Friday, October 24, 2008

More Inappropriate Costumes 2008

First I need to address this: I found it on the internet. Will the idiot who decided this was a good idea, please come forward?

In case you missed last years blog on Inappropriate Halloween Costumes For Children, you should really take few moments and reference it. Those of you still searching for the perfect outfit to throw on your little cherubs will not be disappointed with the selection, and there’s even more below.

My son only recently (as in three days ago) told me what he wanted to be for Halloween. After much discernment, thoughtful pondering and intensive research, he announced that he would like to be “someone in the war.”
“You mean, a solider, a military person?” Hoping he wasn’t opting for the bloody remnants of a fallen enemy.
“Yeah- I want to be a solider.”
“Just curious, why do you want to be that?” I ask. Again, listening for the words noble, or brave, or strong, or something resembling honor.
“Because I really want to carry a weapon. Can I have a real gun for my costume?”

Sigh. I pointed out to him that if he just wanted to carry a gun as part of his costume, there were many, many things he could dress as. A murderer. A Police Officer. Sarah Palin. Dick Cheney. A Russian bakery owner. An angry teenager. Why be limited? But he decided on the solider-so I’m stuck with that. The jury is still out on whether I’m going to let him have a “real” weapon. I don’t suppose he’ll be satisfied with the pop rifle we have from Bass Pro Shop. Maybe I can paint a lemon olive-green, and let him have a hand grenade.

I have convinced my daughter to dress as a gypsy this year. Mainly because I have all parts of the outfit already in our dress-up box. It’s also a bit nostalgic for me as well, since I used to dress up as a gypsy for Halloween all the time. Why? Because (again) mom had all the parts for the outfit at home. Everyone knows a homemade costume is 10 times better than those vinyl sheaths and plastic masks. At least that’s what mom sold me. It has been a bit difficult to explain to my daughter what a gypsy is. That’s an icon that has been removed from the history lessons and TV shows these days-so I look up some images on line. We shuffle through them, and she asks, “Yes, but what did gypsy’s do?”
Hmmm. “Well, they moved around from place to place.”
“That’s all?”
“Well, no, they played the tambourine and sang and probably stole stuff from people before they moved on.”
“The stole stuff?”
“Well, yes, but its not exactly the same as stealing stuff today…and..well…” At this point I have a son who wants to carry violent weapons and a daughter who I’m dressing up as a thief and vagrant. As a mother I have fed and clothed them, protected them from harm, kept them warm in the winter, and have occasionally provided laughter and good memories. Apparently their character and tendencies I cannot attest to.

In that light, I made a list of a few more Inappropriate Costumes, in case there are any of you out there who would like to join the ranks of Mother of the Year.

Burning Dollar Bill- spray paint a rectangle of foam green and affix an image of Jefferson on the front. Put 100’s in each corner. Shred some red, orange and yellow tissue paper and affix around a flashlight to symbolize a large burning flame. Put on your child’s head. Teach your child the following slogans to recite as he/she walks through the neighborhood; “The world is going to hell in a handbasket;” “Our president always sucks;” “Down with Government Control;” and lastly, “Nobody gives a rat’s ass about the middle class.”

A Made In China Sign- This costume is super simple and for the cash strapped family. All you need is a large piece of carboard-paint it white and stencil in, “Made in China.” Make sure you use lead paint. For good measure and to really get the point across, hang some milk bottles from the side, labeled “Melamine only,” and attach some stuffed (read: dead) dogs and cats for your child to drag along. If you’re really looking to be edgy, tape a bunch of fake money to the sign, since that’s where most of ours is going.

Politician In Handcuffs- (For the boy in your family) Another budget conscious outfit. Dress your child up in his/her Sunday best-slacks, blazer and shirt and tie. Handcuff your child’s hands behind their back, and hang a sign around their neck that reads, “Washington Politician.” Keep your neighbors guessing as they wonder, Kinky role play? Arrested for soliciting sex? Caught taking kickbacks from Columbia or Mexico? Cuffed for pilfering millions of our retirement dollars? It’s a costume and charades all rolled into one.

Angelina Jolie-Pitt- (For the girl in your house) For the social worker and do-gooder in every girl! Dress your daughter in a fancy, billowy frock, and give her a pair of those big, red wax lips. Tape 27-35 pictures of multi-national babies and a few sets of twins, to the outfit. Place crown on her head with glowing halo. For your daughters best friend, have her dress in plain clothes, ruffle up her hair, and attach 27-35 multi-national and twin life-like baby dolls to her outfit. Place sign on her back reading, “Nanny who really takes care of state-spoon-like-infant-collection.”

