Wednesday, October 31, 2012

True Hauntings for Your Halloween

In the seven years we have lived in this house, we have had one trick-or-treater, which is surprising.  When we bought the house, I thought for sure we would never pass out a piece of candy again.  Each year, child after child decides that the quarter-mile he/she would have to walk to get a piece of candy from our house just isn't worth it.  That's what I thought was going on, until we got our one and only trick-or-treater.

We had just returned home from our own walk about to collect as much candy as possible, when a car came up the driveway.  A woman and her teenage daughter got out of the car and knocked on the door.  The teen was in some very understated costume (so understated that I don't even remember what she was, if anything) and she didn't say "Trick-or-Treat". 

The mom then explained.  She lived in our little bit of a not-even-a-town when she was growing up.  Our house was known as the haunted house, and the neighborhood kids would dare each other to walk up the dark driveway to ring the doorbell.  In all the years that she lived here, not once did anyone make it to the door.  In fact, the farthest anyone got was half-way up the driveway.

I was alarmed by this, because I didn't know it was common knowledge that our house is haunted.

About a year after we moved to the farm, my book club read a book about Sylvia Browne, psychic medium.  I don't even remember which of her books, as I didn't actually read it.  (And for the record, so Hubby doesn't win when he says we only get together to eat and drink, that we don't even read books, that is the only book in five years that I haven't read, thank you very much.)  For our meeting to discuss the book, the hostess arranged for a woman who isn't exactly a medium, but some sort of psychic, come to the meeting to give us readings.

Before she began, she was explaining what she does and how she will handle the evening.  Mid-sentence, she abruptly stopped and said, "Which one of you lives in a very old house?"

All eyes went directly towards me.  All my friends live in normal houses built within the last 20 years, while mine was built in 1866.  Once it was established that I was the lucky person of whom she was talking, the woman continued. 

"You have a spirit living in your attic.  It is a man.  Has he made himself known to you yet?"

Long pause on my part.  May have been a look of "What the hell are you talking about?" going on, too.

By my look she assumed that the spirit had not "made himself known".  She continued, "He must like your family then.  If he ever does make himself known, and you want him to leave, just tell him to go to the light."

The light, huh?

She continued again, "Sometimes spirits just don't want to leave or they don't know how to leave.  You just need to tell them."

I will keep that in mind.

At that point, I shrugged it off and considered her a quack.

And then she gave us our individual readings.

Holy cow, she was good.  She got the personalities of my family spot on.  She was quite impressive.

Then I heard what she said of my friends.  For example, she predicted that one friend would have a baby girl in 18-24 months.  Guess who unexpectedly had a baby girl 19 months from that day?

Still, the whole spirit in the attic thing has just become a big joke with all of us.  We have narrowed down the "who" who lives in my attic.  In 1901 our big barn was built.  In the cement are two names, Florence and Kenneth.  In local history books, we found that Kenneth fought in WWI.  From a local farmer, we found out that Kenneth lived here until he died at the age of 91.  We assume that Kenneth is our spirit in the attic.

He has not "made himself known".

Skip ahead a few years, another book club meeting.  This time we read a book that one of the ladies' brother-in-law wrote.  It had references to all sorts of people and places around town, so we had our meeting at one of them.  The Gas Light Inn, specifically.  Not a great part of town, but I was assured it was safe.

While there, we are told that the bar will be on national TV the very next night.  People from "My Ghost Story" on the Biography channel had been there and were featuring the bar in the next episode.   Go here and watch "Spooky Speakeasy" to see clips.   Basically, the story goes:

Many a year ago, the basement was used as an illegal morgue.  The cemetery was (and still is) right behind the place, so it worked out well for the proprietor.  Unfortunately, he didn't give the bodies the respect they deserved, and many of them stuck around.  The most commonly seen and felt ones are an older man and a little girl.  She is nice, he is evil.  The most activity occurs in the basement, where people have actually been held in place by this spirit. 

After telling us all of these creepy stories, the current owner pulled out the pictures.  The images the Biography people had taken.  In these photos were images of a little girl and an older man.  Oh the shivers that ran up and down my spine when I saw the photos. 

More people stopped in while we were talking, and the co-owner of the bar came in..   He has had many encounters with these spirits, and won't even go in the basement alone anymore, but some of the most memorable experiences were during the renovations they made to the bar.  Many of the paranormal people who have been through the bar and checked it out said that when big changes are made to a property, the spirits get agitated and do things they normally wouldn't do.

Which leads me back to present day. 

My entire kitchen is ripped out.  Two walls have come down.  It would seem we're updating and renovating with reckless abandon. 

I am on high alert.

The spiders were horrifying, but manageable.

Kenneth "making himself known" would be my undoing.

I may just start chanting, "Go to the light!" non-stop until the renovation is complete.

Have a safe, uneventful Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Listicles - Firsts

In my time on this earth, I want to experience as much as I possibly can.  I love to try new things, visit new places, learn a variety of random things.  So when I found out that Stasha's Monday Listicles topic this week is Firsts, I was stumped.   I have had so many "firsts", I didn't even know where to begin.  So, I'm treating this as a stream of consciousness post.  The first ten things that come to my head (that are kid- and dad-reading appropriate, so don't be expecting any hoochy-koochy, hanky-panky references) will be what I write about.

