Costume Mom Is Bringin’ It- Step Off

About a month ago a note came home about a “major project” in second grade. Students would write a report about a chosen literary character to be delivered in full costume, followed by a parade through the school for parents. The words literary and character set my nerd bells a ringin’ but my kid, not so much. It seems making a costume for a literary character is not what gets a 7 year-old boy’s motor running.

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“Who are you going to be?”

 “I don’t know. Maybe a Skylander.”

“What? No. That’s a video game character.”

“I have a book about them.”

“That doesn’t make them literary characters.”

 Giant pre-tween *sigh* “Ok, I’ll be Captain Underpants.”

While I share his fondness for the Captain, I worried wearing tighty-whities and a cape might have lasting social effects. “So you’re going to school in your underwear?”

“Maybe I’ll be Wimpy Kid?”

“You want to be a stick figure?”

 He relented. “Well, how about Willy Wonka? I love that book.”

Willy Wonka in his rust top hat and purple tails, now that has fabulousness written all over it. “Good call kid. Willy Wonka it is.”

Back in the day, before my current displacement to the land of the Hoosiers, I was a costume designer in professional theatre. (Full Disclosure, I am an East Coast theatre snob. Go big or don’t bother.) I spent many years drawing, stitching and crafting clothing from every time period and otherworldly state imaginable. I worked with some fabulous people (Fabulous is the only term acceptable when discussing those women and gay men in the costume industry- make note of it.) and insulted some of the biggest names in theatre.

Twice. Yes twice, I made comments to the effect of “I thought he was dead?” about Arthur Miller with no idea he was sitting behind me. Both times he replied, “Nope, I’m right here.” My guess is that I wasn’t the first to make that mistake.

I’ve slammed doors into Tom Stoppard before lecturing him about watching where he was going and I’ve attacked David Ives for spilling my coffee because I had no clue he was David Ives and those are just a few of my most embarrassing moments. It was a great career but it was hard work with a lot of long hours. After close to 20 years, I decided to hang up my scissors and walk away.

The problem is you can’t spend 20 years tailoring frock coats and sculpting Comedia del Arte masks and then slap your own kid in an off-the rack number from Target come Halloween. My kids have known since day one that Halloween is an ‘if you can dream it, Mom can achieve it’ scenario. (Though even with the world as his oyster my oldest has still chosen Star Wars characters for four out of the past six years.) And as I learned with this latest assignment, school projects are no different.

He chose the 1970’s Gene Wilder Willy rather than the Johnny Depp mod version. My kid’s a classics guy. I credit that to his prolonged exposure to classic television. (He’s got a solid understanding of Diff’rent Strokes so far. The Jeffersons is next.)

We gathered supplies and Sunday afternoon as we awaited the AFC playoff games, we got to work. (Yes, I worked in theatre and yes I love football. I’m a renaissance gal.)

“Give me your head so I can measure that massive melon.”

“Are you making my hat?”

“Of course.”

“Why do you know how to do this? It’s really weird.”

“Why is it weird?”

“Well, I don’t really think my friends’ moms are whipping up top hats on the kitchen table.”

And with those little words, he set off a level of competitiveness I had no idea I possessed.  Suddenly this costume was the bar by which my motherhood would forever be measured. Screw Broadway, this thing was going to rein over the 2nd grade! Damn straight none of his friends’ moms were whipping up a purple frock coat and orange top hat. No, just me. I AM COSTUME MOM and when my kid walks those hallways, people will drop to their knees in awe of the fact that Gene Wilder has returned from the dead in the form of a 7 year-old Willy, Freakin’ Wonka. I raised my scissors to the heavens, cackled loudly and proclaimed, “COSTUME MOM SHALL RULE THE 2ND GRADE!”

Four hours in, the Turk gently laid a hand to my shoulder, placed a beer before me and whispered, “It’s for 2nd grade. Let it go. The game is starting.”

What the hell was I doing? It’s a second grade project and chances are solid he will rock it just by being the only Willy in a sea of Harry Potters. (Because any sane mother slaps on a black towel cape, draws an eyeliner scar and calls it done.) Maybe the coat doesn’t have to be perfectly tailored and maybe just one row of hat trim will do. Moderation is key, or so they tell me.

The thing is, this has been a rough year for us with all the Nugget’s health issues and this awesome big brother deserves to be the star of the show for once. Until I get Nugget on his next journey and return to work, we can’t afford to give him a lavish birthday or buy the newest video games like his friends.(Because when you’re 7, those are the important things.) But what I can do is make a costume that other moms couldn’t even buy. I’ve got this weird, impractical skill and damn it, I’m going to use it.

Footnotes:

*Arthur Miller really is dead now.

*When Nugget hits 2nd grade, he will be Willy Wonka too. With any luck, five years from now, Mom will be too damn old to be this crazy. Sorry buddy.

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If You Need Me, I’ll Be Inside Until Spring

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I hate cold weather. But every year when I’m peeling my sweaty thighs off a plastic lawn chair in the middle of August while perspiration creates a babbling brook though my cleavage, I wistfully dream of frigid temps certain that this year will be the year I appreciate them. This isn’t the year. I still hate cold weather. I’m didn’t chose the subzero life. The subzero life chose me and we’re not a good match.

Now that I’m becoming geriatric I hate the cold even more. My knees feel like the freakin’ Tin Man’s- all creaking and cracking. Any moment now I’m going to start predicting the weather by my bursitis flare-ups. (Oh my God, did I just say “my bursitis”? I’m officially my grandmother.) My back is all knotted up (Though I think that has more to do with hauling around an already fat toddler now clad in layers of fleece and fluff than with me being old.) and the cold air dries out my skin making my wrinkles more prominent. (Seriously, I look like 15-20 years younger in the summer.)

Sure, there are the lowered fashion expectations due to the necessity of snow boots and bulky sweaters that hide all my mid-section jiggle-o to redeem winter. And let’s not scoff at the fact that winter does demand a heightened caloric intake and increased sleep need for mere survival but after a lifetime of this crap (minus those three winters in Turkey were it never went below 35 but I still froze my ass off because heat was too damn expensive) I’m over ass numbing cold. I’m over El Nino, I’m over La Nina, I’m over global warming. I’m over it all.

I’ve taken a bad turn this winter and we’ve only had a handful of subzero days thus far. Readers, I think I’m turning into an agoraphobic. The condition seems to be developing nicely within me so maybe it’s time to just go with it. It’s worked for Paula Deen and Woody Allen- I know right, two great moral compasses by which to guide one’s life, but moral mishaps aside, they both came out on the other side and made millions.

Maybe true agoraphobia is too much for me because I predict that should we ever reach the great thaw, I will want to do a little biking and maybe buy a few groceries. Perhaps what I’m suffering from is more of a “Subzero Temperature Induced Agoraphobia.” Yes, that’s it. That is exactly what I have. See, when I watch Chuck, my go-to weather guy, point out a cooling trend that is bringing anything below 15 degrees, I go into a panic. I change my entire schedule to make sure I don’t need to go out on those days and if I do, I immediately become anxious and hostile towards that entity forcing me into the cold. (I can’t even tell you what happened with Nugget’s audiologist last week when we had to hit a 9:00 am appointment with a wind-chill of -15. That poor woman had no clue of the crazy walking in that door.)

Lest you think this is not a real condition, I’m here to tell you, It is.

In the past month since temps have begun to drop, I’ve canceled appointments, avoided gatherings, let my cupboards go bare and gone without deodorant for days all to avoid going out of my house in the cold. (Oh don’t roll your eyes at me. Nobody actually needs deodorant when it’s -15 degrees. Armpit sweat freezes before it can stink.) I conned the Turk into running errands and have seriously considered homeschooling my oldest to avoid that dreaded morning school drop-off.

In the past, I’ve had to survive the cold because I had to go to work but thanks to my current, caring-for-the-Nugget phase, that’s not an issue. Back in the day I would just slap on some long johns, pull my socks up to my undies and power though like the rest of humanity. Not now. My current life situation is fully supporting my case of Subzero Temperature Induced Agoraphobia.

I work from home so no need to go to work. Nugget’s team of Early Interventionists come right to our home for therapy. I don’t need to take the kids to the library because I can just download library books to my Kindle and videos from Netflix. (Thank you technology.) Target.com has me covered on diapers and Amazon can deliver anything else in about the same amount of time it would take to get the kids dressed and into the car. As for the going to the gym, oh hell, who am I kidding. Even if it’s 65 and sunny I’m not going to the gym. If I could get Trader Joe’s to deliver my $2 wine and some beet hummus, all bets would be off. (Don’t judge my addiction, that beet hummus is otherworldly. Oh, you were judging the wine. Well it’s medicinal.)

As I glance at my calendar I see I have one more obligation in January and about two in February. I’ll do my best to postpone those until April but if not, I guess I’ll find a way. Can they do dental visits via Skype?

Until March, if you need me, you know where to find me. I’ll be the one in her Star Wars jammies and foot warmers, peering out from behind the curtains with a steaming mug in hand waiting, just waiting for that thermometer to creep up to 50 degrees.

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My Pretend Lotto Win Turned Me Into A Koch Brother

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With all the Powerball hoopla happening it’s hard not to get sucked in. Let me rephrase that. It’s hard for me not to get sucked in. My husband, the Turk, is having no problem avoiding the excitement.

“Why everyone throwing money away like this. You know odds of actually winning?” He snarled.

“No. I don’t do math so I don’t know the odds but I know they suck. It’s just fun.”

“You think people give money to government is fun? I do not give my taxes for fun.” (He’s been an American for two years and he’s already a budding hostile Libertarian.)

“That’s not what I mean. I mean it’s just fun to dream about winning, you know, your life changing in seconds like that.”

“Well I think it is stupid. People act like sheep. Same here. Same in Turkey.”

And because I’m a well-educated woman who’s made a career of crafting witty retorts using nuances of the English language, I replied with, “Shut up. You suck.”

Though my husband made it clear he wouldn’t be condoning any Powerball purchases, I was quite certain he’d be willing to spend my dough if *nay* when, I won. (I once read a book about how visualizing what you want makes it happen. I don’t think that applied to the Hoosier Lottery but it couldn’t hurt right?) Being the responsible mother I am, after a day of grocery gathering, I snuck off to the nearest gas station with my offspring in tow to buy the winning ticket. (Don’t judge me, it was an economics lesson for the kids.)

After waiting in line, explaining the process to my inquisitive 7 year-old and then debating our chances given the numbers we’d drawn, we began to spend our millions.

The Nugget just wanted to buy cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. I’m not sure if that was his immediate need or if he had plans of building a lotto-winner size grotto of snickerdoodles. He’s 2. Either is possible.

Number One Son was more interested in a mansion with separate rooms for video games and Legos. He also wanted cookies but he was hoping we could take care of that without a lotto win.

As for me, my plan was simple. After I paid off all the debts of myself and those family members I actually like, bought an island, changed my name to Cher, build homes for my BFFs on our compound and started college funds (Because let’s be honest, by the time Nugget gets to college it will take a lotto win to pay for it.) I would use my money do to the things I’ve long dreamed of doing but it became evident I’ve got a few political axes to grind.

Upon receipt of my lotto winnings, my first order of business is to buy off and take down the Donald J. Trump campaign. (Donald J. Turdface as my brilliant son has appropriately renamed him.)

Next, I will bankroll a lobby to pass legislation forcing insurance companies to cover children’s hearing aids. (Most aids aren’t currently covered, as they’re considered elective. Yes, you read that right- hearing is elective. As the insurance woman told us, “You guys are lucky. We cover his since his is considered a prosthetic for the missing ear.” Um yeah, lucky was the first thought that came to mind when my kid was born with one ear.)

Once I get my footing with manipulating the government on that one, I’m moving on to women’s health and education lobbies. It’s time to put the artsy, not just the fartsy, back in schools.

Next, I will throw my millions towards attacking the NRA. Their false propaganda has worked well for them so as one of the richest women in the world, I’ll turn the tables. (I’m coming for you LaPierre.)

And to round things out, I will throw my remaining cash at the following services to better our nation-

Making sure Sara Palin is never allowed to enter politics or punditry again. (That woman drives me insane. I’ll be forever grateful I did not live in America when she was a VP candidate. Hearing her ridiculous ramblings translated into Turkish was bad enough.)

Banning the Kardashians from any and all “news” programs. (Why won’t these people go away?)

And buying out Fox News and burning the entity as a first step towards bringing honesty back to news.

While I prattled on and on to my now bored stiff children about what mommy was going to do with her millions, I realized, I’d just become one of the Koch brothers – using my money to manipulate a democracy to get whatever I wanted, not what was best for the people. (Though you all know that what I want is what’s right for the people…right?) Being imaginary rich made me a vindictive asshat. I wasn’t expecting that. That sucks.

I guess it was a relief to wake up Saturday morning, still poor but with my soul in tact. I guess I’m not cut out for wealth as I’ve got abuse of power written all over me. Self awareness blows.

But now the pot is up to over a billion and my shot at winning is about the one in a billion as well so after school-pick up I’ll sneak off and we’ll do it all again. However, this time I think I’ll stop my imaginary spending after I change my name to Cher and let the rest play out after I cash the giant check

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I’d Like To Call a Do-Over

January

New Year, new you right? Well we’re now six days into the new year and it seems the new me is just as snarky, wrinkled and cellulite riddled as the old one. So much for New Year’s miracles.

I don’t do resolutions anymore because I not a big fan of self-inflicted failure. I’m sure somewhere there is scientific evidence to prove that 99.9% of all New Year’s resolutions end in disappointment. Why become a statistic, I say. Instead of resolutions, I just call a do-over. You know, like in elementary school when you were playing kickball but missed the ball and called for a do-over so you could try again. What, that never happened to you? Whatever Pele. (Full disclosure: as an un-athletic chubby kid, without the do-over, I’d have been nothing.) At Jefferson Elementary in 1979, a do-over was a totally legit way to own your screw-up and try again with no condemnation. If it was good enough for the 3rd grade kickball field, it’s good enough for adulthood.

Last year, my do-overs were amazing. I started 2015 with a bang. I kicked that diet soda monkey off my back and for like one whole week I became one of those smug broads that say, “Oh I don’t eat refined sugars.” Ok, so the sugar thing was a bust but I did well with others. I drank water like a camel about to hit the Silk Road and logged enough daily steps to make Jack LaLanne proud. In the evenings I read from actual books instead of cringing at stupid Facebook posts or creepin’ around Pinterest like a fat girl looking for a cake recipe and my positive outlook was actually positive. Nothing could stop me, except February.

By week five of 2015, being Positive Polly and swallowing my smart assed brilliance was giving me heartburn, but I was doing pretty well on everything else. By March I was tired of books and really needed the kind of smut that only Facebook can provide. By April I’d decided I’d been clean long enough and would be safe checking in on Pinterest for new springtime meal ideas. Not so. I was sucked back in like a junkie in a back alley. By May the Coke Zero monkey climbed on for a piggyback ride again and by June when the Nugget’s Pandora’s box of health-problem- sprang open, I just said – screw it all and let the peanut clusters flow with wild abandon.

The second half of 2015 all bets were off as it was a blur of doctors, audiologists, therapists, hospitals, good news, bad news, and lots and lots of wait and sees (And if you’ve ever had a kid with issues, wait and sees suck the most.) But now as we embark on 2016, his kidney is working as expected, though it’s one of the wait and sees. He’s adjusting well to his hearing aid and while our biggest wait and see is in the speech arena, his ASL skills are hard core amazing so I finally feel like maybe, just maybe I can call a do-over and do some things for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up booze or signing up for Zumba or any nonsense like that. With age comes wisdom and I’ll be 44 years wise in 2016 so I no longer have to wow anyone with my firm buns. (Sorry Turk, but there is just as much love in these flabby buns.) I’m also wise enough to know that my evening Merlot is the only thing that stands between me and a possible rap sheet. (Humanity is stupid and coping is hard. Red Starbucks cups, Donald Trump, need I continue?)

No, the universe gave me a hard-core schoolin’ on the subjects of priorities and expectations in 2015 so as for my 2016 do-overs, I’m keepin’ ’em real.

This time around I’m not kicking sugar, just cutting back. I spent three days sans sugar and by day three my family began dangling peanut clusters and Tootsie Pops over my head in the hopes I’d bite and end their misery. I might have a problem, but we’ll start small.

I’ll still keep trying to hit my Jack LaLanne level step counts but I’m think it’s time to add some upper body work too. Last night when I was waving at the Nugget upstairs my upper arms continued to wave until he made it all the way down the stairs at toddler speed. I haven’t been sleeveless since 2006 and clearly things have taken a bad turn in those years. Ain’t nobody wanna see that.

If all goes well in the above do-overs I’ll meet my ‘drop a few pounds’ do-over. I’m not a fool that saddles myself with weight loss goals in numbers. No, I just want to put a little more distance between me and a me that might need to ride a scooter to grocery shop.

With a few new career plans, a goal to work harder to reach ASL fluency to keep up with the Nugget, oh and that 5K for deaf and hard of hearing kids that I committed to running in April, that’s it for my 2016 do-overs. (Stay tuned for updates on the 5K. Though I was once a runner, that was 30 pounds, a geriatric childbirth and one knee surgery ago so I predict this will end with a tear-fueled crawl across the finish line but at least it will be a dramatically memorable event.)

So you see, as we cruise into 2016 I’m resolving nothing. I’m committing to nothing. I’m just going to try again. Sometimes, you need to do that when balls are coming at you faster than you can handle. Why beat yourself up? Just call a do-over and try again.