Monday, December 29, 2008

Internet Germs?

You will remember that just a short time ago, the poor little fellows over at Stomper Girl's place were pink cheeked victim's of Fifth's Disease. More commonly known as "Slapped Cheek Syndrome." Guess who woke up with similar rosy cheeks on Sunday?




He has been slathered in creams and ointments until he doesn't look quite as elfish as he did this morning, but he is very embarrassed to "look funny."

Several months ago, Jennifer at Precious Pink Pumps had a sty. Weeks later, I had an itchy, painful bump develop on my inner eyelid. First time ever. Torture for a contact wearer who is just a few flips of the eye chart away from legally blind.

So... do you think electronic viruses are the only things spread via the magic of the interweb?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Aftermath




The lead up to the holidays was hectic. Little Abby had a doctor visit Friday for cold symptoms, had a temp of 103F on Saturday then topped the weekend off with ear pain just at bedtime on Sunday. My total sleep hours for the weekend were in the single digits. Rob's were only slightly higher as we took turns comforting the sick one and doing anything and everything to distract her from the terrible pain of not one, but two, throbbing ears.

So we truly started our holidays on a bad note. I had planned to not stress, let the little things go and just enjoy the spirit of Christmas.... the best laid plans and all of that, huh? There were cookies and cakes to bake, presents to wrap (from Santa, I already had the others done), dinners to host, places to be, Santa to kiss and assist, and the usual laundry, cleaning, and kid refereeing to be done.

I have vowed that next year I may hire cleaning help, buy the candy instead of making it and perhaps have a restaurant do the meal hosting. Rob and I went to bed on Christmas Eve feeling like we had been beaten. Laid low by the kind of physical and mental exhaustion that makes your muscles, especially your brain, ache.

In the end, we DID have a marvelous Christmas DAY. The kids had to be wakened as they were much too excited to go to sleep the night before. Their sleepy joy at beholding the treasures under the tree was priceless. It repaid the sleep and energy debt in full and restored our spirits. J.T. was thrilled with the Wii, it's accessories and the action figures Santa left for him while Abby has already tested the cupcake maker (adult supervision required of course), used up all of her light brush paint and is currently rocking out with her Hannah Montana guitar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry Christmas

I still haven't taken the Christmas card photo. Still have some shopping to do and haven't even begun the baking, making and creating of homemade goodies for teachers, co-workers and friends. But here is a little seasonal geek humor. Merry Christmas my dear friends. Hope yours is happy, joyous and peaceful.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So This is Christmas...

Mary wrote a lovely post about choosing a day or two ago. It really connected with me. There have been times in my life when I have had to choose the good, the happy, the beautiful over others things, feelings, people who are the opposite. Though I firmly believe that there are times when you have to let some things simply be, wash over you from head to toe until you are drained and empty. More often than not, though, I choose to be happy.

This time of year I am choosing to find the lovely bits of Christmas that drown out the commercialism and the busyness of the season. A few of my favorite Christmas things:

Setting up the creche with the children. They always put poor Joseph in the back. This year he was accidentally decapitated. Thank goodness for super glue.

Supervising the hanging of our odd assorment of homemade ornaments, store bought goods and candy canes, most of them clumped together in various spots on the tree.

Scraping the pot of the leftover bits of fudge and spooning them into my mouth. It is the same fudge recipe my mother used when I was little, found on the back of the marshmallow creme jar.

Counting down the days with two very eager children.

Reading "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" so many times I have it memorized.

Singing Christmas Carols in the car. Every day. Every trip. Everywhere.

Cards coming in the mail. A daily reminder that I MUST get ours done and mailed.

Hiding Santa stuff in the attic, the closet, the cupboards. Knowing that, a little sadly, this might be the last year the seven-almost-eight year old "believes." He's asking some very tough questions about the "science" behind this whole Santa gig. "Yes. Well how do we know about Rudolph if no one has ever seen him?" and "How does Santa get into the houses with no chimneys?"

Reminiscing about Christmases past with brother, sister, parents. My siblings used to ask me if I could hear the reindeer on the roof. Which meant I was too excited to sleep by far. Were those reindoor hooves I heard?

Looking forward to all the Christmas treats to be had at the parties. Those delicious party foods you only get to sample a few times a year.

The gaudy Christmas sweater with glued on stars, sprinkles and beads. Only time of year I'd ever wear something like it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Water Conservation - Abby Style




I don't think she had the environmental benefits of a sink bath in mind when she crammed herself into the guest bathroom sink.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dumber Than I Look?

Why does it seem that if you are ever really, truly exhausted... the kids aren't? Why do they choose such a night to stay up late, too excited for one reason or another, to fall asleep?

Abby got in bed with me as Rob and I were both too tired to cope with bouncy, springy, hyper little girl. She kept saying she needed to pee. Made several trips to the bathroom and came back to bed.

I discovered the next morning that perhaps, just perhaps, she didn't really have to pee after all. On my floor, between the bathroom and the bed, was a trail of maxi pad wrappers and contents.

And one wrapped around her foot like a bandaid.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lights Out!

Our electricity or "chrisity", as Abby would say, conked out Friday night. So we pulled out the candles and rounded up flashlights. The little miss determined that we had "wasted our chrisity and now it was GONE!" We had to call the grandparents and explain it to them, check on the brother gone for an overnight and find something to entertain us in the candle-glow.

I forget how pitch black it is when the lights are out. No digital display on the clock face to illuminate the dark even a teeny bit. No moonlight shining through the windows. I bet we flipped the light switches ten times, even though we knew there was no power.

Rob went upstairs and scrounged up both a radio/cd player and the batteries to go with it and we spent our time dancing to Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" and listening to the local high school football playoff games on the radio. When Abby got bored, the portable DVD player and a set of headphones kept her charmed until the lights flickered back to life over an hour later.

We had such a nice time in the dim light of our candles, that we may have to institute a regular "lights out" policy. It was amazingly calm and peaceful with no electronic distractions, well.... distracting us from each other and some simple entertainments.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tis NOT the Season Yet!

