Happy Halloween!

This post is for the mainly for me. You can read it if you like. But Halloween has really been developing for us as a family. Let me start out by saying that pre-kids I hated Halloween. I thought it was a silly holiday only meant for kids…which it really is. Except the year my husband and I went as a double shot of scotch. We were both wearing kilts and carried big syringes I made from paper towel rolls. I love that one….. ha!

Anyway, I digress. So Halloween was never one of my big holidays. Enter Alex. For his first Halloween, he was dressed up as a pumpkin in an outfit WAY too hot for Qatar in October. I don’t even think we did trick or treating. It wasn’t popular in our small no kid compound. So I had a baby Halloween party at my house. Alex was seven months….I had just found out I was pregnant.

The next Halloween we were in Sweden. In fact, we had just received our crate of belongings and luckily my mom had sent us some Halloween costumes because I could barely get out for groceries let alone to get Halloween costumes done. I did manage a pumpkin carving while Andrew was at work and we trick or treated at the only house on the street that was decorated for it. Ironically it was a Swede who loved Halloween. Who knew?

Our first Halloween back in the States was a bit rocky. We had just moved in and started getting settled. Alex asked to be a giraffe and I couldn’t find a costume. So began my trend at making costumes without the sewing. We went to about four houses and called it a night.

Last year when my kids were 3 ½ and 2, it finally started getting fun. They loved the idea of pumpkin carving and couldn’t wait for the fun to begin. Once again they requested costumes, or at least Anna did, that were hard to find. After working for a few weeks on making a caterpillar costume, I fell in love with the idea of trying to create without sewing. They loved walking the neighborhood in the dark and hanging out at home eating candy was just about as fun as going door-to-door.

And here we are at this…..Halloween may be becoming one my most favorite holidays.


The Details of Halloween Candy

Halloween candy. It should be so simple. You buy. You give it out. You sneak a few here and there. But Halloween candy seems to be complicated these days and even have its own politics.

When do you buy your candy? The day before or two weeks before?

What do you buy? The good stuff everyone likes or Smarties (gag)?

Where do you store it? In plain view or do you hide it from the kids and the spouse?

How much do you buy? Enough for leftovers?

Do you hand each kid one or let them become greedy by digging in for two fistfuls?

See, it’s not so easy. As I sit here sneaking in the “good candy” (aka Hershey’s Miniatures and Reese Peanut Butter Cups) that my family hasn’t discovered I bought yet, I’ll give you a little tour of my candy politics.

Before I had kids, I bought candy WAY before Halloween. It used to call to me from the Halloween aisle. Buy me. I’m a good price. I may not be here next week. Then I had kids and discovered the candy was gone by Halloween and I was five pounds fatter. And, true to American consumerism practices, Halloween candy is still at Target on Halloween only 50% off because the Christmas stuff is going up next!

So when you’re buying candy, do you buy the good stuff that you can eat afterwards if there’s leftovers that says “I’m a nice neighbor who gives yummy treats.” Or do you buy the really cheap bags of gross candy that any kid would still enjoy in mid-November. Well, I opt for a mix. Mostly junky candy and a few bags of the good stuff for the people I like. How’s that for selective candy distribution.

I make sure to buy just about what I think will be given out. Last year we ran out, so this year I bought about the same. Because Murphy’s Law says that if I bought more, no one would come. This way if kids keep coming, I’ll just shut off the light and risk having my house egged. (Do people do that anymore?)

The candy is usually stored on the top shelf somewhere. But I hear stories about how my husband managed to climb up to the top of a similar shelf one morning and help himself. This year, since I bought the candy late, I risked putting it on our super cool Halloween tin and no one—but me—has touched it.

Oh, and as for handing out or letting kids dig in…I give kid each one piece. Really, must I help support the expanding level of greed of kids these days. Some will tell me they’re allergic to peanuts and ask to pick out something….this I allow. But otherwise, I’m quite turned off by those who come in double fisting it for sweets. [She says as she takes the last bite of candy.]

