Thursday, October 31, 2013


 Halloween makes for some fun times here at Casa de Diva. Of course, having an incurable case of Art-School-Itis as well as being a tight wad means I require homemade costumes. Not only that, but I was scarred by those vinyl sheaths with the plastics masks that passed for Halloween costumes when I was a kid. Remember your breath making the plastic Casper the Friendly Ghost mask all hot and icky inside? Yeah, me too. I've noticed they don't make those costumes any more. Did OSHA catch up with them?

Anyway, having a large family,  I refuse to buy those 'costumes in a bag' for all six kids every year so they have to come up with costumes on their own. There's some whining and complaining, but I think it's right and proper that these kids expend some effort for their yearly bag of candy.

So most of our costumes end up being made of found objects or pieced together from Savers. We also instituted a rule of no last minute changes. The deadline for costume decisions is night before at 7:00 pm. This rule was set because I would have a kid that wanted to be the Michelin Man. Much effort and time would go into making said costume only to have the kid come up to me Halloween morning and announce they have a new and better idea. This in turn meant the entire day was spent scrambling for something to make them look like Mrs. Haversham. Thus we created the rule.

The day of Halloween is like backstage at Versace's Fashion Week show in NYC; semi-clothed people running round with make-up and hair partially done, fussing and fuming about missing costume pieces. And Mom sewing up last minute pieces or gluing a child into their costume. Finally, after about an hour of mayhem, we're assembled and ready to go.

Trick or Treating is always fun as the kids have to explain at each and every house what their costume is. "I'm a Weeping Angel. Yes, Weeping Angel. It's from a TV show called 'Doctor Who'. No, 'Doctor Who'. It's a British show." Why can't they just be a princess??

Gummi, the youngest, is fun to watch because he's still amazed that all he has to do is say three words and people give him candy. And that this happens more than once. He'll go to a door, flash his winning smile, even though he's dressed as a deadly spider, and then come running back to us with an exuberant, "Look what I got!!" He won't move on until we look in his bag and admire the latest Three Musketeers Bar. And this happens after each and every house.

I think the best part is the next day, what I call the 'horse trading'. The children all gather in the living room and assess their spoils. They sort the candy according to size and desirability. Then they commence furious trading with each other. Not just one for one trading but market value trading. After all, a Snickers mini-bar is worth at least three of those weird Tootsie roll flavors that are only available in October. Certain candies are confiscated by Mom. Like those Sponge Bob chewy things. They are just too weird to be safe to ingest. Some kids try to corner the market on a particular candy. Tater is known to trade anything, including younger siblings, in an effort to get Nestle Crunch bars. Other kids try desperately to get rid of the undesirables like Butterfingers. Then there's the kids who try to gain the Kit Kats and Twix bars so they can use them to bribe Mom later.

Here's the run down of this year's costumes:

This is Buttercup as a pirate. That's her most intimidating face. Maybe she should keep her day job.

This is Gummi as a Black Widow Spider. I think the penny loafers go well with the skull cap, don't you?

This is Baby as RobotMan. No small pieces were swallowed in the making of this costume.

This is W. Bear as Hawkeye. Those are milk jugs put together to make a quiver for his arrows. Reduce, reuse, recycle Hawkeye!

This is Git Ur Done as the aforementioned Weeping Angel. Although in this picture, she looks more like the What's Going On Here? Angel.

This is Tater as Artemis Fowl. Seeing as how Artemis is a criminal genius, we told Tater to look smarmy. This is his best shot.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Illustrated Woman addendum

Betty just recently went on a trip to Las Vegas and since she was in the area, stopped by her favorite public works project and tattoo inspiration- the Hoover Dam. She sent these pictures showing the tattoo element and the design inspiration. Kudos to the artist, Mike Drexler, for some pretty fine work!

These are the penstocks towers which regulate the flow of water into the turbines.

This is one of the two "Winged Figures of the Republic" designed by Oskar Hansen. They flank a memorial dedicated to the workers who died during the construction of the Dam.

This is another part of the Hansen memorial. The full quote is "They died to make the desert bloom."

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Realities of Having a Large Family

Most posts about having a large family are about the joys of having a lot of kids, and while I agree that having a large family can be great, I think we have to be honest and admit the other side of the dream. I think large families are afraid if we say something negative about large families, someone will jump out of the closet and yell, "Aha! I knew it!"

