We’ve got spirit, yes we do…


This is a slightphoto 15 exaggeration

But I live for five days out of the year

More than Christmas, my birthday, Thanksgiving and the first and last days of school combined

My jam is

Spirit Week

That magical time in February when kids who attend a private Christian school with a strict uniform policy let their hair down

Five marvelous days filled with a daily theme, friendly competition, prizes and fun

Since my oldest olive shoot was in middle school, Spirit Week has been like my Super Bowl, my World Cup, my time to shine as a mom…

Or not

Because you see, as my three sons have oft reminded me,

Technically, it’s not MY Spirit Week

It’s theirs

Hrmph!photo 23

It’s an annual battle royal as we compete for control and preparation.

It’s private conversations between my friends as we ruminate about possible ideas all the while acting cool, calm and collected around our kids.

It’s when I google and Pinterest and imagine secretly wishing there was a Spirit Week for moms because we need it more than they do.

It’s me being the person who wants to plan ahead versus my olive shoots not wanting to think about any of it until maybe the night before, I’ll spare you the details since they are usually too painful to discuss.

But last week was Spirit Week and Monday was Pajama Day. In previous years I have sewn pajama pants for my boys. Heck, I even purchased grapefruit fabric about a year ago in anticipation of making Ike some citrus inspired sleeping pants because he loves him some grapefruit. To my chagrin, however, now as a junior in high school, Ike rebuffed my offer. This year he was boring but our borrowed Brazilian olive shoot wore this onesie which surely made the ladies swoon!photo 22

Perhaps the low-key Pajama Day was God’s way of giving me a slight Sabbath before the preparation for Tuesday-Thursday of Spirit Week.

I can’t wait to tell you about what we they I did!

Does anyone else know the joy and agony of Spirit Week???

26-50 things I’m thankful for


To continue with my 50 things I’m thankful for:

26. The hubs gave me a rough draft of a book he’s creating of all my blog posts from last year. This sweet man has poured hours preparing it and it is a family treasure.

from Charles

27. For the first time in my life, I got a birthday card from Charles. Charles is the quirky alter ego of my orange hair, freckle face OS. Charles spawned an alter ego in me named Charlene. Charles and Charlene speak their own language and have unique accents. No one else in the family really likes Charles and Charlene but we/they have fun together. Thanks Charles!

28. a birthday card announcement from 
my cadet in French and Spanish

29. For my birthday, I also received a beautiful letter from my oldest OS. And, just like Nate, he forgot to sign it! 
30. Thread – I have new thread. Thread makes things happen. Oh yeah.

bibimbap, I prefer mine without the egg

31. We entertained a Korean exchange student during my birthday weekend and she made us bibimbap and other tasty Korean foods. And I’ve now eaten bracken…you’re welcome. 

bracken, fiddleheads, they are edible

32. My soap nuts arrived. I’ve been using them for two weeks – love them, seriously!
33. I finished a guest blog post – taa daa!
34. At the end of my birthday night, my middle OS Aaron gave me a video of the past year. I cried through the whole thing but only had one big crying snort, it couldn’t be helped. 
35. No snow or ice storms on my birthday. For someone born January 27th in the States, those things usually go hand in hand.

a mama of oliveshoots needs olive fabric.
but now what do I do with it? 

36. My road trip to MaryJo’s Cloth Store with friends was joyful. Four women in an SUV talking about everything without gossip is a blessing.
37. I bought some 1 1/2 yards of olive fabric. Any suggestions on what a mama of oliveshoots can do with this? 
38. I have three pounds of dried black turtle beans. They are exquisite.

= yum

39. My birthday cake from Blue Moon Bakery – simply divine with raspberry frosting, chocolate mousse filling. And it matched my hair. It’s good when your hair matches your cake.

gorgeous made from scratch poundcake

40. But before we enjoyed the bakery cake on Saturday with my extended family on Friday night, a wonderful family friend surprised me with a homemade pound cake she made from scratch. 
41. Ike’s team won their game! My orange hair, freckle face OS blazed the court on my b-day!
42. My mom does not have cancer. 
43. Balloons.
44. A singing birthday greeting from my cousin’s family. Tis a sweet melody hearing four girls who love the Lord leave a message for me.

45. another birthday announcement from my cadet – in Arabic and English! I’m pretty sure his roommate helped him with the Arabic. 
pj pants for a book lover!

