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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have no familial relatives close enough to celebrate the holidays with, so we have made a tradition of seeking out friends who are also isolated from family and celebrating with them. Each year seems to get a bit bigger....we hate to leave people out, so we try to fit as many people as our home can hold. 


 By the numbers--
Pies made this year-- 11, which included chocolate, butterscotch, Shaker lemon, key lime, apple, 2 Paradise Isle, pecan, and 2 banana cream.

We have a brother and sister staying for the holidays, and we discovered a brilliant pastry chef in Katy. We were SO thankful to have her around! She made the pie-making process easy!

Guests-- 35. We had a great blend of friends this year! Friends from church and work; new friends and friendships 7 years old; newly engaged friends and retired couples; tiny babies and teenagers.
Number of tables set up-- 5
Large furniture pieces moved to make room for more tables-- 4. Thank goodness for strong men!
Nut cups made--40, each with the name of a guest on it.
Paper leaves cut from construction paper- 65
Days spent cleaning-- 2 (one before, one after)
Children under the age of 12-- 17
Children under the age of 7-- 11
Games played with guests-- 3
Pies sent home with guests-- 3
Hours spent enjoying good company-- 5

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Belly art-Attempt #1

I've been wanting to branch into body art a bit more, so I asked a friend if I could paint her tummy before her baby is born. We had a date night scheduled with them anyway, so she said she'd love to be painted while they were over on Friday. It was great fun! We watched 'Start the Revolution Without Me' (hil-ar-ious!). If you haven't seen it, check out a couple of our favorite clips here:

My pleasure
No one can be trusted
I shall be Queen

It was so enjoyable...we had a shrimp platter, Martinelli's, a decorated brie (my favorite...with a apricot/cranberry compote) with crackers, a rasberry/brie tart (sooooo yummy!), lots of cut fruit, and a dark chocolate fondue with fruit, pound cake, pretzels, marshamllows, etc. It was so fun to nibble on yummy foods and laugh together with good friends!

We also enjoyed watching the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with the RiffTrax. For those who don't know, RiffTrax is made by the same comedians who did MST3K a long time ago on television. Basically, they make fun of the movie while you watch it. It's so hilarious! You can go to their website and check out some of the previews they have here.

While the movie played, I painted Ashley's tummy. I made up a peacock design that I wanted to try. It was so serendipitous...her shirt matched the colors perfectly! I've also never seen such a perfect pregnant belly...there wasn't even one stretch mark anywhere! I thought that wasn't possible unless a model was air-brushed!  I loved it!  Here is the final product:

I learned a few things from this attempt.

1- sketch out the idea on paper better before I begin to paint. There are a lot of things I'd do differently with the design if I did this pattern again. It looks too simple and cartoony for me. I'd like it the peacock to be more anatomically-correct.

2- Paint a miniature copy of the design before doing the real one, so I can analyze if the colors work together. I don't think these colors worked as well as I would have liked.

All in all, it was a fun night and we really enjoyed our time with friends!

For more fun body art ideas, try here and here and here. For a time-lapse video of me painting one of my favorite patterns, click here.

Have a beautiful day!

Fairy party

For Sarah's birthday this year she wanted to do a fairy party. We alternate every other year with doing a party with friends or doing a fun family outing. Last year she chose to go to the Austin Children's Museum, so this was the year for a party. She was so excited!


We decided to have me face paint everyone during the party so they could all have fairy masks or butterflies to help them feel 'magical'. It was a lot of fun to paint all her little friends! We let them each choose what they wanted to have the pattern be, but most of them wanted the same thing....except Matthew. No glittery things for him.


We put magic glitter on each girl,and that seemed to be a big hit! Nathan had set up a webcam on the fireplace mantel and hooked it to the big TV in the family room, so the girls could all dance to fun music and watch themselves on TV. This was a huge success and the girls loved dancing and playing in front of the camera! We decided that this set up with be a staple for all of the birthday parties we throw in the future.

