Archive | October, 2011

Project Super-hero

30 Oct

Not bad for 20+ year old action figures :)

So – the only down side to buying super cool super heroes used at Long Beach Comic Con is that they were all missing their super hero accessories. Thus, this morning, Blake and I had our work cut out for us, getting our Captain America, Super Man and Union Jack (or as Blake Dean affectionately calls him, Jack) back in shape.

Super cape-age

Armed with cardboard and Mummy’s remnant box, we went to work creating a shield, cape and holster for Blake’s “guys.” Though incredibly far from perfect, I think our makeshift outfits did the trick. Blake is happy as a clam, and I have actually been near tears a few times since seeing him play with action figures for the first time.

It’s hard to explain, but playing with “people” has taken him to a whole different level developmentally, making them act out different scenarios (fighting, saving people, hurting bad guys, going to bed) that he has never done with his cars and trucks. My little heart :) I love super heroes!



Captain Blakey hits Long Beach Comic Con

29 Oct

Zombie Parking Only = Great way to kick off the Halloween weekend

So – we were super-fortunate to get a press pass to attend Long Beach Comic Con for We had so much fun attending freebie events outside the San Diego Comic Con event that we had to take advantage of the opportunity. Though tiny in comparison, it didn’t disappoint.

Super Man = super thrill for Blake Dean

Storm Trooper, I think.

Now – when I say that the show rocked, please know I speak as a woman who knows almost nothing about comics, and who was attending the show with a 3-year-old boy. From that perspective, we couldn’t have had more fun. Tons of super heroes, monsters, robots, toys, and friendly people.

Playing with his new action figures ...

Blake picked up his first-ever super-hero figurines (used, 3 for $10), including Captain America (go figure), Super Man, and Union Jack. (Props to Doug Kline for identifying him via my cryptic text message asking who the super hero with a … union jack … on his chest might be).

Captain Blakey - what are the chances! Amazing art by Dan "Smif" Smith.

Even more exciting (from my perspective) was this rad piece one of the artists (the very sweet and super talented Dan “Smif” Smith) gave to Blake when he saw his “B” helmet. Turns out he had done a “new” super-hero (a mix between Captain America and Batman) who just happened to wear red, white, and blue, and sport a “B” on his helmet … just like Super Blake. When he saw Blake’s hat, he thought he had to have it. Nicest thing ever!

Star Wars fruities = Blake's dream come true

If I hadn’t been at the show with a toddler, I would have loved to explore more of the artists who were showcasing their work, and some of the cool stuff they were selling. Regardless, it was an amazing time for both me and the monster.

File Under: Things that blew Blake's mind. Rad LED mouse head (mau5head) from Chase Levin

But I’m not a geek. I swear. Really.

xoxo :)

Though shy in the beginning, he owned the place by the end of the afternoon

For mama.

21 Oct

Remembering my mama on the eighth anniversary of her passing. Sharing something I wrote for her after she died. RIP, sweet mama. I miss you now like I missed you then.

For Mama (2003)

Hey, now, how’s the air up there?
Can you see me, are you breathing better?

Can you see the way that I forget
I can’t call you like I always did?
That I started saying prayers again
Like there’s a way that you might hear me then?

And did you see the new tattoo I got?
It’s black, I know you’d hate it, but –
The words remind me of a song
You used to sing when I was gone.

And hey now, are you running strong?
Are you feeling better, being gone?
Did the wings they gave you take it all —
what made you sad here for so long?

And hey now, yeah, I got your ring.
I thought it’d be too big for me.
But I’ve grown up so quickly, mom.
I moved away, I got that job.

But those groups they said would pull me through–
I tried them for a week or two.
I sat in circles, cleared my head.
I realized twice that you were dead.

There are things I wish that I had kept,
like the only book you ever read
About a man who got smart, then dumb again,
Well I think I’m turning in to him –
Today I tried to call again.

And hey now, what’s the word on me?
The doctors got me worrying.
The air I breathe, the things I eat –
They tell me not to worry, but –

My medicine, it’s stopped working, and
I’ve been telling on myself again.
I keep hearing things you would have said
Or written on those cards you made.

And hey now, are you still around?
I need you more than ever now.

