Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

This year I have resolved to do something for me. Just me. Something totally revolving around moi... not something for the family or for friends or everyone else.

It's not a shopping trip or a makeover or anything fleeting. Not a "mother's day out" kind of event. This will be a project that I want to do, that benefits no one else. Something that is just to make me happy. I have no idea if it will be a success or a big, fat, FLOP. But I've decided that I want to give it a try. Perhaps it will mean I become a better everything else? Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend--if I take on a little bit for me?

To start your New Year off on a fun note:

The sartorialist would gag on a Manolo Blahnik stiletto in the face of this: people of walmart

Hopefully 2010 will not deliver any nightmares from the bakery to your table.

And finally, the words that should die a merciful death in 2009 and not reappear in 2010... please: chillaxin (chilling and relaxing), sexting (texting about sex), unfriend (not a verb).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm on Top of It!

Even if "it" is starting to resemble a ball.
A big one.
One that is careening downhill.
Faster and faster and faster....

Today I am finishing up the charity gifts. Why are there always five missing... and those five belong to people who did not sign their names on the sheet and therefore cannot be called with a reminder that the gifts were due four days ago?

Tomorrow Miss Abby is having tubes put into her ears and her adenoids removed. She has made me "promise to visit everyday while she is in the nursing place" Don't worry, we should only be there for a few hours. Her great-grandmother is having some tube work of her own done at the same out patient facility at the same time! We've been joking that the 91 year old and the 5 year old could share a bed and we could get a discount. Which would be nice since they've already asked me for a check upfront to cover the out-of-pocket/deductible costs.

I am almost completely done with the shopping. Only Mr. "What the heck do you get the man who goes ahead and buys what he wants before you have the chance to get it for him" remains on my list. I have a few more things to wrap and then the gift stuff is done.

Christmas Cards you ask? I'm joining Fairlie's crusade to turn the Christmas card into a January thing.... I'm not nearly so stretched in January.

There is fudge to made, cookies to whip up and munchies to be mixed. But I'm on top of it. I may be one small slip up away from becoming road kill on the holiday highway, but I'm on top of it.

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Out-of-Season Fruit

Friday was "one of those days". At work, we hosted a meal for the family of a dear woman who lost a long battle with a progressive disease earlier in the week. She and her husband had been married for 56 years. Her devotion to her loved ones and theirs to her was a beautiful thing to witness over the past few years. Her husband humbly took care of her with great care, patience and devotion. He and I both cried a bit when I gave him a hug.

The schedule for one of our busiest days was a bit off due to this and I finished up about 30 minutes late with the "have-to" tasks. Saturday was the Christmas Bunch for Rob's co-workers... for which I volunteered to bring a fruit dish. In my dash to the grocery store on "everyone shopping today because Saturday is supposed to be really nasty" Friday evening, I forgot one essential thing.

No. Not my purse. Or my wallet. Or my debit card. Or my coat.

I diligently checked the quality of the fruit. Examining grapes to be sure there were no mush ones in the bottom of the bag. Poring over the blueberries to be sure they were all unspoiled. Gently squeezing the cantaloupe to test for ripeness.

The price of the fruit piled into my basket never tabulated. In fact, the checkout was loud and I didn't hear the total and never glanced at the cash register display. If I had, I might have realized before I got to the parking lot that I had just spent $27.88 on fruit. Ouch!

To make matters worse, the heavy $7.50 cantaloupe rolled out of its bag and bounced around the trunk... partially crushing the $6.99 container of blueberries. Fortunately the $8.99 grapes were unscathed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Making a List....

Checking it twice!

The kids are working out their Santa lists. Good thing since "Santa" is making the shopping run tomorrow! J.T. listed out a bunch of expensive things: X-Box, Nintendo DS, Games for Nintendo DS, Batman lego.... and had to be reminded that Santa has to be paid for the toys he delivers. the Batman lego seems doable. Except for the fact that they don't make Batman lego anymore and judging by the prices listed on Ebay, made very few at all! $200 for a 200 pieces of lego in a box? Not so much.

Abby keeps adding to her list. Nintendo DS, Dora game for Nintendo DS, lipgloss and nail polish, Splashy the Whale, and hundreds of "I want that!" moments in Wal-mart and during cartoons. Oh how I wish I had developed the idea of Dora or lego.

The tree is up and has been (thank you very much) since the day after Thanksgiving. It is leaning a little. Maybe alot. But the ornaments are staying on! I think I forgot a crucial piece when packing it up last year. Something to do with fitting the pole into the base? (Shut up Aunty Evil). It's a lovely pre-lit piece of fake greeny that takes all of 2 minutes to assemble. I LOVE it. Bets the heck out of the one we had with 60 branches that had to be matched into color coded slots.

