Friday, October 31, 2008

Flashback Friday--Happy Halloween!

I interrupt this week-o'-tags to bring you our old friend, Flashback Friday. (I'm thinking of you, Aunt Cara, and your love of my Flashback posts.)

Meet the Flintstones. Just kidding, it's really us--you know, the Hunters. I bet you were fooled for a minute there, weren't you? What finally gave it away? Was it my Michael's fancy footwear with his Fred dress?

I bought all the fabric for these costumes in the $1.00 bin at my local Wal-mart. In the beginning of our costuming days, poverty necessitated invention. Now, insanity fuels that invention.

This photo is from Halloween 1999 when Maia was 13 months old. Didn't she make an adorable Pebbles? She really did. She was such a happy, easy-going baby...who refused to walk.

I was so pleased with my Styrofoam ball necklace, even if it itched a little. I actually don't have my Wilma anymore. A teen-aged girl borrowed it to wear to high school for Spirit Week and I never saw it again. That's okay because it's not like I was going to wear it again; I'm glad it was used one more time. (Have I told you that a friend of mine who teaches preschool has borrowed Mrs. Potato Head to wear today at her school? How fun is that?)

This is when I learned that if my Michael would put on a dress for Halloween, he would put on anything! Bless his heart, the sleeves on this bad boy didn't quite fit correctly. (Could that have something to do with the fact that I don't use patterns when I make costumes?)

Oh, and another thing you might not notice in this picture is Fetus Mason. He's in there. In my womb. Housed in my stomach which is remarkably smaller in this photo than it is in real life today, sans fetus. But today shall be a day of happiness, so let's not dwell on that.

On this day of revelry I leave you with this parting thought: Fun Sized Snickers.
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

50 Things About Me

My childhood friend, Rachel (not to be confused with Rachel), tagged me to do a list of fifty things about me. You probably know some, most or all of these, but here goes:

1. I am Christian and attend church every Sunday.
2. I am from rural, southern Pennsylvania.
3. I love sweet bologna.
4. Growing up, I wouldn't eat potatoes, pasta, rice or cheese.
5. I still don't eat rice. Gag, vomit, gag. Can't do it.
6. I don't color my hair.
7. I am scared of jellyfish.
8. I love chicken Caesar salad.
9. I lived in a Chicago suburb for 11 months.
10. In sixth grade, a boy in my class, who was always drawing pictures of naked women, offered to draw a picture of me. I told him to go ahead and draw it--from the shoulders up. I still crack myself up with that one!
11. I threw up in etiquette class in sixth grade.
12. I fainted in health class in eleventh grade--during the birthing film.
13. I am freakishly strong.
14. I am teaching Maia how to sew; our current project is pajama pants.
15. In high school, my best friend and I drew funny sketches of our teachers.
16. I was too shy to try out for Vocal Ensemble until my senior year of high school.
17. In college, I hated to go to bed before any of my roommates.
18. I only applied to one college (good thing I got in)!
19. I have rafted down the Snake River (remember that Youth Conference, Rachel?)
20. I really loved my folklore classes in college.
21. I have ridden a barge across the Danube.
22. I love to bake.
23. There may have been a time when M-80's purchased in Tiajuana were hidden in my underwear drawer in college. But you can't prove anything.
24. I used to speak Romanian quite well. (Sadly, that time has passed and I now struggle to make choppy conversation, if given the chance.)
25. I am the only one of my parents' children who needed both braces and glasses.
26. I also needed professional intervention with terrible acne. But let's not dwell on unpleasantness.
27. I had a farm in Africa. Just kidding. Just making sure you're still with me. Seriously, I had a Christmas tree in Romania; it was quite a beauty.
28. I see my best friend from college every year even though she lives in CA. She's one fun girl, let me tell you.
29. I gave birth to my first child when I had been married for nine months and one day.
30. My favorite lipstick is MAC Sheer Plum. And I'm out right now.
31. Fall is my favorite season. I adore the beautiful trees and the cool, crisp air.
32. I miss my friend, Stacey, who was a great friend to work with--painting, cleaning, or whatever; we could chat and work together all day or night.
33. In third grade, I was cast as Paul Bunyan's mom in our class play.
34. In twelfth grade, I was cast as a murderer in our school play.
35. I love going on field trips with my kids.
36. I have recently discovered the joys of books on tape. It's great to listen to a good book while I take a walk or clean.
37. I love to read to my kids and do it everyday.
38. I truly don't mind cleaning bathrooms.
39. I have 3 sisters, 4 brothers, 9 sisters-in-law, and 9 brothers-in-law.
40. I have 9 nieces and 15 nephews...and counting.
41. The last movie I saw in the theater was High School Musical 3. (very enjoyable)
42. The last movie I saw at home was Run, Fat Boy, Run. (very funny)
43. I dream of being Mary Poppins for Halloween.
44. I enjoy doing my girls' hair.
45. I change and wash all the sheets in my house every Monday.
46. I like to tell stories--maybe that's why I like to blog.
47. I cry really easily.
48. I laugh easily, too.
49. I am living my dream of being a full-time homemaker and stay-at-home mother.
50. I have a great life!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Photo Tagged by Sommer

