Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, All Saints, All Souls

Our town declared Saturday to be the trick-or-treating night, thereby making my and every other local family's Halloween plans a whirlwind of activity in two short days (Friday and Saturday), with a day to recover before Monday arrives. This was the busiest and most fun Halloween with the kids ever, for us. We are also ever so tired!

I resist switching the kids' fun from October 31, but there were unexpected plusses this year. The blessing of an extra hour of sleep when we really needed it 'cause the time changed back as we slept after trick-or-treating. Beautiful fall weather on Saturday night, but rain all day and evening Sunday. Grudgingly I admit Saturday night worked out very, very well. Except for the craziness of being unable to find my box o' fall decorations all week, until 4 pm before trick-or-treating!?!


On Wednesday morning Son2 (age 4) and I attended a MOMS Club Halloween party. His costume was ready, 'cause we arranged to pick it up -- a loan from the party host -- when we came to the party, LOL! An extremely cool/cute dragon padded costume. Horns, spikey stuff down the back, tail. He loved it.

On Thursday we actually paid money for a costume for Son1 (age 8 nearly 9): a Bionicle costume at 30 percent off, whew. He really wanted something storebought after all, and amazingly we were in and out of the Big Red Double Circle store superfast, finding and deciding on his costume and our trick-or-treaters candy in a flash. I was stunned and relieved.

On Friday the kiddos went to school in costume. Son1's costume soon had detachable/detached parts; apparently he dealt with it fine; by class party time he seemed cheerful anyway (first I heard of the detached thing). Both boys' parties were fun (I went back and forth). Highlight of Son1's party: dry ice in water in a deep container, making lots of "smoke". Highlight of Son2's party: the candy haul from insane parent donors, and, for me, seeing all the little kids in very cute and imaginative costumes. One four-year-old was a lamp -- with a light bulb filament shape painted onto a white t-shirt, and a lampshade on his head! LOL!

Son1 had a basketball game Friday night. Probably contributed to his wiped-out-edness on Saturday (new word alert! hahaha).

Saturday morning I tried to walk my precinct to get out the vote, but I kept missing the guy who was going to give me my info. We threw in the towel when I only had an hour left to volunteer. Then it was time to costume-up the kids for an afternoon family Halloween party, which was very fun. For parties Son1 decided to wear an alternate costume from a previous year -- a hand-me-down Batman that's still nearly too big! We had fun, then headed home where everyone vegged except me. Sadly, I wigged out.

I unearthed the box o' fall at last, after looking for it all week. Then I got all frustrated at the cool post-Halloween-sale stuff I had but didn't have time to use, dumped a bunch of stuff back in the box, deleted multiple items off my to-do list, and then got a grip. I put up my favorite kid-made decorations, some silly fake pumpkins in the living room, and a little tableau in the dining room of fun and silly things. Good enough.

Somewhere in there we got the kids to eat something with peanut butter. And milk. In a last-ditch effort to insert nutrition into children before the candy-to-come froze their minds and appetites. It worked okay.

A good friend of the boys came over with his dad for joint trick-or-treating, and all of the guys headed out to walk our long block. I handed out treats and welcomed home the tired crew quite a while later, with their buckets heaped full with bounty -- apparently our street was generous! We kicked back for a little while as the kids revelled in their candy. Then the friend and dad headed home and we headed out to another party. Last year I skipped this party, but I had such fun this year that I vowed to come along every year!

At this post-trick-or-treating party we know a lot of the parents and the kids from the boys' school and our former extended neighborhood. It was sooo enjoyable to hang out and enjoy conversation with the adults while the kids had extended battles and peacemaking with play swords etc. in the back yard and the house. Son2 nearly fell asleep on the way home (10 minutes)!

We got the kids to bed, tucked the house in for the night, dear husband settled back with a movie or something, I changed all the clocks and checked my email, and then I went to bed. At "9:40" pm. Ahhhhhhhh.

