I woke up around 8:45am Pacific time this morning.
I could hear my kids playing downstairs and my husband was stirring next to me. I was enjoying the moment, just lying there, peaceful and rested and warm.
My husband grabbed his phone and started checking things. He thrust his phone in my face. I could tell it was a picture of Biden, but without my glasses I couldn’t read it, and so he read me the headline.
Then I grabbed my phone and, instead of reading the news, I first saw a barrage of celebratory gifs from my friends. I started laughing and couldn’t stop. It was such a release, the laughter.
I looked at the time and realized I should get moving if I was going to make it to my Saturday morning zoom yoga class. I’ve been missing yoga lately, eating way too much Halloween candy, my nightly teeth-grinding has ramped up. I’ve been wound really tight lately, as many of us have.
I crammed breakfast into my mouth and shut myself in my son’s room and logged in. It was especially hard for my mind to stay in the here-and-now during the class. It was running all over the place, thinking about the future and how Kamala made history and ending this pandemic and the laundry and oh I need to clean and do all the things.
But my body. It’s hard to describe other than a release. I’ve been doing yoga so long that the poses and the flow feel extremely natural in my body. For a long time I haven’t had to think about what comes next, my body just does it. It’s literally muscle memory. And the simple act of moving my body broke all these tiny dams within me that were storing stress. worry. trauma. pain.
The roof of my mouth and my jaw started to ache, from the nightly grinding. My glutes relaxed and let go. My right shoulder gets gummed up frequently and that, too, started aching. My core woke up and felt alive, activated, welcoming the use. My knees and back were popping, crunching with the movements. I’m developing a headache as I type this, still sitting on my yoga mat.
But somehow this all feels…good. Or at least appropriate. I wouldn’t be surprised if tears develop for me later on, another way my body might purge. Reminds me of how people tend to get sick while on vacation, when their bodies are finally allowed to relax.
I’ve seen footage from friends around the country, some of which are marching, dancing in the streets. I’m doing that in spirit right now. I’m right there with you, finally breathing a sigh of relief.
Today, I did something that I am pretty sure I’ve never done.
I listened to Christmas music way early.
I know, I know. Some people do this all the time and some people are chipper and some people can bite me.
It’s not that I don’t like Christmas music – I do! It’s just that I love Halloween more, and I respect doing holidays in order, and I don’t want to make Christmas music feel less special by overplaying it. You know?
At any rate, today I was daring to feel thiiiiiis much more hopeful about the outcome of the election (I kid you not, I’ve literally been breathing more easily today. I’ve felt lighter.) and I started working on Christmas lists for myself and my kids. I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas and, without hesitating, said “a car.” She’s three.
From there, I got “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” stuck in my head and so then I needed to hear it, and after that YouTube took it from there. I was dancing and singing and shaking my butt and it felt so wrong and yet so right.
As an afterthought, I’ve also begun to realize that I’ve been doing things early (for me) and speeding things up in an attempt to try and make time pass faster because, in my mind, if time passes faster, the sooner this pandemic will be over and I can hug my friends and family again.
Usually, I’m the type of person who lingers. I like to savor moments and try to stretch things, wringing out all possible enjoyment. But this year, the day after Halloween was a Sunday and I…just found myself cleaning up the decorations. I never do that. But I had decorated early in the first place, and it was a weekend day so I had the time and I just…felt…done. Like it was time to move on.
Just like now, where I’m so done. We’re heading into winter and dear lord I need some cheer in my life. So if that means extending the Christmas holiday, so be it.
Also, a hippo would either trample you or eat you alive. Zero stars, do not recommend.
Welcome to Day 1 of NaBloPoMo, or as I like to call it, HolyShitIForgotINeedToGoPostSomethingBRB. I really enjoy writing, but give me a deadline and it almost immediately becomes a yucky chore. So I do this month to challenge myself and I do it in 2020 because why the hell not? It’s a healthy outlet that I will add to my pile of leftover Halloween candy and leftover Labor Day booze (that’s a thing right?). Also, I figure that this healthy activity gets me out of things because now I just hole myself up in my room (ok, the bathroom) and yell SORRY, CAN’T! I’M BLOGGING!
