Happy Borned Day, Zombiegirl!

I wanted to post this on Zombiegirl’s actual birthday, but as soon as we got home, the festivities began…and then life quietly spiraled out of control with the holidays and everything else we had to do. So I’m pretending, two weeks later, that the kid turned 11! Yes, 11. My baby is 11! What the hell? When did my little girl get big? In the blink of an eye, she went from this… to this.



She was the easiest and quickest labor of all the kids. We went into the doctor’s office in the morning so he could break my water- I was already nine days overdue. (She was supposed to be born on St. Patrick’s day. Good thing she wasn’t seeing how much I now dislike St. Patty’s day…) Dr. Sherman inserted the “crochet hook” and snagged the amniotic sac. After my water seeped out, he told me to go home and rest up before the contractions started. We went home and right after that the contractions started coming fast! We headed out to Winthrop (and didn’t get caught at the railroad crossing like we had been kidding about every time we went to the doctor) and they put me in a labor room right away. All hooked up to the fetal monitor and ready to go!

Labor, like I said, was quick. During one of the last pushes, however, I closed my eyes and felt my nose running. A lot. I thought maybe I had ruptured a vessel or something and my nose was bleeding. The doctor looked up at me and said “Oh my God”- not something you want to hear from your doctor during labor. Seems I had a sinus infection and pushed so hard all this snot came streaming out my nose. Dr. Sherman said he’d never seen that color green before! Lovely. Ignore the snot and push…one last push and Z-girl was born!

MR was allowed to cut the umbilical cord, and the most perfect little girl was handed over to me after her evaluation (which she scored so high on!) I remember thinking that she was so beautiful- except for her nostrils- they were a little squished. It wasn’t until we got her home that I realized MR’s nostrils are the exact same shape.

Kelsey Cecelia was born at 3:13 p.m. on March 26, 1999. She shares a birthday with my beloved Nana Ethel, who was too sick to realize her great-granddaughter was born on her 91st birthday. The time of her birth was the date MR’s little brother passed away- March 13, 40 years ago. She was 8 lbs., 13 oz, the second biggest baby of all the girls, right behind Beena, who weighed in at 9 lbs. She was, and continues to be, a wonderful child.

So, Zombiegirl, I want to say, even though I’m a little late, a little scatterbrained…

Your dad and I think you’re awesome. That’s why we’d do pretty much anything for you. You have a great personality, a wacky sense of humor, and you’re really smart! Your flips and jumps while you were in my belly just proved to us how great an athlete you’re turning out to be. Daddy already said you’re a better soccer player now than he was at this age. Keep kicking, kid. You’ll go so far with this sport!

I love the fact that you have your own style. The colored hair proves that. You don’t go in for what all the other girls are into- all the Disney chicks and the princess crap. Sometimes you scare us with your love of blood and gore and Johnny Depp, but that’s okay- you don’t take it too far or too serious. You never seem to realize that people do a double take when they see you pass by with the latest hair color (red and yellow this month). You don’t do it for the shock value. You do it because YOU like it. I have a feeling that your creativity is going to come out more and more and I personally can’t wait.

Z-girl- I want you to know that I’ll always have a lap that you can snuggle on, even if you think you’re too big.

I want you to know that you can always have tickle-time and wrestle-time with me, even if you think I’m lame.

I want you to know that you can always talk to me, even if you think I won’t understand.

I want you to know that I’ll always be there for you, even if you think I won’t.

I’m so very proud of you!

I love you, Piglet!

Wingardium Leviosa!

We had the Zombiegirl’s Harry Potter birthday party this Saturday, but before I go into that, I have to blog about everything leading up to this momentous occasion!

The Wands

You absolutely can not have a Harry Potter Party without wands! That’s where all the magic comes from! I gave MR the task of turning the wands on his lathe. He’ll carve them and I’ll stain and finish them. After turning one wand that took a half an hour and finding out we needed over 30 of them, he threw his hands up in the air and quit on me. I told him I’d do it, then- a few wands a night- and cheerfully took chisel in hand, donned my safety goggles and turned on the lathe. I put chisel to wood in an intricate pattern, sanded it down and shut off the machine. Big deal, I thought to myself. What’s he crying over- this was easy!
When the wand stopped spinning I saw that only one side was carved. WTF?

