Belated Christmas Gifts

I’m told that the problem with buying presents for me these days is that I’m an adult, and if I see something I want, I buy it. None of this waiting half a year in the hopes that Saint Nick will bring me something anymore. It was easier for my parents and my sister when I had no money, and it looked like I might never have any money, because then they could just give me money and be done with it.


But since I’m adult, look at this plant I just bought! I forget what it’s called, possibly something like Hypothermia, but I felt a personal connection to it because it smelled funny and had a weird name.

These days, before I come home for Christmas, my parents ask me to put together a list of things I would enjoy owning that I don’t already, and then they pick just a few things out of the list so that it’s a mystery what I’ll get. This has worked well so far.

Of course, after I finish opening all my presents in Idaho, there’s the problem of how I’m going to fit them all into the four cubic inches of space my airline has allotted for carry-on luggage. Most of the things go into a box, and in the grand tradition of all Ludvigs we never send the box and forget that much of the stuff in it ever existed.


This time I received the box, but I just didn’t open it for a week or two because I was “too busy.”

I had already forgotten what I had received for Christmas, so this was like unwrapping presents all over again. The rest of this post is all just me showing off my presents, so you can go do something else now. (I thank my good friend Wendy for the very pretty shawl I laid everything out on.)


A while ago, unbeknownst to my family, I had purchased a book-shaped wallet for myself. Coincidentally, I received a book-shaped purse and a book-shaped backpack for Christmas, so now I can put my book-shaped wallet in a book-shaped purse in a book-shaped backpack, and still have enough room leftover for an actual book!


I got the games “Coup” and “Happy Salmon.” Coup is a nice little social deduction card game that’s easy to learn and quick to play, good for my board game nights. Happy Salmon, on the other hand, is the easiest way to turn functioning adults into flailing, shouting, desperate maniacs. I highly recommend it.


Did you ever want to read lengthy full-color comic books about small shirtless quasi-anime elfs that ride wolves and can talk to each other in their minds? Well, now you can! ElfQuest! Slogan: “Made in the ’70s and it shows!” (I love these things so much.)


My parents are still very concerned that I’m going to be mugged or murdered by thugs out here in the big city, so they like to give me emergency items like heavy-duty flashlights and defense spray so I can use them on my opponent and then be mugged and murdered by even angrier thugs. Also, some earrings! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

And then, last but not least, I got this beautiful thing:



I’m told it’s a sundial. A portable one, to be exact. If I were an especially competent hipster I could carry this around in my purse and pull it out whenever I wanted to know the time whilst outdoors on sunny days. Sadly, I have not yet figured out how to properly set the thing up, so I can only tell the time by looking at my phone. But it looks really classy.

This stuff really is spectacular. I have to hand it to my parents, they know what I like.

Because I tell them. In a list they request.

God bless us all, every one.

Disney Nannying: The Second Day

The second day was improved because everyone managed to sleep in until at least 5:30 AM, and because Mrs. Parent found a Starbucks sneakily hidden away behind an antique facade in the park.


The view from my hotel room at 5:30 in the morning. I guess the lights never turn off.

Right out of the gate we had a Fast Pass for the Jungle Cruise, which the oldest boy swore he would hate and insisted on berating it and snipping at his brother for the majority of the small Fast Pass wait. A great deal of my job at Disney was merely standing between boys to prevent fighting and to try and avoid making everyone else in line as unhappy as we appear to be.

So we went on the Jungle Cruise, and absolutely none of my pictures turned out because my terribly expensive phone cannot take a good picture whilst moving five miles an hour down a river, but that’s all right. The eldest boy secretly enjoyed himself, despite vehemently and preemptively denying it the second his feet his solid ground again.

While we waited for our next Fast Pass time slot (which is, we were coming to realize, the only way you will ever see the inside of most rides during Jersey Week), we ran briefly through the Swiss Family Treehouse, which was very nice and which the boys were largely uninterested in because it was a book they had never heard of and there weren’t enough pirates or roller coasters involved.


I thought it was neat. Look at this! This whole massive tree is completely fake! How cool is that?!


Maybe Disney could hire me to live in this place full time and act the part. They wouldn’t have to pay me. Just pass some food through the door occasionally and I’ll play you some tidbits on the organ.

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride they did appreciate, but once again they failed to drag us on it fifteen times like I did my poor grandfather in 2007, so we got out of there pretty early too. As The Family started to amble away from Adventureland, Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial started up behind us, and I all but begged to stay and watch at least part of it.