Without any further ado.
I am basking in the Halloween afterglow, you guys.
We saved it, and I’m so glad.
Halloween is my very most favorite, but my expectations were appropriately low because hashtag dumpster fire. As you know, I usually make or put together as much of the costumes as possible. I don’t like to buy the premade costumes cuz that feels like cheating.
While my kids are still young and impressionable, I also try to wrangle my living companions into a family group costume and this year was no exception. Because I wanted to do something easy, I convinced my kids that we could all be The Incredibles. Sure, it’s been done, but it would be fun to be a superhero family who runs around putting out dumpster fires! Plus, I figured it couldn’t be too hard to find some red clothes and slap on some black masks.
Well….after some online shopping and price comparison, I realized that buying all the materials to make 4 Incredibles was going to cost about 2-3 times as much as the premade ones. Soooo, I found myself giving in because 2020 has sucked all my energy. I filled my Amazon shopping cart with the costumes we’d need and then I headed to the local Halloween popup store to see what they had. I called my husband from the store sounding frantic because I was second guessing what I was about to do; my husband probably thought I had been in a car accident or something.
Me: Brian! The store doesn’t have all we need! I’ll need to get some on Amazon!
B: Then do that.
Me: But what if they don’t fit!! And this one’s too expensive! Do the kids even want to be The Incredibles anyway?!
B: Just come home. Are you okay?
Me: I’m not okay! Nothing about this is okay! Do we need any more fake blood? Maybe I’ll just use my own.
B: What? Put down the knife and come home. I’m hanging up now.
The takeaway here is that 2020 has also zapped my ability to make any kind of decision.
It’s true that originally my kids wanted us to be characters from Frozen. We haven’t done that Disney movie yet for Halloween, and my kids are still obsessed. I had originally vetoed the idea because there was no way I’d be able to make all those costumes during Covid when I can’t spend hours at Goodwill like I usually would. But. Now I was considering…gulp…buying premade costumes. I was this close to pulling the trigger on the premade Incredibles when the ghost of Covid Halloween came to me and said, hey. hey you. put down the knife and look at me. first of all, there is such a thing as too much blood in a Halloween display. please. let’s keep this classy. second. you’re allowed to buy premade Halloween costumes during Covid. I give you permission. make your kids happy.
And that’s how I was finally able to buy an Olaf costume for my son, an Anna costume for myself, and spruced up an Elsa costume that had been given to us for my daughter. My husband was to be Kristoff, but those costumes were super expensive, and so my mom came to the rescue! She bought a quarter zip black jackety thing, took out the zipper and sewed on the fake fur and burgundy trim. We used the same fabric for his chic burgundy sash. Lastly, my mom fashioned some awesome curly-toed bootie out of felt and fake fur that strapped on over his normal shoes. He added a black beanie and bam! We were set.
As soon as these decisions were made, I felt so much better. Not only were we gonna be what my kids actually wanted to be in the first place, but I realized that I was gonna get to play a Disney princess for the first time in my life!! And not just any princess – one of my favorites!
What was better still was that we were able to plan and enjoy socially distant Halloween fun that made the holiday feel just as fun and festive as any other year. I helped plan and execute a mini parade where families watched from their parked cars, and on Halloween night we did a treasure hunt fully masked with some friends.
One thing that continually brings me hope during Covid is how humans refuse to give up. So many of us are making the most of this situation and we’re finding the most creative ways to still have fun and be as safe as possible.
A dumpster fire, you say? Let’s all sit around it and roast our fucking marshmallows. I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!
With Covid floating around in the air and threatening to jump into our face holes, we’ve had to get really creative about how we have fun, amirite?!
And if you know me or have read this blog for any reasonable length of time, you know that Halloween and creepy shit is the only thing that personally makes the slow, steady descent into winter oblivion worth staying conscious for. Adding Covid into the mix this year requires even more creepy and dark humor.
