Stuff I Was Doing When I Wasn’t Here

I’m recapping the last month or so, getting the pictures out of my camera and getting it all down here because,

I HAVE BIG NEWS!

But you’ll have to wait.  I have things to say first:

  • A few weeks ago, I managed to dissolve some skin on my feet:

Ewww, gross.

No, these are not my feet, but it sure felt like them when I spilled boiling water down my front on Monday.  I was wearing sweats which prevented serious burns on my thighs, but then it splashed down onto my feet.  For the rest of the day I sat shivering under a light blanket because it hurt too much to put socks on my blistered feet.   For days afterwards, it felt like a really bad sunburn.  I didn’t go into the office for four days, but worked from home, pantless.

Lovely.  I’ve been told I need to invest in a HazMat suit.  I happen to look nice in yellow.

  •  Zombiegirl managed to squeeze three sports activities in one day.  First, she scored one of the two goals in her 2-1 win over Syosset- the only win the team has to date and one of the more interesting games of the year.  I’ll write about that debacle shortly.  Then we raced upstate to my nephew’s birthday party at The Cliffs in Hawthorne.  I totally want to have a party there- it looked like so much fun, and something I could actually do.

I’d have to be wrapped in bubble wrap first.

That same night we went bowling for the soccer club’s fundraiser.  Between the beer, the driving and the fresh air, we slept really well that night.

  • We celebrated Halloween.  Try and guess what Zombiegirl’s costume was:

Everyday she's shufflin'...

I was able to successfully finish the costume for her Middle School dance the Friday before Halloween with minimal grousing from her.  I even painted her “Party Rock” shoes:She didn’t win any prizes at the dance, but she came out of the school all excited because she had her own “groupie circle” with her dancing in the middle and everyone circling her chanting her name.

This kid is not shy.

  • Halloween showed up with some very impressive pumpkin carving.  My kids are so creative:And a few unexpected guests showed up:

                                                                                           Zombiegirl and her boyfriend.

  • I made cookies for the families that contributed boxes to our new Halloween props (which I’ll post about when they’re done.):

I've perfected my cookie decorating.

  • The night before Halloween, Beena celebrated her birthday with an interesting cake.  I can’t BELIEVE this kid is 23!

Happy Birthday, Beena!

(She doesn’t like frosting.  Seriously, who’s kid is she?)

  • The wildlife in the neighborhood has gone beyond stalking and is now murderous:

Ewww.

We were getting in the car when it started “snowing”.  When we realized it was bloody bird feathers, we ran.

  • The domestic wildlife got a little weird on the odd day of 11/11/11:

Dogs used computers and kids stopped time:I think I’m just about caught up.

BIG NEWS post is coming soon!  Woot!

Happy Borned Day, Kansas!

On August 8th, 1990, I went into labor with my second child.  I swore this kid was going to be a boy- I carried totally different than with Beena and I didn’t have the same pregnancy symptoms I had the first time around (morning sickness, spitting, heartburn).

I had a new obstetrician who didn’t like to cut (Yay! No episiotomies!) and the birthing center in the hospital was brand new.   Everything about this pregnancy was different and the delivery looked to be different as well.

We got to the hospital and got about as comfortable as one could get in hard labor, and it wasn’t long until the contractions were coming fast and fierce.  The nice thing about the new birthing center was that I didn’t have to leave the labor room to go into the delivery room- the bed converted into the delivery table.  The bad thing was the nurses had no experience converting the bed into the delivery table.  Supports were pushed into the wrong holes and railings were falling on the floor.  At one point during an especially hard contraction, one of the nurses handed me a side rail and asked me to hold it for a minute.

Are you kidding me?

Of course, my ex-asshole was little help.  I think he held a few parts too until they figured out how to work the bed.  If I wasn’t already wracked with pain, I would have taken the instructions myself and figured it out for them.  I’m good with instructions.