Last week, when I grounded myself from blogging (in the interest of getting all my costumes done without staying up until 3 am every night) I was tagged three times!
Get ready to learn more about me this week than you ever even dreamed. Or avoid my blog at all costs this week. The choice is yours.

First up is a photo tag. Here are the rules:
Ladies, grab your cameras & take a photo of the following things AS IS. Don't clean anything before you take the picture.

Here are my photos (which are a week old at this point).

Kitchen sink:
Thank you, Christie, for teaching me that everything seems a little bit better when your kitchen sink is clean.

Looks like this guy could use a little cleaning and organizing. Don't judge me.

This is the powder room and the closest of my bathrooms to the kitchen where I was taking the other photos. It's also usually the cleanest.

Favorite room:
I like my living room because it is usually the cleanest room in the house. There are no toys in there, only books (note the Dora book on the couch--you'll be seeing that again in a minute). Even if stuff is out, this room can be cleaned in 2 minutes or less. I love that!

Closet:I did my pantry here, not because it is clean (obviously) but because I could snap another shot while I was in the kitchen.

Laundry room:Honestly, no one wants to see my laundry room. It is a hideous space. This is the view when you open the laundry room door: our brand new heat pump. Now, that's a thing of beauty.

Favorite shoes:I confess that I don't have a favorite pair of shoes. These are the shoes I was wearing when I ran around taking all these pictures and I do quite like them. They are comfy and they have reflector strips, which, for some reason, pleases me to no end. Also, they make me think of my friend, Kellee, in Belgium who sports the same footwear!

Self-Portrait:Ta-da! It's me.

This picture is blurry because when Maia saw me coming with the camera she tried to hurry and hide the fact that she was reading a Dora book. Too funny! She just saw the book on the couch and picked it up to take a gander. She doesn't usually read Dora for fun, I swear!

Here's Mason with his best friend, Dallin, in the basement watching the Disney channel.

Teensy had just walked in the front door with our neighbor, Audrey (and the front door is left hanging wide open, as usual).

Mackenna was having a grumpy it's-hard-to-wake-up moment.

Sorry, Fireball is completely out of focus and you're just going to have to deal with that because I am too lazy to retake a picture of a toad that I took a week ago.

Thanks, Sommer, for tagging me!

Stay tuned for more fun tags....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

That Time of Year Again

Each October, our church has a Halloween party. It's a grand time with kids and costumes aplenty. My little family always dresses up together in costumes put together by yours truly. I don't always sew everything, but I do fashion them myself, for the most part.

