Weekly Wrap: Playing Dress Up

by Susan Henderson on November 2, 2007

Most of my regulars know I’m married to a costume designer. My youngest son always loved the idea of costumes, and for years, changed outfits several times a day. Here is an example of one of my son’s designs: a lovely number, featuring a painted jacket, tape measure, cowboy boots, and gladiator helmet.

litpark costumes kids come up with

And here he is in the ruby slippers he pretty much lived in until he outgrew them. (Jacket by Mr. H.)

litpark costumes kids come up with

But I’ll leave you with a little Halloween story featuring my older son, Bach-Boy.



When our boys were small and we still imagined there was an ideal way to raise them, one of our bright ideas was a weapons ban. We did not buy toy guns, not even if they were filled with water. We did not buy swords made of plastic or foam. We did not encourage violence or stereotypical male roles in any way. And even if our children received these types of toys at birthday parties, we lovingly told them that our family did not believe in violent weapons being used as toys, and we gave their gifts to Good Will.

Eventually, however, we gave in and introduced our children to weapons. I blame The Spice Girls.

Between the joyful moments of raising small kids – was it just me? – were hours of unfathomable boredom. Sometimes I bought Happy Meals to see if a cheap toy would buy me 15 minutes of freedom. Inevitably, they tired of the cheap toy, and I was back to watching the clock, desperate for Mr. Henderson to come home. I longed for him to walk through the door so I could feel the relief of blowing up at someone. And then I’d guilt him into feeding and amusing the boys the rest of the night while I retreated to the bedroom, where I could go out of my mind in private.

And then I remembered the crap gifts sent by one of their godfathers—a dear, but with suspect taste. We kept his gifts merely for sentimental reasons.

“Boys,” I said. “Would you like to listen to—THE SPICE GIRLS?”

I announced it in a way that hinted at great mystery and excitement, like when I asked them if they’d like Slim Pickings for lunch or Magic Shampoo in the bath. They didn’t know what the Spice Girls were, but they sure wanted them now.

litpark spice girls

I found the CD at the bottom of the rack. It was still in the plastic wrap—perfect! The opening of the cellophane and its glorious crinkling just added to the anticipation. It beat thinking up games and pretending to enjoy playing them.

“Want me to CRANK IT UP?”

“Yeah, Mommy!”

I slid the disk into the stereo as Bach-Boy unfolded the CD cover, eyeing the girls in shiny minis and platform sneakers. I figured the boys would find, by the first song, that this was no gift at all. I was already straining to think up the next time filler. But to my surprise, the boys were soon jamming. They danced round and round the couch. I joined them.

We hit repeat every time we finished a good song and danced on the couch with the stuffed animals. The Spice Girls took us all the way to dinner and Mr. Henderson coming home to find us thrilled and exhausted.

Bach-Boy sat on the bottom stair and announced: “I know what I want to be for Halloween.”

Halloween was a month away, but Mr. Henderson took requests early so he could sew the costumes from scratch. He was very proud of this – sewing little outfits, then watching the kids win cash prizes at costume parties.

He bent down by the step. I listened behind him.

“I’ll give you a hint,” Bach-Boy said. “I want a hat with dots. And….” He made a grand, swooping gesture with his hands, as if it were a huge feather sprouting from the hat. “And really tall shoes.”

Mr. Henderson was puzzled. “How about another hint?” he said.


Still puzzled.


I chimed in. “A Spice Guy?” I looked at my husband. “Godfather Andrew,” I said.

Bach-Boy did the same dance we’d been doing. But it looked different this time. Too much GIRL POWER.

litpark spice girls

One of the many courses Mr. Henderson taught at the university was Make-Up. But when he saw how much the boys enjoyed my dolling them up on a particularly long day, he made a weird face and asked me to please call it war paint. He made the same face as he pulled me into the kitchen.

“You might not understand this, but can you let me do something?”

“Sure,” I said.

“It’s about the weapons ban.”

“You mean our agreement never to let our boys play with pretend weapons, or I’ll stop sleeping with you?”

“I just want a little leeway,” he said. “That’s all. Please?”

“A little leeway. But careful you don’t become a Republican.” He knew I’d never sleep with a Republican.

Mr. Henderson grinned and returned to Bach-Boy, who was now joined by his brother on the bottom stair.

“You can be a Spice Girl if you want.”



“Or what?”

“You can both be pirates and I’ll buy you BIG SWORDS!”

“Swords, Daddy!”

homemade pirate costumes

Swords it was. We promised.

