Saturday, November 26, 2011

We're Thankful for...

Over Thanksgiving lunch (we had to do lunch since my husband worked on Thanksgiving, as always), we talked to the kids about gratitude.  They told us they were thankful for each of our immediately family members and when they were done with us, the younger of our twins added, "And J.K. Rowling."  Her twin sister agreed and added, "and Harry Potter."  My son agreed.  When we asked the 2-year-old, she insisted she was not thankful for Jo Rowling.  She is, however, thankful for Dobby, Hedgwig and Luna, so that's Ms. Rowling by default.  

I suggested the kids let Jo Rowling know they're thankful for her, so they each made cards for her.  

G-d bless Pinterest!  We headed there and found some inspiration.  

This was E. (younger twin)'s card inspired by this.  She used magazine pictures for the feathers and the boxes from our stuffing and apple pie.  She used the inside of the apple pie box for the body and the background is a page from an extra phone book (I've since opted out of the phone book since Google exists).  

This one is courtesy of my son.  I can't find the inspiration now on Pinterest and I didn't think to save it at the time.  Sorry.  He used recycled magazines and sequins--lots and lots of sequins.  



This one's from my oldest.  This was her inspiration, but, in the end, opted to stamp dots and draw and color circles rather than use finger prints.  The outlined it all as well.  Then, she cut a circle from cardboard and added googly eyes.  



Up at the top, you see one all of the kids made.  I saw this and thought it was perfect for our 4.  So we traced and cut out each one's hand prints and then they each decorated their own hand print.  They each signed the back of their hand print.  Well, the toddler scribbled and I printed her name.  Hey, that's what she meant, even if she doesn't know it yet.  

The toddler did NOT want to let hers go.  "Dat my hand," she screamed when I tried to put the card in the envelope.  I had to explain that we were sending it to Dobby and Hedwig.  Only then did she agree.  

I included a note of thanks to Ms. Rowling as well.  Just before I sent it, I added another quick note explaining that turkeys made from hand prints or cutouts are common for Thanksgiving.  Not being American, I could just imagine her receiving that first card and wondering what in the world was wrong with us.  

We Americans really are weird, aren't we?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo = NaNoBloggingMo

The bad news: NaNoWriMo has taken over my life.  Most of my free time has been spent working on my novel.  

The good news: Last night, I surpassed the 50K word mark.  Last year, I didn't make it this far, so I'm thrilled.  

Even better news:  November is almost over.  Woo hoo!  

The blogosphere shall celebrate my return very soon, I promise.  

There had better be fanfare and streamers and loud party music.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

World Prematurity Day 2011

My twins were born 2 months premature.  Today, I planned to share their story, but, when I stop to think about it, I'm too bitter.  Nearly 10 years later, the anger behind nearly losing my girls hits me too hard.  We're finally at a point where I no longer dread their birthday and "Homecoming Day" goes by almost unnoticed.  Still, I hate that we have a story to tell.  I hate that others have stories with endings not nearly as happy.  

So here, I'll leave you with my bitterness, my anger, and my post from this day last year.  

In an attempt to put a more positive spin on it, I'll share this related story about how one nurse made all the difference in the world and how I'll be forever in her debt.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween 2011

Trelawney & Hermione's dad
I actually dressed up for Halloween this year for the first time in at least 10 years.  I went as Professor Trelawney and had a blast.  My husband humored me by wearing a name tag which read, "Dr. Wendell Wilkins." 

When I rounded the Goat Rodeo up in the yard to take pictures, I had my middle daughter (aka Luna) take a few pictures of the husband and me, since we're always the ones behind the camera.  She complained that her father stuck his tongue out in one photo, so then we both felt compelled to make faces at her.  I think this is our new favorite picture of the two of us.  I may need to work this into our New Year cards.  