Giveaway over at Baby Bunching

I'm giving away a CD set over at Baby Bunching this week. All you have to is leave a comment about your child's favorite song. The contest runs until next week.


Monkeys in Character

So the costumes have been a hit! Anna's more than Alex's...yet again this year. But I'm sad to hear that people don't know who Pippi Longstocking is. Really? And the reason behind Alex's pirate costume is that Pippi fights off the pirates or at least that's what she tells people. Hence the Pippi/Pirate combo. (We didn't have the braid done yet for this picture.)

Halloween is still two days away, but we've had a good amount of fun in the past week to drag out this holiday. Thursday we went to the Halloween trail. Once again, it was an endearing evening with the kids. I love Halloween when it's simple and just spooky enough to be fun. This weekend our neighborhood had its Halloween playground party. And today the preschool Halloween parties began. The only thing that makes me a little sad is the lack of creativity in Halloween costumes. I know we're busy parents trying to do a million other things, but I found it disappointing that there were only 3 kids....as far as I could see....who didn't have costumes bought right off the rack. I'm not saying moms should be sewing or stitching costumes, but even enhancing them beyond what you get right off the hanger would be nice to see now and then. (I'm sure I'll get flack for that comment.)

My apologies for going off on my soapbox here....but the other reason for this post is to share how Anna really gets into her character. When she's dressed as Pippi, she prefers to be addressed as "Pippi." She will tell you all about her horse and monkey and how she has two friends named Tommy and Annika. She also thinks it's OK to actually BE Pippi. (Meaning: put her feet on the table, climb on things she shouldn't, and try to lift things which are way too heavy.) She also prefers to only address other people in costume by their alias. So on Sunday when I was dressed as a cat, she called me "cat." Today at school, she made sure to address her classmates by "Ariel, Spiderman, Princess, Rabbit, Dog and Batman." She would say, "No, that's not Griffin, that's Batman!" She will never be the one who's not appropriately in character.


A Big Thanks to Shine

Wow, this was one of the nicest compliments I've gotten this week! Shine is Yahoo's new webgroup just for women. I guess going up and meeting Charlene Prince Birkeland was worth it.


Traveling With Dad

I'm over at the Tea Collection Blog this week talking about how we try and "travel" with dad while he's away.

My Reentry Into the Grown Up World: Shoes

So as you know I'm slowly trying to get up my energy to apply for a job. I don't have any childcare yet and don't really know what I want to do, but at least now I have come to terms with the idea that the time has come. There's a lot that has to be done like fixing my resume and perhaps doing a bit of networking. But the one thing I have to work on is my shoe wearing ability. Yes, you heard correctly.

On Friday night I attended a dinner event with the DC Metro Moms, and while talking to someone (yes, she was a friend) I had to actually sit down and take off my boots! They were killing me after only an hour. I'm sure my other blogger friends were wondering why I was grazing the buffet line in only socks!

As a stay-at-home mom now for four and half years and a PR professional, working from home, two years prior to that, I have officially been able to kick the real shoes out of my closet for a grand total of six years now. I own 2 pairs of boots (both which hurt my feet), one pair of pumps (that I've worn for 1 job interview), 1 pair of heeled slingbacks (which I love), 1 pair of strappy heeled sandals that I bought for my brother's wedding and everything else I own is considered "mom."

I love my Dansko clogs, my Timberland tennis shoes, a pair of Sketcher mules and half dozen or so other flat and comfy shoes that I could sprint after a toddler in--even a pair of flip flops I made my husband pick up for me in Dubai. But grown up shoes, fall to the far recesses of my closet. They don't see the light of day very often, and aparently my feet are grateful for that.

Going back to work will mean many things, and one of those will include learning to wear grown up shoes again. My feet are so going to hate this.


Preschool Woes

My son came home yesterday and told me he was tired of preschool. Of course in the same breath, he said he was tired of going everyday to school (which he doesn't). He informed me he's been at that school for 100 days already and it was time for him to be in kindergarten. I explained that even if he felt he was ready for kindergarten, you had to be five to attend. (And in his case 5 1/2 since he has a March birthday.) And that kindergarten was, indeed, every day.

