edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

I’m Just A Girl in the World August 8, 2016

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 11:29 am
Tags: , ,

O: Outings

Gwen_Stefani_Ava_JenNothing like your first concert experience. Mine was the Rolling Stones. For my daughter, Ava, I wanted the same mind-blowingness and Gwen Stefani delivered. I’m feeling Hella Good about it. In fact, when I cracked open my laptop at my co-working space this morning and Gwen belted out Misery right where she left off on my YouTube stream yesterday, I didn’t scramble to mute it.
 

It’s okay that Ava’s next concert-going experience will be different and maybe even better. She only knew about one-third of Gwen’s songs because I only just got in on tickets a few days prior to the concert. We listened to her new stuff off of #ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLike, but how could there possibly be enough time over three busy days to impart all of the Stefani magic upon her? And I realize, it could be more fun with friends than your mom with an artist you’re currently all gaga over.
 

Gwen_Stefani_Scar8That aside, it was more about getting to experience that excitement for the first time with her. We did our hair and make-up (applied some false eyelashes in the Target parking lot en route) and chose our attire carefully — denim and black — always a wise choice. Other words of wisdom included you must wear a tank for a quick new concert t wardrobe swap (pictured here, I’m wearing her shirt as a scarf🙂; you must wear flats because despite having assigned seats, you will be on your feet the entire time (which I did not heed due to my must wear camo wedges); and go big on make-up, casual on clothes so you look like you don’t care too much.
 

We arrived at 6:20 to the Xcel to survey the hazy scene and hear opening act, Eve (@therealeve). Always loved that Gwen back to No Doubt days had a ska/ hip-hop vibe to her music and it makes so much sense that artistry continues to inform and weave through her versatile vibe. From Eve’s portion I say holla to the flag corp girls! I leaned over to share with Ava that our militant flag corp routines from junior highschool looked nothing like that and could have used a booty-shaking infusion. Response: eye-rolling.
 

Gwen_Stefani_TIn anticipation of Gwen, we snapped some photos, surveyed the scene which include a mom and her five-year-old in front of us. We did that t-shirt swap I had hinted about earlier in the day after she got over disbelief that I allowed a $40 t-shirt purchase without batting an eye. Later I explained how amazingly cool it felt to come back to my small town Jackson, MN, after a Tuesday night seeing The Stones in the cities. I was unapologetically exhausted (from 3:00a.m. arrival home), but my t-shirt with Jagger’s tongue spoke volumes of coolness for me. Ava’s Gwen t of choice — the one with photo booth shots and a list of 26 cities on her tour — could bring the same transcendence to her.
 

We were ready. In the first of four outfits, Gwen opted for tartan, black boots and yodeling with Wind It Up, a ska meets Sound of Music loveliness, lilt and lyrical genius. Wardrobe change two featured a bodysuit with ornate details that might possibly have included a necklace of ostrich features and denim low-rise jeans with lots of zippers. I know we’re Cool. Then she went army green militant in jeans with a glittery brilliant green top in contrast. Whatcha Waiting For?  She ended with short black shorts, a black and white half scarf/half skirt and white feathered top. She closed on more serene notes with This Is What The Truth Feels Like and Sweet Escape. 
 

Gwen_Stefani_Swiss2Amidst all of that fashion, style and lyrical variety, Blake Shelton came out for Go Ahead and Break My Heart. And because the audience knows this love story intimately, everyone seemed to get swept up in this number. Even Ava turned to me, like really? could it be? when Gwen hinted that “my favorite person in the whole world is here.” Admittedly, my heart did a few backflips, but I would never say that Blake (and Eve) were the stars of the show as the Strib review noted. C’mon, Jon! We want her to come hollaback : ) (check out PiPress review too, which is more favorable)
 

Yes, on one more Strib review follow-up note, the Stefani experience is larger than her music because she is so much larger than that. As a mom of three who I feel like I grew up with (we’re only two years apart), a fashionista (L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers), her wide open love life and all its drama, and her story about making this album for her, I feel like all of those things only make her stronger, more relevant.
 

And one final note, the two times I’ve seen Gwen in concert (Nov 2002 and Aug 2016), I was sober. The first time, I was three months pregnant with Ava and this time, completely by choice to enjoy the eve with my daughter. In 2002, I recall being awed by the number of push-ups Gwen did on stage; in 2016, I’m awed by how amazing she looks and sounds and that she’s even better. She seems truly happy just being a girl in the world.
 

