Which means the beginning of this post should be edited to read: "Probably the best thing FOR TEACHERS about switching to Track 3 (please don't ask me to explain year-round schedules today; I still really don't wanna) is that we get Halloween off."
But having the end of October off means that you get to save lots of money on candy because you can travel to your in-laws and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhood. Sure, you spend a bit on gas, but I was going to use most of that money anyway to buy Snickers bars. And Whoppers. And probably Mike and Ikes. Most definitely Almond Joys because no kids like those and I really do.
The day after Halloween, the girls and I went to my sister-in-law's salon to get our hair cut. Natalie had her hair cut most recently in July...2011. I was a close second with April 2011, and Eve won with October 2009. We were kind of overdue.
All this hair has been growing since March 2010 and the only time scissors have come close to it is when a wad of gum got stuck in it. (I tried using ice cubes to get the gum out but I have no idea how that helps other than cooling down my much-needed cocktail after almost giving myself frostbite trying to remove the gum from the hair. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE THAT CAN WORK GUM MAGIC WITH ICE?)
Eve really wanted her hair cut up to her ears. When I said no, she then wanted to go completely bald. Our compromise was what I wanted. The only way she'll be completely bald again is if she gets more wads of gum stuck in her hair because she's absolutely not allowed to get cancer anymore. That crap is expensive.
Not to be outdone, Natalie stepped up to the plate and chopped a bunch off. She never had issues with wads of gum, but Nat did give herself bangs a couple of years ago. SCISSORS NEAR YOUR EYEBALLS ARE NOT COOL, KIDS. Although giving yourself bangs is a lot cheaper than cancer, she's still absolutely not allowed to give herself bangs anymore. Therefore, dot dot dot, we get haircuts every 1-2 years from my sister-in-law.
My mother-in-law fixed everyone Fakesgiving, which apparently is Thanksgiving dinner the day after Halloween. It was well-received. Turkey #1 was a breast, cooked in a roasting bag. If you can not be happy after eating turkey and mashed potatoes, then you should drink a little more beer first, because turkey and mashed potatoes are awesome. Everybody knows that. Dummy.
We then played the most provocative game of words since the invention of the modern alphabet. According to Wikipedia, Probe is just like Hangman except when it's not like Hangman.
I know. You never heard of it, either. It's THAT provocative. This is clearly a game for white business executives. That may be why I didn't win.
I LOST AT HANGMAN.
That's ok. I win at voting.
We got back home just in time for the election. Eve brought home a thoughtful article with helpful information about the candidates.
We get it. Mitt Romney is white.
I'm trying to imagine how this information was gathered. Did a journalist call him up and ask, "What is something you like?" Did Mitt respond with an emphatic GRANOLA!?
He must have. You can't halfway commit to granola.
Nat and Dan voted at school where they learned that their votes count for nothing. It's a pretty good life lesson as long as we have the electoral college. I remember voting in elementary school when Bush was running against Dukakis. I chose Bush because I could pronounce his name. And probably because I heard he liked granola.
Natalie is our liberal child and Daniel is more conservative. When Matt and I went to vote on the whole Amendment One deal, the kids asked what we were doing. I did my best to explain in kid-terms what was going on without bringing my gay-love into it just to hear what they thought.
Me: We're voting about whether only a man and a woman can be married or if a man and a man or a woman and a woman can be married.
Nat: Why does anyone care who gets married to who?
Dan: I think marriage should be between a man and a woman, because that's more romantic.
When the two of them came home from school with I VOTED stickers on, just dying to be forgotten about and washed and dried and stuck onto their shirts forever, I asked who they voted for.
Nat: I voted for the president, Barack Omamba.
Nat: That's what I said.
Me: What about you, Daniel?
Dan: What about me what?
Me: Who did you vote for?
Dan: I didn't vote for anybody.
Me: Why do you have a sticker on that says "I VOTED?"
Dan: Oh. Because we voted.
Me: And who did you vote for?
Dan: For what?
Me: For president.
Dan: I don't remember.
Me: You can't remember? Really?
Dan: The names all looked alike.
Me: 'Obama' and 'Romney' looked alike?
Dan: I think so.
Me: Were there pictures of the candidates?
Dan: Uh huh.
Me: Did you vote for the darker one or the lighter one?
Dan: I don't know. They both looked alike to me.
Dan: I voted for someone named Daniel. I don't know who he was but I hope he wins.
I never did check if someone named Daniel won any state races. "Daniel" could very well have been a greyhound. My Daniel could have very well been at a racetrack. "Voting."
We got lots of crap in the mail about who to vote for, but even more crap about who NOT to vote for. In fact, someone sent so much hate mail day after day that Matt said, "I don't know who I'm supposed to vote for, but I know Erv Portman is the devil." Someone really hated Erv Portman. So much that we never got mail about who we should be voting for instead, just that Erv is evil and should not be elected, lest you want Satan selling your kids cocaine and getting them pregnant in middle school. Elections are ugly business. They are like me at the bus stop in the morning, only the kids are too young to know that they should be embarrassed.
