Thursday, October 31, 2013

These are the Voyages...

I love Halloween. It ranks up there in my Most Favorite of Holidays. I love the costumes and the cute decorations (I do not like the super gross decorations, though) the fun music and movies-the black and whites are the best.  Around our house, we start talking about Halloween around the end of the summer. By the second or third week of school, my kids have a pretty firm idea of what they'd like to "be" for Halloween. This is done for two reasons. One, who doesn't want to plan out the PERFECT costume idea? Two, in our house, I usually make the costumes, and so need a good month or so to formulate just exactly HOW I'm going to create the vision these kiddos have in their heads. I even go so far as to make my own patterns. It sounds crazy, I know, but I try to make them as simple as possible to avoid some of the more complicated patterns that exist out there, not to mention keeping my costs down by not having to purchase the patterns. I take an item of clothing that my kids already own and use that as the template to make the pattern on newspaper. Depending on what they want to be, I just alter it until it becomes the desired character.

This year has been a little different. Instead of only 2 costumes to make, I made a total of 5 (actually 6 if you count the do-over on mine). My husband (and I) spent some time watching the original Star Trek on Netflix this summer. My kids naturally wandered in and asked if they could watch, too. Of course! was the answer. When we got to the Trouble with Tribbles episode, my kids had basically decided that they like it. Somewhere along the way, the idea came out that they could dress as Star Trek characters for Halloween. It all got sorted out, we could have Kirk and Spock, Dad would be McCoy, and I would be....a female member of Star Fleet. You see, Uhura dates Spock, and since my son is going as Spock, that seemed a little weird. So, I'm a Lieutenant in Engineering. Either way. But what about our little one? She could be a Tribble!! So, it was settled.

I spent a good month brain storming how to put the uniforms together, and we watched the newest movie a few weeks ago. I spent the entire time studying their uniforms to get the right idea. I looked up uniforms, ranks, and insignias in the Official Star Fleet Technical Manual (yes, my husband owns a copy). This was important. I needed to get the details right. This was the first time in many years that my husband has decided he wants to have a costume! I typically don't dress up, sort of because he doesn't. But this he was excited about. So I had to get it right. I don't think I've ever paid so much attention to details for Halloween. But it was fun. I sewed for a week straight.

Here is Captain Kirk. Captain of the Enterprise. His rank as Captain is indicated by the color of his tunic, the insignia on his chest and the two and one-half stripes on his cuff.

This is Mr. Spock. He is the Commander on the Enterprise, as indicated by two stripes on his cuff. He is a Science Officer which is noted by the color of his tunic and the insignia on his chest.

Here we have McCoy. He is Lieutenant Commander, giving him one and one-half stripes on his cuff. He is a Doctor on the Enterprise, and so a Science Officer as well.

This is a standard female Lieutenant (one stripe) in Engineering, as is indicated by the color of the mini dress and the insignia on her chest. By the way, according to Trek: The Encyclopedia, "women have the option of wearing pants or dresses in "Where No Man Has Gone Before,"" and so I must be from that episode because there is no way I'm wearing a mini-dress and nylons for Trick-or-Treating. Or any other occasion, really.

Here is our darling Tribble. Defined in Trek: The Encyclopedia as a ball of fur that purrs. I hope she doesn't give us too much trouble.

And more of Kirk and Spock because they look so AWESOME!


Happy Halloween!

October Finishes

Monday, October 7, 2013

Unconventional Parenting

This is where our daughter would like to be fed:

And this is where she wishes she could be bathed:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

If You Give a Mom a Steam Mop

If you give a mom a steam mop,
She'll remember that it has been so long
That she can't remember when she last mopped.
So that mom will go into the kitchen to get the mopping started.
But when she's in the kitchen,
The mom will notice that the dishwasher needs unloading.
So, she'll put her daughter in the high chair with an ice cream cone,
Sans the ice cream.
Then the mom will unload the dishwasher.
When she's done unloading the dishwasher,
 She'll notice that the sink is full of dirty dishes.
So she'll need to crank up the Glee on the CD player
and fill the dishwasher with all the dirty dishes.
When the dishwasher is full,
The mom will notice that not everything fits.
So she'll take her daughter out of the high chair
and put on her long purple gloves.
While the daughter dances to the music,
The mom will wash the non-dishwasher-safe pans
and the other stuff that didn't fit.
When the mom has placed all the clean dishes on a dish towel to dry,
She'll notice that floor needs sweeping.
So she'll move all the chairs out of the kitchen, and sweep that floor.
Sweeping the floor will remind her that the floor needs mopping.
She will use the steam mop you gave her to clean and then sanitize the floor.
And chances are, if you give a mom a steam mop,
She'll have a clean kitchen to go with it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


"When given the choice between being right and being kind,
choose kind."  -Dr. Wayne Dyer

That quote is the theme running through the book, Wonder, by RJ Palacio, and is introduced to us by August's new teacher in school. I hope you took the time to read this moving piece of literature. It's a book that will make you take time to look at how you treat others, even when their differences aren't quite as glaring as her character, August Pullman.
August is an ordinary kid. He likes video games and hanging out with his friends. Inside, he is ordinary. Most of the time, he feels ordinary. But on the first glance, August isn't ordinary. He was born with a facial deformity. It may be described as grotesque; his skin looks as though it might have been melted like candle wax and he doesn't have outer ears. Because of this, he has had many major surgeries to help reconstruct some of the major issues. His parents thought it best to home school him so he would be able to have the recovery time he needed between surgeries without falling behind in his classes.
But now, August is 10 years old. His parents have decided that 5th grade is the time to start going to school. His parents enroll him at Beecher Prep, a private school in their neighborhood. August has seen the school, but he's still reasonably nervous. He takes an early tour of the school, guided by three students who will be in his home room class. He's not sure what to expect. Julian shows a nice face to the principal, but when the kids are alone, he acts like a jerk.  ____ is nice enough, but doesn't seem like she'll go out of her way to be friends with August. Jack Will, the third student, decides to take on this friendship, and since August and Jack are in several classes together, that makes it easier for them to get to know each other.
Palacio has taken the story and given us the voices of many of her characters. Rather than telling it in omniscient voice, knowing all thoughts and movements of each character, she has selected several characters that further August's story, and has given them each their own chapter, written in first person. I enjoyed this writing style because we could see the motivations behind some of the pivotal events in the story.
It may have surprised you that Julian does not have his own chapter. Palacio has said that she couldn't give a bully a platform or a chance to justify his dislike. I agree with this, because there is already enough hate and anger coming from Julian without allowing us to hear all the motivation behind his poisonous attitude.
One of the best chapters is Jack Will's chapter. He is a boy who was asked to do a favor for a stranger. This isn't an easy favor. The person he has to help is easily mocked, and people are afraid. I am glad we got to see the Jack work his way through the why behind his behavior. Why did he choose to help August? Why did he say mean things on Halloween when he didn't know August could hear him? Why did it hurt when August refused to talk to him? Why did he seek to regain that friendship?
I think we all have treated someone in an unkind manner. Jack was tired of being outcasted for making friends with someone who is different. But when he discovered how badly his words hurt, he realized that a friendship with someone like Julian is not worth the heartache it caused the friend who has always been genuine.
If you haven't already, read Wonder. Share it with your kids and then go explore R.J. Palacio's website about the book. You will be glad you did.