Out of all three of my labors, this one hurt the most.  Like I mentioned, my obstetrician didn’t believe in cutting so he was constantly stretching, stretching, stretching until the baby’s head crowned.  I kept from strangling him because I was mesmerized by his beautiful blue eyes.  I’d heard a lot of his patients fell in love with him during labor because of his eyes…

The first struggle of many between this child and this mommy occurred at this point.  Despite the constant stretching, baby didn’t want to come out no matter how hard I pushed.  After fifteen minutes of constant pushing, I was just about at exhaustion level and ready to give up.  The delivery nurse looked at me (she had nice eyes too) and said if I could give her one more push, it would all be over.  I gritted my teeth and went for it at the same time she threw herself across my stomach and helped with the last push.

My baby girl was born.While they were cleaning her up, I heard one of the nurses say “Oh, my God.”  It was one of the more terrifying moments of my life, hearing those words.  My heart stopped until I heard her ask what today’s date was.  Then she started to laugh.

Robyn Nicole was 8 pounds, 8 ounces, born on 8/8.  The doctor asked them to weigh her three times to be sure.  While we were marveling at the coincidence, the ex chimed in that it was our anniversary as well.

He asked me out at at party on August 8th, ten years prior.  I had forgotten that.

So Kansas, you’re 21 today and as part of your birthday present, I’m changing your blog name.  You’re no longer blowing in the wind so “Kansas” doesn’t work.  I am dubbing you “Cheesestick”.  Crunchy on the outside but  gooey and soft and delicious on the inside.  Plus, everytime I read your blog, I think “Holy Cheesestick!” and laugh.

Laughing is something that I’ve always done with you.  I love your sense of humor.  Even though you get aggravated (work) and annoyed about a lot of things (customers), you always manage to convey it with humor.  Some of the times I’ve laughed the hardest were with you.  We find the same things hilarious.  Some of the funniest lines to ever come outt of your mouth are still repeated in the family today.  “Do puppies have pockets?” and “Boop-wiggedy-wiggedy” crack us up every time.
You always marched to your own drummer.  No, you probably don’t have a drummer- you probably have a big brass band in your head telling you what direction to take you in.  You never followed your big sister around- most of the time you were the leader and she followed, probably to see where you were going to go next.  It was always YOUR way of doing things,  and as much as I admire that trait, it lead to some exasperating times.Like the time we took you to Disney World and you went on all the rides with your hands over your eyes, crying.

Like the time we drove to Hilton Head and you realized that you left your luggage home.  Thankfully we were only on the Belt Parkway.

Like the time you begged us to let you climb the rock wall at a fair only to get halfway up and cry because you were scared to go up and scared to go down.

You are the most like me.  People say we resemble each other the most and I’m flattered because you’re so beautiful.  I see other things of me in you besides my eyes.  Some good things, some bad things and some things that just causes us to bang our heads against our respective walls.

But…I love how you’re a romantic.  You want the happy ending (you wouldn’t get so upset with the stupidity in the world if you didn’t) and you love the cute and cuddly.  Stuffed animals, Wade figures and rubber duckies are all your friends as well as Harry Potter and Angry Birds.   Yet you can manage a restaurant by yourself and pull straight A’ s in school.  You’re  a softy, but really, really smart.

You’ve given me some of the proudest moments in my life, like when you were awarded that bond at your 8th grade graduation for donating your hair to Locks for Love (you’re a  trendsetter…now all the kids do it).  Seeing you dance on pointe for the first time in dance class.  When your picture appeared in the paper for the Battle of the Bands.  And when you walked across the stage at High School graduation and received your awards.  I know you’ll do well and go far in life because you’re that smart.  Figure out what you want to do and go for it!

Happy 21st birthday, Cheesestick!  You know I love you…I wouldn’t spend five hours making cupcakes for just anybody!

A Happy Birthday Contest

Zombiegirl turns 12 today.  How is it possible that this kid is 12?  One more year until she’s 13 and all the trials and troubles that come with teen years; wow, I can’t wait.

Because she has a soccer game today, I made cupcakes.  I know I said I was done making cupcakes, but if her birthday wasn’t on a soccer day I wouldn’t have made them.  I asked her what kind of cupcake she wanted and she told me.