1.  My first date was one month before my 16th birthday, and it was with my now-husband.  I lived with my mom at the time, who had a rule that I couldn't date until I was 16.  My dad didn't have that rule, so I agreed to go on the date on a weekend that I was at my dad's house.  Neither Hubby nor I could drive yet, so he planned a double date with an older friend of his.  In the first 20 minutes of meeting the other girl, she pulled me into the restaurant's bathroom to tell me what a jerk her boyfriend (Hubby's friend) was and that they would probably break up that night.  Then, we went to the other guy's house to watch a movie.  It was my first moral dilemma, as no parents were home, and my dad specifically asked me if they were.  I guess we can say that my first date is also the first and only time I lied to my dad.  (Sorry Dad!) The movie we watched?  Carrie.  The most awful, uncomfortable movie to watch on any date, let alone the first.  The whole evening was awkward and guilt-inducing, start to finish.  I never lied or decieved my parents again.  It's actually quite amazing that Hubby and I even had a second date.

2.  Stasha of Monday Listicles fame inspired me to finally try Instagram.  The first photos I posted on it were from the morning Cuckoo and I spent at the park.

So far, Stasha is the only person I'm following.  If you Instagram, I'm under "inthecoop" I think.  I'm not exactly fluent in either iPhone or Instagram yet, so I don't know for sure.

3.  I grew up in the snow belt in northeast Ohio, where even preschoolers knew what "lake effect snow" meant.  We rarely had snow days off of school, as ODOT knows snow and how to handle it.  I tell you this, because I want you to be impressed and horrified and scared for the younger me when you hear that my first time behind the wheel of a car was on a snow day.  When I called the instructor to confirm that my first lesson would be cancelled since school was out, he replied, "You're going to need to learn how to drive in snow sometime.  Might as well be today."  I have no idea why I had never driven with my parents before this, or why the heck my mom let me get in the car with the guy.  We'll just say he was an unconventional instructor.  He also made kids go through the drive-thru to get his lunch and stop to pick up aluminum cans on the side of the road in order to get the nickel refund.

4.  The first time I used a computer was in 7th grade.   My school bought its first computer, and it was put in our classroom, since our teacher was the only one who knew how to work it.  The administration must have been very worried about the computer's safety, as our classroom's wooden door was replaced with a giant metal one with many impenetrable locks.  I skipped recess almost every single day in order to work on that computer.  I had my own floppy disk to save all of the programs I wrote.  Programs that would do things like make the screen blue, then fade to the word "Hello" written in green.  Totally advanced stuff.  I was the best one in my class.  Seventh grade was the last time that I was on the cutting edge of technology.  Shoot, it wasn't that long ago when my sister said she'd google something and I asked, "What's google?"  She was quite disappointed, probably even disgusted with me.  (This kinda explains #2 now, doesn't it?)

5.  Hubby's favorite thing about Thanksgiving is his momma's homemade pumpkin pie.  He is rather anti-social, so he enjoys cuddling up with a great big piece of pie and thus avoiding all conversation.  One year when he was in law school and I was working at Kroger, I had to work on Thanksgiving Day.  We weren't able to go back to Ohio, so instead we went to my mom's house, since she lived only two hours away.  I felt bad that he wasn't going to get his mom's pumpkin pie, so I decided to make one.  I mashed, I mixed, I slaved away.  While the pie was in the oven, something was eating at me, like I forgot to do something.  And then it hit me.  While baking my first pumpkin pie for my dear husband of only a year and a half, I forgot to put the sugar in the mix.  From the taste of that pie, sugar is a necessary ingredient when making a pumpkin pie.  There has not been a second pumpkin pie.

6.  Phoenix was the easiest toddler ever born.  He threw maybe five tantrums throughout his toddler/preschool years.  Of course, in my naivete, I thought it was because I was such a good mother.  I knew how to raise children better than anyone I knew.  I very clearly remember the first ridiculous parenting comment to come out of my mouth.  Phoenix was 18 months old.  I was visiting with a friend, and I said, "Why do people yell at their children?  I can't imagine yelling at mine."  I was such a stupid, cocky idiot.  For the record, not only can I imagine myself yelling at a child, I've done it many, many times. 

7.  The first time I went white water rafting was during Hubby and my 10th anniversary trip to Maine.  In our raft with us were the guide, a teenage boy, and the boy's father.  I had to work my tail off that day.  We were fortunate to stumble upon the one company that encouraged us to stop and do fun mini-adventures along the way donwstream.  We took turns jumping off a 20-foot cliff to land in a quickly moving portion of the river.  We "surfed" a waterfall, then carried the raft back up the river in order to do it again.  Hubby is an Eagle Scout, so he had been white water rafting many times, and after the day was done told me that we had just done a level 5 river.  He hadn't done one that big before.  A man in a kayak went down the river with us, videotaping portions of our ride.  Upon returning to the cabin, we all gathered to watch.  Throughout the entire video we could hear me screaming my head off.  I sounded like I was being tortured, but in fact I had some of the most fun I have ever had in my life.  A week after our return, my left arm was still hurting something fierce, so I drug myself to the doctor.  One x-ray later, we came to find that I had a small fracture in my arm from all of the hard rowing I did that day.  I was in a sling for a few weeks, which made caring for four little kids just a bit challenging.  I still say it was totally worth it.