— Cheers, Gwen and come back to Minnesota next time ’round!

 

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of the Birthday July 17, 2016

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 8:59 am
Tags: , ,

My son, Calvin, turned 11 late June and here it is, July 17, nearly a month after his birthday and I’m just getting around to reflecting upon it. I’m usually more of the moment, but his birthday celebrations have been going on for just that long. Really. Not my fault.

Birthday Presence

Birthday Presence

 

This year, an on-the-ball mom and friend of mine got her invites out early and marked the day before Calvin’s birthday for her son’s birthday party. Summer gets busy with kids at camp and weekends at the cabin. It was totally fine by Cal and me (she was thoughtful enough to consult with us and even sent Cal home with a special birthday cupcake!). He was jazzed to be at a sleepover at his friends even though it bumped out his birthday party with friends about three weeks.
 

Per the ushe, we were last-minute gift shopping for the family celebration on his actual birthday, a Sunday. This used to stress me out, now that’s the only way we roll. And truthfully a full 12 hours in advance left plenty of time for thoughtful selection, but in the case of the Stephen Curry shoes unavailable in his size that needed to be shipped, not so much (they would arrive 2 days after his birthday).

Golf with the Gilhois

Golf with the Gilhois

 

Calvin’s older sister, Ava, and I took on the arduous task of shopping — I jest, we fully don’t mind it. We took the afternoon the day before to scout out the afore mentioned shoes, golf shorts and fancy belt from Under Armor, PlayStation4 NBA 2K and a Nerf gun of the bizillionth variety. Check to it all. Some of it even got gift wrapped. There was even a heartfelt card from his sometimes pain-of-a-sister (who deep down loves him unconditionally and vice versa). It was a nice, low-key, little family party on the day of his birthday plus he got in 18 holes of golf, despite the heat and humidity.

 

When the boys rolled in around 8:00p.m. after golf, Calvin seemed pretty beat. Selfishly, I was not. I had spent the afternoon in the air-conditioning. I had not planned, hosted and corralled wild-spirited 11-year-old boys for a birthday party. I was relaxed, reflective and feeling so much love for this sweet boy, who is wise beyond his years.

Skyzone Prep Bench

Skyzone Prep Bench

 

The friend birthday outing would come later — just a few friends that fit in my car and a visit to Skyzone for the afternoon, followed by pizza, movies and candy I don’t even want to know about (and I didn’t — I was at the Guthrie enjoying South Pacific!). And because it was a #lateover (a phenomenon I discovered around the time of Ava’s 12th birthday), my husband dropped all of the boys off at their homes around 10:00p.m. Brilliance as far as I’m concerned!

 

Did I make his birthday special enough? What about Ava’s 13th birthday we celebrated super low-key early June, was that special enough? I couldn’t help but ask. I reminded myself that they’re calling the shots now. They don’t need princess parties or packed pinatas to enjoy their special days. Was it just my crazed mother mind that made it so for previous birthdays? And why did I go to so much work and fret planning birthday parties of the past? I like to think it’s just the evolution of a birthday and chalk it up to that. No looking back now — we’ve hit the tween and teen years. We’ve evolved.
— Happy 11th Birthday, oh my wise Calvin!

 

More Sweet Than Bitter: 13 June 10, 2016

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 6:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

I: Independence

My little girl is 13. And it came without any of the drama or flurry of past birthdays filled with balloons, cake and slumber-less nights. She wanted to spend her birthday with family. We were honored.

 

2016-06-03_Ava's13BDay_Bennihana

Happy Hour at Benihana

We made an entire weekend out of it. It was all about Ava. With an early June birthday, the transition to new digits has always come along with the transition of the school year. This year she said goodbye to seventh grade without looking back, welcoming the independence rumored to be given to eighth graders as head of the school.

 

It was time to transition. From the stories being reported at dinner time over the last three weeks, it became clear that a restlessness that tried both teachers and students patience was heightening. I think that was a factor as we talked a month in advance about her birthday about plans for that day. She was totally fine with a low-key celebration.