We went up to my parents house in Maryland and had another Thanksgiving with my aunt, uncle, cousins, more cousins, and neighbors. Turkey #2 was brined and roasted. My mom financed the whole operation while I executed it. Nothing makes me happier than standing in a kitchen all day with my kids screaming at someone else because LEAVE ME ALONE, I'M COOKING TURKEY AND MASHED POTATOES.
I'm the most thankful of them all in case you weren't feeling that vibe. Thankful for turkey, mashed potatoes, healthy kids, and beer. And the reason beer makes the list is because you know the terrorists are going after our water supply next.
My dad kept the kids occupied by having them write letters to Santa who is most definitely real. If he wasn't real, then how do you explain why the mention of his name sends my kids to their rooms in a sudden fit of cleaning?
Because my parents' house was so full, Matt, Daniel, and I got to sleep downstairs in the basement. I was thankful for this, too, because two floors separated us from early birds named Natalie and Eve. We even got to test out the new shower down there.
I was still dressed, but turned on the shower to get the water hot. The shower head has the most amazing ability to hit everything in a 359-degree area, so of course my face (and shirt) was pelted with scalding hot water as soon as I turned it on. Scalding hot because the water heater is on the other side of the wall. Pelted because the water pressure was set to two million. Two million of whatever water pressure is measured in. I was already soaked so I had to undress and get in where I was assaulted by the shower.
I am thankful for never having been shot by a rifle, but I could have done without the extra-exfoliating shower. Washing my face felt like...I can't even imagine what it feels like to be shot in the face. I don't want to imagine that. That sucks. Way to be a buzzkill. But seriously, it was like being shot in the face with a Super Soaker that turned human and doped up before turning back to an assault rifle that would tear the skin off your forehead.
I'm not even sure why I felt compelled to tell you about the assault shower, but it's a nice segue into this piece of info I'm dying to share with someone, ANYONE, courtesy of the Discovery Channel:
"Scientists estimate that the human body is made up of around 10 trillion cells in total. Your skin makes up about 16 percent of your body weight, which means you have roughly 1.6 trillion skin cells [source: BBC]. Of course, this estimate can vary tremendously according to a person's size. The important thing is that you have a lot of skin cells. Of those billions of skin cells, between 30,000 and 40,000 of them fall off every hour. Over a 24-hour period, you lose almost a million skin cells [source: Boston Globe].
Where do they all go? The dust that collects on your tables, TV, windowsills and on those picture frames that are so hard to get clean is made mostly from dead human skin cells. In other words, your house is filled with former bits of yourself. In one year, you'll shed more than 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of dead skin. It gets even grosser: Your house is also filled with trillions of microscopic life forms called dust mites that eat your old dead skin."
UNREAD THAT, suckas!
All that dead skin talk is an even better segue into why we need to go through CDC-style precautions to get into the bone marrow transplant unit at the hospital. They don't want your 8 pounds of dead skin up on those kids who have no immune system. That, or whatever you picked up walking through the parking garage.
I made this birthday cake for a girl who just had a bone marrow transplant and is at Duke for the next few months. I am thankful Eve never had to go through this. See? I'm thankful for more than beer.
The cake was incredibly heavy, which I knew, but I never really understood. I have sent people with big cakes home before, but no one has to move them more than a few yards from their car to the party. I, however, had to walk this cake from the parking garage to the fifth floor of the hospital. I thought my arms were going to fall off. Well, only a moron would think their arms were going to fall off from carrying something heavy. What I mean is that I thought my arms were going to give out and drop this cake that I had transported forty miles when I was mere minutes from the birthday girl. And I passed an incredible number of people who wanted to talk shop while I was starting to sweat and shake.
I got less polite the closer I got to the unit. NO, I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THIS CAKE RIGHT NOW.
I got it to the unit in one piece and had to sit for ten minutes to take a breather. 'Breathers' probably aren't supposed to last ten minutes, but this cake was like fifty-plus pounds and you could only carry it in a way that personal trainers would make you pay them to make you cry. Therefore, dot dot dot, I did my workout for the week and was absolved of any mashed potato-wrongdoing.
I DID NOT DOPE TO CARRY THIS CAKE. But I will next time.
That night, after coming home and applying more deodorant and perfume to cover up whatever smells may have been lurking on my person after my work-out, I took Natalie to her school where she got a certificate for participating in the Reflections contest.
Her entry was a few photographs she took of Eve's birthday cake which she edited on my computer. It was chosen to move onto the county competition which mean someone thought it's artsy-fartsy.
Natalie REALLY wanted to participated in this contest because if you entered, you got a free homework pass for a week. Which she used during a four-day school week.
FOUR-DAY SCHOOL WEEK? If she wasn't so into food, I would have her tested to make sure she wasn't switched at birth.
Because I was so stuffed full of turkey from Thanksgivings #1 & 2, I had been going meatless for a while. I could never be vegetarian; I love chicken stock and pig fat. I can do without the meat, but the meat by-products are what makes my world go round.
