Friday, November 27, 2009

Pumpkin Bombings - Just Another Thanksgiving Tradition

So we ate our own turkeys. And I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Except that I know for sure it was better than buying a factory farmed white Tom Turkey with genetically altered breasts so large he can't even have sex.

I know that. At least.

Last summer we bought 10 Bourbon Red chicks. Our goal was to raise them healthfully and respectfully - and then eat them on Thanksgiving. People (not all) thought this was strange. Turkeys don't walk around - fly around - etc. Turkeys are these big round things wrapped in plastic.....they sleep in the freezer section of the supermarket. "Why, Why, Why would you want to do such a crazy thing?" said The People. The People have said this to us many times over the years about many different things. We love The People, though. And we are ever so happy to provide them with endless entertainment.

After losing some of the chicks due to the horrible heat wave during the summer, a few more succumbed to stray dogs. (I am not getting started about how people dump their animals out here in the country....or don't spay and neuter their animals - this is a Big Problem here.)

We ended up with 3 turkeys. We figure they were worth about $100 a piece.

The turkeys were obviously not as large as commercially farmed turkeys. For some reason, having turkeys so fat that they can't stand without breaking their own legs does not appeal to me. So we were afraid that we wouldn't have enough to feed our brood plus friends and relatives, but we did. We had an entire turkey left over. Was this the result of mindful and contemplative eating? Or the gross-out factor? (Despite our best efforts - our front lawn was littered with turkey feathers.) Or the fact that the meat was definitely not as tender as meat that has been bred for juiciness and then injected with more juiciness and sodium, etc? Hmmm....we'll never know. Of course, half of our guests were vegetarians. But half of our guests are always vegetarians. All I know is that we definitely had less turkey consumed.

I, myself, am not a big turkey fan. I have always been a slightly uncomfortable meat-eater. And I never crave a piece of meat. Ever. I like the sides, and maybe a little bite of meat. And (I admit it) it is the IDEA of a turkey roasting in my oven that I like. It is strictly emotional; especially around the holidays - of which we celebrate many. For example, nothing is more beautiful than a delicious Passover Roast. And I am very attached to having one. Eating it? A bite. Then I'm done. So basically, these animals die to give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Ugh. I am a spiritual work in progress.

The boys, mostly Jules, did a great job taking care of our beautiful turkeys. And we'd all agreed what the turkeys were being raised for. Everyone (except Ellie) jumped on board with the idea of us raising our own Thanksgiving dinner. As a strict vegetarian for spiritual reasons - Ellie said, "No judgement, guys. But I'm not participating." Good girl. I want to be just like her when I grow up.
So on Wednesday everyone (but Ellie) gathered outside for a little thankfulness ceremony. Ellie says that she doesn't think an apology and a "thanks a lot" really makes an animal any more enthusiastic about being eaten.

It felt right that we should sit on the ground in order to be more connected with the earth - and so we did. We focused a moment on the way the earth felt beneath us....then we thought about all the animals and plant life that live here with us, sharing the earth. We talked about the circle of life. We talked about how the earth provides for our every need. We talked about how when a lion or tiger kills, it does so without anger or rage....We talked about the beauty of the turkeys, of how we had tried very hard to take care of them, and how much we appreciated that they were here.

For some reason, I was surprisingly moved by this. It felt like what Grace should feel like. I have always had a little problem with "saying grace". It isn't because I was never grateful or thankful - because I was/am. But whenever I sit down for a meal I am always aware (or at least try to be) of those whose tables are not overflowing with food. And then it seems silly to say "thank you" to the God-Man. Because the God-Man is supposed to love us all equally - so why does my table have food while others go hungry? So saying, "Thank you God, for this bounty...." always felt like "Thanks for once again making us your faves, God. If we keep thanking you enough, you of the big massive ego and all, will continue to make sure we do not suffer hardships such as hunger. Like other people sometimes do. The reasons of which we'd prefer not to think about." Now, I'm not saying that is what people are feeling or thinking when they give thanks before a meal. In fact, I know it isn't. But that was what I always heard in my strange little head. So for me, these were simply not the right words; not the right imagery. Any prayer that evokes the God-Man-Sitting-Behind-A-Desk thinking about what to dole out where......just doesn't cut it for me. But sitting on the ground with my kids thinking about the circle of life? That did cut it.