Bach-Boy had just one more question: “Is it okay if I dress up like a Spice Girl around the house?”


Thanks to everyone who answered the Question of the Week, and to John Warner for playing Top 5 with us, and to those who linked to LitPark this week: Emerging Writers Network, Jennifer Prado,, Curious Distractions, Laura Benedict’s Notes from the Handbasket, Tow Books, and Robin Slick’s In Her Own Write. I appreciate those links!

Oh, and P.S., How sweet is this? More art for my office! This came in the mail yesterday from my awesome pal, Brian McEntee.
litpark brian p. mcentee myspace drawing

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

lance_reynald November 2, 2007 at 1:28 am

Spice Up Your Life!!!

oh hell, you caused me to slip into guilty pleasures there for a moment…

and really, What kind of choice is BIG SWORD vs. Spice Girls?

(you know I might just have an opinion on that one…but I have like 48K words to do in 29 days, can we talk about this later?) great….now I can’t shake that song…sheeesh.


terrybain November 2, 2007 at 3:20 am

Before I say anything about the post (which I might forget to do) I just wanted to say “look, there’s a new commenting system.” It should be pretty self-ex-plane-tarium, but if you have trouble with it, you can let me know, or you can tell Sarah Silverman about it.



SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 6:49 am

Just so you know, guys, Terry thinks this commenting change will be cool and you can now have a picture of you or your book or your art there along with your name. But I find the change really stressful and confusing, and I’m just going to shut my eyes and jump.


Kimberly November 2, 2007 at 7:51 am

Spice, Spice, Baby!

Love love love the new wall art!!!

And I’d tell Sarah, but I’m a little disappointed this season, and now that I’m joining all your novelists this month, she’ll remain on the DVR until December (or procrastination central hits around the 15th) and by then I’ll have adjusted to the change.

Only 48,000 more words to go! 🙂


RobinGrantham November 2, 2007 at 9:12 am

Perfect story for a Friday morning, Susan. I laughed out loud. Before I’d had caffeine, even.

On another note — your husband sews! Something other than human skin! Those pirate costumes are awesome. (Though I was anxiously awaiting a Spice Girls pic.) Nice twist.

Next time Hubby says something like, “So and so’s wife gets up at 3am to make Baked Alaska for his lunch every day,” I’m so whipping out Mr. H. “Susan’s hubby makes their kids’ costumes! By hand! And he raises the cotton to make the thread! Right in their backyard!” Ha.

Love the ruby slippers!

Thanks. :~) …..xo, Robin


Aurelio November 2, 2007 at 11:08 am

Loved this post, Susan. And Mr. Henderson was right – giving the boys those cool pirate costumes was much better than letting them dress in Spice drag. I now know drag can get you in trouble.


terrybain November 2, 2007 at 11:14 am

Susan! Look! I’m replying to your post! Look how cool it is! Relax! Take a bath! Have a drink! See how cool it is? And you can customize the comments however you want! Anyone can! And they can use as many exclamation points as they want! Just to annoy the “webguru” who happens to be extremely bothered by them!


terrybain November 2, 2007 at 11:15 am

Now look at this! Extremely obnoxious webguru replying to his own reply just to show you all how much fun y’all can have just being yourselves! And you can even show the newest posts at the top! Or the oldest! Or the hottest!(?)

Rock on. Or, em, Spice on. Or whatever.

Blessings, all.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 11:25 am

This is very stressful, t. You know change makes me kind of twitchy. Also, can people’s photos be bigger? Can you maybe double or triple-size them? xo


Carolyn_Burns_Bass November 2, 2007 at 11:40 am

So now that I’m in…

Mr. H is nothing less than brilliant in how he confounded that Spice Girl scare. The weapons ban would have outdone itself anyway.

Kids will make their own weapons–guns included–from whatever’s handy.

This is a true story: Even though my husby is a retired USMC Major, who often played with guns on the job, we never bought my son toy guns. One day he and my daughter were playing together when he picked up one of her Barbie dolls, gripped her legs, bent her over, pointed her at my daughter and yelled, “bang, bang.”


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 11:40 am

I’m excited that you’re doing this. I just read your next interview, by the way, and I love it… and her! Go write.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 11:43 am

I love the new wall art, too! Can’t wait to hear what you’re writing about. I think NaNoWriMo is brilliant because it gets writers to stop thinking and editing and just go!


