Monday, December 31, 2007

Queen and David Bowie - Under Pressure

Audit at work on January 14th. Also year end financial work - tax documents, statements to get done. While I like to think I am very conscientous in my work, I'm nervous that I'm unintentionally doing something wrong. As a person who is easily flustered, this wasn't my ideal start to a New Year. The silver lining.... I'll know for sure if I'm doing everything correctly in just a few weeks! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Parenting 101 Anyone?

Tracey, have you finished that parenting book yet? I could use it....

Someone once wrote a post about Belltower moments. Where your child does something and you can just envision them going up in the tower with a gun and a sack of ammunition. And everyone says: "But he seemed so nice. Must have been the parents." We had that moment a few days ago, but luckily are descending the steps of crisis now.

And I have to admit Rob and I aren't very structured as parents. We have a routine, but we aren't always great at sticking with it. Sometimes we aren't as firm with follow-through as we should be. There is occasional yelling instead of a quiet-but-firm parental voice and bedtime and mealtimes slide around a bit. I once told a friend who was expecting a baby, not to worry about all that advice you get from know-it-all people. That your love for your child will help you figure out the right thing. But lately, I'm beginning to doubt that philosophy a little bit.

J.T. took a butterknife to my pantry door frame and made neat little cut marks (not too deep), but about 31 in all. When I caught him at it we had the following discussion:

Me: J.T.! Why did you cut the door?
J.T.: Mmmmmmmmm. (Fists clenched, lips pursed, scrambling for an answer).
Me: (after taking a deep breath) Why did you cut the door?
J.T.: (blurting it out quickly) Because I wanted to!
Me: Honey. We don't tear up things. We have to take care of our home. Why shouldn't you have cut the door?
J.T.: Because you would find out.... (which wasn't exactly the answer I was hoping I would hear).
Me: How about because it was the wrong thing to do?
J.T.: (silence)
Me: You have to go to your room. No T.V. today or tomorrow.

He runs to his room wailing. Great, heaving sobs of despair. HE'S mad with ME because he's in trouble. He told me so.

So if there is a parenting class, I'd probably be sitting in the corner with a Dunce cap on. This truly is the hardest job on the planet isn't it?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Betwixt and Between



Christmas and New Year's. More Christmas memories to add to the collection and the last few days of 2007 to spend.

Highlights from this Christmas include:

A baking disaster for me. Seems to be at least ONE each year. My cakes are never pretty. They are yummy, but not a feast for the eyes. I made a caramel layer cake for my niece's birthday (yes, poor thing was born on Christmas Day) and this picture doesn't show it in full ugliness. It would've made the Leaning Tower of Pisa look quite straight. Rob tore a hunk off this morning and I said: "So that's why it looks strange." Rob: "No, that's NOT why." But did I mention it was delicious?

Santa completely forgetting to include batteries for the remote control cars. Each car required SIX Double A batteries! Honestly. I'm beginning to think he owns stock in battery companies.

When you purchase identical remote control cars.... one remote will work both cars. This is both interesting and potentially hazardous to household harmony.

The children slept in until after 8 a.m. (Aren't YOU jealous) We had to wake Abby up because J.T. couldn't stand it any longer.

Abby's favorite gift was the big pack of markers and art pad. If we'd just purchased a huge case of paper and a couple more packs of markers, we could have gotten off super cheap this year.

J.T. got a Star Wars Lego Star Destroyer with 1,366 pieces. Anyone care to place bets on how much time passes before we lose about 20 of those pieces? Anyone care to place bets on how long we can keep Abby uninvolved in this project? Anyone care to place bets on how many times I'm going to step on an amazingly sharp little piece of lego in the dead of night?

The least favorite items were board games and books. Oh, and Rob's mother gave J.T. a set of Transformer sheets. Do you remember how you felt when you got clothes instead of toys? That's exactly the response we got from him. "Sheets?! For Christmas?!"

We're recovering in the hazy, sugary, so-tired-I'm-numb exhaustion that is the day after Christmas. I'm going to have some wine and cheese while the children grow more and more bored with their loot.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to get my Merry Christmas in before the busyness really gets going. Doesn't it seem like the world spins faster and the time runs short around the holidays? There are batches of fudge and cookies to make, presents to wrap, cards to write (okay I'm probably going to turn them into New Year's cards instead of Christmas cards) and only six more sleeps till the big fat guy in the red suit comes.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is to see the anticipation and joy in a child's eyes as they endure that bittersweet wait for Christmas morning. It can't seem to come fast enough, but once it's here you wish it wouldn't end.

Another of my favorite things are the family traditions that seem to manifest themselves during the Christmas Season more than any other time. At our house, we read the Christmas Story the night before.... my father reading in his deep steady tone and us sitting so quiet and still as we listened.... so peaceful. Then we'd gather round the tree and each of us would choose one gift to open. I spent hours the day before touching the presents with my name on them, shaking them gently.... trying to decide which one would have the most wonders inside it and should thus be chosen first. Before bed we'd select cookies for Santa and leave him a nice cold Dr. Pepper since our Santa wasn't a milk drinker. Translation: my mother isn't wasting a glass of expensive milk on Santa when it would just have to be poured out. Then it was off to bed where we'd try desperately to go to sleep so Santa would come. He doesn't come if you're awake.

Without ever realizing we had fallen asleep, we'd wake to a silent, still house. A mad scramble to the fireplace for stockings first.... loaded with fruit, nuts, candycanes, chocolate, new toothbrushes, books and a few small toys. After a suitable amount of time admiring each other's loot, we'd move on to the Christmas Tree in the Living Room where gifts were piled, unwrapped. I could always just imagine Santa pulling them from his sack and setting them around with great care. My parents would sit on the couch and watch as we marveled at our new treasures. Our grandparents would arrive for a big breakfast and to admire our gifts. The rest of the day was spent with our new toys and gifts, candy, books and friends. A big family celebration with aunts, uncles and cousins finished the day off. We'd fall asleep from sheer exhaustion a little early. Gorged on ham, dressing, sweet potatoes, pecan pie and enough candy to make a dentist cringe.

I hope Christmas is as exciting and magical for my children as it has always been for me. I hope your Christmas is too. May God bless you, each and every one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Heirlooms

My grandmothers possessed an amazing talent for sewing, quilting and in general, being quite crafty. Why I was not given this lovely gene as well, I don't know. But perhaps that makes the quilts, blankets, and doll accessories all the more precious to me?

I find these lovely hand-made items to be my most prized heirlooms. Much more interesting than the hot chocolate set, four poster bed and assorted china that have been handed down from one generation to the next. These lovely artifacts give so much more history than any of the others.

This quilt was made by my great-grandmother. She saved scraps of fabric from other projects and spent untold hours crafting this beauty. My aunt received it as just a quilt top and finished it for me. Looking at it, I wonder who wore the black fabric with blue flowers. Was it a skirt? A day dress? A robe? Each bit of color and pattern prods my imagination.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snoopy vs. The Red Baron (Snoopy's Christmas)

I wish that the area between my lower ribcage and upper knees was slimmer and more toned..... without having to lower my chocolate intake and increase my energy output.

I wish that my kids would brush their teeth and go to bed without an argument.

I wish advertisements for prescription drugs were banned.

I wish that Mama's fudge recipe wasn't so high in calories and fat. But would it be as delicious? No.

I wish that the laundry basket would be empty for more than 2 minutes.

I wish I had more couple time with Rob. Not just time for "cleaning", but time for snuggling and watching a movie together.

I wish I could take a nice, long bubble bath with a glass of wine at my fingertips and no one at the bathroom door calling: "Mommy! But I NEED you. I really need to get IN there!"

I wish the words homework, poverty, genocide, AIDS, war, cancer and nuclear weapon did not exist.

I wish the haves had more concern for the have nots.

