Friday, October 31, 2008

Conehair and Coffee

I promised I would post pictures of my conehead. Well, here you go. To make your own conehead, you must have a leetle bit of length with your hair. I do have length, but I have a lot of layers, so I do a lot of bobby pinning. Tip your head upside down and place a plastic cup in the middle of your crown. Wrap your hair around the cup and secure in place with an elastic band. Put loose hairs into place with bobby pins. Beautimous.

Incidentally, this is what I look like (well, not the hair and well, today was Friday casual day where we wear our school shirts. Look, this is what my FACE looks like) on most mornings: fresh make-up, bright-focused eyes, alert (though coffee-induced) and ready to go to work. This is what I look like when I get home: The sunglasses help me get through the afternoon. The cup came out at precisely 3pm. I'm pooped. I'm glad tonight is the women's retreat and I'm glad. I'm about to go (after the neurotic lady folds the laundry) and chill for the rest of the afternoon.

Mmmm. Yes.
I think I'll make some coffee first.

Oh, I've been asked why we don't have parties at school. I just don't think they call them "parties" anymore. I think you can "bring in cupcakes" for your kid's birthday or "do an educational activity" for a holiday. I "helped the children make caramel apples". Yeah. Don't really know. Maybe there were too many parties. I like how we "redefine" stuff so that it "fits someone else's definition".

I'm off...

Trick or Treat

Because of Clinton High School's Homecoming Game, Trick or Treating was moved to October 30th where we live. You can bet there were a lot of groaning parents (especially those who don't have high school-aged children) because of a school night trick or treat. I heard the word "second class citizen" at work. However, I was pleased (no complaining here!) because Mrs. In Ministry planned their women's retreat weekend starting on October 31 (hello) and I am going. So now we are on the morning after trick or treating. There is lots of candy (good candy, btw) and my children will be grouchy and resistant for waking up for school. There is still good times to be had for today though. I (having assumed the room mother role for Silas' class, after the previous room mother moved away) am making caramel apples with the children today and Corin's class will have "it's not a party" cupcakes (no parties allowed). Felix is going to wear an old Superman costume to school today and his little class will trick or treat at school. Cuteness.

SO. Last night, we had the Speece's over for dinner (Lincoln and Melinda) and then decided to head over to Old Towne Clinton's Trick or Treat. We hurriedly put costumes together just before we headed out.
Silas was Luke Skywalker. Yeah, you don't have to tell me how cute my kid is. But you can if you want. If you're ever in a fix for a costume, this one is SUPER easy. Khaki pants, Oxford button down (inside out, with the collar tucked and wrapped with a belt), a cape, and, of course, trusty light saber (which was the only thing that was purchased- and that was on his birthday in April). Cheap. Easy. Adorable.
Felix was an Indian (using Corin's old costume from 2006 -it's a little big, if you can't tell- and Indian pants we inherited from the Morgan's). Here he is standing next to Halina. Oh, excuse me, the bee-yew-tiful Snow White.
FYI: I tried to use the make-up pencils I found at Walmart (curses), but they had to be LICKED to write (they wouldn't work otherwise). Now I know. OUCH!
Corin was a mummy. This was, I originally thought, brilliant. He had first wanted to be a troll, but this was decided against because of the "too spooky" factor (and it was going to be hard to do). So he asked to be a mummy. Hmmm, two rolls of toilet paper for a costume? Um, yes. I don't know how it escaped the "too spooky" factor, but it did. I was going to black out his eyes, but, again, the Walmart make-up pencils were horrible. FYI. We used one roll of toilet paper and some black tape we had and he looked great. Initially. It was great fun watching Corin get wrapped and taped. Hudson requested the roll from the used toilet paper. Don't question Dr. Speece.
Here are all the children just before we headed to Old Towne:
As you can see, Corin is completely wrapped. We then got in the car, took the five-minute trip to downtown Clinton, then exited the car to find that Corin needed a fix-up job. Luckily, Quinn and I brought toilet paper and more black tape to do the job. However, after doing two activities at Old Towne (which was a little anti-climatic to me) and then heading back to the car to go back to our neighborhood to do some trick or treating, this is what he looked like:

Mummy with toilet paper is not a good idea. It would probably have lasted a little longer if I had purchased gauze or something. However I'm very frugal (or cheap) and I didn't want to buy it. After trick or treating (which Silas decided he was ready for bed at 7:30 and didn't want to go), where Corin dropped a little bit of toilet paper on every lawn we tramped through, he had a tiny bit on his legs (stuck there by lingering tape) and a little bit on his shoulders.
All in all, we had a great time. We had a great dinner with friends and enjoyed chatting with neighbors while we tricked or treated. Today will also be good fun and I will do my hair crazy for school (think cup in hair-yes, I will post a picture).
Have a great day! Blogginess will change tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mere Humanity

A quote from The Black Cat, by Edgar Allen Poe:

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere humanity.

Love me some Poe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nervous Jack

We carved our pumpkin on Saturday with the Donahoos and had a lovely time. This year we decided to make our pumpkin look nervous because he will sit on the front porch with our headless scarecrow. He's not headless on purpose (I don't like to do VERY scary on Halloween, just "deliciously" scary), I just haven't given him a head yet. I'll take any recommendations for a scarecrow head because I'm having a hard time.
The children love to help Daddy with this tradition! And I love roasted pumpkin seeds. Just rinse them, let them dry a bit (on a paper towel on the counter), throw them on a cookie sheet with some olive oil and garlic salt, back them for about 10-ish minutes (or until they smell done) in a 350 degree oven, and, Voila!, you've got a great, salty snack.
The man doing his job.
Felix loves "Nuhvous Jauck".
And here he is!

Bulletin Board Validation

I've talked a bit about how I've gotten to play with bulletin boards at school and how much I enjoy it (surprisingly so). Well, this week is Drug-Free Week (because I'm at a Kindergarten-1st grade only elementary school-cynical? NO) and we (as teachers) were encouraged to decorate our doors with this years theme: "Bee" Drug Free. And my door won for my hall! Oh, thank you so much for your thunderous applause! Yes, it's one of my lifelong goals (I think I need a tissue). Anyhoo... here it is:

I love my bee! I saw it on a little girl's shirt one day and sketched it right there (with the phrase "I gotta bee me"-no originality here- I'm a copycat). Here are two more I've done (for further validation, if you will):

This is the October board.

This is the November board.

I need some help with drawing people. But I wanted to see how much I could remember (from art class a gajillion years ago) about drawing perspective.

oh, and Mom, here's the Flat Stanley stuff:

Silas' class did the story "Flat Stanley" and they sent their own Stanleys to somebody they knew in the United States to have them take pictures of Stanley doing stuff they do in their city. We sent Silas' to my Mom and she did a great job. We miss you, Grandma and Papaw!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dr. Beex

Felix attends preschool at the Lab School at Mississippi College. It's an excellent preschool program and Felix loves to say that he goes to Mississippi "Cawlige". Today was their homecoming parade and the Lab School had a float of "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up". Ginger brought some kid scrubs she had at her house and Felix was Dr. Beex. Because he doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. He's three.
He was awfully cute with all the other kids.

Mummy Dogs

The Donahoos are visiting! We are having such a great time and today we made a new tradition: Mummy Dogs! They turned out great. You'll want to get a pack of hot dogs (we got Turkey Dogs) and two packages of crescent strips (they're in the refrigerated section). They were easy, fast to make up, and the kids loved it. Check it out...
First, separate the strips and give each child two pieces, a half piece of cheese (cut if you'd like), and a hot dog.
Next have the children press out the strips a little. But only if you're singing a favorite song, like Cullen.

Place the cheese around the hot dog and then take the first strip and wrap it first around the bottom, and then wrap it around the dog, overlapping the strip as you go up the dog.

Next, start the next strip up the dog, leaving a space at the top for a face. To make it a little easier for the children, we had them tear off 3 inches of the second strip of dough, and then had the fit it on top of the hot dog, like a turban. So cute.

I loved watching Felix and Ansley. They are awfully cute together.

Even the Daddies got in on the fun (okay, we forced them for photo opps).

Well, Trace needed just a leetle bit of help.
They turned out good!