This morning I got up just before 7 am. I love getting up even just 15 minutes before the kids. Usually it's the opposite, and as soon as I make an appearance the kids want to know, "what can I eat????" They aren't impressed that I can't think and just want to blink and make some coffee and gradually wake up. Fat chance, LOL. Anyway, this morning I prepped for my Sunday school class (adult class about prayer and spirituality), the kids got up, and we had a couple of nice hours and then got to church early, with boy hands scrubbed, boy teeth thoroughly brushed, and boy bodies wearing church clothes!! And they were good in church!! This afternoon we vegged and fussed a bit and vegged some more, and I started catching up on the things I've put off since Thursday. Tonight is actually All Hallows' Eve, and a rainy one it is.

Tomorrow will be extremely busy. I'll try to do some laundry, but mostly it'll be getting the car tag renewed, meeting some friends for early morning coffee, going to the monthly MOMS Club meeting, walking my neighborhood/development/precinct to get out the vote, fixing as easy and fast a dinner as possible (meatball sandwiches? chicken nuggets, biscuits, and green beans?), and maybe going to an evening church service to celebrate All Saints Day on the very day (Nov. 1). Some friends have planned the service and are really excited about it, but we have single-car coordination problems (Son1 has basketball practice) that I will need to work out first.

Tuesday, All Souls' Day, I'm expecting to spend walking my precinct (pretty much the same as my development). And voting. And then watching TV that night. My poor dear husband -- though he's as interested as I am in the results at the state level and nationally. Perhaps he'll vote early on Monday? The line was over an hour long Saturday morning, I'm told. Wow.

My plan for Wednesday? Laundry. Maybe some weeding of the terribly weedy garden beds. That sounds nice. Perhaps a bit more fiction reading. And keep up with my ACTION folder in my household central; my Cheerios-box file folder system is working really well so far -- I speak the truth, I promise!

I'm heading to bed. I really want to get up before the kids tomorrow and keep that going. Obviously I needed to write this all out for some reason. Thanks for reading this far, if anyone did!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ready, set, vote!

Let's say you're registered to vote and plan to vote. You could vote early to avoid any lines -- call your local election board to find out how to do that. In my state we can vote early, even this Saturday and Monday.

Maybe you're not sure where your polling place is. Find it at

Maybe you're not sure what will be on your ballot (which local races, etc.). Look yours up at Democracynet.

Educate yourself by reading your local newspaper's coverage, going to your state election board's Web site, finding the candidates' Web sites, etc.

Go out of your way to make sure you vote. Exercising this hard-won, precious right to vote is worth taking some time out of your day to figure out how you want to vote and then do it.

(I pick up my sons from school and take them with me to vote. Apparently kids who go to the polling place with their parents are more likely to vote when they are adults. Good thing, as I'm gonna do it anyway!)

Monday, October 25, 2004

On the cheap, fast food loses its appeal

We've been squeezing our pennies pretty tight this month, which enabled us to do some other things early in the month. Now I'm five days away from payday and our typical delivered-pizza dinner. But... I want it to be GOOD pizza. Not the cheapest (which sometimes is quite yummy but other times, eh). Don't want to spend for the best. I just want it to be a pizza dinner to enjoy.

Upon reflection, I realize that whenever we cut our dining-out spending to nearly nothing, those meals out (usually fast food) aren't as enjoyable as when we're free with our money. When it's more of a big deal to eat out, any little problem becomes especially disappointing. BurgerWhatsit is normally a nice treat, but when we've chosen that as, say, one of two dinners out that month, I am less satisfied when the place is messy, the order mixed up, or the food not up to par. Then I ask myself, "Why did we buy dinner out?"

Sometimes we go to a family-friendly sit-down restaurant with waiters and such, and spend maybe two fast-food dinners on one nice dinner. That definitely feels worth it, but that feeling fades when we want to grab a fast dinner between here and there some night.

Sometime this weekend we will probably get dinner from our favorite mid-priced pizza place, and enjoy the treat. And yet, I might use the equivalent of the next dinner out to buy some fixings for a bunch of quick dinners, and stash them in our freezer. The next time there's a good price on chicken breasts, I might make homemade chicken fingers and freeze them for another time. At the very least, I'll buy some frozen potatoes, maybe tater tots, and some precooked breaded chicken and fish pieces. Yum yum says the family!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

One successful thing before dinner

Doesn't the Queen in Alice in Wonderland say something along the lines of, "I like to do three impossible things before breakfast"? That has come to mind a lot lately, for no reason I can figure out.