The leaves aren't finished falling here. Though brisk winds have done a good job of denuding the majority of the brilliant red, yellow and orange leaves that have been hanging on desperately the last few weeks. Cotton trucks are humming down the highways, loading massive modules of white rectangles and bearing them to the gins. Every road you drive down has bits of white fluff clinging to the edges, blowing in the breeze. Testament to the harvest.

Some of you have already finished your shopping! I have done, say.... 20 percent. I know Thanksgiving is a distinctly American holiday, though some of you have planned "grateful" celebrations for your families. Traditionally, most people don't decorate for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, I have seen wreaths, ornaments, outdoor light displays and tinsel well before the usual dates. As early as OCTOBER in some cases. While I love Christmas as much as anyone, I'm not ready for the season to begin! The kids haven't even polished off their Halloween candy yet! Though their mother has done her part by polishing off all the chocolates.

Rob and I are planning to do the "Santa Shopping" on December 2nd. A nice time, after the turkey leftovers are finished and the season truly should begin. Another trip to the city for those things that are impossible to find in a rural area. We did buy the Wii in July so we wouldn't have to deal with the late season panic of trying to find the impossible to find. Every commercial Abby sees prompts her to say: "I want you to get me that!" You have to love a capitalistic society. Nothing says peace, love and joy like a princess castle.

One of our annual family rituals is to buy some gifts for those less fortunate than ourselves. Since J.T. earns a $3 a week allowance, We've been discussing the possibility of him using a portion of his saved allowance to buy something for the food bank. He was adamantly opposed. Insisting that everyone in Statesboro lives in "cabins" (houses) and have everything they need. Since part of my job at a non-profit involves fielding requests for financial aid, I know that isn't the case. Convincing him to part with his money has not been an easy sell. "But I worked HARD for that money. If I give it away, I'll have to work even harder to earn it all back."

I blame Rob. He always wanted his allowance in one dollar bills so there was more to count. While generous me wanted to box up my leftovers and ship them to those starving children in Africa.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

When Life Hands You Grapes

Don't make grape juice! Make me a glass of wine. I'd enjoy it right now. But I'm not sure if I want to have anything to do with grapes.

We have a no drinks/food in the bedrooms rule. Enforcement is lax. The kids are very adept at sneaking it in and where are inept at catching/berating them when they do. The male child snuck a full bottle of grape juice into Abby's room today. I think you know what happened, don't you?

I am taking a break after spending the last hour blotting, patting, soaking, cleaning, begging the grape juice to come out of the carpet. It still looks like a crime scene from a grape murder. A massacre of an entire vineyard of grapes. All the grapes in France committing a mass cult suicide... okay I'm exaggerating.

J.T. forgot his homework. Again. Half-an-hour after spilling grape juice on the carpet is not a good time to tell your mother that your homework assignment, already a week overdue, is not in your bag. Abby followed up her nail polish on the lips adventure by decorating her entire face and hands with lipstick and then wallowing about on the carpet.

The kids are on a "Mommy break". That little interlude of time where it is best for their well-being if they are out of Mommy's immediate reach/voice range for a bit. The new steam vac is getting quite a workout tonight.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Going Green

Our household has become more conscious of our impact on the environment in the past few years. We are trying to make the print our lives leave on the world smaller and less damaging. To that end we have begun recycling. Over half of our weekly haul is recyclables. We are more aware of the energy we use and ways we can cut back. We use the drying rack, but not as often as I'd like. As Rob says, we're not really green, we're a pale blue/turquoise.

We still have a lot of areas in which we need to improve. Clothes get popped in the dryer about 60% of the time. The kids like the juice boxes better than juice out of the bottle, and prefer individual yogurts. Less packaging would be nice. I would imagine that the next vehicle we buy will probably be a hybrid, but other than the Toyota Prius, few models are available in our small town. I would like to switch to fluorescent bulbs, but I hate that they are bright, but don't seem to really light up a room.

Another down side to living in a small town is that finding products made within a close distance is difficult. Most of the things we buy are shipped in from some pretty distant locations. I'd like to do more composting this year and love the idea of planting a spring garden. We tried last year and went waaayyyy too big and planted too early. After a late frost killed everything, we didn't replant. This year I'm thinking we should try some tomatoes, a few squash and some peas. Organic products are nearly impossible to find here and I'd love to treat us to natural, unsprayed, unaltered products. So what are you doing to lessen your human footprint on our planet? Does convenience ever hinder your efforts?

On a completely unrelated side note: Abby just painted her lips with nail polish. Yay weekend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saturdays in the South



Football. American Football. Entire Saturdays are devoted to following one's favorite team. Tailgating (drinks, food, socializing) before the game. Cheering during the game. Tailgating after the game.

My favorite team is Georgia Tech.... or as Rob might tell you, whatever team Coach Paul Johnson is coaching. Last year it was Navy, this year it is Georgia Tech. Though I won't watch them on TV because I get too nervous when they aren't doing well and too excited when they are doing well.

Coach Johnson is good with a one-liner: "He ought to leave me alone. I don't go down to McDonald's and tell him how to do his job, do I?" My all-time favorite: "If you can find me one time where I said the team won because of brilliant coaching, I'll kiss your butt at city dock and give you two days to draw a crowd."

I know, I know, the sport haters are cringing. But you love me in spite of my devotion to American Football

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Numbers

31 Dora the Explorer band-aids on the floor.
1 Dora the Explorer band-aid in the freezer.
26 dollars for 4 tickets to Madagascar 2.
18.65 for 2 small Sprites, 1 medium diet coke and a medium popcorn.
10 two liter drinks I could have gotten for the cost of 3 restaurant size drinks at the theater.
20 bags of microwave popcorn I could have gotten for the price of that medium popcorn.
5 minutes I spent trying not to laugh while the resident hypochondriac feared an allergic reaction to a piece of bubblegum.
2 benadryl taken for the reaction.
350 toys, pieces of toys and things we aren't sure are toys that were taken from the playroom.
0 toys the kids missed from the playroom.
350 toys that will become their all-time favorites when they realize they are about to be pitched.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

For every American who is sick of the same old Washington politics that have led our economy into the ditch, our young men into a war that might never end, and have driven our national debt into the trillions... yes we can affect change for our country. Hope is on the horizon for my generation.

