Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flames, flames on the side of my face...

We've been having a few internet issues on our "main" home desktop (we have two... our new, better, faster, more memory one and our one that is older than the May Queen that we keep hobbling along...) We invited a friend over who is more computer savvy than us, who told he thought it was probably a problem with the network card, and if so, he would happily replace it for us.

I was downstairs picking up the newspapers from the ever spreading pile in our living room, placing them in a box to take to be recycled, when my husband came downstairs.

"I have some news for you," he began, "remembering that we will stay calm at all times."

Yes, the alarm bells were ringing in my head, too.

"Yes?" I said. Calmly.

"Our computer caught on fire. It's out now. You may want to come upstairs and help us open up windows to let the smoke out."

"Ok...." (I remained calm! I would like that noted for the record!)

Ultimately we were lucky that this happened when our friend was here, and not just us two idiots, but either way, it is an unfortunate and costly stroke of bad luck. We'll be getting a new one soon. The good news is our hard drive is OK, so we didn't lose any of our files.

What this means, in addition to the step up in opera rehearsals, my overgrown lawn, the cold I'm trying valiantly not to succumb to, and the clutter that is threatening to take over my house and my life, is that I will likely not be very active in blogland for the next week and a half or so. This is not bloggy abstinence, just reduced computer time. So if I don't stop by every day like I usually do, fear not. If I don't post as often, don't worry. I'm just busy learning Italian. And selling all my other earthly possessions to pay for the new computer.

I hope your day is going better than mine. But at least I got to use one of my favorite movie quotes for the title.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Maypole a Drunk!!

5 time Tony Award winner and 2008 Oscar hopeful Painted Maypole was spotted today spilling a drink all over herself while staring at her computer. The drink came out of a coffee mug, but as she didn't immediately begin yelling like a scalded person, but rather just calmly wiped it off and went right back staring at the computer screen we can only assume that she was drinking something much stronger than coffee. At 8:30 in the morning. Former students in her summer drama camps informed us that she was often seen with refillable bottles of a brownish liquid at their early morning classes. Painted Maypole claimed it was iced tea, but the students swear that it was whiskey. "She always seemed a bit off," one student said, "and she made us repeat ourselves all the time." A representative of Ms. Maypole claims that was some sort of "Meisner" exercise. Seems to us like Painted Maypole needs to exercise some 12 steps.

This sad excuse for a scandalous post is for this week's Monday Mission, hosted by The Flying Mum. The mission was: You are a Superstar! What are the tabloids saying about you today? I really did, however, spill barely warm tea all over myself while trying to think what to write.

I'll be hosting Monday Missions back here at my humble blog for the month of November. Monday Missions are open to anyone who wants to play along. I try to get mine up on Sunday night, so you can then drop by and enter your info into my nifty widget. The missions give us a chance to stretch our posting style a bit, and have been, for me, a lot of fun. Play along with any and all, or none at all! The missions for November, should you choose to accept them, are to write posts in the style of...
11/5 - A news story
11/12- A script (dialogue and stage directions)(thanks to Chani)
11/19- a spiel for your favourite charity -- serious or spoof (thanks to Mary G)
11/26- Directions

Saturday, October 27, 2007

7 things, an award, and a gift

I was tagged over at what works for us for the 7 things meme. I did the 8 random things meme back in June (my first meme ever!!)... and this appears to be the same thing, only one less! Why? I don't know. But it's the weekend, and I'm tired, and who am I to pass up the chance to tell you 7 random things about me? So here we go...

1. Nowadays when anyone asks me if I want to do anything, I answer "no, I have to learn Italian." This is what trying to memorize an opera will do to you. But truly, I am not learning Italian. I am memorizing seemingly random syllables. In harmony. And that is much, much harder.

2. Fall is my favorite season. All you Northerners who are posting leaf pictures are filling my soul and making me extremely jealous all at the same time. But this week I finally got to break out the long pants and long sleeves.

3. Today we carved our pumpkins. I was the only person in my family brave enough to stick my hand in the pumpkin to clean it out, so I had to clean out all three pumpkins. And I made the holes WAY too small. So, here is my public service announcement, in case you haven't yet carved your pumpkins this year. Make the hole largish... and don't forget to angle it so that the lid will fit on top and not fall in (ahem).

4. For years whenever my daughter saw an image of the Statue of Liberty she would say "Look Mommy! It's YOU!" You can see why here and here

5. I hate reality TV, except that I was addicted to Grease: You're the One That I Want. I voted for Max and Laura. My husband laughed at me. You can laugh, too.

6. I have a polka dot bathroom. I love it.

7. I am trying to give up Soda (which I called "Pop" while growing up, but began calling Soda when I lived in Philly because I was tired of explaining myself and/or being made fun of). It is not going well.

I am going to tag 7 bloggers who are fairly new to visiting my blog. If you want to do this, then fabulous. If not... whatever. Tagging: Amanda at Nurses Rock, Heidi at Viking Conquest, Kathryn at Seeking Sanity, Just Seeking (at) 15 minutes of peace, Alex Elliot at Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting, Heidi at Hydes Like Us, and Victoria at Best To Keep Your Eyes Open (who's blog name reminds me of this random guy my best friend and I heard on the radio once, driving from NYC to Philly, who said "you have to keep your eyes PEELED" in the funniest voice, and that is the ONLY way I can say it now, and my daughter says it that way, too. So that is an 8th random fact for you, as a little bonus)

AND... as I went over to What Works for Us to grab the link for the meme, I discovered she had given me an award as well. Blush. I would like to thank the academy... er... whoever that might be, and just say "You Like Me! You Really Like me!"

This was started at the Sultana blog, who said, "I wanted the award to say - this is a person who reaches out and makes my blogger community a better one." At Cellobella’s request, I’ll email her (cellobella at gmail dot com) to add my nominee to her blogroll.

I am going to pass this award on to Jen M. at Get in The Car! who makes the blogging community and the world at large better through her always inspiring Philanthropy Thursdays. And when she's not changing the world (and often when she is) she's REALLY funny, too.

Whew. And finally... a gift. AGES ago Alpha Dogma wrote a letter to someone asking to be her new BFF, and I said that I wanted to be AD's new BFF, and she said OK, and that maybe we could wear friendship bracelets, and so I made us some bracelets. Finally. (this would have been much, much funnier about a month ago when I first intended to do this, but in case you missed random fact number one, I've been learning Italian, so back off, OK?) And AD, if you want to e-mail me with your address, I'll be happy to mail one to you, or, you can just wear the virtual version. Here they are:

And here I am making them.

