Dana: October 2008 Archives

Because Halloween is a big deal in our household, a household with two parents who have retained much of their juvenile, goth/Tim Burton aesthetic, our children chose their costumes weeks ago (a ninja and grim reaper/policeman, don't ask). It didn't stop us from looking at the costumes while in Target some time ago, and all I can say is WTF Target children's costumes? Part of me wants to high-five Target for going above and beyond the call of milquetoast children's costume options, but the other half wonders how much weed they had in the boardroom when deciding on what to buy this year:


Oh yes, the HOG SLAYER. Wouldn't an actual hog be required to complete this costume? WTF? Not dragon slayer, no, hog slayer.

Pirate slut A and B:

Um, OMG?

Pirate slut, take 2

I'm really glad there was a variety representative of the may different types of pirate slut. The "glam pirate" isn't bad but seriously, GLAM pirate? Isn't that an oxymoron? Pirates didn't have perfect pigtails, they didn't have sequins on their boots. I take issue with the historical accuracy of this costume.

This was the best store-bought costume I've ever seen in my life and I begged Liam to pick it but he was determined to break my heart because he wasn't having any of it:

Best kids costume EVER, the end

Kudos to this model for trying (and failing) to bring some Johnny Depp spirit to this adult's costume:

This guy thinks he looks hot

God bless Target for their costume descriptions. It's some of the best reading ever:


Liam is dressing as a ninja today and Ewan, who has been dressing as a grim reaper (pictured below) on his own for the past month, is torn between continuing this obsession, or wearing the policeman costume that his Nana bought him.

Ewan, the Harvester of Souls

Either way, he says, he's bringing his sickle.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.
The other day the boys carved pumpkins and we set them out on the deck. Ewan was proud of his pumpkins, especially the diminutive pumpkin into which he carved a clumsy smiley face. The next morning while leaving for a playdate, Ewan shrieked and began to cry: by walking outside he had interrupted one of our notorious backyard squirrels furiously digging the face out of his little jack-o-lantern. Liam fetched his empty BB gun and raced to get a good shot but the squirrel had disappeared by then. All that remained was a small, disfigured jack-o-lantern. It was pitiful. Ewan held his pumpkin and wailed, Liam kept a watchful eye on the tree limbs nearest our deck, and I stood and watched them both - consumed equally by laughter and sympathy. I lied promised Ewan that we would fix his pumpkin and we could even carve a new one. After a few minutes, Liam lowered the barrel, walked over to Ewan, and imparted a major life lesson: "Bub, sometimes you get your way. And sometimes a squirrel scratches your pumpkin's face off. Life just isn't fair all the time."

Eight years ago today

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I made the biggest promise of my life and pledged to be passionate and compromising until death parts us. I've read in the New Testament where it says that people are neither married nor given in marriage Up Yonder but I told Chris good luck in shaking my spooky specter off his leg anyway.

I've learned a lot about men and marriage these past eight years. Marriage is a lot like learning to walk with a leg that has a mind of its own. Sometimes you trip over each other and fall down. Eventually you get better at putting one before the other and making the whole walking thing work.

I don't care if it sounds sappy; if I had to make a mental list of the qualities I would ask for in a husband, I'd say that I've gotten more than I listed. And he just learned to iron.

"IF ever two were one then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife were happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor aught but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere
That when we live no more, we may live ever."
- Anne Bradstreet

ghost mobile

I've always noticed that the photos in all the craft blogs show happy little children doing happy little crafts and everyone is smiling and the families seem so homespun and put together. I know that the times when I post craft photos on this website it may seem like that, too, but let me assure you: there is not one craft session chez Loesch where someone doesn't get mad because their brother has the green scissors I WANT THE GREEN SCISSORS, or someone can't find their blue crayon or someone superglues their pinky finger to the table, or someone taste-tests an Elmer's glue stick because hey, it was pink.

Come to think of it, all the art teachers I had in school growing up were beyond deranged, which, if I had to teach herds of kids art day in and day out, I would be, too.

I manage to snap a couple of photos because a) I like adding it here and keeping a record of their home education for them to look back on and b) I need to keep it here as a record of their home education for the days when I want to rip my hair out. Win-win.

