Thank you, Kat

I’ve waited too long to tell this story and to show my true gratitude.  Remember my little rant about Kung Fu Panda shirts.  Well, some one was listening and decided to answer me.


A few days after my long rant, my best friend called me.  (Ok, we talk every day, or to be honest, several times a day, so it wasn’t surprising she called me.) 


Wally: Hey, what sizes are the boys in now?


Me: 3t and 18 months, but Sean will pop into 2t any day now.  Why?


Wally: It’s a surprise.


Me: (Skeptical) Ok.  You know we’re leaving next week, right?


Wally: Don’t remind me!


Me: And Evan will be out of 3t in the summer.  But when it comes to pants he has a tiny waist so he barely can keep is pants around the waste.  And-


Wally: Ok. Stop making everything so complicated.  I’ll tell you.  Just act surprise when it comes.  My sister has been reading your blog and saw how you couldn’t find any Kung Fu Panda shirts –


Me: Your sister reads my blog?  Doesn’t she have more important and fun things to do?


Wally: She loves it.  Any ways, she found some Kung Fu Panda shirts online and wants to buy them for the boys and –


Me: –


Wally: They were cheap!  Don’t argue with me.  She called me wanting to know the boys’ sizes and your address.  I said, well, they’re actually moving soon.  But she insists that she can get them there before you leave.  They’re long sleeve, but she says it’s still cold in Arizona.


Me: Make it size 4t and 2t because it’ll only be cold for another month here.  Shorts by mid April.  But it’s not necessary.  She can give me the website and I can-


Wally: Don’t give me crap about her buying your sons gifts.  Be gracious and accept.


My best friend knows me too damn well.


Two days later a package arrived.  Thankfully I remembered the conversation as there was no return address or anything inside to let me know who sent it to Evan and Sean (uhem, Kat) because once you have a stalker problem you get a bit jumpy over unmarked packages.  Besides how could I thank this wonderful angel for sending me Kung Fu panda shirts, pajamas, and books?


As it happened, the box came the same day as the grandparents did, so it was hard to tell what excited them most.  The boys saw their gifts and danced their happy dances.  Sean’s dance is twirls and body bumps; while Evan’s are high jumps off the nearest furniture.  Unfortunately it hasn’t been cold enough to wear long sleeved shirts, so I had to hide them before Evan and Sean demanded to get heat stroke.


©j So Kat, thank you very much for being so wonderfully thoughtful and sweet.  ©



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Please don’t be too jealous . . .

Last night I was able to shake off my shackles and join a girl’s night out, which my husband had teased me of the wild times I would have.  With a married woman, a pregnant and married woman, and a lesbian, I didn’t see us going out to get drunk and harass cute, young, impressionable bartenders.  Well, I might have (harassing cute bartenders), but I was on my best behavior, not wanting to defend myself the next time I went out. 


As we sat at a booth at a bar/grill, as the waiter tried to hurry us along (fat chance), we realized that it was indeed ten years when we met and formed a friendship, sharing a bathroom more like a hallway and a shower that I affectionately called the coffin because I couldn’t lift my arms to wash my hair without bumping my elbows.  My first college roommate, the Violinist, was the pregnant one, and the newly minted lesbian was my adorable suitemate, Rini.  All we missed was Rini’s roommate, who moved her sophomore year to find herself, then graduated from a tiny college called Stanford.  She lives near San Francisco. 


Like all my friends, no matter how long it has been since seeing or talking, we fell back into the habit of what we truly are, talking and laughing loudly, forgetting that we were not the only ones in the restaurant.  These are the women who did not just know where the bodies were hidden, but they had been there to bury them, all except one that we bitterly wished we had truly disposed of.  These are the women who had seen me at my best, a bright student and a talented writer, and at my worst, a conniving, self-centered bitch.  These are the women who would say, “Oh, that’s such a Faemom thing to do (or say)” or “Go ask, Faemom, she knows; she always does.”  (And I assure you that it was said without malice, and I truly believe I know nearly everything.)    I cannot count how many hours we would talk and how many secrets and fun and unusual facts we know about each other.


