Saturday, October 31, 2009

Weekend 3-Ways: Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

It’s certainly a festive holiday for the young ‘uns, but as we’ve seen time and again at Me, You, and Ellie; the adults around here aren’t exactly the image of decorum or restraint. I think a run-down of the weekend activities from this blogging trio would be quite entertaining! So tell me, my little pretties,

What are you up to this weekend? (photos encouraged)


The pumpkins were carved last night, which is a task that always seems like so much more fun than it actually ends up being. One year Ellie and Bill were here for Halloween, and I asked my big sister to do the honors. She agreed, but warned that she was only capable of creating one expression on a jack-o-lantern: the goofy gap-toothed happy face that our dad carved every year ad infinitum. Without Ellie, this gruesome tasks falls to me, but not without the helpful suggestions of my two favorite ghouls

Today, our schedule is packed. First, I’m going to the gym, because I plan to eat a lot of candy. Then I’ll have a couple of hours to transform my peeps into their demented alter egos. Last week my sister Jane commented that the photo of our siblings in goofy Korean costume: “is the Halloween I love, not the ghoul-infested death crap that takes over nowadays.”

Um, my kids are dressing up as ghoul-infested death crap.

But fear not, there is at least one goofy costume in this household:

The karate costume parade and contest begins at 1:00, the school festival begins at 2:30, then we refresh the gore and head out into the ‘hood for a group dinner and trick-or-treat extravaganza, with roadies. We may or may not end the night with a stop at an actual party, but that seems mighty ambitious at this particular moment. Thank goodness we get an extra hour of sleep tonight, because tomorrow we’re going to roll our bad asses down the hill to watch the Chargers face the Raiders. Those menacing Raider fans can just sleep in their death mask costumes!

Wow, Jacquie! That is jam-packed! Impressive. And Mr. Can-O-Bean's costume? My favorite ever.

Our jolly little cul-de-sac neighborhood is getting together again at the end of the street, as we did last year (and, presumably, as they all did all the years before we arrived, but who cares about that??). We all bring our bowls of candy outside, have a campfire, and lure all the children down the long dark road toward us with promises of candy (and booze for their parents). Several non-neighborhood friends are expected to show up, too, including Tommy and Dawn, with their fine fine campfire wood. And that's it. I consider driving around on a Halloween Saturday night akin to driving around on New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day: amateur night. Except it's even worse because of all the children running around in their candy-crazed states, darting into the street wearing black. No, I'm staying on my dead-end street.

Sadly, I did not carve a pumpkin into my signature jack-o-lantern this year, but I did see this guy driving through Niantic the other day:

I think he's pretty cool, but he's got nothing on my old-school design.

And now? I'm off to buy candy. And booze.
For some reason I thought this 3-way was about the best jack-o-lantern you've seen, and well, I've not seen any but ours yet, and while they're perfect for a 5 and 8 year old, there not anything like Ellie's guy above. SO, I was holding off adding my 2 cents until I actually saw some jack-o-lanterns.
However, I was wrong. So, here's what we're up to. I'm happy to report that we survived yesterday's kinder Halloween carnival, followed by school-wide k-8 Halloween parade, and 3rd grade classroom party, which were then followed by short candy gorging in each child's respective dance class, and an in-the-dark performance of Thriller moves by the hip hop class with glow sticks around their wrists, which was actually quite cool.
Today, we set out early, to procure the last details for our sorted assorted costumes. We ended up with 4 more bags of candy, 8 pseudo nose rings, a spider choker, two white pillow cases, and a stethoscope. The pillowcases were promptly decorated for tonight's candy collecting, because supposedly, store-bought candy bags, are JUST NOT BIG ENOUGH.
At 5 PM there is a neighborhood parade for the kids, a trick-or-treating parade that covers a zig-zag pattern of blocks, those offering the best candy, of course.
The older girls are then off to do the rest of the 'hood with their step-dad, while I man the door with the baby.
THEN, our across-the-street neighbors have an annual Halloween party that promises home-made chili and plenty of booze. It's packed, and costumes, for all, are if not required, then strongly suggested. We'll be gracing the scene with a small, pink bunny, a slightly bigger cheetah, a zombie bride (?), bloody surgeon, and demented witch-like something-or-other.

Friday, October 30, 2009


“No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted” is the phrase that ends the very brief video below. And I apologize if you’ve all seen this before, I know it's a few years old. But I hadn’t seen this before yesterday, and I found it pretty compelling.

Take a quick look:
(How nice to have such a quick and painless eye job!)

Of course we all know that models in fashion magazines are airbrushed and that the actors (hell, even news anchors) we see in the movies and on TV have on an inch of makeup and a bottle of hair spray, but the constant barrage of physical perfection still does something to our psyches. Does it not?

