Monthly Archives: October 2013

Happy Halloween!

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I obviously love carving pumpkins. It’s a problem at my house. The children, pets and housekeeping all get ignored for cutting up squash. Here’s the details and links to patterns along with a little how-to on a custom design.

This year I represented our family loves.

Buster loves climbing and bananas so he got Morris the Monkey , which is one of many, many free pumpkin carving patterns out there.

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Princess loves Lalaloopsy and princesses so she got this one. It turns out that Nick and Disney have no problem with you advertising their shows on your pumpkin for them, so there are lots of great free templates for your favorite characters:

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I got this /Motormommy Motorhome pumpkin, courtesy of KOA Campgrounds:

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This year I even had two original designs. The first was in honor of my husbands love of wine. I did the design as you see below, but hubby decided to just try to carve through the paper.

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Don’t ever do that, by the way. Use a tool or a toothpick to outline the design. Markers can smudge but the little holes let you just connect the dots with whatever carving tool you use. Then remove the pattern but don’t throw it away, you’ll probably need to refer to it because those dots may not make sense on their own.

Here’s the wine pumpkin. I wish we could blame the lettering on wine but it was really just the NyQuil- my husband and children had bad colds before Halloween this year:

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Finally, my favorite. Another custom design. If you want to create your own design, go to Google images and search for sillouhettes of the image you want to do. If you want to combine a few elements, copy and padur the images into a word document where you can change the sizing, attach parts of the images or whatever you need. Then print it. Mine wound up having extra elements so I traced just the elements I wanted onto another clean sheet. Then I changed my mind and decided I wanted a positive-space skiier, so I traced again. Here’s images in the process (I recycled the paper so there’s part of a mummy under the final design.).

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Finally, my skiier on a white pumpkin:

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Be Kind, In the Circus of Life, “It takes all kinds of kinds…”

Circus Clown

Circus Clown (Photo credit: simpleking)

The other day I was checking out a site called “Our Little Taste of Heaven,” It’s about a girl, Emma, who has a rare form of (currently fatal) anemia who has been in and out of hospitals much of her life. I came across one entry her mom wrote called, “Meeting the Clown,” that struck me as proof solid you never know who you are going to need when.

Emma hated hospitals and doctors and nurses until she was transferred to Cincinnati for a bone marrow transplant.  What made the difference?  A medical clown there.

Pauly the Clown’s antics relieved her anxiety so much that she started talking more to doctors and nurses about her condition which helped them help her. She didn’t even need calming drugs when she had anesthesia for the transplant. Go ahead, click here and read all about it, I’ll wait here.

See? This clown is actually helping save her life. And he’s visiting lots of really sick children who feel hopeless and are hurting and somehow magically making them smile. What a gift that must be to not only the child, but also to that child’s parents.

The clown the mother mentions was once a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey performer. He’s now involved in founding an institution to train other medical clowns. So he’s probably saving exponentially more lives with less drugs.

I wonder whether anyone in the circus audience thought, “gee, that guy is going to heal some kids if he keeps at it,” when he was running around the ring in giant shoes squirting seltzer.

Yesterday was spirit day in Middletown. Anti-bullying messages always strike a chord with me. Yesterday, Princess, Buster and I all wore orange shirts like Mayor Drew asked us to. I told Princess that you have to be nice to everyone because no matter what it seems like, you’re all on the same team.

I thought about how bullying is really just people trying to decide who matters, and when they decide on someone who shouldn’t, they try to squish that person’s spirit with cruel words or actions. Once that person’s spirit is beaten low enough, I suppose the “squishers” will feel like they matter more or something.

I’m familiar with bullying and feeling like you’re not part of the status quo. My brain works differently from many I guess. I tend to zig when others zag. If someone sees black when another sees white, I’m usually like, “really guys, you aren’t seeing the celadon and fuchsia plaid?”

When I was younger, it sometimes bothered me and made me feel lonely. Now, of course, I realize while it’s sometimes awkward to have a different view, sometimes it’s downright genius. At the very least, a lot of times it’s freaking hilarious. Especially when I present my ideas confidently and with humility and humor.

I’m not even sure if my weird brain is why, but I have been the kid that gets picked on. In middle school, kids spit down into my hair and called me names from the windows of their buses, where I couldn’t even see their faces. I got prank phone calls that left me crying. I have “BITCH,” carved into one of my middle school yearbooks.

But, I’ve also been in with the “cool” kids sometimes. Oklahoma State University’s Zeta Tau Alpha chapter is a good example. It’s a big important house with girls who won pageants, played college sports, were rancher’s daughters and could have been the most judgmental people in the world. They didn’t just let me in, they elected me to some executive offices, too. They thought I mattered. (P.S. As a kid or as a grown up, there really aren’t cool kids or grown ups.)

If I had let those idiots from 7th grade define me, I’m not sure where I’d be. And I still have no idea what their issue was, or even their names. And it wasn’t easy to move on from, with the hormones, awkward body and confusing thoughts of a 12-year-old. But I’m glad I did.

I’d like to send a message out to kids who feel “different” or get picked on: First, you matter. Keep being who you are because even though it may feel like your soul is being crushed, it’s not. You’re braver than you think and this will pass and I’ve never heard someone say, “gosh, I wish I’d passed up on that violin-playing (or reading, or magic, or anime or whatever) I enjoyed so much to dress more like the other kids in clothes I hated and hung out with them doing things I hated.” Don’t do that, because that might really crush your soul.