If the lathe is not placed EXACTLY in the center of this 3/8″ dowel, it wobbles and you can only catch one side with the chisel. Okay, let’s be more careful about placement, then. We went through the whole rigmarole piercing the end, crosscutting it and placing it in the lathe, only to find out I chiseled one side again! Two more sticks went the garbage route. At this rate, I’ll have one stick in 30 days.

Or buy MR a smaller lathe. I would have bought another one if I didn’t mind spending the extra $200. But I really wanted to keep the price down on this party, so I tearfully clomped up the stairs (hoping MR would feel sorry for me) to research how to make 30 plus wands in one month with little money.

Hallelujah, I found this on Instructables.com!

Okay, I was a little leery. Paper and glue? We’re having 30 10 and 11-year olds who will want to practice their spells on each other. MR was worried about giving them ANYTHING pointy less we find an eye on the end of someone’s wand. How in the world is paper and glue going to hold up to rigorous wand flicking?

I started rolling the paper as directed and after about 45 minutes, I had 35 wands rolled up tighter than a Cheech and Chong joint. Than a Geisha sushi roll. They were a little sticky from the glue you have to slather on the end to keep them tight, so I put them on a cooling rack to dry and went to bed.

The next night I checked and they were still tight! I had rolled some at different angles so they were wider on the ends, or tapered on both sides. I started each roll with the last of my pack wooden skewers so the roll started tightly. By the way? Buy a package of wooden skewers at the 99 cent store. They have a MULTITUDE of uses- in fact I went through 100 of them without skewering ANYTHING- which is what they are really for! For stability, I left the skewers in the wands, and clipped off the ends where they poked out. In the wider end wands I stuck more skewers, or paper scraps- any thing to fill it in and make it stiffer.

Then I brought out the hot glue gun. I love my hot glue gun. Remember these?

After filling in the ends of all the wands and squeezing glue down into them to make them more solid (solidier?) I started decorating. Spirals, snakes, swirls, drips (that look like blood) and circles. I finished 10 that night.

A few nights later, I finished all decorating all the wands. I was proud to say no two were alike! I took them all outside late that night and placed them all int eh spray booth MR made me. I gave them all a coat of black paint made for plastics because I didn’t want acrylic paint to start flaking off the hot glue. About 15 minutes later I turned them and gave the other side a coat. I gathered them up 15 minutes later when they were dry- they looked awesome even all black! The following day was Saturday-Zombiegirl had Kedals over so I put them to work giving them a coat of acrylic paint. We stuck mostly to browns, but we had some blues, greens, reds and yellows. We made a couple pink (for the girlie-girls) and let them dry.

Later that afternoon, Z-girl and I went over the ones that didn’t get a full coating, and started antiquing the ones that were okay. We painted on a watered-down black acrylic and really quickly wiped it off. Some of the color paint came off with it, because that paint was water-based too, but it was okay because there was a base coat of black underneath. They started looking really old and chipped where the paint came off. We managed to antique all of them that night the next day we touched up where necessary. I brushed on off-white highlights on some and gold on others. After awhile working with these things I just got giddy because I was so pleased with the outcome! I think they looked amazing- each one was unique- different color, different size, different design!

(I totally didn’t shower that day)
The finishing touches were a light spray of clear semigloss to seal the paint and an Ollivander’s tag stating what wood the wand was made of, how long it was and which magical ingredient was in the center- phoenix feather, Veela hair, dragon scale…you get the idea.

So for approximately 40 cents for the hot glue, nothing for the paper and paints and $6.78 for the clear spray, I made 32 wands! It took a little while and my dining room table hosted the wands for about a week, but that’s okay. Ollivander would have been proud.

Erin Go Blech

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Woo. Hoo. Note the lack of enthusiasm.

St. Patrick’s Day is probably my least favorite “holiday” of the year. Not because I don’t like the Irish. I like them just fine. Heck, in my varied pedigree, I’ve got some Irish in me somewhere. It’s just…working in the city on St. Patrick’s Day is no fun.