I've gotten pretty ambitious with their art (not mine, never again), even graduating Liam from acrylic paint to oils, though I honestly haven't had the brass to let him go whole hog with it yet. The other day we tackled a new project for Halloween: the ghost mobile.

I used spare white fabric, tissue paper, string, and a bottle of vodka. I kid. The boys drew faces on their ghosts, stuffed with tissue paper, and I used some sticks from the yard to create the "hardware" part of the mobile. Liam was totally grossed out that I just went into the yard and like, grabbed some random sticks. He wanted to go to the craft store and spend money on dowel rods or something "more mobile-er, mom." I told him he if wanted to use his allowance to pay for gas on the way down and purchase the supplies he was more than welcome, otherwise it's STICKS FROM THE BACKYARD. He seemed happy with the original plan after that.

And the mobile turned out ... weird. It's cute but it doesn't look like the ghosts are floating so much as hanging.
ghost mobile

Whatever it looks like, it's hanging in my stairwell.

Meat and taters

It's my second time at-bat over at Blogher. My first post was a woolen mittens introduction; this is some serious meat and potatoes politicking. I am trusting those who are of a different political persuasion to be cool because there is nothing on this earth that annoys me more than

1. Drunk sorority girls
2. Hillbilly narrow-mindedness
3. People who freak out and lose their minds when a contrary political opinion is before them

Numbers two and three are sort of interchangeable, I realize that. Just don't be either of them. Personally, I think it's kind of bullsh*t that I have to wring my hands at how much crap I'll get when others speak freely with no repercussions. However, I refuse to apologize for my opinions. It's called a free world. Deal.

The non-trebuchet

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Normally I'd do a post about all the things I'd like to load up in my imaginary trebuchet and fling over the roof of my house but after some stress last week I've been in a strangely good mood. It's like when you're very sick and you visit the porcelain god and afterwards you feel as though you can really breathe again. So instead of flinging things I'd like to just make a list of some things which have made me really happy this past week:


I finished my first pair of fetchings the other night. They are black cotton, very plain and would probably look underwhelming compared to the fruits of some talented knitters, but they're mine and I love them.


Halloween. My mom always goes over the top decorating for the holidays and her insanity has passed to me. Today as part of their art lesson, the boys and I are making ghosts which we will turn into a mobile and hang from the ceiling in their playroom ...

Speaking of which, I am so glad it's all the way on the 3rd floor so I don't have to worry about this mess when guests come over. 99% of what you see here is from their grandparents. In a slight exaggeration, Chris and I had sticks to play with in comparison.


Our friend's coffee. We're not Catholic, but we love coffee named after saints.


This apple cake recipe, from my good friend. Ooh, and this from my lovely friend Alanna. A slaw recipe with apples and BACON. It just reinforces my idea that bacon goes with everything and is the panacea for all the world's problems. It's really hard to be in a bad mood when you're making one of these things and can smell it from the kitchen.



This guy. He's reading fifth grade books and loves scary stories. I am in awe at how many doors literacy opens; he breezes through most of his lessons and requires little instruction because he can read it all. Ewan is coming up fast behind him; we've started with short vowel sounds and he's reading simple words. I've been using Liam's leftover preschool and K4 material for him but I'm running out. (I'm also still slowly but surely working on a massive compendium of all things St. Louis, and not, homeschooling-related. If you've emailed me with a question and I haven't answered please shoot me another email! Sometimes thing get buried and I'm horrible at organizing my inbox.)


 What about you?

Miles to go before we sleep


I was up yesterday morning before the sun. After a full day of Liam's classes, playgroup, work, and laundry, I was exhausted. Usually fall energizes me; yesterday I crumpled into a heap on the sofa with the boys, snacked on the leftover roast and vegetables from the previous day, and watched every spooky and fairytale movie we could find in the big steamer trunk that holds all our DVDs.


Later there was an accident at Chris's building. He's OK, the building is OK, it was a bit scary though and when he finally slipped in next to me underneath the sheets last night he smelled like smoke and cables. The studio is to open in a matter of days now and he's been working 'round the clock to make it happen. As a result, the boys haven't seen much of him; we haven't seen much of each other. I went away from my computer yesterday afternoon and when I returned I was a little shocked at the gluttony of my inbox. The other night I let the boys stay up to a late hour they've never before seen because I wanted company, their company. It was nice, albeit selfish. Unfortunately, late nights like that make my comfortable bed seem more inviting in the afternoon hours. If I nap now though, the boys will stage a coup.  