46. I made a pair of pajama pants for one of my two bibliophiles. He’s going to wear them during Spirit Week. 
47. Jesus who gave me a redemptive life. 

48. Zumba which is giving me a redemptive body (maybe)…
49. Lou Malnati’s pizza from my aunt and uncle shipped from Chicago which necessitates blessing #48!

50. And lastly, another birthday greeting from my Soldier. I know this was no small feat for my OS to do, thank you precious son! 

Spirit Week 2011 begins

1 Comment

Oh how I love Spirit Week!

I love it so much, if it were up to me, every school would have a Spirit Week just for parents.

There was no Spirit Week when I was in middle school or high school so I live through the SW of my OS. Yes, according them, I’m kind of like a stage mom when it comes to Spirit Week.

images1With Aaron’s medical struggles, there was less parental involvement in Ike’s SW this year. This resulted in my orange hair, freckle face OS wearing a pair of store-bought pajamas on Pajama Day. We had even picked out special material six months ago for me to make just for him. Alas, Ike decided he wanted to show off these pajamas. He won a gift certificate because of his footed sleepwear.img_20110214_155457

But now that my middle OS is feeling so much better, nearly all of my parental energy pours into Spirit Week 2011.

Monday morning, Aaron pranced into school wearing his designer-made sea turtle pajama pants. I wanted to create a sea turtle applique for the t-shirt but he sternly spurned my suggestion.

photo 24Tuesday was Animal Kingdom Day. Last year my middle OS was a pupa. We twirled yards of brown toile around Aaron to encase him.

It was truly hilarious to see the perplexed looks of students and teachers. They asked Aaron what he was and he confidently stated “a chrysalis in a cocoon.”

Then in the middle of Mrs. Davis’ Spanish Class, Aaron asked if he could go to the restroom.

Let the changes begin!

When Aaron returned he had metamorphosed into a beautiful, extremely large butterfly ~ He wore his grandpa’s really yellow golf pants and custom-made wings.

Truly breathtaking!

We thought this was an apt description of adolescence and doesn’t every teenager want to be reminded of puberty on Animal Kingdom Day? I thought so!

So how do you top being a pupa?carpenter-ant-illustration_530x349


Well, we’re not sure but staying in the insect world, this year Aaron was a carpenter ant.

My middle OS donned a hard hat with antennae, an electric drill and drill bit along with a tool belt. He also “grew” an extra pair of legs which I sewed last night.

p11600282Here is proof that I am a great mother – making carpenter ant legs just before bedtime.

There were many creative animal costumes. For example, Zack, Aaron’s best friend was a swan complete with a feathery behind that wiggled back and forth as he walked. p1160052

Aaron will be a senior in high school next year. I’m already thinking of ideas.

p1160055Just wait, the rest of the week is quite creative and unique also!

PS. I just learned that Aaron and the science teacher were the only invertebrates in the school today! Wow, I’m even prouder now!

Spirit Week fun


One of my children (who shall remain nameless because I like my life,) is afraid of midgets.

If you want to creep him out, turn on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I’m not exaggerating. We are a short-statured people so I’m not sure what his problem is but I have been known to sing the Oompa Loompa Song or the Wizard of Oz Munchkin Land song around him. It is funny to see this otherwise very macho OS squirm.

So it’s a good thing this un-named OS isn’t home very much (ahem,) because today would have been very unpleasant for him.

I say this because it’s Spirit Week for the middle schoolers and today is Character Day. My anonymous OS would be in a dither because his orange hair, freckle-face brother along with six other buddies dressed up as the Seven Dwarfs!

When Isaac told me about the idea last week, I agreed as long as Ike wasn’t Dopey. Considering our most recent challenges, there was NO way my OS was going to be Dopey. Or Grumpy!

But Ike is Happy and so am I! Several moms including myself banded together and individually added pieces to the boys’ costumes.

One mom and grandma made hats. They even researched pics of the Seven Dwarfs from old Disney books and pictures! Another mom made white beards and wrote the names of each individual dwarf on a colorful t-shirt. Talk about authentic! I purchased seven pair of black sweat pants on sale at Wal-Mart and some twine for a belt. The moms are as excited as the sons and our collective talents made this particular Spirit Day less stressful and totally adorable!

