Thursday, October 31, 2013

Haunted Porch 2013

Despite getting a late start on setting up the decorations this year, Hugh managed to pull off yet another phenomenal Haunted Porch. And, by late start, I mean; he started the process at 4:15 this afternoon. We had our first Trick-or-Treaters at approximately 4:45 which meant that the first group missed out on the porch, but, by 6:30, we were in business, just in time to welcome the second group.

As an aside, who takes their kids Trick-or-Treating at 4:45 in the afternoon? Do they not realize that people procrastinate on putting up their haunted porch decorations until the last possible minute work for a living and don't even get home until after 5:00?

And, I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes...

...decorations, animatronics, pyrotechnics, and audio were good to go. Two and a half hours later, we had run through almost 650 pieces of candy, elicited screams from somewhere around 300 kids, teenagers, and adults (often, adults scream the loudest), and completely exhausted eight teen aged volunteers and four adults (Chris and Jana graced us with their presence again this year, and you've got to love a couple so willing to spend an evening frightening people at your side; that right there is friendship at it's finest).

Once the scaring was done and the Trick-or-Treater tide had trickled to a standstill, the teenagers gathered around the fire pit to toast marshmallows and to bask in the glow of another successful Haunted Porch.

And, while the kids did that, Hugh started the chore of taking down and boxing up all five million decorations for their return to the attic, where they will live for another year. .
All told, the Haunted Porch goes up and down within a space of six hours, which hardly seems like it would be worth the effort, until one remembers the delighted squeals of the kids who anxiously and excitedly line up to brave the treachery of the plastic maze, at which point; it seems like a pretty damn awesome idea at that.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In Praise of Modern Pharmacueticals

I've been on meds for my thyroid for almost an entire three months, now. So, I am now due to take a blood test to determine my current thyroid levels, which, will help my doctor decide if I should continue with the meds or not, and, call me crazy, but; I could answer that question without ever spilling a drop of blood.

I feel 100% better than I felt at this time in July. I have energy to spare, I am sleeping better (at night, when it is appropriate to be sleeping, and, not during the day when the couch in my office beckons to me), and, my emotions are on an even keel.

Wait. That is an understatement; not only are my emotions on an even keel, but, I can see, quite clearly now, how depressed I was for at least a solid year. Probably longer.

And, while I realize that people around me would probably never have guessed that I was depressed-I do tend to put on a happy face for the sake of having a happy face-after all (fake it til you make it is my motto); the reality is: I wasn't myself at all.

Example? This time last year, the last thing I wanted to do was to decorate my house for the holidays. The thought of it exhausted me. I didn't even put out my Christmas village, and, my baking was a forced chore that I took little to no pleasure in.

This year? I have already made my lists of treats to bake and the ingredients needed for each one. I've got a checklist for presents to purchase, a solid plan for our Christmas cards, holiday music CDs lined up and ready to go, and, a map of exactly what that village is going to look like when I put it up on Thanksgiving while watching the Macy's parade with a turkey in the oven and the smell of pumpkin pie in the air. Granted, the actual map is in my head and not, like, drawn to scale or anything, but, still, progress!

In short: I feel good. I feel capable. I feel like I can handle normal, everyday stress without diving headfirst into a bag of peanut butter M&Ms or sinking blissfully into a coma on the couch.

I feel NORMAL.

I recognize myself (hello, long lost friend!).

And, I believe (100%) that the tiny little pill that I take every morning has had everything to do with it.

So, do I really need to bleed to prove it?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fire Burn and Caldron Boil

I tried and tried to post this last night but, Blogger was having a seizure or something and I finally threw my hands in the air in frustration and went to bed, as one does.

Anyway, Blogger appears to feel much better today. Maybe it was food poisoning.

And, I digress.

What I wanted to talk about was the fact that Halloween is only two days away! I'm ready for it. I have my costume for the contest at work (loving that job), our pumpkins have been dutifully carved, every free inch of my house is decorated in Halloween paraphernalia, and, I have already been approached by strangers in the supermarket, inquiring as to whether or not Hugh will be hosting his annual Haunted Porch (he is, fingers crossed).

I have only to dip caramel apples with the children (tonight or tomorrow night) and to break open the giant bags of Halloween candy purchased for the Trick-or-Treaters and we will be ready to go.

As an aside, this is the first year that I can remember that I have not had to return to the Hellmouth to pick up a new bag of Halloween candy following the eating of the originally purchased bag; I am so very proud of myself and my ability to resist the siren call of the mini Twix and bite-sized Three Musketeers.

Anyway, Halloween, right around the corner.


Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
 Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Sign of Things to Come. And I Don't Like It

I spent most of the day yesterday with my shoulders up around my ears like big, meaty earrings. The reason for the tension? The Teenager, and her BFF, had left on a road trip to a college hours and hours away.

In my defense, it was the first time The Teenager had ever driven for such a long distance. It was also the first time she had navigated the interstate, and, the first time she would be spending the night away, in a strange city, by herself (with her BFF. God, Chelle; pull yourself together!). I was, understandably, nervous and tense.

The rational part of me tried, desperately, to talk the emotional side of me down from my perch on the wailing wall by reminding me that this is the natural progression when one has children; you give them wings and hope they fly.

The emotional side of me gave the rational side of me the middle finger and continued fretting until we got the call from The Teenager, letting us know that they had made it safely to the home of a dear friend of ours, with whom they would be staying.

As an aside, yes; I am aware that I just talked about myself in such a way as to imply that I suffer from multiple personality syndrome, or something approximating it. The rational side of me wants you to know that this is not the case.

And, I digress..., The Teenager is in good hands with a fine, upstanding young woman who will watch over her and keep her safe for me as she stretches those beautiful (yet, delicate and fragile) wings of hers, and, the biggest fear I have, according to said fine, upstanding young woman, is The Teenager coming home with a tattoo.

If that is the worst thing that happens during this whole "becoming an adult" thing, I guess I can live with it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Possible Reasons That I Can Barely Move My Arm

1.  A return of the dreaded tennis, that particular issue cleared up almost completely, and, this pain is new.

2.  The massage I had last night was more aggressive than I gave it credit for at the, the massage was relaxing and gentle and awesome. In fact, I almost fell asleep on the table and left the masseus's feeling like a million limp noodles piled up in human form.

3.  Somebody punched, I'm pretty sure I would remember an assault on my person.

4.  Old age...yeah, fuck that. NO.

5.  I slept on it wrong....ok, possible. I do tend to sleep on that side with a tiny purring furball tucked into my chest, so, it could be, but, it doesn't feel like that.

6.  Arm that even a thing?

7.  Aliens abducted me in my sleep and carried out experimentations on my unconscious self.....God, let's hope NOT.

8.  The flu shot that I got at work yesterday caused some lingering pain...hmm. Yeah, BINGO.

So, if I'm NOT stricken by the plague at any point this winter, I guess a temporarily dead limb wouldn't be too high a price to pay.

On the other hand, if I AM stricken with the plague this year, I am going to be PISSED.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Girls Are Naturally Better Problem Solvers. Or Not. Discuss

I had an opportunity to speak in front of a sixth grade class in one of the local middle schools, today. The topic I was asked to speak on was leadership, specifically, what makes a good leader. Part of the lecture involved discussions about goal setting, facing challenges, and perseverance. When I asked each kid to tell me what goal they had for themselves; I was interested to hear that a large percent of the boys want to play in the NFL, while the majority of girls want to get good grades and to go to college.

I was further interested to learn that the boys didn't see a lot of challenges in reaching their goal, while the girls were quick to list the circumstances that might keep them from theirs. In addition, the girls were able to suggest ways of meeting the challenges and to then set smaller, mini-goals around the possible challenges.

The boys, on the other hand, just wanted to play some football.

It was intriguing, and, while it was too small of a sample to draw any real conclusion from; it was still a notable phenomenon.

On a topic somewhat related, The Teenager just spent the better part of an hour crying over her inability to find her favorite pair of jeans, despite a frantic and thorough search of her bedroom. The longer her search went on, and, the more fruitless it became; the harder she cried and the deeper she spiraled into despair.


That pretty much blows any theory I might have been developing about girls being the superior problem solvers. Especially considering the Man-Cub's reaction to his sister's meltdown: while Hugh and I allowed the waterworks to get to us, the Cub went outside.

To play football.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Heading into the Sunset

The Man-Cub's last football game of his freshman year happened earlier this evening. The JV trounced the competition by a solid 30 points and all of the kids played really well. Most importantly, I emerged victorious when I was able to snap not one, not two, but THREE great pictures of The Fearsome Foursome.

It was my own personal touchdown, and, I didn't even have to break a sweat, unlike the FF, who were drenched in the stuff. Like drenched. Seriously. Thank goodness there is no such thing as smell-o-pictures, because; those boys would have turned even the strongest stomach.

I totally forgive them for it, of course, because they are awesome and because they humor the crazy lady with the camera.

Can't ask for much more than that.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The First of the Lasts

With the imminent departure of The Teenager looming on the (far) horizon, I'm finding it really difficult not to phrase every event in our lives in terms of "this is the last time we will do this as a family".