I've even already purchased a few presents. Rob guessed his before I even got the bag out of the car. It's a bathrobe to replace his tatty one. "What else would you buy me from the mall?" he says.

The Christmas tunes are on high rotation. Abby has altered the lyrics to "Rudolph" by changing the "guide my sleigh" bit to "guard my sleigh". Which really does make sense. There have to be millions and millions of dollars worth of toys piled into that thing. An enterprising elf could make a fortune on the black market with some of those electronics.

One of my work projects has been a Giving Tree. The tree is loaded with cards. Each card lists the name of someone, their clothing size, shoe size and a wish list item. Most of the names are for school age children. It is heartbreaking to read hand-written notes from teachers: "Really needs new shoes" or "desperately needs underwear and socks". We live a life of plenty when so many don't. It is wonderful to see people taking the cards and coming back with armloads of gifts. Most people have gotten every single item listed on the cards, even though they were asked to just choose something.

So... after feeling behind to start the season, I'm beginning to find my feet and gain a little traction on the road to the holidays. I hope you are all good enough to find a little something from Santa under your tree this year. A couple of you (ahem, you Aunty... and your favorite Abby) need to get cracking though!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Melinda, a.k.a. Old Square Butt

The girl told me yesterday that my butt was square, not round like hers. It also "looks old".

Thank you darling. Thank. you.

Hello, weight watchers?

P.S. I helpfully did not point out that childbirth, age and gravity have contributed to my square butt condition... don't want to polish the rose color off those glasses just yet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Hope

I admit I'm in denial that there are only 40-something days left until Christmas and far more tasks to be done than can possibly be fit into that time frame. Decorating, shopping, cooking, shopping, baking, shopping, class parties, shopping, charity gifts, shopping, gift wrapping.... Ugh.

A 112 yearold editorial from The Sun newspaper of New York City. This letter, and Francis Church's reply were originally featured on page seven, 8th letter down (after a letter about those new-fangled chain bicycles) during the Christmas season of 1897. It is the most reprinted editorial in the English language.

Rob and I were discussing how wonderfully this letter rises above the innocent question of a child and challenges us to take on the roll of Santa ourselves to those we love and to all of those with whom we share this world. I have highlighted my favorite sentiment of Mr. Church's wonderful response to little Virginia.


DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...

... you just might get it!

A post or two ago I told you that life was rockin along, boring as usual. What a CLASSIC "spoke too soon" moment that was!

The girl is recovering from her third double ear infection in just over a month. And as if the agony of earaches was not enough to wipe us out, she managed to pick up a virulent streptococcus infection in her throat. The antibiotics taste HORRIBLE! You don't even have to taste it to figure that part out. The ten minute, tag-team effort to shove 1 teaspoon of medicine past clinched teeth should be proof enough.

Lack of sleep, medicine battles, and anti-biotic induced crankiness have made our house a cranky place to be. So don't pop by without warning! You may be roped into motrin-giving, yogurt-coaxing, I'll-buy-you-the-moon-if-you-just-take-this-tiny-bit-of-antibiotics...please bribery.

On Thursday she refused to wear anything but a red dance outfit. It was the first truly cold day of the Fall, so the heater had to be turned up. The heater that hasn't been used since last winter. Apparently dust builds up on the heat strips in one's attic space and will create a strong burning smell (even though nothing is burning) and set the fire alarm off! Who knew?

Soooooo... the Fire Department made a visit just to check things out, and, lucky them, got to pick their way through the attic that is NOT tidy. This was after they had stepped over 15 toys, two towels and other items in a house that has been functioning on emergency clean-up only basis for most of the week. At least we know the fire alarm works just fine and that our local firefighters have a response time of under 10 minutes!

Friday was just...just... NUCLEAR! She was well enough to go back to school after four days out, but had to spend two hours with me at work after school. During which time she did the exact opposite of what she was asked to do or not do at least 50 times. I counted. It's no exaggeration.

After work we stopped by the Rec Department to sign the boy up for tennis lessons. So of course, while I was paying for said lessons and engaged in conversation with the clerk, she slips away to the playground... after being very directly told "NO!" in response to a playground visit request less than one minute before. Grrrrrrrr! So pixel nanny privileges were suspended for the entire weekend. Which resulted in a 30 minute meltdown. Melt.... down... I'm surprised you couldn't hear it all the way at your house!

Get your guest room in order Aunty Evil. I'm one tantrum away from sending her over!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Fixer

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."

