Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monster High Party

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I've given our dear sweet AK plenty of ammunition to throw at me in future therapy sessions.  Her birthday always falls right around the first week of school and I have great intentions of throwing her a party right off the bat, but then I enter into my post "Ultimate Super Mega Summer" funk.   Her August Birthday Party has been pushed back into October, twice.  But this year.... I did it!  I actually had her party in the same month as her birthday!! 

This year she wanted a Monster High Birthday Party... think Goth meets Barbie. I let the kids help decorate and this is what they came up with. 
It made me laugh, but I love it and kept it up.  I can just imagine those crafty folks that came here from Pinterest are probably wondering what kind of person tapes dolls to the walls and calls it decor. 

We dressed up like Monster High characters and the best part is AK has the perfect closet to shop in for a Monster High outfit.  AK is Draculaura.
And I'm dressed as Clawdeen Wolf.  My favorite was the following conversation Mr. Man overheard by some dad's dropping off. 
Dad 1:  Oh, is this a costume party? Were the girls supposed to dress up?
Dad 2:  No, I'm pretty sure this is just normal for this family.  Everyday is a costume party for them.
The girls decorated masks  while the guests arrived. 
We had a photo booth for AK to take pictures with her friends.  
AK has such a great group of friends, I hope they are going to be friends forever. 
AK also has the worlds best big brother, who dressed in drag for the party.
I made cupcakes, which is always nervewracking, because I have made x-rated cake wrecks before.
Mr. Man was proud of me and proclaimed, "You DID it!  These are tasty! Good Job!"  He has the job of running to the bakery at the last minute in case I fail, unfortunately it's a job he has gotten very good at over the years.  
After a "Pin the ribbon on the Monster High Girl" game, gifts, and cake, we went swimming.  Hooray for the Chalet Pool!   I was pretty proud of the party favors.  I made the Monster High Notebooks by simply printing a sticker onto a regular composition book. 
I'm going to chalk this party up as success.  Phew... I wonder if it makes up for the belated parties of the past.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Mom's Christmas Gift

When I was in high school, my mom and her friend bought these books that were supposed to be filled out by mothers to pass on to their daughters..  My mom loved Donna Green's artwork and her friend thought it would be a fun project.  My mom said they were like school girls comparing answers and giggling because some of the questions were a little over the top.   My mom wasn't necessarily known for her lavish meals or holiday meals.  There were a lot of questions about holiday meals and places to write in family recipes, to which my mom wrote with, "Dress up fancy and go out.
I stumbled upon this book during my "mom closet clean out" and on Thanksgiving night while I was outside doing puppy duty I started to read it.  I've read this book before and my mom's humor comes through in so many of her answers. Such as, "I'm famous for this recipe....  Mom's Cookies:  Buy a tube of Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough, eat half raw, bake other half.... give to neighbors, say it's a secret family recipe."

I sat in my backyard wrapped in a blanket, under the stars, and read while the tears flowed. I still miss my mom.  Earlier that morning I had stared at a mother and college age daughter in the grocery store to the point of embarrassment.  They were picking up last minute Thanksgiving items and buying things the daughter had missed while she was away at school.  I just watched them, envious of their chance to spend the holiday together.

The Christmas season was about to begin and I just wanted to cancel Christmas. My mom loved the Christmas Season and I couldn't fathom celebrating Christmas without my parents. It would be the first time  neither of my parents would be with me on Christmas. I felt terribly sorry for myself and I wanted to just ignore it the whole thing, instead of dealing with my feelings of grief.  

I looked at the upcoming holidays and saw it as a lot of chores.  Shopping, decorating, cooking, wrapping gifts, cleaning, all of them were activities I mostly enjoyed, but I couldn't get excited about it.  I would do all that work... for what?  It was a bad case of the "Bah Humbugs".  I knew I wanted to avoid it, because I would have the urge to call my mom and say, "We just *insert holiday activity*, it was amazing.  You should have seen ...."

