Monday, October 31, 2005

Was it Mungojerrie?

Heck, no, it was Rumpleteazer:

And there's nothing at all to be done about that!

Annabelle fairly danced her way across Ft. Knox tonight in her Rumpleteazer costume. For those of you who haven't seen the musical Cats (and there must be what? at least 15 of you), Rumpleteazer is the lady half of this mischevious duo:

Mike went out trick or treating with his friends. He wore his prize-winning costume from Friday afternoon and had to come home once to dump off a bag full of candy before heading back out for more.

While Annabelle and I made the rounds for her treats, Fred stayed home and handed out candy. He enjoyed torturing the trick or treaters by making them touch the animatronic rat in order to collect their goodies.

Halloween 2005 is officially over. This is my favorite part of the evening, where I can bask in the afterglow and eat a little (OK, a lot) of chocolate. If Andrew Lloyd Webber is looking for a new leading lady or a makeup artist for his next production, he can find Annabelle and me right here, munching on baby Snickers bars.

Eddie says, "Happy Halloween!"

(Actually, Eddie says, "Get this stupid hat off of me, human, or I will put something very bad in your favorite shoes.")

Saturday, October 29, 2005


I wound up making Mike's costume last night so that he would have it for the Halloween dance today after school. He was so excited when I picked him up, because he won a prize ($10 to our local video game emporium!) in the contest. In celebration, I am breaking my vow to keep the costumes under wraps until Halloween, and will now show you Mike's prize-winning idea:

He's a chick magnet. Get it?

Annabelle's costume remains a work in progress. Tune in Monday night to see the final results!

Friday, October 28, 2005

From the knock-me-over-with-a-feather file

So I'm sitting in the library at Annabelle's school the other day, working the book fair with a couple of other moms. We're chatting about our kids, and business is slow, so somehow I wind up telling all about our recent adventures in reentering the world of formal education. I happen to mention how ironic it was that it took longer for Annabelle to settle in, given that it was her idea in the first place and that Mike needed some pretty firm nudging to get him back into an educational institution.

One of the other moms says, "Hey, I've got a daughter at the middle school," and we start musing over whether or not Mike and her daughter might have any classes together. All of a sudden, something clicks, and I see a lightbulb go on over this woman's head.

"Good grief, YES, I know Mike!" she cries. "I've even had Mike in my house." Turns out that her daughter is one of his good friends here in the neighborhood.

So why did it take her so long to make the connection? "Well," she explains, "the only Mike I know used to be homeschooled and HAD TO BEG HIS MOTHER TO LET HIM GO TO SCHOOL!" Yes, my friends, THAT is apparently the story that's circulating on the streets. How very flowers in the attic of me, don't you think?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Out my kitchen window

My, SOMEBODY is feeling bloggy tonight, isn't she? I took this picture last weekend. The tree is even prettier this week:

I will admit that a pretty autumn is definitely something to put in the list of Good Things about Kentucky.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Halloween political funny

Shamelessly snatched from DailyKos:

(Click the picture to view the video.)

Getting ready for the Great Pumpkin

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love making costumes for the kids, and I have whipped up some doozies in the past, if I do say so myself.

I spent the entire month of October our second year in Hawaii, for example, transforming Annabelle into a princess on a pink pony. She wore it 2 years in a row, winning prizes with it both times. Here she is modeling her horse in Texas:

That was the same year Mike decided he wanted to be a werewolf. A little makeup and a lot of spirit gum and fake hair and voila! instant werewolf:

With Halloween coming so close on the heels of the neverending move this year, I've had to prioritize where to direct my limited holiday energies. Annabelle has asked for a fairly complicated costume (you'll have to wait until Halloween to see!), so that is sucking most of my energy and causing a wee bit of anxiety for me. Mike's is fairly simple yet fiendishly clever and alarmingly appropriate (again, wait until Monday!). I have all the supplies and just need a little sewing time.

What I haven't had time for this year is decorating, unless you count cardboard boxes and very little furniture as some sort of spooky theme. Fred did pick up one little decorative item the other day though. Let my neighbors deck their houses and yards with pumpkins, baskets of gourds, and bales of hay. Who needs all that? Not me. I have the one, the only (out of a stack of hundreds at Walmart) . . . agonized rat:

(Click on the photo to see the rat writhe in agony.)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Must. Post. More. Often.

I really need to get back in the blogging habit. I'm just pulled in so many different directions these days that it's hard to find the time and equally hard to find anything interesting to talk about.

Right after I posted my "school is going great" post, it temporarily returned to hell in the proverbial handbasket, at least as far as Annabelle was concerned. Earlier this week, she was begging not to go again. I stuck her butt on the bus and went inside to place a call to the guidance counselor, who was able to nab Annabelle in the hallway when she got there and perform a little cheerleader routine for her benefit. Each day since then has been steadily better, and today was downright good.

Annabelle got to choose a pencil out of the prize box for her stellar performance in class today and was very excited about that. Get me drunk sometime and ask me to elaborate on my feelings regarding the use of rewards to motivate kids. To heck with principles right now though--I would have happily paid cold hard cash to see her come off the bus with such spring in her step.

Meanwhile, Mike continues his easy adjustment to middle school. Gym class was showing the potential to be a problem--not because of "Coach Cheney" (Mike actually decided that he was OK) but because of some misbehaved cretins in the locker room. I went to the guidance counselor with that problem and with a possible solution, never really expecting the school to go for it, but they did. As of yesterday, Mike is doing his distance-learning German I class in the library each day instead of taking PE. Gotta love that flexibility!