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 11:44 am

He sewed all the curtains in the house, too! My little one patterns and sews shirts. He has his own label he puts in them.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 11:46 am

Let me see if this link will take everyone over to your blog:

(Terry, I’m not happy all my old tools disappeared for links and photos. Grrrr. I’m getting twitchy!)


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 11:47 am

And where’s my executive edit button, t?!


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 11:48 am

Yeah, my kids figured out how to make everything into a grenade anyway. The weapons ban and Quaker school only worked so well.


Greg_Boose November 2, 2007 at 12:04 pm

I love tiny pictures!


robinslick November 2, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Now that I am totally exhausted from trying to figure out your new comments section and the train wreck of adding my photo (will it work? I won’t know until I post), I have totally forgotten what I wanted to say, other than this was one of your most fun weekly wraps ever and just a great read.

Oh, I remember now. I wanted to say that I did everything wrong as a parent. I let them play with weapons, eat sugar, drink Coke, read Playboy, see me drink and smoke…and naturally what do you think happened – they are both total prudes, pacifists, vegetarians, and drug and alcohol Nazis. Go figure. Your boys look fantastic with their swords – that was really a hilarious story. Spice Girls vs The Swords – it’s publishable as is.

So like, you barter sex in your marriage? Ha ha – I never thought of that one. I barter desserts from Whole Foods, though. Especially that toasted almond cream cake they’ve been offering lately….

P.S. With all of these new changes, where is the edit/delete button? Sadist!


lance_reynald November 2, 2007 at 12:19 pm

will barter sex for desserts…
or is it the other way around?



Kimberly November 2, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Hm. Not sure yet. I’m just doing the whole stream-of-consciousness thing and am kind of excited to see what pours out. It falls under “fictionalized memoir” at the moment, but the way my brain is spinning today, it will most likely morph into something else…

A funny side note though. I’m getting a fair share of my writing done while I’m temping at an Investment Bank (pure and utter hell to be back in an office, btw) but the most delicious thing is that I’m on the Leveraged Finance Floor (does anyone know what that means? ’cause I’m baffled. Anyway…)

I’m disguising my work behind a complicated-looking Excel Spreadsheet which lists my words/hour, daily count, accumulated daily target, over/under, etc. In a few days, I’ll be able to make pie charts and graphs and a whole slew of other very left-brain activities to chart my progress. (It’s also a FABULOUS procrastination tool…)

If anyone wants a copy of the template pre-formatted with all the formulas, I’m happy to share! Just email me kimberly at sheshootstoconquer dot com.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 12:51 pm

I want ’em bigger!


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 12:54 pm

I’m still a sadist when it comes to keeping the edit/delete button away from you guys. But I want mine back.

Due to comments made to Mr. H by his students, I’m not supposed to talk about our sex life on my blog anymore. And that includes anything regarding the bartering system and even certain things in the ballpark of bellydancing. This is the new and mature me.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 12:55 pm

See, now, the new mature me will not even answer such a question. I’ll simply ponder it, privately.


terrybain November 2, 2007 at 12:55 pm

You know it isn’t the size that matter, right?

Oh. But I guess you’d like to at least see what it is there you’re looking at, right?

Okay. I’ll take a peek under the hood.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 12:57 pm

I don’t want a template. I want my easy buttons back that said LINK and IMAGE and ITALICS and all the things that let me do codes without knowing one bit about coding. And I want to be able to correct my spelling and grammar but not allow anyone else to correct their spelling and grammar. That’s what I want.


terrybain November 2, 2007 at 1:01 pm

If nothing else there will be a lot of comments about how the new comments work. I’m reading everybody’s comments to see if there are big giant issues. And I’m sure most of them will come from our host. And I promise, Sue, I’m working on those things, seeing if they are possible or if I’ve just completely buggered you. If you end up being completely buggered, please know that we can totally bomb the new comments without harming anyone. But I think we ought to leave it as is for at least a week or so to see how it goes. Because I’m stubborn. And I’ll work on those easy buttons you love, okay? Okay. Back to work.


jodyreale November 2, 2007 at 2:24 pm

For so, so–so!–many reasons, this may be my favorite story. Of. All. Time.
PS. It’s not that I didn’t upload a photo. It’s that my head actually has a question mark in it. All the time.


danielha November 2, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Hi Terry,

I just stumbled across this through Disqus. I work on Disqus and I’d be happy to personally help you if you have any questions.

Shoot us an email at anytime.


terrybain November 2, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Cool. Thanks. I will. Just as soon as I have a question, you will hear about it. And I promise to be polite.


terrybain November 2, 2007 at 5:34 pm

Note on the little pictures… looks like we’re stuck with them for now, but the discus folks promise that will change in the near future. If you really want to see what the picture is, you can click through to their discus profile and see it bigger there.

