Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peter, Paul, and Who?

Well, Halloween is here, and I have tried to celebrate in style.  I explored the Corn Maze (or is it Maize?) in Milton with my brother, Brandy, and Lola.  The maze spans over 7 acres, and has a different theme each year.  This year the maze teamed up with the American Cancer society and did a breast cancer awareness theme.  You make your way through the maze by correctly answering trivia questions at places where the paths diverged.  Or, alternatively, by letting your 2-year-old niece direct you by yelling "no! that way!"  Lola took the paths less travelled by, and that made all the difference.

Lola on the hay-ride that takes you to the maze (left).
Lola and my brother leading the way (right).
This was the layout for this year's maze.  I was impressed.

This season we also went to the local Pumpkin Festival.  I go every year, primarily for the pumpkin dumplings and ice cream.

It tastes better than it looks.  Sweet, sugary, syrupy heaven.
We bought Lola a duck on wheels.  She pushed it up and
down the sidewalk yelling "quack, quack!"  It was a big hit.

Finally, in celebration of Halloween this year, I am posting an excerpt about Halloween from my book.  I hope you enjoy!

"Halloween was always a big deal in my family, possibly because it is also my brother’s birthday.  Come late October, we carved pumpkins, and baked the seeds with cinnamon as snacks.  We told scary stories around bonfires in the backyard, and at night, after trick-or-treating, the neighborhood kids met at a family cemetery at the end of our dead-end road to play light as a feather, stiff as a board. 
My parents believed that allowing their children to pick their own Halloween costumes would foster creativity.  My brother usually opted for a costume that would allow him to wear fake blood and carry a realistic looking plastic weapon.  I picked out costumes that would allow me to blend in, such as a princess, a ballerina, or a witch.  In the fourth grade, I decided to let my dork flag fly and dressed as Mary Travers from Peter, Paul, and Mary for my class costume party.  I was irritated when no one knew who I was by my straight blonde hair, bangs, hippy clothing, and guitar.
“C’mon guys,” I said, exasperated.  “Puff the Magic Dragon?  Blowin’ in the Wind?  Leaving on a Jet Plane?  Don’t you ever listen to music?”
I looked around the classroom and realized that half of the costumes didn’t even make sense.  Several students had taken their favorite parts of conflicting disguises and thrown them together into some sort of costume casserole.  The girl who couldn’t decide between a vampire or a ballerina opted for a tutu and fangs, while one boy in my class tried to masculinize his pirate costume by wearing a basketball jersey over his frilly white blouse.
  When my mom picked me up I said, “I knew I should have dressed up as Mama Cass and carried a partially eaten sandwich.  Everyone would have known who I was then.”
When it came time to pick out a costume for the Girl Scout Halloween party in the fifth grade, I knew I needed to play an entirely different angle.  “I can pick out a random Halloween costume with the best of them,” I decided. 
After little thought, I informed my mom that I wanted to be a Mexican hobo.  I wore a hobo mask, a Mexican poncho, moccasins, a sombrero, and carried around bright red maracas.   I don’t know why my parents allowed me out of the house in such a blatantly, albeit confusingly, offensive costume.  I picture them having a good laugh about it after dropping me off.
When prizes were awarded at the end of the party, I took home the first place trophy for best costume.  I am as thoroughly confused by this honor today as I was then.  Since the fifth grade I have gone back to safe, generic costumes.  I just can’t handle the heartbreak and confusion that accompany creative costume design."
Here I am humbly receiving my award.  Sorry Simba, better luck next year.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Princess Baby... in 7 Quick Takes (10)

Wednesday was my niece, Lola's, second birthday.  We had a small family get-together to celebrate, though my sister-in-law, Brandy, is hosting a big dual-celebration this weekend for my brother and my niece in the form of a pig roast.  It is amazing to me how much Lola has changed over the past year (What?  A child changed between the ages of one and two?  I know I'm stating the obvious.  Just let me reminisce for a minute.  Geez.)
One year later and still as stylish as ever...
Lola is my favorite person, and I thought it would be fitting to make her the theme of this week's Quick Takes in honor of her birthday.


Lola has recently been referring to herself as "Princess Baby."  I find this incredibly endearing and adorable, and am trying to overlook the fact that it might mean we are all spoiling her a little too much.

Introducing, her royal highness, Princess Baby.

On Wednesday I took Lola to a local park for her birthday while Brandy was preparing her birthday dinner.  Lola followed a group of ducks around while repeatedly yelling "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUCKS!"  With each repetition of this phrase, I loved her even more.

As usual, playing on the playground equipment came
in second to picking up handful after handful of pea gravel.

Sometimes, while using the bathroom, Lola will yell out "Bye bye poop!" Why didn't I think of that?


Lola loves taking gymnastics classes, which she refers to as "nastics."  At the end of class she gets a hand stamp, but she insists that they stamp her foot as well.  She wants to get her money's worth.

Future Olympic gymnast, or the next big
wrestling sensation.  Only time will tell. 

Lola recently discovered her love of dinosaurs, which automatically makes her that much cooler.  My brother and Brandy took her to the Natural History Museum in D.C., and that is where her love began. Now when Lola's asthma is acting up, and she has to wear a mask for her breathing treatments, she pretends she is a dinosaur.  I can assure you that there is nothing in the world more endearing than a 2-year-old asthmatic pitifully pretending to be a dinosaur.