Then I read this passage in my mom's own handwriting: 
"I would hope, Wendy, that you and your children will always be excited about Christmas preparation.  Never think of it as pure drudgery."

Those were the words I needed to hear. There is joy in all tasks, big and small during the holidays.  Some of my favorite memories of years prior has been wrapping presents with the kids help and delivering gifts.   This holiday season, I loved having them help decorate the tree and the living room.   They taped their school artwork to the wall and hung their paper plate wreaths on the front door with pride. They decorated the tree with me, clumping similar ornaments together. As for me, I savored it all.

I found joy throughout the entire season in all the tasks and felt like in some way my mom was with me during this holiday season.  I celebrated as she would have, and we even dressed up fancy one night to go out to dinner in my mom's honor. I felt my mom's love all around me this year and when Christmas was over, I packed up the tree with sadness.  I cried, because I was sad Christmas was over.   It had been such a wonderful time of year and my whole attitude had changed because of my mom's note.

The decorations are long gone but my mother's love still remains all around me and for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Baby, You are the Bee's Knees!

Every year Mr. Man's company throws a fancy party during the holidays, except for this year, they decided to push it out into January.   A week before the party I was perusing my party clothes when Mr. Man said, "Oh, did I mention it's a 20's theme? I'm supposed to go as a mobster and you are supposed to be a flipper."   First off, it's a flapper and why are you telling me a week before!  That's not enough time!

Turns out, you could dress as anything from the 1920's, a mobster was a suggestion and pretty much all the men dressed like Bugsy.
 I found this pic and knew that was the inspiration for Mr. Man. I cannot believe what a good sport he was.  He wore a pair of knickers!  That is a real man, right there.  The mustache was left over from his annual "vacation from shaving" and it worked perfectly.   I made knickers out of a pair of his old dress pants.   The vest was thrifted, the bow tie is new, the hat was borrowed, and his watch was blue.
I was surprised to find several great dresses at the thrift store.   I have a little bit of a phobia of trying on dresses at the thrift store, so I bought them all for a total of $24 dollars and washed them.  One fell apart, one didn't fit, and the other two were a toss up.   One looked way better on me, but the other was more authentic... what to do... what to do.  Oh! Except I'm vain and so I went with the one that looked better on me.  I bought Opera Length gloves that I think might become an everday staple.  They make even a trip to the grocery store feel very glam.  The jewelry is all from over town but the bracelet is something special.
The bracelet is from the 1920's and belonged to my great grandmother who lived in Hollywood from 1920 until she passed away.  I think of her a lot as I drive around LA.  She was a spunky and independent lady, way ahead of her time.  My favorite story is the day she got lost going to the Garment District and ended up in the Jewelry District Downtown.  She decided, "Well, close enough!" and bought herself a beautiful diamond ring instead of a dress. For a woman in the 1930's to buy such an expensive purchase without her husband is pretty awesome. I know I get a lot of my independent spirit from Great Grandma Bell.   

When we arrived at the club, I was overjoyed at the reaction to Mr. Man's outfit.  Everyone loved seeing Mr. Man dressed to the "nines" and he was declared the winner of the unofficial costume contest by the head honcho.  I love watching "work Mr. Man", he is different than "at home in my pajamas Mr. Man."  Mr. Man is loved by his colleagues, very chatty, and witty.  By the time Mr. Man gets home after a day of work, he has used up all his words and just mimes to us.  

 His company has changed a lot over the last few years, and this year I knew only two people at the entire party.  I felt a little bit like a fish out of water.   I hadn't prepped like I usually do with witty anecdotes and stories, which meant I spent a lot of time smiling and nodding.   When Mr. Man wasn't talking business about things like "PCP QPDOLL SAP Conversions"  we were living it up sans kids.  I always love visiting the photo booth and really want one for my living room.*wink wink* My birthday is coming up!
People are still talking about last years photo and speculating what took place during our session.  I think it is my favorite photo booth picture ever.
Getting ready for this party reminded me, just how much I love getting dressed up and going out.  Mr. Man is such a good sport and willing to go along with any idea.  I love that in a room full of mobsters he stood out as The Cats Pajamas and I proudly pointed him out to the ladies,  "Oh yes, the man sporting those fine knickers, he really is the Bee's Knees! And hands off ladies, he is all mine."  

*Thanks to Google for helping me brush up on 1920's fashion and slang before the big night out, seriously Internet... I love you.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Who rescued who...

Remember when we adopted our sweet puppy Ziggy Boo?  I have a confession, her name isn't Ziggy.  It was Ziggy for about four days but it just never caught on.  Everyone was calling the dog different names and it was getting confusing.  We called a family meeting and went through lots of options.   We wanted a Z sounding name because we liked having Sandy and Skoopi (S names) and now we wanted this pair of dogs to be matching. Lame?  Totally, but that is how we do things in our house.

So Ziggy Boo became...   Xena Warrior Princess (except we spell it officially Zeena Warrior Princess).  AK picked it out, it is ridiculous, and so perfect.  This dog is one tough chick and we love her mighty fiesty spirit.  When Zeena plays with Zoey, she snaps her jaws with ferocious-ness.  
When she is not snapping her jaws and roughhousing she is a mellow sweetie pie.  Zoey and  Zeena are so unlike Sandy and Skoopix.  Sandy and Skoopix were always in the middle of everything, jumping on everybody, sniffing inappropriately.  Zoey and Zeena like to find quiet places to rest and rejuevenate.  Zoey is completely antisocial when people come over and hides, while Zeena likes to climb into my lap and observe from my arms.  They aren't like any other labs I've known, they love "their people" but don't really want to get to know anyone else.  Sandy and Skoopi would force friendships on anyone who walks through the gates at the Chalet.
Zeena does this prancing-dancing-walk when she greets you and it melts my heart.  I can't resist but drop everything to scoop her up.    Having a black dog is a new experience for me.  Black dogs are really hard to photograph,  I never feel like I do her justice in photos.  She is gorgeous and her ears are full of expression. 
I often think about how lucky Zeena is to live here, from the streets as a stray to living in the hills, hiking everyday...  but I always come to the same conclusion. 
We are the lucky ones to have her in our lives. 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Chalet Life: My fortress of solitude

Mr. Man works very hard and is lucky enough to be able to take large chunks of time off during the holidays.  It's a luxury that I am grateful for and do not take for granted.   I really cherish our family time and Mr. Man is the original homebody in our family.   He would prefer to stay in pajamas his entire day and hang out around the house.   While we hosted a lot during the holidays and had extra guests there was something magical about these two plus weeks with my family. 
We hiked almost everyday in the hills behind our house and played board games almost every night.  We had a rousing game of Monopoly or two and played with our kids with gusto.   
We had our annual Polar Bear Swim, built Legos, did craft projects together, and played with our toys.
My computer remained off for days at a time, my phone was set on silent mode and put on my desk.  I checked it twice a day and turned down outings and projects.  We spent lazy mornings reading in beds, snuggling puppies, and had brunch daily made together by Mr. Boy and Moi.  
We left only for outings with extended family and I made a few midnight runs to the grocery store for necessities.  For two weeks we shut out much of the world and focused on our family.   My home is my nirvana, it's peaceful, and we are happy here.  There was nothing remarkable about our winter vacation other than the unremarkable peace I felt being home with my family.  There were no complaints of being bored nor were there antsy feeling that I needed to get out and socialize.  It's a big change from the constant drive I felt four years ago when I just needed to be constantly on the go and constantly out.  
I need to be more verbal, and let Mr. Man, my kids, and God know, I am happy.  I am at peace.   And most of all I am grateful for my life here at the Chalet.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Welcoming a New Year

2012 - The year has been good to us, I welcomed 2012 with enthusiasm and was grateful for the fortune of good health and happiness granted my family. 
I am happy to welcome another year and have decided to continue on with my YES project for 2013. We headed over to Uncle Mikes for the annual family New Year's Eve party to ring in the New Year.
The floats line up by Uncle Mikes house and we get a sneak preview of the Rose Parade the night before. I can't help but think of mom everytime we do this. She grew up in a small town in Iowa and watched the Rose Parade on a black and white TV with icicles hanging outside the window. She loved the Rose Parade and we watched it every New Year's Day as a family. I know she would be envious, yet my children are oblivious to how special this experience is.
The floats were great this year and the the theme was Dr. Seuss's Oh The Places You'll Go.  At the end of the parade of floats there is always a port a potty. We always cheer him on... And the best was when the port a potty parade man called out, "Oh... The places you'll go". That gave us a good chuckle for the rest of the day."

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Christmas at the Chalet

Christmas Eve is my absolute favorite day of the year.  I love the anticipation, the excitement, and the festive atmosphere.  I love hosting Christmas Eve and having the house full of people.  Mr. Man has a large extended family and I love them all.   There are cousins and mini cousins (kids of the 1st Cousins = mini-cousins) galore.  I'm not going to lie, Uncle Mike and Aunt Deb are my favorite, they are the most genuine people you will ever meet.  Remember, Aunt Deb made all those Christmas Outfits last year, which is my favorite gift.  This year, Uncle Mike showed up as an elf, complete with a crocheted beard!    
I attempted to make the "World's Best Turkey" again, and made quite a mess in the process.  It was worth it, the food was amazing and a team effort.
Mr. Uncle was back with us after spending some time overseas, and we were glad to have here at the Chalet. The kitchen was full of food and family, babies were being passed around, laughter abounded, and I just felt so lucky.  
Uncle Mike put on a magic show that entertained people of all ages.
We went caroling just like last year to the neighbors.  I think we look better than we sound, but the neighbors love it.   I think it would be so awesome if we recorded a Christmas Album, because it would be terrible and everyone would think we were seriously trying to sing well. It would make me laugh heartily.   

The stockings were hung, cookies were decorated, and prepped for Santa who was being tracked by Norad.
We took our traditional picture in front of the tree in our Christmas Jammies. 
 It always turns into a wrestling match with the kids because they are beyond hyper.  I love these wrestling pics the most more than the posed picture.  
I took a few minutes late on Christmas Eve to sit by the tree with a warm sleeping puppy on my lap and thanked God for the things in my life. The previous year I was grieving, anxious to put the year behind me, and hopeful for a better 2012.  This year has been good and I am overwhelmed with gratitude and feel so very lucky.
The next morning the kids were anxious to see if Santa had come. 
The kids ran in the room to see a plethora of gifts.  My favorite is Mr. Boy is on the ground hugging his "Halo" Action Figures, while sweet AK still tries to process that Santa had indeed brought her the horse she wanted.  
There were an abundance of gifts to open.

My very favorite was watching my kids with this gift.  Mr. Boy had decided to spend some of his hard earned money on a "really nice" gift for AK. He spent a good hour browsing and ordered this for AK himself.  He even wrapped it and was giddy with excitement the whole week leading up to Christmas.  
He knows her well, it was the perfect gift for her.   She loves it so much and Mr. Boy learned that it is better to give than to receive. 
.   Although, Zoey and the puppy wishes AK had recieved something else.  They don't really like AK's new dog that much
Mr. Man surprised the family with new matching outfits just in case we decided to become bank robbers.
In years past Mr. Man and I try to tone down the gifts and be reasonable. It never works, so this year we went all out. Hobbit Legos were the theme for Mr. Boy this year.  
AK got what appears of to be one of everything the toy store had. 
We played and lounged the rest of the day and when it came time for dinner, we dressed in our best new outfits to go over to Aunt Deb's for dinner.
I know what you are thinking!  Is that a turtleneck or a tank top?  And where can I get one?  This was another surprise gift from Mr. Man and they are indeed one of a kind.  I think Mr. Uncle wears it best.  Mr. Uncle is currently single, but with an outfit like that.... I don't think that will last for long!

I think this will go down in the record books as one of the best Christmas's ever,  filled with lots of laughter, and good times.