(*In the meantime, take a moment to check out this post on large families and the phenomena of celebrity baby adoption for Mama Pop.).

The black sheep and a new pasture

My introductory post is up now over at Blogher. A year ago I would have hesitated to accept their invitation to be so open about politics out of fear that people would throw produce at me or something, but more and more I'm resigning myself to the reality that there are a lot of people and ideas in this world and darn it all to heck, we should be able to exchange ideas and still get along and if not, then wah. There exist others out there who can and will and those are the folks with whom I want to party.

I don't have take a deep breath with this stuff when I'm on air; I do when I write it though. I find this disparity humourously intriguing.

Anyway, please to enjoy and be kind. Thanks to the Blogher ladies for welcoming me.


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Remember when I said that my entire wardrobe is black and gray? I wasn't exaggerating.


I'm loving this designer, particularly this.


Also loving stripes. (Really just photographing the vintage petticoat. Sorry.)

This is one of the most brilliant and beautiful posts I've read/heard in quite some time.


The boys picked me a bunch of lavender from the backyard; I dried it and set it on top of the cupboard in the dining room; it smells like the best perfume.

I also have two new gigs:

I'm joining the lovely ladies over at Blogher as a contributing editor in politics and news posting once a week; I'm also writing a new monthly homeschooling column over at Imperfect Parentbeginning next month. So when I'm not here or on air, I'm over yonder.

Tip me to some of your cool finds or inspiration in the comments.

I just watched a commercial about the Loving Family Dollhouse. It struck me as odd: I vividly remember being a kid and playing with dolls that I pretended were my age now. I watched the kids in the commercial play with the dolls and walk "the grand staircase" and I chuckled at how their play probably didn't include mommy and daddy freaking out over how the sluggish economy was now affecting their small business or how politicians are crooked and people are sheep.


Then I remembered my cousin Joe.


When I was little I would spend the night at my cousin Ginger's house and we'd stay up all night playing with her massive collection of Barbies. Joe, her older brother by a couple years, made our Barbies' lives a living hell. When Joe got bored with his video games he'd bust into Ginger's room and ask to play with us. Initially we didn't refuse. He'd give us each an equal share of Monopoly money and Ginger and I would be all "WOO! Barbies AND pink five dollar bills! Yeay life!" Then Joe would announce that he was the landlord and that we had to pay him $500 of our Monopoly money for rent. And then Ginger and I were all, um, OK." Because Joe was taller than us, he was the only one who could reach the chain on the ceiling fan light and if it was night, he'd turn it off until we gave him $50 each for our electricity bill. He was Man Electric, too. Eventually our Ken dolls got laid off, the power was turned off, and our houses foreclosed. Our Barbies always found themselves homeless, dragging a paper bag full of miniature belongings down the hallway to go live in the government housing that was the kitchen cabinets.


I hated playing with Joe, but I learned a lot about life in the process.

(Ginger and Joe aren't their real names.)

Of monsters and spiders

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During one of Liam's classes this morning I sat and talked with another homeschool mom friend of mine while we all waited for our kids. She was having a garage sale and noticed a couple of brown recluse spiders milling about after she'd moved some things out of her basement. She'd hired a man to spray her house today, but didn't make the call until after she caught a spider in a jar and made a family trip to the zoo where the staff identified it, kept it, and named it after one of her kids.


"You caught a brown recluse," I said more as a statement, not a question.


"Yeah. In a jar. I came home from riding my bike and saw in on the ground and my first thought was to dash off and get a jar. They were really nice at the zoo. Did you know that not all people react to brown recluse bites? Sometimes the flesh rots off by the bite, but only sometimes. Other times it's just a red bump. Fascinating."

She turned to look at me but at some point during the conversation (either the part where she caught the spider or the flesh-rotting part) I had frozen.


Her first thought was to catch it in a jar.


