Monthly Archives: October 2012

If all else fails, go as a Vampire Pig

“Mommy, for Halloween I want to be a …”

Those eight words strike dread into my heart. What if my daughter wants to be a Ballerina Robot or a Pregnant Ostrich or some other creature where you actually have to create the costume instead of just going out and buying it? Oh, Halloween, you suck the creative juice right out of me.

Last year’s costumes were both warm and available for purchase. The face painting plumbs the limits of my creative-costume well.

When I was a kid my mom sewed an Indian Princess get-up for Grade 1. In Grade 5 she fashioned me a flesh-coloured, robe-like Conehead costume (not sure why I was watching Saturday Night Live at age 10? 70s parenting?), complete with a pointy hat-head-thingy, that warranted a call home from my teacher — the school thought I’d marched in the Halloween parade as a KKK member (clearly I did not look like a Conehead). Yes, my mom was somewhat crafty, if totally clueless about SNL characters. I’m the opposite — I can name all the members of One Direction but I can’t sew on a button.

I think the key to this costume is getting the head right. A pointy hat thingy sends a different message.

Back in September Avery wanted to be a bat. “I could make wings using black fabric and use two wired-together hangers as the skeleton,” I thought. “I could paint her face like a bat!” Um, who was I kidding? By October 1st I was suggesting other possibilities: “How about a witch? A ghost? Oh, I know! A pirate!” (Cuz, like, all that stuff is in the storage room, including Daddy’s old white puffy shirt.)

My son, bless him, is much more easily influenced by my Jedi mind tricks.

Bennett: “I want to be A.J. for Halloween. He scares me.”

A.J. is the neighbourhood shar-pei, who lays in wait for small passersby and then lunges up to the fence barking maniacally. It’s  gotten to the point where Bennett makes me carry him past A.J.’s house while he buries his face in my shoulder and whimpers until we’re a safe distance away.

This is scary, right? Squint your eyes a bit and it kind of looks like an Ewok.

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry honey. We don’t have a wrinkly-dog outfit. Why don’t you go as Superman instead?” (Cuz that hand-me-down costume is in your closet, and the “S” lights up — so cool!)

Bennett: “I want to be Superman.” That’s my boy.

In the end Avery chose a witch costume because that’s what Zellers had on special (Jedi mind tricks work really well at the point of purchse). The only problem is its light-weight fabric is more appropriate for a Florida Halloween than a -7C and blizzarding Canadian one. Which got me thinking. Maybe she could go as a skier? I know, that’s lame, right?

An easy and practical costume for Canadian children.

Then I had an epiphany. On Tuesday Avery wore her pink and purple parka and pink snowpants to school along with her pink pig hat. She’d scored a pair of vampire fangs on a playdate and was wearing those, too. Now, all we need is some face paint and my kid will be the freakiest child in the ‘hood, a beast of Amityville Horror proportions who is also dressed appropriately for the cold weather: a Vampire Pig.

Ahhhh! Run away! A Vampire Pig!

We put down a deposit on a dog (gulp!)

Our neighbours brought home a black lab puppy last winter and Avery fell in love. Whenever she saw Mack out with his owners she would run outside to pet him, play with him and, as he got bigger, walk him and throw balls for him. Thus began the never-ending plea: “When can we get a dog?”

We’ve put down a deposit on a Brittany puppy. ETA: April or May.

Life is already complicated with two little kids, so surely I must be crazy to even consider adding a puppy to the mix? This is what friends-with-dogs tell me, anyway. “Are you sure you’re ready for that? It’s like having another child,” I was warned just last week. A puppy chews on shoes, pees in the house, cries in the night like a baby and needs to be taught obedience. It’s a lot of work, so why would I want to go there when my youngest pup (Bennett) is — almost — finally trained up?

Taking care of a fish, on the other hand, is so simple. We purchased our betta, Blue-blue, on Jan. 25, 2010 as a reward to Avery for giving up her soother. Blue-blue just floats there all day and doesn’t complain about going hungry or his filthy bowl. Against all odds he is still alive. Yes, Blue-blue is boring, and I think Avery realized what a lame pet a fish makes after a couple months when she started asking questions like, “When Blue-blue dies can I get a hamster?”

Our fish is sure lame but he’s so easy to care for.

If there’s one thing I learned from my childhood: don’t let kids have rodents as pets. Or birds. Cleaning out those cages is disgusting. Before Blue-blue we had a cat named Moggy. Moggy was an okay pet until I developed an allergy to her, at which point we kicked her out of the bedroom and she began the annoying habit of standing outside our door meowing mournfully in the night. By the time we moved into our current house and Avery was born, we were locking Moggy down in the storage room when we went to bed. When I was pregnant with Bennett we shipped Moggy to Arkansas to live with my mom.

Aloof and with an insanely loud meow, Moggy went from cuddly cat to pet pariah in the span of three years.

That, dear readers, is our track record with pets. We exiled a cat and neglect our fish.

I should confess up front that I am not a dog person. I grew up with cats and so developed somewhat of an aversion to slobber and stinky dog fur. Any yet. I see the amazing bond that families develop with a dog. I marvel at the lengths (and expense!) my friends will go to to keep their dogs healthy (knee surgeries, etc.). I get excited thinking about our future dog curled up at my feet while I write, I fantasize about hiking with her in Fernie (she won’t complain about the distance like our children do), and I get weepy imagining what a good friend she’ll be to Avery, and especially Bennett. Our family doctor says dogs make great companions to children with autism.

So (gulp!), we’re getting a dog. Am I crazy? Or will this be the best thing ever?

Drink of the Week: Honey Tree

Gin month continues here at Drink – Play – Love, where I discovered this most enticing recipe while flipping through the October 2012 issue of Chatelaine. The game changer is the ginger and honey simple syrup — sweet in a subtle way with just a tiny kick. The vermouth mellows the gin, the cider adds a taste of fall harvest and the sparkling water an uplifting fizz. Another Honey Tree, please!

Gin meets apple cider, sparkling water and ginger-honey syrup in this pleasing cocktail.

The recipe was created by mixologist Raj Nagra for Chatelaine. I didn’t have any basil on hand but figured mint would work well with the ingredients (it did) so I used that instead. I also didn’t have raw ginger and so substituted a 1/4 tsp of ground ginger. The only thing I didn’t like about the recipe is the number of ingredients required — it’s not the kind of cocktail you can just whip up on a whim; you have to plan ahead.

I am seriously loving gin after a week of forced safari consumption of Gordon’s while in Tanzania.

Honey Tree

  • 3 tbsp Bombay Sapphire gin
  • 2 tbsp ginger and honey simple syrup*
  • 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Martini Bianco
  • 3 basil leaves (I used mint)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider
  • 2 tbsp sparkling water

Combine Bombay Sapphire gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, Martini Bianco and basil leaves in a shaker. Cover and shake for 10 seconds. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice. Add apple cider and sparkling water. Stir gently. Garnish with basil leaves.

*Bring equal parts honey and water and a few pieces of raw ginger to a boil. Strain into a jar and cool before using.

— Recipe from Chatelaine, October 2012