one night, which I think is a little
silly, but it really shows me that my mom loves me. She will go to all this
work just to make me happy. That’s why she is the best mom in the world!
My brother is going to be Link for
Halloween, which is a character from the Legend of Zelda games. I think it is
also going to be super awesome. It is cool that we are both dressing up like
this because we are awesome characters that are both great fighters.
Maybe there will be a lot of people
that won’t know who I am. I don’t really care. The only thing I care about is
that my costume is special. I might be the only person in the entire world that
is being Ike. I can’t wait for Halloween night!
My husband loves a good hamburger, so it is only fitting that for his birthday a few weeks ago, we made him this cake:
The kids were really into this and had a great time helping me craft vegetables out of Starburst, gumdrops and fruit roll ups. I don't have the first clue how to make, or use, that fondant stuff, so off to the candy aisle I go when it comes time to decorate confections. (Growing up, my mom used to make the best candy covered cakes. What kid doesn't want a piece of cake covered in skittles or M&M's? It's always a winner!)
For future reference though, cutting a cake that is layered with fruit roll-ups and Starburst inside it, makes it nearly impossible to cut into slices when it comes time to eat it. Oh well! It still made for a fun celebration.
( I'm a visual person, and don't enjoy reading blog posts without pictures, so I am throwing this snapshot in from a dinner last week. It's this recipe from TheSistersCafe. My kids love it!-- a no, we didn't eat all four loaves! Whenever I make bread I like to double the recipe so that we can send loaves to neighbors or friends. Everyone loves hot bread!)
The school rush is underway and I am desperately trying to keep my sanity balancing all the homework and after school activities while still trying to feed my kids decent meals......They are ALWAYS hungry, and if I'm not on my A-game, they end up eating a less than stellar diet.
A few weeks back, I planned an entire month of meals. My thought was to just repeat this same monthly menu for 6-months and then make a new one. I presumed this would work great, but each day, when I checked my schedule, I'd find that whatever was planned didn't sound good to me. Who wants to make something that they aren't in the mood for? It takes the joy out of it. I'm just too fickle with my food!
My other goal has been to have a big snack ready for the kids as they walk in the door. If I don't have it ready then they start frantically grazing on whatever random snacks (usually nutritionally low carbs)that they can find. This inevitably leads to the "I'm not hungry," proclamations when it's time to sit down to dinner, and then you can bet that I will go to bed feeling guilty that another day has passed and my kids missed eating a single vegetable. Not to mention that my kids and I tend to suffer from a form of hypoglycemic crazy-people syndrome. If we don't eat quality food regularly we start to foam at the mouth and breath fire!
However, trying to come up with snacks and a dinner plan, as well as cook it all, in the middle of the homework and chauffeuring chaos that is my afternoons, is never a good mix and often causes my evil half to creep to the surface. (Some of you may have never met her. Let me assure you that she is not pleasant. She lacks patience and calm understanding and generally speaks with sounds that include a lot of hissing and gnashing of teeth. Not pretty!)
If my evil twin gets out at this particular time of day, everything falls apart. By evening, when my poor husband walks in the door expecting a kiss and a "welcome home," he instead meets a ferocious growl and a cold shoulder. The whole house goes to bed sad.....very sad. Particularly me. No mother wants to look back on her day and find a stock pile of moments with her kids gone wrong. Our time with them is too short. I hate days like that!
And it all gets back to food.
Recently, I was sharing some of this food angst that I have with some girlfriends and one of them mentioned that when possible she actually tries to have dinner ready for the kids right after school. She figures that they are the most hungry then and will fill up on a really good meal. Then later in the day they can have a light snack before bed. She said that when she gets this done, it works brilliantly. This got me to thinking...
To make this plan work, I would still have to be on my A- game- I would still have to plan the meals and get it done, but the beauty of this is that it doesn't mix the cooking with the homework and car-pooling etc. I could get it all done before the rush and I believe I might be able to tame the tired, hungry and crabby beast that lingers in me. (My husband's dinner would always be about 4 hours cold, which is a bummer for him, but he might be willing to sacrifice if it meant the death of Mrs. Hyde).
