Saturday, October 31, 2009


There was some debate this year about what to do about the annual Halloween party. I had a doula client due with her first baby on the 27th, so I was none too sure about even having a party and put thinking about the whole thing off for weeks. Then, after we recovered from what I can only assume was the swine flu (oh I hope, I hope), she had her baby a week early and I was free to party hardy marty.

But then, what to do about the Harry Potter theme we usually went with? We had all those decorations, but Aleks was getting tired of my ongoing Harry Potter obsession. So I asked Steve and Heather about it one night and Steve said we should just have a Harry Potter party anyway. That sealed it for Aleks, probably because Steve is awesome and someone to look up to. Steve also helped me sway Aleks away from light up shoes earlier this fall.

With only a week to get my crap together, I hurriedly found a new and improved invitation. In previous years, we had sent out a Hogwarts acceptance letter and a cover of the Daily Prophet. I knew of a lady online who was more Harry Potter obsessed than I who had designed a fantastic Marauder's Map. Lucky for me, she offered it up for free for purposes such as mine. I added an insert with handwritten notes from Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs explaining about the party itself. Thus we got things underway.

I told the boys to go ahead and decide what they wanted to be and that I'd fit it into Harry Potter. True to my word, Aleks decided to be a zombie, which in Harry Potter canon would be an inferius. Bastian chose to be a knight. We named him Sir Cadogan after the knight with the fat pony who takes over the job of the Fat Lady after Sirius Black slashes her painting up. I made his costume out of newspaper and foil tape.

Finding foil tape was a bit difficult. I wasn't really sure what it was for, so when I went to my local big box home improvement store, I asked for silver tape. True to big box form, the person I'd asked referred me to the wrong location and I found myself in an aisle full of duct tape. Then it occurred to me that foil tape is actually used on ducts, so I asked for the duct aisle and finally found a roll of the stuff. It's super sticky and will slice up your skin, if you're not careful, which, toward the end, I wasn't. Natty took the boys trick-or-treating with our friend Emma and another neighbor kid. I stayed back and readied the party, lighting all the jack-o-lanterns and setting out food and drinks. We only carved the pumpkins the day of the party as everything we do tends to be jumbled in with too many other things and something always gets left to the last minute. I picked Emma up at 3:30 and had her carving pumpkins by 4:30 for the party at 7. We cut it close and didn't get too fancy about any of it.
Emma carved a Harry Potter pumpkin. Bastian recognized it right away.
I did a fancy lady pumpkin to match my costume.
Emma's cyclops was my favorite. Bastian wanted a Happy pumpkin (the small one at the bottom), and I utilized a smooshed side to make a jack-o-lantern who'd been hit over the head.

Jon carved the largest of the pumpkins to reflect his own attitude.
I was Rita Skeeter for the party.
In the end, the event was a hybrid. I didn't insist on costumes in keeping with the books this year, so Dolly Parton was among our guests to be sorted. She was also the only guest to successfully complete our scavenger hunt without aid. There was another funny moment when Dolly was interviewed about her impoverished upbringing in Tennessee by a scandal-sniffing Rita Skeeter.
Axl Rose and Slash also showed up rather inexplicably.
Then, in a strange twist, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Slash, and Axl Rose all did some photo-oping together.
We were even treated to a very special set of performances:

I dyed Natty's hair with kool-aid and made 8 Weird Sisters tee-shirts so Natty could be Tonks. Well, the other 7 tees were really for prizes for the scavenger hunt, but still.
Little Orphan Annie made a brief appearance.
Aleks practiced being a real zombie by chewing on my leg...
...and on Bob's arm...

I think Jon pulls this costume out every year when he's feeling the need to no longer play the grumpy grad student. It suits him almost too well.
Barbara said she was Professor Trelawney, but I think she just looked lovely.
Anna claimed this as a Lupin costume, but really she was just running late from work.
Adult shenanigans ended the evening as always. The boys stayed up super duper late on a sugar high and we all slept in deep and long on dia de los muertos.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Thriller Dance

My single New Year's Resolution this year was to learn the Thriller Dance. As of October, I'd not made any progress on this promise to myself. Just in time for Halloween, I learned of a local YMCA branch that was doing a two-day Thriller Dance workshop. We decided to go make a go of it.