Some mysterious fairies visited the home during the party and left a trail of magical clues and riddles for the children to solve. They had fun reading the riddles and guessing together what the answer could be, then they'd all run in a swirl of skirts, wings, and glitter to the site of the next clue. They enjoyed the prizes at the end: little fairy-sized notepads. Everyone made a magic wand by wrapping sparkley pipe cleaners around writing pens. Now that had a magical pen to write in the notepad with.

We told them the story of the Pumpkin Fairy from Halloween, and she visited our house to share her treasures with the new little fairies at the party. While I was telling the story in one room, Nathan and a friend hid the candy all over the music room and library room so the children could do a candy hunt. They really enjoyed that...sugar always gets rave reviews from kids. :)

A dear friend of mine made the birthday cake and sent it with her husband, so the cake was beautiful. I was planning on making only simple cupcakes this year, but Ashley generously offered to make it as an excuse to use her cake-decorating skills she learned in a class. She's going to deliver her baby any day, AND she's dealing with finals for her Psychology degree. I couldn't believe that she offered to make a cake! The flowers were all so pretty and the kids LOVED eating them. Thanks so much, Ashley!

One of the gifts she received was a pedicure set with a foot spa, nail polishes, stickers, and fun things to pamper herself with. She begged me to do a foot spa night with her, and she loved going to church the next day with her nails painted. She also really enjoyed the art sets, art easel, double-color crayons, sketch pad, jewelry, sunglasses, and crystal-growing kit. I love gifts that aren't 'toys''s great to have things that help you learn or experience something new.  (I just LOVE fellow home school moms! Thanks for the science kit!! Sarah and Matthew have been BEGGING to make it right away.)

It was such a special day to celebrate Sarah, and we were so happy to spend that time with good friends. To me the point of a party is not the gifts, but the memories created with friends, so we told many friends to not even bring a gift. We were so happy to just share a fun day with them! Thanks everyone for coming!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The joy of motherhood, uncensored

I'm ready to sell our three year-old son. Anyone interested? I'll even give him away for free.

My day yesterday cannot be adequately written, but the stresses were so overwhelming that I tearfully called Nate at work and officially declared my resignation from motherhood for the rest of the day. My sweet little boy has been a veritable demon this week.

Everybody writes on their blogs about how perfect life is going, or what grand adventures they are having, and there is never (or very seldom) any mention of life's struggles that we all have. I feel overwhelmed with my classes with major papers, presentations, experiments, and tests all due within 3 days of each other. My house is a disaster because I've been studying so much and neglecting the cleaning, and we have company coming over tonight and Sarah's birthday party tomorrow. Next week we have 35 guests coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I need to prepare for that. Daniel is the last straw for me.

I spent the majority of the day yesterday doing things specifically for him, since I thought he might be acting out in a way to express his need for more attention(even though he gets much more individual attention than anyone else in the family). We went to a large indoor playground, had lunch together at a restaurant, and went to the library. His love language must not be quality time, because yesterday his behavior was so much more terrible than he's ever been. I'm not interested in going in public with him anymore....I'd much rather do without than take him to the store with me again. I"m just done. I felt like this must have been some cruel joke, with a candid camera lurking around the corner.

I coach the junior division of Math club after school on Thursdays, and Daniel was so noisy and obnoxious that the fourth grade team asked, "Do you EVER shut that mouth?", "Do you ever sit still?", "Why does he think he can touch EVERYTHING?", "Don't you LISTEN?". Sadly, the answer is no, no, no, and no.

Matthew came up to me last night and expressed his frustration about Daniel (Daniel physically bullies Matthew nonstop, steals his special things and breaks them, and taunts him constantly, trying to provoke an angry response). Daniel had stolen and lost Matthew's new toy from school. Matthew sighed heavily and said, "We should just give him away."