Well, I hope that provides parents who are at a stalemate with their child, some additional costume alternatives. It doesn’t really matter if your child understands it, its all about how much you and your friends can laugh at how clever you are. I’m up for ideas. Any additional last minute suggestions?

Monday, October 20, 2008

When I’m 64…

My thirty-something birthday was last week, and I had a marvelous time. My husband made his famous (and my favorite) Eggs Benedict for breakfast, I shopped all day with my mother, and then went to eat dinner (sans children) at a fancy restaurant in Boston that does not serve mac n’ cheese or chicken strips. I was able to order what I wanted without thinking about what child I would share with, and didn’t have to say, “please sit down and stop kicking the seat,” once. I threw back two French martini’s and didn’t worry about who was going to put the kids to bed. It was a great day.

But, you know you’ve reached a new age plateau when the gifts you request for your birthday (or even Christmas for that matter) go from a want to a need. In fact, I think I reached that Grown Up Place, because this year my gifts were practical and needed. I opened up my new slippers and socks with the same joy my daughter opened her Hanna Montana wig last Christmas. I put on those slippers and haven’t taken them off since. I oohed and ahhed at the two kitchen whisks I received from my sister-in-law, to replace the one that my son decided to use for a modern sculpture of a banana. Now I can effectively beat eggs and whisk gravy using more than one whisk loop at a time. I got a gift card from my parents-in-law, and purchased two shirts that do not have oil stains or bleach marks; shirts that have only belonged to me and did not come from my Mother’s Closet—the only other place I really get clothes. My husband got me sleep wear, but before you go thinking it’s something remotely sexy, it was a pair of black spandex capris and two cotton tank tops. I asked for these because my old 80’s spandex shorts are now to worn to be worn, and I’m sick of turquoise. I also really need new underwear, but I have to save something for my Christmas list.

I realize that I’m starting to sound pathetic. I fight and fight to keep that youthful attitude, appearance and desires going, but honestly, that kind of mentality takes excessive energy. There aren’t many things these days that sound as good as laying in a warm bed with a good book. When I shop (much to the dismay of my sisters and close friends) I am drawn to things described as “cozy,” “cotton,” or “machine-wash-tumble-dry,” and not “trendy,” “sexy,” and definitely not “dry-clean-only.” I would rather wear something comfortable, that does not prevent me from taking deep breaths, show my mid-riff when I raise my arms, or pinch my crotch when I sit or bend over. If the care instructions require anything more than washing and drying, I leave it on the rack in the store. Hang dry? Nope. Hand wash? Hell no. Dry clean only? I can guarantee it will remain dirty.

Perhaps I’m an old soul, as they say, for my desire for comfort goes way back. My mother used to incase all the seams of my nightgowns in flannel because they itched me. I refused to wear overalls because they pinched my crotch when I bent over to play. I wore my socks inside out until—well okay I still do—because the seams bother my toes. I even made sure my wedding dress had enough room so I could eat without feeling all gassy. My mother calls me a high-maintenance princess. I think I’m really a 65 year-old trapped in a young woman’s body. In fact, my two favorite articles of clothing happen to be two cozy cardigans I wear around the house.

Many people grumble about getting older. I think it’s been kinda neat so far. I admit I haven’t been hit with any huge health issues, failing joints, or memory problems lasting more than 24 hours. Here are three things I am still looking forward to when I “grow up:”

The ability to sleep wherever and whenever I want.
This has to be one of the biggest benefits I see of being old. How great to sit in a chair, chin resting on your neck, mouth agape, blaring TV on, and be completely asleep! Sound sleep always eludes me, even with four pillows, a feather comforter, a lavender eye mask and a Tylenol PM. I am such a light sleeper I wake up to water dripping, creaking loft ladders, and whimpering children. I deal with a snoring husband, an alarm clock that is too bright, and blinking phone lights. I cannot wait to be older and be able to fall asleep sitting up, or better yet, in mid sentence. How awesome to sleep so soundly that the sound of my own breath does not wake me, or drool startle me. I can’t wait!!

To unabashedly wear comfortable things.
I’m not quite at the elastic waist band phase yet, but I look forward to it. Not that I’m a big eater, but I love the thought of being able to eat, say, Thanksgiving dinner, and not have to lay down or unbutton my pants to breathe afterwards. The idea of buying shoes because they feel like walking on marshmallows, not because they accentuate my pedicure, is enticing. Imagine how much happier women would be if their feet didn’t hurt all the time. I also wouldn’t need to be concerned with dry heels, and worry and fret that people are talking about how I should really use some lotion.