I’d also like to send a message out to those of you who presume to decide that another human in your community (at school, online, in town, wherever) doesn’t matter because they don’t play a sport or don’t dress right or don’t talk enough: EVERYONE matters. You’re a darned fool for ever even thinking you could decide that one human matters more than others. And if you’re doing this out of fear that you don’t matter and need to prove otherwise, please see my message to the kid you’re about to pick on.

Because, as Pauly the Clown showed Emma and her mom, we live in a world where there are life-and-death situations where spinning hats on sticks and other nonsense matter a lot. So who could any of us be to judge another human’s worth?

You never know, that clown you’re thinking of being mean to may save your kid’s life someday.

“Ever since the beginning, to keep this world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds…” – Writers Phillip Coleman
Don Henry, as sung by Miranda Lambert (who is backed up by Stoney LaRue, who I watched, harassed, and even got to play guitar with once during my time in Stillwater, OK)

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3 Wheels to Freedom

I’m currently training for a 5K, and I’m running with a team that will be about 1500 miles away! I hope you’ll consider donating to our team by clicking right here.  My very dear friend, Rebecca, lost her father to brain cancer.  He would have been 55 this year.  She and some family members are raising money, as they do each year, for the Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation. They’re running the Race4Hope in Oklahoma City on Saturday November 2nd. I’m unable to be with them in person, but I’ll be running with them in spirit at the Vicki Soto 5K in Stratford, Connecticut. This is another good cause – a memorial fund in memory of Victoria Soto, one of the teachers who lost her life in the Sandy Hook shooting. Here’s a little bit about what I’m experiencing in getting ready for the race:

Getting a jogging stroller has given me a feeling of freedom rivaled only by the day I got my driver’s license. Never before have I been able to just take off in the middle of the day and go running.

For work, I’ve never had more than 1/2 hour for a lunch, so running always had to be early in the morning, when I try not to do anything or after work, when it was dark and I was tired. So, obviously, I’ve never been that into running.

Until now. I can go whenever and that makes it a fun thing, not something I feel obligated to do. Better yet, running helps me avoid other things I DO feel obligated to do. Kids irritating me? Laundry that needs to be folded? Dishes that should get done? Not now! Its’s run-thirty, folks! I strap my kids in, put a headphone of Oklahoma or Texas’s best music in one ear and head out.

No one even judges me. Usually, people even cheer me on. When I encounter people they say kind things like, “you go girl, they should be pushing you!” I just laugh and think “actually, I should be washing their clothes, or at least changing them out of their PJs!”

I call myself a runner because I like running and because runners are cool with that. I’m really slow; technically it’s jogging I suppose. Runners* all seem to support each other and will let just about anyone call themselves a runner as long as they enjoy it.

Of course there are a lot of times I don’t feel like a runner. Namely, the first mile of any run. That’s when my thoughts are, “maybe this was a bad idea today,” “I think I feel my knee getting ready to give out,” “nothing is chasing me, what is the hurry?” and “I’m tired, this is stupid.”

But I keep going because I know, shortly after the Map My Run (a running app that measures your time and distance) lady whispers in my ear, “Distance: 1 mile Time: Superfast” (okay, she doesn’t say that, but if I could set her to, I would) I will switch into rock star mode. Shortly after that first mile, it hits me that I could run forever. Or at least the next 15-20 more minutes depending on the number and severity of hills involved.

And for about two more miles I will run hard and my legs might get all jello-y and I will get sweaty, but the awesomeness will continue.

Typically, I run laps around my neighborhood. My neighbors will get to see me

Awesome Workout Face, weird isn't it?
Awesome Workout Face, weird isn’t it?

grunting and breathing hard while pushing a giant, awkward stroller slowly up and down the streets near my house. They can watch my face turn red except for one spot around my lips that stays completely white. I call that my “awesome workout face.”

After I run whatever distance my 5k training program dictates, I go and grab our 8-month-old puppy and finish up with a cool-down walk (the dog is still too young to run but accompanies me on cool-downs and warm-ups.)

On this cool-down walk, I think it’s pretty clear to me and everyone that sees me that I’m pretty much the coolest person around. I’m strong, I’m lean, and I’m smart. It’s not unlike after I have a couple of drinks and am suddenly compelled to advise you on offshore investment accounts, helping your daughter cope with college homesickness, or any number of other topics that I am in no way qualified to discuss. Except I probably look and smell a lot worse after a run than after a manhattan.

I pity any neighbors who allow me to speak to them on one of these cool-downs. I’ve held folks captive
to discuss tree sap, the hazards of substance abuse, pets, yard work, and worse. All while I still have my awesome workout face on and am sweating through my clothes.

It’s awesome.

None of this would be possible without my double jogging stroller. Best $40 I’ve ever spent on Craigslist.

*My view of runners may be a little skewed by an incredible local running group.  Last November when I was training for a 5K, I trained with the Glastonbury River Runners in Glastonbury, CT.  They have an outstanding beginners program to get you ready to run a 5k no matter where you are.  If you are in the area and you’re considering starting running, these are some great people.  I would still be running with them, but my part-time job prevents it.    The other runners I associate with are mostly  online – the “Another Mother Runner” community and friends from college who were already awesome before I even realized they were runners.  If you think maybe you want to run but are pretty sure you don’t know where to start, people like these can help!

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