Archive for October, 2009

I don’t suppose you’ve seen the latest national satellite photos? curwx_325x220







That massive amount of rain?  That’s stretching from North Dakota/Minnesota to Texas?  And headed east?  IS HEADED THIS WAY.  NOW.  TODAY.  BEFORE HALLOWEEN. 

You remember Halloween?  That day that we’re supposed to have a HALLOWEEN PARTY?  OUTSIDE?  Where my back yard has this rather large low spot, right in the very center? 

What have I done to piss off the weather gods, y’all?  I mean, seriously? 

Y’know, in my little pea brain, in my heart of hearts, when I agreed to host a Halloween party for Spawn and Co., there was this voice that said, “You are so screwed.” 

I mean, around these parts Halloween is in general mild, weather-wise.  I can remember one year, it was all of 85 degrees and gorgeous.  The next year it was 45 degrees and overcast, and the rain held off until after dark.  Which was fine with me, the real tomfoolery usually doesn’t take place until after dark and the rain squelched that, that year. 

In a way I am extremely glad to have a small batch of spooks on the guest list.  Because even if it clears off Halloween morning (as the weather dudes locally have assured me it will), the back yard will be a swamp.  And because we are not hosting a gaggle of lil’ Swamp Thangs, a swamp is not going to cut it.  So more than likely everybody will be inside where their feet and ankles and shinbones and kneecaps will stay dry, and ohmigod what am I going to do with everybody inside?  We obviously cannot do a pinata inside, since the one I bought is not the kind that you pull the strings on, it’s the kind that you hit with a baseball bat and I have 1930’s-era light fixtures hanging from my ceilings. 

I am currently operating under Freak-Out Contingency Plan B, which is to scour the internet for some games that can be played inside. 

Ack I hate parties.  Hate! 

— Mox

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Monday was a “professional development day” for the teachers in our school district, which meant the kids got the day off.  So naturally, I took the day off, too.  Because I wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to sleep in. 

After I got “sleep in” crossed off my to-do list, I got myself to the grocery story for party food.  Did you know that Monday mornings are when all the little old ladies go to the grocery?  Tottering along, blocking the aisles, vaguely searching for things, slightly confused as to why they’re in the grocery in the first place.  And in comes Mox, hell-for-leather, with a shopping list that (I kid you not) fills an entire sheet of notebook paper. 

I have to remind myself to be patient with the aged.  For sometime in the future I will be there, too. 

In a way I like doing party food, especially if there’s a theme involved.  The menu for our party is witches’ brew (aka punch) with a floating hand (raspberry puree frozen in a rubber glove), crunchy spiders (chocolate covered chow mein noodles), magic wands (chocolate dipped pretzel rods), mummy dogs (pigs in a blanket, mummy-style), heebeegeebees (your basic chex party mix with candy corn) and ghost cakes (mini cakes shaped like ghosts).  Fun! 

Monday was a gorgeous day, too.  Sunny, warm, breezy.  The trees in our area have exploded with color, thanks in part to the wet, mild summer we’ve experienced.  Spawn and I headed out to the park Monday afternoon, camera in hand, so I could attempt a few photos in a lame attempt to get a good shot for a Christmas card. 

Yes, you read that right.  I said Christmas card. 

For the past several years I have sent out photo cards for Christmas, because they were easy to do and people enjoy seeing how Spawn has grown from year to year.  Part of the deal of working in a business that works with a lot of design and photography is that I have pretty high standards for that, and to that end I’ve engaged a professional photographer to get my cards done.  Except this year, being all recessionary and wonky and stuff, I just couldn’t see spending that kind of money.  And so, 2009 has become the year of do-it-myself. 

I’m not much of a photographer, this I know.  It’s something that I have an interest in, and something that I’d like to improve upon, but I’ve never done it.  I have in the back of my heart/mind a sort of lust for a digital SLR camera, but at this point in my life I’m likely to remain a point-and-shoot gal.  And when you’re photographing something that moves at the speed of light (Spawn) you can’t spend a whole lot of time futzing around with shutter speeds and the like. 

Spawn, for the record, was not too happy to be the subject of my experiment.  At least not at first.  But at the park, by the lake, with the sun shining and the trees positively aglow, the kid slowly started to get into the spirit of the thing.  Especially since I was allowing the kid to do things like climb out onto a tree trunk that was leaning over the water.  We snapped photos as long as my camera batteries held out. 

I got home and changed batteries and uploaded what I had shot, and was pleasantly surprised that, amongst all the images of Spawn frowning into the camera, or appearing as a blur, or flashing me the peace sign right as the shutter clicked — I got a good shot.  So I uploaded it to a print site, designed a simple card, ordered 30 copies, and — because I ordered way early — got a 50% discount off my order. 

I haven’t even begun to give Christmas any serious thought.  I’ll do that after the Halloween party is over.  But I’ve already got one thing crossed off my list.  It may be the only thing I accomplished this whole year that I got done well in advance. 