— Henri J.M. Nouwen

I think of myself as a "fixer." An analytical thinker who, given a problem, instantly begins the process of weeding through ideas to find a solution. When I was pregnant, I read a bazillion articles and books about pregnancy. Soon the firstborn was keeping us up at night and the "What to expect" book was never too far out of reach. Google has been both friend and foe in the effort to tackle such parenting issues as picky eaters, weird ailments (see Fifth's Disease... transmitted to us electronically via Stomper Girl, impetigo and the MRSA scare).

My brother died. You can't fix that. Can't read an article, attend a class, find a resource to make your life, the lives of those you love, magically return to the sunny days of "before". But by God I tried. I read books on grief, stupidly offered them to my mother, thinking that grief and loss is something that you "fix." Then I stumbled upon this. And I knew. This isn't fixable. It doesn't go away. It does change, life can still be good. But it doesn't return to what it was. How can it? All of life's experiences change us, make us different people than we were in the before.

I often wish that instead of shoving solutions her way, I had just sat with my mother and done nothing. Just helped her carry the weight of grief. I wish I had just been there. Just given my love and my sorrow and my own sadness. Simply been there.

Today I have read of two people who are touching wounds with warm and tender hands. Instead of fixing, they are giving love and hope. It reminds me that life is not always warm and safe. But there are friends who make it not quite so dark. Not quite so lonely. Not quite so sad.

Thank you friends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Snippets of the Daily Grind

On the way to school, the girl spotted a radio tower that stands about 100 feet tall at the local power station.

"Look! The Eiffel Tower!" she exclaims.

Her brother rolls his eyes and says: "The Eiffel Tower is in Paris."

"We're in Paris?!" she says.

Not exactly darling. Coco Chanel and Co. are but a distant dream on this coastal plain.



Yesterday, I was coerced into ditching my magazine article about Fall decorating (lovely pumpkin paintings and some gorgeous wreaths) so that I could participate in "Art Class". I think we all know I wasn't going to actually attempt those Fall crafts anyway. My last pumpkin carving attempt went sour with the teeth bit. Cut left instead of right and your orange gourd is left toothless. Perhaps suitable as a mascot at the geriatric ward?

Art Class consists of sitting on the stairs and practicing our letter-writing with color pencils. Which I excelled at creating. My teacher was impressed. Star Pupil AND Line Leader... all in one day! Being the only student certainly has its advantages.



I have spent the better part of the week coughing, hacking and in general allergy/cold sick misery. So my husband braved the wilds of the Cotton Festival with Thing 1 and Thing 2 all by himself. That's right. One grown-up, two evil, er, sweet children dressed in costume and a bazillion pieces of candy laid out in a maze! I'm thinking of nominating him for husband of the year status for that one. Well, that and the fact that he does the grocery shopping every single week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Take Five

Hello.

Again.

Is your head spinning yet? Old place, new place, old place. I know, I know. Get it together, girl!

See, the old place never felt right. Never grew on me... really never WAS me at all. I would go to that new space and .... nothing. No writing karma, no stories spinning in my head, no lovely sing-alongs dancing through... blah. Blech. Blerg.'

So here I am. Home again.

Backwards and Forwards never seemed more apt a description.

A little Take Five for you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Going Doooowwwwwnnnnn

So. This is the last blog post for public consumption. I have weighed the pros and cons and have decided to take the blog underground. All of my regular readers will, of course, be invited along. I had to let you know that, because Aunty Evil just yelled, "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" and I heard it, all the way over here. A friend recently had to block some things on flickr after one of those creepy people I'd like to think don't exist, but unfortunately indeed do exist, bookmarked a picture of her child. I made the decision, perhaps without careful thought, to use our information and photos a bit freely in this space. I don't want it to be a decision that might cause harm to my wee ones.

My last not-so-important observations before the move follow.

We went to Wal-mart tonight (argh!) after the girl ate the last of her lunch box entree, despite the fact that I told her NOT to eat it. Or perhaps BECAUSE I told her not to eat it? Anyway, there was nothing for her lunch tomorrow, so we loaded up and made the trip. On move-in weekend for all the returning university students. Oh joy.

The forever wait in the checkout line turned a marathon sing-along of Queen's "We Will Rock You" including mangled line about "sit you on your face" instead of "you big disgrace". It also provided me with time to make a mental Fashion Do's and Don'ts list.

Bedroom shoes should not leave your house. Grab the sandals, the flip flops, crocs... anything but the bedroom shoes.

A nightgown is not appropriate shopping clothing. Talk about a total lack of effort!