I keep reminding myself that this is just a phase he's going through. I remind myself that his sweet attributes are still there, hiding under the crust of bad choices.Ever watch those nanny reality TV shows? My son would fit right in with all those children, and it seems like it must be my fault. Doesn't this behavior show a lack in parenting? I'm beginning to doubt myself, as if perhaps going to nursing school is taking too much of a toll on my family. I feel lost today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Face painting angst

Okay, so I learned how to do a bunch of neat I can't stop thinking about face painting and body art. I think about it all day, I dream about it at night. I keep thinking of body art patterns I could do, or new ideas that I've never done (like using lace fabric as a stencil for sponging delicate patterns on women, or mesh fabric for making scales on monsters). I find myself studying body art from world-renowned artists so I can try to figure out how they did what they did. I have several magazines of body art that I can't put down....I'm fascinated by it.

I'm so annoyed with my Pharmacology class so I sketch body art ideas while I listen to the lectures. I've been asking a bunch of friends to be models for me to practice on. I'm so excited; one of my dearest friends is 9 months pregnant and she's letting me paint her belly this week! I'm really excited about that...there's a couple designs I've been thinking of for her. I'll post pictures on here when the painting is done this weekend.

I'm working on getting an official face painting website up and running...we'll see how long that takes. My classes are so busy that I barely have time to paint, let alone make a website. I am so frustrated with inefficient, non-user-friendly web design interfaces. Thank heaven for a software engineer husband who can read the html code for me and rewrite the necessary parts so the page will do what I want it to! Hopefully the page will be up before Christmas. The biggest problem is that I need to take more pictures of my work so the galleries will be full. We'll work on that....any one want to be painted? :)

I'm so eager to create new body art that everything else is a bigger hassle than normal. I don't want to clean, fold laundry (although I DID do it, I just wished I weren't doing it), cook, etc. I just want to lock myself in my art nook with a model so I can play with paint. -Erg.- The intensity of this desire surprises me, but I hope to relish it while it lasts. I get creative 'highs' where I'm driven to make art...sometimes compelling me to work on a canvas painting until far after midnight, and I feel a little crazy as I work, like I simply can't stop until it's done. That's the way I feel now.

It's SO tempting to ignore the 5-page paper I have to write before Friday (about the pandemic of AIDS in America...not exciting nor uplifting), the 100 drugs to memorize for Pharmacology before next week, the science fair project I promised to help Sarah do before Thanksgiving, the birthday party preparations for Sarah's fairy party this weekend, etc, etc. -sigh- It's so hard to wait for the right season in life where I can just create without obligations.

Until then, I'm carrying a little sketchbook with me everywhere so I can jot down my ideas. I had become very excited at the prospect of attending the North American Face Painting Convention in Las Vegas this spring...I wanted to compete in the body painting show. After studying some of the top artists and their work, I think that I can paint better than one or two of them (not most of them-most of them are WAY out of my  league, I can only compare with just a few). Some of these artists are paid by makeup companies to promote their product by teaching classes or entering competitions and using only that particular brand of paint. They also get all their supplies for free (HUGE bonus! The makeup is so expensive!). I toyed with the idea of advertising myself to some of the companies in the near future, after I've honed my skills in a few areas.

I decided (a bit reluctantly) that this is not the season of life for that. On the slim chance that I did get 'discovered' by body art magazines or sponsered by a makeup supplier, they'd just demand that I travel more to teach classes, or attend conventions to boost their product, or churn out body paintings that I don't have time to do. I concluded that it would sacrifice my young family for the sake of publicity or notoriety. I'm already vain enough for two people....I certainly don't need more of that. I've decided to quietly work on my art and stay low from the international face painting scene until my kids are teenagers. At least that's my plan for now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Facepainting class and Zombie crawl

The world's champion face painters were in Austin this weekend teaching a face painting seminar! I didn't find out about it until the day before the class, so it was a last-minute decision to go. The teachers were Nick and Brian Wolfe, arguably THE most famous face painters in the world...there are books published by them and a product line named after them. They won the world championship title this last year at the world's largest face painting competition, held in Austria and drawing 20,000 people each year. If you haven't discovered from the pictures yet, these guys specialize in monster painting and gory special effects. They are often called the 'Monster Kings'. I don't have much experience painting this type of stuff, so it was was very educational.