I wish I were more appreciative of what I have in my life instead of complaining about what isn't perfect. After all, we could live in Darfur, or have no health insurance or not enough food on the table. It is a good life.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things

Borrowed from Fairlie. Warm cookies and cold milk. Or hot pizza and a nice tall, cold, glass of diet coke.

A rainy afternoon with a good book and a fuzzy blanket on the couch.

Anniversary trips to Savannah with Rob.

Lunch dates (alcoholic beverage included) with Angel.

Guilty pleasures: paperback romances, chocolate bars and sweet iced tea.

That five minute window where your awake, but not truly awake yet. I think that's better than 8 hours of REM sleep.

Amazon.com

iPod and iTunes. I love being able to have all of the obscure, non-mainstream songs I want without spending a small fortune on whole albums.

Corny Jokes: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road? He didn't have the guts! Borrowed from my 6 year old.

Blogging and bloggers.

Just for Stomper because I know she and Aunty will ask: "cleaning".... wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Making up songs in the car with Thing 1 and Thing 2. Even if the only words are: Santa Claus and Merry Christmas.

Thing 1 and Thing 2, a.k.a. Abby and J.T. Even if I sometimes wish I had a box I could pack them in when they were naughty. Or maybe I need the box?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

100

Wow! This slipped up on me. Today marks my one hundredth post. Hopefully I haven't so thoroughly bored any of you that you've dropped me from your readership. I enjoy each of you, dear readers, so very much. You make me laugh. Some of you inspire me. Others torture me with their craftiness, athletic talents, and photography skills. But I enjoy each of your blogs and look forward to finding out what you have posted every time I click your links on my page.

Sharing snippets of my life with you keeps me sane. It probably also contributes to the ongoing mental healthiness of the two terrorists, er, children in the house. I'm sure Rob also appreciates letting someone else provide me with comic relief. It gives him a break. I've told you about the muu muus. you've learned about this. There have been excuses, and one crises after another. So thank you wonderful bloggers. Thank you for sharing with me and for listening in return.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's that time of year again!

The Christmas Card featuring a newly minted photo of two pretending to be good children is set to be taken soon. I thought of using this picture with this slogan: "Paint Your Holidays Happy!" or "Color Your Season With the Spirit of Christmas!" But Rob just looked at me for a few seconds and said: "No." I think he's right. So the Christmas pictures are now his domain and he will come up with something snazzy. Hopefully before we descend into this.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Conversations

We do have some odd ones at our house. Conversations I mean. Not people. Okay, maybe we have both.

J.T. and I have written the Santa Letter. He has asked for a Star Wars Lego Star Destroyer, (which means I will be picking little bits out of the soles of my feet for the foreseeable future)Barricade and/or Brawl (Transformer toys), and a Sponge Bob video game. He says this video game is called "Sponge Bob Honesty II". Rob told him he didn't know if that was a real video game. J.T. said: "Yes it is! It's rated E for everyone." He has also created an imaginary toy he wants Santa to make for him. We're thinking of an excuse for that one. We may need the full month to come up with something. Santa ran out of parts? We didn't get our order in on time??

I did ask Abby what she wanted to ask Santa to bring her, but we didn't get very far. She wants an animal rabbit (not happening... unless it's stuffed), candy corn, blue candy (?), and..... wait for it..... butterbeans. For you non-southerners, butterbeans are small lima beans. We cook them in salted water with black pepper and a ham hock for seasoning. Abby loves them. How I'm going to work that into her stocking...., ugh.

Of course my darling Rob would have to be included in a post about odd conversations. Not that you're odd dear. I am forever asking he and J.T. to turn down the music, or turn down the TV. Very fuddy duddy of me, I know. Rob swears he's going to have that printed on my tombstone: "Turn it down!" I said that very thing tonight, followed by: "So what are you going to put on my tombstone?" Rob: "Ding, dong...."

Mcsmartass!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

O Christmas Tree, Funky Christmas Tree



The tree is up, the lights have been strung, the candy canes and ornaments are hung. At least until Abby decides to rearrange things to her satisfaction. The candy canes are actually disappearing pretty quickly.



Our tree is no vision of serene white lights, red ribbons, or gold balls. There is no theme. The decorations are not evenly spread about. Bing Crosby isn't playing softly in the background. Our stockings don't match and there are no names embroidered neatly across the tops.



We have Scooby Doo mingling with hand-made ornaments. Yes, we even have some of the salt dough ones that the kids hand-painted at school. We have silver balls and blue ones dusted with glitter. Abby has rubbed much of that off. The lights are multi-colored and wink on and off.





My kids only know Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town!" Abby's stocking has a snowman and J.T.'s a Santa, Rob's has a Christmas tree on it and is lime green. Mine is another snowman. Nothing matches, some of our ornaments are getting a bit tatty and the kids are constantly moving the decorations about. The tree will eventually lean once they've put the ornaments in a big lump on one side, one string of lights will blink off permanently and there won't be one solitary candy cane left. But it's our funky tree and it suits us.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Thankful Day, Anxious Days

Thursday was the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday. My family: parents, sister, brother and families, cousins and grandmother, gathered at my house for a huge meal. We gorged ourselves on turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, fruit compote, macaroni and cheese, pecan pie, banana pudding and pound cake. We indeed are thankful for a good year, a fine family and good fortune this year.

But we have anxious days ahead. This beautiful woman (on the left, shown here with her younger sister) has been diagnosed with malignant breast cancer. I will be going with her to the oncologist on Monday morning at 10:30. Tuesday is a meeting with the surgeon who will perform a masectomy and remove lymph nodes for testing as early as this week.



She is a fighter. She has lost a child. She moved in with my grandmother (her mother-in-law) to help take care of her as she was dying from Parkinson's disease. She volunteers at the Library, takes friends to doctor's appointments and makes everyone in her life feel loved and special. She is an adored mother and grandmother. She is the beloved daughter of an 89 year old mother. She loves to read, do jigsaw puzzles and cannot sew, garden or cook. Her closets are organized and her towels have to be folded a certain way. She hates clutter and likes to keep decorating to a minimum. She graduated from university in three years, married at 21, raised four children, taught school for 20 years and retired from teaching four years ago. She served as a mentor and friend to her colleagues, superiors and training teachers. She has stayed up late working on science projects and spent probably years of her life shuttling children from football practice to baton practice and band tryouts. She has been present for the birth of every grandchild save two (who were born in another country). She is more than anyone could ever ask for in a daughter, wife, mother, sister, grandmother and friend. She is kind, even to former daughter-in-laws and absolutely adores her grandchildren. Soon, she will be a survivor. We love her very much. She is my mother. My Friend.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Harmony


The key to harmony is: separate seats. We put Abby in the middle and J.T. in the back. It also helps if at least one of them is sleeping. With this arrangement we hear much less of the following:

"Nooooooooooooooooooo!"
"She hit me!"
"He hit me first!"
"Well she started it!"
"J.T. took my toy!"
"Abby is throwing things at me!"

And they hear less of this:

"Stop!"
"I said Stop!"
"Don't make me stop the car!"
"Why can't you BE QUIET!!" (ironically said very loudly)
"Please. Please. Please. Stop."
"(insert various muttered ugly words here)"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

iListening

I may have mentioned in my profile that I love virtually all types of music with little exception. You will NOT however, find Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys on my iPod. Because truly, that's not music. It is manufactured, hyped crap.

What is on my iPod? The new one Rob bought me for Christmas and then asked if I wanted to wait until Christmas to open it. Right. Ms. Impatient isn't into waiting. So the ipod is open and in use. You will find the following eclectic selections on my tiny silver rectangle of musical genius....

Jackson Browne's "Lawyers in Love" .... just for fun. What song lampoons 80's excess better than this? And who can resist a good "ooooooooooo sh la la oooooooooooo" and a lyric like: "The Russians escaped while we weren't watching them, like Russians will."