RIP. xoxo

Captain Blake … er, Blakey America

20 Oct

Captain Blakey

Given our joint love for Captain America, it didn’t take us long to decide what costume I should make Blake for Halloween this year. The only question was how to go about creating the outfit, and ensuring it was one that Blake would actually be willing to wear – whether at his day camp Halloween party or while scavenging our new neighborhood for candy.

I decided to go uber-simple, creating a shield and headband, and allowing him to fill the gaps with a Captain America tee and simple blue pants. All I needed:

Red, white and blue fleece (remnant bin @ 50% off!)

(1) 2 in. seat cushion ($8 – I forgot my coupon or it would have been $4)

Fluff & stuff pillow filling (onhand)

Granted, I’m not a perfect freehand circle-maker. But I think the shield came out really great. Not only is it super useful in terms of protecting myself when Blake charges at me, but it looks super-cute as an extra throw on his bed or the couch.

Best. Little Golden Book. Evah. (Actually, it's really poorly written! But we still love it!)

There is literally nothing in this world that makes me happier than when Blake lights up like a Christmas tree because of something I made him. And let me tell you – he loves this Captain America shield. And I love the fact that it’s something he will still be playing with, long past Halloween just like the Super Blake cape I made him last year, which he sported so proudly at Comic Con this summer :).

Super Blake - still going strong, even after Halloween 2010

Hells, yeah!


Todder telepathy?

14 Oct

Toddler telepathy? It's gotta be :)

My mom died in late October, coming up on eight years ago. When we get to this time of year, I can always feel it in the air. Memories of that time seem to be lying just below the surface.  That sense of sadness is always a bit closer than I’d like.

Driving the boys to camp this morning, we passed a hospice. I had never noticed it before, because it’s tucked discreetly (and somewhat depressingly) into a nondescript office park. Still, today it made me think of my mom; she was on home hospice the week or two before she died.

As my mind went to that place of remembering how frail my mom was in those final weeks at home, Blake piped in from the back seat, breaking my sad silence. Out of nowhere, he said:

“Do you remember mommy’s mommy?”

The words gave me chills. Obviously, he’s never met my mom, but I have talked about “mommy’s mommy” a number of times. Shocked that he would remember at the precise moment I was thinking of her, I asked, “What did you say, bud?”

(A little annoyed to have to repeat himself) “I said, ‘Do you remember mommy’s mommy?'”

My eyes welled up a little, and I still have chills thinking about it. Is it possible that my 3-year-old son could sense I was thinking of her at that moment? Is it possible to share your feelings of grief (or love) with your child, an entire row of car seats away?

Whatever the case, it made me realize that my mama must have been talking to both of us today. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel on this particular morning in October.


Clearly, we share a very deep, very spiritual, connection

“I don’t beg.”

7 Oct

Yesterday, both kids had a well-baby exam at the local pediatric center. As our luck would have it ( though I try to avoid him like the plague), we once again got stuck with Dr. Smartass (DS).

I usually feel like crying after meeting with DS due to his incessant criticism of my parenting skills and crudely-worded assessments of my children (“I wouldn’t say he’s grossly abnormal.”) This time, however, he actually offered some sage advice that seems worth sharing.

At the end of the visit, DS bent down to offer Blake a sticker for being “good” (-ish) during the exam. When Blake (who is actually super shy around people he doesn’t know) didn’t immediately take it, DS stood up and coolly tossed it into the garbage. I stood, wide-eyed, and gasped. It seemed harsh not to give Blake a few seconds to warm up to his offer. Didn’t he understand that my son is shy and might need a little coaxing?  Seeing my response, he said simply:

“I don’t beg.”

I immediately felt a tremendous weight lift off my shoulders, realizing how much of my own life is built around begging. I swear at least half of my to-do list each day consists of reminding people to do things they should have already done anyway on their own.

“Please eat this. Please? Do you want a time out? On the count of three, if you don’t eat this… Please?”

“Please get back to me. Please? I really need an answer … I’m going to keep calling you … Please?

“Please pay my invoice on time. Please? I really need to pay my bills. Do you need me to send another reminder? Please?”

“Please answer your phone. I really need to talk to you. I guess I’ll call back later. Please?

“Please be my brother. I think you’re so awesome. Please don’t stop talking to me again. Please?”