Today I met a different goal: one successful thing before dinner, LOL!

I cut down big Cheerios boxes into file folder boxes, pulled out my box of file folders, and organized the piles of family papers. Then I put the two file boxes on the shelf below the phone, a/k/a Household Central. Now I can file kids' activity info, garden ideas, bank statements, ACTION items, and more -- before adding them to a purposeless pile. I can put my fingers on the pizza delivery coupons, the after-school checklist for the kids, the current MOMS Club calendar, and that ACTION file. Woohoo!

Extra bonus, it decluttered about four piles into nothingness; a lot went into the paper recycling, of course. I also found enough artwork from Son2 that it is clear I need to rig up an artwork clothesline in the playroom.

Dinner will be pizza from homemade pizza dough I froze last time I made it, with a simple red sauce and Mozzarella. The kids shape and top their own mini-pizzas, which makes them much happier to eat it! I don't think I'll serve green-and-yellow beans again, because it would be the third night in a row that we'd have eaten from our co-op batch of farm-fresh beans. Instead, ears of corn from the co-op. Maybe I'll put out veggies for pizza toppings, too: bell pepper slices from the freezer and an onion thinly sliced (mostly for me). That'll do.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Whoops! Time flies

This week sure flew by! We've been out EVERY evening -- extremely unusual for us.

Monday night, Son1 had basketball practice and I had moms night out with my MOMS Club. Tuesday night, I extravagantly went to my stitching group. Wednesday night, dear husband had bowling league and Son1 had basketball practice again. Thursday night, we all went to the library and Son1 learned a bit of sign language in the weekly program for kids ages 7-12. Tonight is Son1's first basketball game, and after the kids are in bed dear husband may head out for poker with friends. With one car, some nights it's tricky to do what we need to do.

Amazingly, every night we've eaten at or from home (sandwiches to go, once), and it hasn't all been boxed macaroni and cheese, heehee. Even more amazing is that last night we even had Italian shredded beef (slow cooker) heaped on thick slices of homemade Cuban bread (1 hour 15 minutes from flour to baked bread). Unfortunately I completely forgot to pick up my co-op food last night! This morning I'm meeting my food here in town and will then get to enjoy yellow and green beans, fresh corn, and Cushaw squash this weekend and so on.

The weather is poised for change from the several days we've had of highs in the 80s, high humidity, and morning fog. The line of storms is steadily approaching and soon I'll be switching my shorts for jeans or a long skirt, flipflops shed in favor of Birks, etc. Another back-and-forth Oklahoma autumn! I really want to bake more bread, and I want to roast some of the squash, too. Come on, cool weather and cold nights!

Monday, October 18, 2004

What to do to avoid a huge church quarrel

Why, read yourself silly in the Television Without Pity forums on the new TV series Desperate Housewives, of course! If you want to read a LOT of viewers who have strong opinions about a show, head on over to the TWoP forums! Here's the main TWoP page for Desperate Housewives. Be warned, they do mean without pity. By the way, is it just me, or does anyone else think they lifted a whole lot from the book "Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons"???

What's the church quarrel? I'm Episcopalian, the Windsor Report was released at 6:30 am my time this morning, and my church-related online communities are buzzing. This report from an Anglican Communion commission offers guidance on how we can be in communion with other Anglican Communion national churches even though we differ hugely (on women's ordination, remarriage after divorce, homosexuality, and other tough topics).

What amounts to one percent, I think, of Episcopal Church in the USA parishes have left our church due to disagreements, and some regional groups (dioceses) are acting as though they'll do the same. Very scary for people in those places who don't want to leave; some are now the remnant of their parish that remains in the Episcopal Church. Fairly awful upset for all of us who love the Episcopal Church and/or Anglicanism.

There is much uproar among those interested or directly affected. I will read its 96 pages at some point tomorrow, probably (I have Farscape to watch tonight!). The report details why we should bother to remain an Anglican Communion of related national churches and calls for reconciliation and living together, with forgiveness and hard work toward understanding on an international level, among national churches, and all the way down to the parish and individual level.