So he made me a deal. "If I go to preschool all next week, THEN will you let me go to kindergarten?" I'm not sure what's going on here, and I'm hoping to go into the class next week and take a look at what they are doing. But after much protesting from Alex--which is a first for him--I decided to let him take his first "mental health day" home from school. He didn't want to go and I figured I would give him a break. Well, actually I wanted to make him go, but my husband reassured me that he wasn't expected to enter the rat race at age four and missing a day of school wouldn't hurt.

We All Need a Little Purple

I'm over at Being Savvy: Washington DC today with a mini review on Adventure Theatre's Harold and the Purple Crayon. Make the time to check out this production.


Getting it Together

I have a good reason for being MIA for almost a week. No, I'm not pregnant! You know which ones of you ask that.

I've been 'away' trying to pull it all together. My fall down the stairs last week began the downward spiral until....today. Minus the BlogHer conference, of course, which just gave me more action items.

My husband returned Wednesday on time and alive. But as one might imagine, returning from Afghanistan brings along some major jet lag. When he's up at 3 a.m. so am I. But I think we're finally back on a regular schedule. Him back also means a little readjustment for everyone back to yet another schedule. Funny how I find my groove while he's gone and it takes just as long to readjust.

There was lots of laundry to be done and cleaning, as well as errands I couldn't do when he was away. So I think we're finally back into a groove. Just in time for him to leave again. Super.

The big thing I'm tackling these days is our food situation. Our grocery bill is out of control. This from a woman who doesn't even keep track. But almost-daily trips to Trader Joe's isn't going to help us save up for a house. So I'm starting the menu plan. Thanks to a neighbor and my workout buddy, I think I'm all set until my enthusiasm wanes from this fad. I am actually writing down a menu for the week. Shopping for those items and FINALLY after so long organizing my recipes. After four days . . . OK, I know it's not that long, I finally feel the pressure is off. If I can just keep it up and make investment on the weekend to set it all up I think that will help with the dinnertime chaos.

So now I'm trying to catch up on blog posts and some writing (ones that actually pay) and move on.

The other news is that I think I'm just about ready to admit that I want to go back to work. I began looking at job postings this week and even with the economy the way it is I feel I need to start putting myself out there. After several different situations with my kids where they asked me to play, but that really meant 'just sit here while we play,' I decided it might be time. So we'll see how that goes.


Race Against the Preschool Clock

I'm over at DC Metro Moms today talking about trying to get everything done in the three hours my kids are at school.


What I Learned from BlogHer DC

I'm totally ripping this off of Jodifur. But with some link love, hopefully she won't mind.

I spent all day yesterday at the BlogHer DC conference. I signed up for this conference for several reasons. 1) It was in town. 2) It was a networking opportunity 3) I was trying to promote Baby Bunching 4) I might learn something new. All accomplished so it was a success. Added bonus: 8-hour break from my kids.

But this one-day conference taught me a few things I didn't expect.

1. As someone who used to be tech savvy, it was reinforced that I am indeed technically challenged. In my 20s I never would have thought I would say that. New goal: get caught up!

2. I still don't get Twitter. But I'm trying. Come follow me as "babybuncher."

3. I really want an Iphone.

4. I want to blog for a living. It's a perfect mesh of my skills--journalist, PR/marketing, ranting about random things. Will someone pay me to do this, please?

5. DC Metro Moms are a fun bunch.

6. I have lost all ability to small talk. Several times I said things to people I know, and many I don't know, and I wish I could have stuck my foot in my mouth. I really must work on this. I am apologizing to Devra, Amiee, Diana, and Stacy for random stupid things I said.

7. I think I may be ready to go back to work, but only after I get back up on technology and learn to stop saying stupid things.