Because it’s Captain Jack Sparrow.

I did a lot of begging at Disney World, primarily because I was the only one really enthused to be there. I tried not to take up a lot of The Family’s time, but I couldn’t resist snapping distant pictures of princesses whenever we passed one.


Look guys, it’s her! It’s Merida! It’s- guys?

Back in 2007, we went on nearly all of the major rides, but the one thing I was looking forward to the most was The Haunted Mansion. For years my darling mother had mentioned how spectacular it was, how enchanted the waltzing ghosts were, how fascinating all the illusions had been. I was a Halloweenie. I was so excited.

Naturally, The Haunted Mansion was closed until October when we arrived. Young Jean probably gave her grandparents a hard time about that. Sorry, Grandma and Grandpa.

So while we were here, I pulled a few of the older boys aside, got down on their level, and made them a deal. “I will stand in line with you for Space Mountain if you will go on The Haunted Mansion with me,” I whispered.


I’m surprised this picture isn’t blurry because I was nearly vibrating with excitement.

They were thrilled at the prospect of Space Mountain again. I was thrilled to finally go on The Haunted Mansion. The parents were accepting. While Mr. and Mrs. Parent took the younger boys off to the Aladdin ride, I ran off with the older boys and bribed them with my phone games to stand in line for forty minutes.


“Guys! Guys! Look at the hearse! Look at the spooky horse frame! Isn’t this cool?!” “Okay.”

I’m not going to describe in detail what happens in the ride (mostly because pictures are impossible to take in there), but it hit me about midway through the ride that this is what I always thought amusement parks should be. Every time I entered another unsatisfying “haunted house” ride or grimaced at the peeling paint on a scuffy spinning teacups attraction, I was picturing something more put together and impressive.

Turns out that’s Walt Disney World- who knew, right?

The Haunted Mansion was thoroughly satisfying. The boys decided it was their second favorite ride, because they enjoyed being able to loudly proclaim how unscary it was. Everyone was happy for a blessed twelve minutes before the vacation stress set in again.

As it grew dark, Mrs. Parent went off to do some shopping on Main Street and Mr. Parent and I waded through the crowds with the boys to find a place to sit.


Good luck trying to get a better picture than this after the parade has just ended (which we missed anyway).

And as we sat outside a little hat shop and the boys had more fun with a provided checkers set than they had had in the rest of the day combined, I sat and watched the crowds grow thinner. The funny thing is, the later it gets in Disney World, the older things feel. After a while of foggy staring, it started to feel like I was watching the 1960s moving around me.


And there was something very peaceful about that.

Disney magic really does exist, which is crazy. No one was joking or making it out to be more than it is. The more time I spent there, even working and surrounded by people who never fully relax, the more I started to sound like an advertisement for the place. I would call my parents up, rant about my day a little, and then finish with, “But Disney World really is enchanting.”

It really is.

The Last of the Renaissance Faires

On Saturday I packed myself into the car with one (1) man with better hair than mine, eight (8) bags of miscellaneous costuming garb, accessories, and weapons, and a great deal () of Middle Ages-themed excitement.

We were going to another Renaissance Faire. How many Renaissance Faires I’ve been to this season is not important. It’s a normal number. I’m a normal person.

This was the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire again, because it was the only Renaissance Faire still running this late in the year (near me, anyway). It was, effectively, The Last Renaissance Faire.


This time with Halloween!

Most of the Renaissance Faires I’ve attended this season I’ve attended alone, because I find that few of my friends share my single-minded determination to experience everything the faire has to offer many times over while dressed appropriately for the occasion. We don’t have time to dither around by the food court, guys! We have three shows to see and we have only five minutes in every booth, and we can’t miss our hour of relaxing people-watching. The hour of relaxing people-watching is very important, guys.

Fortunately, I found a miracle in a friend of a friend named Paul, who has even more costumes than I do and also has long, silken black hair that he can stand around looking medieval with. I’m not jealous.

Paul has done Ren Faires. Paul has done, probably, dozens more Ren Faires than I have. Paul knows how to do Renaissance Faires with me. It was a great relief.


Paul is also frequently a pirate, and when I stopped to laugh at one of the flags at the faire he informed me he used to have that flag hanging above his computer. Because of course he had.

But today we were in less of a hurry to get things done, because we had each had our fill of Ren Faires for the season (including this one). We wandered around, catching some of the acts, brandishing glorious hair (Paul), trying not to grin like an idiot because Renaissance Faires are still the coolest thing ever (me).

