Friday, October 30, 2009

76% ?!?!?!

The weather men around here are laying low! You see of the 30 days of October that we have had so far, 23 of them have been rain soaked. That means 76% of this month was so cloudy that we have begun to believe that the sun surely has burned out! The forecast for tomorrow is not the most promising either!!! No rain... but no sun... and temperatures in the 40's with WINDS in the double digits. Last Halloween we had 70 degrees and sun! BUT in this house we BELIEVE...Halloween will happen so today we prepared! Miss Vanessa sent Julia her first treat!! Mari is loathe to touch the thing but anything made from sugar is all good as far as Julia is concerned. The new school that Julia attends only had a 1/2 day session today. The tradition is to have the children wear their costumes to school and first thing on the schedule is a 'Parade' followed by an assembly in which the costumed teachers put on a song and dance routine. Due to our lovely weather the 'Parade' was indoors. The parents were asked to wait in the gym ...I just couldn't do it...I'm not usually a rule breaker but today I just couldn't ....and then before I knew it I saw the third graders heading down the hall! Snapped a quick shot as Julia raced by my position in the vestibule! I wasn't supposed to be in the vestibule...we had been asked to wait in the gym! But......... there was no room in the gym!!!!! The combination of rain and a Friday holiday created a fire marshall's nightmare. Being a tad claustrophobic, I decided to head on home to make preparations for the afternoon's activity as well as finish up Alyssa's costume. This afternoon we inaugurated a new tradition! Since I have yet to find a food grade mold for making the calavara azucar (sugar skulls) and since I found these Styrofoam skulls at the dollar store we made decorative calavaras for our ofrenda. Mari's was oh so Mari! Bling and pink are her trademarks!!!!!!!!!!!! Julia's was oh so Julia! Lots of blues and no 'staying within the lines' for her!!! Then I asked for a simple picture of the two of them with their finished products..... and it took more than a bunch of takes!!!! I mean how hard is it to stand next to your sister and smile at the camera??? I can only imagine how this would have gone had we done real sugar skulls...because you know they would have sampled while they worked. This was the best I could do before they went and did some more horsing around over who's calavara would go where on the ofrenda. Did they come back to help clean up...yeah, as if!?!? Sad to say that the crock pot held some lovely pork shoulder just waiting to be turned into pulled pork and we ended up calling for pizza. So, yes, after I cleaned up the beads and baubles we prepped for the pumpkin carving. Pictures curtesy of ....... of course!!!! Auntie Peggy came right from work to be part of the carving tradition...which is why the pulled pork was abandoned for pizza...we ALWAYS have pizza on carving day don't ya know?!?!? Sometimes us moms slip on the little details (: There was a little horsing around...this time by a grown-up but mostly it was all business. Both of my girls shoved their noses into the freshly cut pumpkin and said, "Ahhhhh, love that smell!". As 'girly' as Mari can be some time, she and Julia both love to squish the guts through their fingers as they clean out the core! This year the tradition evolved a little bit... this year the girls took on A LOT MORE of the work! They surfed the internet for inspiration, printed off ideas, settled on a plan, and marked their own pumpkins. I took a veeeeery deep breath and also let them... do most of the carving!! It is so very hard to let them 'grow up' but to everything there is a season. Besides, one of our annual reminiscences is of how my Dad DID our pumpkin every year. I mean he did it all as we sat at the kitchen table and watched. No say in the design and no hands on the pumpkin! We looonged to participate. Besides, this can only lead to GREAT times at future carving nights as their skills catch up with their imaginations! So here is Mari with her Jack inspired design from the Nightmare Before Christmas movie. Having trouble 'seeing' Jack? How about now??? You could just see her bloom at the sense of accomplishment when it was done and lit! What to say about our Julia's choice??? Her design requirements were, "It has to look mean and I want blood!" So the poor mini-pumpkin was drafted to be the dinner for the Monster Muncher and the blood is flowing as requested. Looks pretty darn mean if you ask me!!! So what do you expect from a dentist's pumpkin?? Besides I was inspired by the gaggle of middle schoolers around me! The 'braces' are just staples from Patrick's staple gun and the glasses are a broken pair that I hadn't yet thrown out. Not at all mean or spooky! It's not that I'm against mean or spooky, I just wanted to a change of pace from the girls' pumpkins. So we're off to bed in the hopes that there is some small portion of tomorrow afternoon during which we can trick-or-treat without needing a boat...we were too busy to get going on that Ark! SMILE!!!! It's HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!! TRICK-OR-TREAT...even if I don't NEED something sweet to eat!!!