"Whisper Your Name" by Harry Connick, Jr. Who is my second choice behind Rob for perfect man. The man has an absolutely lovely New Orleans accent, a beautiful smile and he can actually play the piano in true brilliant jazz fashion. Did you know that some singers actually have musical talent? I know.... shocking. I am fascinated with music that explores culture and Jazz is so full of life, experience and heritage.

A little 60's nod with "These Boots Are Made for Walking" by Nancy Sinatra. Love the guitar funk in this one. And a song with go go boots.... what more can I say.

"Ribbons Undone" by Tori Amos. Such a beautiful song. A celebration of daughters. I relate to it on many levels.... as a daughter and as a mother. For me it just invokes some wonderful timeless imagery of innocence and love.

Soon to be added: AC/DC's Thunderstruck (to make the household chores more bearable) and Pavarotti (because his voice is divine), Ella Fitzgerald's version of Baby It's Cold Outside and Johnny Cash singing Folsom Prison Blues. Did I mention I have eclectic music tastes?

What are uListening to on your iPod?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars video

Suits my mood at the moment. Very melancholy and yuck. Hormonal plus a head cold and the beginnings of an ear infection. The kids have been grumpy with each other, the dishwasher is acting up and Christmas Shopping is around the corner (can you say gift cards?) and I hate shopping period. To quote my favorite book character, Alexander: "It is a horrible, no good, very bad day." Can I get some chocolate now? And perhaps a glass of wine? Would you just lay with me Rob and forget the world (and the children fighting outside the door)?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Everything In Its Place

Rob, the organizer has whipped our pantry into shape. The following photos show our food items neatly organized by boxes, cans, vegetables, puddings, baking items, etc. The non-perishable items (paper goods, trashliners, lightbulbs, etc.) are on the end and the drinks have their very own shelves. It truly is a work of art. In case you couldn't tell I like diet coke. Really, really like diet coke.






Speaking of art. This is what my wee ones do while I'm blogging. Sigh. Which is why I usually blog while they were are sleeping.



And why does showing you my pantry and its contents feel a bit like letting you look through my underwear drawer?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Word Verfication Blunders

Many of my favorite bloggers use word verification for their comment boxes. So here is my confession: I never get the word verification right the first time. Shame-faced I am to admit it, but sometimes I have to go through the process THREE times.

You people know I'm not artistic. Sometimes the q's (oh Tracey don't hate me because of my apostrophe abuse.... I can't remember how to do letters) look like a's and the i's look like lower-case l's and I can't tell if it is a u or a v, an h or an n!? The especially curvy ones make me nervous. I just know it will take me 2 minutes to get it right.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Few of My Least Favorite Things

1. Sick Children. Sick children on Medicine. Sick children in my bed. Sick children whining for more juice and some crackers.

2. People who don't say excuse me when they burp. I was waiting on a sandwich order for a working lunch meeting today and a man in the restaurant let out the biggest burp.... and acted like nothing had happened! Disgusting. I shot him a very evil eye.

3. Laundry. Do the clothes multiply in the dirty clothes basket? And why do the socks disappear? And why is the laundry basket never, ever empty?

4. Jeans. Trying to squeeze my er, curvaceous (I'm trying to be kind to me) butt into mine. Because I refuse to buy a bigger size. Hey, I'm just bloated.

5. Toy ads. Notice how the capitalist geniuses that run toy companies are blitzing us with advertisements for toys our children simply must have this year with 41 shopping days left (as the little, prominently displayed sign at our mega-store reminded me). I've seriously thought of filling my childrens' stockings with cans and sticks. They seem to play with them much more than any of their store-bought toys.

6. PMS. I hate it when men blame things on a wife/significant other's PMS. But I have serious PMS issues. I descend into a black pit of grumpy, irrational, chocolate-eating, sadness that makes me seem like I have multiple personalities. Last year, J.T.'s low reading score had me sobbing when it came on "hormone day". The year before we got a "needs improvement" message about his handwriting on hormone day. I cried all the way to work. If someone dares to cross me on hormone day, things are going to get real ugly, real fast. I have no patience and no empathy on hormone day. Rob's morning email for me today began this way: "Good Morning Grumpybutt." It could not be more appropriate.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Whodunit

What do this:



This:



and This:



have in common?

If you guessed this:



You win. You won't be getting anything most would think valuable. Just a cautionary tale about leaving 3 year olds alone with toilet paper, goldfish and rice.

If your 3 year old appears with a worried look on her little face and says: "Come quick. It spilled." Please, by all means, do as instructed. You are likely to find your paper-stuffed toilet overflowing. Do you have a plunger handy? No. You'll have to send the hubby next door to borrow one.

If you notice the family-size box of goldfish missing, by all means conduct a fish hunt until you find it. Odds are good that its contents will no longer be inside it. No, they are most likely to be spread or piled on the carpet. By the time you find them they will have been crunched and squished and ground into the floor. There seems to be a correlation between the length of time since you last vacuumed and when this activity takes place. The more recently you have vacuumed, the greater the quantity and scope of the mess.

Metallic sorts of tinkling sounds coming from your pantry. Please investigate promptly. You may discover a three year old sitting on the floor with the rice container. She will be making lovely artistic patterns on the floor. Note that rice is difficult to see on a light colored tile.

Three year olds who engage in these activities are always apologetic. They will pull out every weapon in the "cute" arsenal and use it against you. It may be a funny confession or a teary I'm sorry. Aunty I may just pay the shipping and handling and send her to you. She is evil, after all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Another MeMe

This one snagged from Kirsty. The rules: List one fact, word or tidbit that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your first or middle name. You can theme it to your blog or make it general.

M - Motion. I sometimes feel like I am in constant motion. Laundry, lunchboxes, baths, homework, supper, dishes, and work. My head even seems to be spinning when I lay down at night. I think motion and Mom might actually be symonyms.

E - Empathy. Sometimes I have too much of it. I cry when they show sappy commercials on TV and I went through a whole box of tissues while watching Steel Magnolias. I even get embarrassed for the people who make fools of themselves on call-in shows!

L - Literature. Reading is one of my favorite things to do. I get so engrossed in stories that Rob has to call my name several times before I realize he's trying to get my attention.

I - Indecisive. I can spend a long, long time making up my mind. And even then, I'm nervous I haven't made the best choice. Given a dollar and free range of the candy aisle was not a good thing for me. The merits of each piece of sugary delight were weighed carefully until I was finally forced (Just pick one now and let's go!) to make a choice.

N - Nearsighted. I'm blind as the proverbial bat. I wear contacts, but my vision is only about 50 points away from legally blind. A true Mr. Magoo. I cannot see even very large things like cars from a distance of more than 200 feet or so. And the lenses of my glasses have to be compressed. Otherwise they are very heavy and uncomfortable. I feel very vulnerable if I don't have my contacts in and I can't find my glasses.

D - Discombobulated. Just because I like the way it sounds. I love words. Some I love because of what they mean, others, just because they sound lovely and unique. But this word does describe me sometimes. It means: to throw into a state of confusion. Shut up Rob.

A - Adored. Rob adores me and I him. And I can't tell you how much that means to me. Or how it makes the good days brighter and the bad days bearable. Or how much he makes me laugh with his sarcastic wit. I think my kids adore me, even when they are mad with me. I do make their lunches after all. And I have Santa's phone number with me at all times.

Wouldn't this be good for your nablopo thingmajiggity Aunty?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Who's the Boss?!

I don't think it is me. At least not based on this conversation.

Me: "Abby, can you help me put away the washcloths?"
Abby: "I don't feel I need to."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit!

Or, Abby paints with, you guessed it, butter!

The artist is branching out in her search for unique mediums for her art. Saturday was the pinnacle. I, suffering from an injured foot, was in the den with my foot propped up on pillows, resting. Not realizing until way too late that Abby was very quiet. And that the sounds of playdoh smushing and squishing had ceased. And certainly not remembering that I had left a stick of butter softening in a bowl to make tea cakes later. Once it dawned on me that the Artist was being unusually quiet (we've discussed this before, quiet is NOT a good thing when it comes to Abby), I called for her. Trying to leave my sore foot in place. She appears with fingers coated in what I thought was yogurt.