As we get older, it has less and less of a pull on us, but it can be so devastating to younger people, especially girls.

Seeing as I have three girls, this is something I’m going to have to contend with more and more as the years go on. It’s just beginning with my third grader, who is only 8 years old -- it seems so young, doesn’t it?

But in a 2002 study, fifth graders, so we’re talking 10-year-old girls and boys, told researchers they were dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears or a clip from the TV show "Friends.” (They’re 10!)

Another 2002 study reported that teen-age girls who viewed commercials depicting women who modeled the unrealistically thin-ideal type of beauty caused adolescent girls to feel less confident, more angry, and more dissatisfied with their weight and appearance.

Angry teenagers with low self confidence, sounds like a recipe for success doesn’t it?

Of course this ideal of physical perfection is not going to dissipate, and I’m not suggesting that I’m going to take up some anti-media crusade, but it does give one pause and is sometimes good to remember how toxic unattainable beauty and body image can be.

So I'm going to throw out the fashion magazines, turn off MTV, and simply enjoy my Halloween candy, or maybe some donuts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Quest

Once upon a time there was a Man and a Boy and a Girl, and they all loved donuts. Of course the Boy and the Girl loved donuts; what children don’t? But these particular children were especially lucky because the Man, their Uncle Schleckah, he loved donuts, too.

Like many heroes before them, and like many heroes who will follow them, the Man and the Boy and the Girl went on a Quest. A Quest for Donuts. They left the safety and beauty of their Paradise called San Elijo State Park, and ventured into the uncertain and forbidding world of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, in search of those sweet sugary confections.

As happens in many Quests, the pilgrims met many obstacles along the way.

A dizzying and daunting number of choices stumped our brave trio.

Crullers? Old Fashioneds? Glazed?

But choose they did. And, I daresay, they chose wisely.

The Quest remains incomplete, of course, until the successful return of our intrepid and adventuresome trio to the safety of their San Elijian Paradise.

The fearless threesome headed back.

They traversed woods . . .
. . . . they crossed railroad tracks . . .

. . . and still, they persevered.

The Girl carried the sacred goods. Of course she did: the Boy is no dope.

Our brave and resilient soldiers were close. So close! As they neared their destination their mouths started to water. Their last challenge was to avoid eating their loot before their Journey’s end. And to avoid drooling all over their clothes.

And, finally . . . Success! Victory! Triumph!

The donuts? They didn’t stand a chance.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

pumpkin patch, cali style

Ah, the pumpkin patch. On a crisp, blustery fall day.

So what if it was pushing 90 on the day we set off for the pumpkin patch? It's not about the weather, it's about the pumpkins!

This particular patch is located at a dairy farm, and it's really cool. It's a great place that has been around forever, and never fails to impress me with its low-tech thrills. On the drive out there each October, we pass the same house with its sign advertising "free manure!", and I always promise the kids that if they are really good, we'll pick some up on the way home.
At the farm, you get to take a tractor ride around to see all the cows and goats, and every year we see several newly born calves wobbling around by their bovine mamas. Then we get to check out the methane tank and marvel at the miracle of electricity fueled by poo.
The pumpkin patch part of the farm has traditional patch-ish stuff like a small petting zoo, the requisite haybale maze, and real tractors to clambor and explore. There are also some innovative activities that I adore, like the dirt hill with hundreds of tonka trucks to push around, and the alcoves carved out of towering bales for tossing footballs into targets, kicking a soccer ball around, and bowling for milk cans. There's even a place where you can practice your lassoo skills and try your hand at milking udders, if you are so inclined.
But the crowning glory of Oma's Pumpkin Patch is the sledding hill
Yes, you heard me right. The sledding hill!

Who says that California kids never get to go sledding?

This snow never melts. And it provides a nice, soft surface for your aerial maneuvers. If you're so inclined

What is this magical substance that can withhold the beating from all these hot, dirty, barefoot children?

Cotton seed!

I love California.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I planned on posting a photo of my baby girl at the beach for her very first time, with some pithy 10-word comment (Ten-word Tuesday) underneath. But my mind is fried and I brought the wrong cord for my camera, so the photos remain on my camera.

Instead, in honor of the impending holiday(?), take a look at some other people's babies in very funny costumes…

Woopie! It's Halloween!

But soon it will be Thanksgiving.

And then it will be winter. (Is this the cutest snowman ever?)

Aww, baby bat

And his superhero side-kick: flying sammy, or sushi

And the evil, cat-slaying vilan: the devil

And finally, this guy (or gal), who looks pissed, and rightly so.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Westy Dance Party

What happens when you get together with college friends you haven't seen in years?

Well, you drink a lot of wine.

Really, quite a lot of wine.
And then you leave Mike and Chrissie's beautiful home and all pile into the Westy.

