Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Frimily Trick-or-Treating

Because we offered to open up our home to the frimily for Halloween, and because we're - well, US - Connor came down with some god-awful virus on Friday night. I initially doubted the actual existence of the virus, because the outbreak of symptoms coincided with him getting in trouble. Specifically, we were at the boys' elementary school carnival, and Connor advised me that "I lost my Albert Einstein mask." Excuse me? Why, exactly, did your Albert Einstein mask (yes, God love him, he has one) accompany us to the carnival? "Because I knew that other kids would be wearing costumes, and I wanted to wear one." Um, what's that thing on your face? The thing that looks suspiciously like a zombie mask? "I brought the Einstein mask so that I would have something to change into." Okay, um, let's do the math here: two masks, one face. It was inevitable that you would lose one. And, also, um, you should have known better. AND, if you were going to lose one, really, did it have to be the Einstein mask? Which I acquired through random circumstances and was pretty much enamored with before I even brought it home to you? Could you not have lost the dime-a-dozen zombie mask instead?

C quickly backtracked: "Well, either I lost it or I didn't. It's possible that I left it at home. I meant to bring it. I just can't remember if I did or not." Not winning points, kid: as you know, the only thing that annoys Mommy more than your insistence on overpacking for every flippin' family outing, no matter how short - INCLUDING THIS ONE, THREE BLOCKS FROM THE FLIPPIN' HOUSE - is your subsequent inability to remember what, exactly, you packed, and your tendency to FREAK THE HECK OUT about entirely theoretical things that you may or may not have lost. Like, for example, your FLIPPIN' COOL Albert Einstein mask . . . .

So, I put him on notice: regardless of whether he ultimately located the mask, he was in trouble. That's when The Symptoms came on: "MOM, I have a headache, and a sore throat. I really can't talk about this right now." Whatever, kid; this is not my first rodeo. I know an entirely-too-convenient ailment when I see one.

Except, the ailment turned out to be legit. That, or this kid can commit to a character (in this case, "extremely sick child") like no other - including the inducement of a fever through sheer force of will. Mind you, I haven't ruled out the possibility that he possesses this awesome ability - it has happened too many times not to arouse at least a bit of suspicion. After all, he is his father's son, and his father has a younger brother who, I hear tell, could throw up on cue when he was a small fry. (He may still have this ability but, fortunately, in the sixteen years that I have known him, it just hasn't come up.) The ability to conjure a fever on command could represent the next step in the evolution of this inherited family trait.

Anyway, sort of to my surprise, the fever and accompanying sore throat persisted - even after the Einstein mask was found, safe and sound, in the costume basket at home. When Sunday morning rolled around, I reluctantly text messaged the frimily advising them of the possibility that Typhoid Tween might be contagious. The intent was to give everyone an out if they wanted one. Bless their sweet hearts, all of the responses were along the lines of, "Well, if you don't want us there because you think it will be too much of a strain on Connor, we'll be sad, but we'll stay away." Wow, CLEARLY I have you guys fooled if you think that my intent was to wave you off for MY KID'S own good. Here, I was prepared to keep him in his room until trick-or-treating time and then only allow him to emerge with his costume mask on, all in an entirely selfish attempt to induce you to come play with me - I mean, us. Wish I was half of the selfless mom that my friend think I am.

Long story short, none of the frim felt particularly inclined to avoid the hot zone, and Connor woke up without a fever, anyway, so by Sunday midday the planned Frimily Taco Salad and Group Trick or Treating Party was officially on. And, me being me, with taco meat to cook and other pre-party duties to attend to, I decided that T minus an hour and a half to guest arrival, it was a good time to carve pumpkins. We hadn't carved pumpkins in awhile, my theory being that carving pumpkins was one of those family holiday traditions that, like dying Easter eggs, was a mega big deal when we were kids because, well, what ELSE was there to do? Whereas now you can buy easy, creative, and relatively mess-free Halloween craft kits at your neighborhood retailer that leave the whole "let's hack at a pumpkin with a steak knife" thing in the dust.