Me: "Abby, do you have yogurt on your hands?"

Abby: "No I don't. It's the stuff you make the cookies with."

Me: "BUTTER! You've got the Butter!

It wasn't pretty. You'll just have to live with my descriptions of a butter covered fridge, butter painted stove and cookie sheet and big blobs of the stuff all over the floor. I didn't take pictures. This is an art form I do not wish to encourage. So now, in addition to hiding crayons, petroleum jelly, pudding, markers, pencils, Sharpies, glue and soap.... we have to hide the butter.

So Aunty, if you're interested in a french fry trade....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Let's Make a Deal!

As Stomper has reminded us. Christmas is only seven weeks away. J.T. wants the typical boy things for Christmas: Star Wars Lego Star Destroyer, video games, etc. But Abby.... she's asking for something special. This was our conversation on the way to the Recycling Center today.

Abby: "Can I get a real baby?"

Me: "No!!"

Abby: "Oh." Pause. "How 'bout some french fries then?"

Me: "Sounds like a deal."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween!





Candy, Candy, everywhere. You have to like a holiday that celebrates dressing up and candy all in one. I do anyway. Abby and J.T. were thrilled to run up to doors and ring the bells, asking: "trick or treat" and getting candy in return. We "borrowed" our friends Chris and Ashlee's neighborhood, since they don't have kids of their own. Though Rob and I didn't dress up, Chris put on a Batman costume and Ashlee was decked out in full eighties regalia that would have made Cyndi Lauper proud.

This year's festivities had a good, bad, and ugly element. J.T. only decided at the last minute he was in the mood to trick or treat. He is sick with a strept infection, bronchitis and an ear infection! I must say that when he gets sick, he gets SICK. Abby, the carsick queen, threw up what seemed to be a gallon of chocolate milk on the way over.... so we had to pull over and clean up, then ride the rest of the way with the windows down. Nothing smells quite as bad as sour milk. Fortunately, I chose not to dress her in costume until we actually arrived at Chris and Ashlee's house. Feast your eyes on the cutest bunny and the scariest spiderman you have ever seen. Oh, and a not-so-intimidating Batman.

Monday, October 29, 2007

we are the world

Sussanah posted about being sad with the state of the world. This issue or I should say issues come up at our house alot. We often feel so overwhelmed with the problems of the world: racial hatred, poverty, war, global warming, and education. Rob turned to me one day and said: "We can't solve these problems. The little bit we can do won't make a difference." And that sometimes seems to be the unavoidable truth. BUT that doesn't mean we're throwing in the towel!

We aren't in a financial position that allows us to contribute large amounts of cash to charities. But we do give what we can. Each Christmas we participate in programs that give toys to children both locally and internationally. This year we will support Heifer International as well. We also give to local programs that help provide food and clothing to migrant workers from Mexico who temporarily relocate here to help with onion planting in the Fall. We recycle our plastics and metal, newsprint and cardboard. We will plant a vegetable garden this spring and add some trees to our landscaping to help offset our carbon footprint. We vote our conscience on issues that are important to us and are trying to raise our children to be aware of the world and the humanity around them. To be compassionate and proactive and involved. Yes, I know that our contribution hasn't solved any of these issues. But if each of us does something, no matter how small, it is one small step closer to a solution. And if it makes a difference in one life... aren't we all the better for it?

I think of the difference that people like Sheye and Danielle have made by sharing their stories and it makes me grateful. We keep our cars locked now, even at home. Abby is three and still in a 5-point harness carseat. J.T. has been instructed on what to do if he ever gets stuck in a hot car. He is still in a booster seat. They've made a difference. And it inspires me to do what I can. Even when it seems I'm doing it against the flow. Against the odds. Tiny steps forward. Every day. It will make a difference.

Our capacity to be saddened by the events in the world also drives our determination to make change. So, Sussanah, I will be strong for you today. I will hope for both of us. And tomorrow, if I falter, you can hope for me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saturday In the Park






A few pictures from a family get-together on Saturday. It was a beautiful day. But we're tired now. Abby, was of course fascinated with the water. Which meant no relaxing for Mommy and Daddy

J.T. and his older cousin William and younger cousin Luke.

Abby and William holding hands.

My sister, Christie, with the kids on the bridge where we scattered John's ashes last year. A lovely peaceful place.

The Covered Bridge houses an old grist mill where corn was taken and ground into both cornmeal and grits. A waterwheel powered the machinery inside the mill. My grandmother used to ride in a horse-drawn wagon with her father to this very grist meal in the 1920s.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Childish Things: A Born Bookworm

I have lamented here and there how little time (or energy) I have to read truly good books these days. I have always, always loved to read. We didn't have a TV for a long time when I was young, so books were my fantasy world. My library card was one of my most treasured possessions and I would spend hours choosing just the right books to borrow. I don't think scanning a barcode is nearly as exciting as when they used to put your library card through that machine that pressed an imprint into a carbon paper. It made that harsh sound and then you had your stack of books with their card in the back, duly stamped with the return date. You could even see who had checked out the books before you did.

My mother has given me some of the books I adored as a child and I cannot visit a bookstore without spending at least 15 minutes (usually more) in the children's section.

We read to our children and I think I may just enjoy it more than they do! I find my self a little sad when J.T. doesn't like books I consider classics and am overjoyed when we discover new ones together.

Some of our favorites, new ones and classics (in no particular order):

1. The Grinch
2. The Cat in the Hat
3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
5. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
6. Freight Train
7. How to Be a Pirate
8. No, David!
9. Curious George
10. Where the Wild Things Are
11. The Three Little Pigs
12. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (told from the wolf's perspective)
13. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
14. Guess How Much I Love You
15. Goodnight Moon
16. The Fourth Wise Man
17. Will They Put Me in the Zoo?
18. Green Eggs and Ham
19. Tikki Tikki Tembo
20. Make Way for Ducklings

I can't wait until the kids are old enough for my tween classic favorites: The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, The Boxcar Children, Hatchet, O. Henry's Short Stories, Number the Stars, My Side of the Mountain, A Taste of Blackberries, Sounder, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing and Harry Potter!

Rob is already reading chapter books aloud to J.T. He loves a good adventure. Just like his mother. Opening a book really is like jumping into another world, or someone else's life, isn't it? "Seeing" new places and "meeting" new people. Walking paths I would not have otherwise gotten to walk. Mulling over ideas I would not have otherwise encountered. I could go on forever here. I'll shut up now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Mothers-In-Law

Rob and I are very, very fortunate to have two of the best mothers on this planet! They take turns keeping the kids for us so that we don't have to use daycare. Since they keep the kids at OUR house, they also pitch in with laundry, dishes and cleaning. We are truly lucky that they choose to help us and enjoy being with our children so much.

But we are still trying to figure out how these women can be so wonderful... and yet could not be more opposite.

My mother cannot cook. Baking she does beautifully.... but cooking is pretty much a disaster. At Sunday Dinner (a weekly tradition) a few weeks ago we feasted on boneless, skinless chicken breasts in orange juice. Rob put his chicken on my plate when my mother wasn't looking.

Rob's mother is a genius in the kitchen. She makes a pot roast that is just delicious. Occasionally she tries off-the-wall things..... like adding stir fry vegetables to her beef stew, which don't work. But for the most part, her meals are yummy!

Minimalist might be too extravagant a word to describe my mother's taste in decorating. She hasn't done any landscaping around her house because she's afraid it will look too cluttered. She doesn't like clutter. She always cautions me to rein in my Christmas decorating in case it gets "too cluttered looking." My mother-in-law on the other hand, buys new plants, flowers and shrubs every few weeks (guess who gets to water them when the in-laws are out of town). She is a sucker for "pretties". She bought Abby a Christmas skirt last year that looked like something a dance hall girl would consider flashy. Rob made her take that back to the store.