J.T. voted for Obama at the school "election." Another child told him he couldn't vote for Obama because he was black. Looks like we still have a lot of work to do.

But for today, one bridge has been crossed, others are being built and the possibilities are bubbling beneath our feet and onto the path towards the future.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Showdown at the P.P. Corral

Every night, my darling daughter and I have a showdown... in the bathroom (loo/toilet for those not in the continental U.S.). I beg her of the millions of cups of chocolate milk to please, please, please go use the potty before bed. "Puh-leeze....."

She ignores me. I get annoyed. "Go to the potty... NOW!" Still being ignored. "Abigail! Sit. On. The. Potty. " I finally have her attention, but I'm faced with the mutinous chin thrust and a stubborn: "But I don't hafta!"

What to do? A compromise? That won't work. This is an all or nothing issue. Yes she has water-proof sheets on her bed, but washing them everyday gets old rather quickly.

So... we have a contest. Who can go the quickest. Luckily the bathroom walls can't talk. A potty face-off with a four-year old is certainly not my finest moment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guess What?

Those words, "guess what" were the majority of a conversation I had with my son yesterday. Well I don't know if my contributions of "Mmmmm", "Is that right?", and "Uh huh" qualify in making it a conversation.

"Mom, guess what? On Sponge Bob, guess what? Spongebob let Squidward watch Gary while he was away and guess what? Squidward didn't feed Gary and guess what.... Gary dried up and guess what.... Spongebob came back and guess what.... Squidward thought he had killed Gary and guess what.... Gary WASN'T dead and guess what.... they gave him some food and guess what.... he woke up and guess what he said.... he said "meow" and guess what.... Squidward was so relieve and guess what.... they used the snail plasm (?) and guess what.... they turned Patrick into a snail....

and guess what....

This conversation lasted another 5 minutes and 115 "guess whats".

and guess what....

I tuned out on "guess what" number 13.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I don't have attention deficit... ooo, do I smell waffles?

It's not pretty inside this head. My thought train jumps tracks, derails and ignores signals. When I was pregnant with Abby I put the peanut butter on the ironing board and the starch in the refrigerator. Do you know what's weird about that? The peanut butter goes in the pantry.

Each morning I make a list of the things I need to accomplish that day. Things I do everyday go on the list. Things I do once a week go on the list. I will forget to do them if they are not neatly printed out. I've learned to work around my inability to focus for long. In college I underlined the words in the textbooks as I read so I wouldn't get distracted.... almost like tying my brain to the page via my pen. I also learned to recopy my notes immediately after class so my shorthand would still be fresh. Otherwise those abbreviations could have stood for a variety of words and I would have been completely confused.

Ironically, as cluttered and scattered as it sometimes, okay, most of the time, is inside my head, I like to have my physical space neatly ordered. I actually like when everything is in its place. A roomful of clutter and mess overwhelms me. Where to start? What should I do first? Pick up the toys or put away the shoes? Stack the books or the pillows? Put the socks away or take the glasses to the sink? For some reason it takes me further off track into a land of jittery grumpiness. A room with a bare floor, books put away neatly on the shelves, counters bare of junk calms me.

Luckily I married an organized person. Our budget is in the spreadsheet, our bills are neatly filed and he doesn't mind taking care of the mess and the clutter while I stick to the big chores like vacuuming and bathroom cleaning. And now my mind has wandered away again... is it waffles or pancakes I smell?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gabby Abby Goes to Bed

Abby was not sleepy at bedtime last night. This fact is not mere observation on my part. The girl told me so herself. This information was one of only many, many things I heard last night as we were attempting to drift off into dream land at 9 p.m.

I read the requisite book, gave and received the good night kiss, and turned out the light. Silence.

"Mommy. You were s'possed to read a me a stack of books, not just one. You know like you always do."

Silence.

"It's noisy in here. I can't sleep when it's noisy in here."

Silence.

"It's really, really noisy in here. I'm going to turn off the fan." Crawls out of bed, turns off the fan and climbs back under the covers.

"There. That's better."

Silence.

"You were 'posed to read me a stack of books Mommy. Like you always do."

Silence.

"I'm not sleepy."

Silence.

Yawn.

Snoring.

9:10 p.m.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Week Ahead

I'm not going to use the word busy, M, to describe my week ahead. But I will say that I will have many things going on at once and I have every hope of staying on top of them. J.T. and Abby return to school after a week off for Fall holidays. Which means school lunches, homework, drop-offs, pick-ups, arguments about which hair bow to wear commence tomorrow. Tuesday is an out of town conference for me and extra arrangements on getting children where they need to be when they need to be there. The in-laws will be pitching in on that front. It's so nice that they live next door... makes it so much more convenient for all of us. Thursday and Friday I finally have my long-delayed audit (ACK! EEK!) which I hope to pass with flying colors. I have never been audited before and am crossing my fingers that I am not making any inadvertent stupid mistakes.

Yesterday we received the sad news of the passing of our blogger friend S, from TeamSAK. I have to tell you that the week ahead doesn't seem challenging anymore in light of this loss. Rob and I went to bed last night with heavy hearts. I know you join me in sending condolences and prayers to her family and friends. It is astounding to me how close I feel to all of my blogging friends, even though I have never seen you face to face. You make me laugh, cry, think, give, strive to climb outside my box and take on things I might otherwise not have done. The things you share, the lives you are leading have become very important to me. Thank you all. Thank you dear S, for your posts, and your comments on my blog and on Rob's. We will miss you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Of Carnivals and Candy

Rob has the full scoop at cellblock327. I have the photographic proof of a good time had by all.






No, he didn't get sick. But neither of us wanted to ride it again!


This sign gave us a good giggle. It was featured at one of those side shows "World's Smallest Horse". The funniest bit was that it was wrong on not one, but TWO signs.