Sure, there’s the parade. Lots of people like parades. I am not one of them. Another thing I can safely blame on my parents- my dislike of parades. Being dragged to the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade every year as a kid, freezing on a street corner until I couldn’t feel my toes and then having my vision blocked by larger people sneaking in front of us. Why did we come early, then? And then the squeeze of the people behind us, pushing and shoving to get a better line of sight. Sorry, not my idea of fun.

Then there’s the drinking. Not me, mind you. I have to WORK. I’m talking about the faux Irish people who take off today and tomorrow to literally drink all day. Starting on the commute IN to the city this morning. By the time I go home, the train smells like vomit and those people who had shamrocks prettily painted on their cheeks are bleary-eyed and their faces are smeared with streaks of green goop. They’ll be loud and smelly and will pick a fight with you if you shoot them dirty looks for singing “Danny Boy” at the top of their lungs. AND getting the lyrics wrong.

But the real reason I dislike St. Patty’s Day?

I hate kelly green. I love hunter green and chartreuse and even mint green. But kelly green turns my stomach and makes me see red.

I have no idea why. I wonder if one of those parade goers when I was a kid wore kelly green and stepped on my frozen toes.

Monday Tidbits

I swear I saw Almira Gulch pedaling furiously through the air on Saturday. Laughing and pointing and scowling at me as she flew by the window. What kind of weather was that? Seventy-five mile per hour winds, slashing rain, thunder, lighting…we’re not in Kansas anymore!
After an already full day of wet haircuts and wet Bridal Shower (Congratulations Jessica and Mervin!) we were tired. I started painting the brick wall for Platform 9-3/4 and Z-girl was on Facebook. We were zoning out fast. I finally dozed for a bit. That’s when the tree limbs started raining down from the sky.

Since MR was seafooding it at the Boston Convention Center for the last few days, Zombiegirl and I were left home by ourselves in the middle of the storm. Z-girl was a little nervous about the lights going out so we got dressed and went out around 5:30. Maybe not the smartest idea.

We went to Panera Bread on Jericho Turnpike for dinner. Just the walk (run) from the car to the restaurant soaked us. Hot soup was looking mighty good ’bout now. Zombie-g waited a long time to finally get the potato soup in the bread bowl and it was worth the wait. She finished it in record time, which for her is odd since she’s the slowest eater on the planet.

After another quick, wet dash to the car, we drove up Jericho for about a half mile before we were detoured by a LOT of police cars. This was not boding well. I couldn’t see a half a block in front of me, and people took this kind of weather as an okay to drive like assholes. We finally made it, after about 45 minutes, to the BJ’s on Broad Hollow Road.

Hey- I needed stuff for the party! Yes, I knew it was hurricane-like out. But we would be the only ones in BJ’s! It’ll be great- no crowds!

Yeah, no.

We weren’t the only nuts out in this weather. There were plenty of people there, buying 2-3 items- not even huge orders! It was like BJ’s was a sanctuary in the maelstrom of a storm.

Until they announced their system was down, and could only take cash.

I moved up to the front of the line and bought my Cow Tails and Pixie Sticks. Zombiegirl, being the smarty that she is, grabbed one of those boxes in the front of the store to put over her head. I was complimenting her ingenuity when the box of giant Pixie Sticks broke (due to leaning against my wet coat) and went flying all over the exit. Where people were all standing and debating whether or not to go out in the rain to their cars. And, of course, not helping me.

So we once again ran to the car, and drove approximately 100 feet to the movie theater. This mad dash to the theater was totally worth it because WE FINALLY GOT TO SEE ALICE IN WONDERLAND!

Yes, instead of staying home under the covers, we risked power outages went to the movies.

IT.

WAS.

AWESOME.

We’re going back to see it again since it was such a colorful, beautiful movie I’m sure we missed alot of stuff.

And because Johnny Depp is in it.

Driving back home was super creepy/ The kid fell asleep and I was listening to Bad Romance (again) and I realized that the whole area of our neighborhood north of Hempstead Turnpike was dark. No streetlights, no house lights-it was like someone painted a dark gray veil over the neighborhood. I tried to wake Z-girl up, but she was zonked. Then I came to the turnpike and the brightness of the lights actually hurt my eyes! Thankfully, we had power when we got home.

