Monday, November 13

Halloween, part 2 (the girls)

Or: how to put together 5 costumes (with a surprise 6th 2 weeks early) on a budget

And now . . .  the girls’ costumes!

Raspberry had a very particular character outfit (one of several in said character’s movie), also cosplay level. Peach actually decided to re-wear one of her costumes from a previous year and 
Strawberry picked a character with an iconic (and set) look.

Raspberry:
This year Raspberry decided that she wanted to be Mulan. Specifically, Mulan from the rooftop fight scene 
in the 1st movie.



 Ok, lots of layering, some pretty specific colors, 
but overall very do-able.

The bottom layer is a white, greek goddess costume dress. The blue v-neck originally had puff sleeves (I made the trim out of the same remnant fabric as the waist piece and some blue ribbon), and the pink sash is actually blanket binding (I could not find ribbon in the right color that was wide enough or the right type of fabric). I bought the shoes at a discount store and took a plastic dollar store fan 
and used yellow satin from my craft supplies to 
make it match the one she uses to disarm Shan Yu.

 White dress, blue v-neck blouse, fan: $1 each
Light blue long sleeve shirt: $2.50  
Shoes: $3  Remnant fabric: $1.50  
blanket binding: $3 after coupon
Blue ribbon: $3 after coupon  
Satin and thread from craft supplies: $0
Total: $16

Peach:
Normally, I don’t let the kids reuse costumes 
(the birthday pictures get hard to identify if the kid is dressed the same every year) but due to my parents moving (my dad had been our photographer since the girls turned 2) we missed a year of pictures. 

Peach had found that year’s costumes hanging in the closet and insisted on being Hello Kitty again on the basis that they didn’t do birthday pictures that year, so there wouldn’t be a problem with her re-wearing the costume. 

After this argument, I just decided to go with it.

Her costume dress had lost a few crystals and she needed new shoes and tights as well as a long sleeve shirt for under her dress, but the main part of the costume was done. 
I had originally used part of a set of Hello Kitty crystal decals to decorate the pink dress I found, and still had enough of the set left to replace the missing crystals and 
add some more sparkle to the dress. 

Unfortunately, Peach and Strawberry refused to hold still long enough for good pictures of their costumes. 

I’ll try to remember to switch them out for the nice ones when we do pictures this year . . . but no promises. 

 Pink shoes: $4  white tights: $3 for 3 pairs  
long sleeve shirt:$1
Dress, crystal decals, face paint 
and hat we had from before: $0
Total: $8

And last but not least . . .

Strawberry:
Strawberry has a thing for nice vampires lately. 
Last year she was Draculaura (from Monster High) 
and this year she decided to be 
Mavis from the Hotel Transylvania movies. 


 Luckily, Mavis has a fairly easy to re-create outfit 
(that stays pretty consistent). 
I never did find the sheer fingerless glove/ sleeves that she has (and I wasn’t paying $14 for a spider web pair from a costume shop), so I may need to look for a sheer top for her pictures. I also had to spray paint her high tops red (the only place I found any that would fit her only had grey) but I think it came together overall 
(I couldn’t find any kid size fangs in time, 
so I painted them on her bottom lip for the parade).

Black and red striped tights: $3  
High top shoes: $3  Black sweater dress: $1  
Spider drop earrings: $3 for 6 pair set
Red spray paint and 
face paint we already had: $0
Total: $10

So, for those keeping score . . .

Halloween 2017 kid costume total cost: $84

(for reference, that’s about the cost of 
2 ‘deluxe’ costumes at Target or Wal-Mart) 

or an average of $14 per costume!

Not too shabby (and nobody was covered in paper mache, cardboard or tinfoil *gives own mother the side eye*).


Anybody else go this in on Halloween costumes? And any ideas what I can do with 5 decent size pumpkins that 
didn’t get cut into jack-o-lanterns? 
Before they rot in my back yard?

Friday, November 10

Halloween, part 1 (the boys)

Or: how to put together 5 costumes (with a surprise 6th 2 weeks early) on a budget

I know it’s been a few years since I posted one of these (mostly due to real life craziness, not lack of things to share) 

*drumroll*

This year’s Halloween costumes for my boys 
(The girls will be part 2)!