Tying them to your toe is the official camp way of making them. Trust me. Making them while watching Desperate Housewives and drinking wine is the adult twist on that old theme.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A costume from safety pins, a blanket, and a touch of fairy dust

After yesterday's post, where you all went on in the comments about how sweet my little girl is, I'm tempted to write a post about how crabby she is in the morning, or how she won't share certain toys, or about how she is not yet very good at saying please. But I won't... I'll just bask in the glow of her sweet moments.

Instead, I'll share with you more adventures in Halloween Costumes. I mentioned in a previous post how The May Queen was going to be Cinderella, and I was going to make my own Fairy Godmother Costume out of a blanket. I bought a blue fleecy blanket a few weeks ago, and set it aside. Then last Tuesday I got a reminder in the e-mail about a Halloween Party the following Thursday. Whew! I thought, Good thing I have the blanket. I planned to spend a few hours on Thursday turning the blanket into a robe. The fleecy quality of the blanket meant I would not have any need for hemming, since fleece doesn't fray. I had looked up some ideas online, and had planned to make it very simply... A big circle with a neck hole and cut up the front... tied with a pink ribbon, then attach a hood, which would be the hardest part, but I found simple instructions for a half circle hood online, and thought it would be no big deal. 2 hours, tops.

Are you beginning to snicker at my arrogance yet? Go right ahead.

On Thursday morning I pulled the blanket out of its plastic casing. Then I measured myself from ankle to neck, to see what the radius of the circle needed to be. First problem. There was no way I could cut a circle big enough out of this blanket, despite the fact that it was king size. So I thought about it a bit. I consulted my daughter's plastic fairy godmother figure, which would become my inspiration or pattern of sorts for the rest of the day. I came up with a plan. Make a skirt, and then a little jacket sort of thing with a hood. That would actually look more like the shape of the robe from the famed cartoon, and I could do it with the fabric I had. I measured for the skirt, and cut it out. I cut the waist hole a little large, but I could easily pin it to myself with just a few safety pins. I was feeling smug. I think I took a break to blog.

Then I returned to the remaining fabric. I turned it this way and that, trying to figure out how to make a coat out of it. I pinned it, and checked in the mirror. It looked great from the front, but not the back. I tried again. Weird billowing on the sides. I tried again. Too short in the back. I tried and tried and tried. Hours passed. I nervously snipped and pinned fabric. I was beginning to contemplate running out a buying a sexy Hogwarts outfit. OK, not really. I finally had something I thought resembled a jacket, with just the right triangular type sleeves. Then I measured my head, and cut out the half circle for my hood. I tried it around my head, and it seemed way too large, so I trimmed several inches off. But then when I went to sew it on I realized that the extra inches were so that it would have a hoodish shape in the back, and not just lay on top of my head like a scarf. I debated sewing the piece back on, but decided to try it this way first, and then see. I sewed it all together by hand, literally cutting and changing it as I went. I sewed the pink ribbon on 6 minutes before I had to leave to pick up the May Queen from school. I was still in my pajamas.

I rushed to get ready, grabbed a wand from the dress up box, and rushed out the door.

I'm actually quite proud of my creation, and was pleased when everyone recognized what I was immediately, even if Cinderella wasn't at my side.

We got to wear our costumes again today at a Trunk or Treat event. Thank goodness it cooled off this week - wearing a blanket in October in Louisiana is a hit or miss idea. On the way home we could spy the full moon rising. "It's a Halloween Moon" the May Queen exclaimed, "it even has a tree in front of it."

It sure did. A Halloween Moon. Here's hoping you have a magical Halloween.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On Gratitude and Giving

Yesterday the May Queen received a pack of Halloween stickers from my parents. They sent a box of goodies to the house a few weeks ago and asked me to give them to The May Queen... one a day... leading up to Halloween. The May Queen looks forward to her "surprises" every day. I think my parents buy these things when they are on super clearance after the previous holiday (I learned this trick from my mom, every time I get out the decorations for a holiday it's a surprise to pull out the stuff I bought for dirt cheap and stuck in a box for next year!). Yesterday's treat was a pack of several small sheets of stickers designed to pass out instead of candy. The May Queen squealed in delight, and then immediately said "I don't need all of these. Can I give some to my friends?" "Of course," I replied, thinking she'd take a couple of sheets over to the girls next door. But The May Queen had bigger plans. She wanted to share her wealth with all her friends in the neighborhood. So we put them in the basket of her bike and rode around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and surprising her friends with a small treat. It was like reverse trick or treating!

It gave the May Queen such delight, and really touched my heart to see her relishing the joy of giving. And what a simple but true assertion: "I don't need all of these. Can I give some to my friends?"

It's such a simple attitude of giving that I wish I felt more often. I can tend to be a bit greedy with my things, whether it be the french fries on my plate or the dollars in my pocket. I don't always like sharing. I've always donated regularly to my church, 10 percent just as I was taught as a child. When I donate used clothes and other items I always take them to a local agency that I know does fabulous work for families in need in our area (I also then always take a few minutes to browse their thrift shop and never fail to walk out with a few treasures... and tell myself it's not shopping since the money all goes back to the agency!). I often look around my home and think how I have so much while others have so little (and, I am ashamed to admit, I often ALSO look around my house and wish I had more of what others have). When The May Queen wanted to share her stickers I even patted myself on the back a bit, thinking that perhaps the food I have been sending in to school with her every day for the local food pantry has made her think about sharing. Rather than sending in a bag of all the food I bought all at once, I spread it out over a week, so that she would have the opportunity to give repeatedly, and I would have the chance to tell her, repeatedly, why we do it.

Yet my giving is sort of preprogrammed. I believe in it, certainly, and have been well taught. I do have moments where it is just in my heart to give. Yet I often have a feeling of scarcity, that I won't have enough. I worry a lot about finances, which are always very tight. I often think "I can be more generous when I have more money." But I KNOW that what I have is bountiful. I know that I am called to share what I have. I know that we are meant to take care of each other. And those moments when my heart is ready to give without a second thought? I would like to cultivate that feeling more often, so that it is my first response. So that when I see someone in need, my first response is "how can I help?" So that when I have a windfall of stickers, I think "who can I share these with?"

Besides being inspired by my lovely daughter, this post was also inspired by Jen M at Get in the Car!, who dedicates each Thursday to a post on Philanthropy. Her thought provoking post today is well worth the click over there. Also, Mary Alice at From the Frontlines has a fun idea of how to turn Trick or Treating into a philanthropic activity.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Free to Be... ME

There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live...