Not for long…

Squirrelvision- Now in IMAX

I think bed is the best thing in the world. I love sliding into bed at night, curling up in my blankets and quilt. I love going back to bed after my shower, my spot still slightly warm from when i left. After snuggling back to bed in the morning (must be why I’m always late to work) I’d either doze off or gaze out my bedroom window, thinking of the gazillion things I have to do.

A few winters ago, I spotted this in the tree growing in the creek behind our house:

Can you see the “5”?

Then, at the beginning of this winter, I spotted this:
It’s an upside-down (and maybe backwards) “4”. Okay, it’s a stretch. But it’s clear to me…

Then a few months ago, I saw this:
It’s an “8”. Put together, I see this in the tree every morning. The day I found the “8”, I played “584” in Lotto that day.

I didn’t win. Of course not.

The best thing about gazing out the window at this tree is the entertainment. Three out of the four seasons I can watch the squirrels jumping from limb to limb. If they’re mating, it’s twice the fun (not what you’re thinking…get your minds out of the gutters!) When it’s mating season, they chase each other and wrestle and fall through the air only to catch the branches on the way down, landing on their little paws.

I have blinds on my window that go up from the bottom or down from the top. We keep the back blind on the bottom and pull it up so the people in the parking lot of the pool can’t see me in my naked glory when I get dressed. The other day while I was lounging in bed putting off getting up, MR dropped the blinds all the way down and I was able to watch the squirrel show in IMAX. Awesome!

What’s outside your window? Send a picture, I’ll post it.

Hermione, Can I Borrow Your Time-Turner, Please?

Holy Hedwig! I apologize, Blogosphere. I’ve been so busy eating, sleeping, shopping and planning Harry Potter shit I haven’t had time to do much else. My house is furry around the edges (where’s my Vacuum Bitch, aka MR?) and the laundry is piling up. If Zombiegirl hadn’t given up fast food for Lent (my good little Lutheran…) we’d be eating out every day this past week. I’m starting to cast spells on the people around me, and alas, they’re not working.
So to take you all down the road to the Harry Potter hell I’ve been in, let me tell you what I’ve been doing.

Zombiegirl’s birthday is coming up. She’s going to be 11. And I’ve told her this is the last big party I’m throwing her. From here on in, we’ll do the movie thing with a couple of friends, or a light sleepover, or a trip to the city with a BFF or two. Middle school is going to be hard enough with all the cattiness and the backstabbing. I’m not going to add to that mess with “who-invites-who-to-whose-birthday-party” crap. From here on in, birthday’s are on the down-low. We’re going to pick and choose whose parties she goes to based on who’s throwing it and where they’re held. If I deem them a waste of time due to the location or the child, she’s not attending. We’ll plan something else to do instead. I want her to be friendly with everyone, but some of the parties she’s invited to, well, the friendship seems superficial. I want her to have meaningful friendships, not ones based on presents. Or how many kids are invited to the “popular” girl’s party.

When I asked Z-girl what kind of party she wanted, she thought for 10 seconds and said “Harry Potter”. Yes, she was reading the book at the time.

Now, I thought last year’s party was the bomb. I didn’t think anything could top that. A photo scavenger hunt in the mall, then cookie decorating and candy selection at Dylan’s Candy Bar! That was probably the best party a kid could want. They all had a blast and went home with tons of sweets and a huge sugar high that day. What could I do to top that? If you know me, you know that I’m a crazed party planner. It’s what I used to do as a side job. Planning kids parties, then later planning adult parties. I hate going to an actual party- for me, it’s all about the details and the planning stage. Ask my older kids about their childhood parties. I threw them craft parties, Pocohantas parties, a Fashion Show, a zoo scavenger hunt, a star-filled Sweet Sixteen and a Disney Graduation Party. Different and unique. Without any help from the Web, either. I planned everything by myself and each and every one of them (except maybe the craft party…only one kid showed up…) was a huge success. I live for a party, at least to plan it. And dammit, I was determined this was going to be a good one.

