October 29, 2010

All Good Things Must...Change

Photographed in our 'hood by good friend Scott Spanier

I love Halloween.

Love it. 

I've mentioned before how much fun we have in my neighborhood and how crazy it gets with 600+ ghouls and goblins and princesses and super heroes parading up and down our street for one gloriously noisy, non-stop night.   I know, it's not for everybody, but I look forward to it every year.  I happily go to Costco and spend half a week's worth of groceries on candy; John and I go together so we can each pick out different kinds.  He likes to get the stuff that he likes, so he can have the "leftovers" (that's the "one for you, two for me" pile he secretly makes as he hands out the loot).  But I like to get the stuff the kids like, so we'll be a Popular House.  I don't go all-out though; I'm not very competitive.  No full size candy bars or Pop Tarts. (Pop Tarts! Can you imagine?  There wouldn't be any left for the kids if I had 600 of those lying around the house.) Nor do I try to compete with The Best House on the Block: Karma and Randy give out Ding Dongs.  Oh, for Pete's sake. Clearly a desperate ploy to get all the kids to like them.

Unlike some of my less enthusiastic neighbors, the ones who plan a quiet escape every October 31st and leave their porchlights off, I don't complain about the vanloads of kids that are dropped off to roam, sans supervision, from remote neighborhoods. I don't mind that there's a fair amount of garbage to clean up the next day. I don't care that there are parents who come through with infants and you think, "Hey, wait a minute!  That kid doesn't even have teeth. Who's going to eat his candy?" And I'm more amused - in a Jersey Shore kind of way - than I am disgusted and appalled, by the adult Playboy bunnies / Naughty Nurses who cart their toddlers through. The only costume that ever made me cringe, and seriously question parental guidance, was the ten year old boy who came through as a pimp.  A Pimp.  Really?

If you remember from my post a couple years ago, (Lesson Learned) we have a tradition on Halloween to which we must adhere.  John stays home and passes out candy and I do all the costume work, all the picture taking, and all the making sure that the kids have eaten something remotely healthy during the day before they short-circuit their little systems with sugar.  Then, I go out and walk around all evening, with any one of my neighbors who also happens to be carrying a travel mug full of red wine, vaguely keeping an eye on our own children.  And I love it more every year I go.

So you can understand how I've been a little teary eyed lately, as I have resigned myself to the fact that Jack isn't going to change his mind: He's not going trick or treating this year.

He's too old. Or too cool. Or both.

All of a sudden, all of my kids are done with Halloween.  Just like that.  No heads-up last year, no Pay Attention! Take Lots of Pictures! This is Your Last Year!

Just done.

I'm going to a party.

With girls.

* Sigh *

But wait!

God must have known that I wasn't really ready for this, that I wasn't going to cope with this particular End of Childhood Moment as well as other moms might.  Because out of nowhere, Tuesday night, a friend called to ask me if Jack might be able to help her out.  See, her kid is still in Elementary School, and they're having a Haunted House at school on Friday, and they really need middle schoolers to be monsters.

Hello! I get to make a costume? Of course Jack will help! We'll be there!

So, this afternoon, when I got off work 45 minutes late, in a slight panic, I raced home to get him ready.  He was very excited to be a part of this, to be the older kid, the helper, the one who gets to scare all the little guys.  We wrapped him up in cheese cloth and painted his face white until he was a pretty darn good mummy.  We arrived just in time for him to take his place in the Haunted House.  He's The Guide, the one who directs the kids through, then creepily taps their shoulders from behind when they least expect it.  I helped out for a bit, in a school my kids do not attend, and never did. I pretended like I was on the PTA and started taking tickets, at the direction of my friend, just like in the old days.

I left there with a huge smile on my face.  I grinned all the way home, thinking of him in the dark there, his arms stretched out in front of him, having a blast, being the scary mummy for all the little kids.

My kids might be done with Trick or Treating, but none of us is giving up Halloween.

October 26, 2010

A Night to Remember

I know - crazy to have two posts in one day when I hardly write at all for weeks at a time. But I got the pictures back from the party and I wanted to share :)

Here are a few of my favorites, taken by our fantastic photographer (and good friend!) Kimberly at Kimberly Atkins Photography.

The Venue: The Attic in Sumner
The cake by Maribel at Maribel's Dream Cakes
My Mom, Dad, brother John, and me,  just before we escorted them in 

My Mom and Dad first coming in the door -- crying already! 

My handsome husband John 

Our gorgeous daughter Casey and her friend, Rodolfo

My Mom and her best friend Nancy, whom I adore

My beautiful, dear friends Todd and Shawn, who have adopted my parents as their own

It was hard to get the mic away from my Mom once she got started telling stories...

...and making everyone cry...
...but then she lightened it up by getting my Dad out on the dance floor
and cutting it up to the Rolling Stones with my cousin Patti and my Aunt Jodi

until we were all barefoot and dancing with the DJ.
Fifty years....now that's worth a dance!