Julie's Hump Day Hmmmm... for today asks us to write about
"Where I'd like to go next." This can be your personal goal, professional goal, cultural or societal goal, political goal...you get the picture. Just tell us something about how you'd like the future to be.

I leaned back in my office chair to think about this; to think about where I want to go, what kind of world I'd like, what I'd like the future to be, and this song jumped into my head.

I didn't know that Free to Be was a movie until I was in college. It was highly disappointing to me, as it wasn't nearly as fun as I envisioned it in my head. When I was a kid we listened to the Free to Be... You and Me soundtrack all the time. I knew all the lyrics, and could even recite all the stories. Marlo Thomas and Carol Channing and Alan Alda convinced me that I could grow up to be whatever I wanted to be. That girls could do anything. That being nice was important. That there was a world where I would be Free to Be ME.

I dreamed of a world where boys could play with dolls and women could marry whom they chose. A world where I would be glad to have a friend like you to make forts out of sofa cushions and ice cream out of snow. A world where I didn't have to buy into stereotypes and commercialism and the false image of a merry homemaker. I could have any job I wanted. My husband would help to change the diapers. Snotty little girls would be eaten by tigers.

Although there are still certainly barriers to break past and glass ceilings to bust through, a lot of those dreams have come true for me, at least here, in this part of the world that I inhabit. Well, not the snotty girls being eaten by tigers part, but as The May Queen ALWAYS insists on being first this is probably a good thing in the long run.

But ultimately, I guess that is what I long for. The chance to really be me... fully realized. In my over enthusiastic, geeky, song in my heart, but now let's have a deep conversation, and then can we please drink some wine and dance on the couch kind of way. A time and place where I know what my gifts are and how to use them. A world where I can work on plays with other crazily committed people, worship in a church with people who are on fire, and cuddle in front of a fire with my nearest and dearest. Where all the parts of my soul are fed, and never at the expense of anyone else. Where I never feel awkward or "too much" or "not enough." I long for a future, for a NOW, where I don't worry about what others think, where I have the time and space and energy and resources so that I can be the best ME there is: full of patience and imagination, short on distrust and anger, aglow with life.

I see a land bright and clear, and the time's comin' near
When we'll live in this land, you and me, hand in hand
Take my hand, come along, lend your voice to my song
Come along, take my hand, sing a song

To a land where the river runs free
To a land through the green country
To a land to a shining sea
To a land where the horses run free
To a land where the children are free
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be... you and me

Monday, October 22, 2007

color my world

Rainbow Stripes
Artist: The May Queen

October, 2007

The stripes in rainbow color clearly represent the promise of sunshine after the rain, and are said to be inspired by the rainbow she saw just days earlier crossing a bridge with her mother. The density of the color implies the ferocity of the joy she felt, as well as her indecision about her favorite color.
The May Queen created this artwork when she was heavily into her period of experimenting with patterns. This also overlapped with her "covering every last bit of canvas" period, and her "must use every color available" period.

These bursts of colorful artwork were a welcome change from her previous period of "everything is black, black, black" which produced such famous works as Black Cat, Black Giraffe, Black Car, Black Cinderella, and Black on Black.

Other works produced during her pattern period include Blue, Purple, Blue, Purple - a Halloween stamping extravaganza, and stickers in a line.

This post is part of the Monday Missions over at Flying Mum's place, and also a gift to Her Bad Mother, who is looking to be cheered up from her all day pregnancy barf fest with some artwork.

I will be hosting the Monday Missions again in November. The Monday Missions are a way to get us to try writing a post in a different style (we've recently done this art critique, a restaurant menu, a horoscope, a rejection letter, and a song lyric rewrite, among others. If you have a suggestion for a future style let me know. I'll post the styles for November some time next week. OH. Monday Missions give you great ideas if you are trying to post every day in November as part of that evil carnival that shall not be named. Hint hint.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

a quieter joy

I returned today from a weekend away at a conference all about Joy. It was an interesting time, and not quite the mountaintop experience I had hoped for, but lovely all the same. The retreat center is in the woods, and I enjoyed a walk around the lake, sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, watching turtles swim, a night sky filled with stars, and a spiderweb glistening in the moonlight. Oh, and sharing a room with an unknown critter that I saw scurry underneath the couch. Excellent.

As I said, it wasn't a life changing weekend. I neither wept from the release of age old burdens nor leaped with a new uncontainable joy.

It's very easy for me to go to these sort of things and sit back and critique. I have been to several, and have helped run several, and I am a woman of strong opinions. I help plan worship at my church, organize the vacation bible school, and lead a small group bible study. I was a camp counselor, a camp program director, and have served on a committee that planned a youth gathering. I know what goes in to creating these kinds of events. I have seen great things happen at them, yet I am not easily enchanted by the "special things" they have planned.

For a good part of this weekend, I was unable to turn that inner "watcher" off as I watched tech problems and scheduling problems, inconsistencies and and failed communication, lackluster presenters and weak content. I'm a pretty outgoing person (surprised?), willing to strike up conversations with strangers and be one of the first people to speak in a group setting, and yet often found myself lonely and feeling out of place. There was a lot of awkward silence. I went to the weekend hoping for more than what I saw, and began to be disappointed.

And yet...

I watched other women slowly open up. I saw them walk taller after we nailed our burdens to the cross. I saw them go from standing awkwardly to singing. I watched them cry and laugh and dance. And I realized that it is not all about me. It's not all about my experience, my joy, my increasing faith.

Of course, as I began to realize this, as I began to accept that I wasn't likely to come away a changed person, some things did change. I stopped expecting perfection, and instead watched the proceedings around me with love and grace. I saw people with hearts full and hands ready to help. I saw tears dried and hugs given and love shared.

I left calm and happy, and ready to go home.

At my door I was greeted by The May Queen, who flung herself into my arms for a full body hug. As she sat in my lap and my husband watched football and we made plans to bake cookies I felt joyful. More joyful than I did at the conference, where I expected to practically explode with joy. Yet I realized that on Friday afternoon, I would not have felt that joy sitting there. On Friday afternoon I was snippy and tired and short on patience. My husband and my daughter were not bringing me joy.

And so my weekend away did bring me joy, in a quieter and less expected way. I was able to return home, to the every day, and find the joy.

And that is just as important as any mountaintop experience.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I blame you! But I forgive you


I've been wanting to write a post about forgiveness for a while. Well... wanting to write it in that I think about writing it from time to time, but I never actually WANT to sit down and put the fingers to the keyboard about it. I'm not quite sure why that is.