Bastian ended up being tired and we were busy the rest of the week trying to get ready for our Halloween party, so we only went to the Tuesday session, but Aleks showed his dad what he'd picked up anyway.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bread and Puppet Theatre Dirt Cheap Money Circus

Thanks to the hard work and organization of a local activist - who regularly carries a cat in a bookbag, much to the joy of small children everywhere - the historic Bread and Puppet Theatre visited our dear city for three performances in October. Two of these were in our neighborhood and one of these was to encourage support of the Food Co-op I volunteer for.

Their shpiel about the Dirt Cheap Money Circus:

It features the billionaire bonus celebration dance, the logic of the US Healthcare System, the history of humanity and the removal of a mountaintop, interspersed with appearances by Karl Marx, who confronts the 2009 economic situation with his existential thoughts about money and our relationship to it. As always, there is a live band.

We got to see the two performances in our neighborhood. The first was a daytime performance which included much hilarity and played a lot like a radical political cartoon on stilts. FAN-tastic and right up my alley.

There were some solemn moments as well, mainly noting the ongoing wars that must end and honoring the dead.

The kids particularly liked the bit where the mountaintop got its head blown off then went after the coal companies and made them give it back.My favorite portion was the grand finale, featuring the collapse of the U.S. economy under the weight of corporate welfare and military spending. Two young hot numbers bouncing like some Jane Fonda workout video with more pep than a QVC hostess brought their stimulus package to save the day. With some grapevines of growth and the urging of everyone in the audience to SPEND, the economy got back on her feet. In the end though, she just dumped the barbell on future generations, who cried on their back.

The evening performance the next night, involved a fantastic - though somewhat confusing for its absurdity - puppet show. We were asked to move to sit on the ground to get a better view since the puppet theater sort of faced only in one direction and we were seated off to the side. We sat in the larger stage area and were incredibly close to all the action!
The nighttime performance featured less hilarity and a more subdued approach to moral issues and radical politics. Still excellent nonetheless.

The music was really incredible. These six volunteer performers have incredible versatility. It's like the anarchist Fame. The best part about it all, was that we walked just down the street to see it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jenny Brought Us a Rainbow

On one of many, many blustery, chilly days we've had this fall, our friend Jenny surprised us all one afternoon by knocking on our door with the items I ordered as part of a wholesale co-op. She also brought us a rainbow. We thanked her for the castile soap and the rainbow and called everyone outside to see it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unschooling Co-op

Our Unschooling Co-op rotates locations. We each take turns hosting and sometimes it falls through and that's okay. This way, we get to be our lazy, spontaneous, unschooling selves without all the pressure of imposing unnecessary (and unwanted) structure on ourselves and our children. So we get together and the kids play and sometimes there's an activity and sometimes we just eat snacks and hang out. The families present vary wildly, but everyone is always welcome to drop in or not. It's great. It fits our families perfectly.

Just recently, my sister Natalie moved in with us so she tends to attend the unschooling events right alongside the children. This is nice because I have help with getting snacks and children ready, and we all get out of the house and spend time together.

One particular Wednesday not too long ago, one of the families brought a Henna kit with lots of books of examples and instructions. Aleks ignored the lot of it, preferring to watch older kids play video games and jump on the trampoline with Ivy, but Bastian observed the adults carefully adding the color to their skin intently.

Natalie is highly skilled at henna, or so it seems. Her design was incredible and featured, on one side, the head of Ganesha. Ganesh happens to be my favorite Hindu god (or manifestation of Shiva, depending on who you ask). He's the Remover of Obstacles and is always the first god invoked in the beginning of religious ceremonies and rituals. We have a statue of him above our computer, which is handy, as the wikipedia page on Ganesha says he is also the Patron of Letters to be invoked during writing sessions. If I weren't an atheist, I'd be a Ganapatya (well, maybe not). We already bring him presents regularly which fill two decorative bowls on either side of him. Despite all that atheism, I have a superstitious tendency and enjoy private rituals, even if they're silly and leave me babbling endlessly in the blogosphere for no reason.

Natalie's favorite part of her henna'd hand were the dark sections on her fingerprints. She insisted on pointing them out for several days.
I guess it's Natty who's unschooling now.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We Are the Exhibit

There were robotic extinct animals at the zoo as well for some reason. Aleks was very excited about this and insisted that we splurge the extra buck a piece to see them.

We did lots of family shots because I'm trying to remember to do them at all so as to include myself in photos with my children lest I forget what I looked like at 30.