8.  In first grade I participated in my first spelling bee.  The first round, I was out on the word "log".  I was forever messing up my g's and j's, so spelled it "l-o-j" and got knocked out.  Luckily for me, it was the best out of three, so I was still able to win for my class.  This meant that I got to participate in the schoolwide bee.  We didn't line up in front of the school at an assembly.  We did the spelling bee over the intercom.  As a first grader, I got to go into the inner-sanctum of the office to actually speak on the intercom.  (Do any of you even remember intercoms and how exciting it was to be on them??)  The first word I had to spell?  Bluejay.  Guess how I spelled it?  "b-l-u-e-g-a-y"  In a school that spanned from first through eighth grade, I embarrassed myself by spelling bluegay.  I was brought down on my first word on the intercom by the beautiful, innocent-looking bluejay.  Bluegay.  For crying out loud.  I'm still a little bitter about that one.

9.  I finally learned how to ride a bike without training wheels at the age of seven.  I had tried half-heartedy several times, but never could catch on.  One day my sister, who is a year and a half younger than me, came home after spending the night at her friend's house.  She immediately told our dad to take her training wheels off, because she learned how to ride a bike while at that friend's house.  He did, she did, and I was mortified.  Those who really know me know that I am very competitive, and my little sister knowing how to ride a bike while I sat there on my training wheels was completely unacceptable.  I immediately told my dad to take my training wheels off, and refused to get off that bike until I could ride it.  My first time riding a bike without training wheels was exactly half an hour after my sister showed us that she could.

10.  The first time Hubby got to see me lose my hormonal mind was the day he ate the last of the crackers.  I was pregnant, had worked all day long and into the evening, and came home to find Hubby in his usual spot on the couch studying and watching Road Rules.  (To be fair, as a law school student, he was not allowed to hold a job and he was a very good student who actually did well if he had background noise while he studied.) I was exhausted, but went in to the kitchen to make my own meal of canned tomato soup.  As it "cooked", I got out my bowl, my spoon, my drink, and my napkin.  I went to get the crackers, only to find an empty spot where the box used to be.  I called out to Hubby to ask where the crackers were, and he said, "I had some soup and ate the last of them."  I immediately turned into a sobbing mess.  Full on tears, snot, and hiccuppy hot mess.  "All I want to do is sit down and eat some soup and I can't because you ate them ALL and now I have soup heating on the stove and no crackers to eat it and soup isn't any good without crackers and that's all I want you terrible, inconsiderate jerk"  For several moments Hubby just stood there completely dumbfounded.  Then he snapped to and apologized profusely, offering to go out and get me some new crackers.  "No, because by the time you get back it will be cold and it will be late and I am too tired to wait that long so just sit and watch me eat my crackerless soup and feel guilty while I pout and shoot dirty looks your way and huff and puff between bites and remember this the next time you start to take the last of anything in this house again."   To this day the poor man will not take the last of anything without asking me if I want it.

I've already had a peek at some of the lists people have written for today.  So many directions a person can take with this one.  Stop over and join along!

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Good, the Funny, and the Downright Gross

I have been a bit vocal around here that I am sick of pink.  I'm tired of everyone and their brother wearing it, buying it, and putting it on every single product they can think of.  We're all aware of breast cancer.  We all want and know that scientists are searching for a cure.  But the whole pink thing has gotten out of hand.  (I am saying all of this as someone whose mother has had cervical cancer and mother-in-law has had breast cancer.  I know of the suffering and difficulties of having cancer.)  There are lots of other diseases and disorders that could use some attention.  Other afflictions that no one is talking about, let alone wearing a color to raise awareness.  And how much money is actually going to breast cancer research from the sale of all of these products anyway?  I'm guessing a whole lot more is going into the companies' pockets.

While watching a few minutes of football this evening, someone mentioned that the yellow flags are pink for the games this weekend.  The children then went through the following conversation in a matter of seconds as I sat on the couch right there with them.

"Mom doesn't like pink."

"I bet she doesn't like the pink flags."

"Yeah, Mom doesn't like breast cancer awareness."

"She doesn't want people to be aware."

"She doesn't want them to find a cure."

"She likes cancer."

"Yup, she's pro-cancer."

This whole business of my children getting older and wittier is really getting on my nerves.

On Friday, Cuckoo was perturbed that there was a hole in his PB&J.  He wanted my to do something about it, and was quite unhappy when I told him that the bread just baked that way, came that way and we couldn't do anything about it.   We then moved on.

Today, Buttercup offered to make sandwiches for the little boys and asked if she should make them half or whole sandwiches.  I said, "It's a special weekend.  Let's go crazy and give them whole sandwiches."

A very tired Cuckoo heard me, stomped his foot, and yelled at me, "I don't want a hole in my sandwich!"