To Ike’s chagrin I came to school twice today to take pictures. Apparently there is nothing worse for a 13 year old boy then seeing his mama two times in one school day, even when she’s wearing makeup! Excitement filled the air, giggles and smiles abounded. I cracked up at the creativity in the middle schoolers. There were two guys who dressed up as Michael Jackson, before and after. There was even a Lucky Charm leprechaun. So fun!

My OS attend a private school. They wear uniforms, adhere to strict behavior policies and must study hard for the stringent academics. Spirit Week is five days when the standards are just as high but the atmosphere is more relaxed. High school Spirit Week begins next Monday and it’s sure to be memorable as well. If Aaron succeeds in his plans for Spirit Week, it will be epic, mark my words!

I leave you with some pics of the recent fun and links to former Spirit Weeks we have enjoyed.

We’re already brain-storming about next year!

Mr. Grumpy Box of Crayons and a Little Wiggle


The final theme for Spirit Week in middle school was TV characters. Again, my friend Michele and I masterminded what we believed would be the most epic of all ideas for TV character days not only at our kids’ school but quite possibly ever in the history of mankind. What we didn’t know was that there were other moms with some crazy ideas of their own.  After kicking around a few ideas, we asked our boys what about being the international children’s Australian music group sensation, The Wiggles? To our surprise, our guys said yes! 

was pleased that Ike was willing to be a Wiggle. He is my subdued child and far more self-conscious. Not only did Michele’s son and my boy decide on being The Wiggles but they recruited two of their buddies to be the two remaining band members! Michele and I went full-force with our plans. She bought t-shirts for all four of them and created The Wiggles iron-on transfers and expertly applied the logos to the front of each shirt. 

Then after lunch one day, Michele and I found black hairspray. When Ike came home, he was eager to try it out. I took him outside as to not make a mess indoors and put a few squirts of the black hairspray on his hair. His lovely orange hair began to turn the ugliest shade of gray I’d ever seen in my life. It turned a thick, lifeless gray and to make matters worse, the hairspray became powdery on his head. We also probably destroyed another ozone layer in the process. Sorry about that. 

The next morning Isaac woke early. After he put his Wiggles t-shirt on, I placed him in the tub and began lacquering his hair. A thin film of powder covered his head. Before my eyes, my sweet 12 year old son had turned into an aging Wiggle. I gave him some dark eyebrows with my eyebrow pencil and once he got the blue plastic recorder I bought at the Dollar Tree, Ike’s transformation was complete. Ike trepidatiously walked into the sixth grade hall searching for his aging band mates. Their moms had also bought the hairspray and they all complained about the gross stuff in their hair in the corridor. 

The hallway exploded with energy. One student was the Cookie Monster and he passed around cookies to everyone he saw. Another guy was the FreeCreditReport.com guy complete with a little pirate outfit and guitar. 

But I think my personal favorite TV character was Billy Mays from OxyClean!  This student was a hoot because he absolutely personified spokesman Billy Mays. He had a penciled-in beard, toted around his OxyClean bottle and recited the entire OxyClean schtick!

Ike said everywhere Derek went, he was trying to sell his product! Smiles and laughter, cookies and cleaning products, music and merriment, what could possibly be better!

And then there was Aaron. The grand finale of high school Spirit Day was Crayon Day. Poor fella was clueless about what to do. 

After a long night of homework, Aaron began working on his costume after 11pm. Ingeniously, my middle OS turned a grocery bag inside out, grabbed some markers, a bottle of White-Out and my resourceful child became a box of Crayons. 

With little sleep, Aaron was pretty unpleasant the next morning. He was Mr. Grouchy Box of Crayons even in the car as these pictures clearly demonstrate. 

It probably didn’t help that his annoying parents took a million pictures and found the whole thing terribly amusing!

I miss Spirit Week but am kind of glad things are back to normal…I’m already thinking about next year’s plans!

Men in Tights, Men in Black

1 Comment

Now we’re back to our regular school uniforms and I admit I am both relieved that Spirit Week is over and nostalgic about the fun times we enjoyed.

Aaron’s class had Black-Out Day. I wasn’t ecstatic about the theme since it seems dark (duh, it’s black!) and gothic but then Aaron wanted to know if I had any black tights and suddenly Black-Out Day sounded more weird than anything else. My OS would have killed me if I had taken some pics but you should have seen him trying on my stockings. At first he tried on a pair of black nylons. “How can anyone wear these things!” he groaned. 