Both kids are also making friends in the neighborhood as well. There are lots of girls Annabelle's age, and she has been twice now to their weekly sewing circle (I call it "Stitch and Bitch" but only in my head).

There are also a lot of girls Mike's age in the neighborhood, which I suspect might have something to do with his enthusiasm for school. The scene below was on my neighbor's front porch the other day. It's not a very good picture, but there are limits to how artistic one can be when one is shooting from between window blinds, without flash, and while laughing one's ass off. Just call me Spy Mom:

Please fasten your seatbelts. We are approaching the teen years and expect some mild turbulence. (Please, God, let it be mild.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Now that the kids are in school . . .

. . . I'll need something to do with all my free time. Maybe I'll pottytrain the cat:

Eddie feels quite at home in our bathroom:

And could our tile BE any uglier?!

School update

What a roller coaster week we had! Mike came home from school on the second day, declared it fine, and has been a happy camper ever since. Annabelle, on the other hand, got off the bus in tears for 3 straight days.

Friday morning, she was a little puddle of anxiety on the front porch, begging us not to send her. She already had an appointment scheduled with the guidance counselor for 9 o'clock, so Fred and I went in with her. We got to talk with both the guidance counselor and one of her 2 teachers. Annabelle talked to the counselor and the other teacher, and life has been rosy since then. That afternoon she had a huge smile on her face when she got off the bus.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

School daze

When I was a kid, I read books about children who went to boarding school, and more than anything else I longed to get shipped off to some austere academy where people would force me to make my bed. Nobody ever suggested that my parents should help me follow my bliss, although I'm surely it was nothing more than a simple lack of funds that kept them from getting on board.

For the past year, Annabelle has been basting her brain with tales from American Girl magazine, which is heavily skewed in favor of a traditionally educated readership. I suppose a magazine geared toward vagabond children who follow their temporarily single mother around Europe wouldn't have a very large circulation, but think of the recipes and travel tips! When we arrived here in Kentucky, Annabelle began talking about possibly attending the local school so that she might find some friends and be able to make a cool flower magnet for her locker (an AG mag idea). This seemed to be a much more reasonable request than my longings for a convent school high in the Swiss alps, so I figured what the hell. We gave our local intermediate school a cursory examination and signed her up.

Then we started worrying that perhaps Mike would get bored and lonely without Annabelle for companionship, so we investigated our local middle school as well. I didn't have high hopes for the middle school, as they have a rather nitnoid dress code policy and Mike tends not to cope well with control-freaky stuff like that. While Mike didn't exactly leap at the opportunity to go to school, he was a little bit curious and willing to give it a try. And thus yesterday, the first day back after fall break, began our grand experiment, our re-entry into the world of formal education.

Mike was the first one home and frankly the one I had been wondering about the most throughout the day. He reported that the cafeteria food is unfit for human consumption and that his PE teacher reminds him of "Dick Cheney in a gymsuit." (Note to self: Keep this blog a secret from the Ft. Knox educational community!) He did, however, like his math teacher and said there really wasn't much homework. What little homework there was, he sat right down to do. That whooshing sound you heard at approximately 3 p.m. EST? That was me exhaling. Prematurely, as it turned out.

Annabelle slumped off her bus a half hour later looking very solemn indeed. By the time she reached the front door, she was sobbing her heart out. She says she is the slowest person in her class at everything and that she feels like a big dummy and is going to be totally STRESSED! And why, oh why, did she ever have this stupid idea of going to school anyway?! AND they have to take in a picture of their American hero. And Andrew Lloyd Webber? He's BRITISH! And TS Eliot? BRITISH!!! And WHY DON'T YOU TRY DOING 5 DIFFERENT TYPES OF MATH IN ONE PROBLEM AFTER TWO YEARS OF DOING NOTHING, MOM?!? (ouch)

Of course, if there's one thing you can count on in the Taylor household, it's that the emotional weather is guaranteed to change quickly and without warning and chances are you won't be dressed properly for it. By supper time, Annabelle had finished her homework and was regaining her original optimistic outlook. This was helped in no small part by my father, who informed us that TS Eliot was actually born in St. Louis and educated at Harvard. And thus, an American hero project was launched!

Meanwhile, the storm clouds had passed from Annabelle's head to Mike's. The further we got into the evening, the gloomier he became. He had spent the afternoon exploring the neighborhood with a couple of kids he met at school. One might think that this would be a GOOD thing, but not in Mikeville. No, he told us gloomily, this whole school thing flies directly in the face of his plan to make it through 2 years at Ft. Knox without making friends. After all, what is the point of making friends when you're just going to have to say goodbye?

This morning was a brilliant exercise in acid indigestion. Annabelle seemed happy enough, but Mike got on his bus with the enthusiasm one normally reserves for jury duty.

What will the day hold for them? Who knows? Not me, that's for sure. I shall spend the day nibbling my nails in anxious anticipation and trying to sort through some boxes. I wonder if it's too late to get me into a good boarding school in Switzerland . . .

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Something new!

Oh, there's so much to tell. All about our move to Kentucky, our trip to St. Louis, our 2 weeks in Florida, our current trip to Charlottesville, that one night in that biker bar . . . OK, so I made up the part about the biker bar. I will get to all the other stuff though, I promise. Just not quite sure when! In the meantime, go check out the old blog, and you can read the highlights of our visit to Normandy last month.