Yeah, the Religious Issues follow me everywhere.

Ummm...where was I before I just went off and possibly offended all of my grace-saying Christian friends and family? Oh yes. The slaughter. Everyone went and looked at the turkeys, walked among them quietly, and then Joel carried one to where Jeff had the "set-up" - out of sight of the other turkeys, of course. At this point, I expected most of the children to go inside, but they didn't. So then I felt as if I should stay, as well.

It was a peaceful and quiet operation. Jeff had done a little research to make sure his method was going to be the most humane method (it was). He is no stranger to participating in slaughter - he grew up on this farm and knows exactly what goes into fully preparing a meal. He had never before slaughtered a turkey, but he had helped his mom and dad with many chickens. He has hunted game and fowl and fished and cleaned and "dressed out" his own catches. He grew up eating beef his family raised - with the whole family gathered around the kitchen to cook and make their own sausages, etc. So he knew what to do and did it without any trepidation. I do not believe thankfulness ceremonies were common on the farm when he was growing up - so that was probably a first for him. And he went along with it just fine. Even managed to keep a straight face. *And might I add here that my macho man also bakes a mean pecan pie? He also is quite adept at hemming and altering Ellie's performance gowns. Quite the fella, he is.

Camille and Jasper soon became bored with the whole turkey thing. They each plucked a feather, when the time came, and then went off to do something else. Joel and Jules, however, helped from beginning to end. And these are boys who do not believe in senseless killing. These are boys who escort scorpions out of our house on pieces of paper....boys who don't tell me when they see a rattle snake due to the fear of it being killed as a result....boys who are not interested in hunting (although we are not against hunting).

Yet, I was not surprised to see how they participated with the turkeys. Because they are also somewhat matter-of-fact practical boys. And they love the outdoors and nature and want to learn how to function and survive within their own natural habitat - something we humans have basically forgotten how to do.

When turkeys were sitting in the fridge, waiting to go into the oven first thing the next morning, we felt kind of proud. Definitely pleased.

Our Thanksgiving Day lasts all day....with guests hanging out for Round Two. And for the kids the most exciting part of the day is the Perilous Pumpkin Pushover. This is a nonsensical holiday tradition. We don't know why we do it. I guess we do it because we can. We do it because there used to be a really old wooden bridge over the San Antonio River on our little dirt road - and one year we had a whole lot of pumpkins left over from Halloween and we said (I said), "Wouldn't it be fun to drop them off the bridge?" And everyone said, "Why yes! That would be fun!" And so we have done it every year since and yes, it is fun. Sometimes lots of people join us and there is a massive pumpkin bombing, other times (like this year) it is a smaller crowd. Either way - it is the climax of our Big Turkey Day.

Our lovely wooden bridge has been replaced by a concrete bridge, totally lacking in personality. But we pretend not to notice as we countdown and toss/roll/push/shove the pumpkins. Enjoy the pictures below.....maybe with a glass of wine 'cause people? We are now on the slippery slope that will soon land us right smack in the middle of Christmas. This might be your last chance to relax for awhile This is a picture of my boys with their friend, Harlan. Harlan has been here for almost every pumpkin pushover. I think he might have missed the very first one.

And Here is Ellie with her friend Wayne, who was home from UT.

This is the only picture with me in it - I'm standing next to Joel (he is holding a pumpkin and I'm holding a glass of wine.) There is actually one more picture of me but it is incriminating and I'm not putting it on the blog.

View of the San Antonio River from our bridge. This is the same San Antonio River that flows through the famous downtown River Walk.

This picture is of our old bridge - which we desperately miss.....but we had to make Progress by building a concrete bridge that vandals can graffiti. sigh. The pics below are of 2004, 2003, and 2002. I'm not in any of them - being the picture-taker. It seems that these pictures weren't taken all that long ago (and they weren't). Yet - all my of my kids and their friends have changed so much!