Nothing says, "Happy New Year," quite like this:


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's NaNoWriMo time again

Last year was my first year as a NaNoWriMo participant.  If you asked me this time last month, I would have sadly shaken my head and admitted that I wouldn't participate this year.  I had absolutely no ideas.  

Then, just over a week ago, I got a flash of an idea (it was actually a combination of several aspects of other ideas I've had in the past).  I started to write immediately and then decided to take a break and wait until November.  That actually helped give me some time to pan out more of the idea.

I know NaNoWriMo can be time-cosuming and frustrating at times, but I'm looking forward to it.


A very Harry Potter Halloween

First and foremost, my apologies for the crappy photos.  I forgot to charge my good camera before Halloween and so, the battery was dead. *head desk*  Bad Dobby!  Bad Dobby!  So all the photos were taken on my phone.  I'm sorry about the quality (or lack thereof).

A very Harry Halloween (complete with Mischief-Managed in the corner)

We had ourselves a very Harry Halloween.  It all started with my oldest.  She couldn't decide if she wanted to be Harry or Hermione, so she decided to coordinate with her baby sister and posed the question to her.  Go as Harry and Dobby or Hermione and Crookshanks?  The youngest picked Crookshanks.

Oldest daughter
Not bad, eh?  She has a red and yellow tie (which she got at a rummage sale a year or two ago specifically to use for Hermione) over her brother's dress shirt (which really is too small for her, but luckily, you couldn't see it).  I got that sweater for $1 on clearance last year at Volde-Mart.  It, too, belongs to her brother, but it's 3 sizes too big for him, so it works great for the sister who's 4 years older.  I got the skirt for less than a dime at a consignment store.  She had the tights and socks and she wore existing dress shoes (not pictured here).

She wore robes that we got ages ago on clearance.  They're perfect because they're black, lined in red fabric, and there's a hood.  The only problem is that the huge skull closure makes them look more like Death Eater robes (and when she put the hood on, her baby sister asked, "Hey, Death Eater, where did Hermione go?").  No problem, though, because Hermione needed a S.P.E.W. badge, so I made a huge one and used double stick tape to tape it over the skull.  
She already has brown curly hair, but in order to amp up the bushiness, she slept with her hair in 6 braids.  It worked.  She had perfect bushy Hermione hair.  

Hermione's bushy brown hair

Total cost for the whole Hermione costume: under ten cents.  

Crookshanks wasn't quite as easy to throw together.
Hermione and Crookshanks 

Our Crookshanks
Note the tail.
For this ginger cat, I wanted an orange top with a hood and orange pants.  Problem is, it's damn-near impossible to find solid orange clothes, even this time of year.  So, I hit the thrift stores.  I found this orange sweater for $3 at Value Village.  I found the pants (size 6-9 months, which is why they're so short.  My daughter is 2 and 1/2 and isn't tiny) for a quarter.  My big girls had an orange boa, so I cut a strip of that for the fuzzy chest (to cover the zipper) and used a piece of it for Crookshanks' bent tail.  I used orange felt I had on hand to make the ears (and pinned them on so that we can easily remove them and still use the sweater).  She had orange socks.  We grabbed a few makeup kits last Halloween for a few cents when they went on huge clearance, so I used those for her face.

Total cost: $3.25.


When I found the Nimbus 2000 replica at Value Village, brand new and on sale for 99 cents, I had to get it.  Actually, I got 2.  When the guy at the register rang it up, he congratulated me and pointed out that they usually sell for $20 each.

That broom is what convinced my son he wanted to be Harry for Halloween.  He was torn between Harry and a Storm Trooper before that point.  Luckily, this is not his first time taking on the Chosen One's identity, so he already had much of what he needed.  He wore his white dress shirt with his red tie (I used the official Gryffindor tie as a model and painted gold stripes using fabric paint).  I cut an old grey sweater vest to make more of a V-neck, but it looked awful.  So, when I found a grey tank top at a consignment store for a few cents, I grabbed it for him.  He wore his existing grey pants and dress shoes (with red socks because he is a Gryffindor after all).  Once again, we headed to Value Village where I found the robes on sale for half off.  So they cost me 98 cents.