The Westy is always up for a party.

Then you drink some more wine.

What's really fun is when you invite a really tall guy -- a neighbor you've never met before -- to join you, then give him the camera.

Really tall guys take hilarious photos from high above.
"Cheers, Tall Guy."

It was one of those magical nights when everyone was up and everyone was screaming laughing and everyone was dancing and everyone was having a blast.
The view from outside the Westy was pretty great, too.

Mark, Brian, Bill and Mike all lived in the same dorm together at UConn. Imagine that?

Chrissie, over there on the right, lived in the dorm too. I was at UConn at the same time but didn't know any of those bozos. Mary Beth and Kim came to this particular freak show a few years later.
We've vowed not to wait another 9 years to get together again.
The Westy Dance Party lasted until 3 a.m. and then we had a giant slumber party.

Great music, great friends, great wine, great food, a beautiful night.
That's what happens when get together with college friends you haven't seen in years.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Weekend 3-Way: Treats not Tricks

I got this email from my friend Christine a couple of weeks ago:

Yesterday at Target, I happened to walk by the Halloween display and ended up buying a ton of candy for Halloween. Probably way too much. But for some reason I love to buy candy and it was on sale. Pixie stix, Starbursts, Dots, Twizzlers, Skittles, Mike and Ike's, Blow Pop's, Nerds, Sour Patch Kids (the last couple are for my kids, I would never buy these on my own) just to name a few. Then I realized that I also love chocolate and the Snickers and Reeces were not on sale. Phew, then I found that the larger bags of Reeces were on sale along with Hershey bars so I bought those. But no Snickers. I didn't want to buy non-sale Snickers (even though they are my very favorites) so I decided that I will have to wait until those are on sale before I buy them. So I keep sneaking little bits of candy from my stock and I keep thinking about all that candy at my house and I thought maybe a good idea for one of your weekend chats would be about what your favorite Halloween candy is.

I think this is a splendid idea. And so nice of Christine to think of us.

So. Your favorite Halloween candy. Spill.

First of all, I got this email from Christine on October 9. Which means she bought her Halloween candy on October 8th. That's 3 weeks before Halloween. That's dedication.

I don't crave candy the way I did as a kid; I'm much more of a savory girl these days: give me pretzels and sunflower seed kernels and keep your Milky Ways, whydontcha? That said, Halloween reminds me of being a kid, and makes me think about all those candy bars I never had any other time. So. Here they are: Baby Ruths. Yum. Butter Fingers. Yum. And, my personal favorite: 100 Thousand Dollar Bars. Which they're now calling, pffffftttttttt, 100 Grand Bars. Puh-lease.


Impressive. I could never buy Halloween candy that early. In fact, I can't buy it until approximately 4:30 pm on October 31, and even then I have to buy the kinds that I hate so I won't eat it all. That would include Christine's beloved Reeces (gag), and all other peanut butter candy. Barf. I'm not partial to nuts in my candy, unless it's a peanut m&m. Peanut m&m's might be the world's most perfect food. It definitely fits into my faves category. My other preferred chocolate treats would have to include twix and kit kats. Sometimes I really love a milky way, or a hunk of pure unadulterated hershey's chocolate. I do not discriminate against fruit candies, but you can keep the pixie stick and lollipop crap. I wouldn't kick a skittle out of my bed, nor a row of starburst. Yum.

So, I do what I can to limit the amount of good candy that is allowed into my household, but it's no use. I'm married to a man who rivals our children in candy consumption. In fact, just last night he tossed me a mini twix that he had pocketed from the secretary at work. If that's not romance, tell me what is?

I live with a candy maniac. My daughter loves candy, cannot get enough candy, everything is always about the candy. She hides in her closet to eat candy at times, and hordes her gum in her dresser drawer. I worry about these behaviors, but then remember how much I myself loved candy as a child.

I saved all my money for candy and soda and gum when I was in elementary school. And although I’m not AS wild about candy as I was then, I still do like it. I mean, really, who doesn’t??

I like real candy though, none of that pseudo candy like red vines or gummy bears or Skittles or the like. I like candy with substance, candy with chocolate, and nuts, and perhaps caramel and coconut.

Give me Godiva and Ghirardelli, and the stuff straight from Switzerland. Umm, Lindt. But I also love your more conventional Reece’s and Snickers and Almond Joy. Oh, and peanut M&Ms. I have to agree with Jacquie there.

But do I like candy corn?

Sort of. I WANT to like it, it’s so traditional, and festive, and well shaped, but it’s just not that tasty, and I’m always left wondering, how many hands have already touched it??