Sardine Mama

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This Here's My Opinion

So - I've been meaning to write this post for awhile. In fact, it has been such awhile that it is bordering on irrelevant - except that it isn't really. Ever. Irrelevant.

Here Goes:

This is to the Texan Guy who called in to NPR in regards to Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize (and no, this post isn't about the Nobel Peace Prize). Mr. Speakin' for All of Texas - I won't quote you per say - 'cause I was driving and all and didn't write down word for word what you said. And what you said was a quickie - you just left a message that they played back on the air - don't even remember which show....All Things Considered, maybe? Anyway, you said (and I am paraphrasing here) that here in Texas, we can't stand Obama. I do know that you used the words "can't stand" and "we" and "Texas" and "Obama". So maybe I got it down just right, after all.

I am fine if you can't stand Obama. Really. I am. More power to you and all that. But you didn't say that you, personally, as in, I Am Only Speaking For Myself, couldn't stand Obama. You said "we". And buddy? You don't speak for me. In fact, you spoke kinda funny. Suspiciously funny. Like maybe you weren't born and raised right here in the Lone Star State. Course I can't prove that. And there ain't nothing wrong with that. Some of my best friends are transplants and (ahem - I am whispering now) my daddy is a former Yankee.

But me? Born and raised here. And I'll die here. 'Cause Texas is Totally The Best State in the Entire World. I bet you and I could agree on that one. Although, I'm also bettin' that you think Texas would be a bit better without the likes of me. And that's where we're different.

Here in San Antonio, we have a right neat place called The Institute of Texan Cultures. Cultures. With an "s". As in plural. 'Cause, dude, there is more than one. And there's gonna be more than one way of lookin' at things, considerin' problems, and findin' solutions. That means that some of us voted for Obama, and some of us voted for that other gal - the one with the colorful family values - and the old guy who mistakingly chose her as his running mate and is seriously regretting it.

Anyway - Mr. Speakin' For All of Texas.....This here's my front yard:

And this here's my mama and my granddaddy.

And they ain't riding for show, neither. See them cows back there? See them chaps? When's the last time you wore chaps, Mr. Speakin' For All of Texas? By the way, we called my granddaddy "Daddy Jim". That's what all of his kids and his grandkids called him because we are That Kind of Texas.

You don't speak for me, Mr. Speakin' For All of Texas. And I would never in a million years dream of speakin' for you. Because you have your own voice and are entitled to it 100%. You see, I don't want to take that away from you. I want your voice here. I want everyone's voices here. 'Cause this here's a big state and all. We need lots of voices. Please don't presume you can be any more Texan than me by drowning out my voice. 'Cause, Buddy? There ain't nobody more Texan than me. And I support my President. And I also support your right to not do the same. That there idea, which came down from the Greeks, is what we like to call a democracy. It is all about everybody havin' a voice and all. As opposed to, let's say....a dictator.

It is also a little bit of common courtesy. Which is nice to have in the old Friendship State. It is the kind of courtesy you don't find at them fancy tea parties in which you're probably participatin'. We have tea parties here on our ranch. We invite our friends, even the ones with bumper stickers that do not quite gel with our own. We hold our little pinkies out and say please and thank you and would you please pass the sugar. No swastikas at our tea burning effigies....none of that there nonsense.

But Mr. Speakin' For All of Texas? I support your right to your kinda tea party. I won't go....'cause I am of a more genteel nature and all.....but if anybody tries to take away your right to congregate and hold ridiculous signs.....I will be the first person to call in and tell 'em to leave you the hell alone. This here's a big state, like I said. And there's room for all of us.

But you don't speak for me. Let's just be clear on that.

And for governor? I betcha you're going for that Good Old Boy, Rick Perry. Good for you. I love Good Old Boys. I even dated one named Bubba, once. That boy was smooth as velvet on a sawdust dance floor and some kinda wicked fun at a pasture party, let me tell ya. But for governor? I'm votin' for that there Palestinian fella. The one who invented the Chi Flat Iron he manufactures right here in Texas. Because I love my Chi. Anyone who can straighten out my massive mess of hair could certainly straighten out Texas.

Signing off as The Lone Star Mama

Friday, November 13, 2009

Come On. You Know You Wanna Look.