So, the last couple of years I have really had to step up my costume game. This year, the first since 
I started working again, was even more so.

Elroy is all about cosplay level costumes. Bam-Bam can’t make up his mind (this year he decided as he was getting dressed for the costume parade Halloween morning that he was an entirely different character
than he had dressed as.

Because my children get all grouchy when they don’t eat, I have a strict under $35 per child budget for costumes (as the most basic, won’t even survive trick or treating store bought costume starts at $35). Thrift stores are my secret weapon for costumes (I love Goodwill, and Thursdays the color of the week items are $1 each). So long as the shape and material are right, it’s not impossible to adapt pieces 
to what you need without too much trouble.

Elroy:
This year Elroy and I have been watching Attack on Titan 
(a beautiful, but incredibly dark anime) and he decided he wanted to be the main character, Eren, who becomes a Scout to fight the titans who are destroying humanity.


As per usual the last few years, 
Elroy’s costume was the most expensive. 
All the clothing was from Goodwill (the cloak was a lucky find, but was not discounted and ended up being the single most expensive piece this year). The jacket was too small, so I split the side and sleeve seams and added a 2 inch wide strip of vinyl (on sale at the craft store) to each side. It’s still fairly tight across the shoulders, but I don’t want to split the back, too. We used more of the vinyl to make, the straps, waist and belt, and put him in a pair of Hunny’s tall boots. He couldn’t have any weapons, 
so we plan to make the sword box and flight canister pieces when we do his birthday pictures this year.


And here’s the final product:

 Jacket, shirt (a hoodie with the hood removed), 
and capri pants: $1 each
Cloak, with scout symbol already on back: $15
Dark Brown Vinyl for jacket, straps & belt: 
1 yard for $8, after coupon
Belt buckle: $5, Rivets, glue & boots we already had: $0
Total: $31 (just under, but still . . .)
  
Bam-Bam:
So, for my sanity in the lead up to Halloween, I have the kids decide their costumes early (so I have time to piece items and get things on sale). Like by 4th of July, early. 
Initially, he wanted to be the 11th Doctor 
(in the purple coat and old fashioned shoes). 
Then his teacher threw a big old wrench in my plans. 
All the 5th graders (I know!) had to do a biography presentation, the Wax Museum, which included dressing as their subject . . . on the 18th of October.

At this point, I had already found a grey coat for him that could be dyed purple as well as a black vest for underneath. 

Bam-Bam gets assigned Abe Lincoln. 

Ok, I can work with that.

I found plenty of portraits of him in not-black coats that are conveniently similar in style to the one I already got for him. And the black vest is tall enough to look like a waistcoat. I just need to find a passable cravat (I ended up finding a tie and tying it loosely at the fat end and tucking it in) and some dress shoes for him. But I was having a hard time finding any sort of old man boots for his actual costume . . . 

And then he changed his mind! 
He decided (after a birthday that did not include his own sonic screwdriver) that he would prefer to be a gunslinger from the old west instead (he found the plastic bullet bandoleer I had picked up for steampunk uses). 
Fine. Halloween morning, getting ready for school, Bam-Bam decides that he isn’t a gunslinger at all. 
He’s Van Helsing. At this point, I’m like . . . whatever, dude. 

Grey coat, vest, hat, belt, cowboy gun set and shoes: $1 each
Black pants: $8  Plastic bullet bandoleer of his own: $5
Jeans, shirt, brown western coat 
and bandanna we already had: $0)

Total: $19, for both costumes

Not bad, right?


Next up: the girls costumes!

Sunday, September 3

River

Ok, so it occurred to me that so much of the problem I had with River Song as a character could be fixed if Moffat had made her a later regeneration of Jenny (who had appeared two episodes earlier, in The Doctor’s Daughter). It would have had the same emotional impact (without the weird, circular paradox relationship) and it would have explained River’s reaction to seeing Donna (and Donna not recognizing her). River’s default to weapons and violence makes sense if it stems from Jenny’s early imprinted knowledge. Her knowledge and understanding of time travel makes more sense if she was made from Time Lord genetic material than being conceived on the TARDIS . . .