Shorts that do not cover your lady lumps are essentially underwear and should not be worn as outerwear.

In that vein, a brightly colored bra under a see-through shirt is also inappropriate for public. Madonna tried that in the 90's and really, it didn't work then either.

Tank tops are gym wear. They should not be worn anyone over a certain age/weight limit. Not ever. Never.

There are more but I got distracted by a knock-knock joke and a secret handshake involving the pattycake song. See you on the other side!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What's Up?

Lots.

We are still working our way into the school week routine. Earlier wake up times, earlier bedtimes, lunchboxes going missing every other day, e-free on Monday through Thursday... The small people have protested this action as a war crime and are threatening to convene a NATO security council meeting over the issue of no TV or video games on school nights. By Thursday, I may be willing to testify on their behalf.

J.T. gave us a grand performance of Phantom of the Opera on Friday night. He had parts divided up for he and Abby, a sound technician and everything. Only Abby had a real Carlotta moment and decided it was her way or the highway. Which was fine with us. J.T. played ALL the parts and delivered a nice rendition of his favorite show. Abby sat stage right and sawed paper dessert plates in half using a plastic knife. All the while loudly proclaiming that if we didn't do what SHE wanted to do, then she would not play with us anymore. Not never. Not never again.

Tonight Abby asked me how turtles breed. I thought:

A) I don't know. That's why we have google.
B) If I did, I wouldn't tell you.
C) Wait a minute. Did she "breed" or "breathe".

Turns out it was "breathe".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to School!

Summer is technically over, in terms of no school anyway. It's still hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk and will be until Halloween. BOTH kidlets started school yesterday. J.T. in grade 3 and Abby in pre-K.

We went armed with supplies, bookbags, new lunchboxes, a slew of completed paperwork and even a little excitment about the new year. J.T. went into his room like the seasoned veteran he is, found his desk, shoved a box of tissues at his teacher (from the room supply request list) and said: "My MOM says you need these." He was very concerned that someone else had brought tissues too and these would be overkill and why NOT suggest it was all MOM's idea, just in case.

Abby's class has 20 four year olds enrolled. TWENTY! There is not enough ibuprofen in the world for me to take that on. One kid cried until he threw up all over the teacher's assistant. Luckily, they found a t-shirt for the poor woman to wear the rest of the day. Abby didn't cry (0r throw up) and after a few minutes of quiet observation, dove into the activities. I asked her if it was okay for me to leave and she just nodded and kept at her puzzle. Sniffle. Good thing they were handing out tissues at the door.

Abby asked me last night why the kid was crying and calling "Mommmmmyyyyyy!" and I said: "Perhaps he missed his mommy? Did you miss your mommy?"

"No," she said, with a bit of an eye roll.

They survived, even thrived, and came home... without their lunchboxes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sophie


A boy and his dog share a special bond. They grow up together. Playmates, pals, buddies. One a confidant who cannot share the secrets whispered into a warm furry neck, who licks away tears and barks excitedly at a belly laugh. The exuberance of childhood contained in a wiggly, whining bundle of happiness and unconditional love.

Our sweet Sophie was hit and killed by a truck this afternoon. My poor J.T.'s heart is broken and mine is a little cracked.

She will go to rest with her favorite ball and lots of tears (I'm crying my eyes out right this minute).

She was loved.

We miss her so much.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Under the Bed Part II

I cleaned out from underneath my bed.

This is what was under my bed.



In this pile.... there is nothing, not ONE thing, that belongs to me.

The owl clock... THAT belongs to Rob.

The red juice cup with the "stuff" clinging to its edges?

THAT went straight in the trash.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Music



This song has been running around my head like a Wild Thing since I heard it during the upcoming movies bit at Harry Potter (which I loved).

I love songs that make me want to close my eyes and dream. Imagine running through the yard with the cold spring grass licking at my feet and the breeze rushing at me, through me, around me. Lifting my face to the sun and soaking up the light, heat, happiness. Picking honeysuckle blossoms and painstakingly releasing that single long stem to capture one drop of sweet nectar. Songs of carefree childhood.