Take, for instance, our annual trip to the pumpkin patch earlier today; do you think for one minute that I was able to simply enjoy the day without thinking about how we have been doing this since The Teenager was barely able to toddle through the pumpkins, and, about how we would be doing it without her next year? Let me save you the suspense: I was not.

Do you think I was able to watch The Teenager and her brother toasting marshmallows over the open fire without an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for the first time that she held a toasting stick in her pudgy little hand? Yeah, no.

I did, however, manage to keep my thoughts mostly to myself and, because I did that; we were able to enjoy the day.

I'll make no promises for keeping my thoughts to myself the next last time we do something as a family, living together under one roof, however.

I doubt you blame me.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nothing Good Can Come From Cutting One's Own Hair

I got frustrated while blow drying my hair this morning which led to an ill-advised assault on my bangs with what I fondly refer to as "the good, hair-cuttin' scissors" (which is what my mom always called the scissors she cut my dad's hair with when I was growing up).

The resulting choppy bangs are....regrettable.

On the bright side, my hair grows quickly and I have tons of headbands. Also, I can shove the bangs to the side and, if I turn my body just so; it's easy to pretend that the bangs don't even exist.

Or, I can take care to always be seen in the company of someone guaranteed to draw the attention away from me...

...and that's exactly what I plan to do.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Yes, Already

Remember, yesterday, when I asked you to remind me of how much I love my job the next time that a client wanted to make me beat my head against my desk?




That is all.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just Another Hard Day at the Office

Yesterday, rather than going in to the office, three of my coworkers and I jumped in my car for the short drive to Neighboring City. We were using our paid day off, which, as I've mentioned before, was the prize for winning the wellness contest. We weren't required to go together, but, since we won the competition together, we decided to enjoy the prize together as a team.

(We aren't planning to have side-by-side massages, which, is the other half of our prize, in case you were concerned.)

Anyway, we took full advantage of the paid day off by traipsing store-to-store in search of Pretty Things, acting like fools, and, eating a delicious lunch. It was lovely.

Today, we were all back in the office, where we spent the majority of our morning in a self defense training. For the record? Self defense training is actually kind of fun. And, I feel better about my ability to protect myself in dangerous situations.

I feel so fortunate to have stumbled into this job.

Now, to remember this awesome feeling the next time one of my particularly challenging clients causes me to want to beat my head against my desk.

Unfortunately, there is no training for that.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fight Like a Girl

This beautiful young woman is the granddaughter of two amazing women. Both of those women fought for their lives against a disease that claims far too many women each year. Both of those women were successful in their fight because each woman caught the cancer early enough to give them an advantage in the fight.

Because she is the granddaughter of two cancer survivors, The Teenager has an elevated risk of someday contracting the disease, herself. But, because she is the granddaughter of two survivors, she is aware of the necessity of checking her own breasts on a regular basis.

She's seventeen and she's already on more familiar terms with her breasts than most women, which, I find alarming. So, if you are a woman and you aren't checking your breast regularly, I urge you to start.

Your boobies will thank you for it.

And, maybe, someday, your granddaughter will, too.

Monday, October 14, 2013

General Housekeeping and What-Not

Lately, I've been a lazy blogger. I have no excuse except for the whole "keeping kids alive and fed, bringing home a paycheck, attending to the household duties that ensure the bare minimum standards necessary to prevent rodent infestation, etc" excuse, which, in case you didn't know; is the excuse that every mom gets free reign to use the moment that a cantaloupe-sized head pushes its way out of her hoo-ha.

In addition to the above-mentioned duties, I have also been working on our awesome Halloween porch decorations (photos to come), taking leisurely rides in the country with the family's newly minted teen driver, assuring The Teenager that I will still love her if she chooses not to attend the college of which I am an alumnus, and, running myself ragged on a treadmill in the name of physical fitness.

Which reminds me, did I ever mention that my team won the fitness challenge at work? No? Well, we did! The Queen Beez took the competition by virtue of points gained by each team member. What that essentially means is that I spent a great deal of time harping at the team members to document their healthy "swaps" and to complete the numerous extra activities available to us in an effort to garner as many points as possible, thereby enabling us to win the competition despite having lost hardly any weight. And, if you think that the second-place team-who actually managed to lose a good deal of weight-was totally cool with losing to a team that beat them by points rather than by pounds; you would be mistaken.

But! Paid day off for us and a full body massage to boot!

And, you know, haters gonna hate.