 I didn’t want to do an entire episode rewrite, 
so here’s my Forest of the Dead fix-it. Enjoy.


River
 “River, you whispered ‘Hello Dad,’ in my ear. The Time War killed my children. Cobb shot my daughter on Messaline. I waited hours for her to regenerate . . .” 
The Doctor trailed off as his mind spun through 
the names and faces of the children he’d lost.

“Hush now,” River replied quietly. “We have so much more running to do in your future, you know how much I love the running. Goodbye Dad.” 
Fear and hope warred in her eyes as she joined the two cables.

As a blinding light flared, the Doctor screamed “Jenny” 
before falling against the handcuffs in despair.

.         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .              

“And the humans and the Hath built a new world in honor of 
The Man That Never Would.” With that, Jenny closed her diary, kissed Charlotte goodnight, and pausing on her way through the doorway, 
looked back at Ella and Joshua, whispering 
“Sweet dreams, everyone” before turning out the light.


Wednesday, May 17

The Yellow Razor


When my wife first came out to me (literally the next day) I decided to show her that I supported her and her transition by getting her a ‘starter pack’ of girl stuff. 
I got her women’s socks, some cute panties, a hair brush, some women’s deodorant, and a new razor. 
It was the same brand and model as the one I had been happily using for the prior year, only in a feminine pink instead of the metallic blue one I was using.

Months later, when the initial ‘jersey girl/ preteen’ phase of her transition settled into something more mature, and she realized that purple was her favorite color; 
I picked up a pretty purple razor for her. 

I chose not to buy myself the shimmery yellow one that I really liked, rationalizing that because I couldn’t use the blades that came with it (do to an allergy to the moisturizer strip) that the old one I had was still good enough 
and I didn’t actually need the new one I wanted. 

When my old one did need to be replaced, I got myself the pink one that came in the cheaper set, 
adding ‘mommy guilt’ to my earlier rationalizations.

But . . . my reaction to the feminine razor had 
nothing to do with Hunny’s transition. 
She wasn’t forcing me to keep the old one. 
She didn’t pick out the pink one for me. 
Had she been at the store with me, 
she likely would have just rolled her eyes, 
grabbed the set with the yellow one and gotten it for me. 
She would have seen that my reasons for not getting something nice for myself had to do with feeling like I don’t deserve it, not the brand of moisturizing strips or the price, 
and would have simply reminded me that 
I deserve nice things too.

There’s the desire for something nice that’s your own 
(which primary caregivers tend to sublimate into ‘mommy guilt’), that you don’t have to share, 
where you can put your own needs ahead of the children and spouses who you devote yourself to.

And then comes the guilt. That voice that is every single cruel stereotype and vicious piece of condescending ‘advice’ and shred of self-doubt you’ve ever heard or thought or felt.

How dare you not put your 
family/ children/ spouse’s needs before your own!

How dare you take food from your children’s mouths 
to get that thing you want!

You don’t really need it. 
And you’re selfish if you want it.

You’re taking advantage of your spouse by wasting money 
on (for me any purchase for myself over $30).

You don’t deserve the thing you want because 
you are selfish enough to want it.

And it’s ridiculous.

My own insecurities made me choose to treat myself as less deserving and continue to talk me out of getting myself the razor I want every time I could get it at the store.



I’m still working on my own application of self-care. 
But after I wrote this I was at Target . . . 

and I got myself the yellow razor.



Monday, March 27

CODENAME: DEVIATION

Ok, so Elroy had a science paper on genetic heredity 
and for the project had to 'breed' Sesame Street Muppets and 
use Punnet squares to predict what traits the offspring would inherit. 
He decided that this felt like forced breeding and so the only ethical solution was for him to send in a team to rescue said muppets from their captivity. His science teacher was quite impressed by his backstory, and he was able to expand his story into a creative writing assignment as well. 
I told him that if he continued the original story, I would post it on my blog 
(as well as the fan site Archive of Our Own, or AO3).
So, here it is (after I did some editing for him). 