So... time for some brain candy.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

We love Farscape!

Dear husband and I caught the first half of the Farscape miniseries tonight, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. It was superb! It was oh so clear why we loved the series. I can hardly wait for tomorrow night's concluding two hours.

Posted by Hello

Farscape on the SciFi channel

Books all over again

I haven't posted for a while because, shock of shocks, Web design clients were keeping me busy AND I was prepping to be gone overnight. THAT was busy!

I was gone Friday night at a Daughters of the King retreat in a rural part of the state and came home late Saturday afternoon. I had a wonderful time and felt rested and upbeat. After thoroughly enjoying that time with women mostly in their 60s through 80s, I stayed up late last night and read about another set of relationships among women. I read the entire book Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons last night, and it was such a treat! My friend has supplied me with the next two Thursday Next books, so I'm poised to start Lost in a Good Book, and I need to finish The People of Sparks 'cause it's due this week. I'm still grinning like a fool about all of this fiction lately!

Son1 and I had a good library visit on Thursday evening. Here's Son1's stack (he's 8 1/2).
Mossflower, by Brian Jacques (the prequel to Redwall)
Stepping on the Cracks (1944; kids at home in the USA)
The Deltora Book of Monsters
Prince Caspian
The Borrowers
Will's Story: 1771
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, part 2
Rowan and the Zebak
He picked out some great books (and Captain Underpants... certainly tickles his funnybone), so I don't know if he'll get to The Borrowers or Will's Story, which I picked out for him.

Son2 (age 4 1/2) refuses to borrow any books from the public library unless it's a chapter book with hardly any pictures. Sometimes it's a Star Wars book, other times some odd volume he pulls off a shelf. Currently it's a Harry Potter book. He "reads" his book in the car while Son1 is absorbed in his own reading. Son2 occasionally announces, "I'm on Chapter 7!" or some such thing.

At some point I suppose Son2 will become interested again in actually learning to read some words, and we'll pull out the Bob Books and the sweet Little Stories for Little Folks from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. For now, though, he seems to be completely happy to scan his word-filled chapter books, turn the pages, use his bookmark, count with the page numbers, and announce what chapter he is on. Too funny! The librarians are so accepting when he checks out these books with his library card (with me right behind him) -- I hold myself back from telling them he can't actually read the books, so I wonder WHAT they are thinking :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Political signs as targets

As we drove up to our home yesterday, dear husband and I noticed it at the same time. The Kerry/Edwards yard sign was Not Right. The candidate for senate, fine. The candidate for county clerk, fine. Upon closer inspection, the Kerry/Edwards sign clearly suffered the insult of a kick that ripped it away from the side supports and pushed it and the top support upward and completely out of whack.

I was half-expecting this. As some news reports have said for such things elsewhere, it's typically disinterested teenagers, who love the partisan blame game after they wreck campaign signs. So... I don't blame any local Republicans. Especially since a glance around yielded the information that a local Republican candidate's sign diagonally across the street is very diagonal today, if you know what I mean. Equal opportunity destruction, eh?

I fixed up our sign. Dear husband is more open to my idea of a slightly bigger Kerry/Edwards sign on the back of our back fence; our property backs up to the neighborhood park. I still need to get signs for a couple of other local candidates. And if my fix-it job doesn't last, I'll get a replacement Kerry/Edwards sign. Still need to get that bumpersticker for the car's back window, too.

And to think, this is the first time I've ever put campaign signs up.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Wheee! Fun reading

Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind -- how in the world can she read those serious books? Never fear, my Self tends toward balance.

After finishing The Bone Woman yesterday, I cast about for something else to read, and picked up a book lent me by a friend with her guarantee that it was a fast, fun read. Yes indeedy! I read it today, start to finish, and grinned and chuckled the whole way through.

The Royal Treatment, by MaryJanice Davidson.

The library has Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons waiting for me, so I'm picking it up tomorrow. And I think I'll disturb my long-dormant bookmark in Diana Gabaldon's second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber. If I'm still on a roll at that point, I'll return to said friend and borrow another of the fun books calling to me from her shelves.