Speaking of haters, did I ever tell you the one about the parent who unfriended me on Facebook following Hugh's tirade against the volleyball "coach"? No? Well, she did. And, since I only know her in passing and wouldn't otherwise associate with her, I didn't even notice that she had unfriended me until she private messaged me to see if I was planning to organize the Senior Grad Night party.

So...not quite sure how I feel about that.

About the passive-aggressive mom, I mean, not about organizing the party; because, about that, I have no confusion: No way, no how am I taking on the responsibility of organizing that crap-fest; I've heard too many parents bemoan their leadership of that particular event to even consider attempting the challenge. And, lest you think me a deadbeat parent, please know that I have no problem contributing money to the party, nor would I refuse to assist on some small aspect of the event, but, I will not be in charge.

So, yes, my confusion lies in my feelings regarding the parent who just naturally assumed that I would be at the helm of the ship, because; if you think that I am a horrible person for being married to a man who stands up for my daughter, why in the world would you think I was a good enough person to plan your daughter's grad party? I'm just curious.

On a less confusing topic (the segue train is certainly on track today), the Man-Cub plays in his last Freshman football game later today. I am desperate to get my annual photograph of the Fearsome Foursome, which, I have been unable to capture so far this season. The Man-Cub didn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation until The Teenager earnestly explained to him that, when he is a senior, he's going to be grateful to be able to look back at pictures of himself and his friends as they grew and changed, especially if they all stay as close as they are, right now (fingers crossed). She also stressed how fortunate he is to have a mother who cares enough to follow him around like a rabid paparazzo on crack, which, I'm sure she meant in the nicest way possible.

I'm going to miss that girl when she goes away.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

All Quiet on the Western Front

Things have slowed down here at Casa de Chelle. We had an entire week off from football, with not a game on the schedule. School is going well, both kids had A's and B's on their midterm reports. Work is keeping us busy, but, no busier than usual. The Teenager and I are still going to the gym and I am happy to report that my ass feels just fine. In short, it's been about as relaxing around here as it gets.

And, yes, I am anxiously anticipating a shit-storm of crazy any day now; I'm no dummy.

In other news, my right arm seems to finally be getting better. I can unhook my bra without tearing up and I no longer want to chew the arm off my body just to escape the aching, so, progress!

Speaking of progress, the night before last, The Teenager and I attended a volleyball game at the high school. It was the first (and only) game that I have been to this season (and the last). I went to the game in support of The Teenager, who was attending in support of the mother of Not the Boyfriend, who was being honored at the annual Pink Out for Breast Cancer game.

Not the Boyfriend's mother is a recent cancer patient. She is in remission and is doing quite well and it was really nice to see her at the game. As far as the game itself went; it was uncomfortable to sit through, knowing how sad it still makes The Teenager to not be playing, but; we did it, and I was super proud of her for going and for being cheerful and generally awesome. Not that I was surprised by her awesomeness.

And, while on the topic of breast cancer, I should mention that The Teenager and I will be volunteering at Hooterville's annual Breast Cancer Awareness walk/run. We will be working at the registration table, and, if we get finished in time, might take the walk, ourselves. I could run, you know, since I am back on the fitness wagon and all, but,

Maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Second Verse, Same as the First

The Teenager and I recently rejoined our local gym. We did it for a number of reasons, getting fit and healthy among them. The Teenager has a specific goal, involving her butt, or, as she explained it to me, she wants "to make her butt bigger".

When I informed her that the path to a bigger butt consisted of less time at the gym and more time on the couch with a box of donuts, she amended her goal to having "a firmer butt". Now, that, I understand.

For my part, I am back to the treadmill, where I have started the C25K program over again. My hamstrings are a bit looser now, thanks to the hip stretches that I have been doing since straining myself this summer, and, I feel confident that I can remain injury-free with continued stretching (fingers crossed).

The fitness goals are the obvious reason to join a gym, of course, but; I'm also doing it to gain more quality time with The Teenager before she graduates and leaves for college; the family that sweats together and all that.

Also, since I am on my thyroid meds, I find myself less and less exhausted and more motivated to work out, which, is a welcome change from the past year.... or five.

Now, if I can just start to see some results from the hard work, I just might be able to stick with it even after The Teenager abandons me for an institution of higher learning, which, by the way; did I mention that she was accepted to every college she applied to? Yes? Ok, then. Carry on.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Nailing It, Pinterest Style

Lately, I have been seeing the cutest Halloween wreaths on Pinterest, and, we all know how I feel about anything involving Halloween and cuteness. Unfortunately, the wreaths were selling for between $85-$125. That's....a lot of money for Halloween cuteness.