Holiday appropriate theme for this week's FFF! Since I am pathologically unable to do a 'short' post I am not even trying this week. Later this weekend I will post what we are able to film of this year's Halloween but seeing as how today's first event was already severely impacted by our monsoon like weather I'm not sure just how much I'm going to have for you this year?!?! Spoooky pumpkin shot from a couple of years ago! Tonight is our big traditional pumpkin carve and since it is scheduled for the island in my kitchen I assuming we'll get some pictures of that this year! The first time Mari saw this picture she freaked!! She thought the streak of light and surrounding 'glow' looked like spirits floating out of the pumpkins...a little too much imagination sometimes!! I have three of these spooky stuffed characters that we pose a little differently every year! Background on this picture goes like this....Mari was three when she had her first Halloween here and to say the least it did not suit her! Most of that week was spent with her clinging to my leg or buried in my shoulder. At that point in time I only had one guy and he was hanging from the sconce by our front door...she would ONLY go in the back door!! So the next year I started early by bring the decorations out and leaving them for her to 'inspect' before putting them up. She would have NOTHING of Mr. Scarey Man as she named him! So I bought another mask and had her help me make Mr. Screaming Man. Helped but she was still leery of those guys. In this picture Auntie Peggy was trying to pose the girls in among the Mr. Scarey Men and even though she was now seven.....behind the wrought iron railing was as close as she would come!!!!!! While Julia is just fine with those guys!!!!!! This is Mr. Smiling Man...a lame attempt to win Mari go. Mari is now 'into' Halloween....that first year's haul of candy did a lot to win her over BUT people in masks, clowns, and Mr. Scarey Men still give her the creeps. Sometimes the spooking is by the neighbors who make you go through dark tunnels filled with smoke and creepy music to get your loot! Sometimes we try to spook the neighbors!! This is Mari at 4...what a difference a year made!!! Sometimes the cousins try to spook each other! Like I said, Julia's fine with the whole fright fest celebration...especially with her pacha in hand! When they were small we had studio shots taken every year. Sigh, now were lucky to get them to stop and pose, sigh, sigh, sigh. Even heard a rumbling or two that the middle schooler's might be thinking of abandoning the whole costume thing next year....deep, deep, sigh. Anyhow, thought I'd give you a glimpse at some costumes past! Missing a couple from the pre-digital days but here's the rest.... Lilo and Mulan Cheetah and Lady Bug Cowboy and Indian Miss Behaving and Jockey Have fun trick or treating with your gang this year!! We might be in building our Ark but we'll look stylin' in our costumes as we hammer away!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nos Ofrenda!

In the international adoption community there are quite a few contentious topics! While some of the heated chat room debates do produce an occasional argument that expands my knowledge and/or opinion most seem just too darn esoteric to be worth the depth of emotion many invest. One of the most passionate debates concerns just how much of the birth 'culture' adoptive parents are morally obligated to learn and then impart to their children. My adoption friends are now groaning!!!!!!!!!!!! No this is not another diatribe on the matter...I'm just setting the 'scene' for my friends and family who read this blog who are not up on the whole debate. Personally I find this debate to fall into the 'seeing the forest from the trees' category. You see, if I were to artificially don the mantle of a latina for the sole purpose of making my daughters latina is not only an inherently POOR way to accomplish the task BUT it devalues the OBVIOUS fact that my daughters are now AMERICAN. The purists want you to feel incredible guilt that they were snatched from their cultural birthright against their will and you as the snatchee OWE them the restoration of their culture. The opposite camp insist that the act of adoption is like a reset button and thus the child is now whatever the adopting family is. (OOOh so hard to end that sentence in a preposition but I'm too tired to self edit!) The Mahoney's fall somewhere between those two camps! I mean DUH!!!!!! How does an Irish farm boy and an American city girl not only merge those two cultures but add Guatemalan ladino while living in the Midwest????? So we take whatever works from whichever culture whenever we feel like it! (omg! another preposition at the end of a sentence...sorry Mrs. Edwards!) We call it BEING AMERICAN!!! So getting on to the real subject of this post...The conversations in this house surrounding the St. Dymphna bottle doll led to All Soul's and All Saint's Days questions from the younger crowd. This discussion natually flowed into how Halloween evolved which then flowed into how Dia de los Muertes evolved. I really only had a superficial knowledge on this topic so the next day we went to the library and checked out a book on The Day of the Dead. Boy was my knowledge VERY superficial!! Long story short....this celebration really brings ALL of our cultures together very nicely! Patrick had always had a leery avoidance of learning more about this because the skulls, calavara, and ofrendas seemed too pagan-like for him. I just lumped it in with Halloween. We were all so moved by what we learned about celebrating the lives of our deceased loved ones that we decided to make an ofrenda this year!! Julia was absolutely bubbling with excitement and ideas for the decoration while Mari really intuited the purpose and produced the mortuary cards for all of the people she could think of that have died in our family! Just as described in the book, this ofrenda is a work in progress. We chose a hall tree located just inside our front door as the setting and the girls collected a wonderful mix of Guatemalan and Irish items to kick off the decorating. We are planning a sugar skull making session on Sunday. I'll keep you posted on Nos Ofrenda...our altar to celebrate the memory of and lives of our dearly departed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Unlucky 13?