I meet twice monthly with a lovely group of ladies at my church to do a small group study. This summer we did a six week series on Forgiveness. I suggested the series because it was obvious that many of us, including myself, could stand to learn a bit more about how to give and receive forgiveness. It was an amazing 6 week journey. I cannot share the stories of the other ladies here, because we agree that the things we share are confidential. But I can tell you that I saw lives change in those six weeks, all because of forgiveness.

I learned several things during that time, and relearned even more. Mostly I learned how to better practice forgiveness. One key element that I was reminded of is that once you have forgiven someone, the hurt does not go away. You are not expected to FORGET the pain. I struggle with this, because I feel like I should no longer be hurt and angry if I have forgiven, so then I get angry at myself for not forgiving, and a whole new cycle begins. We cannot expect ourselves to forget the misdeed, or the pain it causes. What forgiveness IS is deciding to not PUNISH someone for the misdeed. And some times I have to decide that on a daily basis, even over an old misdeed.

But the NEW thing, the thing that really got me, and freed me in so many ways, is this: In order to forgive someone, you have to blame them. Also, you have to know what the punishment is that you are choosing not to do. You have to be able to say, sometimes to the other person but sometimes just in your own mind, You did X to me, and the punishment for that would be Y ("you hurt me, so I will hurt you" i.e. "You told my secret, so I should tell one of yours" or "You cheated on me, so I should divorce you" or "You spoke ill of me, so I should never speak to you again.") This was HUGE for me, because what I so often do is try to talk myself out of it: try to convince myself that it wasn't so bad, or that maybe the other person didn't really mean to hurt me that way. So my forgiveness wasn't as fully realized, because I was unwilling to nail down the thing that needed to be forgiven. I would make excuses for the other person, which would then bring guilt back on to me for feeling so badly about it. I could not forgive someone unless I blamed them.

But this... this being able to just THINK to myself "You hurt me, I have every right to react a certain way, but I CHOOSE not to; I choose to forgive" ...it opened up forgiveness for me. Because then when I remember the hurt, I can remind myself that yes, I was hurt, but I have chosen to forgive. And I will not punish the other person in this way that I very well could. I choose another path.

It doesn't mean that I forget the misdeed, or that the relationship doesn't need to be repaired. It means that I have made the CHOICE to move forward in a different way, to work on the reparations from a place of forgiveness, while still acknowledging the wrong. I don't have to pretend it didn't happen. I don't have to pretend it didn't hurt as badly as it did. I don't have to make an excuse for the other person. (Sometimes it means that I make the choice to end the relationship, but that is not the PUNISHMENT. I have forgiven, and so the aim is not to hurt or punish, but I may still need to protect myself)

It's taking some practice, of course. But I am really excited about this new insight. I don't necessarily want to HAVE to practice it, but I know that I will have lots of opportunity.

I hope to face those opportunities GRACEfully.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Along for the ride

I've been hanging out with high school students lately. There are three HS kids in the chorus of the opera I'm doing. When I discovered that they were having one parent drive the 40 or so miles to drop them off, and then another parent come to pick them up, I offered to be their chauffeur, and now find myself driving them 45 minutes each way to and from rehearsal. They help out with gas money (hooray!) and provide some interesting entertainment (and sometimes conversation, but often I am just a listener). And yesterday they talked me in to stopping at Krispy Kreme on the way home. Yum.

Anyhow, it has been interesting, to say the least. They are good kids. This chance to be in the chorus of an opera with professionals is a real opportunity for them. In typical high school fashion they don't quite get how lucky they are. Someday they will hopefully look back on this and think "wow, that was amazing! And how lucky I was that my parents allowed me to do that." But maybe not. These kids come from privelege that is hard for me to imagine. They talk about their friends getting a new Mercedes for their 16th birthday. I was 28 before I had a car I could call my own. They debate whether to go to NYC or Cabo for their spring break. They talk about the hundreds of dollars they are spending for their homecoming.

They make fun of kids at their schools. They make fun of people in the opera. They discuss who is cute and who is not. They talk about their parents and their teachers and their homework and about who shows up drunk at the football games. Mostly I just listen, and try not to judge. I know it is a rare chance to get this glimpse into their lives. I know that they are aware that there is an adult in the car and surely edit themselves at some points, but I probably hear more than their parents do. I don't want to break that trust by judging who they are. And really, was I any different when I was in high school? How many things did I take for granted? How many people did I make fun of, not thinking of how unkind it was? How often did I say something I didn't really mean for the benefit of "entertaining" a friend? How often did I assume my parents didn't get me, or didn't care?

As I said, they are good kids. They essentially work hard and are trying to play things pretty straight. But they are teenagers. They are trying to figure out life and love and friendships and who they are. I know that to step in too much, to interrupt the process, won't help. Unless they really cross a line, these minor things... the dissing of the parents, the laughing at the clothes, the focus on the superficial... will likely work themselves out. I know they did for me. But oh how I wish I could save them some of the work. That I could impart on them what wisdom I think I have, the things I have learned since I was 15.

But they have to ride that ride themselves. I am just a temporary chauffeur.

and on a totally different subject:
A dear, dear IRL friend of mine has just started her very own blog (she has succumbed to our evil brainwashing...bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha). She is remarkably well read, well spoken, and the best writer of letters on real actual paper that I have ever met. And she used to watch The May Queen for me all the time when she was an infant. She and her new baby now live on the other side of an ocean (boo-hoo) so I can't return the favor, but I can tell you all to go visit her at her new blog On Dragonfly Wings. Leave her a nice welcoming note for me, will you? And I'm sure you'll want to keep going back. She's the next new hot blogger, I know it. And you can say you knew her when.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Halloween Sing-a-Long

OK, so after the tricksy costume post of yesterday, I thought I would give my mommy (and daddy and friends of children) readers some treats in the way of fun Halloween songs to sing with your kids. I teach music at a preschool on Monday mornings, and tested these out on children just today. They loved them, and perhaps your kids will, too. Here are 2 songs for your singing pleasure:

(to the tune of I'm a little Teapot)
I'm a little Pumpkin, orange and round (hold arms out in front, making a round pumpkin shape)
Here is my stem (hand in a fist on top of head)
There is the ground (point to ground)
When I get all cut up (make slashing motions with hand)
Don't you shout (waggle your finger)
Just open me up (pull that stem off of your head... i've left it there the whole time and done the other motions with my left hand)
and scoop me out (use one arm to make pumpkin shape, other hand to scoop)