So I've decided that I can't give away the old oven until I clean it.  I gave it a spray with no-fume oven cleaner, waited a few hours, then went back to it.  I had no idea that ovens could get so dirty.  Nothing had ever spilled in it, so in seven years I hadn't cleaned it.  I now realize my mistake and have vowed to never let that happen with the new oven.  As I was scraping the years of crud from the inside of the door, Buttercup saw, gagged, then asked, "Is that why we couldn't see the food cooking when we looked through the window?"
Buttercup has been playing soccer for six years now.  She has always played left defense.  She loves it.  When coaches have asked her if she wants to play a different position, she adamantly replies no.  This season she has a new coach, and while she still plays defense, he has been encouraging her to play farther up the field.  She usually stops just past mid-field, but he wants her up even farther.  Something must have clicked this weekend, because she played WAY up.  Like see the whites of the goalie's eyes up.  And while she was up there, SHE SCORED!  In all of these years, it is her first time ever to score a goal. 
I'm pretty sure I embarrassed the tar out of her when I cheered her on and congratulated her from the sidelines.
Star is the goalie for his soccer team.  They played three great games this weekend, which put them into the championship game.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to see that one, as I was home with the little boys who had gone way past the point of being patient and wanting to watch soccer.  I heard all about it, though. 
Apparently, Star played an awesome game, both in the half that he was in the field and the half that he played goalie.  He made several good saves and helped them get to a shut-out.  Unfortunately, the other team shut us out, too, so the game ended in a 0-0 tie.  When there is a tie in a championship game, it then progresses to a PK shoot-out.  For those unfamiliar with soccer, a PK is basically a one-on-one between a kicker and the goalie.  Best out of five kicks wins.
The coach called Star and our other goalie to the side and asked them which of the two was the better goalie at PKs.  Star immediately said, "I am."  (Have I ever mentioned that Star isn't the most humble person in the world?)  So, Star was in the goal for the PKs.
While there, he did this:
Thanks to my friend at My Always Random and Usually Shallow Writings for the photo.  Well, her dad.  I thank her dad.
Yup, he did the rare thing of blocking a PK shot.
The crowd went wild.  I know they did, as I was on the phone with Hubby and refused to hang up until the whole thing was over.
Our first three kickers managed to get their kicks in, so Star's team won.
I hear that the team stormed the field and tried to pick him up, but that turned out badly.  They settled for chest bumps and high fives.
Check out the grin and the bling:
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! 
Really, the tradition for our family is kettle corn, but "winner, winner, kettle corn" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Have a lovely day!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Statistical Saturday

7 soccer games played, 6 more to go, 50% of parents wish we were done today.

15 hours of tournament work put in, five more to go, 100% of parents hate parking duty.

15 boxes of kitchen crap in the basement, which makes up 40% of the crap in my basement.

5 bags of kitchen crap waiting at the front door to head to their Goodwill second chance, 30% of Goodwill shoppers will say, "Why would someone even buy this new?" when they see my crap.

3 tons of kitchen crap going to simply get thrown into the dining room for me to go through later, 90% of it will stay where it lands until the new kitchen is done.

250 posts written over two years, 40% probably should never have been published.

10,000 pageviews reached, 12% were by people googling "pig waterer".

3% of blog readers want to read about soccer tournaments and kitchen crap.

I'll do 80% better on Monday.

I promise.

It's already written.  Well, 75% of it is.

Yes, Kellie, I was thinking of you when I wrote this :)

Have a lovely day!

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Halloween Edition

Today I'm doing a Halloween edition of Quick Takes.  Lots of scary and gross things going on around this here coop.  I'll put them in order from least gross/scary to most, just in case it gets to be too much for you and you need to bail.  Gotta warn you, the last one's a doozy.

*************** 1 ************
Giant's costume for the 2nd annual Halloween soccer practice.

Yes, that is a lemon in his hand.  Take a moment...Think on it...AHA! 

Way too deep for most folks on Halloween.  Scary deep.
************* 2 *************
Even after all of these years, I'm still amazed at how quickly a kiss from Mom can make a boo-boo better.  I love that I can ease the pain of one of my kids with just a little peck of attention.  However, I do have one rule.  I don't kiss bottoms.  Way too dangerous on that end of my boys, and I think you know what I mean by that.  I may have to add some more places I don't kiss.  Just this week I was asked to kiss the inside of a cheek, a tongue, and the inside of a nose.  Even if all were possible, I'd still have to pass on kissing these locations.  Makes me want to hurl just thinking about kissing the inside of a nose.
************ 3 *************
Is it just me, or does everyone have a pile of stuff just hanging out by the front door?  Stuff that untold people have left at my house.  Stuff waiting to be handed down to the younger cousins the next time we see them.  And now a heaping, scary, giant of a mountain of stuff from the kitchen that we are taking to Goodwill is getting ready to swallow all the other stuff waiting at the door.   It's all getting a tad bit annoying.
************ 4 ***********
I'm shaking in my boots thinking that this is going to be my kitchen for the next two months.

And I don't even have half the stuff we'll be using throughout those two months out of the kitchen and into this room yet.  Gotta keep reminding myself, "You're getting a mud room, you're getting a mud room..."
***************** 5 *****************
We are at less than three days until my kitchen comes out.  Am I scrambling to get it all packed up?