Reformation Night at Mrs. in Ministry

Mrs. in Ministry meets on Thursday nights and we were notified in September that the four small groups in MIM would make a 10 minute presentation of how the Reformation played out in four European countries in the month of October. The four countries were Germany, England, Scotland, and Switzerland. Our group was assigned Switzerland. We decided to do "Reformation Jeopardy". And, oh my, it was fun. Here are some pictures of our presentation. I was Alexandria Trebek. Me likey a mustache. I told you I would look like a man if I didn't de-hair.

Liz, Trace, and Rebecca were the contestants. They were good.

You know I loved hamming it up as the hostess. It was super fun.

We had a little bit of trouble at the end, mostly because we were winging it. Well, mostly I had trouble with the end. But it was funny.
Rebecca Corley had the correct answer, or rather, the correct question to the Final Jeopardy answer.
What was the Final Jeopardy question? Though I can't remember verbatim, it was something like this:
This nickname was given to a woman who was famous for marrying and then being widowed by four famous reformers in 14 years.
Who was the Bride of the Reformation?
Her name?
Wibrandis Keller-Oecolampadius-Capito-Bucer.
Say that three times fast.
To see the rest of the pictures, go here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Bad

CORRECTION: Michelle was diagnosed with high cholesterol, not high blood pressure. My apologies, Michelle!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I want to be here:
I want to be there and reading a book and listening to the lovely noises a nice creek makes. Except maybe not overcast. That picture looks like it could be overcast. I'm going to need some sun. And a firm 75 degrees. AND a good book; DEFINITELY not Tess of the d'Urberville's which was one of THEE most depressing books I've ever read. Probably something I've read before, like, oh-I don't know, maybe Anne of Green Gables. Oooh, I know- Anne's House of Dreams. Yes, definitely. And the children will splash by the creek and then run in the snake-free, mosquito-free, bee-free, tick-free field. And I won't need insect repellant. And I'll have a good sandwich and some delicious coffee. And Quinn will probably be studying Greek, but isn't he always? Anyway, it sounds nice. It looks nice.

And we're back.

I'm not there. I'm in Crazyville. And in Crazyville, I'm in a whirlwind and don't have time to catch my breath. There's no creek. But there is craziness.
I will tidbit it for you:

Felix's Dr. told me on Friday that he thinks I have Walking Pnuemonia. I have chosen to think positively. And not believe him. You think I jest, but I am feeling better. The coughing is what annoys me. I don't like antibiotics either (if you know me, then I've covered this before- soapbox style), so I'll just live in my world of positive thinking. Falalalala, falalala (Deck the Hall inset).

Felix is better from his bout of nasty coughing (Dr. called it Walking Pnuemonia, but again- falalalalala-lalalala) and he did take an antibiotic though- much as I hated to give it to him.

Cars are being worked on. Yes, plural. Both.

Thursday night, we are having a Reformation Celebration for Mrs. In Ministry. Our small ladies' groups each have a European country we're talking about that famous reformers worked in (think: informative speech disguised as small presentation Ta-Dah!). Ours is Switzerland. I won't tell you EXACTLY what we're doing, but I'll give you a hint. I'm Alexandria Trebeck. Think Groucho Marx and Alex Trebeck have a baby girl and you get me.

My cat keeps pooping on the carpet. I don't know why. But it's making me mad. I hate carpet. A girlfriend I run with tells me that she may be depressed. Are you freaking kidding me? The ONLY hormonal woman allowed in MY house is ME. Poop on, kitty. No therapist for YOU!

At church, I'm teaching children how to play handbells. Oh, you didn't know I played handbells? Neither did I. It's a fun time learning experience for ALL of us.

I had teacher conferences this week with both of my boys' teachers. Of COURSE, they told me that children were joys in the class (duh). But can I say, I just despise all the testing they (the public schools)do with children? It's annoying. And, by the way, the teachers thought there was too much testing, too. I realize I'm in Mississippi (yes, I KNOW it's #50!), and our school system where we live sets their standards higher than the state of Mississippi requires, but, good grief, it's just A LOT.