I tried.  Really.  I pored through the cupcake book and the internets and no one had anything remotely like what she wanted.  So I figured I’d do something totally out of character for me and MAKE IT UP MYSELF.  Right.

You have to realize that I’m not a creative person.  I can do almost any craft out there, and get mad props for it, but 99% of the time I’m copying someone else or using someone else’s creative juices.  I have no juice of my own.

So, as you can see, I made cupcakes.  They do not look like what Zombiegirl asked, but she’s a little okay with it.  I say a little because after all, Mom should be able to anything…

The first person who can tell me what these cupcakes are SUPPOSED to be will win something handmade by me.  Don’t tell me what they look like, we all can see what they look like and that’s not what the 12-year old wanted.  As for the handmade gift, I have a pretty good idea what I’ll be giving out and it’s bound to be liked by everyone.

Our immediate family is excluded from this contest since they were witness to my agonizing over what these cupcakes should look like.  I thank them for not laughing too hard at me.

Have at it people.  What the hell are these cupcakes supposed to be?

And while you’r ehere, could you send some bloggy birthday wishes to the kid?  Thanks!

Catching Up

Whew.  The last few days in October are always a whirlwind at our house.  If they happen to fall on a weekend, it’s even worse.  Besides Halloween and soccer games, there’s my nephew’s birthday and of course, Beena’s birthday.  I’m usually found finishing up Halloween costumes at the last minute as well as baking cupcakes and birthday cakes.  Going out dinner, visiting the in-laws, shopping for candy and scheduling Trick-or-Treating dates.  Maybe a party or two.  And carving pumpkins:

(MR’s Oogie Boogie)

(My Hedwig)

(Kansas’ racoon)

(Z-girl’s Flaming Skull)

It’s chaotic.

This year I decided to make matters worse by making cake pops for Zombiegirl’s soccer team.  I had it in my head to make enough for her team as well as the opposing team and all the siblings, probably 60 was a safe amount.  These are the infamous cake pops made famous by Baker-ella, whom after writing her cake-pop-book, took the instructions off her website.  Gee, thanks.  I’ve wanted to make these pops for a long time- they’re so cute and so damn easy, made evident by the sight of them around the WHOLE internets.  Almost every site I’ve visited in the last year or so has experimented in these bite-sized morsels.  Therefore it was easy to get the directions from someone else’s website.  Hah.  More than one way to skin a cat.  I’m not buying the damn book just to get this experiment out of my system.  I’ve made Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter cupcakes with FONDANT, for cracker’s sake.  What’s a few (dozen) cakey bally ghosts and pumpkins?

Okay, maybe I should have at least taken the book out of the library.

I followed the instructions for the ghosts and they came out absolutely horrible.  The frozen cake disintegrated in the chocolate and my tap-tap-tapping caused it to fall off the sticks.  My ghosts looked like they didn’t wash their sheets in a month.  I managed to salvage about 15 of the 30 balls I froze for ghosts and piped eyes and wrapping around the whole mess.  My ghosts were now mummies:

The pumpkins didn’t fare well either.  I now realize I didn’t use the right chocolate to dip them in.  Wilton chocolate disks, although pretty colorful, aren’t right for this project.  At least the dipping part.

I ended up with 15 mummies and 15 pumpkins- enough for the siblings on our side of the field.  The girls lost that game, but at least they had delicious (albeit ugly) cake pops to munch on the way home.

Saturday afternoon was dedicated to making cupcakes for Beena’s birthday (she didn’t want cake and she hates frosting) and the owl cupcakes I made for Zombiegirl’s Harry Potter Party.  I WAS going to make the owls for MR’s soccer team for Halloween (they’re the WH OWLS) but since I wasn’t going to the game it would have looked silly if MR brought CUPCAKES for these guys.  Kansas asked for a dozen of the owls to bring to work, so I split a batch of cupcakes between owls and Beena’s birthday.  I was going to hit Dad up for Mom’s white frosting recipe, but I found this and decided to try it.  Oh, yum- so good!  And it was easy- 10 minutes in the Kitchen Aid and it was done!  In fact at the nine minute mark I cracked up because the frosting puffed up so much it tried to escape the mixing bowl.