 

It went like this. After school last Friday, the day before her actual birthday, her brother came home with a Good Manners certificate from fourth grade for Benihana just as we were contemplating how Ava wanted to spend her evening. That solved the first pressing question of where to go for dinner. The usual roadblock of my husband ixnaying the Mall of America wasn’t even a factor — he took the only Apple Genius Bar appointment in town for an immediate fix for his iphone.

 

Ava13BDay_PINK_0072

Gray and PINK is trending…

We arrived at Benihana with no reservations and a 20 minute estimated wait. Perfect time to run to Sephora to let Ava hand-select part of her birthday present from her mom; while Chad and Calvin ran off to find their birthday gift for her. We opted for bar seating versus the fancy chef prep tables (next time and WITH a reservation!) and were pleasantly surprised. It was happy hour. A few banana berry smoothies and passion fruit drinks later, we were happy with our dining experience and the price, which included $15 off for Cal’s Good Manners certificate (#HaleToday).

 

We popped into Lids after dinner to pick up Ava’s birthday present from the boys. An embroidered AGJ on a gray pinstriped baseball hat. A hit. Then it was off to see Jungle Book and with Ava just under 13 by a hair, got her last kid-priced movie ticket at $6. Sad to see that era come to an end. Now she can legitimately see PG-13 movies, another milestone.

2016-06-04_Ava's13BDay_Caribou

Must Enter 13 Caffeinated!

 

The next day was an open book. We paid a visit to the mall. No surprises there! She used some of her birthday money at PINK and Abercrombie and Francesca’s. This girl was glowing with new gray sweats, jean shorts and an adorable wide-brimmed hat for the summer. I wanted to bottle that up.

 

The afternoon was spent at home. I believe the term is chillaxin’. Her dad brought home a gift from H&M for her — tossed it to me, knowing I am the queen of recycled gift bags, tissue paper and bows. I quickly critiqued it, another gray sweatshirt, sweatshorts? I bit my tongue — I so want to see her in color. You know what, she loved her gift. Go figure.

 

We enjoyed take-out from from Quangs on Nicollet- pho and spring rolls; followed by french silk pie. Later that eve, we caught up on Once, the ABC series that duals characters in fairytale and Storybrooke real worlds. I feel like we’ve been watching this an eternity… I mean, it’s wickedly good, but will it ever, ever end?

Ava13BDay_PINK_0071

The Style of 13: Gray, PINK and Lots of Sunshine!

 

Sunday, I had a project. Ava was perfectly content on her own. Not really sure what she did while I tackled my business finances. Oh wait, we did a quick facial mask together late morning. When our paths crossed in the house again, it was mid-afternoon and we rallied the family for a trip to Nokomis. I took our dog, Copper, for a run around while Chad and kids lounged on the beach. Lazy afternoon.

 

We ended it on that note. With nary a call or outreach to her friends. They will be there this summer for pool, beach and movie outings over long summer days. For now, I just want to revel in the bittersweet passing of tween to teen. Beautifully executed, Ava. We love you!

 

 

 

Journal of an Average Adolescent April 30, 2016

Filed under: The Unknown — edamomie @ 11:58 am
Tags: , ,

U: The Unknown

Although each teenagers’ journey through adolescence differs widely, one thing is for sure: finding your place in this world…. well, it’s challenging. Just ask Greg Heffley, a teen comic icon brought to life in the Children’s Theatre Company production of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: it sucks.
 

DiaryofaWimpyKid_StepRepeat

Step + Repeat; Eye Roll

I lost count on eye-rolling reactions to sharp and subtle jabs, mean-spirited exclusions, brutal popularity rankings and labels that even the audience wanted to assign to each character. It brought me right back to my middle school days in a heartbeat. It was a tough playground. Scenes and the story surrounding the “cheese touch” were dramatically executed and harkened back to game playing as a passive aggressive way to show your true feelings toward someone.
 

Greg stumbled around in his exploration, dealing with seemingly insurmountable issues like a doting mom, an sports-aspirational dad, a little brother who embarrassingly called him Bubby, a terrorizing older sibling, Rodrick, and a swooning friend, Rowley, who Greg vastly under-appreciated in true teen style. The audience cringed and commiserated along with Greg every step of the way as his miserable little existence played out.
 

Yet, it was so sweet. Sitting on either side of me, taking in the show, were my kids. Calvin, my 10 year-old, who I could nearly slip right into Greg’s shoes in a few years and Ava, my 12 year-old, who could witness her current 7th grade situation and the realness of it.
 