I made a Dee-licious soup tonight. It was one of those dump and go soups. Of course I'll share! Saute some onion in olive oil (I think everything I do starts with that. Throw some garlic in if you'd like). Dump in the following: 1 can of tomato soup, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can kidney beans, 2 cups cooked chicken (or canned if you're in a pinch), 1 box of chicken broth (or maybe three cans), 2 big handfuls raw spinach, 2 sliced carrots, 1 cup of uncooked rice, and lots of seasoning (red pepper, cumin, curry, ground mustard, salt, garlic salt, onion salt, oregano). I just dumped more stuff in until it tasted like I wanted it to. Let it boil for about 10 to 20 minutes (on med high) and then let it simmer for at least a half an hour or so. The longer is simmers, the better it tastes.

I need a haircut.

And a pedicure.

And maybe a massage.

How about a ribeye?

With some delicious Bananas Foster for dessert.

And good coffee.

4:30am is clawing at my brain. Must go to bed. Please check Virginia's website for a Scarier Skeleton. It's one of my favorite Jack Handey skits.

Why a Scary Skeleton?
Because it's scary, it scares people. If it's not scary, what's the point of even having one?

Want Fries With That?

This weekend, our family trekked over to the "Ponderosa" (aka, Grandma's House) to hang out with family. Quinn's cousin Jason came from Birmingham, bringing in tow his loverly wife Michelle and two of their chilluns. We have always been very close with them, and my kids refer to them as Uncle Jay and Aunt Shell and Quinn and I have always referred to their girlies as our nieces. Anyhoo... last year, about this time(ish), Michelle was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Well, she's a walking picture of health. Tall, dark, gorgeous, magazine hair, thin, you know, the works (hello-look at her). She had, for a while, been eating healthy and exercising.

And she was STILL diagnosed with high blood pressure. She wanted to try to change (even more) her eating habits to avoid taking blood pressure medicine, which is known to have life-long effects on the liver.
And then her 38 year-old brother died suddenly from a heart attack. He had a wife and three children. Devastated, she grieved with her family and feared for her own. As his sister, what was her prognosis for health? She plugged away even harder at trying to find alternatives for blood pressure drugs, changing her diet again and again, exercising more often, and still her blood pressure was high. Constantly researching, she found more and more natural ways to make her body healthy and work more effectively. Whenever all the ladies would get together at G'ma's (or when we were invited over for dinner in B'ham) she would share tidbits of what she learned and I would (or wouldn't) apply them to whatever I was doing. This past weekend was no different. After listening to her talk about what new thing she had researched, or hearing about the Blood Type Diet (which her doctor told her was nonsense, but since she's been on it, her blood pressure has come down- go figure), I encouraged her to start a blog. So she's done it.
Go check it out.

PS... I ate four white macadamia nut cookies before I posted this...
PSS...I also have been trying to cut down on my refined sugar intake...
Yeah, yeah I'm going, too. Well, she's on my Google reader. I'll keep tabs. It's time for you to post a new tidbit, Michelle.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Homemade Snickers Candy Bar

Oh yeah, got your attention? It grabbed mine. I saw this idea on this website and you can BET I'll be trying to make it. SOON. It just screams "EAT ME, FAT COW". I've also been looking at The Crafty Crow a lot lately because they have a TON of Halloween foody (and non-foody) things to make. I'll definitely be trying this: It looks super easy and they are adorable. Last night I was called the Halloween queen by one of the girls, but that cannot be true (though I do have a good Halloween playlist) because of my lack of general desire to be crafty. I am slightly more crafty in October than any other time of the year. I especially like foody items. Like little pigs in a blanket that look like mummies. Cute.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Get To Be Guilty

Had coffee against my better judgement at Mrs. In Ministry. It just smelled sooo good. Didn't know if it was decaf or not. I'm guessing, two hours later and wired, that it was at least half-caf and I'm not sleepy. I do things at night when I'm not sleepy that I don't do in the day. I'm not usually feeling awake at night, so it's almost like I am more carefree (even careless- definitely have more verbal diarrhea at night) and have this desire to link with a child-like tendency to smile fearlessly into the night. I rolled down the windows (in my paint-peelin', dirty, green mini-van) and blared some old school Over the Rhine (oh, I was rockin') and sang "I get to be guilty" (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander) at the top of my lungs with my hand outside the window, feeling the cold rain hitting me. It was glorious. So rebellious.

