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  • The Lonely Skeleton

    October 31, 2008

    When I was growing up I loved and looked forward to Halloween. My brothers and I and the forty or so kids who lived in the neighborhood would start talking about what we would be for Halloween shortly after school started in September.

    The years that Halloween fell on a Saturday or Sunday, we would spend the entire day scavenging for and cobbling together a costume. The ghosts in our neighborhood wore sheets with paint splotches the color of their living room. No one had a “store boughten” costume. Unthinkable.

    Long before the sun would set, four or five kids would crowd around the mirror in our tiny bathroom, elbowing for space. We painted our faces with left over craft paint, the gouged out remains of an old spot of blue or green eyeshadow or one of my mom’s old tubes of blood red lipstick. We’d rat up our hair and drench it in hairspray and practice scary faces holding up our hands Dracula-style.

    Then, just as the sun began to set, 10 or 15 kids at a time would set off screaming down the street with brown grocery bags, going from house to house, descending like a horde of locusts hollering TRICKORTREATSMELLMYFEETGIVEMESOMETHINGGOODTOEAT! And hooboy! Wasn’t that funny?!

    Amid the safety net of 20 kids, we’d roam a two-mile radius around the house for three or more hours. Our bags would be so full of candy we could hardly carry them and occasionally you’d see someone whose bag had broken, on their knees on the sidewalk, crying over their lost booty.

    Last year, Antique Daddy took Sean out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood while I stayed home and ate miniature Snickers waiting for the goblins to arrive at the door. Kids trickled up the sidewalk two and three at a time, escorted by their parents who were in the background hissing, Say trick-or-treat! Say Happy Halloween! Say thank you! Did you say thank you!?”

    Halloween seems so much more lonely an event these days, at least in my neighborhood. The singular Ariel or Ninja that comes to my door makes me nostalgic for the gangs of ghosts splattered with Sherwin William’s Burlap Beige and hobos wearing their dad’s work pants cinched up around their armpits.

    As I stood at the door watching a tiny princess and her daddy make their way to the next house, a skeleton emerged out of the darkness and made his way up the steps. He was an apt skeleton weighing no more than a bucket of green beans. “Trick or treat!” he called to me cheerfully. I estimated him to be about 10-years-old. I looked beyond him into the darkness, but there was no one. I looked into the eyeholes of his mask at his bright brown eyes. I could tell he was smiling at me. I dropped a handful of candy into his bag. “Thank you ma’am!” he said looking me in the eye. Then he turned and started down the steps. “Wait a minute!” I called him back. “Here!” I said, dropping two more handfuls of candy into his bag. “Happy Halloween to you Mr. Skeleton!” “Wow! Thanks!” he called as he disappeared into the darkness. All alone.

    I watched him until there was nothing but darkness beyond the bright porch light. I heaved a heavy sigh. Something about the slightness of his form, his cheer, his courtesy that made me think of my little goblin, who will never be one of a roving gang of paint-splattered ghosts, but a polite, lonely skeleton. And that sort of makes me sad.

    Originally published November, 2006

    Happy Halloween

    October 30, 2008

    I found this image on iStock and I publish it here for your amusement. There’s just something universally funny about a dog wearing clothes.

    Which Came First?

    What I like about this photo is the contrast between Sean’s grimy little boy hands and the fragile delicate white egg.    When he pulled it from the carton, he said, “Hey look mom! This egg is named after EB!”  EB is a dear friend who has kept Sean well stocked in hand-me-down clothes and toys since he was born. And we adore her.

    The original photo was pretty unremarkable.  I cropped it for dramatic effect and then in Picasa I used the Focal Black and White feature to turn the photo into a black and white and selecting the focal point of the stamp on the egg for a pop of color.  After that I sharpened it up a little bit and that was it.

    What Every New Mom Should Know

    October 28, 2008

    Meg, who writes Spicy Magnolia, commented on one of my recent posts saying she was having her first baby in January and that she was scared out of her mind.  And so of course I thought, “I’ll bet Meg would love some unsolicited advice from the internets!”

    So then Meg, here is everything you ever wanted to know about becoming a mom but was smart enough not to ask: 

    • In the words of Dr. Spock, trust yourself.  Use your own good sense. If that fails, Google for reassurance. 
    • You don’t need 99% of the stuff at Babies R Us.  Return that battery powered bottle warmer and buy yourself a nice pair of sweats.
    • Never change a poopy diaper while wearing bell sleeves. 
    • Don’t stock up on diapers. As soon as you do, they will grow into the next size.
    • The one time you go to the grocery store without the diaper bag, you and the other customers will live to regret it.
    • Don’t bother putting shoes on your kiddo until they start walking – more money for shoes for you! 
    • Do what you have to do to make life easy for yourself.  I kept Sean in zip up sleepers for the first year of his life after trying to dress him in one of those cute little Osh Kosh bib overall outfits nearly sent me off the deep end. 
    • Don’t under-estimate your baby’s ability to take in and absorb information – good and bad. Kids are omnipotent. They are aware of everything that is going on in the house. 
    • Take lots of pictures and write stuff down. Your brain won’t be able to hold that much wonderful.
    • Let your child see your eyes light up when he enters the room. Let him know every day that you are glad he was born, glad you got to be his mom. Let your child know daily he is a source of joy in your life.  This will make up for the times when motherhood kicks your booty.
    • Never forget that motherhood is the most precious season in a woman’s life. Wring the joy out of every day.