Boy I HOPE NOT!!!!!!!!!!!! Thirteen years ago today, much to their surprise and great happiness, a confirmed bachelor and a confirmed SPINSTER (don't you love that legal term!!) tied the knot. Thanks in no small part to a HUGE conspiracy. You see the love story goes VERY something like this..... Once upon a time there was a VERY struggling VERY junior associate dentist who was working diligently to earn student loan AND car loan AND and rent and food and well you get the idea...MONEY. Her good friend Agnes decides to invite her to an "ARTWARE" party (read Tupperware but with paintings!) and said young dentist begs off due to poverty. Friend Agnes will hear nothing of the declination and assures the starving associate that she is not expected to buy a thing...just act as part of the body count for Agnes to earn points towards her purchases. When the socializing time of the party arrived, the young dentist was torn between the younger crowd in the living room or her friend Agnes (who was considerably older than she) and the older crowd in the kitchen. Opting for the kitchen, since the living room was filled with talk of nursing and diaper creams, the young dentist found herself being very pointedly steered back into the living room by the kitchen crowd. Finding this all too much to bear, the young dentist decides to take her leave at which point her way is barred by friend Agnes! "Before you go I need to ask you a favor?" her dear friend Agnes asks. "Sure, anything!" the silly young dentist replies. "I have this brother-in-law who would really like to ask you out. Can you just meet him for coffee or something just for my sake?" asks her friend who KNOWS DAMN WELL that young dentist SWORE OFF blind dates many, many years before due to statistically overwhelming negative outcomes!!!!!! Sigh, sigh, sigh....but they are good friends...and the rest of her family are great How bad could it be? She had never heard mention of arrests or imprisonments....but then again where has this brother-in-law been for the past 15 years of their friendship?? Now the fact that said brother-in-law is completely oblivious to this whole plan does not seem to hamper the friend Agnes!! Two days later, while the young dentist was babysitting her 4 month old niece who was screaming her head off for her Mommy to get home from school to ease her hunger pains since she refused to take a bottle, the friend calls with said brother-in-law on the phone! What a great first impression...... Long story short, I had been lured to that party to be 'inspected' by my FIVE future sister-in-laws who spent the evening at the kitchen table trying to figure out a way to trap...oh I mean bring Patrick and me together. They were sure we would like each other and that nature would take over from there. Matchmaking is BIG over in Ireland and FOUR of my five sister-in-laws were from Ireland. They had a wealth of experience in this matter and they were RIGHT! By our second date we were pretty sure our single days were over and five months after being introduced we were married! So this morning our anniversary started with surprises from the girls... homemade cards.... and homemade cupcakes! According to Auntie Peggy, who supervised their production, the girls worked really hard to pull this surprise off! Here we are on October 26,1996... and together this summer...much grayer and fatter but happy as ever to be granted the blessing of finding each other. Even if it took a posse of matchmakers to push us into each other!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