I started decorating my house – inside and out – for Halloween early this year. Let’s just say I was inspired by the orange smoky death cloud that hung over the greater Portland (Oregon) area for a good chunk of September. We were stuck inside and it looked like The Road outside so I figured celebrating the day the dead returns to the earth was a good call. Maybe they [the dead] could give us some pro tips on how to suffer in style.
I picked up an apocalyptic DVD bundle at the library and took advantage of the extra couch time. I revisited The Road and Hunger Games. I watched 1984 and Clockwork Orange for the first time and now I think I’m all set to hide under my bed and sip my Xanax milkshakes until the Supreme Court decides if it’s okay that Americans can experience safety and joy ever again.
I’m struggling now to remember how it came up, but a few of my mama friends and I text pretty much daily while hiding from our children. We were discussing Halloween and what freaked us out (I think?) when my friend mentioned she had a creepy doll stashed in the back of her closet that gave her the heebie-jeebies. Her mom had picked it up at a garage sale with care, love, and my friend’s daughter in mind, but I’m guessing my friend didn’t want her daughter to get sucked into The Upside-down so into the closet it went. “Isn’t this how most horror movies start?” you ask. And you’d be right.
We (and by we, I mean me) made a few jokes about haha, wouldn’t it be funny to scare some mom-friends by leaving the doll on their porch in a bloody mess and then running away? And then my friends texted back a tentative suuuuuure and changed the subject.
I then started texting only my doll-having friend to see just how willing she was to use the doll in this way. It will be hilarious! I said. It’s the perfect socially-distant creepy fun! I said. LET ME HAVE THIS. I screamed. At long last, she sent me a pic of the doll and I swiped right, my friends. This was happening.
My friend didn’t want to completely fuck up her doll so we compromised and I made a creepy sign with red paint to accompany her. We also wanted to scare the crap out of our victim friend without making a huge bloody mess on her porch, because we enjoy maintaining friendships.
Not to be outdone, the afternoon before we were scheduled to scare our mutual mama-friend, my doll-having friend dropped off the possessed plaything on my porch without telling me and then texted with: knock, knock. For one quick second after I opened my door, she scared the poop out of me.
Touche, my friend. Touche. The messers become the messees!
And so sweet, little Gwenivere (more on this later) came to live at my house for an afternoon. You guys, I had never seen a doll quite as uniquely creepy as she was. Her facial expression was very dead-in-the-eyes meets resting bitchface. When I picked her up, which I don’t recommend, she was surprisingly heavy in an unsettling way. She slumped over when set down. And the worst, by far, was that she fucking smelled. I can’t even describe it, but I’m going to try. It was a scent that used to be sweet, or was trying to be sweet, but missed the mark. It was like super, off-the-charts sweet that had gone sour with age, under a layer of mothballs. And the scent clung to everything it came in contact with. Sadly, I realized this after it was too late.
I set the doll at the bottom of my stairs for the afternoon and she scared my husband and me no less than 10 times. My daughter wanted to keep her. NO! I shouted, SHE’S NOT FOR YOU AND SHE’S LEAVING TONIGHT. Before I grabbed the doll to go scare my friend, my daughter came up and whispered in my ear that she had kissed the doll goodbye. Dear lord, I really wished she hadn’t. She [my little girl] smelled like rancid Koolaid mothballs.
During our magical afternoon together, the name Gwenivere for my little guest just came to me, out of the blue. My husband later informed me that it was the name of the ill-fated van from Onward, which we had watched the previous night, but I prefer to believe otherwise. On a whim, I decided to look up the meaning of the name, just to see if it fit.
Gender: female. Origin: Welsh. Meaning: white ghost, phantom.
My doll-having friend picked me up and we drove the short distance to our other mama-friend’s house. It was dark and windy and raining. In other words, perfect. Gwennie stunk up the car with her evil wrath but man it was worth it. We successfully deposited her and her bloody sign on their doorstep without the dog barking (until we rapped on the door), and then we ran behind a parked car to watch and giggle.
The initial response was underwhelming, but what turned out to be hilarious (from my point of view, anyway) was that my friend’s two daughters instantly loved Gwenivere and wanted to keep her. We were texted a pic of her girls cuddling with the smelly, possessed demon and I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down onto my mask.