Friday, October 10, 2008

Clawing My Way Back

The "Ugh" seems to be on the way out. I am medicated, rested and feeling much better. Turns out I had strep AND an ear infection, which was only mildly uncomfortable until Tuesday night, when a cold front moved through and the low pressure created massive amounts of pain in my right ear. Amputation of the offending appendage seemed the best solution to me, as I don't tolerate even the mildest of pains very well. Rob, however, has no desire to be a single parent and would not honor my repeated requests for mercy.

So Abby and I are better and Rob is down. And now I have a mental image of the "Piper down! We have a piper down!" scene from "So, I married an axe murderer." Funny movie that.

Weeks like these make me ponder what true love really is. Is it the romance of those first few years when all of your spare time is spent together? Or seeing someone in tatty pajamas, unwashed hair, and broken glasses and still be able to say loving things with a straight face? Is romance sweet notes, flowers on your anniversary, chocolates on Valentine's day? Or is it ignoring the crankiness of the sick partner as you fetch them throat lozenges, cool drinks and pain pills. Oh sweet, lovely pain pills! I could write them an ode. Holding hands while watching a picturesque sunset? Or is it being single parent to the wild things and supplying their requests for food, fun and attention all by yourself. Even taking care of the bathing and the toothbrushing with no assistance?

Perhaps a little of the flowery parts and a lot of the other, less glamorous ones. Here's to Super Rob, who did all of those things and many more this week while I was down. He was brilliant. Can I say he's never looked more handsome than he did while holding the Advil and a nice tall glass of ice water?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ugh.

Abby came down with strep throat last week. Now I have it. Pure misery.

I don't do sick well. Laying in bed during the day is not my idea of fun... especially when you feel too bad to read. My head hurts, my back hurts, I feel slightly queasy and my throat feels like it is scraped raw. Which is why I am up at 5 a.m., not the norm for my Sunday morning, trying to distract myself from the pain and yuck that goes along with being sick.

Abby is much tougher than I am. Other than a few hours of laying around and being a little less perky than usual, you wouldn't know that she'd just been through a severe case of strep throat. I, on the other hand, am a whining, sniffling, shoot me now, wimp.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dusting Off the Soap Box

My sweet boy has had a rough week... of "Alexander and the No Good, Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad Day" proportions. He was overlooked for an activity during Physical Education, skipped two problems on his vocabulary test resulting in a "C" and completely misunderstood the directions for an assignment today and made a 0. He's devastated. Sobbing, heaving, crying until your throat hurts devastated.

Part of me understands that there are great lessons to be learned from this kind of day, this kind of week in life. But a large part of my heart wants to make it all easy and right for my child. I don't WANT him to have to suffer, to have anything horrible happen in his life even though I know none of us will escape the sad, the hard, the difficulties that come with living. Most of me knows that the most lasting, the most valuable things he can gain will come from facing adversity. But it is so hard to navigate through these rough days.

We are very frustrated with the state of our public education system (thank you Dubya). He comes home each week with a stack of worksheets, does 30-45 minutes of homework every night and spends too much time studying "test preparation" in school. We certainly don't believe that teachers bear the blame for this sad state of learning in our country. Rather, most of the blame can be laid on the shoulders of politicians who think that if a child achieves a certain score on a multiple choice test, we can determine their level of intelligence. Engaging, higher level learning activities like experiments, model-making, and creative writing are being sacrificed to be sure that students can regurgitate memorized facts on tests. They are not being taught about strategies, thinking or being creative. Instead they spend weeks learning how to bubble in circles on a multiple choice test. Learning how to eliminate least likely answers... what a waste of valuable learning time!

Our son, who is bright, articulate, mechanical and gentle is being stressed out in the second grade because he daydreams, because his hand-writing is horrible, because he gets a little nervous about asking questions. It is truly ridiculous that the obsession with achieving a certain score is leading a generation right into mediocrity and believing that there is only one way of doing things. Not MY child, though. I'm no lemming and I won't be diving over the cliff with the rest of those interested in maintaining the status quo.

Yes I want my beautiful son to set a high standard for himself. Yes I want him to understand that effort, hard work, and perseverance are important. But I'm not willing to let him lose his identity, his talents, his personality in a quest to fit inside a box that some idiot measured wrong. We've worked hard to improve his handwriting, to get him on grade level in reading (which he LOVES now, by the way), to encourage his strengths and bridge his weaknesses.

Rob and I have spent the last 30 minutes telling him that today was just a day. Tomorrow is a new one. We've figured out how to learn something from the disaster of his first 0. Now I have to buy that tomorrow is a new day, because right now my throat is clogged with tears, my eyes are wet and I really just want to turn off the alarm, let him sleep in and have a cuddle day. But we won't do that. We'll cuddle before school and after breakfast. He'll put his shirt on backwards and I'll have to stay after him to find his other sock. Rob will remind him to brush his teeth three times before he finally does it. There will be a mad scramble to get the book bag, the lunch box and a cup of water before he heads out. Tomorrow is a new day. It will be a better day. It has to be. Because today was terrible, horrible, no good and very, very bad.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

After many sleeps




The birthday finally arrived. It has been a day long planned for and anticipated. There was organization the night before. Goody bags were stuffed with crayons, lollipops and cheap toys. The pinata was packed full of candy... or almost full... more on the pinata later. Bags were packed with buns, chips, plates and napkins. Cupcakes were baked, decorated with edible Dora faces and ready to go. The ice cream remained in the freezer, after a brief debate on the likelihood of it surviving a couple of hours in a cooler without turning into a milkshake.

Watches were synchronized for a 9:30 a.m. departure. Our spot at the park was reserved. Which was a very good thing. Since my kids aren't really into sports, I didn't plan on the park being crowded with boys and girls loaded into football pads and uniforms and tossing footballs left, right, and overhead as they waited impatiently to have their pictures taken for team photos. Oops! You'd think the words Recreational Park would have been a clue.

The birthday girl was too excited to notice. She was too concerned about when the opening of the presents would take place. It wasn't soon enough judging by the number of time I said: "After we eat, dear."