So, last week I was in my Halloween costume cocoon, sequestered in my basement with only a few intermittent absences from the sewing table (without the field trip to the pumpkin patch, the Cub Scout Pack Mtg and the 27 trips to JoAnn's to tear me away from my task I might have become a true hunchback before the week was over). It might seem insane to you that I started on Monday to make six costumes for a Halloween party on Saturday. But, add this little tidbit and you'll see I've come a long way: back when Maia was a baby, I started the day before the party.

I guess I work well under pressure. I used to start the day before the party and then stay up until like 3 in the morning to get my work done. Of course, the more kids I had the more costumes I had to make and I realized I needed a bit more time. Even though I did work on our costumes for a week, I was able to get them all done during nap times and after the kids were in bed each evening. And I never even stayed up past midnight!

This year we really struggled to find our theme. Again, Mason suggested Star Wars but we just have such a strong girl presence in our family that I think that one would be hard to pull off. We also considered some Dr. Seuss-inspired themes, but in the end we chose to go with Toy Story 2.

Maia was excited to color her hair red for her role as Jessie. She was very easy-going about all the themes we discussed; she's such a sweet girl.

Mason was excited to be Woody for our church party but equally determined to be a vampire for trick-or-treating (I just love that he likes to dress up with the family for the party; I don't care if he wants to be something else when he is out and about in the neighborhood).

Teensy did have some initial reservations about this possible theme; she was distressed that Tour Guide Barbie's outfit is less than glamorous. I assured her that some sparkly blue fabric and "diamond" buttons could make her a proper Barbie. Now, she's a believer.

Kenna wasn't sold on Bo Peep until she awoke Wednesday morning and saw her dress, then I couldn't get it off of her! She loves the "hook" and keeps telling me how she has to put it around Woody's neck--a move I discourage imitating.

I'm going to be brutally honest here, dear friend and devoted reader: my husband is not perfect. It just took him 8 months to change the burned-out light bulb in my closet ("Why should I change it? It's just going to burn out again anyway." !?!?!?!?!?). BUT, he is the perfect husband for this Halloween-costume-concocting-wife. For the Halloween party, that man will put on anything that the kids think up and I put together. Anything. How could I not love this man?

Usually, I wear whatever supporting role is left over so I was thrilled when Mason suggested that Daddy and I be Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. I felt like I had a real costume that wasn't necessarily dependent on all the others to be understood. Great thinking, Mason!

If you know me very well, you might know that I am ridiculously competitive. Well, there are awards given at our church party but I don't win because my Michael is one of the judges; his family is disqualified. In a way, this is good for me because I don't have to stress before-hand and practice deep breathing while they announce the winners in each category. I think when Maia was a baby we did win "Best Family" or something like that, but Michael's been a judge since then so we haven't been in the "competitive circuit," as it were. (Of course, that has never stopped me from declaring myself the winner in my own mind year after year, but that's just my own sicko competitive brain's way of thinking.)

Well, this year they announced the winners and I happily cheered for them all with honest feelings of "good for you!" for them. Truth be told, there were some really good costumes and I quite enjoyed them. Anyway, at the end of the awards the bishop said that they added a new category this year. Then, he proceeded to give my family the "Lifetime Achievement Award."

I felt myself turning red. In his little speech, the bishop mentioned that my Michael had been excused from judging this year so that our family could be considered for a prize. I had no idea! I hope that people know that I didn't ask for my Michael to go on hiatus as a judge just so we could win. I thought he was judging as usual. Of course, I was happy to have my hard work recognized. I was also just a little embarrassed, that's all.

Hand on heart, I don't do the Halloween costume thing to win a prize or even to hear people say, "Did you make all those costumes?" I do it because I love the feeling of making something that brings my family together and binds us all for one fun night. I do it because my kids love it and I love hearing them say, "My mom made this for me!" I also do it because I love the creative challenge of thinking of the fastest/easiest/cheapest way to make a character come to life. And, maybe, too, because I'm a little insane.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The County Giveth and the County Taketh Away

For the past five weeks my little girls have been enrolled in a cooking class offered by our county's parks and recs program. The class was called "Wee Chefs" and the girls really loved it. Each week they made (and ate) two recipes and a craft (this they did not eat); they also read books and put together puzzles. In short, they had a grand time--all hour and forty-five minutes of it.