The Hooky Spooky (to the tune of the Hokey Pokey, of course)
I always start by holding an imaginary pumpkin in front of me, and telling the kids to put the pumpkin on their head. It helps to get the pumpkin on your head if you make a fun little popping sound to fit it on. As always. ;) Then, we are ready to sing...
You put your pumpkin head in
You put your pumpkin head out
You put your pumpkin head in and shake it all about
You do the Hooky Spooky and you turn yourself around
Then give a little shout "BOO!"
(as you can imagine, the boo is the their favorite part!Then I tell them that witches often have long, scary fingernails, and we wave our hands about menacingly before...)
You put your witchy nails in
You put your witchy nails out
You put your witchy nails in
And you wiggle them about
You do the Hooky Spooky and you turn yourself around
Then give a little shout "BOO!"
(hold arms out straight in front of you)
You put your zombie arms in
You put your zombie arms out
You put your zombie arms in
And you shake them all about
You do the Hooky Spooky and you turn yourself around
Then give a little shout "BOO!"
(encourage kids to try floating like a ghost, and then...)
You put your Ghost Self in
You put your Ghost Self out
You put your Ghost Self in
And you float all about
You do the Hooky Spooky and you turn yourself around
Then give a little shout "BOO!"

Enjoy! And, as an added bonus, my favorite Halloween book to read with kids is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afriad of Anything It's a great book to get the kids involved, they can be the wiggle wiggle of the pants and the shake shake of the shirt and the clomp clomp of the shoes... they love to build up and do all the sounds. Very fun.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tricks or treats?

As I skimmed through the ads in today's paper I realized that if my husband wanted to buy a Halloween Costume he can choose between scary and funny. If I want to buy a Halloween Costume I can choose between sexy and....


I could choose sexy witch, sexy police officer, sexy waitress, sexy pirate, sexy Catholic School girl, sexy cheerleader, sexy prisoner, even sexy Hogwarts Student. Every costume was cut short in length and low in chest. Some even came with the handy dandy Playboy Bunny proudly displayed, in case the costume didn't already scream "I'm not a woman, I'm a sex object!"

Who decided that at Halloween every woman would want to dress up like a stripper? Men, I'm guessing. It's really disturbing to me.

I'm surprised there is not a market for family Halloween costumes, parent and child pairings. For instance, this year The May Queen really wants to be Cinderella (are you surprised? I thought not) We already have the Cinderella dress-up dress, which means no buying OR sewing for me, so I'm all for it. I thought it would be fun to be the fairy godmother. Although Disney Princess costumes are clogging up the children's costume rack, I couldn't even find myself a sexy fairy godmother costume to go along with it. So I'll be doing it the old fashioned way... turning a blanket into a robe, and borrowing one of The May Queen's wands. Which, in my opinion, is really the best way to dress for Halloween anyways. A little imagination, using what you have, and a touch of fairy dust.

Dressing up with my daughter on Halloween? A treat
Dressing up like a Playboy Bunny? I'm not looking to turn tricks, thank you.

post script:
So, I came back to check my comments, and what should I see in my side bar? Apparently my mention of stripping has caused Google ads to run ads for Pole Dancing lessons and actual POLES to dance with. In case you need some props and a little show to go along with your costume this year.

Friday, October 12, 2007

more literary stuff

I figured I might as well stick with the whole literary thing after yesterdy's character kissing post

This is a meme I'm stealing from Alejna. The basic premise is that it takes the top 106 unread books from Library Thing, and you mark whether you've read them or not (and various other offshoots on that... see below).

I am very curious as to how and why these books are marked as unread - are they marked so because people want to read them and haven't yet? are they rated as books one SHOULD read, but people haven't? I haven't been able to figure this out. And why 106? And yet I am magnetically drawn to this list. I found myself thinking about the books and wondering about the list, and so, therefore, have stolen the meme.

The instructions are: Bold what you have read, italicize those you didn't finish, strikethrough the ones you hated, put *asterisks next to those you’ve read more than once, and put a + cross in front of the books that are on your bookshelf. Underline books that are on your "to read" list. (I learned how to underline in html for this post. Aren't you proud of me?)

and because I want to, I will add a few notes here and there.

the list, and my reactions to it:

Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22 (started this book before my first year of college. had to return it to the library in my home town before I finished. Meant to check it out once at school, never did. Finally finished it while I nursed MQ... 10 years later)
+*One hundred years of solitude (loved, loved, loved this book. Totally changed the way I view Time and the Omnipresence of God)
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose (I've seen the movie, does that count?)
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
*Madame Bovary
+The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice (I have mentioned that I have read no Jane Austen. And yes, I'm working on that! Trip to library tomorrow.)
Jane Eyre
+A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
+The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
+Reading Lolita in Tehran(it's on the bookshelf, waiting to be read)
Memoirs of a Geisha (read this past summer. Really liked the narrative voice)
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West (read this summer, as well. Gave my copy away. Liked it, but don't recommend the sequel, Son of a Witch)
+The Canterbury Tales (I actually started listening to this on tape, and couldn't hack it. If i had actually READ it I would have finished it, since I am just about incapable of not finishing any book I begin, hence my tortured reading of She's Come Undone)
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
+Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave new world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange (I tried watching this movie in H.S. and could not hack the violence. Read the book on my own several years later, and then finally managed to watch the movie)
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible (loved this!)
Angels & Demons

The Inferno
The Satanic Verses (eventually...)
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables (in HS. The unabridged addition. I had fallen in love with the musical, and I'm a geek)
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time (again, loved this!)
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
+Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter

Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
+The Hobbit
In Cold Blood (this is actually on hold for me at the library right now, along with To Kill a Mockingbird. I watched Capote last weekend)
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Want to play along? Steal this list if it interests you. Or don't. Whatever.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

the dreaded literary meme

Oh. I have been tagged. Several days ago, actually. The fantastic Chrissy at Tales from the Carpool Lane tagged me for the meme with the really long name (Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This)

I have watched this meme bopping around the blogosphere with great interest and dread. I have loved reading all the responses, and I have dreaded being tagged. I'm not entirely sure where all the dread comes from.

Despite recent evidence to the contrary (cough! cough! Viggo! cough!) I am not the kind of person who gets crushes on Hollywood stars. And I don't think I've ever really thought about having a crush, or desiring to kiss, a character from a book. So when I got tagged for this meme I found myself standing in front of my bookshelves cursing the fact that I tend to get most of my books from the library and the few that I don't I tend to give away after I've read them. So I started wracking my brain over the books I have read and find that I don't tend to read books with much romance in them, or really, many characters that would make me think in a romantic sort of way. I mean, I read Little Children this year. Would you want to kiss anyone in that book? I should hope not. But I do have a preponderance of plays on my bookshelves. So I began sifting through those. But so much of that is colored by productions I've done or been in, and the actors I have seen or played opposite. Sigh.