It's Okay - Tuesday

I stole this idea from Whispering Writer, over at Airing My Dirty Laundry, who stole it from Glamour Magazine. They have a section called "Hey, It’s Okay" - a list of a bunch of things to be okay about. I really like this, because I'm working so hard on trying to be OKAY with everything in my life/head/heart and to stop judging myself for everything I say/do/feel.

It's okay to be really angry at Jesse James for ending up with that Kat Von D. I mean, he wasn't a real stand-up guy to begin with, but this?! 

It's okay to not mind at all having to wear a uniform to my new job. Sure, it's dorky and ugly, but I can now get from What Shall I Wear Today to Fully Dressed and Ready to Go in about three minutes. And it's not like anyone shows me up when I get there.  We all look dorky and ugly. 

It's okay to tell my 12 year old kid that he stinks - out loud and in front of his brother - whenever I notice that he does. I'm the only person in the world who will ever tell him that because I love him, unlike everyone else who will tell him to hurt his feelings.  And for the record, it's ok to tell his friends they stink too, if they all happen to pile into my car after two hours of practice. 

It's okay to pay $4.95 for a bag of veggie chips half the size of a small bag of regular potato chips, because they are the most awesome million dollar snack out there.

It's okay to have lost interest in Glee when the hype got so out of control that I felt like my best kept secret had been revealed to the entire world. 

It's okay to watch Sister Wives.  And, it's okay to hate Robyn because, admit it, she'd be a threat to anyone.  Even if Kody is a pig and you are merely one of a herd of wives. 

It's okay to wonder about that girl's story - the one whose husband was allegedly shot by pirates while jet skiing.  Something is just not right there.

October 21, 2010

Working Girl

It's my first day of work! Wish me luck!

October 18, 2010

Crazy Busy, but in a Sort of Good Way

I've been away for awhile, tending to too many things at once, but it's all slowed down now.

On September 28th, my wonderful sister in law Dorothy lost her battle with leukemia.  My husband John was fortunate enough to spend her last few days by her side, along with his other sister, and his older brother.  The three of them never left her alone in the last weeks; they took shifts sitting by her bedside 24/7, always making sure she was comfortable and could hear them talking and laughing around her.  Just so she knew she was surrounded by the love of her family.  Lucky woman.

My daughter and I flew out the night she passed and missed her only by hours. Still, we were there for the wake and the funeral, which was something to behold, I must say.  Over 700 people came to the wake and waited in line for hours just to say goodbye to her.  We had no idea, as her family, what a tremendous impact she had on her friends and her community.  As an educator and Principal of one of the local elementary schools, she was loved by so many parents and students, it was astounding.  The district closed her school the day of the funeral and I'm pretty sure every staff member - and half the parents and students - were there with us. It was truly a testament to her life and work; one of John's cousins commented, "When I die, if people have to wait in line for an hour just to get into my wake, I'll know I've done something right."


I was only able to stay back in New York for five days, but I so loved being with my family-in-law for even that short period of time.  They are the epitome of family to me: close knit, but still functional :)  I miss them and have been leaning on John a bit to think about retiring back east.  We'll see how that works out.

I had to get back home earlier than everyone else because I had the big 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents coming up that next weekend and I had a few loose ends to tie up beforehand.  I managed, with the help of my dear friend Shawnie, to get it all finished not only in time for the party, but three days early!  Table centerpieces and all.  On Thursday, my parents arrived, followed shortly thereafter by my husband and a handful of cousins from out of state.  By Friday, we had a dozen guests or so already in town and our casual pizza and beer dinner for "a few guests" turned into a crazy fun evening with probably 30 people at my house. It was a great night and a good chance for people to meet each other before Saturday night.

Because I had managed to get organized (God knows how), Saturday was virtually stress free.  I got to spend it cheering on Karma and her team at the Breast Cancer 5k run, then enjoyed Toby's football game later in the morning.  I think I might even have taken a brief nap there somewhere in the afternoon before getting all dolled up for the big to-do.

I wish I had pictures to share, because the whole thing was so beautiful.  It was everything I had pictured in my head and more; the food was excellent, the service was over the top.  The room itself was breathtaking.  The cake was gorgeous and delicious. The DJ was outstanding.  My husband's speech - and the dozen others - were touching and memorable.  And my dad danced. He laughed and talked and visited all night and he danced too.  That's pretty unusual, if you know my dad.  The rest of us?  We were dancing fools all night long. Including my mom, of course, who was in her element.

They had a blast, my Mom and Dad.  It might have been the night of their lives; I don't want to be too optimistic, but that was all I wanted to give them, and I think we succeeded.  As soon as I get the pics back from our amazing photographer, I will share.

By Monday, we were exhausted, but in that good, satisfied way.  And I had a job interview that day!

See?  I told you I had a lot going on....

I am now gainfully employed, five days a week, 9-2:30 at a local medical office.  But I'll write more about that later.  I'll also fill you in on how my gorgeous oldest son is becoming such an awesome man and how my little guy got the Team Pin in the last game of the season tonight.

For now, I'm going to take my Vicodin for the tooth I just had pulled and hit the hay.

Did I say things were slowing down?