Wheee! Fun, fun reading!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Is everyone you know like you?

Last night after the second presidential debate, at one point MSNBC spent a few minutes on a live interview with two Missouri women who we were told were of completely opposite world views, had been brought together by NBC over the last few months, and had gotten to know each other. Afterward Chris Matthews on Hardball/MSNBC asked if the (supposed) "two Americas" dichotomy -- red vs. blue or conservative vs. liberal or whatever -- is perpetuated because "regular Americans" spend their lives only around people who are very much like them. I beg to differ!

My personal experience is that I go to church with people with many different perspectives on and beliefs about the world, politics, etc. At my children's school I meet other parents who, again, have a broad variety of perspectives. I have gotten to know many at-home moms through MOMS Club and have gotten to know some pretty well over the years, counting them as friends, even though we gradually have gotten a sense of each others' approaches to life and sometimes discovered they are very different.

Some of my friends are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. Democrats. Environmentalists. Gun owners. Beef eaters. Vegans. Baptists. Episcopalians. Catholics. Unitarians. Atheists. Trekkies. No-TV families. Attached parents (attachment parenting). Early weaners and baby schedulers. Homeschoolers. Celebrate-all-day-school-ers. Pro-war. Anti-war. Military families. Hard-to-imagine-the-military families. Adult children of hippies. Adult children of corporate executives, and of working-class parents. At-home moms whose children and mine are similar ages, and who graduated high school within a year of me. Similar at-home moms who were preschool age themselves when I graduated from high school -- making me approximately the age of their mothers! Gulp.

I find it much harder to make broad generalizations when the others in the conversation might not necessarily agree. I have to consider the other perspectives as possible or, perhaps, reasonable -- even if I think it's wrong. That keeps me from closing down and hardening my responses, and that's a good thing, even if it takes more effort.

I have some other thoughts but that's enough for now. Some thoughts connect the above to this being the first time EVER that I've put political signs in my yard. Other thoughts connect the above to the book I just finished: The Bone Woman: A forensic anthropologist's search for truth in the mass graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, by Clea Koff. Hmm.

Does your circle of friends include people who are fairly unlike you?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The sweet end of the day

After a busy day or a hectic evening with kids activities, or perhaps a flurry of things to think about or simply having stayed up too late, my latest very favorite thing at the end of the day...

not the penultimate, but the ultimate, final, last thing to do...

the sweet final act...

after having peeked at the sleeping boys, kissed my husband, and climbed the stairs, gotten all ready for bed, lights out, door now closed to any activity, noise, or light in the rest of the house...

is to throw myself across the bed, and simply BE, sprawled crazy on the bed, in the still darkness and quiet.


Then climb in and nod off.

Sweetest end to any day.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be lighted.
- Plutarch, heard on "From the Earth to the Moon"
We were able to see Tom Hanks' 1998 HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" for the first time last weekend when TNT ran it over Friday and Saturday, and then in a marathon on Sunday. Dear husband is two years older than me and was old enough to notice and follow the space program in the late 60s and early 70s. Not me! So I learned a lot, and it was really, really interesting.

Wives, housewives, homemakers, stay-at-home moms.

The next-to-last episode of "From the Earth to the Moon" was about the wives of the original nine astronauts. Absolutely fascinating to see their side, their lives as part of the space program. After the last episode Sunday night, I watched (recorded) the first episode of "Desperate Housewives."

Big contrast! The show on the astronauts' wives was more firmly rooted in a fascinating reality, as it ought to be. The Deperate Housewives show was definitely unreality TV, but it had some fun stuff that I could recognize in my own life. Not the adultery, though. Eh. Looking back, my favorite part would be the mom wading, fully dressed and in high heels, into the swimming pool at the wake to drag her three young sons out of the pool and march them home. Only a stretch of degree, not kind, from my life!


I'm actively reading:
Deacons and the Church
The Practice of Prayer; I'm leading a Sunday school class for adults on prayer. This is a great book.
The Theology of Worship; the worship committee members are reading this book.
Waiting for the library to reserve for me: Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons, for new MOMS Club book group
Son1 is reading:
The Silver Chair (Narnia) in a very nice edition put out by HarperCollins; nice wide margins, and well-spaced lines make it very readable.
Son2 likes:
Night Ride, a great picture book about a family going on an all-night car ride, and all of the things they see. I remember as a kid nighttime car rides being so fascinatingly different from daytime.