What's your slice of happy today?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Morning

7 a.m. - Glance at clock and determine that "just five more minutes" is perfect.
7:25 a.m. - Get up and fumble blindly to the bathroom to put in contacts.
7:26 a.m. - Start a load of laundry.
7:30 a.m. - Pop two pieces of whole grain in the toaster oven and unload the dishwasher while bread is toasting.
7:34 a.m. - Bread has skipped right past toasting and into burning. Get out two more pieces of bread and repeat.
7:40 a.m. - Low fat cheese, toast and a cold diet coke and the morning news.
7:50 a.m. - Begin making the pillow-wrinkled face presentable for the public. A light moisturizer, eye makeup (which I never do well... they never quite match... one eye has slightly more liner than the other or the shadow isn't evenly applied), creme blush and a dusting of powder.
8:00 a.m. - Let the hair battle begin. The hair is armed with humidity and natural curl. I am armed with anti-frizz gel and a flat iron.
8:15 a.m. - Still working on the stubborn cowlick in the front. Decide that cutting cowlick out is an impulse best not acted upon. It's really tempting though.
8:20 a.m. - Flip on the lights in the kids rooms so they can begin the: "Mooooommmm. It's not daytime yet..." complaints.
8:25 a.m. - Slip on skirt and hot pink shirt. Buckle wide black belt over shirt. Looks stupid. Take shirt off and pick our pink patterned empire waist blouse. Arms look too fat. Decide on the wrap-dress. But now my shoes don't match and the multicolored necklace doesn't match the pattern of the dress.
8:35 a.m. - Walk down the hall to the kids' rooms wearing one shoe (where the heck is the other one). "Rise and shine people! Hit the deck! Bathroom, brush teeth, get dressed... let's go!"
8:36 a.m. - Roaming around the house looking for other shoe. Not in the dining room, not under my bed, not in the laundry room.
8:37 a.m. - Kids still lumped under covers. Don't think they've moved since 8:20 a.m. complaint.
8:38 a.m. - Drag the boy out of bed by his feet (don't worry... no injuries) and push him towards the bathroom.
8:38:30 a.m. - Dress the girl WHILE she's sleeping (I'm very speedy at this... practice makes perfect), including shoes and socks. My missing shoe is discovered in her closet. Should've looked there first.
8:40 a.m. - Boy has made it the bathroom. But is just standing in nightshirt and underwear, staring at the mirror. "Teeth don't brush themselves son. Get cracking now. Please?" Boy picks up toothbrush.
8:41 a.m. - Began the hair battle with the girl. I am armed with the only hairbrush she will tolerate, two ponytail holders and a hairbow. She is armed with cranky and a whole lot of stubborn. I win. But only because I outweigh her by xx pounds. There is great wailing and gnashing of teeth (that bit is by me, the wailing is her) and I once again am thankful our neighbors don't live within earshot of our house.
8:43 a.m. - The boy has both the toothbrush and the toothpaste in hand. But one has not met the other and the breath is still stinky. Threaten to brush them myself and am rewarded with action.
8:45 a.m. - Tell the boy that the girl is ready. He manages to throw on shorts and shirt (backwards of course) and sandals in record time so he can beat her to the car.
8:48 a.m. - Everyone in the car and buckled. Yay! Backing out of garage. Make it all the way down the driveway and realize the boy's lunchbox is still on the kitchen counter. Pull back in and grab lunchbox. Repeat the reversal out of the garage and realize that I forgot the frozen yogurt for the lunchbox. Repeat trip back up the driveway, into the house and out again.
8:53 a.m. - Finally pull onto the road and realize I've forgotten my sunglasses. Crap. Glance at clock and debate another trip back up the driveway. Decide squinting is worth it.
8:53 a.m. - Kids begin argument over which song they want to hear. "Number 10! NO!! Number 4. NO! Number 10!" We comprised on number 7.
8:56 a.m. Pull onto Westside Road. Right behind a tractor. No passing zone for 3/4 of a mile. Lovely.
8:57 a.m. - Still behind tractor. Wishing I hadn't take that extra five minutes onto my snooze (okay I know it was 25 but work with me).
8:58 a.m. - Tractor turns off. Yay! Smooth sailing all the way to the raptor center. Green lights and all! I must have done something right.
9:05 a.m. - We are last arrival for Wild Life Camp. College age student with no kids and lots of knowledge casts me look of mild censure. Mumble apology.
9:10 a.m. - More green lights on the way to Abby's school. Lucky day! She insists on taking largish singing Frosty the Snowman in for show and tell. Teachers very impressed with my cleverness for selecting cold toy to 'beat the heat.' Smile and accept praise. Do they need to know that I argued against bringing that one? I think not.
9:15 a.m. - Everyone squared away. Looking forward to work! Nice, quiet work. Where there are grown-ups and there is no arguing over seating arrangements or music selections.

How was your morning?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Well HELLO there!