Yeah, Connor didn't particularly buy my explanation . . . and so it was that I found myself outside with both boys creating jack o' lanterns, shortly before the frim arrived. Using kid-friendly tools from a Pumpkin Masters carving kit, Connor took the whole process quite seriously and carved a very good "bat ghost" pumpkin.

Parker, on the other hand, lost interest in the process halfway through. His zombie pumpkin (the white one below) was completed by Mom, who also added the cute little pie pumpkin into the mix:

Parker did get into the spirit by coloring his own pumpkin (with the crayon that came with his carving kit), so we turned him loose with some sidewalk chalk, and he added some embellishments to the front walk:

Pictured above - a skeleton, a witch's broom, a ghost, a pumpkin and Frankenstein's monster. Not pictured, the "Approach of Death": closer to the porch, after drawing dotted lines to approximate a runway, Parker drew a ring of fire and a pool of piranhas.

Inside the house, I did a little decoration shuffling to make room for these two awesome additions to my black cat collection, which were early Christmas gifts from one of my brothers-in-law (the same one who can ralph on cue - he is multitalented!).

Moving cats in with the witches necessitated a re-roosting of the owls with the pumpkins on the other side of the dining room:

Since dinner was taco salad, I decorated the dining room Day-of-the-Dead style and whipped up a skeleton-topped brownie dessert:

My dear, sweet husband offered to go to the store for me the night before to pick up our contributions to the taco salad (the lettuce and the meat). My dear, sweet, sort-of-clueless husband returned with one head of iceberg and a pound of meat . . . for ten-plus people. I'll present this in multiple-choice format:

A) He confused Halloween with Hannukah and thought the lettuce and meat would "stretch," like the lamp oil in the temple;
B) He thought it would miraculously multiply, like the Biblical loaves and fishes; or
C) He completely missed the whole "people will be eating taco salad" thing.

Correct answer: (C). "Honey, here's your lettuce and your meat. Listen, I bought some other stuff, because I thought I'd make lasagna for everyone before we trick-or-treat." Did I mention that he is dear and sweet? And also sort-of-clueless? Had to burst his bubble and remind him that everyone had committed to bringing taco salad ingredients. But his lasagna shopping came in handy, because the ground sausage that he purchased got thrown into the skillet with the ground beef, and - who knew? - equal parts ground sausage and ground beef make for some pretty killer taco meat.

That means I only had to go to the store for lettuce. Grabbed a couple of back-up bags of candy as well. You're no doubt familiar with the concept: you aren't at all sure how many trick-or-treaters you will have, and the last thing you want to do is turn off the lights early because you ran out of candy (ROOKIE MISTAKE!), so you buy a couple of bags of something that you or your family totally would eat, and you hold those bags in reserve. I selected mini Reese's Cups, because (1) duh, they're awesome, and (2) um, that's all that Super Target had. Two full aisles and the back aisle that they tee into, (previously) devoted to bagged candy. T-minus two hours to trick-or-treating: FOUR BAGS OF MINI REESE'S CUPS ON THE SHELVES. PERIOD. Recession? What recession?

Pull into the driveway bearing lettuce, bagged ice and bags of back-up candy and notice the steam coming from my front grate. Fan-freakin'-tastic - put that one in in the "trick" column. 72 hours later, I was the proud(?) owner of a new radiator. Yeah, I'll go with proud, because I'd been complaining to Parnell about the "liquid sloshing" noise coming from the front right quadrant of my car for some time, I finally was able to boil it down to its essence, a "gurgle," and with the assistance of Google diagnosed it as air in a line signaling a coolant leak. Not that the sickening smell of antifreeze that began to permeate the cabin of the car after we initially topped off the antifreeze wasn't a dead giveaway. But sort of proud that I'm the type of girl who KIND OF knows a little bit about cars - enough to afford me some street cred with the old-school mechanic types at Fort Worth Tire & Auto. Also proud - nay, pretty much delighted - that I was right when my husband was wrong in assessing the extent of my coolant woes.