8. There are many amazing women out there blogging....about things other than their kids. Who knew??


The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I wasn't sure how to write up this day so I decided to divide it into three sections: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

The Good. Today is Saturday, traditionally one of the more difficult days when hubby is out of town. I had planned ahead and bought tickets to Harold and the Purple Crayon at Glen Echo's Adventure Theatre. It was fantastic. My kids absolutely loved it--as did I. The good part: the best my kids were today was during the 55-minute play. I guess I should be proud and excited that I had at least that break.

The Bad. I knew I was in trouble when before 8 a.m. Anna and I were already arguing--about cereal, yogurt, clothes, the weather. We were set to go to the play. I packed a picnic (see, I'm not a mean mommy, even if she says I am.) So we headed out for the day. I had to listen to fighting the whole way there. I put them in time out right before the play. And I had to chase Anna down as she sprinted out of the theater and headed down the hill.

The highlight was when Anna spotted an overweight man walking into the theater and calls out "Mommy, it's a fat man!" Twice. We had fights the whole way to the car and the whole way home. I was exhausted by the time we arrived home.

The Ugly. Just as I put everyone down for a nap, I fell down the stairs. It was bad. I cried. After peeling myself off the floor and thinking this was going to hurt tomorrow, I thought, "Dammit, how will I attempt the gym tomorrow?" Seriously, I was looking forward to my Sunday morning workout. ARGH! Then I looked in the mirror. It was bad. I was cut up and bruised--blue, purple, green. Bad! Too much Grey's Anatomy has me thinking about internal bleeding and whether I'll survive or not. See, there really is only room for one drama queen in this house and it's me! So after an ice pack, some Arnica cream, Advil and wishing for a drink, the kids were up. I showed them what happened--hoping for some sympathy which I did get from my son. He felt so bad and offered me a big hug. Anna? Do you know Anna's response? She looked at me and started crying, screaming in fact. When I asked what was wrong? She told me her arm was asleep and it hurt so bad. [Pause]

Do you know what she was doing? She was trying to outdo me. I'm not kidding because between tears and pants she opened an eye to make sure I was watching. And then sobbed some more and fell on the ground.

And now I'm off to bed with an extra dose of Advil.


Hubby Away, We Play

Once again, we're faced with Andrew being out of town. Only difference this time, he's in an unsafe place. So while the inconvenience of him being gone is still there, is safety is really my top priority. To help me not think about the situation, we have filled our schedule to the brim with activities. I can't believe he's already been gone for four days.

First off, I have to thank my friends who have come to the rescue and invited me just about everywhere this week. And, truth be told, I have taken most of them up on their generous offers of playdates, dinner and happy hour (with kids). Thank God for preschool which at least gives me some kind of break during the day to get things done. I don't know how I did it before without school. Oh yeah, I went crazy and hired babysitters. Funny how that works.

I am excited because Saturday we'll be going to see Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Adventure Theatre. My kids don't really know what a play is. They think we're going to the movies. Ha! I hope it's good. Then Monday I'm attending the local BlogHer conference here in town. Can I just say I am super excited about this? My parents agreed to come up and take my kids for a whole freakin' day while I network and smooze and pretend to be a real person again. [Squeal]

So while he's away in some remote part of the world with iffy running water, we're making the best of it here by playing with friends, watching extra movies and spending some fun time together.

Despite all of that....I can't wait for him to be home.


I Got Kisses Today

My daughter is a very touchy, lovey little girl--always wanting to be held and cuddled. It was nice after having my son who really never wanted to be held. I savor the moments where he wants to sit with me. This morning as he got out of the car for school, he unbuckled his seat belt and came up to give me, not just one, but a string of kisses. I feel so blessed followed by "I'll miss you at school today, mommy." My heart melted.


Halloween Shouldn't Be So Scary This Year

If you remember this time last year, I was busy planning for making Halloween costumes. I was down to the wire sewing and gluing for the preschool Halloween party. But this year, I think I managed to luck out...majorly!

So the big question is what are the kids going to be?

