Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cookies, hillbillies, and how to shoo a monster

Alex and I got invited to a Halloween Cookie Exchange a couple weeks ago by one of his classmates (or his classmate's mom, rather, who also happens to be in my small group at MOPS). I had never heard of such a thing, but I think it is, like, the funnest concept ever. You basically make (or buy, if baking's not your thing) a dozen Halloween-themed cookies, then everyone swaps goodies and you have a dozen new, fun treats to take home and eat.

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to bake sugar cookies onto wooden sticks, ice them, and use candy to make different monster faces on each one. Thing is, I am a decent cook but a terrible baker (I prefer to "wing it" as opposed to following directions), so the cookies were all different sizes and shapes and half of them fell off the sticks before I could ice them. Somehow I managed to salvage just enough to make a dozen.

The icing and face-making went fine, and I set them in the fridge so the icing could set. My grand vision was to embed the sticks into floral foam in the bottom of a plastic cauldron, then cover the foam with tissue paper and wrap the whole thing in cellophane. What I discovered is that icing melts and softens within the first three-and-a-half seconds of being out of the fridge, so everytime I tried to place the sticks in the foam, my hand would bump into the cookies or the cookies would bump into each other and the icing would smear all over my perfect monster faces. To make matter worse, the plastic cauldron wasn't heavy enough to support the weight of the cookies, so if the distribution was off by the tiniest bit, the whole contraption would fall over and all the cookies would collapse on top of each other. Needless to say, I was incensed, and after about a half hour of fighting with those stupid cookies and those stupid sticks and that stupid icing, I gave up and laid them all flat in a pan, thus completely negating the whole point of baking the darn sticks in.

The good news is, the monster faces turned out really cute, although you'll have to take my word for it because I didn't get a single picture. Taking pictures was last on my list, after ripping my hair out and hurling cookies across the room. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad...

After that whole ordeal, I had to wake A up from his nap and get him dressed for the party. Both moms and kids were asked to wear costumes, and while it would have been easiest to dress up as a cowgirl to coordinate with Alex's cowboy getup, I decided that the two of us should be hillbillies/rednecks/country bumpkins instead. I had pigtails and overalls and was this close to wearing a tube top underneath, but decided against it because I didn't really want to meet a bunch of new people with my flabby white gut hanging out. What can I say, I gots high standards.

Not high enough to leave my fake hillbilly teeth* at home, however. So I with my hillbilly teeth, overalls, and pigtails, and Alex with his overalls, tattoo, and camouflage Crocs (yes, even I will allow Crocs to be worn out of the house on an occasion that involves DRESSING UP LIKE A HILLBILLY), grabbed our failed monsters-on-a-stick cookies and headed to the party. It was super fun and I enjoyed mingling with the kids and their moms, although Alex was rarely to be seen more than three feet away from the Thomas & Friends train table. Go figure.

Somehow I managed to wrangle him away long enough to get some group pictures with him and the rest of the kids.

I mean, my kid even makes hillbilly look good.

I wish I had gotten a picture of myself with those hideous teeth in, or perhaps one with the hillbilly boy and his mama, but it just didn't happen. We did come away with a trayful of delicious and fun Halloween treats, though. It really was a great party and a great idea. I'm thinking I might steal the idea and have a Christmas cookie exchange of my own...

Aside from the train table, one of Alex's favorite things from that day were my hillbilly teeth. He was totally freaked out by the teeth when I first put them in (see asterisk below) and would run away from me saying, "No-no, Mommy! No teeth!!" But then I started dancing around in my overalls, talkin' real country-like and singing the tune to Dueling Banjos, and he became obsessed with those stupid teeth. If I took them out, he'd pick them up and try to stuff them back into my mouth, saying, "More teeth, Mommy!"

His other favorite thing was his tattoo. The tattoo came with a kid's meal A got at a local Mexican restaurant, and from the minute I slapped that thing on his arm, he was OBSESSED. He kept looking at it and talking about it and so, instead of taking it off right away, I avoided scrubbing that area for about a week or so. Everytime he'd wear a long sleeved shirt, he'd say, "Oh no!! Where'd tattoo go!!??", and when it eventually started to wear off, he'd say, "Oh no, tattoo's going away!!" I finally scrubbed it off, promising that we'd get him a new one. In fact, Tim and I told him that we'd let him get full sleeves on both arms, as long as he never shows them to Grammy...

*SIDE NOTE: As I am a complete moron, I thought it would be a good idea to take Alex to the "Halloween store", one of those seasonal setups in a nearby strip mall stocked with every Halloween-related product one could imagine, so I could pick up my hillbilly teeth. I thought, this will be fun! Alex will love to look at all of the fun costumes! Like the bloody skeleton holding a severed human head! Oooh, or the mask with the bloody eyeballs and gnarled fangs and spikes sticking out of its head! Or, even better, the life-sized demon baby that hisses at you when you walk by! SO long as your idea of fun is your toddler waking you up in the middle of the night to tell you things like, "Scary baby at the door!!" or "Monster knock on window!". Ever since that fateful trip, everything "scares him", and he has often used "being scared" as an excuse to stall at bedtime or naptime. His old standby is, "Monsters scare me!", and in order to get rid of the monsters, he requires that I go to his door and say, "Monsters, go away!!, and perform a wave-like hand gesture that must be done in a very specific way (because otherwise, according to Alex, it simply isn't effective at shooing monsters).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Binns Boo Bash '09

I thought September was a hectic month until October hit me like a ton of bricks. Between plane trips and Halloween parties and church functions and houseguests, we have been going non-stop since the first of the month, and things don't seem to be letting up anytime soon.