Friends and family arrived, ate lunch, sang "Happy Birthday" and applauded the generous gifts that were hastily unwrapped. Kids were lined up for the pinata fun. I even thought to provide each child with a bag for their candy. They lined up to pull the strings (one of which would open a trap door, releasing the candy). The candy.... didn't come pouring out. You see, I ignored Rob's instructions about just where to put the candy. Apparently the backpack part was indeed the correct place and Dora's massive, over-sized head was not. We had to do brain surgery on Dora and swing her about wildly to release the candy. A few kids may have gotten pinged in the head with gum and chocolate. No one complained, though.

Abby was happy. A good time was had by all and I sent children home loaded with sugar and stuffed with cake. I know their parents were grateful, so very grateful, for my thoughtfulness.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Common Sense

Is it me, or is there a shortage of not just smarts, but common sense in the world?

Rob was telling me yesterday that a study was done that proved.... that chimpanzees prefer their meat cooked. Interesting, yes. Helpful, no. I'm sure that scientists who study primates and evolution find this information fascinating, but for the population at large, it isn't really that relevant is it?

Normally, I am 100% behind all types of scientific research. I did go to college to be a science teacher after all. Times are tough, though. We are facing global emergencies that need solutions now. The money spent to fund this research could have been used to develop alternative energy sources, learn more about how to stop and correct the impact of global warming, or help developing countries develop strategies to help reduce poverty.

Apparently we need to know that should a chimpanzee visit the Four Seasons, he will be asking for a well done hunk of meat instead of the steak tartar. Doesn't that make the future seem brighter?

Monday, September 22, 2008

High Rotation

What we're listening to around our place. A LOT of Weezer's Pork and Beans. Abby adores it. Wants to hear it 101 times in a row... and wants you to "turn it up loud!" She makes up her own lyrics, but belts out the "I don't care!" bits with relish.

Both kids have been singing "We Will Rock You" frequently. I don't know why, but if it means they aren't arguing with each other, I don't care, I don't care, I don't care!

Rob is listening to.... I'm not sure what he's listening to right now. Nothing I'm listening to anyway. We have different musical tastes these days. He hasn't heard of half the artists that are on my ipod.
I think he has Phantom of the Opera going in the truck on the way to work.

I am tuning out to Bruise by the Chairlifts, Winding Wheel by Ryan Adams and Summer by India.Arie. And as always, a little Nina Simone and some Ella Fitzgerald.

Embarrassed to have on my itunes: Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and Dexy Midnight Runner's "Come on Eileen." Sussanah may never speak to me again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Day

just like any other. The sun is rising, casting its glow on the dew-covered ground. The butterflies are fluttering around the Lantana. Abby is demanding chocolate milk. J.T. has wormed his way into our bed. Sophie is scratching at the door, desperate for someone to come play with her. It is indeed a day like any other... except it isn't.

Today my calendar tells me it is September 20th. The truth is, I didn't need to look at the calendar to know that. Some dates are etched in your mind so deeply you know they are coming... months, weeks, before they arrive. Birthdays, Holidays and Anniversaries of the important people in your life. The day your brother died. Today is the third anniversary of the moment our lives were spun of course, shifted to a different path in life.

My heart feels physically heavy today. The roses are weighted by a night of dampness. They seem to echo the weight of my grief, the burden of sadness we bear. It will be a long day. There will be a lump in my throat, a shaking to my hands as I go about the business of my life today. But there will be family, friends and you, dear reader, to hold my hand. To hold my heart. To pull me, push me forward. To gently remind me to treasure the good, wrap myself in comfort and let the sadness come.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Life with Diva

The Diva will be turning 4 in just under two weeks. She has been excited about that for two months. The invitations (shaped like tiaras of course) have been purchased, the cake (Dora... again) has been planned, the gift (a bicycle with training wheels) has been bought and we have nought to do but wait. The hard part.


She is fiercely independent, unless she cannot get what she wants without help. Then she expects you to do it. Now. With only a reluctant "please" thrown in to appease her etiquette-loving mother. If you don't jump to do her bidding, post haste, there will ironically be a plethora of "pleases" issused rapidly and in that tone that is designed to drive mothers to insane asylums.


She empties her dresser drawers several times a week, usually in search of just the right pair of shorts or to come up with a winter fashion ensemble including sweater, boots and shorts with scarf and bikini. Even though it's hotter than the surface of Mercury in sough Georgia right now.


If things don't go her way, it is your fault. She and Rob played whiffle ball (baseball with a soft bat and a soft ball) yesterday. She struck out several times. All of which were blamed on Daddy.

The Christmas picture session from 2006:





Which is why we skipped the Christmas pictures in 2007.


Her grandparents took a trip to New England last week. When they got back yesterday she wanted to know what they got her. Then expressed her disappointment that she didn't get more. I guess that tells you have well my manners lessons have been absorbed. When I told her it was time to for us to go get Mama and Papa, she asked if they were staying home this time. Then she told Papa that maybe he could just go by himself next time. Really have to work on those manners, don't I?


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Fruit and Vegetable Wars

I dream of children who adore broccoli. Crave carrots. Beg for peas and beans. "Oh yes, Mom, please let me have an extra helping of greens." Sounds so heavenly, doesn't it?

Alas I am left to dream. Abby will gobble down peas and beans that are hidden in chicken stew. She loves butter beans... but technically, they're not a vegetable. She eats strawberries, bananas and watermelon.

J.T. shudders at the sight of anything green, orange or yellow on his plate. Attempts to coerce him into trying them meet stiff resistance. The one bite rule has resulted in gagging and barfing. Thus far, my foe has stubbornly circled his wagons and refuses to surrender to my bombardments of handsomely cut carrots, child-friendly recipes, starving children in Africa lectures, cucumbers shapes like flowers and the last weapon in my arsenal... bribery.

I have visions of him subsisting on crackers, peanut butter and grape juice for the rest of his life. I can literally name about 10 things he eats... all marginally healthy, and not the first fruit or vegetable among them. He does like water, which is a plus, but how I wish he'd take a big bite of strawberry or munch on apples dipped in peanut butter.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hmmmmmm?