No I don't have my holidays mixed up! This is our family's FAVORITE holiday. The mood is building and this year the girls are really pitching in with the preparations. I am pretty much 24/7 in the sewing room pumping out costumes...that is, when I'm not at my 'real' job! As much as the dismal weather has me down it was a relief when soccer was canceled this Saturday due to flooded fields. I gained three hours back in the sewing room that would have been spent shivering on the sidelines otherwise. For a very BRIEF few hours the sun did come out on Saturday and Auntie Peggy offered to take the girls to our Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Trick or Treat. Mari has some 'issues' with spontaneity and finds it very hard to make on the spot choices so since her 2009 costume was not yet available she declined!! Julia, on the other hand, is all about living in the moment and going with the flow!! She dove into the dress up box and whipped out a costume with only 10 minutes notice! Then she embraced the character with gusto! Stop thief!!!! Someone call the police quick before she slips away! The temperature wasn't half bad on Saturday either. Here she is leaving our house......yeah, RIGHT!!!! Notice there is actually a view of the BLUE sky over the mansion. She enjoyed meeting a bunch of friends and even one of her teachers and NOT ONE recognized her! A sure sign of a successful disguise. Now you'd think with soccer canceled on Saturday due to flooded fields that I would be spared sideline action.....but no!! Julia's coach soooooo didn't want to use the November 7th rain date that she arranged with the opposing coach to run the game this afternoon. As much as I would have liked a whole weekend off, at this rate a November 7th game could mean snow suits!!!! So off we went with Mari in charge of the camera... where she caught me all bundled up and clearly engrossed in the game. Julia played hard but spent an awful lot of the game like this.... this would be shot of the FOURTH time she stopped to tie her shoes!! I'm so trying to let them grow up and take responsibility for their needs but this is one time I should have tied her shoes...and double knotted them!!! Still, I had time to make some good progress on the costume front. Did a couple of fittings today... my little Disney Fairy just needs a few tweaks and a flesh colored clue where I'm going to find that! Then ladies and gentlemen there was an Elvis sighting!!!!!! Elvis was indeed in the house! Just need to get some funky sunglasses and side burn adhesive...and a skull cap since the wig was voted "WAAAAAY TOO ITCHY"! That's the reason we do fittings (:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saints and Soothsayers!

I've noticed a trend here! Most of my posts happen on the weekends. Clearly I have developed a housework avoidance behavior since there is always work I should be doing when I'm sitting at the computer instead. Procrastination IS my middle name. My family would probably mount the argument that it IS MY NAME. I call this my 'fermentation' process. I need playtime during which my brain works out any problems in my work plan so that when I actually get down to work it goes quickly and efficiently. Works most of the time. Right now I'm stewing on how to get Elvis' collar to stand up better and how I can QUICKLY make a guitar trick or treat bag since I still have two fairies and a Mrs. Lovett to get made by Friday!! Had planned to wrap Elvis up last night but got a call from Deirdre asking for permission to come rummage through my scraps for a homework project. Well one thing led to another and we ended up spending a bunch of time actually WORKING on the project! Why when I have so much to get finished, you ask? Nostalgia, that's why!! Every year the third graders at the private school my kids used to attend (which Deirdre still attends) marks All Saints Day by picking one of the gazillion saints to do a report and making a 'bottle doll' of said saint. Alyssa stayed true by doing St. Alice and they had moved so Andrew did not do third grade there. Mairead and Mari had UNBEKNOWNST to each other BOTH picked St. Mariana of Ecuador. It's one of the things I'm feeling bittersweet about missing with Julia so when Deirdre called asking for material I couldn't help myself!! So here she is with St. Dymphna in progress! Now how the school has not gone through and provided a list of 'acceptable' choices by now is a mystery to me. You see, St. Dymphna did not have a G or even a PG life!!! Can't wait to get the feedback from the other mother's after she reads her report to the class. Our 8, going on 28, Deirdre will spare no details of the incest and beheadings central to St. Dymphna's biography!!! Mari and Mairead would have blushed to their toes and begged to reselect once they had discovered the life story but Oscar bound Deirdre is salivating at the chance to sensationalize!! ...the 'bottle doll' moniker is as a result of the requirement that they be made from a two liter plastic bottle filled with sand to allow for optimal 'display' in the school foyer. The kids were kind of freaked by Deirdre's bottle before we added the clothing since it reminded them of nasty Syd's ( from Toy Story) SpiderBaby! Here's Mari posing with her St. Mariana of Ecuador! Yes, those are my PILES of mending and 'in-progress' sewing projects behind her!!! Since the night had gotten so advanced, I caved and let Deirdre stay for a sleepover. It's all good because this group has such great imaginations that they go off and play for hours leaving me to attack the sewing. This morning's antics just had to be recorded here on the blog!! So this is the sign that suddenly appears on one of my walls! I bite and follow the arrow.... and here in my tub I find the Magnificent Deirdre gazing into her magic ball ready to dispense my fortune!!! Apparently I will "gain fame for my sewing"?!?!? I'd have rathered it was "gain RICHES for sewing" but so goes the word of a mystic. I don't know about you guys but I'm always awed by their simple creativity! That's a battery operated 'flame' in a beaded 'art project' vase with a giant sparkle filled super ball sitting on top!! Mari's stand was more in the gypsy mode! That's a table runner from Guatemala covered with a sparkly scrap from my sewing room. Her hat is filled with her "Tarot" cards. My nine of spades foretold my VERY imminent death...."You vill die en nine meenoots" the soothsayer intoned as the card was laid before me!!! Yikes, I had a BUNCH to get done in a VERY short period of time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good thing I had St. Dymphna and St. Mariana there to save my life!