We all loved the performance, but for different reasons. I appreciated that Greg possessed the innocence of his age as well as the fluid emotions and struggle to not only do the right thing, but define it for himself through a series of hard-knocks. Ava connected with trying not to subscribe to mainstream beliefs, but finding that values and judgements are next to impossible to escape in middle school life and its close quarters (which begs the question, should we be teaching more empathy in our schools?). Calvin, owner of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, thought it was sheer comedic fun.

DiaryofaWimpyKid_books

Stack of Wimpy Books

Sharing our reviews over a slice of pizza after the performance, we talked about the experience of the story from book to movie (see our 2011 review of Rodrick Rules) to musical. We unanimously agreed that the ever-changing set design, comedic craftiness — the backdrop a sheet of loose-leaf paper, the furniture, doors and props white with black piping and Greg and Rowley’s comedy strip creation process on paper played out onto a screen — were spot on. The exact comic strip, right down to the first one that echoes Greg’s onstage commentary about his mom buying the shamefully labeled “Diary,” when it really was just a journal, felt very true to the written series.
 

Highlights of storylines and performances included Rodrick’s masterfully delivered death threats, Rowley’s crush on teenage music icon, Joshie, the highly coveted “Mom Bucks” (monopoly money) and the reputation-ruining “Cheese Touch.” The characters creatively jumped off the Wimpy kid pages in posture, Greg with a hollowed out slouch stature and Rodrick with all of the slanky starkness of a teen in a darkened state.
 

The concept of Diary of a Wimpy Kid seems to hold the message that adolescence and all its challenges are normal — there are no exceptions nor can one get around it. You just have to go through it. So embrace it and pencil in a date to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Musical now through June 12. Your tweens and teens might roll their eyes, but this is one moment where you just say trust me. Well done, CTC and congratulations on 50 years!

 

 

 

Riding the Wave of Wellness February 14, 2016

Y: Yolo

Peak Performers MN

Peak Performers #MNRepresent

You only live once. I created the blog category, YOLO, to capture my family’s travel adventures. This post might not fit the bill as it’s about a cruise I embarked on SOLO (or without the family), but it’s story worthy nonetheless.

 

I admit to being a bit enamored with the idea of a cruise, but never quite enough to pull the trigger and book one. In November, due to the wellness business I’m building, I was invited to join my team on what’s called a Peak Performers Cruise (hashtag that). I thought about it for a half a sec and went for it. What could be better than working out daily on a cruise ship in the sun on the seas, visiting Cozumel and Grand Cayman and connecting with people impassioned by the same mindset and goals?

 

Cruise_02_8550

Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance

I could check “cruise” off of my bucket list if it was ever really on it, I reasoned. I could write some of it off as a business expense. I was most definite I could use a warm winter getaway from Minnesota. I pushed down the memories from other rocky journeys at sea, seeking whales off the San Diego coast and riding the water taxi to and from the island of Stromboli off the coast of Sicily. These ventures never made me queasy. It was more like the anxiety of what could happen at sea, inflicted by watching movies like Jaws and The Titanic.

 

The anticipation of relaxation and exploration overrode those feelings and I was focused on the positive in the months leading up to trip. Our team (Amanda, Karry, Jen) flew into Fort Meyers on Sunday, February 7, the day of the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas’ #royalincident. On the two-hour drive up to Tampa to board our cruise ship our friend and driver asked if we had heard what had happened on the Anthem. I tuned it out as much as possible. In fact the Royal WiFi throughout the cruise was sometimes spotty and slow and shared among our team and our multiple devices, made weather and news feeds less accessible.

 

In hindsight, that was a very good thing. I chalked it up to a storm at sea near the Bahamas that got a little wavy, oblivious of the real magnitude of the event. The first night at sea, Monday, February 8, was unsettling for me. The ship was riding the waves and rocking us side to side like we were on the Avatar ride at Nickelodeon Universe, heightening our tilt degree with each wave crescendo. Everything creaked and groaned, the hangers clanged together. My senses were on high alert.