That is my response to any question asked of me while I am reading. I possess the wonderful/vexing trait of being able to completely immerse myself in anything I am reading or watching. Paradoxically, I have ADD and also do NOT possess the ability to focus intently on anything that I do not enjoy for long periods of time. Usually more than a few seconds.

Reading, writing, blogging, word puzzles... are tasks to which I can devote undivided attention. Sorting, laundry, organizing fall by the wayside. Frequently.

So it shouldn't come as any surprise that J.T. also has trouble paying attention. I was nodding my head while reading Stomper's post about Climber at school. We started the school year with a note home from his teacher about daydreaming. Like me, he is an A student. Bright enough to get by, but in a small enough class that his teacher notices when the other kids begin their word assignments and J.T. is still staring off into space, engaged in a virtual super hero vs. villain battle for the ages. Had I not come through school in the age of 30 plus kids in each class, I would probably have gotten more notice from my teachers as well. I daydreamed my way through Math, was quite attentive for Social Studies and Reading and perhaps Science... depending on the subject matter. His teacher has commented that he was completely focused and interacted during a lesson on Chameleons, but tuned out for the phonics session and wasted his morning time instead of going to the library for a new book.

It isn't fun getting notes home every other day, but I think in the long run, we will be glad that he has a teacher who holds him accountable, even if daydreaming is just part of who he is. I have had to learn some strategies to help me focus on things I don't enjoy doing like starting each day with a list detailing all of the mundane, easy to forget tasks I need to complete. He needs to start learning to cope with it now.

Believe me, I understand the frustration his teacher must experience everyday as she asks him, probably hundreds of times, to pay attention, focus, complete x or y. Rob and I spend each morning reminding him repeatedly to brush his teeth, put on his shoes, his shirt... Wait! You've got it on backwards again! Put on your socks, your shoes. Ready? WAIT! Your shorts on backwards.... again!

So hopefully, we'll make improvements this year. I say "we" because every parent knows that education is very much a "we" undertaking. And I could probably use a little more focus myself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Lovely Weekend

Saturday morning picnic at the playground featuring peanut butter on whole wheat crackers, yogurt, water and semi-sweet chocolate chips for dessert served on a blanket in the shade of massive pine trees. We spent an hour or so playing on the swings, the merry-go-round, the slides and monkey bars. The kids had fun. I could tell because they were very dirty. I swear there is a direct correlation between fun and dirt. The dirtier a child is, the more fun was had.



Sunday afternoon was devoted to my niece's 11th birthday party. There was cake and ice cream. Can you ask for more from a day other than cake and ice cream? She made out like a bandit. I may ask her for a loan instead of calling the bank next time we need some cash. Abby and J.T. got not only cake and ice cream, but an afternoon playing with their cousins. So how to top off a wonderful, sugary, perfect day?

With a little art project.





And an odd looking spider.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ring, Ring Goes the Cell Phone

Should you answer it?

It depends.

If you are in the check-out line at the grocery store, dress shop or book place.... NO!

Charging through traffic on a six-lane expressway.... NO!

In the car with your kids.... NO!

Pulling through the drive thru at McDonald's.... NO!

Halfway through the a film at the movie theater.... NO!

Last week I was shipping a package at the UPS store. A small sign sits on the counter that says: "If you are talking on your phone when it is your turn to be waited upon, we will move to the next customer in line."

Bravo UPS! What's so important that you can't be polite and attentive to people around you? Surely the gossip, which is mostly what I overhear people talking about on their cell phones, can wait.

Isn't it frustrating to have to wait while someone finishes what usually amounts to a frivolous conversation.... just so the check-out person can ring them up? Isn't it annoying to hear a teenager drop the f-bomb over the phone in the milk aisle? Isn't it disgusting to watch a cell talker ignore the wait staff while they laugh loudly at their friend's jokes?

Isn't it rude?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Accents

Paula Deen, southern cook extraordinaire. She reminds me of so many southern ladies with her big hair, big make up and flashy jewelry... and she sounds like I do! Paula is from Albany Georgia (pronounced All - Benny). We pronounce words like sugar, pecan and ya'll the same.

Ignore the recipe.... it sounds gross! Ya'll enjoy!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Doo

The hair was out of control. Frizzy, unstylish, and frumpy. So horrible I'd been wearing it in a clip for weeks with just a bare minimal attempt at styling in the mornings. It had to go. I didn't get my nerve up for the color and highlights this time, just a cut. But next time, I'm committed to the foil treatment.



Abby preempted our hair appointment with a self-styled doo. she actually didn't go super short. So our stylist was able to work it into something reasonably cute.



As my Grandmother once said about my brothers' teenage hair styles: "It's just hair."

After the haircut I hit the sales at the mall for a new pair of jeans, some stylish pumps, a few pairs of earrings and a necklace. So nice... and on sale too!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another Birthday


It's pouring rain here as I type. Windy and wailing as a tropical storm moves through.

Ava would have been five today. We ate pink cake in her memory, Abby and I. We thought of her family and the wonderful life they shared with her and the missing of days without her in them.

Happy Birthday Super Princess.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to You

I would add the bit about looking and smelling like a monkey, but she doesn't. Happy birthday Angel.





Graduation Day 1993. I remember that day so vividly. Standing in an unfamiliar place; the familiarity of the life that had gone before, the uncertainty of the life waiting ahead. My best friend has been with me through both. Growing up, sharing the turbulence of the teenage years, difficult times in both our lives: losses, loves, moves, children....

We are so in tune that our children were born almost exactly one year apart. Maddison and J.T. are winter babies with Maddison born one year and three weeks before and Abby and Hunter are September babies. Hunter is 1 year and five days older than Abby.

Do you know I don't even know her phone number? I just push the little button on my phone with her name on it. Tomorrow I will press the "Angel" button to call and say Happy Birthday! To say thank you for all the sleepovers, lunches and shopping trips. For the funny emails and the "just checking on you" calls. I will wish her a Happy 33rd year on earth and thank her for sharing all 33 of them with me. I look forward to a lifetime of friendship through ups, downs, PMS, menopause and weak bladders. Because I love her, even if she does have funky taste in shoes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weary Mother Brain



My brain is tired. It is a fatigue brought about by the constant grumbling of malcontents within our walls. The whining, the poking, the chasing and squealing.... they are slowly eating away at my brain cells. Soon I will have the IQ of an amoeba.