I was in awe of her courage. My first thought would have been somewhere along the line of OMGWTFSPIDERSPIDERSPIDER!!!!!!! There would have been screaming. I've been known to run into walls and furniture in an attempt to run through them while escaping from a spider. I've written before that I am terrified of tiny things with lots of attitude and this includes spiders and my children. I would not have gotten close enough to it to catch it in a jar because with my luck, it would have jumped on my face and sucked my brain out through my eyes.


It reminded me of when I spotted one of those trilobites running across the floor the other day. The boys tried to catch it while I dry-heaved in a corner. I called Chris immediately.


"Um, you need to stop home during lunch because I just saw some seriously prehistoric craziness run across the floor."


"What'd it look like?"


"A mili or centipede. But with long antennae."


"Then that's what it was. We have cardboard boxes in the basement. They actually like to eat those."


"I know what they are and they're weird. I'd try to kill it but it would probably jump into my ear and burrow through my brain."


I heard a sigh on other end of the line.


I listened to my friend detail how the spider incident became a homeschool lesson for her kids and how they got to go behind the scenes at the zoo when they added the family's spider to their insect house. They learned about different varieties of the things, habitats, and other educational grossness. Her kids were learning without even realizing it. By the time the kids' class was over I knew more than I ever wanted to about arachnids.


Semi-related: the boys made shadow monsters yesterday, an idea I got from one of my favorite websites, a children's craft blog. I even used an X-acto knife and didn't cut my fingers off.

Money-saving neurosis

Let me show you it.

I've contributed over at the ever-amazing Alphamom today for the spankin' new "Alphamom Guide to Everything (in five easy steps!)." It's a handy compilation of usable advice in short form comprised by some cool wimmins of the Web.

Now go read about how there's no shame in buying Mountain Holler instead of Mountain Dew.

One, two, Thomas is coming for you

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My parents like purchase the loudest, most aggravating toys ever created for the boys. My mother thinks nothing of taking the boys to Target or Toys-R-Us and allowing them to pick out toys, something I never do because I am more like my step-father. He will wake at the crack of dawn and visit all the major flea markets and yard sales in town, scouring for treasures. Sometimes he'll bring Liam with him. This is how Liam got his ridiculous screen-printed t-shirt of two wolves howling with a native American's face silhouetted in the moonlight sky. It's also how we got Thomas the Possessed Train, pictured above.


I am not a 'fraidey cat but if I'm awake by myself at night and I hear a creepy CHOO CHOO whistle coming from somewhere in the house, my business will be slightly freaked-out. The other night, while Chris worked late and the boys were fast asleep, I worked on a few deadlines while C-Span droned on in the background. Suddenly Thomas started up with his CHOO CHOOO, CHOO CHOOing and by the time I located him in the bottom of the kids' toy basket, he'd stopped. I placed him on top of the basket, sat back down, and five minutes later CHOO CHOO all over again. As soon as I got up and took a step, it stopped. This went on for an hour. It stopped the second I stood up. I'd fake-flinch and it would stop. Touche, Thomas. 


I finally removed the batteries and laid it on the floor. I sat back down again, and when I looked over at it later its shuttered eyes flipped open. It may or may not have also rolled its eyes and given me the finger, which I realize is anatomically impossible for a train but this train is possessed. I'd send it back to my parents' house with the boys when next they visit, but it would only retaliate by rolling all the way back up to the city to kill us all in our sleep.




Unrelated: In just a bit Chris and I will be dining as guests at a fundraiser with President Bush that we couldn't afford to get into were we not guests. I will work hard to not embarrass myself in any fashion.

So yesterday my PD calls and is all "Hey, so you interested in riding in the Sarah Palin motorcade and rolling with the press corps all day tomorrow?" and I'm all, "Did you not know who you hired when you offered me a job at your station?" and he was all "Great! It's settled!"


And then I was happy.


And then there was a period of time when I wasn't so happy because I had several different people telling me several different things, one of which was "No, you can't come, but you can stand and wave at the airport and then we'll see you at the rally afterwards."


But me being who I am, which is irrationally tenacious, I'm back on the motorcade and will be rolling with people way above my league for the majority of tomorrow. Were I not so naive perhaps I'd be nervous. But I'm not! I'm a person! And they're all people, too! And we all put our pants on one leg at a time!