Years ago, we stocked up on these glasses for goody bags.  They have big freaky eyes attached.  We still have a few pairs left, so I pried the eyes out of them (much to my youngest's dismay.  She cried actual big tears and screamed at me, 'You ruined my Mad-Eye glasses.") and my son used them for Harry.  Yes, I realize they're purple.  Yes, I'm typically a stickler for details, but, by that point, I didn't much care.

His oldest sister used the same makeup sticks Crookshanks used to draw a scar on his forehead.  For those who are new, we're Jewish and my son wears a kippah (yarmulka).  So he donned his Harry Potter kippah yesterday.  It's his favorite.  FTR, his father clipped it, not me.  If I had done it, there wouldn't be a kippah clip straight through poor Harry's face.

Total cost: about $1.

Next up, we Luna Lovegood.  This was the most expensive of the costumes.  If you've been hanging around for a while, you know my kids adore Luna.  My middle daughter was going to be Darth Vader, that is, until we found the blonde wig (again, at Value Village.  They really should pay me for the advertising).  It was new and $6, but I had a 25% off coupon.  The promise of a long blonde wig was just too good to ignore.  She swapped costume ideas that minute.

Long blonde curls 2009
The funny thing is that my daughter IS blonde, although she chopped her hair off a few years ago.  Before that, she actually had perfect Luna hair.  So there I was buying a wig that wasn't nearly as close to Luna's hair as the child's natural hair was.

So we had a wig, but it needed something more to make her unmistakably Luna.  My mind immediately went to Luna's famous lion hat.  We opted to go with the movie representation rather than the books just because it seemed like it would be more obvious (in the books, it was more of a stuffed lion on top of her regular school hat).  I scoured Pinterest for ideas and headed back to Value Village (seriously, I need to start charging for ad space).  There, I found the jacket from this Old Navy costume for $2.  It was 12-18 months, but I had her try on the hood in the store and it worked.  Poor kid actually tried on every single hood and hat that was even remotely lion-shaped.  That one worked the best.  I took it home and cut the hood off.

Not the best shot, but all I was able to get
When I got my son that $1 grey sweater last year, I also grabbed a black one in the same size for the same price.  So we opted to scrap the standard grey and go with black using this photo as inspiration.  Unfortunately, the only cork we have in the house is firmly pressed into a bottle of wine for the time being, so we couldn't replicate the cork necklace (although both my daughter and I pictured it as a necklace of bottle caps when we read the description in the 5th book).  The hat and wig covered her ears, so we skipped Luna's signature earrings.  We did, however, print Spectraspecs (just without lenses because I didn't have anything on hand that would work).  I also printed a Ravenclaw patch which she wore on her sweater (held on with double stick tape).  She borrowed her brother's dress shirt and blue tie (it killed me that it was blue and silver, like the movie, instead of blue and gold. I'm a Ravenclaw and I'm a stickler for the book representation.  FWIW, her patch was cannon and had an eagle, not a raven).  She wore rainbow knee highs over her black tights and she wore sparkly pink sneakers.  It just seemed like a very Luna thing to wear.  She also spent a lot of time staring into space.

It wasn't, by far, the best representation of Luna, but it worked.

Total cost: $6.50

While trick-or-treating, we heard quite a few people exclaim that we were the only Harry Potter characters they'd seen.  We thought that was odd.  With the last movie coming out this year, we were sure Harry would still be popular.  Two people caught that the youngest was Crookshanks.  One of those declared us their favorite costumes of the whole night.  I wanted to kiss those people.

See the pink tea cup in my right hand?

For the first time since I was in college, I dressed up too.  I was Trelawney (which is another post for another day).  I even managed to convince my husband to dress up, well, kinda.  I found inspiration here and printed him a name tag. 

Dr. Wendell Wilkins