— Mox

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Tick tock.

I think I am going to give up my watch. 

Having just come off of four days without a real need for a watch (did you miss me yesterday?), I can honestly say that strapping on a timepiece this morning felt akin to shouldering a yoke. 

As a kid, it was a number of years before I understood how to tell time.  All that business of clockfaces and quarter-til and half-past and those increments of five minutes… well, I wasn’t the sharpest marble when it came to math, so it was hard for me to grasp the concept of telling time on a traditional clock.  I came of age during those years that digital timepieces were becoming the rage, and boy was I glad for that.  I still have that first digital watch, a really nice one even though now it’s a bit clunky by aesthetic standards.  I wore that thing for years, until my tragic unhipness fell victim to the Swatch (remember those?) and I made the move to a traditional watch.  I also still have the watch my grandmother gave me for graduation, which was, again, a traditional faced watch.  Not that I knew how to accurately give someone the time from it, of course.  I mastered that cool, quick flip of my wrist (I wore my watch on the inside of my wrist because it looked cool to do that flip thing) and hopefully the position of the hands registered close to something I knew, so that I could say with confidence “It’s a little past four thirty.” 

I think about that now and I am embarrassed to admit it.  But there it is.  I was in college and I still didn’t accurately know how to tell time. 

I don’t know at what point it started to make sense to me, but like so many things that are math-based, eventually I got the hang of it.  I can’t say the same for my multiplication tables. 

The best thing in the world is that digital clock on my cell phone.  I don’t have to wear a watch when I’m carrying my cell phone.  All I have to do is look at that and know exactly what time it is, down to the minute.  I like that. 

I recently read an article about how to be a 40-something in today’s tech-crazy business world, and one of the points made was that referencing your watch was the mark of an old-school dinosaur.  These kids today all tell time on their Blackberrys and iPhones.  I don’t know that I believe that, but I also don’t see a great many youngsters in my workday wearing watches. 

Still, the first thing I did when I sat down at my desk this morning was to pull off my watch.  I put it on before I left the house and took it off before I checked my email at the office.  It’s still sitting on my desk as I type this.  Truth be told, it bugs me, hanging there on my arm like it does.  It gets in my way when I type. 

I do a pretty fair job of getting to places I need to be on time, though I manage to be late just about every single morning.  That, I attribute to morning sluggishness.  I don’t think I have ever, ever, gotten out of bed with a song in my heart and a spring in my step.  That’s just me, the early morning grouch that I am.  When I finally get up to speed I manage to get to where I need to be, mostly on time and sometimes even a little early. 

Do I need my watch anymore?  When I have a cell phone?  And a clock on my laptop, right there in the corner of my screen?  Unless the entire electric grid goes down, I think I’ll be okay. 


— Mox

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Party planning. 

In trying to focus on what I can control I have unleashed a mountain of lists from inside my brain, and these lists have begat lists.  Perhaps I should make a list of my lists.  Just to keep it simple. 

I am trying to keep my focus on what I can control because what I can’t control is the weather, and at this point (thank you weather.com) it’s looking like the rain will come through the day before Halloween.  Which will make it cooler than I would like, and possibly make my back yard an unwrung sponge. 

So!  Focusing!  On controllable things!  Yes! 

It seems to be a lot of trouble to go to for 8-9 kids and a few parents, but I want this to go well.  I mean, face it, on the surface I am something of a screw-up mom.  Half the time I don’t know what’s going on at Spawn’s school, even though I tack a school calendar up on my fridge every month.  I never know when Brunch for Lunch day is, I forget to put library books back in Spawn’s backpack, I never seem to be able to get it together to volunteer for class parties. 

So I’m making lists.  Lists of goodies, lists of scavenger hunt items, lists of decorations, lists of lists of lists.  Shopping lists.  Grocery lists. 

I’m listing to one side with all the effort. 


— Mox

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Despite my curmudgeonly tendencies, I am actually a relatively friendly person in public.  I say “relatively” because no one can compare to the chat powers my mother holds, and since I am her daughter the comparison is naturally implied. 

Hey, I’m friendly.  I’m pleasant.  I can make with the social chitchat. 

Today I bumped into the husband of a “friend” of mine, the word “friend” being quotation-marked because she is a social acquaintance and certainly not anyone I’d entrust a whole lot of personal info to.  But I know her, and I know him, and our kids are the same age, and we all (used to) go to the same church.  So I guess I know him well enough to say hello and ask how are you and the like. 

Except he wouldn’t participate in the exchange, beyond acknowledgment of my existence. 

We had to ride the elevator together for ten floors, I on my way out to street level and he, along with a couple of coworkers, to the parking garage.  To wit: 

“Hey, hi, J.” 


“How are you?” 