Time will tell. Hopefully my efforts won't bite the dust like so many of them do.
Do any of you have dinner time plans that work for you?
A couple of weeks ago, my husband called me from work and suggested that we meet him at the theatre that evening to surprise the kids by taking them to see the Lion King for FHE. I thought it was a great idea, so when the kids got home from school I told them daddy had a special surprise for Family Night and that if they got all their homework and piano done quickly that we could go. ( I wish I had a similar piece of fruit to dangle everyday because they got right to work!)
Thus, at about 6 o'clock we headed out, and the kids spent the drive trying to guess where we were headed. After numerous incorrect, and sometimes crazy ideas, Laura guessed,"Are we seeing animals?" "Why, yes, we are," I answered. However, since the zoo and the aquarium were both closed by then, this puzzled them.....until we got closer to the theater, which happens to sit right next to a Petco store, and that is when my sweet Kimball began to hyperventilate...
"We are going to Petco! Oh my goodness... We are getting a pet!..... WE ARE GOING TO GET A DOG!!!!!!"
He was convinced. I think he was having convulsions back there in his excitement.
My heart sank. I had to break it to him that no, once again, we were not going to fulfill his heart's desire and get him a dog. We were simply going to a movie. How quickly something fun turned into a total let down! Poor little boy.
Kimball has always been an animal lover. He does not get this from me or hid dad- it comes straight from his Grandma Neilson. He has the same animal loving soul that she did. He is fascinated by the wild kingdom out there and came right out of the womb reaching for stuffed animals, plastic dinosaurs, toy horses and reptiles. He especially loves books about animals. While other children check out story books from the library, my son brings home non-fiction books and encyclopedias about tree kangaroos, green mamba snakes, cheetahs or other kinds of wild animals. Every month he soaks up our latest National Geographic magazine with it's pictures and articles on wildlife.
Kimball's first word wasn't "mama," it was "neigh," (as in the sound that a horse makes.) It was an awesome sort of whinnying sound and actually sounded exactly like a real horse. He would toddle around holding his stuffed horse and say that all day long. I can't remember what his second word was, but it was most likely "moo," or "oink" or something along those lines.
It is because of this sweet natured boy of mine that I am starting to feel very guilty that I don't care for animals. I just don't want a creature to pick up after. I don't want to smell them, and I don't want them destroying my furniture. We have a small house! The last thing I need is something else under foot in addition to the toys and shoes and backpacks and miscellaneous what-nots that are always here already. And no matter what anyone says, we all KNOW that I would end up the main popper-scooper around here! But.....I still feel guilty.....My animal obsessed son is almost 10 years old and I have yet to give in and get him a "real" pet.
Does this make me heartless?
We've done the fish and even the little lizards, but since you can't cuddle either, they apparently don't count and recently Kimball's desire for a real pet has grown exponentially. It certainly didn't help when he attended a birthday party last Friday where the birthday boy had just gotten a giant bearded dragon for his birthday. He wore that ginormous lizard on his shoulder all through the party, and Kimball thought he was the coolest, luckiest boy who ever lived (Of course this same boy also has a dog, so his parents REALLY love him.) Since that party, Kimball has worn a plastic lizard on his shoulder, or on his lap, ALLday long for 3 days. A rubber plastic lizard is what my son is reduced to for his companion. Here you can see it resting on his knee while he plays DS:
Last week Kimball told me that sometimes in class they talk about their pets and it makes him very sad because he's never had one.
DAGGER TO MY HEART!!!
I keep telling the kids that someday, when we have a bigger house, or a bigger yard, or even just a bigger garage that I will consider getting a dog.... but that is just my excuse to avoid ever getting one. ( I know....heartlesS). Is my misery worth the joy on my sons face? I can't decide.