*Trigger Warning for implied non-con/ forced breeding, 
non-graphic violence, and major character death*  


CODENAME: DEVIATION


In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a government ‘dark-ops’ facility stood hidden from the public eye. The facility was built for the sole purpose of capturing, containing, and investigating possible threats. This included two Muppets from Sesame Street who had recently quit due to the outrageously low pay and were waiting to be released back into society. The successful mission captured Zoe and Grover in order to discover why the Muppets became sentient.


One year later

The Sesame Street Squad, or SSS for short, is comprised of former Sesame Street Muppets. Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Aloysius Snuffleupagus (CODENAME: Snuffy), and Count von Count (CODENAME: The Count) made up this elite team. While on the run from the agency that had taken Grover and Zoe, these fugitives had spent the last few years looking for their friends. It had taken them an entire year of undercover recon, but they finally found the facility. After being dropped from 3000 feet above the facility, they parachuted onto the helicopter pad.

The team cautiously entered the stark white building only to be met with bodies wearing guard uniforms on the floor and blood on the walls.

“Cookie you are on lookout; Snuffy and Count find some intel on what happened here” Abby ordered.
“Yes boss” the team responded simultaneously.
“Boss! Abby, we found something . . .’ the Count and Snuffy exclaimed. 
Their ominous tone and fearful expressions drew Abby and Cookie over to see what that they had found. Snuffy and the Count were in a surveillance room with a row of screens to one side.
With a yellow folder in hand, the Count said, “I found six files. One, two, three, four, five, six. Six! Ha ha ha!” He opened them up and let the team read them silently.


CASE FILES: Sesame Breeding Facility

Experiment (CODENAME: DEVIATION) involves Subject 4H8B2 (aka: GROVER) and Subject 4H8B1 (aka: ZOE).

Subject ZOE expresses phenotype traits: exo (bulging) eyes, pink nose, red lips, orange furred body, and excessive mane-like hair growth on head.
Subject GROVER expresses phenotype traits: endo (flush) eyes, pink nose, red lips, blue furred body, and only short body hair.

Subjects have been confined for breeding.

Project DEVIATION: 
Breeding has successfully created  Subject 4H8B3 (ABIGAIL) and Subject 4H8B4 (ZIBO). Unlike the parents, both Subjects have magenta body color.
Subject ZIBO expresses phenotype traits: exo (flush) eyes, magenta furred body, pink nose, magenta lips, and excessive mane-like hair growth on head. Subject Zibo most closely resembles Subject ZOE’s body type.
Subject ABIGAIL expresses phenotype traits: endo (bulging) eyes, magenta furred body, pink nose, purple lips, and only short body hair. Subject ABIGAIL most closely resembles Subject GROVER’s body type.

Researchers were unfamiliar with many things that were discovered. A more advanced knowledge of Subjects GROVER and ZOE was gained, however further study of all Subjects is required. Additionally, some researchers found the collection and experimentation on Subjects GROVER and ZOE to be emotionally challenging. Those researchers have since been replaced.

Subjects 4H8B1(ZOE) and 4H8B2(GROVER)  are to be removed to yield more conclusive results from Subject 4H8B3( ABIGAIL) and Subject 4H8B4 (ZIBO).

Removal to be implemented at 21:35 by security staff.



“Abby . . .” Snuffy drawls and gestures to the row of screens with his trunk. 
The rest of the team crowds in.

On the first screen, Grover and Zoe are huddled together in a stark white room when the door opens and a guard in dark military fatigues points his gun at the pair. Grover slowly stands, revealing two magenta muppets. A small scared boy who looks like Zoe and a smaller, angry girl who looks like Grover are hiding in Zoe’s embrace. The guard points impatiently. Zoe, with a horrified look from the kids to Grover, shakes her head “no” and pushes the children behind her.

A second guard grabs Zoe, pulling her away. Grover shouts while reaching out, only to convulse and fall to the floor, grabbing at the shock collar around his neck. The girl stands and shouts as the first guard hits Zoe on the back of the head with the butt of his rifle and she falls to the floor, unnatutally still.