Allergic reaction update.

I filled my steroid prescription at Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon. Even on Claritin and benadry I had hives all over my legs and was itching on the soles of my feet. Now I'm on the next-to-last day of the tapering doses of the steroid, and continuing with the Claritin and benadryl. Weird to have these drugs in my usually drug-free system. Unfortunately the hives keep threatening and yesterday morning they showed up my legs for about an hour or two before the morning meds kicked in (I hope). I wonder what will happen when the steroids are done, sigh.

New two-wheel rider.

Son2 (age 4 1/2) requested the training wheels be removed from his bicycle last weekend. He has spent the last few days tackling the new skills he needs, and his stops, starts, and turns are really good now. He spends a lot of time on his bike now, and the guys apparently went for a bike ride around the neighborhood yesterday evening while I was at a meeting. Wow!


My meeting finished, unexpectedly, in time for me to hear the beginning of the vice-presidential debate last night on my way home, and then I watched/listened to the rest at home. Taking Son1 to school today, I parked behind a car with a bumpersticker for the president, and made a mental note to pick up a Kerry/Edwards bumpersticker for our car. Oklahoma is pretty much Bush country, so my hope is to add to the visual clues to other voices in our community, our neighborhood, our church, our school.

Fall's fallen.

Today is such an autumnal day! Gloomy morning but mild, a spritz of rain, a sideways dash of sunlight mingled with windchime-ringing breezes, and the prospect of thunderstorms and heavy rain this afternoon. After Son2's bike riding time this morning, he came in declaring his need for hot cocoa. Perhaps that's because he was wearing shorts and sandals with that long-sleeved shirt?!? Over the summer he had asked for hot cocoa several times, but in midsummer I was not willing to make a quintessential winter drink for being "chilled" in the sprinkler on an 80F day no matter how windy! Today, at last, I fixed the first cup of hot cocoa since last winter.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Rx R Us

You know, I always thought I could tolerate itching fairly well. I suppose I can -- if it's a lowly mosquito bite or seven. But this subtle, steadily increasing ultra low-level itchiness that gradually turns into a realization that I can't stop touching my skin... Aaaaaaah! I usually gut it out and try to ignore itching, but with this I eventually find myself rubbing or smoothing the itchy skin. I rarely actually scratch an itch; I worked on stopping that habitual reaction years ago. But this -- it's really, really hard to think coherently when you're itching like this!!

At bedtime last night I took another dose of benadryl. This morning, all morning, my palms itched and were blotchy and my ears itched. Can't see 'em, don't know about redness. I really wanted to go without the benadryl and see if the Claritin would be enough (clue: no, it wouldn't).

A pretty funny thing happened this morning at Panera Bread (we met friends there): Son2 reached for the honey dispenser, wanting to smell the honey, and my reaction was to stay far, far away from it out of self preservation. I am NOT interested in tasting any honey at all right now. Too funny.

My palms and ears itched very slightly all morning. At noon I took my day 2 Claritin. An hour and a half later I realized I was rubbing my palms and knees an awful lot. By the time it was time to pick up the boys from school, aaaaaaaah!!! We went directly to the drugstore, I bought the store brand benadryl, and I took one then and there in the car. A couple of hours later the itching was completely gone, sweet relief.

I acknowledge that I may have to fill the prescription for the steroids in order to more fully knock down my body's response to whatever it was, honey or whatever. I almost never take prescription drugs, and the combination of Claritin (maybe) and benadryl makes me tired and sort of buzzy and feeling unwell for the first 2-3 hours. I can only imagine how fun it will be to have a steroid romping around in me. But I don't want my body getting into this whole reaction thing; I want it to relax! and cut it out!

I just took my bedtime benadryl -- I realized just beforehand that my ear lobes are itching, and my knees, and a spot on the front of my right leg, and of course my palms, and... aargh. I'll be going to bed soon. Benadryl, tire me out, take me away...