The concept of "Sales" were invented with my mother-in-law in mind. She will buy it if it is on sale, doesn't matter if she needs it or not. Which is why I have a pair of lime green warm-up pants in my closet and Rob has a plaid shirt that Liberace would think was too feminine. My mother will not buy things on sale unless she absolutely needs it. "You don't save any money if it is not something you would have bought even if it weren't on sale".

My mother makes extensive lists for everything from chores to grocery shopping and party planning. She has everything organized from A - Z. All her kitchen utensils have permanent homes in certain cabinets or drawers and it upsets her if they are not put where they are supposed to be. Rob's Mom doesn't care where they go, so long as they are put away (I will admit that I subscribe to her theory... much to my mother's dismay).

Rob's mother delivered the "sex talk" to him during puberty and used all the appropriate terminology (he swears she was close to pulling out models) while my mother never even gave me "the talk". My sister did.

If we can't find something we blame the mothers, one puts things in one place and the other somewhere completely different. My mother doesn't like the way Rob has some of his figurines arranged and keeps putting them in size order.... tallest at the back and smallest at the front. Which causes Rob deep angst. He puts them back the way he had them. She changes them again. Every week. Rob's mother needs to do a load of laundry, even if I have everything washed up. She will wash the bathroom rugs if she can't find anything else to launder.

My mother loves to read, particularly mysteries. My mother's favorite thing to read is the newspaper. Which is fine.... except she spends most of her time reading the police blotter to see if she recognizes anyone's name. Her second favorite thing to read is the National Inquirer (a tabloid). She swears they always scoop the "real" newspapers.

Rob's mother, I have mentioned in other posts is a hypochondriac. If you've had it, she's had it and it was much worse than yours. She had a nose-bleed after a fall last year and didn't want to take tylenol in case it thinned her blood and she bled out. Rob took me to the emergency room when J.T. was little for heart palpitations... my mother thought it could have waited until the morning when I could see my regular doctor.

Since Rob is an only child and our children are the only grandchildren, they make out like bandits on Birthdays and Christmas with presents from his parents. On my side of the family, the kids are grandchildren number 10 and 11..... they get$15 for their savings accounts each birthday and $25 on Christmas.

They are as different as night and day, these two mothers-in-law. But their love for us is great and they show it in many, many ways. When they aren't driving us absolutely crazy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rob explains...

the evolution of Santa Claus in the comment box on my previous post: "Why does Santa come to our house?" Poor Aunty.... she never saw it coming.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why Does Santa Come to Our House?



My kids spend more time playing with water, mud, and sticks than they do their store-bought toys. They also love to play in the pantry. Abby can spend hours stacking and re-stacking cans, lining them up to make a train. She disappears when its time to put them up, of course. Friday night she got out bottles of diet coke and carefully placed each one on its very own Christmas dessert plate. Then took them all of and repeated the process over and over again.

So why does Santa come to our house if the kids spend a total of a few hours playing with the much-begged for toys they have been dreaming of for months?

Because Santa is my number one parent bribery tool from July through December 24th. The Santa threat is the only thing that keeps them semi-behaved. I have his phone number. I'm not afraid to use it. I threaten to quite frequently. Even after Christmas... Santa will pick up returns, you know. Yes, yes that is yet more money for the Therapy Jar. But I have learned that kids don't play by the rules. So I have to resort to bribery. I figure I only have a few more years with the Santa Threat. I have to maximize my threat now. Before they figure me out. My days are numbered.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Science Teacher Nostalgia

I have to say that 90% of the teachers I have had in my life have been very, very good. Kind for the most part and if not overtly kind, then masters at their craft. Even the ones I did not like, I have found, have taught me some very important life lessons. Some of them were goofy, some nerdy, some funny and some very personable.

But there are always those few that stick out in your mind. The cruel ones leave too lasting an impression and the crazy ones are always good for a laugh. I'm going to share with you some about the crazy ones. I'm sure you can relate. :-)

Mr. Coleman..... our high school Chemistry/Physics teacher. The absolute epitome of the absent-minded professor. He had a glass eye and we used his limited field of vision to our advantage. The row of desks on the blind side was always goofing off.... throwing paper, passing notes .... whatever mischief could be quietly accomplished. He was obsessed with being sure we didn't cheat. He would hide in the chemical storage room and peek through a hole in the door to watch us during test... like we couldn't see his eyeball pressed up to the hole! He would also walk outside (our classroom was right next to a breezeway connecting two buildings) and look in the windows.... again, like we couldn't see a six foot tall man peering in the giant windows that ran the length of the classroom. The irony is.... the one time he caught us cheating (because the dumb kid was too dumb not to cheat for a C instead of an A) he let us keep the grades! Just told us not to do it again. He took our Science Club on a trip to conduct an experiment (Jennifer... remember your tortoise project?) and went to sleep on the interstate while driving the school bus!

Mrs. Youmans was a prize too. She was 101 (okay it just seemed that way) and really should have retired years before we had her. Also a Science teacher. She was elderly and her vision was not good. She would look at one of us and direct a question to someone completely across the room. The person being questioned would say: "uh, Are you talking to me, Mrs. Youmans?" and she'd get mad and say: "I know who I'm talking to! I ain't wall-eyed!" (southernism for not blind). We could get her completely off-topic by asking her to share stories about her childhood. We'd spend a class period learning about how she and her brothers tried to dig holes to China instead of memorizing the properties of minerals.

Mrs. Radford. Not a teacher of mine, but of my brothers and sisters AND my parents (one negative to living in a small town is that teachers see your last name and instantly know your lineage and recall the good and bad experiences they had with the relatives who have gone before you). She was an alcoholic and would have long been fired had it not been for the teacher's tenure program. She would come to school either hung over or slightly drunk. My sister's classmates moved lockers in front of the door to her classroom. She spent quite some time searching for her classroom. Then she went to the administration office and reported it missing. I think she taught Science too.

Mrs. Ownbey who taught us Biology. She had breast cancer and a masectomy. She would come to school without wearing her prosthetic boob. She also tried to scare us one time by cutting a hole in a box, poking her finger up through the hole and putting a little ketchup around it. She told us it was a finger from the morgue and would have us look closely then wiggle it. Needless to say no one was scared. I think we actually saw her set up the whole gag. Poor thing had a nervous breakdown after our class went through.

There seems to be a trend in our town with crazy Science teachers. Would now be a good time to tell you that my university degree is in Middle Grades..... Science and Social Studies? Might explain a few things.... hmmmmmmm?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

When Painting Goes Awry









Or perhaps I should say painters?

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Party, a Carnival and a bery, bery scahwee clown




Abby had the much anticipated (When is my party coming?) Birthday Celebration last weekend. Our playroom has received new additions (mostly Dora stuff), kids had a fantastic time playing dodgeball, running around like wild things and scooping up pinata candy like dieters who hadn't seen candy in months. We sent them home hopped up on cake, icecream and soda PLUS goody bags filled with all kinds of sugary treats! I'm sure the parents were grateful. It was such a hit that Abby has spent most of the entire week talking about it. Angel brought her little boy Hunter to our house and Abby was alternately fascinated and cautious of him. She still hasn't decided if she liked him playing with her toys, but keeps asking questions about him. "Where is Hunter?" "Did he play with my toys?" "Will he come back?"

The kids had the entire week off of school for fall break. The fair was in town and we made the obligatory trip on Thursday night. Hand-stamp night. They stamp the children's hands and they can ride all the rides they want for the low, one-time fee of $18. Dozens of rides ranging from Merry-go-rounds to Fun Houses and Ferris Wheels are just waiting for screaming, laughing kids to jump on, through and in. And in the south, a fair isn't a fair without animal exhibits and livestock shows. We got to see the local 4-H club showing their prize sheep. Abby's personal favorite was the cows (and cow patties, of course). We ate cotton candy (made by the local high school) and had a grand old time. We finished off our evening by making a donation to the local fire department's fire safety program in exchange for balloons twisted into amazing shapes.