I have umpteen posts to catch up on, but I'm gonna try to keep things in order and start with our first Halloween party of the season, the Binns' Annual Boo Bash. We almost missed it because A had some bizarre mystery virus earlier that week, but luckily, he had been fever-free for days and seemed healthy and in good spirits by the time the party rolled around. Having been out-of-town the previous weekend, combined with the fact that the party was pretty early in the month (the 10th), I hadn't gotten around to designing a fabulous costume for A, so we just went with an old standby that only required some rummaging through closets and the dress-up box.

Disappointing, I know. But with 4 more Halloween events to follow, it is still possible to redeem myself...

He does make a cute cowboy, though, and he really enjoyed dressing up like one. I assume they have talked about cowboys at school because when I told him that's what he was going to be, he said "Yeehawww" and told me he needed a rope because, duh Mom, no cowboy outfit is complete without a rope.

In case you're wondering, yes, that is the same hat Alex wore on his first birthday, size XS, hence the reason head looks so huge. He doesn't have a giant head, he just has a little hat.

Off to the party we went, and as usual, Alex made a beeline straight for the train stuff. When does this train-obsession phase end, exactly?

Of course, he wasn't the only boy there going through the obsessed-with-trains phase. I was a little afraid Alex would try to hip-check anyone who tried to get in his way of the horn or the steering wheel (not that he is a bully, per se, but the boy is serious about his trains), but he played really well with the other kids.

Ain't my boy just the purdiest thing y'all ever done seen?

The trains weren't the only attraction at this bash. They had a "haunted house" with a fog machine and a "ghost" rigged up on the inside, basically a robotic arm with a head and red eyes that was draped in a white sheet, and it was motion-sensored so that it would move around when the kids came near it. The first thing Alex said when he saw it was, "robot!" I guess that white sheet wasn't foolin' him.

They also had two moon bounces and pinatas and a swingset and a clown who painted faces and made balloon animals.

A was really into the tire swing, particularly spinning around in circles on the tire swing, and being the good mother that I am, I obliged him and spun him around as he yelled, "Faster! Faster!" And when I got him going at a good 600RPMS, I heard Tim gasp and looked down to see that Alex's eyes were rolling around in his head like he was having some sort of a seizure. I stopped the swing and his eyes just kept on a-rollin'. Tim and I totally panicked and thought Alex was about to pass out, but within seconds, his eyes slowed down and he smiled and said something like, "I'm dizzy!" He wanted to spin again, but I put the kibosh on the spinning, at least for that day.

Towards the end of the party, we attempted to gather the kids for a group picture. Candid kid pictures are about the funniest thing ever. Here are a few examples of how that experience went down.

What isn't pictured is how Alex kept grabbing the witch hat of the little girl in front of him and smushing it down on her head so that his face was free from obstructions when his picture was being taken. It was one of those situations where I felt bad for the little girl but couldn't stop laughing because, well, it was funny.

It was another great year at the Binns Boo Bash! Can't wait 'til next Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Aboard Slideshow

I got the rest of the train pics uploaded to Flickr, so here is the whole event, slideshow style.

Monday, October 26, 2009

All Aboard

I've been meaning to post this one for about a month now, but I got behind on posts and then misfiled half of the pictures and yada yada yada and so here we are.

One of Tim's fellow atty's has two little boys, one of whom was turning 3, and -
you'll never believe this - he wanted to have a train party! A 3 year old boy obsessed with trains. Have you ever heard of such a thing??!! Anyway, Alex was invited, and though the party was smack in the middle of his naptime, he was more than happy to trade a little rest for train-related festivities. He was downright giddy about the Thomas decorations and the big train track laid out on the living room floor, but he about peed himself when he saw the birthday boy's big surprise waiting outside on the street.

I mean, seriously, do three year old birthday parties get any cooler than this? This dude had painted old oil cans, attached wheels, and rigged them up to his four wheeler to make a working "train" that people can rent by the hour for birthdays parties, corporate events, bachelor parties - whatever. I was a little anxious about the whole safety issue, but quickly got over it because the whole set up seemed pretty legit, and the "conductor" seemed to know exactly what he was doing. A claimed his car and the conductor passed out official train whistles.

Then they were off!!

They rode up and down the street and then ventured out into the neighborhood. The kids' favorite part was when the conductor would get to the cul-de-sac and would drive in a tight circle, pretending that the "engine" was trying to catch up with the "caboose". We could hear the kids screaming with glee all the way down the block.

It didn't take long for the neighborhood kids to notice a train driving up and down their streets. Pretty soon, our train had a bunch more passengers, so A's car became double-occupancy. Luckily, he didn't mind having a riding buddy.

A and his classic request for "one more" train ride.

I didn't think it was fair for the kids to have all the fun and leave us grown ups standing on the sidelines. So yeah, I totally rode the train and managed not to upchuck when we spun around in circles. Go me. Got a couple "rider's eye view" pics, too.

It was a super fun party, and needless to say, A had a blast. Aside from riding on a real train, this one will be hard to top!