When I saw that he was wearing nylons, like the kind I wear with a dress or skirt, I had to intervene. He needed an emergency hosiery alternative so I recommended some black tights. It is strange rifling through my drawers trying to find a hosiery alternative for my teenage son.

I hearken back to the Halloween when my oldest OS was about six years old and dressed up as a spider. He wore my brimmed black hat and to complete the ensemble, I purchased some girls’ spider tights. I didn’t think it was a big deal but he did. It took a lot of convincing but my son who is a now a plebe at the United States Military Academy VERY hesitantly wore them for trick or treating. To my knowledge, he hasn’t worn ladies’ tights/nylons since that day.

Aaron also decided that compression shorts were necessary and I’ll leave it at that. If guys only had a clue how much effort we put into looking good, I think they would be surprised. In addition to covering his shapely legs all in black,  my OS donned a black ski cap, black UnderArmor and smeared black camo make-up over his face. Yes it was creepy, especially when I came to pick him up after school and he continued to wear the ski mask. He was talking normally about his day through the ski mask and it was creeping me out! I had to tell him to take it off just so I could drive.

I am not only the mom of three sons, but I guess I’m the mom of Men in Tights and Men in Black. 

Pajama Day for the Record Books


The suspense has got to be killing you…so far I have shared that Spirit Week in our family is a BIG deal. We take Spirit Week seriously and bring it, if you know what I mean. But what I haven’t shared is the final result. 

After all the exhaustive effort, the travail, at last Pajama Day was at hand.

I had finished my middle OS’s pajama pants around 11:30pm Sunday night, the costume was ready. 

Before I reveal the actual outfit, you need some background. We have a standing joke in my family that I have yet to grow tired of saying. True, everybody in my family is tired of hearing this joke but that’s beside the point. Here it is…every time my sons eat something healthy, especially if it is green, I tell them something marvelous is going to happen to them in the near future. A very special, VERY manly thing that will leave them eternally gratefully for having me as their mom and for having eaten that healthy, green thing. 

I tell them that thanks to eating that healthy thing and having me as their mom, they are going to grow chest hair. And not just little tufts here and there, my friends. Not just a random hair on a barren land, oh no, we’re talking prolific amounts of chest hair, a veritable yet tasteful explosion of virulity and testorone will arrive shortly. 

Essentially I say the same thing each time but I have a knack for making it sound fresh and new. For example, Ike will be sitting at the dinner table, eating/being forced to eat some salad and I will affirm him by saying, “Isaac, that salad is going to grow a centimeter of hair on your chest one day!” Or recently when they tried/were forced to try brussels sprouts, I encouraged my youngest OS after he ate/choked one of them down with these supportive words, “Oh, Ike just you wait, Man.  You are so gonna grow some chest hair!”  

How does that relate to Pajama Day?…take a look at these pictures, dear friends…

To the untrained eye, this might look like real chest hair. That would be wrong. On one of my million trips to the fabric store, I purchased some fake fur. My expert (HA!) seamstress skills allowed me to sew some “chest hair” onto a ripped t-shirt. I wanted to sew “back hair” also but felt close to exhaustion.  
Aaron played the part to the hilt, from the beginning of the morning at home till the end of school that afternoon, my boy scratched his newly sprouted chest hair to the disgust of all the freshman girls and possibly some of the teachers. I don’t think it is humanly possible to have more fun with chest hair, real or otherwise, than we had that day!

Unless something new develops, I’ll soon blog about the new painting in our house from a talented and aspiring artist, as well as Mr. Grumpy Box of Crayons and The Wiggles AND a certain Cadet of the Quarter I know quite well and the new SNUGLET model who might one day seriously be strutting the cat walk! 😉 Stay tuned and come back soon, love to hear from you if you have enjoyed any of these posts. 

Having fun during Spirit Week – W-H style


Every year at my children’s school, there is an opportunity to ditch their school uniforms and participate in Spirit Week. It has become five days my sons look forward to from the first day of school. Spirit Week is a time for the kids to let loose, as much as is humanly possible in a private Christian school and just have some fun. Truly a rare and welcome treat. 