I'm back! I'm sure all ten of my readers missed me. We're hanging in the land of blah. Nothing exciting going on. Just muddling through the heat, kids activities here and there, trying to stay on top of the weedy garden, and the yard work. Did I mention muddling through the heat? My love/hate relationship with Summer continues. I hate the hot of summer. I hate the cold of our two week winter. A nice light sweater day is heaven. Wish it was that perfect temperature every day. On with the Meme... Stolen from here, from which it was stolen from Cathy Zielske.

TODAY....

Outside my window... Overcast morning skies have given way to sunshine. I would have preferred the overcast to stay... and bring some rain with it!

I am thinking... about my boy. He's spending an entire week with Grandma Pat and Poppy and 5 of his cousins. I miss him already.

I am thankful for... air conditioning. Can't imagine life in this heat without it. Even though I grew up without AC... I have no desire to ever live without it again. Ever.

From the kitchen... Fried okra, fresh from the garden! Grew it myself and quite proud of it.

I am wearing... pink/brown/white print sundress and brown sandals.

I am creating... checks! First of the month bill paying time.

I am going... to the eye doctor this afternoon. I keep getting some kind of funky build-up right in the center of my contacts, lending a fuzzy, out-of-focus quality to my vision.

I am reading... nothing. Must get to the library/book store ASAP. I want to get my hands on...

I am hoping... that Angel and I can do a girl lunch this month! I need some girl chat.

I am hearing... the drip of the faucet.

Around the house... things are a mess. Rob is the organized one while the rest of us could set records with the speed of our mess-making. Abby is particularly speedy while J.T. shoots for maximum diameter, leaving Spiderman and his friends (lego, Darth Vader, Indiana Jones, Transformers too) scattered in every. single. room.

One of my favorite things... a family holiday. We celebrated my mother's birthday on Sunday. My nephew turns 16 on the same day, so we had a massive joint celebration with lots of noise, food, and cake. J.T. made a card for mother that said: "Happy Birthday to you. You look lick (like... still can't spell) a Grandma... and you are one too!" He was very proud. Grandma Pat was thrilled.

Overheard ... (I added this one): Abby to Rob: "Sometimes your mother says bad words." Rob: "I know."

A few plans for the rest of the week... Clean-up before the cleaning lady comes. Find time for working out (but it's too HOT she whines), a glass of wine (or three), and gardening.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mad Scientist


This little inquisitive thing captured a caterpillar yesterday. Or I should say, a "caller-piller". Who was subsequently named... "Calla".

Caterpillars, we discovered, do not eat hard corn kernels. Or grass. Or rocks.

Despite their squishy appearance and general snake-like characteristics... they also don't swim. A theory has been floated about the size of their legs in proportion to their bodies and their rather sluggish attempts at movement.

IF your "pet" caller-piller chooses (is dumped into) to swim (sink) in the pool (bathroom sink), it will need to "rest" (go gently into that good night) in a curled position until it dries out (up). The good news is that the next morning, your caller-piller will be so well-rested that she will have crawled away (been scooped up) to greener pastures (the compost pile).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Did You Know....

.... that one 4 year old girl can, in the space of 10 minutes,

* empty every drawer in her dresser looking for a swimsuit?
* partially eat, and scatter the remainder of, three bananas?
* spill contraband chocolate milk on her carpet?
* spill contraband chocolate pudding on her carpet... and track it around the room?
* empty out the domino container and leave at least one domino in every room in the house?
* get an unidentifiable sticky something in her hair?
* paint her toenails and adjacent digits with the nail polish you haven't been able to find in six weeks?
* make her mother long for a glass of wine and silence? Sweet silence.
* Say "I love you more" so sweetly that the previous ten minutes might not have happened?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Lovin'



Summertime loves:
Sundresses and lipgloss
Strappy sandals
Ice cold watermelon
Hot boiled peanuts
Fresh veggies
9 p.m. sunsets
Heat lightening
Choc. Chip Mint ice cream (of course)
Popsicles
Butterflies
Crepe Myrtles in bloom
Thunderstorms

I have to point out the loves, because the big hate is the heat. We are hitting the 100's this weekend (103F/42C) tomorrow and I have offered to sell Rob's Star Wars collection in exchange for a trip to the arctic.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're BAAACCCCKKKKK!

Yay! The best thing about a vacation is coming home. The dog was thrilled to see us. I'm sure she thought we'd fallen off the face of the earth, despite a very full food dish and multiple water dishes to keep her fed and watered while we were away.