Whenever anyone gets ready to leave my brother's house, Lola yells "Bye!" at the top of her lungs, personally walks the person to the door, and pushes them on the butt if they try to linger too long.  She would make a great bouncer.


Most importantly, Lola is just a sweet, happy, and smart little girl.  She has amazing parents who have done a spectacular job raising her.

Only the best daddies wear pig ear headbands for their
daughter's birthday party invitations.
See Jen for more Quick Takes!

Friday, October 12, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (9)

Check out Jen's quick takes!

After much deliberation, I recently made my first big purchase using my law office credit card.

What is this high-tech piece of gadgetry, you ask?  Why, a paper shredder of course!  My favorite thing about this paper shredder is not its ability to shred even cds and credit cards, nor is it the ease with which the paper shreddings can be emptied.  No.  It is the warning symbols on the front.

I'm not one for reading instruction manuals, unless I have to put the product together myself.  I have made certain assumptions about what these warning symbols mean.  Are they correct?  Who knows.  Who cares?  Not I.


Check tire pressure.  I am definitely familiar with the exclamation
symbol, as it has been lit up in my car for months now.


No clapping! No matter how much this product delights you.


No shredding of tools.  This product is strong,
but not screwdriver strong.


Don't feel the need to dress up when using this product.
A button-up shirt and khakis will work just fine. 


Do not spray paint this product.
It looks good just the way God made it.


Do not use this product to trim your hair, even though you feel as
though you can trust this magnificant machine with your very life.


Finally, for the love of all things sacred, never, EVER, let children 
use this machine while they are holding hands with teddy bears.

Friday, October 5, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (8)

Link up with Jen


First, I want to apologize for missing 7 Quick Takes Friday last week.  I failed you all, and I'll be the first to admit it.  I am coming to you, tail betwixt my legs, to say I am sorry and that I will do better.


Sometimes my husband has to work overnight at the hospital.  On these days I do things that some might call pathetic.  For example, tonight I made pasta for one and ate it alone on my couch.  Last week I took artistic photos with my best canine friend.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

To make matters worse, I just spilled my drink all over the couch.  Cue Benny Hill music.


Last Saturday, I spent the afternoon volunteering with my friends at the local Greek Festival.  We made the world a better place one delicious baklava sundae at a time.

Love at first bite.

Apparently working at the Greek Fest means you get invited to swanky festive after-parties.  

Me and my wonderful friend, Anna, at the after-party!

Anna and I were fortunate enough to run into my college pal, Ben.  I tried to get a picture with Ben.  It is debatable whether our picture attempts were a disaster or a great success.

Third try was a charm?
Anyway, lots of fun was had, which makes sense because I spent the evening with a fantastic group of people.


While shopping for my niece's birthday present, I came across this at Toys-R-Us.  It is a $400 Barbie Cadillac Hybrid Escalade EXT.  Thank goodness there is a full-size luxury SUV for toddlers that doesn't guzzle gasoline.  I wonder how many MPG it gets on the highway.

No, I didn't buy it.
I looked this beauty up on the Toys-R-US website.  It states: "The premium sound system features a real FM radio and sound-boosting rear speakers. It also features see-through windows, a battery charge indicator on the dash, chrome wheels and grille, doors that open and close and more."

That's pretty pimp.  Or whatever it is toddlers say these days.


Last week my niece, Lola, was having problems with her asthma.  She brought my dad a book to read her while we were visiting.  He read it to her and her pink "Ya-Ya Bear " (as Lola calls it).  He did voices for her like he used to do for me when I was little.  I thought it was super sweet.

Two of my favorite people in the whole world.

I started my healthcare compliance job today.  I love it!  Everyone was so nice, I stayed busy, and the work is really interesting.  I'm going to be working there three days a week now, and I couldn't be more excited!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Does Your Toilet Say About You? (Figuratively)

Remodeling my bathroom has led me to learn about and purchase several new items.  I finally broke down and bought a caulk gun (see my previous Caulking on Sunshine post), I learned what aisle of Home Depot wood putty is in, and bought my very own power sander.  My most fascinating purchase, however, was the new toilet.

I had no idea there are so many commode options are out there.  It felt like buying a car, only without the guidance of a Kelley Blue Book.  Do I want my toilet to be tricked out with a dual flushing system (one button for #1s and another button for #2s)?  What about color?  White?  Ivory?  Beige?  Not to mention the age-old elongated versus round debate!  If you are environmentally sensitive (like me), then you obviously will want a high-efficiency toilet to save water.  If you are handicapable, you might want to say "I do" to the taller model.

And, oh, the names!  Here are just a few of my favorites:

The Cadet 3 Bone.

The Stinson Biscuit.
I thought this name sounded lame, but then it reminded me of
the small yet talented Seabiscuit.  He was a badass.

This one just sounds pretentious.  Get off your, high horse,
Prelude.  You are a dirty coprophile, just like your comrades.

Champion 4 MAX .
This toilet is only for real men, sort of like
Dr. Pepper 10.  I blushed just looking at it.

Value Toilet.
They saved money by not coming up with a clever name,
and passed the savings on to us, the consumers.

Anyway, after much deliberation, I settled for the American Standard Cadet 3 FloWise Complete Right Height High Efficiency.

Don't let us down, Cadet 3.  We're relying on you, soldier.