Friday, October 26, 2012

The Great Halloween Party of 2010

We love Halloween. 


Every year, someone from our circle of friends hosts a Halloween party. In 2010, it was our year. On October 1, I decided I was going to go all out on the party. "Epic" was the term I believe I used when The Hub asked me how big I was going to go. "Epic on a budget," was the revised term when he gave me his "are you insane?!" look. I came up with a plan to transform each room of the house using a different Halloween theme. I researched haunted houses, horror movies, and the occult for inspiration. On October 2, I realized that I was going to need some assistance to pull this off. I called on a few of my fellow Halloween enthusiasts to help.

My brother-in-law, "Lunchbox," practically cleared out Party City to add to my homemade props. My gal-pal, MP, dropped off a huge box of Halloween decorations from her party the year before. My buddy, WK, borrowed his company's projector so we could show movies in our backyard. The entire month of October, I made decorations and worked on putting it all together. On the day of the party, several friends stopped by early to set up the movie screen, hang outdoor speakers, and do some last minute prep.*

Here is how it all turned out. (Note: These pictures were taken during the daytime. It was way spookier once the sun set.)

The living room was set up like an old haunted house. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling and the furniture. We placed drop cloths on the couches and the entertainment center. I turned the TV to a static channel for the Poltergeist effect. I pulled out all my creepy porcelain dolls and placed them throughout the room. Add some spooky candelabras and eerie old portraits and you've got a place not too many guests wanted to stay in by themselves.

The Witch's Kitchen was one of my favorite rooms to decorate. I spent hours and hours researching  items one would find in a witch's kitchen. I printed off labels for potion bottles. I saved bottles and jars for weeks to fill the counters with witchy ingredients. I found old nature books and stacked them all over the place. I even consulted a Wiccan friend for tips and pointers. (She loved the room!) I liked the look so much, the Witch Kitchen was the last room to tear down after the party.

The bathroom was a no brainer. I hear that it doubled as a photo booth.

I am a Pirates of the Caribbean fanatic. I transformed our covered porch into a pirate's hangout. It was also where we kept all the booze. 

I wanted to have something going on outside since our house is pretty small and does not hold many guests. Line up hay bails, throw down some blankets, set up a bonfire, hang a giant screen on the shed and BOOM! instant backyard movie theater! (The scariest part of the day was watching my friends walk along our shed roof to hang the screen.)


There were so many fantastic costumes that year. There was Cinderella, Where's Waldo, characters from Alice in Wonderland, pirates, a red shirt Star Trek zombie, Snookie and The Situation, Buddy Christ from Dogma, a couple of goddesses, a biker dude, Batman, a hockey player, a Quick Trip race car driver, a blind referee, and a few sexy (add non-sexy professions here), just to name a few. I went as Calypso from Pirates of the Caribbean

An estimated 75+ people walked through our door that night. We even had a few party crashers... that was a first for me. The next morning, I woke up to an incredible mess. Not until we rescued our dogs did the carpet looked so thrashed. Beer bottles were scattered everywhere. Pieces of costumes were hidden in the couch cushions and kitchen cabinets. It took a month to set up and a month to clean up. But, for weeks, I received many compliments on our Halloween party. So much fun was had by all. I believe our party achieved "epic" status. And that, my fine friends, is awesome.

*My memory is not what it used to be... I know I left some names off, but it was not intentional and please forgive me! To everyone who helped with this party, attended this party, and enjoyed the night with me, I thank you again. 

Photo Credits: Linda Lavallee, Oracle, Erin Parker -  2010 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Elderly Men Think I'm a Bad Parent.

Three years ago, when my second daughter, B, was a little over six weeks old, The Hub and I agreed we needed to get out of the house and walk amongst the living for a bit. It was a beautiful early autumn weekend. We decided to go to The Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain Park and wander around the craft booths and get some fresh air. I double checked the weather and made sure B was appropriately dressed. I packed her diaper bag with all the items we could possibly need for the next three to four hours. We brought her Snugli instead of a baby stroller so we could navigate the crowds with ease. For those of you not familiar with baby paraphernalia, a Snugli is a baby carrier that you wear on your chest. It's kinda like a kangaroo pouch for little humans. Since B was my second baby, I didn't have the "taking the new baby out" jitters like I did with S.