If nothing else, I’m very polite. But I’m also very Pisces. And it’s nearly impossible for me to let something go. I need closure. I need an ending. I need completion. I need to know you aren’t mad at me. I need to know I’ll hear from you again. I need to know – like really know – that you love me. I hate leaving things open-ended. I am literally the queen of follow-up. I spend much of my life begging … and begging … for answers that will probably never come. For people to remember that I’m alive.

I guess I’m getting to a point when I’m burning out on pushing people to do things they clearly have no interest in doing. Imagine the freedom in saying simply, “Fuck it.” If you don’t want to wear shoes, don’t wear shoes. You’ll learn that stepping on rocks isn’t fun. If you don’t want to go to bed, don’t. You’ll learn that staying up all night makes you tired. If you don’t want to keep in touch, don’t. I have other things in my life that need to take priority.

There are a few pieces of advice I’ve gotten from people over the years that I’ll never forget – ever – and this is going to be one of them. I’m not saying I’ll always be able to live by it. But it definitely seems like it’s worth giving it a try. Or not. I won’t beg you ;)


“I need you here right now … Please toss me a dry towel”

2 Oct

I don’t want to brag, but a few decades ago(+), I was in a band named Frigid Whiskers.

It was a brother-sister duo launched in the attic of our Jeannette, PA, home. We didn’t have any instruments. But we did have plenty of time … and paper. And what we lacked in instrumental skills, we made up for in passion, evident in every one of the songs we wrote.

Frigid Whiskers: The album

Our biggest hit by far had to be “Hurricane.” At least I’m assuming that was our biggest, as we went through the trouble of making a double byline because we were soooo proud of it. Lyrical highlights include: I need you here right now / Please toss me a dry towel / To dry off all the rain / And wipe away the pain …

It's a hurricane coming on to me ... A hurricane - I'm so blind that I can't see

My next favorite was “Shipwreck on Main Street.” Just try to run … there’s no land at your feet …

"Instead of flying birdies, there're floating fish around my head."

It’s hilarious to look back at how our musical careers started, but there’s no denying that having time and space to create those songs impacted us in our later lives. We learned that we love to write. And sing. And create. Today, my brother is a kick-ass, ridiculously sick musician. (Check out Daddy Died Believing I was Good.) I mess around with my bass and write songs when I have the time. (Check out I Could Say I Will). But the music is engrained in both of us, forever.

Now that I have kids, I look back at these little pieces of my childhood and wonder what I can learn from them. For me, it just further strengthens my resolve to keep the TV turned off (except a little during football season ;) and to let my kids be weird and crazy and 100 percent themselves. You never know where it might lead.

“I want a maker thing …”

1 Oct

"I want a maker thing" - least specific Christmas request everNow that we’re all moved into the new place, I’ve been spending time on sorting and putting away all the really important stuff: old photos and memories I’ve had in storage for at least a decade.

My most recent fave is my Christmas list from – I’m guessing – 1980-ish. It reads (give or take a few scribbles):

Dear Santa,

I want a jewelry set. I want a maker thing. A hobbly hobby oven. (stet) A wonder woman suit. A thing to dry your hair with. I want just a yellow wig.

God bless my mom for keeping this work of art. I’m pretty sure I got all of those things in one form or another over the years. It might have been an Easy Bake oven instead of Holly Hobby. But I definitely got a Holly Hobby sleeping bag one Christmas, so it evens out.

Yeah - I'm pretty sure we never could have afforded this. Easy Bake oven must have been my runner-up.

And the Wonder Woman suit turned into Wonder Woman underoos. But that’s probably what I meant anyway, knowing me.

Who needs a Wonder Woman outfit when you can have Wonder Woman underpants?

For the number of times I’ve colored my hair over the years, I’ve basically had a yellow wig 10x over.

As for the “thing to dry your hair with” – also known as … a hair-dryer – I’ve actually turned into a girl who doesn’t use one, so it’s cute that I used to think I would.

So. Here’s to little Christmas wishes, and how easy it used to be to make them come true. And to moms who didn’t just take time to write out their 3-year-old daughter’s letter to Santa, but to keep it for decades, just in the off chance it would one day make that girl smile. (It totally did, btw.)