So, you see, this meme is stressing me out. But I shall give it a whirl.

Henry from the Time Travellers Wife
Henry is the ONLY character that came to mind when I first read this meme title over at Veronica's. I don't really want ME to kiss him, but I'd love to be Claire... that moment when they first kiss. Or at least, when she as a young woman first kisses him. Knowing that he will someday be her husband. And him, being familiar with the older Claire and yet kissing this younger Claire for the first time. All the tension, all the mystery, all the knowledge and the wisdom and the inexperience all in one little kiss. whew.

(you see, as an actress, I don't really think at all about ME kissing these characters, but as being the character kissing these characters. Which is really safer, anyhow, seeing as how I'm married and all. And... as an actress, I do occasionally get to kiss some rather fun characters. And that is a whole other post. Hmm....)

the young Sirius Black
the always brilliant BubandPie said that she would want to snog the younger Sirius Black, and I think I would have to agree... If I were a young Hogwarts student I think I would be leaning against a tree staring dreamily at him. But, as was true for me all through high school, he would have been out of my league.

Dave the Laugh from the Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series
Poor Georgia. 7 books and she still hasn't figured out that Dave the Laugh is the man for her. He makes her laugh. He likes her for who she is. And he adds a little lip nibbling to the snogging. When I am the character of Georgia I luuuuuurve Dave the Laugh Vair Vair much as he gives me the horn and fills me with red bottomosity (read these books for a quick diversion and lots of laughs)

Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing
Of all the Shakesperean fellows out there, I think his quick wit and loyalty put him at the top of the kissable list

Uncle Vanya
The part I really want to play in this Chekhov play is Sonya, and NO I don't want to be Sonya kissing Vanya (that would be her uncle and .... ewww....) Sonya is in love with Astrov, who frankly, is not a character I personally would like to kiss. He's a bit of a pompous a**. And Vanya is not sexy, no. But he is sad and lonely. A kiss with him could be quite sweet, I think.

Eddie from Sam Shepherd's play Fool For Love
Eddie is rough and coarse and high intensity. I imagine a kiss with him to come after a bunch of yelling, and he would grab me (ahem, I mean the character) around the waist and plant a long, hot kiss on my lips that would build from there. It is the sort of kiss I have never had in my life, and ultimately am just fine with that because I wouldn't want all the drama that surrounds it, but the actual kiss part, when all your emotions are right there boiling on the surface and suddenly they switch into a different sort of passion... that sounds like fun.

Henry Higgins from Shaw's Pygmalion
He is so stuffy and stubborn and blind and sad. Eliza is a dream role of mine. The play ends with her leaving to marry Freddy (is that how the musical ends? I can't remember? Must watch again... I have been humming the songs all week since I began thinking of this) I think it would be fun to be Eliza, coming back and kissing him. Imagine how that would just make his neat and tidy world come crumbling down. Imagine the power that Eliza would feel in that kiss, that she could do that to him. he he he

OK, so that is only 7. Would now be the time to confess I have not read any Jane Austin? Zip, zero, zilch. Surely if I had my list would runneth over. And yes, I've been meaning to read some for quite some time. And OK, you've bullied me into it. I will reserve some of her books at the library. sigh.

The person I would really like to tag is Stacy Michelle. Are you up for it Stacy? ;)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Best Feeding

Everyone is blogging about breastfeeding today for Breast Fest... as a stand against the whole debacle that Bill Maher and Facebook and MySpace have caused. I am a bit late to the party on this one, however all these posts got me thinking...

I suppose I must be so very lucky. I cannot once name a time when I felt like someone was upset with me for breastfeeding, or overly uncomfortable with it. And let me tell you some of the places I breastfed:
-My husband's office
-In a theatre lobby on breaks from rehearsal (I began rehearsing a play when The May Queen was a mere 6 weeks old. Occasionally she would come with me to rehearsal. If not I would sit in the very clean bathroom and pump during my break... during the shows I sat in the dressing room and did this during intermission. I could not have had a more supportive cast and director for the whole thing, who always encouraged me to take as much time as I needed. If the rehearsal was running long before our break my director could tell by the spots appearing on my shirt! lovely, eh?)
-at bi-monthly mommy meetings
-in various friend's homes
-at the table at many restaurants
-park benches
-mall benches
-the narthex of our church as I watched and listened to the worship service
-airplanes (I had people on the airplane advise me that nursing was the best way to keep the babies ears from hurting at landing and takeoff. I already knew this, but thought it was so sweet when this grandmotherly lady told me that!)

I'm sure there are many more. I have no photos from this time, but I remember that cherished closeness. I remember how as The May Queen got older it got harder to do it away from home as she would be distracted by wanting to watch the world around her (wandering head while nursing equaled pain!). I nursed exclusively for over 6 months. I was proud of how my body continued to sustain the life of my child. I was thrilled when I learned how a mother creates the needed antibodies for their child through her breast milk. My husband fully supported the breastfeeding (we attended a fabulous and free informational meeting about breastfeeding at our hospital before The May Queen was born, and although we were both all for it before then, we were even more convinced after that!) I had a pediatrician who not only fully supported breastfeeding but lobbied for it. I nursed for 13 months, and our time of nursing came to a very natural end, that was not traumatic for either The May Queen or I. We were ready.

I know that not all women can breastfeed for medical reason or life reasons, and that is okay. Yet I marvel how our Creator gave us the perfect tool for nourishing our children. It is the best thing, hands down, for your child. I hope that all women will have the opportunity to breastfeed without feeling any public shame or pressure to do otherwise. I didn't realize how good I had it.

(when I did my spellcheck it did not like the word "narthex" It is a real word - it is the entry area outside of the sanctuary in a church building. I am surprised and a bit disappointed that the spell check on blogger doesn't know the word. but that is a whole other issue...)

A new stage

Monday night I started rehearsals. It's wonderful to be back on a stage again, but even in this I am starting a brand new adventure: I am in the chorus of an opera. (Verd*s L@ Tr@viat@ for those who care... I don't want anyone to google our local production and find me, therefore, lots of weird symbols. Sorry.) I have never been an opera fan. I consider myself an ACTRESS who can carry a tune. I'm not really a SINGER. I only do musicals rarely. It has been over 3 years since I've sang in another language or in any group that required me to learn anything other than the melody. Yet this summer I did a general audition for a theatre, and the artistic director asked me how my Italian was. I told him it was non existent. Yet somehow he still offered me a part in this opera. I decided there was something to be learned from this, both theatrically and vocally, and decided to make the leap. I am a wee bit petrified about all of this.