 

Cruise_08_8623

Day Five: Four Desserts

I don’t think any of us slept a wink and maybe drifted off to a light rest for an hour before dawn. I was overjoyed to see the sunrise. Today, Tuesday, would be a new day. The ship swayed and put everyone’s agility, balance and grace to the test. Don’t fill your coffee mug more than 3/4ths full to prevent scalding your hand. Don’t look down for too long – focus your gaze on the horizon or something steady in the distance to walk gracefully without looking completely intoxicated. …I feel a top 10 Cruise Tips List coming on here…

 

I inquired on several things as I gathered research to ease my anxiety: Is this your first cruise? If so, how did last night’s waviness compare? Were you queasy? If so, did you take anything (numerous responses here from Dramamine to patches on pressure points behind the ears and wrists)? Do you know the captain? Will he ever come on a give us passengers a comforting message about what is happening?

 

When the sun came out, I relaxed and was able to enjoy being on this massive, luxurious vessel. We hit the spa and fitness center every day. I had to earn my three royal meals after all. The food and beverages were never in shortage and dining at 6:00 was a main event. Most days, I ran on the treadmill. Running on it while swaying major degrees side to side was a challenge. The message, “Placing your hands on the sensors (i.e. bar handles) is not recommended,” kept popping up, but yet I held firm. My fellow treadmillers and I laughed at the slight insanity of it.

 

Cruise_05_8596

Cheers to Grand Cayman, Solid Ground

In more calorie-burning fun, we packed the dance floor at the top level of the ship in the StarQuest and danced to our heart’s content. I mean, why not have intoxicated people dancing, spilling drinks, standing on a moving platform surrounding the bar at the top-most level of the ship where it’s the least fulcrum-friendly? By the third night of this, the journey started to feel a little like the February 2 Groundhog’s Day we just came off of. Between the electric slide and the the wobble and all of the randomness, the cruise was starting to feel like a never-ending wedding.

 

Honestly, I don’t mean to sound negative. I was mostly just fascinated with cruise culture and how people (including me and our team) behave in this environment. A few things that struck me:

1. Everyone seemed to fully trust the captain (even after Anthem’s captain made a decision in complete disregard for 6,000 people’s lives, in my opinion). No one seemed concerned that when we departed Grand Cayman on Thursday, we knew we were heading into tumultuous waters (which turned out, really, to be only slight waviness compared to Monday night).

2. On day one, we were quite full after each meal and keeping things in check; by day five, our eating and ordering (up to four desserts at one meal) was insanely out of whack.

3. One of the main advantages touted with cruises — exploring new lands to get a taste of them, like the day trips we took to Cozumel (Weds) and Grand Cayman (Thurs) — really didn’t allow enough time to do them any justice. Although I will say being on land was a beautiful thing in and of itself.

 

Cruise_06_8597

Sandscript #EmpoweringAll

On the upswing, I gathered a lot of reassurance from my fellow cruisers. Tammara said to me in her sweet way, “Think of it as a little city gliding along the water.” Brilliant! I’m going with that. Unique to our cruise experience was the company commonness that brought all of us together. We were all there on a journey intended to relax, reward and inspire us to new personal heights in our wellness business. I so enjoyed striking up conversations with people anywhere I went, learning about their business and gaining new insight.

 

Today, on solid ground in Minnesota, I have new perspective that I’m grateful for courtesy of this experience. From a business viewpoint, I’m ready to expand on Empowering All — find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — and help others on their road to wellness. From a personal perspective, I don’t believe I’ll be eager to set sail on a cruise anytime soon unless it’s a 99% chance of sunny skies and smooth waters.

 

 

 

 

 

Paws for Celebration: Six Months of Puppyhood December 2, 2015

Filed under: The Unknown — edamomie @ 6:37 am
Tags: , , ,
Copper_Cone_Nov2015_8277

Puppycone of Misery

We recently celebrated our puppy’s six month birthday. There was cake (fit only for human consumption), beef and cheddar homemade gourmet dog biscuits by the Brown-eyed Baker in the shape of a bone (fit for both human and puppy consumption), an extra long walk and treats from Bone Adventure.

 

Copper, our beloved medium goldendoodle with an Instagram account, now nearly five times his bring-home puppy weight of 7 lbs; knew something was up on November 20, his half-birthday. He was so insatiable and would hear of no rest, even past 10:30p.m. We attributed some of this spunkiness to his neutering a mere 10-days earlier and the removal of the puppycone. Saying goodbye the the cone gave him a new-found freedom (since removal, he has thoroughly inspected it, swatted it and nearly tore it apart, signifying his dominance over it).

