Tag Archives: Halloween

My New Green Tutu


I’ve heard that one sign of having a job you enjoy is that time flies by quickly while you’re at work. I love my job, and definitely the days pass so quickly that I’m not sure where the time goes.  Today, too much of my time was spent in the bathroom, but our three year old students are still working on “control” (if you know what I mean).  One particularly stinky incident this afternoon activated my gag reflex—oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did not barf on our wee student!  (Enough about that.)

After school, a lovely gentlemen from Ideal Energy came to my house to conduct an energy audit.  My brother and sister-in-law had one performed at their house recently with great results, and after a recent summer family dinner here where everyone was gleaming with sweat even though our AC was blowing full blast, I thought it was either time to give up summer parties . . . or get the danged AC fixed.  The energy audit results will be emailed soon, but apparently we have lots of duct work problems.  GOOD GRIEF.

When our auditor first arrived, he explained the process, then I allowed him to proceed through the house.  He’d been up and down the stairs twice before I realized there was a bad smell coming from that area.  Upon closer inspection, I found a HUGE cat poop mixed with dog kibble right in the middle of the landing.  UGH.  I was so embarrassed.  I’m certain Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is the culprit . . . and just eeeuuuuwww.  I got to be embarrassed again a few minutes later when the auditor pointed out the large pile of ashes in the fireplace and asked if I could cover them so as not to make a mess when he did the pressure testing.  Clearly these ashes were from last winter (January to be exact) since the temps here in Tempe, Arizona are still in the 90s every day.  I paused and thought about making up something about celebrating Fall early or some such BS, but instead just turned pink and covered the mess.  (Cleaning the fire place is a dreaded task.) Then, as I walked the auditor out, I noticed the body of the ginormous scorpion I killed last night on the front door mat.  Nothing says “Welcome to our Home” like a dead scorpion, right?  Add onto all that the fact that I got really excited opening my Amazon package and yelled, “MY NEW TUTU IS HERE!!!”  (I was sharing the good news with Eve, who was here doing homework.)

It’s a weird world out there, and I’m counting on the fact that the energy auditor has seen way stranger households than ours.  And I’m truly very excited about my tutu:  It’s forest green and super fluffy.  It fits perfectly.  It’s part of my Halloween costume!  I’m dressing as a flower garden, or maybe Mother Nature, or perhaps a character from a Midsummer’s Night Dream.  I don’t have to decide yet and am excited to have something new to wear to the school carnival.  I’ve been the Tooth Fairy WAY too many times.

The auditor is gone.  Eve went home.  Hubby has happy hours every day this week due to a local conference.  The house is very quiet.  I decided I’m gonna bake some pumpkin muffins in my new tutu and singing loudly to my favorite tunes.  Best Tuesday ever.




The Fat Soldier Costume


I’m re-posting this blog I wrote a few years ago:

When I was a girl, our costumes were solid. We were ghosts, vampires, Mickey or Minnie Mouse. We were firemen, doctors, and hobos. Our costumes were made from salvaged cardboard and other found materials, or sewed with a bit of help from our moms. We went trick-or-treating without parental supervision, and arrived home at the agreed time with huge sacks of candy, which we poured out and bartered with our siblings. It was a simpler time. Life was good.

Let me take you back. Waaaaaay back. The year: 1973. The place: a small town in northern Illinois. I’m nine years old. Close your eyes . . . can you hear Don McClean singing American Pie on the radio? Can you smell the burning leaves on the cool October breeze? Can you taste the warm apple cider pressed from apples grown at the farm just down the road?

“Daddy, Daddy, do you think I’m big enough to wear the Fat Soldier costume THIS year? I’ve been waiting FOREVER!”

That’s me. I’d grown up hearing stories from my father and my aunts about wearing Grandpa’s WW II uniform on Halloween when they were children. It was legendary, and pretty much regarded within the family as the most excellent Halloween costume ever. But first you had to be big enough to fit into it! When I asked my Aunt Linda about it a few years ago, she said, “it was warm, and the people loved to see it.”