I was eager at the chance to go learn from them, so Saturday morning was a flurry of activity to get out the door and arrive at class on time. The class was A-MAZ-ING! It was expensive, but definately worth every dollar. Ican't wait to attend more classes (whenver they come aroudn this way again....not likely to happen for a year or two). They taught how to use anatomy to the advantage of the design, focusing on skeletal and muscle structure in particular. The skeleton pattern they taught really improved on my own design layout. They also taught realistic shading and how to use advanced shading in order to create the optical illusion of depth. It was SO neat to learn all this theory! How frustrating for Brian and Nick to be teaching the very basics of face painting when they are accustomed to created the most advanced patterns...

My first attempt at painting a skull face
Then they taught the generic boy face for birthday parties. The neat thing is that the same basic layout can be used for 15 faces, the only different element is in the application of the black. We made mummies, werewolfs, vampires, demons, devils, lizard monsters, flames, etc. It was really fun. They also taught how to paint horns that look 3-D and how to add proper shadowing so they 'pop out' of the skin. Very cool!

15 Face paint patterns using the same background
I loved the small class size- only 10 people. It made for intimate lessons where they could focus on each students questions and help them improve weak spots. It was very valuable. They showed me how to do improve my own patterns. The patterns were much faster to paint after applying Brian's tips.

After the class was over we all dressed up and were painted as zombies for a 'Zombie crawl' that night. Now I can say that I was painted by the world's best face painters! They had to go quickly to get everyone painted since we were supposed to meet others at the Driskell Hotel at a certain time.

My 5-minute zombie face paint
Nick Wolfe, me, Brian Wolfe
 They painted a zombie bite on one the looked so real, it was amazing!

Detailed zombie bite- check out the veins!
Decaying zombie face paint pattern
 Another really neat face was one where the muscles were exposed and the skin was being drawn tightly over the muscle tissue. It was incredible to watch this transformation happen, and I learned SO much from this one pattern.

Exposed muscle and wound face paint pattern
We drove to Austin's 6th Street and walked through the crowds, acting like zombies and lurching as we walked. 

It was SO fun to see the variety of reactions! There were some people who've watched too many horror movies, these people would scream and run away (kind of fun when these people were huge guys). Some people would grin and say we looked awesome, these people would run up and take pictures. Some people were caught off-guard, and they would jump and make a quick shriek  before moving on. Some people thought it looked really neat, and would tell us they thought it was awesome. 

The most unexpected reactions were from people who evidently are attracted zombies....I had a dozen men approach me throughout the night, offering to buy me a drink (I told them I don't drink alcohol -you know, the whole sober Mormon thing- so they offered to buy dinner instead), asking for an 'undead'  kiss, asking if they can accompany me for the night, or  asking me to bite their arm like a zombie. That was all quite unexpected.

I was surprised with these offers and just blew them a kiss and walked on quickly. (For those of  you who are not regular readers, you should know I am VERY happily married to a romantic heart-throb and I have zero interest in flirting with college kids. These interactions were difficult for me to brush off because in my heart I just wanted to go home and be with my own sweetheart.)

I think if I hadn't been painted, I would have blended in with the masses of bar-hoppers and never gotten a second glance from anyone. It's ironic that being an ugly zombie drew so much romantic attention.