 

It might seem silly to celebrate a dog’s half-birthday, but his presence in our lives has held a lot of meaning. Having never had a dog before, the decision to get one was not taken lightly (see 2.5 years of research in The Perils of Puppy Pursuit). For our family of four, with varying levels of interest from main caregiver/walker (me), to nuturer (my 12 year-old daughter, Ava) to hyped-up player (my 10 year-old son, Calvin) to my nonchalant husband whose attention ebbs and flows, consistency in training has been a challenge.

 

Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry

Here’s the Six-Month Overview:

Months 1-2

In the beginning he peed a lot. And just wherever. I was happy we did not just recently do our flooring. We will be doing that next. It needs to go. It was a good two months before we could stop walking on eggshells for fear of a mess when he disappeared into the next room. Soon, we understood the random-pattern floor-sniffing, much like a crazed ant, as a key indicator to get him to the dog run stet.

 

At the onset, I was summoned at least once nightly by barking to release him from his kennel and take him out. Thank God it was summer. I honestly don’t know if he’d be with us if he required winter training. It was insane how quickly I jumped back into the newborn mom routine and sleep deprivation. That lasted a good month (or bad month, as the case may be).

Dognapping

Dognapping

 

I recall many a happy dance when he did sleep through the night. Even then it was only until 6:00a.m. For weeks we were in great stride with early morning walks. Sometimes I tried to go back to sleep 6:30-8:00, but could never seem to get quality sleep.

 

We started dognapping often as the breeder (Goldendoodle Acres) reported the goldendoodles need for up to 16 hours of sleep a day as a puppy. Most days a dognap could work, but catch me after the shrill ring of the doorbells mid-nap (a trained Copper-induced cue that he needs go out), and you would find a not-so-happy dog-owner.

 

Month 3:

A crazy thing happened at the end of June, just as we were thinking about prepping our small city lot for puppy. Our neighbors on both sides installed fences. In addition, we had our own chainlink fence on the street-facing side. It was a design nightmare of sorts and I spent months contemplating options to enclose the fourth side of our yard that faced the alley. It was clear that escorting him around to the side of our house to the 18 x 7′ enclosed dog pen 10X daily was not a sustainable effort.

Fenced In! ...Finally

Fenced In! …Finally

 

Finally, in October, I reached out to our neighbor’s fence company and found a contractor for the small fencing project. He was awesome. He completed the fence (6″ planks with 2″ gaps to allow some site lines) to complement our neighbor’s fence.

 

Because we completed the cedar fencing so late in the year, I had to give the wood just enough time to dry out, but not wait too long before temps dipped below 40 or for precipitation set in to stain the fence. Luckily, we had one of the nicest Minnesota fall seasons on record! Our neighbor’s shared the cedar stain brand/color they used and I was off to the races. It took me four hours of really intense work to complete the staining.

 

Months 4-5:

Official Dog Tag

Official Dog Tag

Now Copper runs free the yard, with just a quick open of the back door to let him out and a high-pitched treat call to bring him scrambling in. Liberating. It changed our lives just when patience was at an all time high (hauling a 22 lb dog to the dog run equals no fun).

 

Things were going smoothly until one day we called and he didn’t come. We heard meek squeaks coming from underneath our wrap-around deck. My dad had just completed some fancy lattice work surrounding it, leaving no space too large for little Copper.

 

How could this be? He was stuck under the deck. It became apparent that he’d been working on his project for weeks, clearing dirt in a non-visible area under one set of steps, much like Tim Robbins work in the Shawshank Redemption.

 

I lured him out to his neck with a treat, then grabbed his collar. Had he not had his walking harness on, which was completely necessary to grab, I might have had to dismantle the step to remove him. Jeez, Copper! Calvin said, shaking his head. When will this dog ever learn?

 

Present day:

Cal and Copper Cuddling

Cal and Copper Cuddling

Well, he’s learning. We’re all learning. One thing at a time. From late August – Sept puppy obedience classes at the Canine Coach to our recent investment in a bark collar (six month minimum age required), training a dog takes diligence, consistency and patience. The collar was immediately effective, making all the difference between a bark-through Thanksgiving dinner at my parents to a bark-free Thanksgiving meal at my house two days later.