But my sons are not the only people in our family who anticipate Spirit Week. I do too! For the last several years, it has become a tradition in our family, mostly instituted by me that when it’s Pajama Day, and there is always a Pajama Day during Spirit Week, well, the W-H’s, we are gonna represent. We are going to bring it! We are going to take it to the limit, no holds barred and therefore no ordinary pajamas will suffice. Whether they like it or not, I determine to make my OS their very own, “designer” pajama pants.

One year our two oldest OS wore a matching rubber ducky pj’s. Nate wasn’t exactly overjoyed about being twins with his dorky middle school brother but I had some spare material around the house and whipped those pj’s out pretty quickly during the Super Bowl game. They were quite a hit at school not to mention super comfy and that fed my addiction to purpose to make more pajama pants for Spirit Week. 

But before I tell you about our current Spirit Week events and ideas, let’s take a journey back and visit Spirit Weeks of days gone by.

There was the time when Nate dressed up as a Super Hero…I believe he was Super Nate…Not sure what his super powers were but we always think of him as Super Nate! 

I cannot take credit for the costume he created except to say I helped him put the N on the back of his cape. 

And who could forget Nerd Day? Aaron took that day VERY seriously and if you know him, he’s such a un-nerdy guy. Nonetheless, he wore a computer tie the boys bought him years ago at the flea market. Shockingly, I believe Aaron is the only person to have ever worn this tie. Even when I have told Mark that his kids bought it especially for him for Christmas, he still hasn’t put the thing around his neck. At least someone has gotten good use of it after all these years. 

Last year Aaron was Prince Charming. 

I made golden silk pajama pants which I hemmed at the knees and a felt vest. (Obligatory ewing and ah-ing from my readers, please!) 

We then made a golden crown out of poster board and glued beautiful authentic plastic jewels which surely bedazzled the ladies. We even went to the Goodwill and got him a shoe to carry around the entire day as he searched for his Cinderella who was nowhere to be found.  
I’m not sure what Nate was this year but I think he had limited time, talent and resources so I think he was Captain Hook…check out the black Lady Godiva wig we have used for countless weird things. Oh and don’t forget the “hook” made out of aluminum foil. 

There was Favorite Bible Character Day…Nate was Noah…check out the stuffed animal on his cardboard ark. He duct-taped the defenseless teddy bear to the ark!

I just had to tell you about our past experiences before I got you up to date on what we’ve been working on currently. Next blog…Spirit Week 2009…and the NINE hour sewing project which nearly killed me…and I’m not even exaggerating. More soon,

My Prince Charming


P1010543As Spirit Day drew to a close, it was Dress Up as Your Favorite Hero Day and Aaron decided he wanted to be someone extra special and quite appropriate – Prince Charming.

My 13-year-old OS has the pretty face and the affable personality but lacked the actual costume. We don’t do a lot of dress up in our family of boys but with a little ingenuity, we came up with a pretty cool outfit.

First we went to Staples and got some metallic posterboard.

P1010547I didn’t know they made metallic posterboard so that was quite convenient. We cut a crown design out of the posterboard and I glued a ton of little beads around it. It looked so shimmery and royal. Kind of like real jewels but not really. Check out the artistry…

P1010542I had some satin gold fabric and against all odds, I made my first pair of satin prince pants. My dumb sewing machine was acting the fool so my wonderful friend Michele let me borrow her top of the line machine.

It’s a $1500 sewing machine and man, that baby can purr. I’m not sure I’m giving it back to her, I seriously loved that machine. I have told my husband that if he really loved me, he would get me that machine. I’ll let you know how that’s going…I was definitely not worthy to even use the foot pedal of this fine piece of machinery, I savored every second and stitch.

P1010541After finishing the prince pants, I also made him a fancy slate grey vest complete with gold trim. It was so simple to make but I was really proud of myself! I am totally in the zone when I am doing things for my family. During a quick trip to the Goodwill, I found a nice man’s white collared shirt for Aaron – and then the biggest find of all, I bought a pair of women’s shoes. He wasn’t going to wear them, rather he took one shoe to school as he searched for his lovely Cinderella.

As luck would have it, I had a scrap of red satin fabric to make a little sash. When we put the costume together, he seriously looked like Prince Charming! Even when he was standing next to his best bud Zack aka Peter Pan.

This was a Spirit Day our family won’t forget!