Our zombie squad
We went out to eat at the Iron Cactus and stopped for a bit at a couple of night clubs when the door men would ask us to come inside and make the club more fun by dancing there for a little while. One club put on 'Thriller' music and had us all dance on the bar...I've never danced on a bar before (honestly, I've never even stepped into a bar until today!). When the DJ asked our group to dance, I tried to melt into the back wall of the bar, but Nick and Brian picked me up and placed me on the bar before I could sneak away. Yikes! 

I was particularly thankful for my face of makeup that gave me anonymity. My dance moves were pathetic and Thriller is SO long. My moves were all exhausted very quickly. I know we all looked awful up there, but what else can a zombie do?

We lurched down to Esther's Follies and plastered ourselves on the huge windows that face the street. This was pretty fun, but the theater has a large water pipe evidently designed for getting rid of theater-crashers.. They pulled a switch and drenched us with water so we would move on. It was pretty funny, but a bit cold.

I finally came home and went to bed at 2 am....I'm not accustomed to late nights like that, so I was really glad to be home again.

I learned so much and was on a creative 'high' that entire day. The class was 7 hours long, so there was a lot of material covered. I really wish I could have attended the second day of classes, but they were held on Sunday. It was very hard for me to opt out of the rest of the seminar. I just couldn't reconcile Sabbath worship with face painting matter how I looked at it, it wasn't a way to keep the Sabbath day holy. 

It was so hard to focus at church that day...I kept wondering what everyone else was learning, and it was very difficult for me to not feel sad about missing this gold-mine of knowledge. -sigh- I know it was the right thing to go to church instead of this seminar, and I really do believe I'll be blessed for that choice. I think it was a test for me....the scripture came to my mind, "No man can serve two masters, You cannot serve God and mammon". I had to choose, and God always wins.

See some of my face paint ideas here and here and try here. For an awesome Halloween time-lapse video of a skull morphed with a butterfly, click here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Treasure boxes

Each of the children have a shelf or drawer in which they keep their 'Special Things'. I think it's so fun to see what are treasures to children, so I wrote down all the special things they hold dear. I think it's insightful into their personalities. Matthew has everything lined up and categorized so everything is in order. He knows at a glance whether Daniel has stolen one of his Special Things.  Daniel has a drawer that he keeps only for special things....the large drawer is usually close to empty. Daniels special things don't stay for long because hes' always taking them out to play and losing them. Sarah has a bookshelf with an additional drawer. The shelf is nice and orderly, and the drawer is a jumbled mess.

Here's Matthew' Special Things list:
6 polished rocks
a sea shell
goat horn
Deer antlers
Deer coccyx bones
Leg bone (of some unknown animal...perhaps coyote)
Snake vertebrae bones
Rabbit skull
plastic scorpion
4 plastic spiders
4 pots of playdough
plastic jeep
plastic action figure of Hercules
model airplane
Halloween candy that he hid from the pumpkin fairy(lined up and categorized)
5 books
Plaster of Paris imprints of his fingers
plastic vampire teeth

Daniel's "Special Things" drawer contains:
a dozen feathers from chickens
2 dozen colored craft sticks
diaper wipes
a piece of candy
a bouncy ball
a couple stickers

Sarah's bookshelf of special things includes:
Notes from Mom
Letters from grandparents or other relatives
Birthday cards
colored pictures of ponies and princesses
A box of crayons, pencils, and glue
Little House on the Prarie books
Magic Treehouse books
Pony Pals books
American Girls books
Sea Shell
Nativity set
embroidery materials
Ceramic unicorn (painted pink and purple)
Picture of the Savior Jesus Christ
Embroidered scripture passages
pink candle (3 years old...but still treasured)
Butterflies cut out of metal sheets
Tithing waiting to be turned in

Saturday, November 7, 2009

From the mouth of babes-

Daniel told me today: Mom, candy doesn't taste good until you take the wrapper off.

Random thoughts- Take 2

- We alternate every year with doing a family adventure or doing a birthday party with friends. This year it's parties. Sarah is turning 7 next week and I'm busy planning her party. I have 4 test in 2 weeks, with her party at the end of this mental gauntlet. Am I stressed? Hmm...