 Clearly not.  I have spent the entire morning cooking.  I have baked two chickens, boiled a dozen eggs, made six pounds of taco meet, and baked a loaf of banana bread, and got up early to make the kids french toast for breakfast.  It's like I'm putting all sorts of decent meals in the bank to get us through the lean times.  Like we're going to starve during the kitchen renovation.  For the love, I need to get my brain straight and get this kitchen packed up!  It is in a scary state of affairs!
*********** 6 ***************
 This has got to be one of the lamest posts I've ever written.  It scares me that I can't focus on anything long enough to get a job done well. 
************** 7 **********
This one, I promise, is actually creepy and scary.  In the last two days I have had to kill more than a few wolf spiders.  Normally, I'm not squeamish about such things, but wolf spiders and I have a history.  Go here to read about it.  It was the ninth post I ever wrote, so don't judge.  The appearance of these wolf spiders is making me very nervous.  We haven't had this many in the house since our first year here.  You know how when you watch a scary movie, and the actress is a dolt, going to investigate something in the dark while you scream at her to NOT go?  I am smarter than that actress.  Not a chance in this world am I going to go outside at night to investigate the spider situation.
Well, there you have my mostly lame, not at all scary Halloween edition of 7 Quick Takes.  Please visit again, when I will hopefully have my brain back.  If not, I will for sure have some awesome demolition photos!
Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Someone Is Darn Lucky I Am Too Busy to Cause a Ruckus

Buttercup and I went to see a movie and stuff ourselves with popcorn twice while in Atlanta.  The theater was in a small strip mall with outdoor parking.  A normal parking lot except for one, small detail. 

I have all sorts of things going through my head about this.  Accusations of the movie theater owner being carist.  Talk of getting the ACLU involved.  Thoughts of taking my big ol' van to Atlanta to scare up some friends and stage a park-in, blocking the lot with our big vehicles that don't fit under the bars.  All sorts of funny things.
However, I can't concentrate long enough to put it all into anything intelligible.
So, if anyone has anything funny to say about the photo, or has any insight as to why in the world a parking LOT would have these things, please let me know.
I can't concentrate because...
today I signed, sealed, and paid for my kitchen to be ripped out on Monday.
Today is Wednesday.
And we have our home soccer tournament this weekend.  Which entails at least 12 games, with a possibility of 16.  And don't forget the 20 volunteer hours we have to work in order to avoid the fees imposed on parental slackers who don't work the tournament. 
And my mother-in-law is coming for the weekend to watch the games.
And I must hit the grocery store to prepare for the weekend of eating healthy meals out of our van.
And I need to plan and prepare for the two months without a stove, oven, or sink.
And pack up my entire kitchen into a somewhat organized fashion.
But I'm not complaining.  I do like watching soccer games.  I'm excited for the changes to the kitchen.
Just getting a bit nervous.
Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Hunger What?

Finish the Sentence Friday

The last time I went on vacation, I...gave my daughter the best day of her life without even planning it.

On our big girls' trip to Atlanta, we spent Monday morning at the Atlanta Historical Museum.  Oh, yeah.  We Coop girls know how to par-tay!

I won't go into the details about why we went there.  It's not important.  What is important is that we decided to go on the two home tours that came with the admission to the museum.  We first went to the old farmhouse tour, which was the usual old farmhouse tour.  We then went to the grand mansion, where we expected to go on the usual grand mansion tour.

How wrong we were.

The group going on the tour was a diverse group.  Buttercup and I were the only folks there under the age of 60, and of the 20 people, only four others were even from the U.S.  The tour guide told us that we weren't going to get to see the rooms as they normally were, as the furniture was removed for the shooting of a movie.  Everyone was real nonchalant about the movie reference, until he asked if anyone had any questions.  Someone asked which movie it was, and that's when the tour got real interesting real quick.

In an off-handed way, the guide said, "The Hunger Games".

I must tell you that Buttercup is a HUGE fan of both the books and the movie.  She has read the books at least 5 times and, thanks to her friend, has seen the movie at least 4 times.  She has photos of the main characters in her school locker.  She knows that the new movie is to hit theaters on November 22, 2013.  She is on the verge of becoming obsessed.

When that guide so carelessly threw out the name of the movie, Buttercup choked.  Then perked up and squeaked, "Did you just say that the next Hunger Games movie was shot right here two weeks ago?"

"Yes.  They shot some dancing scenes I think."

"Jennifer Lawrence was in this house two weeks ago?"


"And Josh Hutcherson.  He was here, too?"

"Who is Josh?"

That's when Buttercup came within a breath of passing out.

She just learned the biggest news of her short life, and not one person on that porch with us had any idea how big this news was.  She was surrounded by middle-aged Europeans who had never even heard of the books, let alone the movie.  No one was there to share in this momentous occasion except me.  While I know from where she comes (I about lost my gourd on our summer vacation when we stumbled upon the actual green curtains from "Gone With the Wind") I'm not exactly the fan of "The Hunger Games" that she is.  Poor girl.

The rest of the tour was just a whole lot of blah, blah, blah as far as Buttercup was concerned.  She kept whispering to me, "I am walking on the same floor that Jennifer Lawrence walked,"  or, "Josh Hutcherson danced right where I am standing."

And Buttercup came face to face with her own morality.

Before we learned the big news of the movie shoot, the guide had told us that no photos were to be taken inside the house.  We could take all the photos we wanted outside, but none inside.   While we toured, I could see it in her eyes.  I'd give her a look, and she'd say, "Do you know how easy it would be to just push this button and "accidentally" take a photo right now?"  It was killing her.  How was she supposed to show photos of the set to people back home without photos?  I was very proud of her for resisting temptation and following directions while we were in the house.

I was so proud, in fact, that I helped her get around the rules when we went outside. 

They said we could take all the photos we wanted outside, so we took photos through the windows.  Unfortunately, the sun was shining right on the side of the house that we needed, so we had to get right up close to create some shade in order to even get something besides our own reflections.  But it worked.  If you are a fan, sit down.  I'm about to show you the set of the party scene in President Snow's residence.