Menopause.
Okay, so I had to mention it. In fact, if I could catalog-order menopause, I would have done it yesterday. How great not to have to worry and fret over birth control! No more periods! No more marks on the calendar! Gone is the apprehension that you’ll be caught off-guard and without a panty liner to your name. Oh sure, I know there are side effects and problems associated with menopause. But I figure it can’t be any worse than my current mood swings, migraine marathons and general bitchy-ness, right? Just ask my husband. He’s campaigning for my menopausal age too. In fact, in another lifetime, on another planet, it would be neat if you could check out a uterus like a library book. Want children? Go to the Uterus-ary. Done? “I’d like to return my uterus now. It was great! Gave me three perfect kids. I’d recommend this one for sure, but I’m all finished with it, thanks.” No late fees apply.

There are many great benefits to getting older, I think we all just spend a lot of time focusing on the negative. The pain. The inability to see or hear well. But there are good points too. What about you? What are you looking forward to when you Grow Up?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ways 2 $ave (That you may not have thought of.)

Ahh, it is becoming a scary world out there-full of uncertainty, high prices, and questions without answers. This was brought home to me the other day when I stopped to chat with a neighbor who was walking down the street. This gentleman neighbor of mine is a retired banker who’s world view is pretty similar to those people who stand on the street corner holding the sign that reads, “THE WORLD IS GOING TO HELL. REPENT NOW!”
“So,” he says to me. “Looks like the world is going to end since they didn’t pass the (first) economic reform bill.”
“Oh they didn’t?” I reply. “I hadn’t heard the lastest. I’ve been working on the computer all day.”
“And you didn’t tune into the news? Yep, it didn’t pass. I hope you have a gun.”
“A gun?” I ask.
“Yeah, to protect yourself when the people start coming for your money and land. ‘Cause they’re going to come.”
(Chuckling a uncomfortably because I’m not quite sure if he is serious…) “Oh, I have my husband to protect me.”
“You’re gonna need more than that,” he replies.

Well, so maybe I will. While we are not members of the NRA, we do own a gun. All you friends and family who covet my stuff better keep your distance. I took shooting lessons from Sarah.

But that got me thinking. The atmosphere has changed. I can no longer go shopping and experience that silly rush to my head, that dizzy-buzzed feeling I get when I spend money. Oh, I still spend it, but that warm fuzzy feeling I used to have, has been replaced by a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I really shouldn’t be here, really shouldn’t be buying this beaded pumpkin placemat, should instead be at home churning my own butter and learning how to sew my own clothes. As if the changes in my shopping habits weren’t enough, I now can no longer enjoy my second life’s passion: eating chocolate. Now I am reading the back of all packages that may perhaps contain any type of milk or milk by-products while simultaneously looking for the words “Made in China.” Us Americans are happy to support their economy by purchasing a million items from the 99 cents store, but now we’re dying or getting sick doing it. I suppose that age-old adage about no free lunch really isn’t bunk.

For those of you (including myself) who are now on a spending freeze, and rationing out the oreos to make them last longer, I have come up with a few new ways to save money that you may not have thought of. 4 easy ways to cut back and spend less.

#1: Stop Shaving
While at Costco the other week I needed razor cartridges, and focusing on the 25 options to choose from, was engrossed in making sure I bought the appropriate razorhead for my razor. After chucking it into the cart, referenced the price, and immediately pulled it back out of the cart as if diseased. Surely there was a typo: surely a 10-pack of razor cartridges does not cost $40. Surely. I use the real razor as opposed to the disposable because it was one way to try being “green,” but there are no cost breaks for the earth-consious consumer. $40 could by me a cart full of produce, pay my cell phone bill, save 40 kids in some third-world country, or purchase all my Christmas gifts from the 99 cents store. In fact, I could probably purchase a small microwave for that amount, strip the metal off and have my husband use his band saw to slice teeny-tiny rectangles off for me to build 1,000 of my own razors. I don’t get the marketing frenzy. It’s not as if hair doesn’t grow back. It’s not like Gillette or Venus has to think, “Hurry, jack that price up, they may never shave again.” I think razors should be more like cigarettes. Those companies know how to keep prices relatively low. You can get 200 cigarettes per carton, at about $37.00 per carton. That’s 200 hits of perfect (if cancer causing) lovin’, to my measly 10 razor heads. In fact, if I stopped shaving and took up smoking, I would still save money. In addition to the financial facts, refusing to shave would send the world a message that it’s really all vanity anyway. We should be focusing on the character of a person, not whether or not they have a beard, 5 o’clock shadow, canine legs or a toupe under their arm. Smooth skin is overrated. And expensive. Stop shaving and you’ll save a bundle.