My Grandpa Koppen was in WWII and served with the military police in Europe. He was away at war when my father (his first born) was born in May, 1944. I wish I had more details about what he saw during the war, but he never wanted to talk about it. I feel proud of his service, since nobody else in my family has ever been in the military. After Grandpa and Grandma passed away, I was given several small yellow-jacketed photo books which held blurry black-and-white photos of Grandpa with guns, tanks, and other smiling soldiers.

I will never know what happened to Grandpa during WW II, but I do know he loved his family deeply . . . and he always made us laugh. He passed away the year my first son, Patrick, was born and honestly, I have never stopped missing Grandpa during these past 24 years. He was one of my very favorite people. He was smart, loving, and most of all, hilarious. He had a “bawdy” side to him of which my cousin Bridget and I are often accused of inheriting (thanks, Grandpa!). There’s no better compliment than when one of my aunts says, “Okay Bernie,” after I say something a bit risque. I am a legacy.

Back to the costume: We called it the Fat Soldier costume because even though my Grandpa was tall and thin when he wore it during the War, we were children. To make it fit, we had to stuff a pillow into the front and roll up the pant legs. I remember it being a dark greenish brown, made of scratchy wool, with a jaunty cap. I wore it two years in a row before we moved to hot Arizona where you could suffer heatstroke in such a get-up!

I wonder where Grandpa’s uniform went. The houses in the Midwest have huge spaces for storage and I’m sure, one of these days, someone will come across the uniform in one of the many attics and smile while thinking of all the stories it could tell.




I’ve been so knackered after work lately that I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Unfortunately there hasn’t been one night this week where I can just curl up on the couch with a relaxing episode of The Walking Dead. Not one! I had fun with friends one evening at the French Dinner/Cooking class at the Hackett House, and other nights I worked on Senior Night stuff for our marching band. Tonight I am baking cupcakes for my school’s Halloween Carnival. On a whim, I bought a cake mix flavored “Butter Pecan.” I love butter pecan ice cream, don’t you? Well. I don’t think anyone will love the cupcakes in this flavor. The smell of the batter was positively disgusting, and I hope the poor child who wins these at the cake walk will not burst into tears . . . then seek me out for revenge next week during recess.

But baking IS relaxing, especially since I have the night alone. Hubby is at a work dinner, and William is at the high school bonfire, so how nice for me to have some quality time alone, just me and Dan. I try to hide my obsession with Bastille from the family as best I can, sneaking in my favorite vids whenever possible. The cupcakes are out now, and they smell, well, edible.

I stayed up way too late last night finishing a wickedly funny book called How to Build a Girl. It’s crass with British humor, and this author does not hold back in any way while describing EVERYTHING that is going on in her heroine’s young, sex-crazed mind. At times, I laughed so hard I almost peed myself. How is that for a good review?

Staying up late was a really bad choice, especially since a huge storm rolled in at 3:30 am, complete with crashing thunder that rattled not only our windows but our pets. All three cats ran over our sleeping selves, then tried to hide their furry little bodies between Hubby and myself, alternately purring and mewling like big scaredy cats. Then I heard Ruby whimpering from far away and had to take her out for a tinkle in the pouring rain. Somehow I got back to sleep for a few hours and felt spot-on at school, able to enjoy our pre-Halloween classroom activities. Thank God for my new cool friend, Michelle, who popped her head into the room around noon announcing she was going to Starbucks and would anyone like anything? I am constantly reminded to not be dismayed when the Universe seems unkind; help is on it’s way and will be exactly what you need at the right time (a cup of coffee and a smile from a friend). I feel blessed.

I am not feeling blessed (but again dismayed) that a new study was unveiled this week that says processed meats such as bacon, pepperoni, sausage, and cold cuts are cancer causing. These, dear friends, are my favorite foods. This topic was discussed at length over lunch in the teachers’ break room, and even though I had promised myself I would do some stomach exercises once I was home, I instead worked on my core by having a hot dog. And it was delicious. Who knows when they will no longer be available? I think I made the right choice.

We have no plans for Halloween (imagine me now making a boo-boo face) other than worrying about our two oldest children making good choices while out partying that night (and I’m not talking about eating hot dogs, folks). William will be at a band competition, which I keep thinking is the meanest thing ever to make those kids do on that special night. But it is out of my hands.

Happy Halloween to all of you!