It was a lovely morning. The crowd was light and we were able to walk around without bumping into other people. B was sleeping soundly in the Snugli. I draped a thin blanket over her head to shield her face from the sun. Her little feet in ducky socks peeked out from the blanket. She was warm and secure. While tasting samples of homemade salsa and pickles from a popular booth, an older gentleman approached me with a warm smile on his face. He pointed to B's socks and asked, "Is it a boy or a girl?" I replied with pride, "Girl." "Ah," he said, "How old is she?" "A little over six weeks." Then he shook his head and said, "You have some nerve." He turned and walked away, leaving me completely baffled as to what just happened. The dude just shamed me for bringing my six week old daughter to a festival. My daughter was soundly sleeping, covered and safe in my arms. There was not one inch of bare skin showing. I would understand someone questioning my parental decisions if she was chain smoking or sucking down bottles of bourbon, but I felt that this was completely unwarranted and just plain rude. I stood there, on the verge of a postpartum hormonal break-down, replaying the exchange over in my head. The Hub walked up and asked me what happened. I quietly retold the story and asked if we could leave the festival. My outing was ruined and I just wanted to go home. The Hub wanted to tell the guy where to stick his opinion, but he was no where to be found. He just disappeared.

Two weeks ago, I went to the grocery store with both kids in tow. I only had a few items to pick up: toilet paper, cold medicine and a couple of ingredients for dinner that night. I broke several of my errand rules that day. (For complete list of rules, please read How to Defuse a Bomb.) I did not have a neat and organized grocery list. B was not feeling well and did not have a nap that day. She was cranky and only along for the ride because she's too young to stay home alone. S was fresh off the school bus and was a little miffed that the shopping trip was cutting into her after-school playtime. I was fighting seasonal allergies and looked as worn out as I felt. But, I needed to pick up these items and I assured everyone that it would only take a few minutes.

As soon as we walked through the door, B started to whine. "I don't want to sit in the shopping cart. I want to push the cart. I am a big girl now and only babies sit in the cart." Fine. I let her push the cart with me. First aisle was the bread and peanut butter aisle. I pointed to a loaf of bread and asked S to put it in the cart. Bad move. The next item was peanut butter. I was looking at the sale prices (another no-no) and B grabbed a jar of peanut butter and chunked it into the cart, crushing the loaf of bread. I removed the jar and told B that it was the wrong brand of peanut butter. Before I had a chance to hand her another brand of peanut butter, B stomped her foot at me and said, "No! I want to put the peanut butter in the cart like S!!" I calmly said, "Please, do not talk to me like that. You can put the peanut butter in the cart once you apologize and calm down." S looked around to see if anyone else was watching her little sister's bad behavior. B raised her voice a little and said, "I want the peanut butter now!" S pleaded with me to just give her the peanut butter so we could move on. I explained to S that B was not going to get her way. She had to calm down first. If I let her talk to me like that, then I am setting myself up for more of the same behavior down the road. That's when B stomped her other foot and said, "Please mommy, now!" Just then, an old man pushing an empty cart pulled up next to me, walked over to B, put his face inches from her face and yelled, "SHE SAID NO!"

I stood there in shock. S turned ten shades of red and started to cry. B, absolutely terrified, ran and hid behind my legs and exploded into tears. What was a fairly quiet debate between a tired mommy and a cranky child turned into a major scene. Everyone stopped shopping and stared at us. The old man shrugged his shoulders and grunted as he turned the corner, "Just trying to help."

It happened again. Some random old man put his nose in my business. This jerk had no right to barge in while I was trying to control my kid. I was not going to let my 3 year old tell me what to do. I was not letting her get her way. I was letting her know that she was not allowed to talk to grown ups like that. I didn't let my exhaustion or desire to get home as quickly as possible stop me from upholding my parental responsibilities. I was doing exactly what people say you should do... be a good parent and discipline your child. You hear all the time about horrible little brats walking all over their parents. Whenever someone commits a crime, without fail, someone will say it's the parents' fault the person grew up to be a criminal because they allowed their kid to behave however they pleased. Not this mama! But, I don't raise my voice at my kids in public. I stay calm and firmly resolve the issue. I had the situation under control and this nosy old bastard decided that I wasn't doing my job to his satisfaction. Once again, I was a victim of drive-by old man criticisms. Why does this happen to me?! Do I have bummer sticker on my butt that reads: 