These balloons were made by a clown of course. Full make-up and gaudy outfit, big red nose.... the works. And Abby, who had ridden the Merry-go-Round, the Flying Helicopters and fed a donkey 10 times bigger than she is, was absolutely, completely, utterly terrified of the clown. Shivering and trembling, eyes wide with horror and rendered unable to speak. The poor clown made her a hat and she did deign to wear it after we made it to the parking lot. A whole night of fun behind us, no one got motion sickness, no one got lost, no one had any big fits.... until J.T.'s balloon sword popped. His night was ruined. He spent the ride home crying off and on for his "fabulous sword! The best one ever!! Now, I'll never have another!!"

J.T. has recovered.... he lost his tooth that night and got $5 from the tooth fairy. Interesting side note.... his tooth came out in his sleep and he swallowed it. The tooth fair works on the honor system at our house.

Abby has minimized her fear of the clown by telling everyone about the cows and the bery, BERY scahwee clown. The way she tells it reminds me of us womenfolk relaying our birthing stories.... all that drama and pain and then a wonderful prize in the end.

Top picture shows Abby's birthday cake... homemade by Rob's Mom. Second picture is of my sister Christie and Abby (she always manages to dress the same as Abby on her birthday, even though I don't tell her what Abby will be wearing), Angel is on the left. The last picture shows you how much yard we have.... the kids absolutely love all that room to roam.

Friday, October 12, 2007

SHHHHHHHHHHHH! It's a Secret!

Many of you have heard about Post Secret. People post their secrets on a 4X6 card and mail them in. The theory is that you get to share something (and one assumes feel relieved.... like absolution for a confession I guess?) and remain completely anonymous. Some of these "secrets" are funny (my favorite is the LSD one), some are poignant, some sad. But do you know the number one secret people put on a postcard and send in? Let's see if you can guess.....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tagged

Jennifer tagged me. So without further ado....

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Nicey Impala (doesn't exactly roll off the tongue does it?)

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Strawberry Cheesecake Chocolate Chip (and by the time I spit that out, some thug would have shot me dead!)

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)
MCAN

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Green Rabbit (I will apprehend the criminals quickly.... they won't be able to run away because they will be laughing too hard: "Detective Rabbit, NYPD."

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
June Metter (I don't think any self-respecting soap writer would create that name).


6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)
canme

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put "The")
Red Wine (my other option was red diet coke....)

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
John Henry (that one is actually pretty good)

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)
Beautiful Toffee (Ironic that my skin color is one shade up from albino white... but it is a good stripper name)

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names )
Ann David

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Lanier London

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Christmas Gardenia (Moneypenny has nothing on THAT!)

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Strawberry Skirtie (How close to Strawberry Shortcake can you get?!)

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Toast Maple (er, I think Maple works, but toast?)

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour")
The Reading Rain Tour (Reading and Rain do go together well don't they?)

I can't remember who has played and who hasn't! Crafty, Mary, and Jennifer have... so join in if you want!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

To Dye or Not to Dye

That is the question. I always thought I would let my hair take it's own course in terms of color. I've had some gray hair mixed in my locks for as long as I can remember. Literally. People were pointing out my strands of gray in elementary school.

My mother-in-law is a huge fan of dying (but only because she has dark eyebrows and would look strange with gray hair and dark eyebrows.... Rob asked what she would do when her eyebrows went gray and she says: "Weeellllllllllll....").

Okay. I admit it. I'm scared to dye. The rest of my hair is a very dark shade of brown, so dying it is a tricky proposition. Combine dark hair and fair skin.... and my options are pretty limited. But as Rob has been so KIND to point out, my gray hairs are multiplying like rabbits. So now I have a dilemma.... to dye or not to dye. Suggestions? Advice? Expertise anyone? Perhaps a glaze?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Playroom By Any Other Name....

would actually be the room where children played. But dare to call it a playroom and you are doomed. Our playroom is a lovely little place painted bright shades of red and blue to stimulate the imaginations of our little ones. It has little plastic drawer sets for the storage of toys. A train table, toy box and bookshelves. Little rugs with roads and trains tracks on them and a nice big window to let the sun in. Perfect, right?

Only one problem. The kids don't actually play in it. It is more like a room for toy storage. Or toy chaos. Trains, traintracks, blocks, hundreds of books, dolls, action figures, etc. Usually NOT stacked neatly on shelves or in their respective homes, but scattered on the floor and migrating into other parts of the house. They are in other rooms as illegal aliens and they will be deported. We don't issue passports to toys for visits to areas where adults spend most of their time. Before we had children we thought it was Nazi-like to insist the kids' things stay in the kids' area. And we aren't completely hardline about it. But we do try to keep 90% of the toys in the kids "wing" of the house. Their rooms and the playroom. Why?

Because, while a lego is an amazing little piece of plastic full of creative possibility during the day, at night, it is a torture device designed to inflict maximum pain to the unsuspecting tender sole of one's bare foot. And no matter how meticulous we have been in the picking up of toys, there's always one. One small rectangle destined to be stepped on at the first call for juice or water or bathroom visit. So back you go toys. Back to your room. And away from my foot!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Baby Soap

I am amazed at the way the smell of baby soap captures everything sweet about children. The softness of their skin, the silky curls in their hair, their cuddlyness. Snuggling with a freshly washed child is a balm for tired Mommy. It almost, almost makes me forget that not five minutes ago I resembled Linda Blair in the excorcist as I begged, pleaded and demanded that the over-exuberant splashing come to a halt. Then threatened. And was ignored. Then raised my voice. And was ignored. Then started turning red. And was ignored. Then came close to having my head spin about my shoulders. And was given the: "What? I'm not splashing. I'm making waves" line. My kids have all the loopholes figured out. I'm not jumping, I'm hopping.

Abby likes to hang from the safety bar in the shower while yelling at the top of her lungs: "Help! Help! There are Caimans in the water! You've got to SAVE ME! Whew. Thanks Mom!" And then repeat. (Thanks Diego and Dora). J.T. would just soak forever. No amount of soaking time prevents this phrase from popping out of his mouth: "But Mom, I'm not ready to bathe! Just five more minutes?"

But then they are all warm and snuggly and sleepy and I just love them. Dressed in their little PJs and ready for a cuddle.

Me: When they're like this, it makes you want a million, doesn't it?
Rob: No.
Me: But they're so sweet and innocent. (as I bury my face in their freshly washed hair)
Rob: Must be the soap.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Something Wicked

is coming! Halloween is a few weeks away and since I am so very organized (okay, this was Rob's idea, not mine), we went to buy costumes on Monday. I have rose-colored visions of my children marching up to houses to politely say: "Trick or Treat" in beautiful hand-made costumes.... but alas they prefer the cheap, plasticky versions on display at the stores. And let's face it. They would look thrown away in anything I created since I cannot, CANNOT sew or craft.

J.T. chose a Venom costume. It's actually a black spiderman suit, but he doesn't know the difference so "Shhhhhhhhhhh!" I don't think many kids want to play the role of the bad guy (unless it is gross and bloody), so they don't actually make a Venom costume. I think he roots for the bad guys because they are the underdog. That's what I'm hoping anyway.

Abby wants to be a Lion. Of course we couldn't find a Lion costume. So she is going to be a bunny rabbit. We found the headband with the ears attached, the little fluffy tail you tie on. Yes it is a cop-out on making an actual bunny suit. But trust me, she'll be much cuter this way.