Needless to say, the fun won’t stop here. I think Gwennie and her sinister stank needs to be introduced to all of my friends. She has so much more love to give.
Y’all know that Halloween is my fave holiday, right. (Just search the keyword in my blog if you don’t believe me.)
It’s the best, really. It’s that one day when you get to dress up like someone else, even act like someone (or something) else, and you get to parade around and get free candy and you don’t have to buy gifts for people or sit on some fat guy’s lap.
Earlier this year, when I was starting to plan for costumes, I figured my 5 year old might have more of an opinion and that our days of me being able to pick out family costumes were over. I know the year will eventually come, but THIS, my friends, WAS NOT THAT YEAR.
Both my kids were super agreeable to a family-themed costume again this year, and so I gave the kids a choice between The Incredibles and Peter Pan. We had other ideas in the running, but these two were 1) movies the kids had seen, and 2) costumes that were easy enough for me to put together, because mama don’t do pre-packaged costumes if I can help it. The kids chose Peter Pan, and we were all very excited!
Daddy was Captain Hook, and he had a lot of fun putting his costume together. Most of the pieces were from Amazon, a few from Goodwill, the sword from the Halloween store, and some frills dug out of the costume box from previous costumes (the feather for his hat, the sash around his waist, the lace at his wrists). One kid even came up to him and asked if he was Captain Hook. “Yar, you be right!” he replied. The kid then asked, wide-eyed: “…the real one?!” Priceless.
I was Wendy Moira Angela Darling, and my costume was the most boring of the group, but I still had fun. My dress was from Goodwill, and I used ribbon for the trim around my waist and the bow in my hair.
My oldest was Peter, and I had fun making his costume. Like I’ve done in previous years, I ordered the exact shades of green clothing from Primary. His shirt is actually a dress that I cut up. My mom made his felt hat and felt booties that covered his normal shoes, also his fabric belt. His dagger was from the Halloween store, “because I want to sword fight with Daddy!”
My baby girl was Tinker Bell, “I can FWHY!” We already owned her Tink dress for dress-up, so that was a no-brainer. I found her wings at Goodwill (which matched PERFECTLY) for two bucks (!). I got her ballet flats at Target and my mom made the fuzzy white poof balls that I just pinned to the shoes. The finishing touch was figuring out how to form her thin hair into the smallest cutesy bun, and I let her wear some pretty pink blush on her cheeks. I really wanted to add some glitter “fairy dust” to her hair and/or face, but restrained myself. My present self thanks my Halloween self. It would have been super cute though.
…second star to the right and straight on til morning!!!
For the moment, this parenting gig is getting easier.
I can feel it.
When the kids were really little, even littler than now, I used to carry around baseline level anxiety that only quieted down once the kids were in bed for the night. It was this wired feeling, a hypervigilance of always having to dart my eyes around during adult conversation to make sure my kids were still in the room/not hitting anyone/weren’t peeing their pants/still breathing/what have you and I could never fully relax. Not really.
Lately though, I’ve been noticing that I don’t have to be quite so “on” all the time. I can go to the park with both my kids and know they aren’t going to run off. Or, if they do, chances are they’ll come back. If they want snacks they’ll always come back.
A more specific example that marks how my kids and I are changing with the times: we recently went to a pumpkin patch we go to every year. Usually, I have to bring and carry a load of stuff (water, snacks, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, the kitchen sink), I’m chasing the kids around, trying to keep them out of the mud, trying to get some pictures, making sure they don’t get hurt, or lost. But this year…this year was different. It was the chillest time, you guys. I even lost track of my kids from time to time and my oldest actually came to find and and tell me where he was going. My heart melted and my mind exploded. I didn’t even know what to do with myself! My kids were fine! I was fine! I went and got a coffee and a pastry and sat my ass down!
It goes without saying that I’m enjoying this subtle and slow creep into the sweet spot of parenting that’s known as the primary school years. Dear goodness, my kids can be fucking adorable when they have reason to be. And for the life of me, I plan to enjoy the hell outta this phase before it gets to the hell on earth preteen and teen ones.