Our trip to Wild Adventures certainly was an adventure! The GPS kept changing it's mind about the directions and we added a few miles to our course along the way. Post-baby bladders aren't built for long road trips in sparsely populated (meaning very few bathroom opportunities) places. Each pit stop was greeted with sighs of relief and a mad dash to the bathroom. One tiny store in the middle of nowhere apparently catered to all of the needs of it's citizens as it featured the usual beer, candy, chips, newspapers, magazines... and a "lifestyle" dispenser in the one unisex bathroom. Luckily the smallest one can't read and the ADD one was lost in a daydream and never inquired about goat weed and it's herbal cure for certain male dysfunctions or the other 'items' available for only 75 cents each.

It took us four hours plus to get from our house to the hotel and the kids decided the long, boring drive during which stretches of millions of pine trees were broken up by the occasional intersection of country roads and small towns, was worth it once they got a peek at the pool... and the pizza parlor next door. Pizza first, then pool workout to burn off pizza calories. Our hotel also featured a gym, so Rob set the alarm (after I tried to set the alarm, but instead changed the time by about 6 hours), and I got up and went downstairs to workout. I rushed back up so Rob could go down and squeeze in a workout... but he decided to sleep an extra 30 minutes instead. Slacker.

While I sweated on the elliptical machine watching the morning news, the weather forecast scrolled across the screen: 96 degree Fahrenheit... heat index to hit 100. Great day to spend outdoors... all... day.... long.... don't you think?

Since we like to keep things up-tempo and dramatic, we started the day by losing Rob's blackberry. His work-issued Blackberry. We called the number. No Answer. Rob and his dad went on a hunt, back-tracking every step of the morning. I called the number again, and someone answered! The lost had been found. Phew. NOW we're ready to adventure! Rob tried to pay for our $7 parking fee with a $50 bill... which the parking attendant couldn't accept, so we scrounged up 6 singles and enough change for the $7. Luckily we had a buy two tickets, get 1 free coupon, so our park tickets only cost us $30 each. Good thing we had that discount. Little did we know we had just purchased our way into the land of $3 bottles of water and $4 cokes the size of a 12 ounce can.... $35 for a hamburger/fries lunch for 4 (2 kid-sized portions included)... on the hottest day yet of the summer.

I now have a new get rich plan! Build an amusement park, charge modest admission, but don't allow any outside drinks/food, etc. inside and charge insanely high prices for said food and drinks inside the park. Brilliant, huh?

Any who... J.T. LOVED the animals.... black bears, alligators, birds, snakes, tigers, elephants, giraffes... all of which were rescue animals or retired circus animals... (we had to stop through the Alapaha preserve on the way out to say good bye to the alligators) and Abby was enamored with the magic show and safari train ride. We walked for miles in 100 degree weather, sweating like marathon runners and sucking down $3 bottles of water and sharing the $6 souvenir cup (only $2 for refills all day, anywhere in the park) while trying to keep up with Abby (we only briefly lost track of her once) from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. before retreating to the hotel and its nice, cool pool.

The kids loved it, the adults survived and the washing machine is back to it's normal never-ending cycle. And the dog is lavishing us with happy whines of delight to remind us that we were missed and loved.

P.S. I will post pictures tomorrow. I can't find the thingy that connects the camera to the computer to upload the photos and I'm far too tired to search for it now.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Vacation Week

The view from the backseat:




Day 1 of Vacation begins for Rob and I today. We have led up to a week of off days with a hectic weekend schedule that included a haircut for the boy, a pre-trip shopping excursion, cleaning and laundry duties, car maintenance and garden upkeep (my tomatoes have been ruined by bugs)! J.T. had a swim party for a friend and I came home with a vicious headache and went straight to bed.

This morning we left the house at 9 a.m. to get J.T.'s vaccinations updated before meeting my sister and her boys at Splash in the Boro. We have walked in the door a scant few minutes and I still have to clean their ears with alcohol so we don't run into any issues with swimmers' ears. Rob cleaned out and washed my car, poor fellow, while we were gone... and took it by for a car wash for a thin coat of wax (Mr. Details is dictating this bit over my shoulder right now).

Tomorrow we have our annual Anniversary Trip to Savannah. The 11th time we've made this trip. He has a list, I have a list... the car is gassed up and ready, babysitting plans have been set, the bank run completed.

Wednesday we leave for Wild Adventures. Part zoo, part amusement park, part water playground... what's not to love? Something for everyone. This is our first big car trip with Abby. Valdosta is a 4 hour drive from Statesboro.... and she is the child who thought her Easter bucket was a throw up bucket for the car and was quite excited by the idea of trading the plain one for a pink one with eggs on it. We haven't had a car sick episode in several months... so.... fingers crossed!