    Then again Meg, don’t listen to me. I have a whole category dedicated to parenting gone awry

    Got some good new mom advice for Meg?  Leave it in the comments!

    * * * * *

    Update:  A little thank you note to y’all from soon-to-be new mom Meg:

    “Hello, everyone! This is Meg. 🙂 I want to reply to each of your comments to say “thank you”! They all mean so much to me and I’m printing them out to keep. But for those of you who don’t have a blog for me to click on and reply to you personally, please accept my deep appreciation for taking the time to leave a comment; I still feel so encouraged by this post and the comments! I hope you have a wonderful day and thank you!

    November 1st, 2008

    How Parenting Is Like Golf

    October 26, 2008

    In my previous life, I played golf three or four times a week. I love golf. I even love to watch it on television.  In fact, before I met Antique Daddy, I wouldn’t even consider dating someone who didn’t play golf.  It was on my non-negotiable list.  We played quite a bit until Sean came along and I hope that one day Sean will take it up and we will play as a family because the family that golfs together, well, they spend a lot of time together.

    On Twitter the other day I saw that my friend, the author Jill Shalvis, asked the rhetorical question, “Why do I have children?”  Actually, she said it more like this:  WHY DO I HAVE CHILDREN?  If we are honest with ourselves,  we all feel that way at one time or another.  There are just some days when you want to throw your kiddo in the lake, just like a big bag of golf clubs and say, “I quit!” and then stomp off to the club house for drinks and nachos.

    But in parenting, there is no club house. There’s just another day. And if you throw your kid in the lake, chances are they would just swim out and keep pulling on your sleeve and talking in that Alvin the Chipmunk voice.

    Where was I?

    Yes, how parenting is like golf.

    So on Twitter the other day, in response to her question, I said to Jill that parenting is like golf.  And that was it. Which makes no sense. I’m like some geekzoid girl who walks up to the cutest guy at the party and just blurts out some random fact and then I shove my hands under my armpits.  So here then, in this space where I am afforded more than 140 characters, let me tell you how parenting is like golf.

    Clothing should be comfortable. Matching is optional.

    It is a darn expensive hobby.

    It takes up a lot of time.

    No cheerleaders.

    A lot of people do it, but not that many do it well.

    Those who don’t do it, think it’s boring. It’s not.

    It’s not as easy as it looks.

    Like dancing, you can look really silly while doing it.

    It will make you cuss. Even if you don’t.

    Everyone has advice on how you can do it better.

    Aspire for par.

    It’s all about patience and discipline and finesse – not strength.

    It will make your back hurt.

    It takes balls.

    There are lots of books and videos promising to make you an expert. They won’t.

    Sometimes the harder you try the worse it gets – relax.

    Wear sunscreen. ( Just thought I’d throw that one in.)

    A bad day of parenting is better than a good day of not parenting.

    Helmets. Because No Dead Horse Is Beyond A Good Beating

    October 25, 2008

    A while back, a number of readers left comments admonishing me to put a helmet on Sean when he is riding his bike.  While I understand where they are coming from and I appreciate their concern, and even agree with them for the most part, I don’t completely agree. (Hey I could run for office!) 

    On one hand, I think helmets are a prudent safety precaution.  Of course I want to protect my child. Of course I’m aware of stories of children with head injuries. We have many friends in the medical community who have seen the trauma of head injuries first hand and their stories make a compelling case for helmets.  

    Yet, I am somewhat resistant to the helmet. Why?  What would a reasonably intelligent person have against helmets? 

    One component of my resistance is nostalgia.  I have sweet memories of riding my bike all over the neighborhood with the wind flowing through my hair, freedom flowing through my veins and streamers flowing from the handle bars.  And I want that for Sean.  It is exhilarating and there’s nothing like it.  However, I’m not likely to let him go off riding his bike alone as I did, or jump his bike off a homemade ramp made out of cinder blocks and an old sheet of plywood either, as I did. 

    The other component of this argument is that I tend to be a little defiant.  There is a contingent of miltant moms out there who want to guilt you/shame you/goad you into politically correct parenting according to their world view and I’m stiff-necked when it comes to that kind of thing.  I’m not real good at being told what to do.