#2: Go Vegetarian
Another big money sucker is flesh. No, not the illegal-can’t-tell-your-wife-about-it kind; the big mammals that humans have decided should be food. I’m not a big carnivore by nature anyway, but I do enjoy my husband’s BBQ ribs and a juicy hamburger on occasion. Again, I tend to purchase my meat at Costco, because I refuse to pay $10 for three small boneless, skinless, chicken boobs. In fact, there is probably more meat on my sagging-nursed-three-children chest than the average poultry knocker. Most grocery stores average $4.99 a pound for chicken (not on sale of course), but at Costco you can get 8 packages of chicken breasts (2-3 boobs each) for about $20.00. Now twenty bucks to most is not a big deal. I have gone through twenties like tossing pennies in a fountain; not remembering what is was I even spent it on. Things like lunch money I didn’t get the change from, pizza delivery and tip, a gratuity for the newspaper guy, a Starbucks, a donut, a quality hamburger for the kids on the way home from ball practice. But $20 will still buy a decent amount of produce, and pasta pasta pasta. A couple 5lb bags of potatoes. Those starches really do stretch the food budget. Skip meat altogether, save your money and your colon. Now there’s a strategy a person could really get behind.

#3: Buy a Cow
Not just for the dairy farmer any longer, owning a cow is now a possibility for even those square-footage-challenged dwellers. According to Mydairycow.com, owning a dairy cow has never been easier. This answers the question, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” because a gallon of milk is now just under four dollars. Not free in the least. While forking over the $2,000-$3,000 for your initial heifer investment may seem tough to stomach, it has many cost saving benefits in the long run. You never have to buy milk again. Cream for your coffee? Hang on, let me squirt that for you. Butter for your toast? Keep rolling that little glass jar back and forth on the table. (It doubles as entertainment.) Need sour cream for those veggie nachos? The milk under the water heater is just for you. Make your own yogurt, cream fraise, whipped cream and artisnal chocolate. You’ll be the Bree Vandecamp of your neighborhood-loved by one and all; not just for your farm fresh goodness, negative carbon-printing foot and green world view, but also your exotic house pet. Did I mention all these products are melamine free?? No label reading needed.
But what about space? What about mess?

You’ll be glad to know that even those who live in apartments can own their own dairy cow. According to the above website, their “Apartment Friendly cows are bread to be 2/3 size (about the size of a large doberman) and make great watch cows, too!” You can now cancel your ADT home security contract with a clear conscious and save additional dollars. In the event an intruder were to make a midnight visit to your home, they’ll no doubt take a time-out to investigate your new pet. While they are doing that the cow’s mooing will alarm you to an unwelcome guest, and just when the intruder squats down to squirt a little la leche goodness into his/her mouth (because even illegal activity makes a person thirsty) they will get a swift kick to the head, knocking them unconscious. Heavy sleeper? No worries! When the intruder regains consciousness and leaves, your little bovine will have left a hoof mark that noone could mistake. Safety on so many levels! The mess is no issue either, as you can also purchase their “environmentally friendly waste converter and power your home on the dung your cow produces each day!” Another savings! Is there no end?? Why don’t we all own cows?

#4: Put you and your family on self-imposed house arrest.
The benefit of self-imposing this sanction, is the absence of those clumsy ankle monitors. You now have one-up on Martha Stewart, and she has everything. There will be an occasion where you will have to go to the market to replenish the food stores and toilet paper. Outside of these times, here is a brief listing of the benefits:

  • If your children do not go to birthday parties, you do not have to purchase presents.
  • No playdates means you do not provide snacks and therefore save on your food bill.
  • No trips to Target or Walmart alone save at least a hundred per trip.
  • Not going anywhere means no driving, which means, no gas, no emissions, no greenhouse effects, no used oil waste, no containers of Wet Ones used to clean up vehicle vomit.
  • Not going shopping means no new clothes-which forces you to recycle the ones you have, patch the holes, and add lengthening fringe around hems. Recycling clothes will put less trash in the landfills, let some poor village 8 year-old go home and play for once, and reduce the amount of dyes and fabric sizing that gets dumped into our water systems each year.

What about work? you ask. And school?
Work is overrated. No doubt they aren’t paying you what you’re worth, and because of our depressed economic state you’ll probably end up losing your job anyway. Don’t fret about this though, because you’ll be collecting unemployment wages, which aren’t much, but if you follow some of these above mentioned cash-saving ideas, will be more than enough to get by. It’s okay to send the kids to public school, but make sure they walk and bring their lunch. It’s a free day of babysitting, giving you and your spouse time to rekindle that spark, ignited so many years ago. This saves on marriage counseling bills, and since you aren’t driving anywhere forces you to stay at home and work on communication.

You see friend, I have your best interest at heart. Sure, canceling the cable or downsizing your long-distance package with your cell phone carrier are good ideas. But they’ll only take you so far. These ideas are for those looking for even more ways to cut back, spend less and save the earth. As mom used to say,
“Necessity is the mother of invention.”