At the costume display they featured a grizzled old man with green skin and zombie eyes. You press a button and he talks to you.... then lifts his severed head right off his shoulders. J.T. and Rob were very impressed. I think we narrowly escaped owning this fellow. Thank goodness Mommy gets veto power.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Words and Phrases

that are driving me insane at the moment.

1. Homework. Why does a six year old have so much of it? And why is some of it stupid.... like writing your spelling words forwards AND backwards?

2. Political Debate. We have OVER A YEAR before the U.S. Presidential Debate and the candidates are on debate number 1,475,623. Okay, I exaggerated a little.... it's more like 25. But still....

3. Homeland Security. And all others words that are really just political semantics. Obviously, this could actually be many more words long than just one.

4. Bringing Sexy Back. Currently the most over-used phrase to describe, sometimes sarcastically, the people in the news.

5. That's How I Roll. That fad has passed. Please find something new to say.

6. Britney Spears. And/or Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, etc. Based on talent, etc... they are pretty interchangeable and unimpressive are they not? So why are they on the news everytime I flip the channel?

7. Sexy commercials on Sunday TV at 2 p.m. I can't make it to the TV or remote fast enough to change the channel. Now I have to explain to my six year old why someone is licking someone. And how that is gross and unhygienic. (Okay this isn't a phrase, but it IS bugging me and it IS my blog so I'm including it.)

8. Conservative Christian. Jesus was a liberal people. Don't try to pretty up your homophobic, NRA supporting, male-dominated, anti-everyone who disagress with me agenda by calling it Conservative Christian Values. You can be a person of faith without being a Republican. Shocking, I know.

9. Mooooooooooommmmmmmmmm. I don't think I need to explain that one.

10. Diet. I need to be on one but I can't seem to quit my chocolate habit. And can't seem to start an exercise habit either. Doesn't chasing kids and berating them for bad behavior burn calories? Or has my body adjusted my metabolism to account for the frequency of this activity?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Beautiful Girl




Edited Sunday - 9/30 -- Proof that there was indeed cake! (And Presents)





Today this sweet (at least sometimes) little girl turns three years old! She was unplanned but never unwanted. Rob's Grandmother was dying of cancer when we found out we were pregnant with Abby and the timing seemed very, very wrong. But turns out she was really a blessing. She has helped both of her Grandmothers through some very difficult times simply by "needing" them to care for her.

I will never forget the look on Rob's when the sonogram tech told us we were having a girl! He was convinced it would be another boy. He was in shock for a good two hours.... not disappointed, shocked. The whole dating thing terrified him even then. To say Abby has him wrapped around her little finger would be an understatement. He is the last one to scold her and the first one to defend her. That is a Daddy's job, after all.

This girl is the youngest grandchild (of 11 on my side) and really rules the cousin roost. She gets away with everything.... probably because the grandparents know she is the last one and gets anything she wants with a sad look and a sweet "puh leeeze". The lisp doesn't hurt when it comes to the cute factor.

Abby was a sweet baby.... she loved to eat... as you can tell by the smiling, chubby baby picture. But started sleeping all night at just a few months old. But those easy newborn days were NOT a sign of things to come. Our sweet baby turned into a tyrant at about 6 months old. She hit her brother for taking one of her toys and hasn't looked back since. She blames him if she runs into the table (J.T. hit me!) even if he isn't in the room. She also blames her PaPa for things she's done.... we don't know why. He was a mischievous child though, so perhaps she senses a kindred spirit.




She keeps us on our toes with her penchant for drawing on anything that isn't moving with anything that can possibly leave any type of mark (pencils, pens, markers, crayons, soap, chalk, fingernails, etc.). Her affinity for danger (climbing, jumping, leaping and exploring) we're hoping she will outgrow. She says "No" frequently but never seems to understand it when it is directed AT her. She is the first one to shout out the answers during circle time at preschool. We actually have to arrive a few minutes late so she can be the center of attention with both classmates and teachers. She is a diva. But she's our diva and we love her very much.

Happy Birthday Abigail. We will eat cake!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Have a Weapon!

For all the CIA, FBI and other Big Brother types now reading my blog.... it's nothing deadly. It is a simple tank top with spaghetti straps and built-in bra. But it has power. Awesome power. It is Rob's kryptonite.

This tank top is the one I use for cleaning on super-hot days. The type I would never ever wear in public because it exposes waaaaaaayyyyyyy too much flesh and I am a classy, modest person (shut up Aunty).

I put this top on after work last week and short-circuited Rob's brain. His eyes would not rise above the level of my chest as he followed me from room to room in a daze. And I thought.... Hmmmmmmm. Perhaps I can use this to my advantage. Kind of like my personal "force".

I shall wave my hand like Obi Kenobi and say: "You WANT to stay up with the children while I go to bed early." "You've watched enough sports on television.... You WANT me to watch a cooking show." "You WANT to take both kids to Wal-mart while I laze about and eat chocolate and drink diet coke." "You WANT to take me out to a nice restaurant and a movie" (okay he really does want to do that one, just seems like the babysitting always falls apart on us).

I have the power. The power of boobs. May the force be with you. (insert Darth Vader breathing here).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Eddie Izzard

For Mary, who also appreciates an executive transvestite's sense of humor.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stupid Antidote

Rob and I were browsing through the television channels Sunday evening and came across a news story about a man who put a rattlesnake's head inside his mouth to prove it was not dangerous. I think we all know what happened next.

Of course, ticked off snake bit him right on the tongue and his mouth swelled to the point of not breathing. His friends called for help and the man was given antivenom. He survived to tell his story and show gross pictures of his wounds on TV. (Thanks CNN! Nice to know your on top of the hard news stories).

Me: "Yes, there's anti-venom. But is there an antidote for stupid?"

Rob: "Death."

He's right isn't he?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Play Ball!

We took J.T. to see the Atlanta Braves play the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend. First big league game for both J.T. and I. We met our friends Chris and Ashlee (we were her surprise as she didn't know we were coming) and had a blast! Rob's cousin Thomas is on the left, then Rob, J.T. and me. Note small-town girl's deathgrip on purse.... too many tales of big city muggings for me!



J.T. ate two bags of cotton candy ($5 a piece!) and snarfled down a couple of drinks. We had sticker shock over the prices: $5 for a hot dog, $6 for a beer, $4.75 for a bottle of water and $4.25 for a coke, which really astounded me.... I can buy 3 two-liter bottles for that.... is the ice and the cup really that expensive?

Ashlee and I spent a lot of time people watching. She was upset that so many people brought tiny babies (bad for their ears). We observed many fashion offenses. Fifty year old women in spaghetti strap tank tops with wrinkly boobs hanging out the tops. Teenagers in teeny tiny shorts with things like cutie pie or diva printed across their butts. One woman with spiky short hair.... and rat tail side burns! Very odd looking. A few lycra offenders (why people, why? Even Lance Armstrong doesn't make that work). Belly button flashers.... and I'd say ninety percent of these people were NOT exactly buff. Ashlee even offered to buy me a pair of wrap around sunglasses (the kind they give out at the Optometrist after you've had your eyes dilated) after we spotted a pair on a blue-haired lady in front of us. But I told her I didn't want them if I couldn't have the brown lace-up shoes to go with.

Between innings they showed cool stuff on the jumbotron. My favorite was the kiss cam, where they show closeups of couples around the stadium and they kiss when they show them onscreen. Young, old, middle-aged.... it was cute. They flashed up a shot of a pair of teenagers sitting with one empty seat between them, leaning away from each other.... and the girl raised her eyebrows, and laughed.... no kissing! Then she mouths: "He's my brother!" Then they showed two guys sitting together.... but they wouldn't kiss for the camera.

It was fun. But J.T. got bored with the baseball. Here he is after the third inning and his 101st asking of: "Is it over yet?"

Friday, September 21, 2007

K-mart Hates Me.

Really Hates Me.

Whenever I get the bright idea that I will save time by going to K-mart (usually less crowded than Wal-mart) I end up paying dearly. This last experience has taught me a lesson. K-mart does not like me. I will never, ever go there again.