It was a drop-off program. That's a hour and a forty-five minutes a week I had when I was beholden to no one, a phenomenon that had not previously occurred in ten years of motherhood. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that I enjoyed Wee Chefs as much as Teensy and Kenna.

I spent those Wednesday mornings "off" running PTA errands, going to a furniture store alone--because I could, perusing the clearance shelves at Target, meeting a friend for brunch (!), and chaperoning Maia's field trip. I've determined that this window of time is perfect for me to have a little breathing time and then start to miss my little girls before I head back to pick them up.

Even though it's been a win/win/win, I debated whether to sign Teensy and Kenna up for the second session of this class. Frankly, it costs a bit much and I know my girls have other interests we can pursue. Then, I thought of all the Christmas shopping I could get done without the peering eyes of nosy preschoolers accompanying me. With Michael working 60 hours a week and volunteering at church another 10+ on any given week, I didn't know when I could get the shopping done so easily. So, I bit the bullet and registered the girls for the next session. The girls and I were all excited!

Today, while I was chaperoning Maia on a field trip to St. Mary's City, the county called. Wee Chefs has been cancelled due to lack of interest. How can this be? Doesn't anyone else worry about when she is going to get her Christmas shopping done? Aren't there more children out there who would love to spend Wednesday mornings making pizza and bagels with grape and strawberry faces and spider cookies using Oreo's with Twizzlers as legs? Anyone? Anyone at all?

Apparently not. I guess I have to make peace with it. The county gave me that free time on Wednesday mornings and I guess the county can take it away. But I don't have to like it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Forgive You, Jorge

Dearest Jorge Rodriquez Fuentes (AKA "My Michael"),

All summer you grumbled about the mysterious whereabouts of your flip flops. Each time we went to the pool as a family, I heard you accuse me of wearing your flip flops and not putting them back in their proper place on your side of the closet. I offered no defense. Truthfully, I, your Amazon-footed wife, do take and wear your flip flops on occasion.

Last night, you came home from a meeting at church and found me alone in the family room. In lieu of a standard, "Hi, Honey, I'm home!" you held up your prodigal flip flops and said, "Look what I found. You know where I found them?"

I must confess that my mind reeled with all the possible places I could have left your flip flops--in your car? at someone else's house? Then you told me, "They were in the font at church." You had left them in the changing area in April when you baptized Mason. I had had nothing to do with the disappearance of your beloved footwear.

I smiled. "I guess you owe your wife a big apology for accusing her all summer of stealing and losing your shoes," I smugly said. "You're right," you conceded.

And then you added, "But you know that you do take my flip flops when you can't find yours and you don't always put them back." What can I say? You're right, Honey, but this time, I didn't and I had to hear about it anyway--for months.

I want you to know, my Beloved Jorge, that I forgive you. If you can forgive me for helping myself to your shoes when the fancy strikes, I can forgive you for pointing the finger of blame at me anytime your shoes are missing.

Affectionately Yours,
Freddie Rickles

P.S. I'm glad this photo isn't truly indicative of your feelings for me:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Dresser Reborn

My goal for this fall is to redo Maia's room. Until two days ago, I had done a big fat zilch towards attaining that goal. Boo-hoo for me.

Then, I went to work on Maia's dresser and it has been reborn! I think this particular dresser used to grace my sister, Amy's, room. It's quite dated but has decent bones.
Here's a photo of what it looked like on Monday:

*Notice the antiquated gold-painted trim around the drawers and dresser top.
*Notice the missing hardware on the bottom drawer (it snapped in two a couple of months ago).
*Notice the dark, blurry conditions of my sub-par photography (that will just make the after shot that much better).
*Notice the 6 inch-thick coat of crap on the dresser top--oh wait, I mean, don't notice that (my only defense here is that I only require a clear floor and closed drawers when my kids clean their rooms)!