This post has been edited. Some of the original content has been removed due to my being informed that one of the blogs I had referenced had been dumped for reasons totally beyond me....not the fact that it was dumped....but the REASON it was dumped. Which is dumbfounding. And I'm grateful it was dumped. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Ha! So I follow a bloggista who is a Homeschooling Raw Vegan Foodie. I am not vegan, nor am I a foodie, for the most part. Although I do love my food. And I love looking at pictures of food. So I love her blog and stalk it regularly.

This bloggista, Green and Crunchy, should be a food photographer. The chick likes to arrange her food all pretty and take pictures of it. MAJOR. And she has adorable children. Five of them. Just like me! Only hers are more photogenic than mine. Anyway - she has a bad ass blender and an awesome dehydrator and she likes section plates. She takes pictures of her section plates loaded with raw food. And I want section plates. She also uses glass straws. And I want glass straws. And she uses something called tippins. I want tippins. And I'm not sure what tippins are. But I want to be the proud owner of a tippin or two. And her photogenic five children apparently gobble up whatever she sets on their adorably lovely frickin' section plates and I want that, too!! Because I deserve it!!

Anyway - so this crazy vegan foodie chick posted pics of her refrigerator. THE INSIDE OF HER REFRIGERATOR. And I looked. And I liked. And I found it interesting in the way you find basically anything interesting when you are procrastinating. It isn't as interesting as vampire porn (a tool of procrastination of which I am quite fond) but its nowhere near as boring as flipping through the phone book (which I have been known to do in order to drag out lunch). So, like I was saying, I found the contents of her very clean refrigerator quite fascinating and couldn't tear myself away. Green and Crunchy has labels and everything in her refrigerator. I want to label everything in my refrigerator. By now? If she's reading? I am probably creeping Green and Crunchy out a little bit.

I'm not going to post pics of the inside of my fridge. But I will tell you what's in it. And you will find it interesting and fascinating because you are probably trying to avoid doing something lame and boring and be prepared to be my refrigerator.

We'll start with my top shelf (yes - we are going shelf by shelf - you can just settle that rear end of yours down into the chair). On my top shelf is my Big Dog Emergency Sized The-World-Is-Going-To-End-In-2012-And-Who-Wants-To-Be-Sober-For -That? Margarita Bottle. And it is good stuff. It is not a mix. I cannot stand a margarita mix. It isn't quite as good as a homemade margarita with fresh lime juice...but it ain't half bad for a bottle and it gets the job done on a weekend. The brand is Salvador's Premium Margarita. I highly recommend it.

Next? Wheat germ. Three large jars of wheat germ. You're probably thinking we eat a lot of wheat germ. You're wrong. We eat it so rarely that when a recipe calls for it I go, "Wheat germ? We don't have any of that. Let me go buy a great big jar." Then I get it home and put it into the refrigerator and say, "Looky here - we already have several jars of wheat germ." The fact that I am sharing this story with you will not stop me from buying more wheat germ a week or so from now. That is the sad truth of it.

I do the same thing with canned sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. I don't serve either one. But every year at Thanksgiving I say to myself, "What if we run out of homemade cranberry sauce or sweet potatoes and I've nothing to serve my guests? Let me go to the store and buy back-up canned sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. Then let me bring it home and put it in the pantry next to the 20 or so cans I already own because I have this exact same panic attack every single Thanksgiving...." Again. Some things I can't control. I will not be able to avoid performing this holiday ritual.

So where were we? Oh yes. Top shelf. Is loaded with 2 big gallons of milk. Milk! Do you hear that my Vegan Sweetheart? It is right next to the liquor. My kids love the milk as much as I love the liquor. And the kefir. And the yogurt. And the cheeses of every variety. We are considering switching to raw milk. It is just so dang expensive.