So bring on all the questions about bugs and spelling and life! Let’s tackle long division! Let’s start watching all the Disney movies and have spirited discussions about racism, sexism, and magic!!
Because y’all, for right now, I’m good. My kids aren’t as whiney as they once were. They’re less needy. They aren’t in mortal peril at all times. And they aren’t yet shooting heroin into their eyeballs. Not yet.
I was worried that it would feel like this, and I found myself bracing for it as our Hawaiian vacation came to an end last week.
In more ways than one (and especially in hindsight), our vacation became this paradise compared to the slog of everyday life here in Oregon.
We had been in gorgeous weather. Delicious warmth, invigorating ocean breeze, and humidity that I actually welcomed. We stepped off the plane in Portland and it was frigid and drizzly. Ugh, welcome home.
On vacation, my husband was right there with me, making decisions and plans, helping to clean up messes and deal with meltdowns. We went to bed at the same time and we got up at the same time and we had quality family time and we had fun. When we got home, we went straight into the Fall routine. By the time I got up in the morning, my husband had already left for work. I was alone to draaaaag the kids out of bed, convince my older one to get dressed, and beg them both to PLEASE EAT BREAKFAST. I was yelling and pleading before we even left the house for school. On top of it all, I was exhausted and frankly mourning the loss of summer and dreading the coming winter months.
Another piece to this is that I terminated therapy this past week. (That’s the clinical term – termination. I don’t like it; it feels extremely violent for just describing a goodbye and an end to treatment.) This was a planned termination, and it was good, albeit bittersweet. I could sense that we were at a stopping point for some time now, as I had started to come to session and just tell stories about my week. Holy cow, somehow over a year in therapy had passed and I had actually accomplished what I had set out to do. My anxiety has been reduced, not eliminated but reduced. The unexpected work became more about accepting that anxiety is normal and not to let its presence completely derail my daily life. I’m proud of the work that I did, and I am happy to have met and worked with my awesome therapist. The bitter part is twofold: now I find myself mourning the relationship and the placeholder that sessions had been for me. They were an oasis of calm in my week, and they provided a guaranteed break from my kids and partner. Second, now that therapy is done, my safety net is gone. My anxiety might (no, will) come flaring back at some point and then what am I supposed to do?! It’s scary and sad.
So. Let’s just say that coming home from a magical vacation and thrust back into a chilly reality has not been fun. I’m trying to keep perspective. I’m trying to look forward to Halloween. (Anyone have any costume ideas for a family of four?!?!)
Please send me comforting Fall vibes. Maybe I just need an effing PSL already.
It’s time for my obligatory Halloween post, you guys.
For those of you who breathe air, you probably already know how much I dig Halloween. If not, please search “Halloween” on my blog and read up about all my old DIY costumes.
This year was special because it was our first All Hallow’s Eve as a family of four! I was brainstorming Halloween costumes even before I was pregnant, because priorities.
You probably know my rules: the costumes have to be specific (like actual characters from a show and not just ‘a pirate’), they have to be relevant (not outdated. And for the record, Star Wars is NEVER outdated), and they have to be mostly DIY, not bought all prepackaged. My partner and I were debating between two costume ideas: Ghostbusters (we’d be the busters, the kids would be ghosts) or Game of Thrones. GB would be much easier to make, but less relevant. GoT was much more relevant, but harder to scrape together. Welllllll, once we saw the season finale of GoT, our minds were made up. Just in case, this is your official SPOILER ALERT if you’re not caught up on Game of Thrones.
Once one of the dragons bit it, I turned to Brian.
“This is it!! There’s only two now! It’s PERFECT!”
Two dragons = two children. Therefore, I am the Mother of Dragons. The Breaker of Chains. Khaleesi. Daenerys Targaryn.
“And you can be Jon Snow now because they’re a thing! But we’ll just overlook the aunt/nephew situation.”
I enlisted the help of my mom to make this dream come true, and Halloween history was made.
Faces blurred to protect the innocent
I found my dress at Goodwill and my friend helped me chop off the sleeves and change the hemline. I bought fabric at the fabric store (!) to match the dress and made a very makeshift cape. The boots and leggings were already mine. The wig was bought online and I actually braided it and styled it myself.