All I did was a little wiping, sanding, painting, drilling and affixing new hardware. It really didn't take long at all. Without further ado, I present Maia's new and improved dresser:

Now, doesn't she look more clean and fresh and, well, user-friendly (what with actual drawer pulls attached to every drawer and all...)? I thought so.

Teensy does, too. She was my assistant when I was drilling the holes for the new drawer pulls (thankfully, the new hardware covered the old holes beautifully and no putty/spackle was required). Once I attached the new hardware, Teensy proclaimed the new and improved dresser "too girlie" for Maia (who is in a decidedly non-girlie phase of her life). Then she mentioned that she happened to know someone who is girlie--herself--and that she should probably be the recipient of the "new" dresser. It did make me feel that it must look better if she was petitioning to have it for herself.

Now, do I think it looks brand new? No. Do I think it looks like a professional job? No. But, do I think it's a vast improvement and am I pleased with my work? Absolutely.

But don't take my word for it. Let's check with the recipient of the face lift, the dresser, herself, and see how she feels after she's had a little work done.

Yep, she looks happy to me. Don't you agree?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Raccoon and a Chicken

We have a rather brazen raccoon who comes on our deck and eats our trash. Sometimes, he makes quite a mess. He has eaten countless holes through the lid of our trash can.

A couple of years ago, my dad gave me the wonderful suggestion of sprinkling cayenne pepper on top of my trash to see if that would keep old "Ricky" away. Worked like a charm, dear friend and devoted reader, worked like a charm!

Until enough time passed and Ricky forgot that my trash is too spicy for his liking. Then, he came back.

The other night it was pouring rain and my Michael and I were downstairs watching TV. We heard all these loud thumps and rattles. He said, "What is that?" I calmly responded, "I think it's the raccoon again." He didn't think it could be so I went up to the dining room to investigate.

At first, I didn't see any sign of Ricky but after a minute, his little masked face popped up over the side of my trashcan. He was in there! I ran to grab my camera and tried to get some shots through the sliding glass door. I never did catch a good one of his face, but you can definitely tell that he is a critter on my trash and on my deck.

Now, where's the chicken, you might ask? Well, that was me, of course. I knew if I opened my door I could get a good photo of our masked visitor, but I didn't have the guts to slide open the glass. I was afraid that Ricky would try to attack me or come into my house! So you have to deal with horribly dark photos taken through wet glass.

That's it, Ricky, keep on walking away. I'm sorry, but you just can't join our family. You might be carrying unmentionable diseases. You make messes wherever you go. Your name doesn't start with the right letter. It's just not a good fit.

Time to go buy more cayenne pepper.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Fissure in My Heart

Tonight at dinner I tried to play a familiar game with my "baby." I like to ask her to tell me who she is or what her name is. Her reply is usually something along the lines of "Kenna Benna," "Kenna Woah-sie" or just "Kenna Woes." I love these replies; hearing them is why I ask the question in the first place.

Well, tonight when I handed her a plate of spaghetti and said, "Here you go, Baby. Wait, what's your name?" my breath caught in my throat when her immediate response was a clearly pronounced, "Kenna Rose." When did this happen? When did my sweet baby learn to say the "r" sound correctly?

I seriously had to scold myself for thinking my heart is broken. I recognize that reaction might be a little over-the-top, but I am going to allow myself to say that my heart has a small tear in it now. A baby tear for the lack of baby in my life.

Perhaps I am extra sensitive because I have never, in all my ten years as a mother, had a three year-old and not had another baby (either in or out of the womb). Maybe that's why I need this three year-old to act like (or sound like) a baby a little longer.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Joy is Full

Maia's been working on a new story and asked me to read the first four chapters. They are pretty cute, I must say. But my heart was filled with love for her when I read a sentence where she correctly used a semicolon. My barely-ten year-old girl is implementing my favorite form of punctuation in her writing. I can't contain my joy! I offer no apologies for my intense reaction; I am a grammar nerd.

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill