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The Little Gray Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

29 October 2012
I really like homemade costumes. I think storebought ones are fine, but homemade have character. Also, it's my excuse to buy each of us a new warm sweatshirt/sweatpants combo for the upcoming frigidly cold winter of death.

But, I also like planning costumes around the 3 of us. 3 is an odd number - you can find great costumes for couples, and great costumes for families of 4, but it's hard to get a good three-some costume (that does not sound good but that's the word I am using.) Even most popular movies have 4 main characters (or have characters that won't work with 2 boys and a girl.)

Sparrow has no idea how Halloween works, so I limited him to a few costume options. We could go as 101 Dalmations, since he's really into that movie. Or we could go as England, Scotland and Wales and be the United Kingdom (Hawk really liked that idea.) Or we could be characters from The Little Gray Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the BIG HUNGRY BEAR, which is a children's book by Dan Wood, first published in 1984. (Two years before my birth, thank-you-very-much.) I have fond memories of my grandma reading me that book over and over again, and I bought it for Sparrow in board book form when he was barely 6 months old. It's the only board book to survive his infancy.

Without further adieu, I give you:

The BIG HUNGRY BEAR:

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The Red Ripe Strawberry:

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And the Little Gray Mouse:

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I did our costumes all by myself and I am so proud of how they turned out. Hawk's was easy - Walmart had everything including the bear hat, and I had a brown t-shirt that had holes in it which I used to make his tail. My costume is red sweatpants and a red hoodie, and I used a black fabric marker to make "seeds" all over it (it may or may not wash out, but I don't really care because our sweats are pajamas.) I made the "stem" out of 2 sheets of green felt and a toilet paper roll safety pinned to the hoodie. It's a little long for a "stem" and it feels weird but oh well.

And of course for Sparrow's, I used 2 sheets of gray and pink felt and sewed the ears onto a jacket hoodie obtained at Walmart for $3 (and another $3 for the matching pants.) I could NOT get the ears to stand up on their own, even after reinforcing the ears with 3 more layers of felt. I finally had to sew them in a curve a couple of times. I have no idea what the term is for that and by the time I did it I was totally guessing and praying it would work, but it did. The ears stand up really well on their own (but only when the hoodie is on his head.) For the tail I used a fat quarter of pink fabric, rolled it up, and sewed it flat and safety pinned it to his behind.

And, let me tell you a little trick. We don't buy face paint or costume makeup because I am cheap. I DO sometimes have acrylic paint lying around for random crafts. So I mixed some acrylic black paint with Dawn dishsoap and painted it on Sparrow's face. It makes it SUPER SUPER easy to wash off and it doesn't stain clothing or skin or anything. So if you need face paint but don't want to buy it, try my dishsoap trick. People have probably been doing it for years, but I just barely figured it out.

I don't like a lot about the way Halloween is celebrated, but I do love the chance to let Sparrow play dress up and not get weird looks when we leave the house. Sparrow is super into imagination play and dress up JUST BARELY so this is a new and exciting stage for us. I think I am going to buy him primarily dress up costumes (after Halloween clearance!) for Christmas, because he just enjoys them so much.

His favorite part of being a mouse? Bamboo the cat likes to chase Sparrow's mouse tail. So the cat is chasing the mouse. It's the circle of life.

IMG_0807 Why yes, I did hand-carve that pumpkin. I'm rocking the crafty-ness this Halloween!

Sesame Street Aliens costume

27 October 2012
Way back in 2006, when I was young (19!) and engaged but not married and had a great group of friends, my roommate (now known as one of my closest friends, Dove, whose daughter is going to marry Sparrow in 20ish years) made us these amazing costumes.

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Yes, she made them by hand. They were FANTASTIC. We were the "yup yup" aliens from Sesame Street and we were epic. The looks of awe we got, I tell you. It was the best costume EVER.

The only problem is, the fabric we used to make the aliens shed. A LOT. By the end of the night, we were blind from fur fuzz in our eyes. The pain was worth it though.

Temples 003 Ah, the brave Kris: cruelly slain by fabric fuzz.

The mouths are made of black mesh which we could see out of, but people couldn't see through. Then the mouth itself has a wire coat hanger strung through it so we could move the mouths and say "yup yup you, yup yup me, yup yup baby yup yup family!" I wish I knew what happened to the costumes but I suspect they were disposed of since the fur was so ... furry.

Temples 009(1)SuperHawk trying to kiss his Fiancee (me!) through the alien face. Did not work.

Thanks Dove. You always make the best Halloween costumes, but 2006 was the best Halloween ever thanks to you.

The Casual Vacancy: A Casual Review

18 October 2012
The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well. That was painful.

I expected more of arguably the most famous female author of all time. I wasn't looking for Harry Potter: The Grown Up Years, or anything even remotely close. I went in, suspending my expectations as well as can be reasonably expected.


And then I fell 35,000 feet back to earth.


What was Rowling THINKING?! First, too many characters, which, as they are all "real life" characters, they're all pretty much exactly the same. I still can't tell the difference between Shirley and Samantha, and I got Terri confused 90% of the time because her only descriptions are "that elderly woman" and "her claw-like hand." There were many claw-like hands in this novel, by the way.

On the one (claw like) hand, I was drawn into the people's stories, but then there is no resolution here. Nobody figures out that they're being a turd face. No marriages are fixed, no divorces applied for. Some kids die and people are sad, but most are indifferent. The end.

The only character I cared for was Sukhvinder, and the only reason for that is that she is a cutter (I am a former cutter.) I can say JK Rowling got one thing absolutely right - she's the first person who has ever written about cutting that wasn't making stuff up as she went along. She did a great job there, and actually I was about to quit reading when I happened upon the cutting scene which is what made me keep going and finish the book.

The language is beyond bad. I have been more educated by this book than I was in 4 years of high school. Crap.

I guess if there had been any sort of resolution or conclusion at all, this maybe, possibly almost would have been worth reading. But there was nothing redeeming about it. It was just sad, depressing, and pointless.

I give it two stars - 1 star for the descriptive writing of England because JK is a master at that. And 2 for the cutting scenes because they were well done. Other than that, run away. This book sucks. I am infinitely let down by Ms. Rowling now. I hope she if she's decided to not write YA books, she'll just quit writing period. She's not awesome enough for adult novels, and besides, stick to what you know and do really, really well!

View all my reviews

Random thoughts of a Sunday

14 October 2012
I still regret not serving a mission, but I am slowly "getting over it." I understand why the church changed the ages for missionaries but it still hurts. I am focusing on the fact that perhaps my greatest mission will be motherhood. Perhaps someday I will be able to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Maybe my biggest missionary "conversion" will be my own self. I would have liked the experience of serving, but I chose to get married instead, and I don't regret that for an instant. Hawk is so supportive and has been wonderful as I moped about this week. I love him immensely and am grateful to have him in my life.

I was going to get my ecclesiastical endorsement from my stake president today (a form that says I behave myself so I can attend BYU without causing them troubles.) But I guess the amount of new missionaries has messed up BYU's enrollment plans for next semester, because I went to print the form off and applications are not being accepted "until further notice." Bummer.

Sparrow had a screening for early intervention preschool through our school district on Friday. It was eye-opening. On the one hand, he is SO smart. He knew things I didn't even know he knew. I certainly didn't teach him. He did great at spatial reasoning (I suck at that), repeating ideas from a story, pointing out bigger/littler/which is faster, etc. He could repeat sentences (of course he could - we spent 3.5 years trying to get him to STOP repeating word for word what we said to him!), he impressed the teacher with his counting skills (he can count to 101 and can recognize pretty much any number - today he pointed out number 174 and I almost fainted.)

At the same time, it was saddening to see what he could not do. He could not focus, sit still, or follow instructions the first time. It's hard to tell whether he couldn't really follow directions or if he was being manipulative and not doing what he was supposed to just because he didn't want to. I think it was probably a little of both - he knows good and well what he should do, but he decides he doesn't want to and doesn't cooperate. That was hard to see. I sat quietly and didn't look at him during the process because I didn't want to interfere. That was the hardest.

So, we have an IEP set-up meeting on October 25. Hopefully we can go about getting him the help he needs.

There are many things I regret about my early 20s. I sometimes wonder if I will be allowed, after I die, to look at that time and see what would have happened if I made different choices. I doubt it, because these are the choices I have made. Still, it would be cool.

My 26th birthday is coming up next month (on Election Day. Those presidential candidates are totally going to ruin my day.) I am working on setting some small goals for both my 26th year and for before I turn 30. Lately I have felt stagnant and useless. I think having stuff to work toward would help. As a child, I never pictured myself in my late 20s or 30s or older. I thought I'd die or disappear before I turned 21. So being "this old" is hard for me. I'm going to start working on goals so that I have things to look forward to. And so I can set a good example for Sparrow.

Some of my goals include: start learning violin, get to a healthy weight healthily (with Hawk's help), start school or take an independent study course, and before I turn 30, buy a house. Also, survive Sparrow. That's probably my biggest goal right there.

My Review of Trichomania

13 October 2012

Originally submitted at LUSH USA

Delightfully coconutty, this is the shampoo for those of you with dry, over-processed and flyaway hair that need help putting it back in its place. Not only does the creamed coconut smell delicious, it moisturizes your hair and weighs it down just enough so that it's not frizzing all over. Use ...


Great for autistic kids

By Kris the Mommy from Draper, UT on 10/12/2012

 

4out of 5

When you survey your stash, you label this product: Life-Saver

Hair Type: Very Curly Hair

Pros: Adds Shine, Gentle, Cleans Thoroughly, Lathers Well, Adds Volume

Cons: Smells Bad

Best Uses: Thinner Hair, Curly Hair, Daily Use

Describe Yourself: Minimalist

I have a 4 year old son, Toby, who is autistic. Every single day since he was born in Jan 2008 we have had a tantrum at bath time. Every SINGLE day, bloody screaming like I'm murdering him when I wash his hair. He can't handle the liquid feeling on his scalp or something. It's awful. But his hair is super curly and very fine and it needs to be washed daily or it gets matted.

So I popped into the Salt Lake City LUSH store the other day and asked for a sample of the best solid shampoo for fine, curly hair. This is what I was given. It has lasted for almost 3 weeks for a relatively small sample size, which is amazing. My son has shorter hair, but still, for getting it wet daily it hasn't melted at all.

Toby's hair is clean and beautiful. It curls up fantastically and his reddish gold hair color has brightened up vividly.

Thank you so much LUSH. You have saved my days. No more do we have daily bath time tantrums. For the last 5 days, Toby has actually ASKED for me to wash his hair. You have no idea the change this is. I could cry of happiness.

The only problem is that I think Trichomania smells like death. It is reminiscent of coconut creme pie...rotten coconut creme pie. It makes me gag when I smell it. So I am going to try a different scent. But dear heavens, LUSH, thank you for making solid shampoos. I only wish I had figured this out 4 years ago.

(legalese)

LDS Missionary age change and regrets

06 October 2012
Today I listened as President Thomas S. Monson announced that young women will be allowed to serve LDS missions at age 19 - a full two years earlier than they were allowed to serve just yesterday.

I am slightly ashamed to say I burst into tears - not out of joy, but of regret, jealousy, and bitterness.

I graduated from high school and with my Associate's degree when I was 17 years old. When a young woman graduates from high school, she is asked to attend Relief Society. No longer are you in a class with your own peers, but you have graduated to The Grown Up class, which brings in women of all ages, backgrounds, walks of life. That's fine.

But as a 17 year old, I was lost. Completely and utterly lost. I lived in a very adult ward with almost nobody my own age. The next youngest to me was 24 and married with children. As a new member of the Relief Society, I was confused and felt "too young for all this." After all, I certainly didn't need to know how to be a good wife, or how to serve my husband or take care of my children. At age 17, I had no desire or plans to get married - ever. EVER.

When I was 12, I remember asking my mom why girls had to wait until they were 21 before they could go on a mission. My mom didn't know, but she tried to be positive about it. She didn't like the rule either, she said, but that's the way it was.

Maybe the church has changed now, but when I was growing up, the emphasis was always on getting married. Young women, you will grow up. You will get married. You will have children. As a youth, that was not what I wanted in the slightest. I had no prospective boyfriends and I hated children. I still hate children. I liked being alone. I was going to grow up, go to medical school and be an Emergency Room physician. Or I was going to be a veterinarian with my own farm, complete with horse I rode to work, and a dog. Or I was going to do all of the above and write novels. But it was always going to be alone.

I left the church for a while, because I felt so unneeded and unwanted. I had well meaning leaders who thought I was homosexual because I had zero interest in getting married (at age 17! come on!) I spent 3 miserable years in a dark place, cutting myself almost daily, struggling with suicidal thoughts and depression and social anxiety. My family and I weren't getting along at all. I was in debt. I was lost, still.

I met Nate. We dated and it got serious. I asked him if he would be willing to wait for me if I went on a mission. I was 19, so I still had 2 years before I could turn in my application plus an additional 2 years to serve. Nate said no way would he wait for me. And because I didn't want to lose my first love, the first person who had made me feel worthwhile, I decided I wouldn't risk it. I dropped the missionary thoughts. Nate asked me to marry him, and a month after I turned 20, I did. I still had a full year before I could have served a mission.

I remember when we lived in Arkansas and the missionaries would stop by our home. I remember thinking how weird it was that I was living in my own home, married, and yet these two boys were still older than me.

I have struggled with regrets my entire life, but I regret nothing the way I do those years between 2004-2007. Every day, even today, I think at least once a day how those choices I made back then have affected me. Sometimes I get sad because it feels like all the important decisions in my life have been made. I'm done. Now it's just little things from here on out.

But most of all, I have regretted not going on a mission. I regret not waiting, not telling Nate to suck it and still remaining friends, but making plans to be my own person before I got married. I regret dropping out of school. I regret everything about those years. I love my husband. I do. But how much different would my life have been if I had said "no, this is something I need to do"?

So much different.

But again, at the time, it was a 5 year wait between graduating and going on a mission. Five years where I felt alone and irrelevant to the church. I know that many young adults have struggled with the transition between the youth program and the adult program. I am so happy for these youth who will have the opportunity to serve missions at a younger age. I believe this will greatly help them, people around the world, and the church's ability to keep our young adults active in the gospel. I am excited for them.

I am also jealous of them.

If this call had just come 5 years ago, my life would be so different. I can't say it would be better, because I don't know that. But I wouldn't be here right now - struggling every day with a child who doesn't like me and who I don't particularly care for either. I wouldn't be looking at scars from self-inflicted wounds. I wouldn't think back on those years as a waste and a mistake. I would be more sure of myself, more firm in my foundations, and more experienced. I would be a better person. I know it.

Yes, I can serve when I am older. It's not the same and it never will be - I don't know why people use that as a consolation.

My mom always said that her biggest regret was not serving a mission before she had me. I know she wanted me, but I often felt like I'd ruined her life when I was growing up (she tried very hard to keep me from feeling this way, but I am awesome at being melodramatic.) I interrupted her plans and I broke her goals. If this call had come 26 years ago, my mom would have been able to serve earlier. I wouldn't have been born - and that's okay. Everyone might have just been a little bit happier. There's a difference, though, between missing this announcement by 26 years and missing it by just 5.

Everyone has regrets. Mine just punched me in the face this morning.

I wish I could articulate it better. But long story short: yay for the younger missionary age, I hate that it didn't come early enough for me, my life is filled with regrets and I have struggled intensely with them all month (so this wasn't a particularly timely announcement for me.)

Edited to add: I'm not leaving the church over this. I'm not mad at President Monson. I'm not going to go jump off a cliff or flush Toby down the toilet. I am sad, yes, but I'm not angry or vindictive or...irrational? I realize that I am where I am supposed to be (even if I don't always want to be here.)

I am really, really excited for the new sisters who can serve! So many lives are going to be affected by this and I am thrilled to be here to witness it. I just think, to some extent, I will always regret not having served a mission, and today it hit me even harder than normal. Just as I will always regret dropping out of college or not going to medical school. It's okay to have regrets, I just have to remind myself that it's not the end of the world that I didn't do X, Y and Z. As long as I don't allow my mistakes (or my inability to do something) to rule my life, it's okay to be sad once in a while.

It was hard to post this because I don't want to seem like "I hate my life! The missionary age requirement ruined it forever! It's the church's fault I'm married and have a weird child!" No no no. I love Nate and I am so glad I married him - that will never be a regret. I love Toby and while I would take away his mental problems in a heartbeat*, I don't regret him either. It's just one of those things, you know? I don't regret my family and I don't hate my religion. It's okay. Okay? Okay.

I've never understood parents who say "My child is autistic and even if there was a cure I wouldn't take it!" Are you kidding? I'd sign Toby up for the cure so fast your head would explode. Just as I know my mom or Nate would have signed me up for the anxiety/depression cure in a heartbeat.

Utah scenery

02 October 2012
Utah is beautiful. There's just no getting around it. I mean, all places have beautiful spots, but Utah seems amply blessed with those. Here's a bunch of pictures taken over the last week. Have I mentioned that Autumn is my favorite season? Yeah, when I am in charge of the universe, I am making Autumn year round.

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Sparrow at Stewart Falls in Sundance, Utah.

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Stewart Falls.

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Sparrow loved the logs on our long, long walk to Stewart Falls.

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I love my mom and dad, but they suck at nature-walking. They basically RAN through the trail as fast as they could, leaving me no time to point out leaves, trees, or bugs to Sparrow. And no time to take pictures either. Next time we go on a hike with them, we're not going on a hike with them.

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See how they aren't stopping? Dah!

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It was very beautiful though.

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A beautiful sunset from the other night, which evolved into...

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The sky is on fire!