This was my chance to finally say all the things I wanted to say to the guy at the festival, but didn't. I never tell rude people off. Too many times, I am rendered speechless at their behavior or bravado. I also constantly stop myself from saying anything in return because I want to be "the better person." Not this time. To hell with my quick shopping trip! This was way more important. I am fully aware that my daughter is not perfect and can have an attitude. She's 3! But, this guy passed judgement on my daughter and me without any knowledge of the situation. He does not know that I don't back down when my kid whines. He did not know my kid was not feeling well. He has not seen all the other times she is out and on her best behavior. I was not going to let this man think he can go around and yell in a child's face (especially while the mother is in the middle of dealing with her child) and get away with it. He crossed a major boundary and I was going to give him a piece of my mind. 

I put B in the cart, grabbed S's hand, and went after the guy. I stormed down each aisle, checking out every man's face and preparing my speech. Oh, and it was good. I was going to wave my finger and shake my head to really illustrate just how serious I was. After twenty minutes of searching the entire store, I lost him. I knew he had just arrived when the incident occurred because his cart was empty and he had a fairly long shopping list in his hand. There was no way he could have finished his shopping within minutes of yelling at B. It's like he just vanished. And that's when it hit me... it was divine intervention.

It was a freakin' miracle. I am sure that some sort of heavenly being swooped in and pulled that old man out of the store before I could get to him. His guardian angel must have heard the alarm that his human being was moments away from getting his face chewed off by a pissed off mama bear and rushed in to save him. I mean, think about it. How can an old man just disappear like that? Twice! It happened once at the festival and then again at the store. One minute they are there and then Poof! - they're gone.

Or maybe he's in some secret league of opinionated geezers and their only mission is to rile up frazzled mothers and then slip back into the shadows... like a geriatric Batman with nothing better to do.

I shared this story with my mom. She thinks he may have realized he made a mistake and decided it was better to shop somewhere else. It's possible, but then, that's giving the guy too much credit.

I may never figure out the who or the why to this mystery, but mark my words, the next time an old man criticizes my parenting or tries to interject, I'll be ready.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Consumer Letters from a Regular Mom

I am happy to introduce a new segment to my blog: Consumer Letters from a Regular Mom. Periodically, I will write letters to companies to offer suggestions on ways to improve their product. Moms make up the biggest consumer group so I believe companies should hear what we have to say about their products. Hope you enjoy!


Dear Tampon Manufacturers,

I have been a faithful customer for over two decades now. For the most part, I am happy with your product line and will continue my patronage for as long as my girly underneathy bits require your business. I have witnessed several product upgrades through the years. With 250+ purchases under my belt, I consider myself a bit of a tampon connoisseur. Long gone are the days of bulky packaging and pale pink wrappers stuffed in my purse. I appreciate your new sleek, aerodynamic designs. I can continue to carry my cute handbag instead of pulling out a rucksack to cart around my menstrual survival kit. Unfortunately, I have found a serious flaw in your latest packaging design. I am a mother of two young girls who have a bit of a sweet tooth. If I foolishly open my purse within their line of sight, I am bombarded with requests to share what they believe is candy. I think you've missed the mark on helping a gal keep her visit from Aunt Flo on the down-low. There is nothing discreet about my menses whilst out in public when my kid grabs a fun-sized tampon from my bag and waves it around begging if she could please, please, please have a candy bar! I am already one step away from a hormonal murderous outburst and now I have to try to explain to my 3 year old that she doesn't want "mommy's candy." You are not helping me "Have a Happy Period." Might I suggest a new design? Perhaps you can consult the Navy Seals and work together on a wrapper design that is a little more covert or camouflaged, if you will. Take a survey of 2 to 4 year olds and research what they don't like. Work with moms, not against them.

 I took it upon myself to come up with a few prototypes:

You can call them Mompons. Genius, no?

Thank you for your time and consideration with this matter. I look forward to collaborating with you on your next line of feminine care products.

A Menstrual Mom