I've been listening to the recording for well over a month now, I watched a videotaped performance, and last week I sat down with the score to try to start learning my part so that I wouldn't make a total fool of myself at the first rehearsal. Instead, I became so frustrated I nearly cried. Italian? Not only do I not know what it means (they do provide you with a vague translation, but it's a translation that is designed to be sung with the music, so it's not word for word or even phrase for phrase, it's sort of "vague idea and fits with the timing") but I can't pronounce it. So I'm trying to learn the alto part and read a language that causes me to stumble. I can't look at the words, try to pronounce them, pick out my notes on the piano, and sing all at the same time. OK, I think, I will listen to the recording for the pronunciation, and then I will come back and sing it with the piano. Can I impress upon you how quickly they sing? I hear something like this "blah blah blah bio blah chay blah bio". I throw up my hands in frustration and decide that I will just have to figure it out at the first rehearsal.

At rehearsal it becomes clear that I am a bit out of my league. Everyone around me is talking about their voice lessons and the choirs that they are a part of. A good number of them raise their hands to say they've done an opera before. I can only wonder what I am doing there.

However, our choir master's enthusiasm is contagious. Just watching her lead us with such great energy and an obvious love of the music is infectious. There is nothing like working for someone who LOVES what they are doing. She is positive and kind. I have managed to sit myself next to fabulous singers who help to carry me through the rough spots. After two rehearsals I am getting better at hearing my part and pronouncing the Italian (although there are still parts that I sort of slur my way through... how do they fit all of those consonants in?!?) I am, frankly, doing better than I feared. And there is something freeing about being the weakest person in the room - because there is only one way to go, and that is up. Hopefully.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chez Maypole - Monday Mission

Pull up a chair at the table here at Chez Maypole. Please, please, don't notice the hastily wiped place mats, or the stacks of coloring books and other craft items at the other end of the table. As you are only a party of three I didn't think you would need the whole table, and I was too busy preparing the meal to clear it all away and find its proper place in the art cart, teetering precariously in the corner. Instead I invite you to look beyond the clutter and out to the birds dining at the bird feeder. We usually get quite a collection, the stars of which are our cardinals. There is one now. What? The dryer tube? That keeps the squirrels from dining at the same feeder as the birds. They can't climb up it you see.

What can I get you to drink? We have water, iced tea, Coke Zero, watered down lemomade or chocolate strawberry milk. The milk is always a hit with the younger set!

Our dinner specialty this evening is chicken in an original sauce. The cook hates to give away her secret ingredients (whatever she finds in the fridge) but I can tell you it likely has a bit of Italian dressing and/or Worcestershire Sauce in it. The vegetables are steamed broccoli - the heads for the adults and stems ONLY for the more discerning of our guests. Pan fried potatoes with onions and green peppers come with that as well. Did I say onions. No, those are not onions, those are..... white peppers, I think. Yes. No, no this type of chicken does not get stuck in your teeth, I do not buy that kind of chicken any more. This is the no stick in your teeth chicken. You DO like this, you ate it all the last time I served it and you will eat it! This is what is for dinner!

Enjoy your meal.

Are you ready for dessert? Oh, I see that you are not. You have not touched your chicken. For those of you who have eaten a decent portion of your meal, dinner will be ice cream, covered in chocolate sauce, and you can add your very own blue sprinkles. But only if you have eaten all your chicken. Yes, you did a lovely job with the broccoli, but protein is important, too. 8 bites. Yes, I will count.

Thank you for dinning with us at Chez Maypole, where every meal is served with love, and on fairly clean plates. Do come again.

This is part of the Monday Mission hosted by the Flying Mum - the mission is to write a post in the form of a menu (I cheated a bit, but hey, that's part of the fun of playing along!) If you want to play along leave her a note at her blog.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

haiku for beck

Wheel of Brie, Viggo?
With grapes? On crackers or You?
Brie and Viggo. Yum.

I wrote this Haiku in honor of Beck, because after I wrote about the yummy Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in my post on Friday, she posted a picture of him in her post today. I mentioned in her comments that I had a friend who had taken a poetry class with Viggo, and that I knew what all my poetry would have been about if I had been in that class. She then posted a comment on my post saying "In a class with Viggo! Yeah, my poems would have all been filthy, filthy haikus about Viggo.
I love brie SO much - I ate an entire wheel (a small one, but still) of brie earlier this week and made myself rather sick. I should write a haiku about that, too." (I wrote of my love for Brie in aforementioned post) And so... a haiku about Viggo and Brie was born. More than you wanted to know? Here is one more thing: Viggo is pronounced with a soft G sound, not a hard G. FYI.

click to give

Somehow I didn't explain this well the first time around, it seems. When I click on the The Hunger Site and then click to give, I then look up at the top of the screen , where there are tabs for the Breast Cancer Site and the Child Literacy Site and the Rainforest Site......... after I click to give on the Hunger Site I click the first tab (Breast Cancer?) and give, and then the next tab, and click to give, and then the next.... until I have done all of them. And seriously folks, about 20 seconds is all it takes. Every day. You don't need to click individually on each site. Once you get to one you can tab over to all the rest. Isn't that easy? So... what are you waiting for? See that little Hunger Site button on my sidebar? Give it a click.

Friday, October 5, 2007

4 things: blah, blah, blah (blah)

I've been tagged for the 4 things meme by the fabulous Jen M. at Get in the Car! I am thrilled to be tagged as a) I could not come up with a blog topic today and b)I just had a friend send this to me as an e-mail, and I can kill the proverbial two birds with one stone. Hooray for laziness in multitasking!

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Camp Counselor
2. Church Secretary
3. Drama Teacher (various summer camps and after school programs)
4. salesperson at Britches clothing store

Four movies I would watch over and over:
(i'm not really a watch movies over and over girl, but here are some I don't mind repeating too much)
1. Dirty Dancing
2. Moulin Rouge
3. Strictly Ballroom
4. The Lord of the Rings (I know it's a trilogy, and it's good and all, but my husband watches it A LOT, so I watch it sometimes by proxy. And Viggo Mortenson? mmmmmmm..... I was reading the books when I saw the first movie, and was thrilled when I figured out that he was the future king, and therefore would be in ALL the movies. Yummy)

Four places I have lived:
1. Michigan
2. Los Angeles
3. Chicago (ish)
4. Philadelphia

Four TV shows that I watch:
1. ER (I know, it's old and it's tired, but you know, I'm loyal. And now... Stanley Tucci!)
2. Lost
3. Heroes
4. Desperate Housewives (Although I may be done with this one. It is getting just a wee bit TOO ludicrous, ya know?)