(yes, I made the cake stand too.)

Beena decorated them, we lit them on fire and sang.

Happy 22nd Birthday, Beena!

On Halloween, Zombiegirl and her friend were ready to go at 10:00 a.m., but I held them off until noon.  Even then people turned them away because it was too early or they just didn’t answer the door.  Really?  On a Sunday?  We got some kookie people ringing our bell- parents dressed up in costume and holding out bags right along with their kids and thirty-year olds dressed as knights going door to door.  The economy is that bad that adults have to go Trick-or-Treating too?

M’kay.

Zombiegirl shed her costume part by part as the day went on.  She doesn’t have her utility suspenders on.  She is a dead ringer for Hitgirl, no?

 

She’s even got the ‘tude.

So now that tumultuous weekend is behind us, it’s a fast slide towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Oh. Joy.

Hang on.

That Started From This Tropic Port Aboard This TIny Ship

One of my favorite gifts I received this birthday was one from Rob.

Rob Schiff. Best Man, musician, personal IT support, printer, Showerhead and all-around great guy.

He’s a friend of ours that’s closer to our family than some of our family members.

Guys usually don’t put a lot of thought into their gifts. MR does, but he’s my husband. It meant so much that Rob thought about this gift months before my birthday. He got me this:

I remember going to my great-Grandmother’s house and using this little guy to pour milk over my cereal. MR remembers having one too as a kid. I don’t know how Rob knew we would remember this from our childhood. He must have known it would fit so well with these.
Thanks, Rob. I think everyone needs a Moo Cow Creamer!

Just Sit Right Back and You’ll Hear a Tale, A Tale of a Fateful Trip

No F*CK YOU Friday today, I’m too full of love…

The love started on Wednesday, celebrating my birthday. The girls took me out for lunch to the Brick Lane Curry House Too– the home of the hottest curry dish in North America. No, I didn’t try it. I was too chicken. The place was tiny-it seats 14- but the food was delicious. This satisfies one of my 101 in 1001- trying a new restaurant!

After a pretty unproductive day at work, where almost no one (including the team I work with)wished me a Happy Birthday, I left a little early to go home to my family who was waiting to take me to Thai food. Indian and Thai in the same day? This must be Heaven! What made it extra special was that Dad joined us!

Now this wouldn’t be such a big deal to most. It was to me since my parents always refused to try anything outside their comfort zone. They knew what they liked. If they didn’t think they would like it, they wouldn’t try it. This included eating most ethnic food, traveling outside the country and watching popular tv shows. That was okay, though. They stood by their convictions and didn’t feel like they were missing anything.

Except dinner with their family on my birthdays.

We would go out for Indian, or Mexican, or Thai and they would meet us back at our house for cake. This time, though, Dad went with us to Frankly Thai (otherwise known as Onzon). AND he tried the spicy, crispy noodles! And lived! I am so proud of him, and honored that he was willing to go out with us. He said it was good, and I’ll choose to believe him.

After dinner we had cake back at the house and I opened my presents. A bread maker from Dad (along with three bread mixes,) sock monkey slippers from Zombiegirl, from MR-tickets to Promises, Promises on Broadway, a rain barrel, topsy turvy tomatoes and an Amex Gift Certificate. From Beena- a HUGE bread recipe book. Wonderful gifts from my wonderful family. Thanks you guys!

The best part of this day, though, had to be the fact that I wasn’t turning a year older than I thought. Since MR is three months older than me, I automatically start saying I’m the same age he is whenever anyone asks. I must have convinced myself I was already 47 and started saying I was turning 48. It took Soulspeak23 to remind me I’m a moron and I’m a year younger. Hooray! I’m NOT 48!

Avada Kedavra! Just Kidding.