I started researching Harry Potter parties on the Interwebs. And I was totally surprised at how much info there is out there. And how many geeks love Harry Potter enough to throw huge, intricate parties!

So I agreed (being a Harry Potter geek myself) and started planning.

Zombiegirl has 95% control over this party. Almost every idea has to be run past her first. I’m saving 5% of the control to surprise the kid- I want her to feel the Harry Potter magic as well.

I’m posting each piece of the party as a separate blog post labelled HPP. I’m also going to link my sources of inspiration because I couldn’t have even STARTED thinking about this without these talented people’s posts and websites.

THE INVITATIONS

Now that all the invites have been delivered, I can post how I created them.

I’m blessed with a person like Rob who can get me any type of paper I need. I’m also blessed with the freedom to do stuff at work without too many prying eyes. I took the parchment that Rob got me and typed up the invite in Word almost verbatim from “The Sorcerer’s Stone”. Since we’re having the party at St. Andrew’s, I included directions to the social hall, aka King’s Cross Station.

Since I only had 8.5″ x 11″ parchment to make the envelopes, I had to fold the invites to fit. A little manuevering in Word let me print the addresses before I cut and folded the sheets to fit around the invites.

Since these invites have to been delivered by “owl post” I wanted to put something in the post mark spot besides at stamp. And since I’m trying to make this as low-budget as possible, I didn’t want to go out and buy an owl stamp. So I researched rubber owl stamps on the Web and found a suitable picture. I looked around my office for a rubber eraser, which is pretty hard since I don’t actually draft plans anymore (I did finally find one in the back of my drafting table) and copied the owl onto the eraser. I spent the next hour cutting the eraser out to make the owl in relief. I rubbed a red sharpie marker over it and stamped the invite. I was so excited about the result I giggled all the way into Soulspeak and Ruddyna’s office to show them. They must think I’m a freak…

More carving of the eraser produced a backwards “Owl Post” so I had to redo it and then stamped it under the owl. “Owl Post” indeed!

These invites needed one more touch- the wax seal on the back. Again, I didn’t want to spend $8 on wax and an “H” seal at Michael’s, so back to Google. I found this very inventive website. Using my hot glue gun, a block of frozen mozzarella cheese, three buttons from Mom’s collection and some black spray paint I created the “wax” seal for the back.

We drove Zombiegirl around a few nights to deliver them. She was stealthy and quiet when sneaking up on the houses, dropping the invitations off and running away. She hand delivered them to her whole soccer team. Thirty-four invitations in total.

We are on our way. I need a Butterbear…

Monday Tidbits on Tuesday

I can’t believe how fast time flies. This weekend marked the year anniversary of Mom’s passing. She technically passed away on February 27, 2009, at 11:45 pm, but she wasn’t declared gone until the Hospice nurse got there at around three o’clock in the morning of the 28th. I’m amazed that the year went by so fast. Dad has been awesome this past year- he’s had his sad moments, but he’s coping. Very well. I’m so relieved.

After Friday’s “Snurricaine” turned into a “Snore-iccaine“, we were pretty sure we would be able to follow through with our plans to remember Mom. I took off work on Friday due to the weather, so I was able to get done everything I needed to get done (sewing little man clothes- more on that later) and be able to devote all day Saturday to our trip. We honored Mom by going down to Atlantic City.

What better place to remember Mom? What better place to cheer Dad up…especially after he won over $600 at Caesar’s! Yeah, he’s cheery now. Mom definitely smiled on him. We played the two slot machines they always played and he was describing how they would nudge each other when they hit. He turned around from elbowing me and he had hit the jackpot- 2,500 quarters! After he did his happy dance, and threw me a few $20’s to keep going, we left and switched off with MR and Zombiegirl.

Thanks, Mom. You dissed me and your son-in-law. But you made Dad happy.

I wanted to post this on Monday, but the pain I was in prevented me from doing much more than moaning on the couch begging MR to rub my back with Bengay. I’m not sure what I did to my back, but I’m pretty sure it’s not muscular. I need to see the chiropractor, stat.

Oh, btw. If you give up candy for Lent, do NOT bring your child to It’Sugar. It’s a playground for kids, a Willy Wonka type of heaven. I was in HELL.