Jasper is currently living on kefir. He hasn't chewed anything in weeks. When he was 3 I took him to the doctor for I honestly don't remember what. And I saw a different doctor than we usually saw. And he wasn't prepared for me. So he couldn't quite hide his shock over the fact that Jasper was still breastfeeding. "There is a narrow window of opportunity to introduce him to solid food!" he'd said. "Geeze," I said. "He's been introduced. We said, Jasper, this is solid food. Solid food, this is Jasper. They just don't care for each other." And the doctor? Was stunned. So I kept going, "We put stuff in his mouth. It makes him drool." The doctor was not impressed. "He spits it out. But," I added proudly, "he sorts it, first." The doctor was speechless. So anyway, here we are, Jasper is 5, and he still prefers his food to be in liquid form. And even though he is fully weened (that is not me in the you tube video of the woman breastfeeding an 8-year-old - I PROMISE) - he shows signs of being a breast man. But anyway, maybe we missed our window of opportunity with the solid foods, after all. But please don't tell that jerk of a doctor.

Jasper has several Big Stories in his background, and one of my favorites is the time he ordered breast milk in a restaurant. He immediately caught himself and became embarrassed, it had just been a knee-jerk reaction, sort of like last year at Halloween when he ran to the first house and screamed "Happy Birthday!" instead of trick-or-treat. But anyway, it was interesting to watch the waitress while she obviously considered just how far she'd go for a tip.

See how I keep digressing? So also on the top shelf - a 2.5 pd bag of spinach. We lika da spinach. We go through one of these bags a week. Spinach blueberry smoothies, spinach salads, sauteed spinach, spinach wraps, spinach juiced with lots of stuff......Camille is my only non-spinach eater at the moment (Jasper, of course, drinks his).

The next shelf has butter, cottage cheese, sprouts, avocados (like Green and Crunchy - we LOVE our avocados over here), leftover salad, 2 jars of organic natural peanut butter, 2 jars of organic jellies and preserves, and some refried black beans. The black beans are dehydrated and marketed by the Santa Fe Bean Co. They're really good and really fast if you failed to plan ahead and cook your own dang beans.

The next shelf has some soaking chick peas for a raw chick pea salad I'm making tomorrow (recipe of Green and Crunchy), tomatoes, feta cheese, eggs from our Rhode Island Reds, and some leftover pasta and asparagus.

The bottom drawers are full of fruits, salad fixin's, ginger, squash, carrots and some celery. My doors are mostly condiments, sauces, and salad dressings. However, the best salad dressing is olive oil, lime juice, and garlic. Yum! We try to avoid high fructose corn syrup if at all possible. I'm thrilled to see it making an exit from the shelves of my grocery store!!

My freezer is full of our summer garden's sweet corn, tomatoes, and coffee and nuts of every variety. I also keep my flour, oats, and rice in the freezer. There is a big huge Costo box of Morningstar Veggie Burgers (I know! Processed soy products!!) and some breads. Other stuff, too, can't even tell what it all is.

Our outside freezer is almost empty at the moment - ready for another load of beef that we will process after Thanksgiving. We don't eat commercially raised meat. Our kids are backwards from most kids. Most kids won't eat anything if they can freely associate it with what it really "is". For example, a hamburger is a cow, a pork chop is a pig...they really don't want to know this information.....whereas my kids won't eat anything they haven't personally seen walking around wagging its tail or spreading its tail feathers :).

On the floor of my kitchen sit 2 huge baskets of freshly hand-picked tangerines from Aunt Maxine's farm next door. Can you say carrot/orange juice in the morning?? Sweet. Might throw some pineapple in there, too.

There are bananas and organic apples on my counter. Onions, potatoes, and garlic hanging on the wall.

There now. Wasn't that a fine way to waste 10 minutes? What's in your fridge? Really! I wanna know!! I've shown you mine. You show me yours.

Sardine Mama - who, quite ironically, seems to have no actual sardines on hand. Just a coupla cans of herring :).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The State of Things

All the stuff I blog about? Has been getting in the way of my bloggin' time. It is hard to blog about a lice infestation, sick kids, a food poisoned husband, a father with a re-fractured femur, and other things I can't even remember, because I have been BUSY dealing with all of the above mentioned blogging topics.

First of all - YES, I SAID LICE INFESTATION. Dang.