The Violinist knows that I do not snore, no matter what my husband says.  I know both the Violinist and Rini talk in their sleep.  I can tease them mercilessly about their crushes, but they can hold me responsible for who I actually dated.  The Violinist once yelled outside the door for me to hurry the hell up, but at least she didn’t walk in.  I know who kept her warm one night while we were all camping.  I bought us a kiddie pool for our dorm room, and the Violinist bought a dozen packages of glow-in-the-dark stars.  I had to assure Rini, on more than one occasion, that she didn’t have a bitch bone in her body and to allow me to be the bitch for her.  I gave her all the money I had for the week so that she could drive home that night for a family emergency.  We have enough secrets to black mail each other for life.


Over a warm brownie sundae and a cinnamon-sugar pizza, we congratulated ourselves for getting together as we promised two months ago after laughing our way through Twilight, seeing our younger selves in the characters.  As we parted ways, I threw out a date, after one returned from Thailand and before the other’s baby shower.  We smiled over the thought, and I threatened to surprise the Violinist by Rini and I appearing at her door one day after the baby was born to bring dinner, to clean, and to watch a baby so mommy could shower.


I hope you all have friends like that and that you too will escape the bonds of motherhood for a few hours. . . .

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Tornado E and the Whale

Once upon a time there was my Mommy!  And she was swimming!  And she was eaten by a big blue whale!  Chomp!


Awesome.  As I assured Tornado E that I’m not going swimming and that I won’t be eaten by a blue whale and that in fact blue whales can’t eat anyone because they have teeth like a brush, not teeth like Tornado E, I secretly cursed my best friend and my husband  for making this mess I saw coming.  My best friend had rented Nim’s Island because they were out of stock on Kung Fu Panda.  She assured me that Tornado E would LOVE the movie because of all the animals.  But as the opening credits finished, I became unassured as the puppet mom was eaten by a blue whale.


Are you kidding me?  A blue whale?  They are baleen whales.  They can’t even open their mouths for fish much less a person and perhaps a boat.  I love blue whales!  Go pick on something scary like a sperm whale or an orca.  But I digress because my first instinct was to reassure Tornado E.


Me: Don’t worry, Tornado E.  Blue whales don’t eat people.


My husband: Yeah, they just swallow them.


My BFF: Faemom.  It’s just a story.


Tornado E: Whales swallow them.


Me: (shooting dirty shut-the-f-up looks at the adults) No, Tornado E, blue whales don’t swallow people.


My husband: Sure, they do.


My BFF: (ever the biblical scholar) What about Jonah and the Whale? 


Me: That was a sperm whale, not a blue whale.  (Wait, that wasn’t reassuring.)  It’s just pretend, Tornado E.


My BFF: What’s the difference?  He’s got to learn about Jonah and the Whale sometime.


Me: First off, there is a LOT of difference between a sperm whale and a blue whale, starting with the fact that a blue whale can’t open its mouth. And-


Tornado E: Whales swallow people.


Me: Second, where was Jonah when he got swallowed by a whale?  There are no big whales in the Mediterranean, which was as close to the oceans the Israelites got because they were desert folk.  No, Tornado E, whales don’t swallow people.  Look at the lizard!


My BFF: Don’t you have any faith?


My husband: What about a-


Me: No!  No, whales do NOT eat people.  Yes, I have faith.  And I went to the same bible classes that you did.  It’s a story!


My BFF: It is, and you’re ruining it.  Shh.




And then it got worse, when we decided to watch the deleted scenes, and they showed the scene when Alex Rover almost gets eaten by the imaginary whale as Nim tries to save her.  Awesome.


It’s just pretend, Tornado E.  Blue whales don’t eat people.  They can’t. 


So when I was about to kiss Tornado E goodnight, he told me the story of how I was eaten by the blue whale.  I explained yet again that blue whales don’t eat people and that we’ll get a book at the library.  Remember, Finding Nemo and the whale with the brush teeth? 


Of course, Tornado E woke countless times during the night in fear, until I finally let him sleep with us to prove his mommy was not going to be eaten by a whale.