Couldn't worry about the radiator Sunday night, though, because I had lettuce to chop, and a mini Indy to dress. Sort of confused about the whole "muscle chest Indiana Jones" costume; as cute as he was, don't remember Harrison Ford being THAT buff , but I guess some extra muscle translates into extra marketing muscle (and justifies the $10 markup over the "non muscle chest" variant):

Accessories included (1) a "kind-of crystal skull" (styrofoam, covered with black glitter, a buck at Dollar Tree), (2) a whip (ordered along with the costume, made out of braided felt, $4) and (3) a giant snake (because, you know . . . he hates snakes . . . yeah, no one else got it, either). Snake was borrowed from big bro and was free.

Big bro was a shadow storm trooper which, apparently, is just like a REGULAR storm trooper except black instead of white. (More creative marketing in action: "But, Mom, this costume is totally different from my storm trooper one, because it's a different COLOR.") Actually, his original intent was to be a shadow storm trooper, but then his clueless mom BROUGHT HOME THE WRONG COLORED LIGHT SABER FROM SUPER TARGET. Okay, in my defense: the light saber was totally an impulse purchase, to reward Connor for his second History Fair victory in as many years, and, well, to be indulgent for indulgence's sake. We had already agreed that, in lieu of a light saber, he would carry the eerily realistic machine gun that he built entirely out of paper and Scotch tape. Yes, you can call me Mrs. McGyver, because clearly I birthed him. But I remember when my mom would surprise me with something that I wasn't expecting, just for the sake of catching me off-guard and making me feel special. I felt like giving him one of those moments.

I forgot that this is Connor - the relentlessly literal one with the ridiculous attention to detail. Note to file: save future grand gestures for Parker. They will be more well-received.

Connor to me: "Um, it's blue."
Me: "But you said blue."
Connor: "No, I said NEW. I said that I wanted a NEW light saber. Shadow troopers carry red light sabers, not blue ones."
Me: "Huh. Kind of ironic, because the store was TEEMING with red light sabers, at a variety of price points, and here I was thinking that I was doing something good by bringing you this over-priced blue one."

This is what I mean by "relentlessly literal":

Connor: "It's okay, Mom. Instead of an ACTUAL shadow trooper, I'll tell people that I'm Luke Skywalker when he was DISGUISED as a shadow trooper in the [blah, blah, blah - have I mentioned that I basically hate "Star Wars"?]. That would explain the blue light saber. Of course, I will have to carry my helmet instead of wearing it, so that people will see my blonde hair."

Riiiiiiiiiiight. Because if you were to ring the doorbell wearing the helmet AND carrying a blue light saber, people would think you were bat-bleepin' crazy and turn you away without giving you candy.

I'm telling you, he's Sheldon Cooper from "Big Bang Theory." Bazinga.

The frimily also came in costume:

Second picture was taken as we were venturing out to trick-or-treat. Note the roadie cup, which does NOT have sangria in it. Because walking around the 'hood with a roadie of sangria would be . . . wait, it would be awesome. WAS awesome, actually. Until we ran out. Then we got whiny.

Our motley crew of kids - ages 14, 10, 9, 6 and 2 - had a blast and collected, between them, a metric ton of candy. Which got too heavy to carry around after awhile. At which point, they, too, got whiny.

So we decided to call it a night - but not before stopping by this house, which, as advertised by a number of folks that we passed, had the World Series projected onto the side of the garage (and, because this is Fort Worth, the world's biggest small town, two in our party had gone to high school with the homeowner):

And not before running into Connor's buddy Andy and his siblings:

On the way home, the girls became fascinated with the odd-looking shadows that we cast thanks to our costumes. (No, the sangria wasn't THAT strong. It really was funny to look down and see the outline of two pointy witches, a bat chick, a Minnie Mouse and an angel.) I tried really hard to get a picture of the actual shadows, but the best I could do was a photo of the frim LOOKING UPON their shadows.

Back at the house, Parker and Greenleigh (the cutest little cat you ever did see) had an impromptu dance party with the "Shorty Got Low Skeleton Dude" and the "Cupid Shuffle Mummy Dude." Then they had a duel, using their brothers' weapons.

Then the little cat started to melt down . . . and mini Indy started to pass out standing on his feet . . . so we called it a night. But not before determining that Frimily Trick-or-Treating was an awesome success.

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