The hubby (seriously, I need to come up with a good nick-name besides, "He Who Shall Not Be Named.) thinks that if we concede we should get a redbone hound. Crazy!!That is a big, dog!! He would take up a lot of space.
What if we get a dog, and I hate having it around (which is likely), then I just can't take it so we have to sell him off or give him away? Wouldn't that be worse than never having had one? I am just trying to protect him from further sorrow, right?
I love Trader Joe's. However, they have pulled this number on me many times. They offer me something wonderful, I make it a staple in my kitchen, I come to rely on it and then swoosh!---It's gone- never to be seen or heard from again and I am left always feeling its loss, never getting to say goodbye. Is this some sort of cruel marketing/consumerism trick?
If you live anywhere within 50 miles of me and happen to see this lingering in your TJ's freezer, drop me a note so I can speed on over and buy you out!
Picture day is coming up this week at my kid's schools. Our school actually does a great job with these photos and they aren't usually the painful snippets in front of ugly screens that were typical when I was a kid. They take the kids outdoors and even offer sibling photos after school. Here are a few of my favorites from the past for example:
Last year it was raining, so we had to do the white screen....which didn't turn out nearly as ho-hum as I thought it would. (pardon my scan quality)
Anyway, gathering up clothes for pictures this week made me realize that I have never taken Warren in for some studio shots. I have always taken my kids in around 4 and 9 months just to officially capture them at each stage. I missed 4 months! How did that happen? It makes me so sad because I can't get that time back, and as we all know my personal camera is soooooo lame that nothing I took myself is up to snuff! Urgggghh.
Thus, I quickly took Warren down to the mall yesterday and The Picture People store. Get excited people! He did great, and looked so cute (even with their lame backgrounds.) Here are a few of my favorites. (Don't worry mom, I will send you the real print outs.).
We've started our 2nd full week of school here so "real" life is in full swing. I'm already missing our carefree summer days. (And speaking of missing summer, fall weather is kicking in way too soon around here. I love fall, it's the best time of year when considering New York weather, but slow down already! Let me catch my breath! The stores are pushing costumes and cornucopias on me and I'm still wearing my flip-flops!)
So what did we do this summer, now that it's over and I rarely posted? Here is a quick pictorial recap of our summer highlilghts:
Highlight #1- Went on a Disney cruise to Alaska with the entire Neilson crew, cousins and all!
Decked out for "Pirate Night"
Loving the characters:
The scenery from every angle was beautiful:
Loving those sweet baby cheeks:
Playing with the dogs after our dog sledding excursion:
Took a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier:
it was freezing up there...so Warren stayed huddled inside my coat:
the kids got a drink of pure glacial water:
We panned for gold. Much to Laura's disapointment, she did NOT strike it rich:
And through it all, I ran the portable dairy farm:
Highlight # 2- Off to lake Tahoe for the annual Greene family vacation where we....
...learned how to travel the modern way- with entertainment!
We kayaked with grandpa,
we yee-haaad at the truckee Rodeo,
flew runner band planes that Grandma Greene gave us,
practiced our yoga on the beach,
went for our first boat ride,
and spent lots of time with family.
And even though the hubbie couldn't go to Tahoe this year, he still joined the fun via FaceTime. I love that!
Highlight #3 Boys trip to Zion's National Park to hike "the Subway."
First stop: The Hoover Dam:
Second Stop: St George and the gorgeous red rocks
Third Stop: let the hiking begin!
I love this picture! It is amazing what water can do to rock!
And what were the the NY Neilson ladies (along with baby Warren) doing whilst the boys were playing out West? We were having LOADS of fun and weren't jealous in the slightest...We were huddled down with hurricane Irene and no electricity! However, we were one of the lucky ones and managed to avoid flooding because of some very generous friends who loaned us this generator to run our basements sump pump, so the hundreds of gallons that would have filled my basement were very nicely routed to my lawn instead.)
There you have the 3 main highlights of the Neilson summer 2011. Now I guess I have to face that it's really back to the grind and fall is truly here.Bring on the pumpkins!