This saddens me because as a kid I loved ocean animals.  The first book I read all by myself was The Hungry, Hungry Shark.  My brothers and I would use my canopy bed to explore the oceans, diving with sharks and dolphins.  I did countless reports on whales and dolphins.  For a good portion of my childhood, I dreamt of being a marine biologist, spending my thirteenth birthday watching the dolphins at Sea World.  Now my little boy is afraid of the sweetest, gentlest of whales, my favorite whale that I had hopes of one day seeing and perhaps swimming with.  I mean it’s a blue whale, not an orca, which are way scarier.  Anyone see Orca?  Ok, bad example, that one was actually funnier than Jaws.


My hope is to teach Tornado E more about whales and explain to my husband and my best friend why we don’t teach three-year-olds that whales swallow people.

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Halloween Party

I LOVE Halloween! Every since I had my own place to throw a party, I threw a huge Halloween party every year.  I even throw a Halloween part in the middle of March.  My friends start bugging me about a party just around this time, and I get all excited with all the different magazines and stuff I have to plan a great bash.  But last year we ran into some horrible drama, which I would rather not discuss, and I realized with two toddlers, whose bedtime means my sanity; it doesn’t quite fit with throwing a Halloween party, that ALWAYS runs late.  But I DO love Halloween, and I assume some of you might be throwing your own bashes, so I thought I would offer up some of my best ideas.

First off.  I love  They have the best invitations, and it forces people to RSVP.  (Yeah, you know who you are that didn’t RSVP to any of the birthday parties.)  It also keeps a running count on those RSVPs.  Of course, I have also hand delivered invites.  They were written on brown paper sacks that I had spilled coffee on, burnt the edges, and wrote in red, sealing with wax.  It looked awesome. 

Next the food.

I apologize for stealing any recipes.  My computer died last year, erasing all the sites with recipes.  Besides I modified most of them for my guests’ tastes.

My favorite: Witch Hats

Get the Snackwell’s Devil Food cakes (the original recipe called for the chocolate covered Oreo’s but they were too rich.  And I have a high tolerance for rich and sweet) and Hershey kisses.  Melt a few kisses to “glue” the kisses on the cakes, leaving some melted chocolate spreading out from under the kiss.  Sprinkle some colored sugar or nonpareils as decoration or frost a head band.  (These go fast!)

Twinkie Ghosts

Get Twinkies, white frosting and chocolate chips.  Frost the Twinkies and add the chocolate chips for eyes.  (Simple, rich, sweet, and everyone LOVES these.  Correction, the women love these!  The men eat the salsa.)

Dirt and Worms

Get Oreos and gummy worms.  Crush the Oreos and add the gummy worms.  (I love this.  The kids love this.)


Make a meringue (beat 2 egg whites with 1/8 t of cream of tartar until you have small peaks then gradually add 1/2 c of sugar as you beat into stiff peaks).  We added chocolate spinkles to give it a darker look.  Pipe a milk bone shape on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Bake for an 1-1/2 hours at 225 degrees.  Store in air tight container or they get a little soggy.  Be careful because if one side of the bone breaks they look a little “adult.”

Sea Serpent Sandwiches

Get the Pillsbury refrigerated French bread and sandwich toppings.  Make the French bread into an “S” shape, cut triangles with scissors for scales, and make a mixture of Italian seasonings and melted butter for an extra kick on the bread.  Pillsbury recommends cutting a mouth, but it’s pretty difficult.  And for a good “S” shape, we shaped the bread around two glasses (glass, not plastic) as it baked.  When the bread is cooled, Cut it and make the sandwiches.  Use pimento olives and toothpicks for the eyes.  We cut it into slices once people get there.  (These go amazingly fast.)

Bat Wings

Get chicken wings, food coloring, and bar-b-que sauce.  Dye the sauce black.  Marinate the wings, and grill them.  (Depending on the years and the guests, they go fast.  Sometimes they don’t.)

Halloween Salsa or Brochette

Substitute orange tomatoes for red.  Be cautioned orange tomatoes are juicier.


In the front yard, we have chalk body outlines (the cop, aka my dad, thinks it’s crazy because in thirty years on the force, he never had to do a chalk outline.  Thanks, Dad, but it’s STILL spooky.), cemetery with soil topper as fresh mounds, and real police line tape (Ok, I cheated.).  We also spray painted a couple tiki torches and have them line the walk way to the house.