But hey, we didn’t even have pictures yesterday… heck, it was just like being blind.


Aurelio November 2, 2007 at 7:16 pm

My dad sewed. He sewed badly, but he sewed. Because of that ,sewing always seemed an entirely masculine thing to me. Originally tailors were ALL men. And yes, I sew too.

Tell Mr. H I just made Plus 2’s for Chuck and myself to wear at an antique auto event.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 8:59 pm

All the men in my family cook. Mr. H is at a tech rehearsal right now, but when he comes home, I’ll ask him what a Plus 2 is.

I was just at a kid birthday party for the past 4 million hours. It was fun but I’m so so tired.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Aw, that’s so sweet of you.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Thank you, t, for everything. And for doing all of this without telling me because you knew I’d say no. This is why I love you.


SusanHenderson November 2, 2007 at 9:06 pm

P.S. Unrelated, but Enrico has some cool news for all you artists around here:

Enrico, Ronnie, Peter de Seve, etc.


ErikaRae November 2, 2007 at 9:53 pm

I’m new to this site – do you mind if I play at the park? I loved your post. Laughed out loud at the pics. Well timed.

I have a 4-year-old daughter that spends too much time on daddy’s lap while he plays computer games. She doesn’t play with guns, oh no. She throws fire balls. HER favorite song is Barbie Girl (Aqua).

Yeah. I’m gonna have all kinds of Hell to pay.


lance_reynald November 2, 2007 at 11:15 pm

hey Erika!

Welcome to the park!



ErikaRae November 3, 2007 at 12:42 am

Thanks, Lance! Hey – aren’t you heading to Wordstock soon? So envious.


lance_reynald November 3, 2007 at 1:41 am

thursday morning.
manuscript and all.
so, I guess that means I can match your envy with my own anxiety.


lance_reynald November 3, 2007 at 1:44 am

I know!
ask me after what my favourite part of that one is…

You know, I’m a bit spoiled… I’ve really loved all my guests. And consider myself a pretty lucky fella to have their awesome advice and wisdom… but she was indeed an AWESOME one.


lance_reynald November 3, 2007 at 1:51 am

you know where to reach me.


Nathalie November 3, 2007 at 5:24 am

New support system?

That is a cute story, susan but i can see that Mr. H. is worried. (But I am jealous of your kids’ childhood. A parent that makes costume is über cool.

My NaNo user link is this one:

And all the details regarding the anthology can be found in the comments to that post:

Does this system support HTML?


danielha November 3, 2007 at 5:31 am

Hi Nathalie, some HTML is OK to use.


troutbum70 November 3, 2007 at 10:58 am

I read your costume post at 4 am on Monday and didn’t think I had a story for it.. I was wrong. I flew from Oklahoma City to Denver to meet with some people at a low cost carrier out of Denver. I arrived about 6:15 and my meeting was at 9:00. I waited for over an hour for the shuttle to the corporate offices. I waited in the reception area as a gaggle of 30 something women stood around and giggled and covered thier faces with folders when they spoke and looked my way. One of the women finally broke free and walked to me and said. “You must be Michael.” “Yes” I replied. Takeing the hand she had offered. “I love your shirt.” She said. “Thank you.” It was all I could think to say. I was dressed nice in tailored suit pants and shirt that I got in Bangkok and nice cap toe shoes. I had noticed when I walked in that everyone wore khakis and golf shirts except for a man in a blue suit that the pant cuff fell about his ankles. So anyway after chit chat and introductions my business took about fifteen minuetes. I said my goodbyes and got the shuttle back to the airport to miss my plane by five min. I spent the next seven hours in and out of airport bars drinking overpriced Coors beer and texting friends and family all over the United states and laughing at how the women liked my costume. What whould they have thought of me in muddy cowboy boots and a sweat stained and sun faded hat. I like to look nice and I try to dress appropriate to the situation, but the real me is a little more dirty than the costume I have to wear from time to time.


troutbum70 November 3, 2007 at 11:00 am

Oh, thank god you lifted the weapons ban. If not plastic swords and guns it would be sticks and stones and you know what they do, break bones.


SusanHenderson November 3, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Wow, you’re a regular celebrity, Michael.


SusanHenderson November 3, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Hi Erika! So glad to see you here!


troutbum70 November 3, 2007 at 1:04 pm

crazy huh…..


