Wednesday, October 31, 2007
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
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
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
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
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
Sunday, October 21, 2007
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
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
Monday, October 15, 2007
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
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
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)
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)
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 )
11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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?