Blows your mind, doesn't it?

As soon as we got those photos out of the way, Buttercup had to immediately phone a friend.  The news was just too big to keep to herself for a whole day until we got back to Indy.

When we look back at this trip, Buttercup will remember that she got to go up the biggest freestanding escalator in the world to get to the CNN studios.

She may remember that while in Atlanta, she did as the Atlantians do, and drank as much Coca-Cola as she wanted, being that we were in the city where Coke was created. 

She'll remember but may not be impressed with the fact that we went to the top of the world's second largest solid mountain of granite

and had fun taking silly pictures while up there.

She probably won't remember that she learned how to make little bubbles inside of humongous bubbles.

She will remember that we went on some seriously fun roller coasters at Six Flags.

But those memories won't come close to the excitement of stumbling upon one of the sets of her favorite movie of all time. 

It was a seriously big deal, y'all.

I so enjoy taking our kids on their individual trips.  For a few days, Buttercup got to choose what she wanted to do without having to take her brothers' interests into account.  Her personality got to shine without being tempered by her brothers' overwhelming presence.

Throughout the trip, Buttercup kept saying how much Turken would enjoy this, or Phoenix would enjoy that.  The boys were never far from our minds, but thankfully they were far from our location.

We got to have some really serious girl fun without them.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Listicles - Halloween Costumes

It's Monday Listicles time!  Thank you Stasha, for always giving us great prompts.  This week we are to write about Halloween costumes.  (At least I hope that's today's prompt.  I am actually out of town today and wrote this post last week.  If it's not, I hope you enjoy my totally random and original post on 10 Halloween costumes.)

I remember one, and only one, Halloween costume from my childhood.  Not because I liked it, but because it was the worst costume ever.  My mom had read a magazine, some crafty/homey type magazine, clearly not one in which the editors and writers actually had children, and found "the best" costume.  In my attempt to be most-loved child, I agreed to let her dress me.  As a hobo.  (I know.  So politically correct in the 80s, weren't we?)  Not just any hobo, with oversized, plaid clothes and a stick with a bandanna pouch on the end.  That wouldn't be "the best" now would it?  No, I had to have a realistic beard to complete the look. 

My mother, who claims to have loved me, put Karo syrup all over my chin, cheeks, and upper lip.  And then, to look totally authentic, she patted COFFEE GROUNDS onto the syrup.  Oh, it looked real, alright, but I have never been so uncomfortable in all my life.  And I've given birth to six kids.  Worst thing in the world to trick or treat in.  It itched so badly.  I couldn't actually scratch the itch, though, or my hands and then my candy would be covered with syrupy coffee grounds.  Three hours later, we had to get that crap off my face.  Raw.  My face was raw. 

To add insult to injury, my sister was the most beautiful princess that year.  Pointy hat and all. 

Clearly, my attempts to be most-loved child fell quite short.

Unlike my mother, I really do love my children, so they have never had to live through costume hell.  I may have dressed them up to look ridiculously cute, but never uncomfortable.  Comfort is numero uno in costuming as far as I'm concerned.

And finally, to my list.  I'm letting you all in on a little secret.  I have the potential to be crafty, but I rarely live up to my potential.  Really only at Halloween.  I have made many, many costumes over the years, and all without a sewing machine.  I don't have one, and wouldn't know how to use one if I did.  Here you have

My 10 Favorite Homemade Halloween Costumes Worn By My Children
(For Which I Could Find a Photo)

1. Clifford and 2. Cleo (Phoenix tore off the paws, as they were not conducive to eating candy.  Buttercup hadn't figured that part out yet.)

3.  Girl ghost, pig tails and all. 

4.  SpongeBob and 5. Patrick  

6.  Pocahontas

7.   Robin Hood

8.  Two years ago, I was just not in the mood to make any costumes.  To avoid doing so, I suggested to the kids that they combine two costumes that we already had and make a new, funny one.  Giant wore his authentic Matt Kensith (the Nascar driver) jacket he had gotten for his birthday and bat wings to become "Bat" Kensith. While I was impressed with Giant's creativity, Phoenix got the gold star for funny.  He wore a huge whoopie cushion and a Bart Simpson mask to go as "Fart" Simpson.  (I can't believe I don't have a photo of him wearing this.)

9.  Ironman (Hubby completed an Ironman race on Giant's third birthday.  So, a month later, Giant went as his daddy.)

10.  Batman and Robin.  (I didn't make these.  My friend made them for her boys, and I stole them the next year.)  

Have you ever seen such comfortable children on Halloween?

Do you have memorable costume from your childhood?  How about one that your child(ren) wore?

Have a lovely day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Quick Takes

****** 1 *******

A picture of the white board on Giant's dresser:

Somebody really doesn't like Spanish class.

*************** 2 ******************

I am going to tell you the secret of the longevity of my marriage.

Is it because Hubby and I have frequent date nights?  No, we don't.

Is it because we have long conversations into the night?  No, it isn't.

Is it because we can't keep our hands off each other?  No comment.  My dad reads this.

It has something to do with the fact that when we each received this email, the exact same thoughts came to both of us.

"My daughter-in-law would like to sell her cervical traction system. If you know of anyone that needs this and would like to buy it, please let me know. I’ve been told it’s almost twice this much new."

Our first thoughts:  "We have six kids and have never heard of this child-birth device.  And really, why the hell would anyone want a used one?"