Them (In the house):

He took that from me!
Well I had it first!
She hit me!
But it was an accident! I didn't MEAN too!
AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (screamed at high pitch while running down the hallway)!
Stop that!
MOOOOMMMMMM!

Me: Wondering if letting one sleep outside with the dog would earn a trip from Child Services.

Them (In the car):

Youngest child mimicks sound of passing gas.
Brother smirks and says: "She pooted on me!"
Both dissolve into insane giggles.
Body function humor escalates into poking, prodding and smacking and inevitably loud complaining about who started what and who is hitting whom.

Me: Wondering at this point if tying them to the roof of the car for road trips would be immoral, illegal or both.

Them (In the yard):

Child in bathing suit doesn't want to get wet. (?)
Brother blasts her with the hose anyway.
Wild screaming ensues.
Puppy is now inflamed by screaming excitement and joins in by jumping, tearing at clothing with teeth and in general, adding to the mayhem.
Child with hose repeatedly sprays water onto patio despite requests to keep it in the yard.
Child in bathing suit wants to watch ants in ant hill.
Child in bathing suit gets bitten by ants after being warned more than once to move.


Me: Wondering if tiny hint of 'told ya so' in the back of brain should induce guilt. It doesn't.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Test Drive: A Cautionary Tale

I would be the perfect infomercial sucker if it weren't for the very practical adages buried deep in the recesses of my brain. You know the ones: "You can't get something for nothing" and "Too good to be true". If it weren't for this skepticism we would be the proud owners of a set of Japanese steak knives that can cut through an aluminum can (when one might need a can sliced, I don't know), then perfectly slice a tomato, those green bags that help your fruit and veggies stay fresh longer, and the amazing steam mop.

Of all the the informercial offerings I have coveted, the electric sweeper that is multi-directional, battery powered and picks up both large AND small objects (believe it or not there are alot of those scattered about our place) is the one I long for most. Low and behold our local super store has them on sale!! For only $35.99!!

You think you see where this is going now don't you? Melinda purchases amazing electric sweeper and it falls apart in her hands. Oh no. That would be obvious. And cheaper.

My mother-in-law purchased one. I don't think the adages about getting what you pay for, etc. reside in the deep recesses of her brain. Now, I get a FREE test drive of the much longed for sweeper at my mother-in-laws place! Happily I plug in the battery and begin to power around the kitchen, the den, hardwood floor, rugs, etc. It works nicely. Gets up the crumbs from the under the table where the kids are eating, gobbles up the little bits of paper and lint that rugs draw like magnets. Everything is going well. Until I attempt to empty the dirt cup.

Did you know that location is an important thing to consider when emptying a dirt cup. Especially if you just grab the bottom of the sweeper, and inadvertently raise the handle to, oh say, ceiling fan height? Did you know that a ceiling fan made to look like a log in the center with fan blades attached by incredibly thin fake twigs is fragile? Especially when hit by a sweeper handle. Especially when it's moving? Did you know that it would have been cheaper for me to buy the sweeper than it will be to replace a fan blade on a discontinued fan?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Isn't She Lovely?


He's handsome too. This Saturday, my parents will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Here's how they looked on their wedding day in 1963. I just love Mama's classic suit and hat combo and Daddy's skinny tie.

When I was little I loved to look through their wedding album. Seeing my grandparents without gray hair and my aunt in her bridesmaid's dress. My favorite picture of all is the one where they are feeding each other cake and laughing. Daddy said it was because Mama bit his finger!

Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

New Math

This:



plus this:



plus this:



equals this:

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Conundrum

J.T. starts 2nd grade on Monday. His 4th year of school. How on earth did those first few years speed by so quickly?

Lately, he's been sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night. Worming his way up, under the covers, to lie between Mommy and Daddy. I usually notice the invader when one of his incredibly long feet end up in my stomach, or twined around one of my legs.

I know I should send him back to his bed. We would all sleep better. But his face is losing it's baby fat. His head is rising ever higher when he stands next to me. Fewer baby teeth are wriggling their way loose. He can swim in the deep end. Soon he won't need a snuggle. Shouldn't I make the most of each one?



I took this picture the first day of school last year. Love how his new shoes are glowing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Conversations

If you could have been a fly on the wall at our house this week you might have heard the following snippets of conversation:

Me: "What are you doing Abby?"
Abby: "Breathing." (said sarcastically)

(I think I have a teenager hiding in the body of a three year old.)

Me: "Abby, that bathing suit is too small. You're not wearing that one. It doesn't cover your b**bs!"
J.T.: "Well, I don't have b**bs ...... whatever they are."

Me: "I've GAINED a pound this week! A POUND!!"
Rob: "Could that green (chocolate chip mint) ice cream have anything to do with it?"
Me: " (silence)"

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dress-Up




Abby and I came across a long-forgotten set of cheap dress-up accessories yesterday. The package even included a set of "claws". Hopefully, the claws will stay far away from an "aggabating" brother!

Friday, July 25, 2008

M-spired

M from Easternmax has inspired our household to attempt something novel. We have implemented a drying rack in our laundry routine. I confess that I don't use it ALL the time. It is used primarly for sheets, towels and under clothes. Sophie, the puppy, prevents us from using it outdoors, where drying time in the hot sun would be greatly reduced. We do prefer our clothes not chewed, so.... a compromise was in order.




Rack drying is perfect for towels. I like them a little crinkly. Makes me feel like I've had a good spa scrub. Who needs a loofah?


We are using a little less electricity too. Despite the fact that our bill shows that we have used LESS kilowatts this month, our bill still went up $68! It appears that the economic principle of supply and demand is at work.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Labels

It bugs me how quickly we label people based on appearance, stereotypes, and our own prejudices. Sometimes I think the pursuit of perfect doesn't allow us to appreciate the imperfect, which is perhaps more interesting and worthy of attention than perfection. Disability, for example, is a horrible word. It labels people for what they can't do instead of what they can. Isn't it what makes us different that should be treasured? I could name hundreds of ways that my children are alike, but the things I love most about them are what makes them unique.