Inside we have fog machines and a dozen black lights.  There are candles everywhere.  I cover the furniture with white sheets from a second hand store.  We literally take down everything that isn’t Halloween.  I am an artist with fake cobwebs; a little goes a long way.

In the bathroom, I use the cheap red paint from Wal-Mart to leave hand prints and “help” on the mirror.  I also let a few drops run down the sink.  This totally got a friend of mine, who thought I actually did cut myself.  Don’t worry about the paint; it’s easy to clean up the next day.

My favorite is the Halloween Tree, which we did for two years.  It’s just a branch I would find and drag home.  I decorate the tree with those plastic Halloween rings, black light Christmas lights (green, purple or blue lights work too), and fake barbwire.  Last year Martha Stewart had a Halloween tree that she put treat baggies on for kids.  I thought that was cute, but I haven’t tried it.  As entertainment, I ask people to bring a gift for a gift exchange around the Halloween tree.

What we did try was cutting pumpkins to hold ice and beer bottles.  Instead of finding a bowl to fit in to it like Martha (I bet I could if I had assistants and a prop room), we lined the pumpkins with plastic wrap.  I also filled latex gloves with water to make finger ice.  I also filled one with ice and fruit snacks to float in the punch bowl.


If you have little goblins coming, you HAVE to have entertainment.  The first year people brought their kids, one of the kids went half way down the laundry shoot.  Great.  Now that I’m a mom I feel guilty giving away candy right before Halloween, so last year I gave away pirate coins that they could turn in for prizes at the end of the night.

The favorite: Halloween Egg Hunt

I’ve tried this several different ways.  You could spray orange reflective paint on hard boiled eggs, and draw jack-o-lantern faces.  Of course, no one will eat the eggs, so I found it a waste.  You can spray paint plastic Easter eggs.  A little bit of a pain because you have to coat them with the plastic paint and then the reflective paint.  But they look cool.  Use glitter Easter eggs.  Or we found plastic jack-o-lanterns and coffins (original use: to hold candy for class parties).  We hid them everywhere.  When it gets dark, we let the kids find them with flashlights.  So the coffins weren’t the best idea, and you have to remember where you hid all the “eggs” or make a map for yourself.  I told them first person to 6 (or whatever number) would get a special prize, that way all the kids have a chance of getting a few.  But the kids love it.  Just remember to tell and remind people to bring flashlights.  And have a few ready to go.

Drawing on your head

Have the kids draw a jack-o-lantern on a piece of paper on their head.  Last year we had the kids vote for who they thought did the best.


Have the kids lie down like they’re dead.  They can’t speak or move or they are out.  I used to use this game when I was a babysitter.  The kids LOVE this game.  It is a good game to mellow them out or to give you a break.

Donut eating race

You know hang the donut from a string.  Have several hanging from a pole, allowing some people to hold it.  Make the kids eat without their hands first, and then half way let them eat with their hands.

Candy corn in a jar

Guess the candy corn.  Don’t forget to count as you fill the jar, and put the number somewhere safe.


I painted Styrofoam balls black.  (No spray-paint because it’ll eat the Styrofoam.)  Give the kids eight pipe cleaners cut in half to stick in the body for legs.  Bend the pipe cleaners at the “knees”.  Glue goggley eyes and jewels to decorate.

Costume Contest

Have a vote

Matching Game (for the adults)

My husband loves this game.  We find like twenty or thirty pictures of villains: living, dead, fictional.  We have people write down who they think they are.  You can either give them a list of the names or make it challenging and force them to guess.

We used to show Attack of the Body Snatchers or Jaws on mute, but now they are kids, so we show a Nightmare Before Christmas.  My baby brother mixes me some really cool CDs.  ‘

So I hope that helps.  If you have any questions, let me know.  I’m sure I can give step-by-step instructions if asked.  And if this stuff works for you or you have other suggestions, please let me know. 