And, yes, I did recently pay $80 for life-sized skeletons with which to decorate my home, but, that is totally beside the point.

The point is; I couldn't see spending upwards of a hundred bucks for something that appeared to be crafted from items that I could procure from the local craft supply, myself. And, procure them, I did; at 50% off the regular price, no less.

Then, armed with nothing more than grit and determination (and a You Tube how-to video), I set about creating a witch wreath for my front door.

I had never worked with Deco Mesh before and it took a bit of getting used to, but, in no time I was rocking my way around the wreath form like a pro. I did suffer a small injury when I managed to jam a piece of wire into the bed of my thumbnail while securing the hat to the wreath, but, what's a little blood on Halloween, right?

Also, The Teenager is in Mayberry, hangin' with the Pod People for the weekend and the Man-Cub was at a sleepover at the home of one of the Fearsome Foursome, so, I was free to cuss with abandon, which, is a pain reliever that ranks right up there with morphine.

Plus, the accidental pricking of my thumb made me super-cautious when it came time to use the glue gun which is why I managed to complete this particular project with not one single burn to my fingers, and, that right there, is the hallmark of a successful project.

Oh, and the wreath didn't turn out bad, either.

Total cost of the project: $35 and a few drops of blood.


Friday, October 04, 2013

A Bear or a Skyhawk?

When The Teenager started looking at colleges earlier this summer, she quickly identified two schools that she was most interested in attending. Both schools are awesome. Each school offers a course of study in the area that The Teenager is interested in pursuing, and, both schools are well appointed and fully accredited.

They also happen to be the schools that The Teenager's parents attended.

That's right, The Teenager's choice of college comes down to her father's Alma mater vs. my Alma mater. That's....ironic. And, it put a bit of pressure on The Teenager, although, neither her father nor I are in the least bit interested in pushing our personal agendas on the child,  I swear.

The Teenager somewhat-jokingly said that her decision would come down to which school she received an acceptance letter from, first, which, was a somewhat solid plan until the first thing she received was an acceptance letter from her last choice fall-back school.

She quickly amended her original plan to include only her top two colleges and the waiting game began.

You have to know where this is going, right?

Yep...both acceptances arrived today.

The Teenager has a decision to make. Will she be a Fort Lewis College Skyhawk, like her mother, or, a University of Northern Colorado Bear, like her father?

Either way, we are so extremely proud of her and we can't wait to watch her start the next journey in her life.

Ok, maybe we could wait a little.

Also, it looks like all the blue and gold sports paraphernalia that we have from the kids' current high school will work fabulously for cheering on The Teenager's college team, either way.


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Day With My Boy

Sunday morning, Hugh left for a quick day-trip to Denver. The Teenager drove to Neighboring City to hang out with a friend. That left the Man-Cub and me to our own devices, and, we decided to try out his new driver's permit by taking a nice long drive in the country.

We took the back roads, meandering through fields and meadows, until we reached Oscar and Emily's house, where we visited for a few minutes before continuing on toward Hooterville.

Once we reached the outskirts of town, the Cub turned the wheel over to me, uncomfortable with the idea of driving on the main highway, but, once I was done running my errands, he was more than happy to jump back in the driver's seat for the trip home.

I have to say, he did a remarkable job, considering it was the farthest he had ever driven. And, I enjoyed having a couple of hours with him, uninterrupted, because; it is usually in the car that I learn the most about my children, their friends, their schoolwork, who is dating whom, and which new video on Vine is entertaining them.

I wonder if our forefathers took advantage of quiet time in the buggy for that purpose, as well?

I'm guessing they did.

Anyway, I had a great day with the Cub and I am looking forward to much more road time with him during this probationary year of driving. I'm not so much looking forward to the inevitable day that he drives off without me, but, I'll roll with that punch when the time comes.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Countdown to Halloween

It's my favorite time of the year! The leaves are changing, the evening light is mellowing, caramel apples are back on the menu, and, purple, black and lime green are perfectly acceptable colors with which to deck the halls.

To that end, I spent the weekend in the pursuit of the perfect Halloween d├ęcor. Pinterest provided the motivation I needed to get started, and, after five trips up and down the attic ladder, two trips to Target, and, one trip down memory lane via photographs from decorating schemes of yore (I always forget what I did the previous year and I don't want to duplicate my designs, if I can help it), I managed to create the look I was striving for.

I have a few more details to attend to on the porch and I have a couple of craft projects to work on, but, for the most part I feel like I have accomplished my goal.

Now, I'm off to brew a mug of hot spiced cider to sip on while I watch Hocus Pocus on DVD.

Tis the season!