Growing up in a small town can allow you to find the special in unique people. A visit to the pharmacy meant an encounter with an elderly man who always wore a pair of overalls. He'd ask everyone he met if they had any change. Regardless of their response, he'd pull out a huge wad of bills from his overalls and start counting them. It makes me smile to remember the huge grin on his face, like a child opening a present on Christmas morning.

We also lay claim to the state's top Special Olympics swimmer. Penny's dad and mine were members of a local service club and we attending pool parties at their house. They had a pool and Penny could swim better than any two-legged person I'd ever seen! She has the gold medals to prove it too!! She's now in her 40s, but I think she could still swim circles around the rest of us.

She also has a cool sense of humor. Her family attends a tiny country church where everybody has known everybody else for ages. Each week the congregation is asked if their are any names to add to the prayer list. One week, Penny's hand shot up. She stood and gave her request: "Michael Jackson" (the singer - her favorite). Her father was mortified and pulled her back down quickly with a sharp "Penny, if you ever embarrass me like that again..." Her brother pointed out that if anybody needs some prayer, it might just be Michael Jackson! When I see Penny, I don't think about what she can't do. I anticipate what funny story she will share with me, how her family takes great pride in what she can do and the joy she is to their family.

Rob and I watched a beautiful documentary called The Teachings of Jon. The subject of the film was born with Down's Syndrome. He can use some sign language, but otherwise doesn't communicate well. He spends his day's folding paper into shapes and trying to ring pots on his mother's pot rack in their kitchen. He swims, he loves Furbies and remote controls, he has a thing for rolling pins. His sister asked a therapist about what went on in Jon's mind. Could he learn? What was going on inside his head? She was told: "It's not about what Jon can be taught, but about what he can teach you."

Labels are more about the person doing the labelling than the person to whom the label is attached. I hope my children look at everyone they meet and see the potential, no matter how others might perceive the same person. I hope they look beyond the rush to judge the can't and see the can. I hope I can.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Belated MeMe

I have neglected this one for quite some time. Now that I have returned from the hormone pit of self-pity and blah, you get the delayed Meme.

Six Places I have Lived: In the house my parents built on Burton Avenue in my home town. I shared a room with my sister. We had a trundle bed. I slept in the drawer part (which I loved, because "making the bed" involved just shoving the "drawer" under the bed. Too bad for me, my mother was wise enough to check my bed-making and I was quickly disabused of the correctness of this method. Rob and I lived in a 1200 square foot house when we first got married ten years ago, just 20 minutes from my childhood home. It was small and inexpensive.... perfect for newlyweds. We built our home on Iron Horse Road in 2005 and moved in just before Thanksgiving. Still in the same town. That's it. Only THREE places I've lived. Our home was just 25 miles from the University I attended, so I commuted from home to save money and because I'd heard way too many roommate horror stories.

Ten Years Ago: Rob and I were newlyweds, settling into our first home together. I was planning to start my student teaching experience and writing the last of those wedding gift thank you notes. It amazes me to think of how we actually eeked out a living on 1/3 of the salary we bring home now. Gas was only $1 a gallon in those golden days, though. The amount of free time we had and the uninterrupted sleep that was so, so underappreciated in those pre-children years.

Five Things on My To-Do List Today: Make Mama take a nap when she comes by on her break from the Nursing Home where Grandmother Hall is staying. Vacuum up the Moon Sand our friends Chris and Ashlee gave to Abby yesterday. Play with the Magnetix set they gave J.T. (I may like it more than he does). Finish up some proof-reading work. Sussanah may demote me if I don't finish soon. Refill the dog's water bowl after she spends 30 seconds "digging" in it instead of drinking. Is she hinting for a pool? Are the kids in on this conspiracy?

Snack I Like to Eat: Whole grain chips with salsa, nuts, fresh strawberries and the occasional (but still too frequent for an effective diet) bowl of chocolate chip mint ice cream.

If I Were a Billionaire: I would, of course, give some to family and friends to do with as they pleased. Angel and I would have a weekly spa day. Mama would more jigsaw puzzles and books she could ever finish. Daddy would have a stellar shop. Rob's parents could traipse around the glove wherever they wanted. A good bit would be given to charity (Habitat for Humanity International, Heifer International and Unicef would be favorites). Buy a lot of books, open a comic book shop for Rob and of course, visit all my Australian friends.... flying in my own jet, you know, eating boiled peanuts and sipping sweet tea.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Little Bits of Happy

Trying to find happy in the small things:

A listmaker


A little girl's red cowgirl boots


A growing puppy with a hot pink collar


Freshly painted nails

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Listmaker and an Assistant Chef

We are going through paper rather quickly. Good thing we recycle!

J.T. is making lists. Lists of his favorite cartoon characters, lists of his favorite "vilens" (villians), lists of super heroes and lists of sheep he counts to fall asleep.



Can you tell he is a phonetic speller? He also applies the 'exception' spelling rules to most words: silent 'e' on the end of most words, 'ch' instead of just a 'c' as in Schooby Doo instead of Scooby Doo, 'ck' instead of just a 'k'. I'll save my pushy curriculum lecture for another post.

He likes everything just so. His favorite teachers are calm and organized. Creative chaos would drive him bonkers. I went to move some of his little plastic figures from his bed the other day and he said: "MOM! I had them in order!"

Abby, on the other hand, finds order a little too confining. She is in constant motion and is unafraid to try anything for the first time, except vegetables, of course.

She helped me bake a cake for Mama's birthday last weekend (don't worry Mama, I'm not going to give away your age!). I didn't realize that not all of the flour made it into the cake until I found these on my dining room wall.



Some days I wish I could give him some of her daring and her some of his caution and order. But then I think of how unique they each are and know that I wouldn't make them different, even on the days they drive me crazy. But if they would eat their vegetables.....

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