One Google search later, we found that a cervical traction system is for a person's neck.  Apparently, cervical doesn't always mean something pertaining to the cervix.

The secret to a good, long marriage?

Mutual stupidity.

*********** 3 **********
I have finally discovered the key to being the best mom ever, and because I like you, I will share the secret.
Giant pancakes.

On a whim, I decided to make pancakes as big as their heads.  I haven't seen them that excited in a long time.  Like since the Christmas they got iPod touches.

************* 4 **************
Our toy box is covered in old photos from when the big kids were little.  My brother made it for his kids, but when he moved to Hawaii, he gave the toy box to us.  It has sat in our family room for three years now.
I was snuggling on the couch with Cuckoo when he said, "Why is Phoenix holding Turken in that picture?"
Me: "That's not Turken.  It is Daddy holding Phoenix when Phoenix was a baby."
Cuckoo then got up to point to the picture of which he was speaking.
"This one.  Phoenix is holding Turken."
Me:  "Nope, that's Daddy holding Phoenix."
Long pause.  Quizzical look.  Longer pause.  Then,
"But Daddy doesn't have that many hair."
************** 5 *****************
On the ride home from soccer, somehow the big kids and I got into a conversation about cheerleaders.  Whether boys could be cheerleaders.  At which sports cheerleaders cheer.  It then moved on to NFL cheerleaders.  Specifically their attire, looks, and age. 
Someone mentioned that I would not be able to be a cheerleader.  Offended, I asked why.
Buttercup managed to say, "They have big boo" when I cut in to stop her.  Then with a grin, she finished her sentence.  "boots.  Most of them wear big boots."
Giant then added his two cents with, "They wear skimpy outfits that show their stomachs." 
Luckily, we pulled into the driveway before he could say any more. 

Just to show them that despite their jokes, I am still in charge, I ran ahead of them and very mature-like locked the door behind me.  As they stood on the front porch, I did a little na-na-na-na-poo-poo dance.  At which point Phoenix said, "Yeah, with dance moves like that she really can't be a cheerleader."

Unfortunately, the whole conversation was relayed to Hubby when I finally let them in.  Hubby's only question was, "Why would Mom showing her stomach be a problem?" All innocent, like this was a real question.  Giant responded, "Have you seen her stomach?"
It seems I am living with a bunch of jerks. 
********* 6 ************
In this past week's Monday Listicles, I read about all sorts of women who are different from their younger selves in that they don't pay nearly as much attention to their appearance.  I was shocked to learn that showering every day was actually an option!  Who knew?  So, yesterday, the first day of Fall Break for the kids, I jumped right on that bandwagon.  I even took the kids to the playground and stopped at the grocery store in my unkempt state.  (I didn't go in my pajama bottoms, though.  Didn't want to hurt myself with too much change all at once.)  I only have one question.  Was I supposed to change my underwear?

 ********** 7 **********
Bright and early tomorrow morning, Buttercup and I will be heading to Atlanta.  It is her year to go on a trip, and she wanted to go to a big city to which she'd never been.  It's making Hubby crazy that we don't have any solid plans of what we're going to do once we get there.  All we know is that we'll find something, and that Stone Mountain and the Coke museum are on the to-do list.  We're adventurous types of gals.  Don't worry, I've been extra busy putting together posts for you to peruse while I'm gone.  However, I won't be replying or visiting with you until we return.  Which is Tuesday.  (Did you see that, Dad?  I'll be out of town until Tuesday.)
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm Not a Fan of Government. Aren't I Original?

There were lots of smiles.

And hugs.

There was lots of laughing.

And high fives.

There was lots of cooperation.

And introductions.

There were boisterous renditions of Happy Birthday.

And birthday ribbons.

Yet we were not at a birthday party.

We were working at a food pantry.

The school my kids attend stresses service and responsibility in helping others.  Each month the school chooses one organization to support.  For example, in September there is a walk-a-thon to help children with diabetes attend camp.  In December there is a drive to collect hygiene products for the local shelter.  In April, they raise money to purchase animals through Heifer, International.  The kids are not to mooch money off of relatives, but are to donate their own money or do extra chores to earn it.

These are all great activities to teach the kids how to help people.  But there needs to be more.

The school, to my delight, also requires all middle school students to complete service hours.  Each year, hundreds of students learn how to not only help people, but how to serve others.  Hopefully with a happy heart.

Besides raking leaves for old ladies, I take them to work at The Lord's Pantry. 

I won't go into all of the details.  In short, a man named Lucious Newsome came to Indy for work, helped serve meals on Thanksgiving, and discerned that he needed to help feed people every single day.  He gave up everything and lived as a "beggar for the poor."  The Lord's Pantry was thus begun.  If you want to read more, the whole story is at the link above.  I have worked there several times, and each time, the same amazing things have happened.

For the first hour and a half, volunteers set up the "store", organizing the fresh produce, bread, canned goods, chicken, drinks, and snacks that have been donated.  Buttercup and Star went with me this time, and we spent the entire time measuring 200 pounds of flour into 2 cup packages.

Before the doors are opened, the volunteers are gathered to get instructions.  Rule #1 is Smile.  The folks coming through the line may not see another smile all week.  Be polite, be happy, introduce yourself, be personable. 