Pippi Longstocking and a pirate. Ahhhhhh....could it get any easier than this. Yes, I found a dress for Anna at, of all places Gymboree, for $10. I have a great sock for one leg from one of Andrew's amenity kits from an overseas flight. I have to find one more stripy sock. I bought some orange hairspray for $3 for the braids she will have. Done!

For Alex we found a pirate sword/hat kid at Target for $5 and a pirate shirt on sale at Gymboree. Some 24-month pants he had from 2 years ago that still fit around the waist. Done!


Graco Monthly Nod

So I got a Graco Monthly Nod from Graco for a post I had over at DC Metro Moms about The Secret World of Bedtime. Apologies in advance to my neighbor for mentioning her in there.....but not by name so hopefully she'll still help me out when I'm out of eggs or sugar.


Everything Goes with a Mad Housewife

What do you get when you mix a bunch of mom bloggers with a wine party from Mad Housewife Cellars?

Chatty fun and lots of sharing.

Before I continue on, let me explain how I know all these moms. I write for DC Metro Moms every few weeks--usually when I get my two-week reminder that I haven't posted in a while. [Doah!] I started blogging with this group almost exactly a year ago. It's a great mix of moms--some who work, some who don't. And their professional backgrounds range from lawyers, scientists, doctors, teachers, writers, social workers, etc.

So when we all get together, the thing everyone likes to do is talk. Nicole hosted this wonderful event on Saturday with three cases of wine from Mad Housewife Cellars. How was the wine? Not too bad. Even more fun with a bunch of crazy mom bloggers (Sue, Jean, KC, Susan, Claire Jess, Leticia, Diana, and MamaBird) who talked about KC's bean and cheese dish she ate before the event, Diana's cat who accidentally nursed from her pre-baby lactating breast and her fear of clowns (like mine), Leticia's chance to be principal for an hour at school, and Whymommy's new work out commitment.

That's the thing about bloggers. We all have already shared too much with people we don't know. Imagine what happens when you bring a little wine into the picture. You have a bunch of Mad Crazy Housewives!!


Self Esteem Issues at 3?

Last night, I had a meeting in the evening. My husband's job was to get the kids to bed. We've had a few issues with this lately as Anna has decided to pee right before bed....all over the floor. The last time it resulted in a time out from dad. This wouldn't have been my response, but that's not the point. So after I returned from my meeting and asked hubby about the evening, this is what I found out.

Anna once again peed on the floor. But didn't tell anyone until Alex stepped in it and flipped out. Anna was found upstairs changing her clothes. Smart. Hubby fussed at her again and she cried. He could hear her crying in her room later on and overheard her say, "I can't do anything."

Can I just say, this totally broke my heart and made me weep. My little girl thinks she can't do anything. Where would she get that? Why would she say that? And how do I let her know that of course, she can do lots of things? Poor thing.


Culture Shock

I'm blogging over at Tea Collection today remembering the changing fall light in Sweden.

I Used To Be A Morning Person

Before I had children, I used to be the early bird. I would wake up before the sun came up, jump out of bed, take a shower, sit and enjoy my coffee and paper (briefly) and fly out the door work. I was almost always the first one there, somewhere between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. I loved the quiet time before the craziness to work in peace. No phone calls. No interruptions. No can-you-help-me-with-this project, and I need it now.

Why has that changed? I still go to bed at the same time. Sometimes even earlier. But when my kids come in at 7 a.m. and beg for breakfast and juice, it's all I can to roll my lazy ass over and say "just give me five more minutes, please." Sometimes they will retreat in their rooms to play, although it usually ends in fighting, but most of the time I have to get up. Right now!

How can it be that 8 years ago, even 5 years ago, I would have thought nothing about arriving at work at 7 a.m. But now, I can't even pour the cereal until the clock says 7.

And we run a tight ship about the 7 part too. I can hear the kids whispering in the hallway. "Does it say 7 in your room? It says 7 in my room. So it must be 7. MOM!!! IT'S 7 IN EVERYONE'S ROOM!"

Everywhere, but in my head.


Mommy Bloggers. I'm Published!

Check out my article in the latest issue of Washington Parent magazine.