Aurelio November 3, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Okay, Terry – here are my thought on the new comments format:

The type should be bigger – it’s hard to read at this size, at least on my screen.

I LOVE that we can now comment directly to individual posts rather than always at the end.

It would be good to have some sort of “tools” for links and stuff with the posting box, or if not that, maybe a page explaining how to do such and such.

The icon pictures ARE too small. I can live with it but it needs to be said.


terrybain November 3, 2007 at 5:12 pm

Cool. Those are helpful comments. But I thought I had made the type pretty darn big. Maybe it’s not showing up big in your browser? What are you using?


Carolyn_Burns_Bass November 3, 2007 at 5:41 pm

I use Excel for tracking my novel characters and their relationships within the story. For one WIP I’ve color coded the main characters and tracked the plotting. I love Excel; it gives me the structure that my brain doesn’t have.


terrybain November 3, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Okay, so I’ve made the pictures slightly larger. Unfortunately, the pictures that are served up for the comments are pretty tiny, so I can’t make ’em too big without making look like just big blurry nothings. Also, you may notice, hovering on the picture makes it a bit larger still. Which is the sort of thing I like because it makes it look as if something is happening even when not much is actually happening. Motion and such.

Say what you like when you like. Or when you don’t like. I will take no offense.

Continued blessings.



SusanHenderson November 4, 2007 at 6:21 am

I’m using Firefox and the print is pretty small. Definitely small compared to the old system. Question for you (or Daniel Ha): Why does it say it’s showing 41 of 52 comments, but if I go into the Dashboard, there are no comments to moderate. If someone’s comments accidentally go into the spam filter, where can I find them to fish them out? Also, thanks.


SusanHenderson November 4, 2007 at 6:22 am

Oh, and p.s., it would be great if there were html tools so we could post links and pictures without having to know all the code. And…. And….


robinslick November 4, 2007 at 6:58 am

Terry, I know I have Helen Keller syndrome but I’m having a really hard time reading the comments, too…so much so that I’m about to go shopping for bifocals. I use a mac and Firefox. The photos, at least on my computer, are so tiny we all look like mutated insects.

Oh wait…we are…

Just kidding. But yeah, I have to admit, I’ve been miserable with this new system though only because of font/photo size.

And I know Susan won’t give us an edit/delete button because she is a sadist, but what about the ability to post photos in comments?


danielha November 4, 2007 at 9:16 am

Hi Susan,

To see comments in the dashboard, you need to be a moderator of this blog and forum. I took a look and it looks like terrybain is the current moderator — he can easily add you as a moderator from the page: Access and Moderators.

To check for comments marked as spam, click on “Unapproved” tab from the dashboard.

— Daniel


Kimberly November 4, 2007 at 9:23 am

Does anyone else lose their links on the right-hand side of the page when you go to the comments section?

(mac user, safari browser)


Kimberly November 4, 2007 at 9:24 am

nevermind – tiny glitch easily fixed with a click of the ol’ “refresh” button.


SusanHenderson November 4, 2007 at 9:40 am

Hey, Daniel, you’re so helpful!

And Terry, why don’t you add me in.


lance_reynald November 4, 2007 at 10:52 am

at the risk of sounding like the computer guy from the SNL skits…
the easy cheap fix on the reading glasses type thing for firefox on a mac (best way to go, doing it now)… That little Apple shaped key next to the spacebar… press that and your + at the same time… or, go up to the “view” tab and increase page from there…
you can also change it somewhere over in your firefox preferences to always use a font size you want all the time…

and that there is about as technical as things get in Lanceland. I don’t have an answer on the photos… perhaps we are kafka-esque.

I hope that helps a bit.


robinslick November 4, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Oh my god, Lance…this is incredible! I have this on total old lady setting right now..I mean…total elementary school setting…how is it that I never knew about this feature before? Life is beautiful again! Thank you, you big nerd, you.


lance_reynald November 4, 2007 at 2:51 pm

no problem.
less about being a nerd or more about being the guy who always loses my glasses; you know…like losing them on top of your head for an hour as you franticly search even the parts of the house you never actually go into.

so yeah, being able to adjust the type so that you have to scroll down the screen to read syllable by syllable come in handy at such times as glasses sitting on top of your head.


SusanHenderson November 4, 2007 at 8:39 pm

I tend to have a pair of sunglasses on and another on the top of my head. People have even stopped pointing this out to me.


lance_reynald November 4, 2007 at 9:14 pm

see there it is again; wondertwins.


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