Four places I have been:
1. England
2. France
3. Germany
4. Mexico

Four Websites I visit Daily
1. Google Reader (and then on to all of your blogs, of course!)
2. my own blog (of course! have to check for new comments)
3. My personal e-mail (I think to check my blog e-mail... ummm... occasionally)
4. The Hunger Site I click to give food, and then continue on to click to give other things, including Mammograms hey, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, of course, and don't miss my post from yesterday about male breast cancer

Four of my favorite foods
1. Peanut Butter
2. Thai food
3. Chicken Burrito with beans and cheese
4. Brie

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. On the stage
2 On a beach
3. Under the stars
4. Dancing

Four Bloggers I tag
1. Thirtysomething
2. RimaRama
3. Carrie at Third Time's a Charm?
4. Sarah at In the Trenches of Mommyhood

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Pink Ribbon

This magnet on my car raises a lot of questions. Most people assume that it is a last name. It is not. It is the name of my husband's brother. He was diagnosed with Male Breast Cancer 10 years ago.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007 some 2,030 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the United States. Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than among women. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1/10th of 1% (1 in 1,000). The number of breast cancer cases in men relative to the population has been fairly stable over the last 30 years.
In 2007, about 450 men will die from breast cancer in the United States.
source: cancer.org

When my brother in law was diagnosed, he was told he had less than 5 years to live. Since then he has had a mastectomy, the cancer has spread to innumerable parts of his body (including his spine) and he has undergone many various treatments. He will never be rid of cancer, and we know that eventually it will kill him. There have been several times when we thought it was the end, and he has surprised us. We give him things to look forward to like planned family vacations. We have enjoyed these last 10 years with him, and hope for many more, but know that the end may come any day.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Be aware that it is not only women who get this disease. There is information about diagnosis and treatment at the American Cancer Society website.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Fairytale Birthday

The May Queen turns 5 tomorrow, and this weekend we were party central. I found a Cinderella themed party at FamilyFun.com, and thought "this would be fun!" And it was! We had 10 girls in the house - 3 of them were siblings of MQ's school friends, and the mothers said they would be just fine coloring in the corner, but of course we invited them to join the fun! (I knew they would be there before hand).

I kept everything moving with my magic wand in the role of fairy godmother. When the girls arrived I told them that we would be acting out the Cinderella story, and that each of them was now "Cinderella May Queen" and so forth. Of course they all remembered that as the story begins poor Cinderella is forced to clean the house by her stepmother. So I told them that I expected the place to shine, and handed them some rags. They went straight to work, zooming around the room and giggling.
Then the doorbell rang, and sitting on the doorstep was a scroll: an invitation to the ball. Since their chores were done they would be allowed to go, but the invitation said "proper dress required," and all they had were rags! Well, with the help of the fairy godmother and some mice who had worked hard the night before, they went to work making gowns fit for a ball.
Then they went to the ball, and danced about the living room. They had been told that they had to leave before midnight when their dress would turn back to rags, so when the clock (our grandfather clock in the dining room - my husband was behind the scenes!) struck midnight they all dashed into the kitchen, leaving a shoe behind. We took off the gowns and the Cinderellas were set back to cleaning.

But then! The doorbell rang again, and it was the duke (my husband, who was winning points not only with The May Queen and me but with all the jealous mothers in attendance) looking for the lovely ladies from the dance. He had to find the ladies who fit the shoes. He went around the room trying shoes on all the girls, to much more delight and giggling. Of course, eventually, all the shoes found their rightful owners.

To celebrate, we had cake and ice cream, and then opened presents. The girls all had a great time, as did the mommies (me included).

I really enjoy throwing these kinds of parties for The May Queen (Last year we had a Messy Art Party). As I was decorating the night before (11pm!) I was thinking about the time and love I was putting in to making this a fun event for my daughter, and really enjoyed it. It was a bit of work (but I saved a TON of money - I did the whole party for about $65). The May Queen was so excited about it, and she helped me put together the favors (plastic Cinderella cups filled with pencils, stickers, and coloring sheets printed off our computer - as she helped me pick which pictures to print she jumped up and down saying "Everyone is going to have so much fun at my party!"). She helped me bake the cake. She was so excited about what her Daddy was going to do that she sometimes told secrets ("Someone is picking up all our shoes!") I know that this is the sort of thing she will remember for years. Sure, she loves going to the parties the other kids have with the bounce houses or at the gymnastics center. But I get great joy out of planning a special party just for her - not breaking the bank or going overboard, but planning something especially for HER - and hope to do so for as long as she'll let me.

Tomorrow we'll have a quiet celebration at home - eating her favorite food (Macaroni and Cheese, of course!), opening a few gifts, and decoration cupcakes (her request).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Lactation Station - Monday Mission

I am not currently hosting the Monday Missions, that job has been passed on to The Flying Mum. But I decided to still play along. This week's mission: "Congratulations! You are a top executive at a breakout new cable TV company. TV Guide wants to publish a sampling of your new fall lineup. For this post, please provide them with a description of some of the new shows."

In the latest offering of niche cable stations, Lactation Station is actually TWO cable stations. Lactation Stations will run late nights on several stations that run children's programs during the day. Executives at Lactation Station tell us that their mission is to provide nursing mothers who are up at various intervals through the night with something to watch. The first station, which takes over Nickelodeon at 10pm, is Lactation Station's "Boob Tube News." Like NPR's promise of "give us 22 minutes and we'll give you the world," Boob Tube News aims to boil down the top news stories into appx. 20 minute chunks, allowing a nursing mother to catch up on world events, thus allowing her to not feel so out of the loop at dinner parties and in general conversation. Between each news cycle will be brief videos about breastfeeding, including sections on proper latch, increasing your milk production, and how to protest Bill Maher and Facebook. Lactation Stations second offering will begin at 10pm on the Disney Channel. This station promises to play nothing but the most beloved of Chick Flicks - movies you've seen so many times that you won't mind missing the beginning or end, movies that feel like old friends when you watch them in fits and starts in the middle of the night, movies that require no concentration, but fill you with memories. Some of the movies being offered are Dirty Dancing, Bridges of Madison County, Sixteen Candles, and Girls Just Want to Have Fun.

In the "Great Minds Think Alike" department, check out Mad's post for Lactation Nation. I swear to you that I did not read her post before I wrote mine, but one of us sure does look like a copycat! (and her post was posted first, alas)