    Aside from that, in trying to sift out the nostalgic and the irrational and self-indulgent defiance,  I decided that it’s not helmets that I’m against, because clearly helmets are shown to save lives and reduce head injury, no question — it’s that helmets represent to me this place we’ve come to in our society where we want to put a fence around the Grand Canyon to keep everyone safe.  

    My generation has gone overboard in wrapping our kids in bubble wrap to keep them safe from every possible hurt.   The world is a dangerous place, life is risky.  I want Sean to learn how to negotiate it – whether it’s learning to ride a bike or learning how to ride the subway. 

    I want to inoculate him to the dangers of the world, not isolate him from it.  Inoculation is the process of introducing a tolerable amount of an offending substance into the body in a controlled manner so that the body creates immunity to it – the body learns how to deal with it and thwart it and is then stronger for it.  When you live in isolation of pain and unpleasantness, you learn nothing and you are the weaker for it. 

    As Sean learns how to ride a bike, he’s going to need to learn how to fall in such a way that he doesn’t injure himself (too badly).  He must learn to put his feet down and lay his bike down when he senses he is losing his balance. That will no doubt mean tears and maybe even a little blood.  Or a scar.  But more than anything else, I realize just now that I really don’t want Sean to come to the end of his life unscarred.  A life well lived is a life with a few scars to prove it.

    I know that I’m in the minority in this point of view, but at least I’m in good company.

    What Every Bride Should Know – Take This Test Before Saying I Do

    October 23, 2008

    Dear Bride, 

    Right now, as you are planning your wedding, you are crazy in love, right?  At least I hope so.  Everything about your man is wonderful and just the thought of him sends your heart soaring.  And even the stuff that is not so wonderful? Well, right now you probably find it quirky and amusing.  But a couple of years from now, there’s a good chance that quirky might not be so amusing.  There’s a real good chance that quirky will morph into its evil twin — A N N O Y I N G

    So here’s a little pre-marital test – it’s a story problem but without the math. 

    Let’s say your fiance grew up on a horse farm and the first time you go to his apartment you notice that he keeps his saddle in his living room.  You find that sort of quirky and amusing given that most apartments don’t allow horses.  Let’s then say that after the marriage, he brings said saddle into your home and parks it in the closet of your guest room, say for, oh I don’t know, eight years. And he refuses to find it a more suitable home, someplace like, oh I don’t know, anywhere that is not my your closet.  Hypothetically speaking.  Will you still find the saddle quirky and amusing or will you throw the saddle out on the front lawn?  

    If you answered that you would throw the saddle out on the front lawn except that you can’t lift it, you should continue planning the wedding because you are an honest woman and honesty is essential to a healthy marriage.  And also be thankful that you yourself don’t have any annoying quirks because gratitude is a good quality too. 

    This is the second in a series of What Every Bride Should Know. 

    You’re welcome.


    Antique Mommy

    Oh look. There’s a saddle in my closet. How quirky. And amusing. Hardly noticed it there.

    Ran Off With My Last Nerve

    October 22, 2008

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    After he went to sleep, I tip-toed into his room and stole it back along with a kiss.

    Recycling As It Relates To Marriage

    October 20, 2008

    This month, AD and I will be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary. 

    And dear brides, there are just some things about a guy that you can’t know going into a marriage. I plan to do a whole series on those things as a public service to brides everywhere, but today, I’ll give you just one.

    For example, AD has a grad degree and some work towards a post grad degree and he also holds multiple US patents for technology.  I tell you all that so that you’ll know that not only is he super hot, but he’s super smart. Yet?  Cannot figure out recycling.  This, I did not know going into this marriage.

    Trash and recycyling are not the same thing and therefore do not go in the same bin.  Trash goes in the trash can and recycleables do not go in the trash can.  Likewise, recycleables go in the recycle bin and trash does not go in the recycle bin.  Trash = trash can.  Recycleable = recycle bin. And never the twain shall meet.

    Perhaps because I am not burdened with a Y chromosome, I get this.   I would NEVER put a non-recycleable item in the recycle bin.  I would not be able to sleep.  Furthermore, I know that the recycle trucks come on Thursday morning, just has they have every Thursday morning for the past ten years.  For me, recyclling is not complicated.  Tax law is complicated.

    What AD did not know about me going into this marriage is that I would be so uptight about the recycling.


    Looking For God? He’s In The Back.

    October 19, 2008

    On Sundays, I help out with the three-year-old class at my church.  I really enjoy it because there are not many things more funny or poignant than a three-year-old.

    One of the things we do is hand out tiny New Testaments to each child and let them hold them and flip through the pages as we talk about how the Bible is divided into the New Testament and the Old Testament and about respecting the Bible as the word of God and how you shouldn’t literally chew on the word of God and that kind of thing.

    As the teacher was going over this lesson, one little girl in the back held up her New Testament showing a picture of Jesus and squealed with excitement, “Hey! I found God! He’s right here in the back!”

    If only it were that easy. Or maybe it is. I don’t know.