I met a couple of cancer mom friends at Bull City Burger and Brewery which is a great place to emotionally eat, even if you're not emotional about the cancer anymore, just about the damn fine duck-fat fries. DAMN FINE.
I had to share this with you. I got the vegetarian burger, which was polenta or some such nonsense, but I added cured lardo to it. So I technically had no meat, just lots of vegetables in animal fat. Which was awesome. My friend told me it was called a "hypocrite burger." Hypocrite burgers are how I want to eat for the rest of my life. I don't have any qualms about slaughtering animals and enjoying their succulent meat, but who can judge me if someone decides to treat a pig to liposuction, cure the fat, and put it on my polenta burger? Treat more pigs to cosmetic surgery; thank me later.
I need more lardo in my life. I didn't need that last decade of my life, anyway. What I especially didn't need was the steak knife in my polenta burger. "Oh gosh, I can't possibly eat this entire POLENTA burger. Let me cut this in half." Pshh.
Before we could get to more turkey and mashed potatoes, I had to chaperone a field trip. I'm not sure why chaperone comes with a squiggly red wine under it, because I'm pretty sure that's how you spell it. THAT'S HOW THEY'VE BEEN SPELLING IT ON PERMISSION SLIPS FOR YEARS. Dear Google: no one has ever chaperon, chaperons, chaperon e, or Percheron a field trip before. Get with the elementary school program.
I was probably the absolute worst mom [of the year] to chaperone the field trip because we are relatively new to the school and I have no idea who these kids are. There was one other chaperone who knew everybody so I was trying to learn quickly, but I'm a notoriously slow learner. If we were to lose a child, it would be my fault because not only do I have no clue who these kids names are, I don't even know how many kids are supposed to be in Daniel's class. I kept telling this girl Lucy to share the binoculars with the other kids in her group but Lucy would just keep ignoring me. Turns out that Lucy was in the next group and was really confused that Daniel's mom kept yelling at her when she had clearly been sharing the binoculars the entire time. I still have no idea who the girl I thought was Lucy really was. She'll always be not-Lucy to me.
Thanksgiving found us in Greenville, SC with Matt's grandma, uncle, and aunt. Turkey #3 was dry-brined and roasted. It's skin was salty and crispy, like a potato chip made of dead bird. I loved it.
Matt and his uncle proceeded to tear the bird apart like a couple of hungry rottweilers, who I assume to be more vicious and unrefined than poodles. It was still pretty awesome, even though Matt's aunt was incapacitated with a knee injury and couldn't be there to properly carve the turkey.
I'm a dark meat kind of girl. Proper turkey carving involves me ripping of a leg and shoving it into my mouth. I can't say I'm too concerned how they shred the white meat.
We spent a good amount of time at Matt's grandma's apartment. She has a hard time hearing so the kids would have to repeat what they said a lot. Daniel had a lot to say so he had a lot of repeating.
Dan: Did you make this tissue holder?
Grandma: No, someone gave that to me.
Dan: I thought you did because it looks SO OLD.
Grandma: Come sit on my lap. You're getting so big and heavy!
Dan: It's not that I'm getting so big, it's that you're getting SO OLD.
Grandma: I'm so glad you could come visit me tonight!
Dan: I thought you would be asleep because you're SO OLD.
Our favorite thing to do with Matt's grandma is play Scrabble. Which is the one game we can all beat Natalie at.
She can seriously win at ANYTHING but Scrabble, because she puts down a word like and where the A is a double letter and big whoop! We kicked a seven-year-old's ass. I'm not ashamed. Stop looking at me like that.
We then moved onto Georgia to visit with my aunt and uncle for our last Thanksgiving. Turkey #4 was deep-fried. Oh my geezie!
I know I'm late on the deep-fried turkey train, but ohmigod. The lord wouldn't even care if I took his name in vain right now and not capitalize when appropriate because it was THAT GOOD. If Turkey #3's skin was awesome, Turkey #4's was awesome-plus. Which is like the incredibleness of Boy Scout Unbelievable Butter Popcorn but then you add that cancer-causing butter topping straight from the movie theater and then it's DOUBLE-UNBELIEVABLE.
I like the skin. Skin usually only happens once a year. Stop judging. I'm preparing to hibernate.
Seriously, the whole outside, which was forty-degrees, smelled like fried turkey. It was amazing. It was like your first time...smelling fried turkey. It. was. that. good.
While the turkey was smelling up the neighborhood, the kids were having a hot tub time machine party.
Dan: This is the best hot tub I've ever been in!
Me: How many hot tubs have you been in, Daniel?
I apparently have no idea what my kids are up to. He very well may be spending time at the dog track.
What do you do when you have gallons of hot oil and no more turkey to fry? YOU MAKE STUFFPUPPIES.
Take some mashed potatoes, wrap stuffing around them, roll them in crushed potato chips, deep fry, cream your jeans. In that order.
Four Thanksgivings in four states. Four different turkey preparations. But only one picture of my dad dressed up as Ron Burgundy:
Stay classy, turkey lovers.