Feminism and Motherhood

“Don’t call yourself a feminist.  I hate feminists,” said my college friend with disgusted horror.  A boy at the table said, “Yeah, call yourself an equalist, someone who stands for the rights of everyone.”  I was confused; did I not work my ass off for four years get scholarships and an entrance into an university?  And I find people like this here?  I looked over at my best friend, who shrugged and started bobbing his head to music only he could hear.  By the rhythm, I guessed it was Spice Girls and realized he was not going to come to my aid, not because he agreed with the other two people at the table but because he didn’t want to waste his time on petty arguments when he could think of something happy.  (Please don’t confuse this with stupidity.  My friend is wickedly smart, an environmental scientist, who could solve math equations that took three pages to solve.  He just finds political talk boring, except with me.)

I sigh and turn to the boy.  “You don’t believe in equal rights, so don’t get cocky.  You don’t believe in gay marriage or any gay rights because they’re ‘special rights’ (Yes I did use my fingers for the quotes).  You’re homophobic and suppressing issues.  We all know it.”  With that said, I turned to my girl friend.  “I guess you’re right, feminists are pretty scary.  They’re women who think for themselves.  But isn’t it nice to go to college and have a career?  Isn’t great that we can have our own bank accounts and houses?  Gee, it’s swell that our husbands don’t have the right to beat us?  And I love wearing shorts and jeans, don’t you?  (yes, she was wearing jeans.)   So you might not like feminists for some crazy belief that they hate men or are dikes, but without them, we would not be here.  I gotta get to class.” 

I was reminded of this conversation as I read some blogs were women wrote that they didn’t consider themselves feminists but Sarah Palin motivates them.  Well, I’m glad they found some woman to motivate them.  Lucky for them, none of the liberals are going to be pissed off that Palin is a working mom, or that she had a child so late in life or that her teenage daughter is wrong to be pregnant and even keep the kid, or that Palin is a faminatzi.  Because that’s feminists have fought for those choices.  They keep fighting for choices for both men and women.  And also lucky for the newly realizing conservative feminists, no one is going to call them men-haters because they like a female politician.

But back to motherhood.  My mom was a feminist and her mom and her mom.  Actually, there hasn’t been a weak-willed woman in my mom’s side in living memory.  And my dad, well, he did marry my mom, but he was a feminist too.  And the stories I hear of my great-grandma, well, she was steal and silk.  My mom made sure us kids understood the value of choice and that we couldn’t judge anyone.  It wasn’t our job.  She raised us to love justice, hate injustice.  She was like every other mom out there, wanting her kids to be better than she and her husband.

As for me, I’m a mom of two boys (so far).  I, who taught her favorite babysitting charge that boys were bad.  I, who wouldn’t date in high school because “boys are like apes.”  I who claimed the only uses for a guy were killing spiders and sex.  What do I teach my boys of feminism?  Well, first I’ve got to stop making all those jokes about men.  But I grew up with brothers, so I know their inner workings.  Second, I have to show them what is expected of them as men.

I have to show them that it’s ok for guys to do work in the kitchen and go to dance class.  I have to show them that you can watch football and take care of children.  I have to show them that we respect people’s feelings and opinions.  I have to show them that it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be strong. it’s ok to kick someone’s ass who’s being an asshole (when the need arises).  I have to be a strong woman, illustrating that women can fix a sink and dinner, wear make-up, or choose not to shave her legs.  I have to teach them to include everyone and not to make fun of someone who is different, whether she’s a girl or he’s a different religion.  I have to teach them that relationships are important and your partner’s feelings are just as important as theirs.  And finally, I plan to scare them with the thought of teenage marriage if they get a girl knocked up and she decided to keep the baby.  I have to teach them there is nothing they can’t do.  Every night I pray that they will be smart, strong, sweet, and the good guys.

I stay-at-home with them, and that is my choice.  One day I’ll probably go back to work, which most stay-at-home moms have to work at some point or another.  That will be my choice too.  That’s what feminism is really about: choice.  It’s working so everyone has a choice in their own lives, just like democracy. 

In the end, we’re all trying to make sure that our kids are better than we are.  My boys have dozens of various balls and a kitchen.  They have arrows and swords and baby dolls and stuff animals.  They play with my make-up brushes and my purses.  They were their father’s shoes and hats.  Granted Evan will climb into any heels he finds laying around.  They play with fairies, King Fu Panda, and cars.  We read them books about girls and boys.  So I think they’ll be pretty well rounded.  But if they think they’ll become sexist pigs, they learn they’re never too old for their mother to discipline them.