Snuffy stops the feed, gesturing to another screen.
The team moves in time to watch a guard fly and impact the wall at high speed. On the next screen, a guard drops to the ground from the ceiling. It seems like every screen is a terrifying repetition of the same violent events.
Until, on the final screen, the two magenta figures Zoe had fallen defending looked directly at the camera.

Snuffy stopped the feed.

Suddenly, the team hears giggling outside the door followed by a loud “thump”. The door opens to show two small furry figures, giggling with glee, while Cookie Monster lays un-moving in the background.
Abby draws a horrified breath, whispering “they’re supers like him.” When her vision goes black, all she can hear are the cries of her team and the same soulless giggling, this time coming from within the surveillance room.



None of the SSS team is ever seen again.

Wednesday, November 9

I needed this today . . .

Yesterday, this whole election really, was brutal.

My candidate did not win.

The winners have made walking back protections on families like mine
part of their campaign promises,
and given the VP Elect's record in Indiana I have to believe that
they will work to accomplish those promises.

So today, I needed a reminder that those communities
(Women, LGBT+, People of Color, Muslims,
Latinos, the Disabled, the Media, etc.)
that the President Elect has spent the last 18 months
ridiculing and denigrating have pulled together before.

And we will do it again.

The movement is hurting and tired,
but our momentum to make the world kinder, more inclusive
and less fearful has not been lost.

My daughters were watching this today,
and I realized just how much I needed to see a diverse group
(even one as nonsensical as multi color anthro ponies)
support one another, lift each other up and rally together to make things better.

We are stronger together.

We will make it through this.

We will protect each other.

We will not let our momentum falter.

And until then . . .

We have singing anthro ponies.




Friday, September 23

Arguing with Myself: Won’t Someone Think of the Children?



I saw something today that made the little voice in my head
(the one that doesn’t stop until I’ve written down what it has to say)
start gnashing its teeth.

As I left the parking lot where I was waiting for my wife to text me back, a pick-up truck with a confederate flag license plate pulled in.

Now, let’s be clear . . . I’m white.

Not quite blind you with reflected sunlight,
but my heritage just doesn’t get called into question.

My parents were staunch Republicans
(my dad is now an Independent and my mom is a Libertarian, *headdesk*).

In fact one of my dad’s favorite denigrating phrases, for years, was to call anyone who was at all socially progressive a
“Jane Fonda Pinko Commy Faggot.”
It was his favorite insult up until about a decade and a half ago.

My mom (who now denies this conversation ever took place) told me point blank that gay couples shouldn’t be able to get married because the law to legalize same sex marriage (this was probably around 2000, not sure which specific bill) included wording allowing same sex parents to touch the genitals of their children (for things like diaper changes, and medical need) and she didn’t agree with letting pedophiles have that kind of legal loophole.

They are both lifetime members of the NRA,
and vocal Blue Lives/ All Lives Matter proponents.

Now don’t get me wrong, my parents are loving, caring people who have evolved on their views on a number of civil issues
(same sex marriage, interracial marriage,
religious discrimination, and some women’s issues).
And I don’t want to paint them as bigoted or hateful or less than the loving parents and decent human beings they are.

But this is where I came from.

And where I am desperately trying to keep from going back to.

The reason that flag got to me this morning
has to do with the world my kids are growing up in.

on video, with his hands in the air on Friday.

My sister and her husband just had a beautiful little boy, and
I don’t want him growing up in a world where he needs to be afraid of the police
because his skin has more melanin than my kids’.

I don’t want Alani’s beautiful children portrayed as thugs, criminals or sluts
because of the color of their skin.

I don’t want my cousin’s children
demonized for the religion they were raised with, that their mother chose.
For their brown complexions and dark hair and manner of dress.

All of those children deserve to be as unafraid of the police
as my white children are.

Full stop.

My children should not have to worry that their parents’ marriage
is not seen as valid, that someone’s political agenda could see our
legal marriage unmade and
Hunny forced back into a role that would have killed her.

That there are people who would use their lack of understanding, lack of compassion to destroy our family because they aren’t ok with rainbow flags.  

Our children are watching. What message are we teaching them?
What kind of a world are we leaving them? 


#I don't really do hashtags #but this is important #bigotry kills #our kids deserve better