Having thoroughly checked my closet, I will now list for you the down side of a house of mirth and merriment. Mind you, this is not a statement of regret, more like a "you should know this before jumping into large family-dom."

1. We go through an insane amount of toilet paper.

We should own stock in Charmin. I got a $10 Starbucks gift card for 16 years of using Pampers. Charmin, I'm expecting bigger things from you.

hint, hint

2. Be prepared to answer the same question 10 times, usually within 5 minutes.

Usually the kids are listening in on conversations that are none of their business. Yet when one of them asks me what's for dinner, this is the one time the rest of them don't listen in. So the next kid, who was a mere two feet away from the first child asks, "What's for dinner?" Then the next kid, within even closer ear shot, but for some reason deaf for the past five minutes, asks, "What's for dinner?" I wish I lived in a canyon at dinner time. That way "what's for dinner?" can be repeated without effort on my part.
Tuna Casserole!!....Tuna Casserole!!....Tuna Casserole!!...Tuna Casserole!!

3. Restaurant Visits

Any visit to a restaurant will take hours. First is the look from the 20 something hostess at the front desk. "Eight?" she says incredulously. And then looks at all the kids like we're some kind of social deviants. Then there's the wait for the staff to set a table for 8 with high chairs and crayons and kid menus away from the rest of the general public. One restaurant actually put us in a seperate room! Then there's the wait for 8 different meals to be ready at the same time so the waitress can serve it. And forget about the "Kids Eat Free" promotions. If you read the fine print, there's something about one free meal with each adult purchase. That means we're still a few meals short of a good bargin.

4. Order an extra large of whatever drink you get or embrace the inner Grinch and don't share.

It's like having a pizza in a room full of stoned people. Every time I get an iced coffee, two seconds after I pull away from the drive thru window, a chorus of "Can I have a sip?" begins followed by the responsorial call "I'm thirsty!" So do I let all six have a sip and possibly not have an iced coffee by the time the drink gets back to me? Or do I be a meanie and say no one gets a sip? Maybe I should set up a rotation schedule: "Sorry Gummi, it's Tuesday and that means only Buttercup, W. Bear and Baby get a sip. Tomorrow will be your turn."

Daffy, I feel your pain.

bonus fun: My son Tater took as sip of my coffee once and AFTER said, "I just don't know how you can drink without leaving backwash." I didn't much want my coffee anymore.

5. Sexy and fuel efficiency are inversely proportional to passenger capacity.

The more kids we had, the less pretty our vehicle got. We now drive a whale that gets 10 miles to the gallon down hill with the wind behind us. It came in two colors.

6. When in public, be prepared for questions.

"Are they all yours?" Uh, why would I rent extras?
"Which is more difficult, girls or boys?" Neither, it's pesky people with silly questions.
"Are they all from the same father?" ?!?
"How do you handle it all?" I don't. Seriously.
"Are you going to have any more?" What, tonight? That's kind of personal, don't you think?

7. I am in constant need of socks and underwear.

Harvard University hasn't returned my calls, but I need a scientific study to see if large families go through socks quicker than smaller families. I suppose those boys up in Beantown have more pressing things on their plate but this is a serious need for me. I buy those mondo packs of socks and the very next day the boys are traipsing around here with mismatched, holey (and not in the spiritual way) socks. We have a box where we keep the orphan socks on the hopes of reuniting them with their lost partner after the next load of laundry. I'm embarrassed how big that box has gotten.

8. Noise

I once saw a definition of boys as "Noise with dirt." I've got four of 'em. My husband asks me why I stay up so late. It's because the silence is - and I thought about what word I'd use here for a while - the silence is luscious.

9. Totally utilitarian dishes

Those cute 4 qt. crock pots? Individual ramekins or onion soup crocks? Yeah, whatever. Making elaborate individual servings of stacked and saucy vegetables is a thing of the past. Four is not a problem, eight and you have to go next door to borrow the neighbor's counter space. Then there's the storage issue. I do not have enough cabinet space for 8 sets of custard cups, mini souffle dishes, soup crocks, bread plates, etc. Although I make an exception for those shallow fluted creme brulee ramekins. It is my rule in life to always make room for creme brulee.
Creme brulee, you complete me.