"I put my pants on just like the rest of you -- one leg at a time. Except, once my pants are on, I make gold records."


Shut up, fake Bruce Dickenson.


One of them told me that there wasn't anything to cover at that time but hi, riding along with the VP candidate on the way to a historic debate with the potential to fire off one question or glean something from the corps? I disagree. The Midwest McCain campaign director called me a bit ago to confirm the above and I went all classic talk radio with "LISTEN TO ME OVERSHARE! I can talk for FOREVER!" and when we I were was done talking she literally said "Oookay!"


Ohmyword I wish I were joking. But I'm not! Story of my life! Invite me to your parties!


I'm terrified that I'll get to the airport and Secret Service will tackle me or something and put a hole in my leggings. That I am wearing. With a nice long sweater and boots. Because I get cold and it's going to be a long day. Or that all the news hounds in their suits who chase the trails daily will laugh at me. The anxiety level is right up there with my first day of kindergarten.


The following day we're guests at a fundraiser dinner with President Bush. I'm not joking. When I get nervous I tend to prattle on with never-ending conversation to the point where the people listening want to die. It's a diversion from my nervousness. I am a master strategist.

Don't worry; I've a journalism background, so getting it together and plowing ahead and sticking recording devices in people's faces is not unfamiliar territory for me.I sound dramatic because it's late and I took a nighttime sinus pill. Kittens with eyepatches are circling my head.


I'll be on air early tomorrow morning and covering the debate tomorrow night in some capacity for the station. I'll also be on Twitter tomorrow if you want to follow along. 

So, after spending my entire morning in the hot mess that is Wash U and seeing firsthand the MASSIVE amount of problems they're having with credentialing; listening to some big wig from NBC scream out a volunteer because he flew in from New York and his creds had gotten messed up; hearing volunteers complain about loose security and the severity of the massive credentialing screw up; seeing that my name wasn't listed on the pool list; and realizing that while I may be in the motorcade, I wouldn't be able to get off the press bus as my particular creds only extended so far. As Palin is not taking any questions before the debate, I decided that I'm not going to sit on a press bus for five hours with no wifi and unable to make a phone call, because the signals will be jammed, just to say that I was in the motorcade. I would see her exit her plane and get in her limo and that's it. No chance to ask a question.

I'll be on air doing pre-debate from 7-8pm and at the rally tonight, but to say that I'm aggravated is perhaps, the understatement of the year. I rearranged not only my schedule, but Chris and the boys' schedules for this. Liam is missing Spanish. I didn't even get to see them off before they went to their grandparents and I won't see them again until tomorrow evening. I am very uncomfortable with that. One of the reasons I have my work, my living, situated the way I do is so that I can put parenthood first. I failed on that today and it upsets me and pisses me off because running around chasing this stuff and being jerked around is a candle to the roaring fire that is the importance of my kids.     

A noble profession

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When we had friends over the other day Ewan answered the door dressed as the Grim Reaper. He doesn't know how to tie his shoes, nevermind that Halloween is this month. Whereas the majority of boys like to dress up as cowboys, astronauts, or any other superhero designed to inspire children to greatness, Ewan loves to dress up as the Harvester of Souls. He even has a sickle:

Chris and I are weird, but come on, we're not that weird. There's this Wii game called Boom Blox in which you can construct castles, houses, etc., place characters in the scene, click play, and they all do battle. It's Liam's favorite game and Ewan likes to sit and watch him play it. One of the game's characters is a farm animal dressed up as a Grim Reaper. Ewan calls him Grim, and when dressed up as his new idol, insists that he be called Grim as well.


I am sort-of blamable; I stopped by Target one afternoon to get toilet paper and the boys dragged me over to the Halloween display. Ewan fell in love with a plastic sickle and begged for it, even offered to buy it himself with the four dollars in his dinosaur wallet.


"It's like Grim's, mama," he enthused.


We walked out with toilet paper and the sickle.


For the past two weeks he's about his day wearing a black graduation robe bequeathed unto him by his cousin; he pulls it over his head like a hood, grabs the sickle, and puts around the house breathing like he has emphysema.


"Is that what you're going to be for Halloween?" asked a friend of ours.


"NO," Ewan hissed menacingly. "IS WHAT I AM."


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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"