Twice we stopped by the archery booth. The first time, Paul picked up his bow, hit the bullseye something like ten out of eighteen times, and complained that he was “out of practice.” He congratulated me on my three bullseyes.

The second time we stopped by, a few hours later, he hit the bullseye a mere fifteen times, and seemed genuinely thrilled that I had managed five. Curse those talented but kind individuals that you want to dislike but can’t because they’re so nice.


Archery: Where you go if you want to see me spectacularly fail to hit the center of the target many times in a row!


We swung by the joust, presided over by King Henry XIII (in his early days, when he hadn’t yet executed a lot of wives or grown old and fat). The area you sit in in the audience determines which knights you’re rooting for, and we ended up supporting the less than honorable ones. The slightly despicable ones. The ones that, when given the option to kick a puppy for 10 gold, would go “Welllll…”

They’re the most fun to root for. Who really need chivalry anyway. They probably lost, but we didn’t stick around for the after-joust duels to find out.

As we wound down for the day, Paul recommended we see a music group call Tartanic, who were as impressive as they were ear-shatteringly loud (very). When your music can be hear all over the Faire, you’re doing something right.


Tartanic invited anybody who wished to come up and dance on stage if the music moved them.


The results were approximately eighty-three very enthusiastic children who just wanted to sit on the thrones before an audience.

And then, just like that, we were done. We bought some kettle corn for the road and spent fifteen minutes removing our costumes so that we could stop at a gas station without looking like we were bringing the New Crusades. We shoved our new merchandise on top of our old merchandise, and we headed out.

Sure, the both of us will probably be very medieval for the rest of the year, but that doesn’t mean it’s not terribly sad to end the season. Renaissance Faires are packed with some of the most interesting individuals you will ever meet, and it’s always a pity to leave that behind.


Well, except this guy. You’ll see him again in a few months.

A Somewhat Restrained Halloween

The problem with being a live-in nanny is that you live with your employers and you take care of their very impressionable young children, so being a weirdo is frowned upon.

My employers already think I’m strange enough to begin with because of innocuous things such as when I left the house dressed as Colonel Mustard (complete with large bushy mustache and khaki short-shorts), so I’ve been keeping my weird side on the down-low for a while. And it’s a pity, because Halloween is approaching.

“I don’t really need to decorate for Halloween,” I thought to myself. “Halloween’s not that big a deal, and I’m an adult, more or less.”

And then I had an hour to kill yesterday, and I popped into the nearest Spirit Halloween store.


There’s something so magical about Spirit Halloween stores. They appear suddenly, with little warning. They feature seizure-inducing light sequences, never-ending mechanical screams, ridiculously over-priced, low quality products, and they smell like plastic and the death of employee sanity.

I love them to bits, presumably because I’ve never worked there.


Where else can I buy my knee highs featuring brains?

Walking around a Spirit Halloween store has the same effect on me as walking down a quiet, snowy road lit with Christmas lights. The spirit of Halloween was upon me. Who cared if everything there was hugely obnoxious?! Halloween!!

img_20161010_132822701One of these days I will find reason to wear a fabulous witch hat 100% of the time.

 Giddy, I left the store and crossed the street to Michael’s, where you can get slightly classier Halloween items for the same expensive price.

img_20161010_134714625And a larger variety of bones.

I purchased some necessities. Some black candles. Some decorative jars. A skeletal cat. And then I went home, pulled out the black paper, and created some silhouette art.


Items needed: Black paper, pencil, scissors, tape, overly-milky tea.


img_20161011_145024883There’s no way this is going to backfire on me in the middle of the night.

img_20161011_135704312Replacing my cute flower fairy lights with cute little ravens in cages… lights.


Wait for it… wait for it…

img_20161011_140836512Bam! Slightly more Gothic!

I tried my best to make the changes to my room subtle. I like the tasteful Halloweens better anyway; some elegantly witchy things over, you know, dead babies and what have you. And though my employers rarely if ever stray into my room, I didn’t need my charges spitting out a darling “Mommy, Miss Jean has a fully functional guillotine in her room, come see!”

img_20161011_143531751I did, however, put some cashews in my “raven claws” bottle, for when said charges do slip into my room in search of a treat.

I’m hanging the spider webs on my bookcase now, and I feel a little better. One of these I’ll have my own place that I can destroy all on my own, but for the present, I can merely torture myself by trying to take down the spider webs again in 21 days.