I really thought we were immune to this particular form of vermin. Seriously. Not because we're better than you, or anything, but because I have, over the years, received many phone calls that began with, "You're going to hate me...." and ended with "we don't know how long he/she has had it..." and WE NEVER GOT LICE. Ever. Even when the little victims had been sharing a pillow with my kids. So I thought we were just unappealing to lice. But I was wrong.

While I was at my dad's (where I have basically been living with various combinations of my kids) I noticed that Jules was frantically scratching his head. Frantically. And he is a rather frantic sort just regularly, so the fact that I noticed an increase in his franticness indicates that he was REALLY VERY frantically scratching his head. And I had a sick feeling and a "knowing". Jeff - otherwise known as the Irritating Optimist (and my husband) said, "He must have a little dry scalp."

If Jeff were watching an approaching tsunami - a BIG one with houses, cars, and cows riding the top of the wave, he would grin and say, "We might get a bit damp." Life's experiences (and we have collected a few during our almost 24 years of marriage) have not lessened his highly irregular and somewhat annoying habit of always expecting the best possible outcome no matter what. Sigh. Then again, if there were two of me running this house we'd have slit our wrists long ago. Which is basically unproductive.

So I had to make phone calls that began with, "You're going to hate me....." to a bunch of gracious friends who acted like it was no big deal but who were so loudly screaming The F Word in their heads I could hear it all the way over here.

We ordered a product called Lice Off that is supposedly non-toxic blah blah blah and takes 3 DAYS TO ARRIVE. Excuse me? WE HAVE LICE!! WHERE IS THE OVERNIGHT BUTTON????????

Now how did Jules handle all of this? Well, this is actually embarrassing but he seemed to enjoy the entire thing. Poor middle child will take his attention where he can grab it. Jeff sheared him and he looks adorable. Olive oil treatments seem to have taken care of the adult lice. And his hair is nicely conditioned. And he's speaking with an Italian accent. And I kind of want to put Parmesan cheese on him. And the dogs are following him around, drooling.

When I dropped him off at Chess Club with his new buzz cut I was like, "Oh no! I forgot to tell Jules not to brag about the head lice!" Yes. I said "brag". Because he is weird that way. And he's homeschooled and occasionally unaware of the things that freak public school (ie normal) kids out. But he didn't have time to blurt out the reason for his new haircut because his friend yelled, "Thanks for giving me LICE, Jules!!" Yes, I cringed. To which Jules grinned and replied, "No problem!" Just spreadin' the love.

When I picked him up from Chess Club he was scratching his head with his 2nd Place Trophy so it was a good night for Jules all the way around....bragging rights for both lice and chess.

And where is Joel in all of this? Hiding. His. Locks.

Joel looks like he doesn't care about his hair (because that is how it looks....believe a feather duster that hasn't been touched in centuries) but the reality is that he cares very much. And he is either using nerves of steel to avoid putting his fingers anywhere near his scalp to scratch....or he really doesn't have lice. Doesn't matter. The kid is using lice shampoo. Just. In. Case.

Joel has some braggin' rights, too, by the way. He earned his Brown Belt in Tae Kwon Do!

This is Ginger. She is awesome. And she could NO DOUBT kick Joel's rear in a millisecond. I honestly don't know how she resists the urge. Massive self control, I guess.

And Ellie? Where is she in all of this? Out of the house or sitting at the piano. She has a solo recital in 2 weeks and it is a very big deal and hundreds of hours of practicing have gone into this Big Event and we just hope people show up. She's also been babysitting a ton. And teaching a ton of piano lessons. She's been invited to participate in a piano immersion institute in Seattle and it costs what amounts to Big Bucks and we're making her pay for it, herself. (Character building and all that - plus? We don't have the money.)

The Little'uns also do not appear to have lice. But they are still disgusting. Because they have colds. Bad ones. Jasper is making the most disgusting sounds I have ever heard. I would almost rather he just quietly have lice. He told me that he coughed so hard he coughed up his bones. We had a brief discussion of anatomy so he would understand that it is impossible to cough up a bone. But he assured me that he is missing several bones. Camille has not coughed up any bones that I know of.