- She wants to do a fairy party and she wants me to face paint everyone. Not a big request, except who will run things if I'm busy face painting for an hour?

- The school has a rule that you can't pass out invitations at school without inviting the whole class. Great, except they also won't give you addresses of students, since that violates privacy laws. Result? We've invited her entire class to come, in addition to her friends from church and home school. This could be a chaotic mess!

- I decided that I will NOT decorate a cake myself this year, since I don't have any spare time to do so. I also can't afford to buy a decorated cake from the bakery, so I decided to make cupcakes, frost them, and poke silk flowers on top of them. They'll be pretty and fast to make.

- I finally mopped my floor yesterday. The Halloween party last week was very fun, but the witch's brew was VERY sticky when it was spilled by tiny guests. I've been sticking to my kitchen floor for a week. Daniel helped things along by spilling a gallon of milk on the floor a couple days ago. I finally mopped it!

- The secret to not leaving a soapy residue when you mop is this: don't mop with any Lysol/cleaning agents other than white distilled vinegar. The vinegar is a GREAT disinfectant and it dries clean, without leaving anything behind. I pour a cup of vinegar into a gallon of hot water.

- In my microbiology class they tested 4 cleaning agents for effectiveness. White vinegar cleaned better than Lysol, Simple Green, and Clorox bleach. Evidently the vinegar kills mold spores in addition to the bacteria, so it's the best one to use. What's even better, it's very cheap! I've been using it to clean everything lately.

- The marketing doesn't lie for once: Melaleuca oil DOES kill bacteria very effectively. We tested that agent as well in a different study, and it worked GREAT. I have a bottle in my medicine cabinet that I use for ear infections. We put a couple drops into the ear canal. It saves a trip to the doctor.

- I started a new painting a couple weeks ago, but haven't had any time to work on it since then. My calendar is so full  that I don't think I'll get to work on it until after Christmas. That's sad. I wanted to hang it up before then.

- I miss our extended family. Grandparents live in New Hampshire and Idaho and Utah. Erg. We can only visit every-other year. I want my kids to have more memories with their grandparents. We are thinking about moving closer to them in 4-5 years. I'll be done with school and Nate will have plenty of work experience for transferring to a new job.

- There is one problem: Nathan's job. We can't move anywhere because we love his job so much. We've looked at the job market in other places, but they don't compare. Not a bit. Nate's job has very high job satisfaction, and the company is rated in Fortune 100's Best Companies To Work's been listed for the past TEN YEARS. It's a very good place to work and he loves it. Anything else would be miserable in comparison. Erg.

- I really don't like the PTA. They send a strong message that "If you love your student and want them to succeed, you would be a member of the PTA" and "Statistics show that PTA members have more successful students because you're involved in their education". That makes me angry. Don't they see the irony? They want to take me away from my children so I can go to does THAT make my children better?! I stay at home and read world history with them instead. Or we cook together or do an art project. I'm busy actually TEACHING my children, but they tell me I'm not an involved mother?UGH! I'm looking forward to returning to home school.

- Nathan had a converstaion with a co-worker recently about education. She was proud of the fact that her kids had an educational advantage because she reads to them 10 minutes at night after picking them up from daycare. What has happened to society? Since when does a measly 10 minutes of fairy tales give an educational advantage?! She was bragging about this to Nathan, while she was at work and her kids were in after-school daycare. He called to see what we were doing, and we had been reading about Ancient Egypt and the process of mummification together for an hour. Before that we had done art projects. Why does society 'look down' at stay-at-home moms as if we're lazy?

- When we read together, I refuse to read 'drivel and tripe'. Most children's books on the market these days fall under that category. So do most adult books. I like high-quality books that use advanced vocabulary and complex plot lines and note-worthy writing styles. I recently found a great book that lists summaries of hundreds of great books so I can peruse them quickly and find the really good books for us to read.