<crickets, while remarking to his coworkers how he was surprised to see someone he knows>

<awkward pause>

<chat amongst themselves about seeing people they know in odd places>

<and… exit> 

I got off on the ground floor more than a little perturbed.  Feeling a bit foolish, to tell the truth, like I was gushing like an idiot or something.  I got the sense he felt uncomfortable around me, for whatever stupid reason.  (Me!  Over here riding in the elevator with you, mister, and making with the nice!)  Almost like he didn’t want to acknowledge me. 

I realize this is overthinking, but considering that my “friend” tends to be a bit of a snob, her husband is easily tarred with the same brush in my book. 

I just asked “how are you?” for Pete’s sakes.  It’s a greeting, not a request for a dissertation.  “Fine, thank you, and how are you?” is an appropriate response. 

Part of the reason I no longer attend that church. 


— Mox

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They say more diets begin in dress shops than in doctor’s offices. 

In my estimation, a doctor’s office is as good a place as any to start. 

Went to the doctor today for my annual checkup.  Turns out I have gained 17 pounds in the span of two years. 

17 POUNDS, people. 

I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, me stepping on that scale.  I do own a mirror. 


There is a certain amount of backlash, you see, from my husband’s rigid low-carb diet, and that backlash involves me sneaking about stuffing my piehole with, well, pie.  And other carby goodness.  Because his rigid low-carb diet pisses me off  to no end. 

Because I am so mature.  Obviously! 

I try to support him in his endeavors, and truth be told he’s actually thinner now than when we married 16 years ago.  I daresay he’s thinner than when we were dating.  I try to support him, yes, to the point that I cook things that are within the parameters of his diet. 

It does not work well for me because we have this small person living with us, who has the metabolism of a hummingbird.  The kid doesn’t have our issues, just by virtue of youth.  In fact, over the summer Spawn grew an inch and a half, and lost weight.  This concerned the doctor because of the medication the kid is taking for the ADHD, and the doctor suggested a snack before bedtime every night, as well as allowing more treats.  Treats that include ice cream and cookies, and all manner of high-calorie stuff.  The kid can handle it.  Mama, however, can’t. 

And so my backside, she grows. 

I am not going to declare a new leaf being turned over here on this blog, no sir.  It would be a lie.  I am a lot of things but I am not a liar.  Much. 

I have seen the error of my ways, yes.  It’s just that said error is so very tasty. 

Getting a grip, over here. 


— Mox

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Hello.  This is Mox.  I am being consumed by party planning. 

Specifics include a scavenger/treasure hunt, apple bobbing, and a pinata.  Provided I can find a suitable pinata.  And items to scavenge.  And write clues.  And scrub out the washtub.  And so on. 

It’s a good thing I’m a list maker. 

The hard thing about being an only child is that you have no siblings to press into service during times like these.  My husband’s siblings are all over two hours away so that lets them out of the equation.  Fortunately, I have a best friend and she rocks.  Her son is going to be gone that weekend to a marching band competition, so she’s volunteering to spend her afternoon in the company of 8-year-olds.  Either she loves me or she’s a glutton for punishment, but at this point I’m not belaboring it. 

Spawn and my husband set to decorating the yard yesterday.  It’s hard to say at this point who was more into it.  Halfway through they decided that we just did not have enough stuff.  A list has been made.  On this list is “dry ice.”  Heaven help. 

I am trying to cobble together a spooktacular menu of comestibles, the likes of which will not take up a whole lot of time in creation, and yet convey general awesomeness.  Because the kids will only eat them.  The adults in attendance will be making notes.  Wherever my failings as a mother might lie, one thing I am capable of is cool and creative snacks. 

Spawn’s guest list contains only members of the same gender.  I encouraged the kid to cross gender lines and invite the others but apparently the opposite sex = cooties, and there is no place in a Halloween party for cooties.  Who knew?  I would have never guessed.  I suppose I should be thankful at this point because as we all know, in the future those cooties will be quite attractive. 

I am of course sweating the guest list anyway, because the letters RSVP mean very little to so many.  And we all know how I feel about that.  Every year.  I mean, really.  I’ve got two confirmed.  Which is better than zero, I realize, and of course my RSVP deadline isn’t for another week yet, but still.  I hate being on pins and needles over something like this. 

At the heart of it is a deep-seated fear that no one really likes my kid, of course.  When you have a kid who is socially a little bit behind due to behavioral and learning issues, it doesn’t take much for that fear to pop up.  I’ve learned from Spawn’s teacher that the kid tends to play alone or otherwise play a pretty rousing game of tag, but doesn’t have a great many buddies to pal around with.  While I don’t think the kid should be a social butterfly at this age, I’ve seen the schoolyard politics at work and kids are pretty fickle.  Spawn’s self-esteem is pretty battered as it is. 

Oddly enough, Spawn (according to the teacher) gets along better with members of the opposite sex than with those of the same, and because of that I think the party would go over well if the guest list were mixed.  But it’s not my call, and it’s one of many volleys in the war between the sexes, which begins as we all know on the playground. 



— Mox

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