HALLOWEEN. We came and we conquered. The little'uns wore a variety of thrown-together costumes and Joel bought himself another ridiculously expensive mask. If you saw the mask from last year, you'll recognize that there is a Gene Simmons theme going. And to all the mothers of toddlers and pre-schoolers??? I am so sorry. The wake of crying children Joel left behind was embarrassing.

First stop was the neighboring farm where we traditionally stop to scare the poop out of Great-Aunt Maxine. Joel is holding his leaking mask with the swollen tongue with a chain through it. Ellie left us at this point to go to the movies with friends. Sadness. 'Cause she is big and all. And I can remember every single stinkin' Halloween costume I ever made for her. Because I did make hers. Because she was the first one....and she was a wicked witch (a vikkid vit, she said), a princess, a butterfly, a spider, a pumpkin....And Camille and Japser? Are wearing whatever they could throw together on short notice :)

I must take a brief moment to bore you with the conversation I had with the teenage sales clerk at Party City as she stuck Joel's mask into the bag.

"Yuck," said I. "It is leaking something all over the bag!"

"That's blood," said the teenage clerk. "You're lucky 'cause we usually charge extra for it. But this is the display mask and you're getting the blood for free."

The red gel-like stuff was pooling into the lower right hand corner of the bag.

"But what is it?" I asked, you know, concerned about toxicity and the possibility of permanent staining.

"It's blood," she said.

"I know," I said. "But what IS it?"

To which she replied, very slowly, "It's BLOOD."

She handed me the bag and added, "No refunds on masks. Happy Halloween."

I told Joel that this was definitely his last year to Trick-or-Treat. He is too hugely gigantic and old. And by the end of the night his bucket held 1/3 of what the little'uns had so that was The Public's way of agreeing with me. Here he is looking sad over "the lame bag of pretzels".

And here is Jasper after a fix. Because he has a little problem....with sugar. We are thinking of going entirely sugar-free with him (well, all of us).

So here is The State of Things:

My house is a mess. This is the hallway that leads to the kids' bedrooms. See the floor? This is the "old" part of the farmhouse. I HATE THIS FLOOR AND IT WILL BE WITH ME UNTIL THE DAY I DIE. IN FACT, I COMPLETELY EXPECT SOMEONE TO LINE MY COFFIN WITH IT!!

This is the boys' room but they don't sleep in it.

They sleep here. They are the two colorful lumps in the grass. The weather is cool and they have moved outside and this is a good thing because JULES HAS LICE for crying out loud. The fog rolls in here every morning off of the San Antonio the boys always wake up wet. Last night the coyotes were howling so loudly I swore they were less than a few feet from my sleeping babies.....who were loving every minute of it. And they often sleep in when they are sleeping out. So Ellie's piano students will be driving up and getting out of the cars....the little'uns will have friends over running all about....and none of this disturbs the boys snoring in the yard.

And this is the Little'uns' room but they don't sleep in it.

They sleep here. In MY room. Which is annoying but not worth a "plan" or anything that would require "stick-to-it-iveness" which is something I have never been good at. Eventually they will move outside to brave the coyotes. And yes, that is toilet paper. 'Cause we are out of tissues. And it is recycled TP so they are basically blowing their noses in sandpaper. That will teach them to get sick.

And this is the door to Ellie's room. And she DOES sleep in there. Without crying or stumbling out or asking for water or a back rub or anything. Because even though there is a humongous industry that has sprung up around teaching parents how to get kids and babies to sleep in their own beds (as if this is a necessary life skill they will not learn if we don't teach it to them)....all kids grow up. Even without interference, nobody grows up to be a 40-year-old man or woman sleeping between two stressed-out 60-year-olds who haven't had sex for 40 years. It doesn't happen. Ever. So....hey...everyone with tots out there.....STOP FREAKING OUT ABOUT IT! Your kids will soon not want to be in the same room with you. That is the sad/happy/normal/developmental truth of it. They will one day march down the hall and close their doors and mark off their personal space and you will need an invitation to get in. I promise. So let the little guys snuggle down with you while they can and throw away those stupid books!!Okay. Well, that was my little Attachment Parenting sermon for today.
Signing Off as Sardine Mama, or, The Mama You Hope Doesn't Call You Saying, "You're Going to Hate Me...."