- Okay, enough with the ranting and raving. If you aren't too annoyed with me, we'll continue. Well, I'll continue either way and you can decide whether to read on or go read something better...

- A friend asked me this summer to illustrate her book. I really loved the invitation and I really wanted to do it! One of my life goals is to illustrate a children's book. Unfortunately, I had to say 'no' with all the time commitment already expected from my college classes. It's not the right season for me to work on a book, but I am excited for that season to come.

- I love cuddling with my kids or rocking them. I love to feel their warm little bodies snuggle into mine.  I LOVE to caress their soft cheeks and kids their soft hair. I tell them everyday that they are my most valuable treasure.

- I painted our front door today while Nathan took Sarah and Matthew to a Primary activity at church. Daniel was with me and he really wanted to help. I gave him a little brush and had him help me paint the trim around the garage door. I now have little black splotches on the red brick and the white garage door. He was very helpful. :)

- I boiled two pumpkins to make into pies for refreshments tomorrow. After mashing the pumpkin, I realized I would have to make the pie crusts. I HATE making pie crusts. It's such a mess and it's never easy, something always goes wrong. I put the pumpkin puree away in a Tupperware and I've put it off until tomorrow, when I'll probably panic and throw together something entirely different. I'll most likely turn the pumpkin into Pumpkin Curry Soup for tomorrow's dinner.

- Why do I make refreshments? Because I hope that good food will bribe people into coming over on Sunday nights to sing. We invite the ward to come over and sing hymns and chat and eat. There's never time to strengthen friendships at church (everyone is so busy), so we decided to do this as a way to fellowship others. Last time we had 3 people come. It's a small gathering, but it sure is nice to spend time with them. I enjoy it, and we love to sing anyway, so it's fun whether there's many people or not.

- We went through the trouble of getting a fog machine for Halloween, and we never even opened the box. We were too busy. Now I have to drive 30 minutes away to return the fog machine. Thanks anyway, Rex!

- I recently started my vaccine regimen that is mandatory before I get into the nursing program. At the clinic, the nurse said, "I'm SO sorry, but we're having a needle shortage, so the only needles left are the really big ones. I'm really sorry...don't look at it! Just turn your head and I'll be fast." Okay, not too bad. Then she said, "Alright, just sign here to verify that you received your Hep A shot." What? She gave me the wrong vaccine! After a quick flurry and embarrassed apologies, they came back with the right vaccine. Erg.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween party- posted a few days late

This year we decided to host a Halloween fest with some friends. It's simply not enough to attend a ward Trunk-or-Treat/Carnival, a neighborhood party, and a family party at Nate's company. We must prolong the holiday as much as possible! We need more sugar-highs and late nights. Really though, we need more days to dress up. There is a woefully inadequate shortage of days when mature adults can dress up to their hearts' content without garnering disapproving glances from society.

We planned out a fun party full of activities like eating donuts from strings, wrapping mummies with toilet paper, Halloween Bingo, and finding prizes inside a giant spider web maze. We also planned fun festive foods like mummy dogs, spider chip dip, crispy bat wings, and witch's brooms(my favorite).

Nathan was really excited because a friend of mine (a fellow entertainer) let us borrow his fog machine for  the weekend. He was so excited to set this up in our front room for the trick-or-treaters.

I had meticulously kept my day unscheduled so I had all morning/afternoon to set up for the party.

Unfortunately, my booking agent called this week and said, "Lifetime Fitness is having their big party on Halloween day and they specifically requested to have you be there. PLEASE tell me you're available!" Erg. This is a long-time client of mine so I couldn't really say 'no'. These are usually the type of parties that run for 3-4 hours (which equals a nice paycheck) and are very well-organized and relatively low-stress to work. The problem is that the party was scheduled to end only an hour before my party at home starts.
Double erg.