Brian’s wig was bought online. He’s wearing a cheap black shirt with a kid’s plastic shield pinned to the chest bought at the dollar store with two black belts criss-crossed across the whole thing and fastened in the back. He’s wearing a black furry pimp coat from Goodwill for bulk and a black cape over it. Pinned to the black cape is a furry black scarf because Jon Snow loves him some fur (BUT NO ONE UP NORTH EVER WEARS A HAT! WTF?!). He grew a beard for the occasion and finishes off the look with the only black boots he owns, his rain boots. Because #pacificnorthwest.
My mom really came through for the kids’ costumes. First we bought matching green shirts and pants, and then my mom made the felt hats, capes, and socks/claws. I love how the hats and capes are exactly the same, just different color schemes. Dragon sib-lings! And my son’s claws are on oversized green socks that fit right over his shoes. Cutest fire-breathing dragons this side of Westeros!
Now let’s go conquer up some mystical kingdom, shall we?
You all know by now how much I love Halloween, right?
This year was my son’s third Halloween, and my first Halloween being pregnant. What a fun challenge – I got to figure out a family costume that included my growing belly!
It had to be current, relevant, and easy enough to make or put together for cheap.
After floating around a few ideas, we decided on a Star Wars theme. I’d only ever done Queen Amidala in high school and I don’t think Brian had ever donned a costume from a galaxy far, far away, so this was gonna be fun!
We’d talked about doing D as Yoda and Brian as the Luke-who-carries-Yoda-around-Dagobah for last year’s Halloween, but I can’t remember why we passed on that. Since D was just barely walking at that point, it would have been pretty perfect; I would have made a pretty awesome Leia, too. I suppose, looking back, that the lure of the crazy circus election at the time was too good to pass up. Little did I know that dressing as Hillary and dressing my kid up as Trump would be so scarily on point just a short (long?) year later.
Anyway, I digress. This year, I couldn’t be a pregnant Leia. That would be weird. And not when my babydaddy was dressed as Luke. Even weirder.
Soooo…..my baby bump dressed as the Death Star. And there you have it, a pretty cool growing-family Halloween costume was born!
Being a Halloween purist, I put these costumes together (with huge help from my mom) instead of buying them premade.
I drew the Death Star freehand with black sharpies.
My mom made D’s Yoda hat (which he loved!), his robes are just big t-shirts, and the light saber (not pictured) is from the Dollar Store.
All of Luke’s gear is thrift store finds, we just cut off the sleeves and cut strips of fabric for his super stylish gators.
Overall, we had a great Halloween! The weather was great (read: not raining) and D enjoyed trick-or-treating enough that we stayed out for about an hour. It was actually me needing to go home at the end, because this Death Star needed to pee and rest her pregnant feet.
I’m going to need some seriously awesome suggestions for family Halloween costumes, you guys.
Cuz my seriously knocked-up self is going to be pretty huge by then, so I gotta take full advantage of this costume-wearing opportunity.
Yup, you heard me. I’m preggers again and it hardly feels real.
Well, so far it just feels exhausting and I doubt that will change for a very, very long time. I wish I could go back to my pregnant-for-the-first-time-self and tell her how easy she had it. She could rest and nap whenever she wanted. She could eat whenever she wanted. She could watch whatever she wanted on TV, whenever. And she didn’t have a demanding, energetic toddler to waddle after. Ugh, this is hard.
And the scary thing is, I only see it getting harder. How do SAHMs take care of a toddler and a newborn? I don’t see how it’s possible, and I have no idea how I’m going to do it.
I worry about my mental health. It’ll be winter, it’ll be cold and rainy. I’m not going to want to go anywhere, and I’ll feel alone.
I have hope in knowing that this phase will be temporary. That I got through it before, and I’ll get through it again. That I have some good mommy instincts and that I have some great tools and experience under my belt that I didn’t have the first time. That the kids will grow and change and gradually become more independent from me. And at the same time, I don’t want to already be wishing away all the cuddly newborn snuggle time.
So there you have it- exciting and terrifying all intertwined.