Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dia De Los Muertos

I've always wanted to make an altar for Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. I'm not sure how I knew for sure, since late summer, that this year would be the year I would make one in our home. I think it has to do with turning 45 next week and having the time clock ticking louder in my subconscious than ever before.

I took the boys to a fabulous Day of the Dead celebration in our hometown so they would understand where it comes from and its significance. 

Can you find the 5-year-old?
Outdoor altar at Meek Mansion Day of the Dead Community Celebration

There they boys made the skeleton masks that are now at the back of our altar at home, and Benjamin decorated the little sugar skull at another booth. We got some colorful fabric, cut out the flags, and made tissue paper flowers. I bought a Lady of Guadalupe (one of my favorite icons) candle at our local Mexican grocery store, and then it was time to add photos and symbols. 

The framed picture near the top is my mother. The two photos below that are of G. and A. meeting Grandma Gagnon for the first time. Grandma lived to 101 years, and when I met her, she was 93, healthy as a horse and walking 3 miles a day. The pic to the right is our friend Ralf, one of G's groomsmen who passed away suddenly a few years ago. There are more pictures, more people to add as I find and print them.

One of the most poignant things on the altar, to me, is the pregnancy test on the top to the left. I'm grieving the loss of my dream of having a third baby. It's not unexpected - as I said, I'll be 45 next week. But I always thought I'd have three kids. I always thought I'd have a daughter. Someone who claims to know such things told G. a few years ago that there was a "red-headed female" soul waiting to join our family. I'm sad that she either lost her way, or that I didn't hold the door open long enough for her to join us.

So, our family is now complete, and it's good. I am beyond lucky to have two such glorious boys. A friend offered me the book, "The Wisdom of Menopause" but I'm not ready for it yet. I have to still say goodbye to the ignorance, and other trappings, of youth.

And, as a bonus, here's Benjamin explaining Day of the Dead for you, complete with 5-year-old close-up. Then he goes on to the weather, which is why I stop recording. If you knew him, you'd thank me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I need to warn those of you who view my blog on readers....I'm going way back through my archives and tagging my posts so I can eventually sort the posts and put them in a book. Not a Random House kinda book, a homemade book, much like the ones A. writes. The boys are constantly asking for stories of when they "were young." So if I make a book out the posts and give it to them, I don't have to talk to them anymore.

So, yeah. I'm going to be showing a whole lot more recently published posts and they'll be from 2003. Sorry.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Fun Dad

One thing I'll say for G., he's great at playful improvising. A. even says, "Mom, you're not as playful as Dad." Hey, I'll play, as long as the rules are all set out and I know them and we have all the right equipment. But G. just makes stuff up as he goes along.

Benjamin has been bugging me to play some game called "Blind Man's Rummy." I have no idea what he's talking about and considering I can't even remember the rules to Hearts, I decline and suggest War or Go Fish or something else my feeble brain can handle. Turns out, Blind Man Rummy is a game G. invented with rules designed specifically so Benjamin wins. They have to find matches in their hands, G. deals out extra cards randomly, and when Benjamin runs out of cards, he wins. Perfect for the easily frustrated 5-year-old.

He also invented "Sock Fights." He took the worn out socks I was going to throw away along with some unmatched socks, balled them up, stuck them in a plastic bag and wrote "Sock Fight" on the outside. On rainy days when they can't go outside, he and the boys work off extra energy by hurling the socks at each other. They're pretty good at picking them up afterward, although I often find balled up socks behind furniture and just stick them back in the bag.

Once, when we were visiting my sister and the boys (along with my nephew) needed some distraction, he threw a wooden board on the grass and told them to "Walk the plank!" That, along with some pirate talk, kept them busy for quite a while.

Another game is "Chute," where he stands on the couch, holds up a sleeping bag, and the boys take turns going climbing on the couch and heading down the "chute" to the floor. He piles pillows between the couch and the floor, so no one gets hurt. Mama doesn't do Chute because her arms get too tired.

Mama also doesn't do "Carpet Ride," because she says she's not strong enough. "Carpet Ride" is when the boys, one at a time now that they're bigger, sit on a huge blanket and G. pulls them around house. Now that we've traded the carpet for hardwood floors, it's a lot easier.

He's also made up this character, "Pinnaman Pete." He's great at making up stories about Pete and his mountainous, gold-mining ways. When we were driving to Bend, he made up all these stories about Pinnaman Pete and 5-Fingered Jack. I don't where he gets this stuff. I'm supposed to be the writer but he's got a great imagination. Trying to keep up with Pinnaman Pete stories makes my brain tired.

For the last couple days, we've been a bit misplaced because our floors are being redone. We can't walk on them for about 4 days. So we're all living in the family room, kitchen and master bedroom, which we enter through the window. Tonight G. is doing a backyard camp-out (BTW, my spell check wants to replace that with "cam pout." WTH?) with the boys. Sadly, it's a 2-person tent, or 1-person and 2-kids, so I'm missing the fun and sleeping in my own bed. Poor me. But Fun Dad is out there with the boys, making memories they'll have forever.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

More Home Improvement Adventures

Remember when my purse was stolen 2 weeks ago? So today the mailman comes by with a "postage due" envelope. I had no idea what it was - it was from the "Atlanta Recovery Center" in GA. So I told him to hold on a sec, I had to get my wallet.
Then I did what I'm sure everyone has to do at some point...walked out the sliding glass doors of the family room into the courtyard, and up onto the wooden bench and through our bedroom window into the master bedroom.

"Oh!" said the mailman.

"Yeah, we can't walk on the floors," I said, gesturing to the open front door and the very strong smell of polyurethane wafting from within.

"Ah! You are having them refinished?" I nodded, gratefully. Thanks for understanding, mailman.

This floor refinishing could mean the end of unstained doors covered with plastic, doorways taped up with painter's tape, and napkins wrapped around doorknobs to keep them from banging into other walls or doors. I'm not sure, since this is what we've lived with for the last 2 years, but I'm hopeful. G. is our home-improvement captain, and he says the floors need to be redone before we can do anything else woodenish. So we might actually see the dining room door soon. Right now it's taped up with cardboard and painter's tape, although it's been installed for a year and half.

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