 

Next up? Winter-weather exercise. We headed to the Minnehaha Dog Park last Sunday. No way would we let him off-leash there… we’re working up to it though. Just keeping him from destroying the backseat of the car after that visit and bathing him was hilarious challenge enough.

 

Through it all, I continue to remind everyone that all we need is just a little patience.

 

— Happy six month, Copper! We love your unconditional love and sweet little licks all over our faces. — love, the fam

 

Queen of Hearts for a Day November 1, 2015

A: Activities and I: Independence
 

My kids inherited the Halloween gene. While you might say that this proves true for every child — what kid doesn’t like a pillowcase full of candy? — the fact that they start scheming and envisioning their costume as early as June places them in the slightly obsessive category. They owe this debt of gratitude for the love of planning the costume and going to painstaking lengths to ensure its perfection, to my husband. And maybe my handy, if not limited, sewing skills.
 

Queen_Halloween_MakeUpThis halloween, my 12 year-old daughter, Ava, envisioned the Queen of Hearts three months before the spooky holiday neared. She found a DIY costume video from a teen pop culture icon, Bethany Mota (#SpookBook), on Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland version of the Queen of Hearts character inspired by the actress Helena Bonham Carter.
 

Two months out, we made our list of stuff we would need: fabric: red, red lace and gold brocade; thread, black corset, red ribbon, black elastic, gold fabric paint, red jewels, a dowel rod, gold piping and gold foil for the scepter; funky black tights, black felt, hot glue gun and sticks and of course, the make up.
 

We hit Joann Fabrics for the first round of items. For the first time in 20 years, I actually bought a sewing pattern for the skirt (typically I just pull something out of my closet with a similar cut and improvise). The red skirt complete with interfacing, waistband and a zipper presented numerous challenges and creative differences. My Brother sewing machine needed a $75 tune-up. Halloween costumes of the past with glittered to sequined fabric had taken its toll. We used too thick of a thread for our satin fabric. Ava accidentally cut out a small chunk of the nearly completed skirt. We sewed in the zipper upside down. The list goes on…
 

Queen_Halloween_Skirt
 

The most challenging part was the red lace overlay. The entire skirt was a Project Runway #MakeItWork moment. We were three weeks in and Ava was starting to wane — this is a ton of work for a costume I’m going to wear for four hours! Let’s just buy a costume at the store. I assured her, we would see the project through. We were already $80 (+ $75 for repairs) into the project.
 

By five weeks in, we came at it with renewed energy on a quest to find the red tutu and black corset for less than $30 and $50, respectively. We ended up finding a $6 red tutu at Michaels and a $16 Bebe corset at NuLook Consignment. Perfect moment for a refresher course on our Halloween costume budget and the meaning of DIY. Ava was quite focused on executing the costume to every exacting detail she saw in the video. I stressed the importance of using things we already had on hand and reinventing our own version — creative and economical. We shared some very vocal creative differences again… and resolved them.
 

Queen_Halloween_Hare_Training
 

At seven weeks in (one week away from Halloween), we visited Spirit Halloween in search of my 10 year-old son’s costume. Ava was immediately drawn to the $59.99 Queen of Hearts costume in the bag. It was jumping off the rack, speaking to her. It would be so easy… She was practically begging me to buy it. I held firm if a bit incredulous she’d push to go that route after our efforts. I assured her that now was the fun part.
 

Queen_Halloween_Corset
 

And it was. We put all of the details together little by little throughout Halloween week. By Friday (the day before Halloween), it was pretty solid and she was fairly confident. Halloween day, I picked up black tights for $5 at Target and Ava’s aunt Katie (@Glamwhip), once again showed her awesome skills as a make-up artist. We had pinned away the night before (Pinterest Board: Queen of Hearts) and she came with all of the make-up and ideas ready to go on Halloween. I found my wedding crown and Katie used that in the glam up-do. Ava stepped into my velvet heels and the role of the queen.
Queen_Halloween_Tights
 

Ava’s friends came over around 6:00 on Halloween to enjoy hotdish, hotdogs (#mummydogs) and hotcakes (chocolate cupcakes); head out trick or treating, then just hung out at our house til 10:00. The make-up came off with some persistence (the heels had been shred long before in favor of her Converse) and the candy was counted. It was def a DIY Halloween filled with lots of good lessons on creativity and perseverance with a pricetag of $115, if that’s a factor.
 

Happy Halloween, everyone!

 

 
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