And now to Poe.

Poe, Poe, and more Poe. Why do I like Poe? I know I have stated because he's a genius, but it is the whole of his descriptions that I love the most about his stories and poems. You can feel, see, know, and shiver at his descriptions, knowing his grief or his fear or his worst desires or tendencies. His writing is so human and unbelievably revealing. What is terrifying about "The Raven" is not the bird. It's just a bird. It is the main character's grief for his lost loved one that is so transparently horrific; his terror at his own loss. What did he see? The Raven mercilessly taunted him, not because it could, but because anything taunted his grief. Life itself taunted his grief over the lost Lenore. I think Poe's poetry reveals so much of his mind.

And his short stories reveal his deeper, darker thoughts. His descriptions are second to none for creating a mood of general spookiness.

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country.
(The Fall of House of Usher)
I can picture this day perfectly.

Isn't there something so nearly unearthlike about an apt description? So closely tangible, and yet just out reach about the beauty of words? How can they evoke such fear? Such sympathy? Tears? Terror? I am in awe of words.

I recommend The Pit and the Pendulum (for fear and waiting terror), The Raven (for exhausting grief), and The Masque of Red Death or Hop-Frog (for horrific poetic justice). Good grief.
Go read some Poe.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Parenthesis and Poe

I'm tired and pooped out. And redundant, apparently. I've skipped Christmas Choir tonight (because I'm lame and lazy and feeling guilty because of it) and am now about to go to bed at 8:10. Feeling kind of rollercoaster"y" lately; just missing old friends from the 'Ham (that's Birmingham to all you non-Birmingham-ites), missing my family in FL (that's Florida for all you, uh, who neglected to memorize state abbreviations in Elementary School), and feeling smothered in activities (which I partly bring on myself and partly get because of work). I just made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing (of course, the cream cheese icing is dyed orange and a candy corn is placed on each cupcake. You know, because it's fall) and I am feeling a leetle bit sick from snagging a bit of icing here and there (and here and there... and there and here... ugh. bleah).
So, after all that lovely, annoying complaining, I shall leave you (to go to bed) with some Poe. Because I love Poe. Some of you may not like Poe, and I'm sorry if you don't. Because he was a freakin' genius.

An excerpt from "The Tell-Tale Heart", which is one of the best short stories in the whole world. Ever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the room I undid the lantern cautiously -- oh, so cautiously -- cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed , to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Ah, yes. It wasn't the old man who vexed you, I see, it was his evil eye. I can see now why you would want to murder him and then dismember him. Thanks for explaining. No, of course I don't think you mad. Who said you were mad? Certainly not me. I'm, um, just going out this way. No, you sit here and I'll, uh, be back, ummmm, later. Thanks.

Love it. Deliciously scarey, if you will.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Monster Pizzas

Today, we had some friends over to make Monster Pizzas. This is such a fun activity (though very noisy) and the children had a blast. You can make this project as easy
as you want it to be. We made the pizza dough from Jiffy Pizza Crust, but you could easily use a tortilla, pita round, or ready made pizza dough from the refrigerated section at the grocery store. Decorating it is the fun part.
This year, I remembered the difficulty of transporting the finished pizzas onto a cookie sheet from the wax paper last year, so we used parchment paper this year to let the children decorate their pizzas and the problem was solved. I love that you can put parchment paper directly in the oven. After setting parchment paper in front of each child, we gave each child a ball of dough and let them shape it in whatever way they chose.
After shaping the dough, the mommas put a bit of pizza sauce on the dough and then the kids went to town with the toppings. As far as toppings go, we had kernel corn, raw mushrooms, turkey pepperoni (which I was skeptical of, but it's quite good!), spinach leaves, sliced red pepper, sliced tomatoes, black olives, and mozzarella and cheddar cheeses available. Everything was set in its own bowl and the children just helped themselves to what they wanted. The skull turned out to me the most popular.
After the children finished decorating their pizzas like they wanted, then we simply picked up the parchment paper with their pizzas on and set them side by side on a cookie sheet. They baked in a 400 degree oven for approximately 10-15 minutes (depending on how you like your crust). They turned out great!
You should give it a whirl...