There is only one check-out line open when I go in. No matter how many people are in the store. After spending 15 minutes in line and finally making it to the counter, the cashier can't find a price in the system for whatever I'm purchasing. Or the person in front of me is paying with a check, a credit card AND cash.... and still can't round up enough money to pay for their item.

Last time, I got to spend five minutes in line with a family right out of Deliverance. Hadn't bathed in at least a year (just judging by the smell AND the coating of grime on their collective skins), had 5 teeth between them and were apparently allergic to laundry detergent, toothpaste and soap. Guess what they were buying.

Roach Gel. I know. I was surprised that any self-respecting roach would want to be caught in their house, dead OR alive. Ma redneck wasn't wearing a bra... I know this because she was wearing a large man's shirt with the sleeves cut out.

When the cashier runs the roach gel across the scanner it rings up$9 and change. Redneck family explodes!

Pa Redneck: "Nine Dollers! Thet sign sayud three dollers and fifty ceents! I seen it riyut there on da shelf."
Clerk: "Okay, sir. Let me call that department and see if I can get a price check."
Pa Redneck: "Nine Dollers! Thet's crazee!"
While the clerk is waiting on the price check, She ansers a call from someone inquiring about paints. She pages the hardware department to take the call.
Pa Redneck: "Roach gel Ain't in the hardwere deepartmunt!"
Clerk: "Yes sir. I had an outside call for someone in the hardware department."
Pa Redneck: "Hardwere Deepartmunt... thet's STOOOOPID. Roach gel in the Hardwere deepartmunt." Looks around at everyone else in the line and repeats himself. "Stoopid. Hardwere deepartmunt."
Clerk getting a little testy (me, too at this point). "Sir, I wasn't paging them about your request.... this was for another customer."
Pa Redneck: "Hardwere deepartmunt. Stooopid."
Clerk gets price check: "Sir, this item is $9, not $3.50."
Pa Redneck: "I ain't paying $9 for roach gel."

So do they just leave? No. They purchase as many candy bars, I think it was seven in total, as they can with their three bucks and change.

Hmmmm... won't candy bars lead to more roaches? Don't you think they'd have been better off saving up for the roach gel? Or splurging on soap and perhaps toothpaste?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Two Years

You know how we all have a fear that one day the phone will ring and that the call will bring bad news? Two years ago tomorrow, September 20th, I got that call. My sister phoned at about 7 p.m. to tell me that Mother called her a few minutes before and John was in the hospital. They thought he was having a heart attack. I called mother's mobile phone and she told me they were on the way to Savannah. John's co-workers had called and said he was in bad shape. I didn't think I had heard her correctly because she sounded so calm. Rob's parents came over to keep the kids and we went to GSU to pick up John's oldest daughter so we could all ride to Savannah together. Don't know why I felt an urgency that we HAD to get Patty and take her with us, but it was such an insistent feeling. Yet, I kept thinking: We're going to get there and he will just have a severe case of indigestion or heartburn or something and boy are we going to give him a hard time.

My brother Sidney called me while we were on the interstate and he was crying. I knew then. My chest felt like it would explode. He was crying so hard he could barely tell me that John had died. Patty was in the backseat and I was trying very hard to keep myself together. I just couldn't bring myself to tell her.... just in case, please, please.... they had made a mistake. Rob let me squeeze the heck out of his hand for the rest of the trip. It was so very surreal.... and yet I remember what I was wearing and the exact shape and color of the moon as I stared at it outside my car window.... full and orange.... a harvest moon.

I will never forget the way my mother's eyes looked when we entered a room they had cordoned off for our family. I knew it was true then. She had been crying of course, but the pain that just radiated from her was so overwhelming.... I knew that what she felt had to be so much worse than what any of the rest of us were going through.

I wanted to see him. I felt a very strong need to know, to see with my own eyes that he was gone. And I am so glad that I insisted on that. He looked so peaceful. Like he was finally at rest and I'm glad I have that image. I called my sister and we didn't really speak... just cried together. I remember realizing that I had to go to the bathroom and thinking how strange that this event that should make the world stop spinning has not. That the everyday functions of life go on even though our lives are shattered.

I never knew that grief actually creates a physical pain. My chest hurt for days. When we got home that night I laid down with both of my babies. I needed them with me.... their sweet sleepy arms around me and their warm breath on my skin. That peace that children seem to give off when they are sleeping. Tears just kept sliding down my face.... I wasn't sobbing, but I could NOT stop crying. My mind was whirling in hundreds of directions: sorting through memories, summing John's life up, wondering about the future, reeling in shock and disbelief.

It has been two years since that awful day. It goes without saying that our family is different. Before this happened, I thought that tragedy was a big bump in the road of life or an awful time of pain that you just dealt with and then moved forward. It's not that way at all. Sometimes it feels like we were going down a certain path in our lives and someone suddenly threw up a roadblock and we will forever be going a different way. Almost like you have been thrown into another life with no warning. I'm learning that grief is unique to every griever and that it is not an episode of our lives, but a daily part of us, forever.

That doesn't mean that my parents spend all day every day in bed with the covers over their heads or that they will spend the rest of their lives just waiting to die.... that joy no longer exists for them. It does. They laugh and have fun and love us and their grandchildren. But each day, John's death is a reality for them. Each birthday, family get-together and holiday brings with it a bitter-sweet joy. What a wonderful family we have. How fortunate we are to have each other. How awful that John is not here with us.

Grief is a part of us.... it doesn't dominate my life, but it is there.... some days larger than others. Sometimes it just fills me from the tip of my head down to my toes. Sometimes appearing suddenly. I remember the first Thanksgiving after John's death. A friend of my aunt's asked my mother: "How many children do you have?" I saw her hesitate. It was the "have" that threw her. The present tense. She finally said: "Four. Three are with us and our son John passed away in September."

The infamous "they" of "they say" fame tell us not to have regrets. To be grateful for the wonderful memories that we can treasure. But I don't think that is human nature. My brother was a volatile person. He made some poor choices in life. He bounced around from one job to another and was a terrible money manager. He experimented with drugs while in the Army and really fought against the rules my parents had for our family.

I took a tough love approach with him as I got older.... and there are days when that is difficult for me to handle. Was I too judgmental? Would I have been so hardline if I had known he would not be here until an old age? I don't know. I know in my heart that I loved him very much... and that I wanted him to set the bar higher for himself so he could live a happier life. But I wish I had talked with him more. That I had reached out to him more often. That I had called just to say Hello and I love you. That, despite our age difference of almost 11 years, I had made a stronger effort to find a friendship with him. Yes, I know I cannot undo those years and that my intentions were good, but these things still whisper through my mind in the stillness of night. The whys and the what ifs.

I'm very proud of our family. We have supported each other in these awful days and remain strong. Christie, Sidney and I spent hours with our parents sorting through pictures, sharing memories and writing a beautiful eulogy for John. His funeral was truly lovely. We did not have any regrets about our send-off for him or the decisions we made. Our extended families and the many, many friends of our family have given us so much comfort.

I'm proud of my parents for their strength and courage.... even on the days when they need to let the sadness just wash over them. When they are weak with grief and longing. They truly amaze me. I find their ability to bear this pain, to share it with us and not pretend everything is okay, a beautiful gift.

I am a person of faith. And seeing John in the hospital, I was overwhelmed with peace in those moments of seeing him, being with him in the quiet. Like his restless soul was finally calm..... like he had reached a finish line and could relax. I'm grateful for those moments. For the many moments and the memories I have of our lives together. And I ache that I will not grow old with all three of my siblings.... That I will not be able to share pictures of my grandchildren with him, that he will not see his children get married and start their own families, that there are Thanksgivings, Christmases, Birthdays and LIFE without him. But I'm so very glad for the life WITH him. I would not trade those years for anything.... even if I did not have to know this pain.

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