Friday, October 23, 2009


Don’t tell my kids, but I really hate Halloween. It’s not just the drama of finding costumes, decorating the yard, and avoiding any social invitation that implies that I might be expected to dress up (I’m a grown up. I don’t have to.) The thing I really hate is that suddenly the household is infested with candy. Our neighborhood has exponentially more houses than children, which results in handfuls of candy being doled out rather than individual pieces. It’s too much. We could limit the outing to just trick-or-treating down our cul-de-sac and there would already be too much candy. But what’s the fun in that? The whole idea is to visit house after house after house after house until each of those individual candy bars amounts to a sack filled with a huge variety of loot.

Back in the day, planning for Halloween never included a trip to the “Halloween store”. There was no such thing as a Halloween store, those hateful places are new. We had to forage in the cedar closet and storage area for our costumes. There were an awful lot of Korean Princesses and Army Doctors; with an odd assortment of rigid plastic masks and smock-like “costumes” that mom would just tie on top of whatever clothes we were already wearing.

poor Julie. What is she? A rhino-challenged demon?

We’d suffer through dinner and wait for the sun to go down, and then we’d grab an empty pillowcase and descend on the neighborhood. Dad and Dr. Cronin would accompany whichever of the eleven kids between them were at the appropriate age and level of coolness for trick or treating on any particular year. They’d carry the flashlights, shouting hello to the neighbors as we barreled to each door and back and then raced onward to the next house. When we had successfully traversed the mighty trek down Jackson, we took a much needed rest at the Taylors’, where we kids would be invited in to bob for apples while the grown ups bobbed for vodka freshened their cocktails.

What? You don’t carry cocktails when you take your kids trick or treating? What are you, a communist?

Once our pillowcases were sufficiently stuffed, we’d head down to one or the other of the basements of our adjacent houses for massive strategic sorting, and then the bartering would commence.

One of the highlights of our Halloween outing was the annual visit to the big white house across the street. They were locally famous for their Halloween offerings, and many a carload of kids would descend on our neighborhood each year to join the line up of hooligans waiting for their turn at the candy buffet. The bounty was plentiful. They not only had full sized candy bars, but they also had bowls of money! That was just so opulent; it added such intrigue to our perception of the riches that were surely hidden at that enigmatic address.

There is a similar story in our current neighborhood; one of the beautiful big houses on the canyon gave out quarters for a couple of years in a row. My kids couldn’t wait to get there last year, and they were not disappointed - although there was no money involved. They were giving out Halloween chachkies! Witch shaped candles, pumpkin ceramic mugs, ghost figurines, you name it. They said it was just all of the crap treasure they had collected during over the years, and this time when they took out the Halloween boxes, they decided to be done with it. Genius. I can’t wait to see what they offer this year.

Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pump it up

For the amount of effort I put into dreading going back to work, it hasn't been that bad. The first day was hard, I missed baby girl so much it almost hurt. And getting out the door was made even more difficult than expected because, number 1, my car's battery was completely dead, and number 2, my kindergartener was sick and not going to school.

Once I got to work, I also obsessed over how much the nanny was feeding my baby. It seemed like way too much. This paranoia was only intensified by the email I received from my husband at 3:15 PM saying that the baby had thrown up all over the sick, staying-at-home kindergartener. The baby spooge was so volumous, so much of it in her hair, and on her arm and shirt, that she had to strip down and get in the shower to be free of it.

But regardless of the obstacles we made it through day one, and two, and workday number three is now at an end as well. It is getting easier, but there's one thing about being back to work, with a baby at home, that is not easy, or fun, and that I'll probably never get used to.

I have to "express" milk while here in the office.

I've not done this before. It's new to me. And loathsome. It's disruptive, and messy, and most of all painful.

And there's a ton of gear associated with it too. Gear that's, well, let's face it, a bit creepy.

Take for instance this benign looking backpack:

This is no ordinary black backpack. No.

This backpack breaks down into this 2-gunned machine:

And the small, black, insulated cooler that I now have to tow back and forth to work with me does not contain a chilled, renegade beer or yummy lunch. No.

It contains all sorts of bottles and specimen containers and the like. Look at my desk; I can hardly get to the medical dictionary any more!

But the most outlandish gear of all, is the "hands free" pumping bra that I use to express myself.

(NOTE: This is NOT me. And there is no way this woman is really pumping, or still lactating, even. C'mon, she's skinny with no boobs.)

So here I sit, in my office, twice a day, looking like some crazy La Leche League warrior. Hooked up to a machine that makes repetitive pumping noises that never fail to sound like phrases, such as, "black hole," "hell of a blip," and "pull it back." (What do you mean?? I want to scream.)

But I don't, of course, because all that separates me from my coworkers, and the rest of the world, really, is a cheap, faux wood door.

So I've taped Daisy to my office door, just to remind the folks here that I'm busy; I'm busy in a I-don't-have-my-shirt-on, La Leche League warrior princess, so-don't-be-knocking kind of way.