Holy cow, do the volunteers deliver!  The regular volunteers know the people from the neighborhood.  They know their names, they know the families, they know their stories.  And they are genuinely happy to see them.  When someone with a birthday walks in, a gift bow is slapped on her shoulder.  The entire time, she has people wishing her a happy birthday, and before she leaves, everyone sings a boisterous Happy Birthday! 

Some volunteers are in charge of telling customers how many of each product they can have.  The luckiest volunteers get to help the customers carry their bags.  I helped six women on Saturday.  I simply walked behind each woman, carrying her grocery bags while she loaded them up.  We introduced our children (my kids were passing out different products, theirs were helping carry groceries), we talked recipes, we hugged. 

I had a great time.

On the way home, I was curious to know what Buttercup and Star thought of the experience.  I teared up at Star's answer.

"I was surprised to see how many kids were there.   And I was really surprised to see their clothes."

Huh?  Did he think they would be naked?  I asked for clarification.

"They had warm coats.  They had normal clothes.  They looked like me."

For years, he had been helping the poor without even knowing who "the poor" actually was.

The poor are people that look just like him.  And me.

Are there people needing assistance because of drugs or alcohol?  Yes.

Were there people who felt that it was a right to receive this food?  Most certainly.  (Buttercup had to be talked down after a woman got completely ticked off that she had to wait for a few seconds for someone to get her white bread instead of the wheat on the table.)

Does it matter?  Not in the least.

Jesus did not tell us to help those that deserve it.  He did not tell us to help only those people that we like.  He told us to help those in need.  Without judgement.  

So we did.

In this election year, there is quite the debate over taxes.  How much to tax and how to spend the money.

I am in the camp that says get rid of many of the taxes as well as many of the government help programs.

I get angry when people accuse those of us in this camp of not caring for those in need.

I am in this camp because I care very much for people in need.

When a person goes to apply for assistance, does she get a hug?

When the government sends the check, does it come with a smile?

Does the machine writing that check ask about her children?

Does anyone in the government gather a group of people to sing a boisterous Happy Birthday to her?

No.  No, it doesn't.

There are so many people in this world who want to serve, and they are so much better at it than an impersonal government.

Do we need to pay taxes?  Absolutely.  The government is a necessity for a civilization to work.

But I would love to pay a whole lot less in taxes and give every penny of that money to charitable organizations that actually serve people.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

You're Such a Good Dog, I Mean Kid

You know what I love to hear?  One of my kids screaming, "You cheated!"  Sure, the child may be gearing up for a bit of fisticuffs, but for the time leading up to that scream, the kids were having a lovely bit of bonding time over a game.

My children love to play games.  All kinds of games.  We introduced games to them when they were very, very small, and have encouraged them to play their entire lives.   I'm not going to go into the benefits of games, as I'm sure that all of my friends reading this are well aware.

I am going to give you a tip for playing a game with your toddlers/preschoolers.  Games with this age can get quite tedious, seeing as how the games are pretty simple and the children like to play them a thousand times in a row. 

I have a new way to play matching games.  It is best played on rainy or really cold days that the kids can't play outside.  Or on days in which you have been working your tail of to clean the house.  I only wish I would have been smart enough to think of this when the big kids were little.  Turken and Cuckoo love playing it.  Almost as much as me.

First, divide the matching cards into two piles, then scatter one of the piles around the house. 

Multiple rooms works best.

The other pile stays next to you on the couch or some other comfortable spot.

See where I'm going with this?

The child picks a card from the pile, at which time, if you want to be educational and all, you can have a small chat about the card and what will match it.

The child then runs off to find the matching card.

He will then, hopefully, return with the match.

If not, discuss and send him back to try again.

You will collect the cards and neatly place them in the game box on your lap.

OK, sure, it's a bit like a game of fetch with a dog.  Gotta say, though, this is easier.  Your arm never gets tired from throwing the ball. 

You.  Are.  Welcome.  Both for the game idea and the photos of my cluttered house.  Probably should get off the computer and do something about that.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Accessorizing Angry

This little lad is very lucky to have been created so darn cute.

When he flushed his brand-new, most favorite socks down the toilet, his sheepish grin kept my irritation in check. 

When he decides that he wants to put his own socks and shoes on after I have already done so, and then proceeds to scream at me while tearing them off, it helps that his angry face is actually kinda cute.

At the playground, each and every time, he asks me to push him on the swing.  "Not slow," he says each and every time.  So I give him a bit of a push, then he yells, "I don't want to go in the air!"  So I slow him down.  So he can yell again, "Not slow!"  A little harder.  "I don't want to go in the air!"  Apparently there is a very, very specific height that suits him, and I am to keep the swing at that height without ever actually pushing him.  Yeah, the adorableness of his little tush on the swing keeps me from showing him what "in the air" really means.

Yes, God knew what he was doing when he made toddlers/preschoolers yummy little bundles of baby fat and cuddles.

Just curious, though, why didn't He do the same for teens and preteens?  Their angry faces aren't nearly as cute as their preschool counterparts' expressions.

Perhaps if I make them wear the hat when they get angry?

The kid rarely gets angry.  He had no idea how to make an angry face.

Oh yes, much better.

Turken couldn't be left out, so he grabbed the hat and pulled an angry pose of his own.

Oh, he is still way in the cute phase.

You know the theory that says kids live up to the expectations people have for them?  It's true. 

Hello Cuckoo photo bomb.

Have a lovely day!