Continuing on with the Zombiegirl’s Harry Potter Party…

Since I wasn’t going to be holding a Defense against the Dark Arts class, the kids would have no way of knowing what spells to use with their wands. So I figured I would give each kid a spell, charm and potions handbook to take home. During my lunch hours a few months before the party (um, yeah, lunch hour….), I compiled a list of Spells from The Harry Potter Lexicon using their Encyclopedia of Spells. I added Potions and Potion Ingredients from their Encyclopedia of Potions and from Harry Potter Wiki. In fact, these two websites were invaluable to me- this is where I got most of the details for the party. To the book I added a brief History of Hogwarts and a few pages for notes, a title page and a cover. The cover was printed on the same parchment cardstock I used for the invitations- thanks, Rob! The only problem I had printing the book was the layout. I’m not good with pages and printing on two sides so it took me a few sample printings to get the order right in MS Word and at the printer. Finally, the pages worked and I was ready to assemble. Another lunch hour (snort) to assemble the books and staple. My work graciously let me use their deep throated stapler (bwahahahahaaa!)


Now the kids will have the books (no cost to me, yay!) and a place to take notes. The ONLY thing a Hogwarts student would be using to take notes is a quill pen, right? I need feathers. Michaels had packages of turkey feathers in white and different colors (black for Z-girl) so I picked up enough for everyone. When I got them home, however, I realized the shaft wasn’t hollow. Well, it would be hollow if it didn’t look like it was vacuum-sucked in. I got a Bic pen insert about an inch up the shaft (OMG this is sounding so dirty….) before it couldn’t go any further. CRAP! I remember making quill pens when I was a kid using seagull feathers I found on the beach. I definitely couldn’t use these Michaels feathers so I started researching were to by genuine feathers online. I found a feather place on West 38th street in the garment district. I called and they confirmed they had feathers I could use for pens.

I promptly forgot about the quills until the Wednesday before the party. I HAD to get these feathers the next day since I wasn’t going in to work on Friday (stove repair man coming). I figured I would stop in the morning when I get in to Penn Station. After a late start at home on Thursday, I got into the city and walked up to 38th Street. I turned THE WRONG WAY (WEST) on 38th Street and didn’t realize it until I ran out of buildings, somewhere around 9th. I called the place and they said they were between 6th and 5th. Wonderful! It’s the first hot day of the year, I’m totally overdressed, and now I’m four VERY long blocks out of my way. And late. I get to Dersch Feather and am blown away by the amount and beauty of all the feathers they have displayed. My mind does a creative flip trying to think of what I could possible do with all this! John snuck up from behind some boxes and when I told him what I needed, he was thrilled! Seems like he’s a Potter Head, too. Had the Hogwart’s denim jacket to prove it! But…he couldn’t tell me what type of feather was used for the quills. He showed me a few and we settled on the turkey feathers. The shaft was indented in like my other feathers, but a little higher- I would be able to get more pen up the shaft. Twelve dollars later (cash- no debit, no credit- I had to leave to find a cash machine) and I had a handfull of long white quills. Since I’m not versed in the Manhattan bus system, I couldn’t figure out how to get uptown on the east side, so since I was late anyway, I walked. From 38th Street to 48th Street. Sweating, carting a bagful of Girl Scout Cookies and feathers. Mama’s not a happy one, this morning. I get to work, down a full bottle of water, race like a pee horse and log into my workstation. I scout out the supply cabinet for pens, and come up empty. Crap again! I’m going to have to buy Bics. Thank goodness they’re cheap, around $2 for a pack of 10.

When I get home I start trimming the ends of the feathers and pulling out the inserts of the pens. I try to stick the pen in the shaft, but again, it doesn’t go all the way in. Now I’m desperate, and start cutting the pens to fit. And getting ink all over my hands, the table, the feathers and the scissors. I try to do the rest in a neat and clean manner, but my hands turn slowly blue-black over the course of this craft. It’s okay- I managed to get all the pens in, glued where they’re a little loose and standing on end so the ink doesn’t run back into the feather.

Now our little Hogwart students are ready to take notes!

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.

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…