The gig itself was also more stressful than usual BECAUSE it was Halloween day. Everyone wanted their kids to have the BEST face painting ever so they could wear it to their costume contests, other parties, and trick-or-treating that night. A lot of kids would pick something simple, like hearts, but the parents would say 'No, you don't want that! Get a full cat face to match your costume tonight!" or "Show her a picture of your other costume that you'll be wearing, let's have her match the patterns on the fabric!"or "Get something big that people will see tonight!" As a result, the line was massively long and people were sneaking in line even after I cut off the end of the line.

*Quick rant* I really hate to send people away when it's time for me to leave. I feel like a criminal. All the kids have been hoping to get painted and they are so crushed when they are turned away. That's definately the worst part of my job. A mother had cut in line even after I explained 3 times that the people in front of her were my last customers. She said she would wait anyway and she told her daughter they would get painted. I felt so bad, but I really had to leave since I was already 10 minutes past my end time. I explained "I have told you 3 times that the line is ended, I'm sorry you waited in line, but I REALLY have to leave." The lady wasn't happy with me and the little girl was crying. It made me frustrated at the mother for getting her daughter's hopes up like that when I had clearly explained the situation. I felt terrible. *end rant*

Nathan and Sarah worked the entire time I was gone and they cleaned up the house and made all the food and drinks. I learned that setting up the giant spider web was way more work than I expected, but it did look very cool. We filled the living room full of yard strands weaving back and forth and I hid prizes at the ends of the strings. Each child took a string from the starting point and followed it through the room, climbing over or under other web strands as they searched for their prize. It was really fun and the kids liked it.

The definite favorite was eating the donuts off the string. We used powdered donuts, which added to the fun. The children loved looking at their faces after each round so they could see the mess. We played this game several times since everyone wanted to repeat it.

The mummy wrap was fun, but the little kids lost interest after 3 minutes and the bigger kids finished it up. After that the children just played on the trampoline and with the chickens (but not at the same time). It's surprising how much fun it is to chase a flock of chickens, catch one, and pet it's soft feathers. I think some of our friends played in the chicken 'pasture' for over 20 minutes.

Dinner was delicious...everyone brought fall foods. There was a delicious assortment of festive food that made it a feast. Nathan and Blake made a 'witch's brew' with dry ice and sherbet and Sprite. We learned that dry ice freezes the thick protective plastic table top and actually warps it. Luckily it went flat again as it warmed up.

It was so fun to spend time with friends that we see far too rarely.  One of our pregnant home school friends delivered her baby three days ago and she still came to our party! I told her she was not allowed to leave the rocking chair and we gave her a brass bell to ring whenever she needed food or drink. It was so fun to see their beautiful baby!

By the end of the party we started receiving our first trick-or-treaters. After our friends all left, we decided that we did not want to actually go trick-or-treating. We were such humbugs that I decided not to give out candy either (even though we had bags of it for this purpose). I just wanted to have quiet time and be with my family. I turned off all the lights and we put on a movie and the kids had fun sorting their candy, counting it, and making a chart measuring their treasure.

We picked out any candies that would work well for a gingerbread house in December and put that all in a bag in the pantry. Then the children ate whatever candy they wanted. Anything left over was put in a bowl by the front door for the Pumpkin Fairy. The Pumpkin Fairy comes at night to take away the candy and leave prizes in the bowl. Sarah and Matthew woke up in the middle of the night and snuck downstairs with their glow sticks to see if they could catch the fairy. They had planned out this adventure very carefully and were so excited to tell me all about it in the morning!

They all received new character toothbrushes (they always love this in particular since they get the 'fun' toothbrushes with favorite cartoons on them, or battery-operated toothbrushes that vibrate) and new books. We really enjoyed reading Matthew's new book as a family. He received "Mr Popper's Penguins". On Sunday afternoon Nathan read it out loud for almost an hour while everyone listened and cuddled.