We return Friday. I know you'll miss me. Aunty Evil may need medication just to get through the week. Actually it's just Abby, her "proxy child" she'll miss. Probably sending her evil vibes as I type, to make sure my vacation doesn't get too dull. So if you don't hear from me until the weekend, don't be surprised. I'll take pictures for show and tell later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Variety Pack

Last week I told my sweet boy that I loved him so much I wouldn't trade him for 6 more just like him! He said: "I bet you wouldn't even trade me for a pony!" His sister said: "I'd trade you for a pony!"

He thinks she's kidding.

Friday I got stopped for speeding (53 mph in a 35 mph zone... oops). The wonderfully polite police officer who stopped me asked if I was having a nice day (bit my tongue on a sarcastic comment, but did manage to say with a smile... Not really).

When I got home, J.T. asked me if "Bad is Good." I said: "No. Bad costs you." He said: "How much?" Me: "$177.50 (the speeding fine for 53 mph in a 35 mph zone). J.T.: "How much can I get for $28?"

In news of the organic gardening, I'm wondering if spray-free gardening is more trouble than it's worth! The weeds are sprouting up far more quickly than the vegetables at this point and squeezing in a couple hours with the hoe is really difficult. Okay, maybe it's not a time thing. Who actually LIKES to hoe? I thought of asking (and by asking I mean begging/bribing/paying outrageous money) the small fries to do it, but they are of questionable work ethic/attention spans and I'd just end up paying them for 2 minutes worth of "work" and then have to do it myself.

Meanwhile, back at Gym Cannady, Rob is instructing me on body sculpting via light weight training (believe it or not, we have been argument free despite the fact that he is giving me direction and I am not in charge). I have also added running to my workout. I managed almost a mile without dying or coughing up any vital internal organs. There was lots of sweating though, which I dislike strongly.

No pain, no gain, huh?

Next week, we'll be on vacation to Wild Adventures in Valdosta. First big road trip with Miss Abby, of carsick fame. Thank you Lord for the portable DVD player and the ipod!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tagged

by Suz at 3 Peas in a Pod.

1. What are your current obsessions? Summer dresses and sandals.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? Gorgeous wrap dress that draws comments like: “Have you lost weight?” Which is, of course, why I love it!

3. What's for dinner? Baked fish with brown rice and veggies.

4. Last thing you bought? Lipstick

5. What are you listening to? Sugarland and Memories & Dust by Josh Pyke

6. Do you play a musical instrument? If so, what… the clarinet for 8 years and the piano beginning with elementary school. I haven’t touched the clarinet in the past 15 years and my piano fingers are extremely rusty. I’d have trouble hacking out Mary Had a Little Lamb now.

7. Favorite vacation spots? Canada! So clean, so temperate! Rob and I aren’t big on travelling. He likes home and I have the attention span of a hummingbird… which isn’t conducive to long flights/car rides. It’s not a vacation, but we both love our annual Anniversary trip to Savannah… shopping, a nice QUIET dinner for two… nice.

8. Reading right now? “And God Said What?” and “Blue-Eyed Devil” (oh the irony, huh)?

9. What is your perfect day? No alarm clock beeping, just sleeping until I wake by sunshine. A quiet breakfast of toast and caffeine followed by a morning of lounging about reading one of those books that almost turn the pages by themselves… Harry Potter, brain candy books (paperbacks), etc. Lunch with Angel followed by window shopping and a good chat, a nana nap, a raucous game outside with the kids and a dinner with Rob (with a nice wine) that I didn’t cook and don’t have to clean up afterwards. Snuggles with two freshly bathed, sleepy children who softly say: “I love you, too” and some one on one time with my better half.

10. Guilty pleasure? Brain candy books and chocolate chip mint ice cream. Better together.

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you're weak? Tina Fey. Love, LOVE her on 30 Rock.

12. Favorite things to do in the summer? Read, enjoy the long sunny days which the kids spend most of outside… at least until it gets too hot. Which is about 20 minutes into our outdoor excursions.

13. Planning to travel to next? Wild Adventures in Valdosta GA. It’s our first overnight trip off with Abby, the carsick queen. We haven’t had any motion sickness issues in several months, so we’re crossing our fingers that we can make the 300 plus mile round-trip without using a bucket or pulling over for a clothing change.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Warm yeast rolls with honey butter… Diet? What diet?

15. When did you last get tipsy? I cannot remember. Probably on an anniversary date with Rob. I did have two glasses of wine one night this week and might have been headed toward tipsy towards the end.

16. Favorite ever film? ONE?! Are you KIDDING? In no particular order: Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Casablanca, Harvey, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Philadelphia Story, Crash, Love Actually, While You Were Sleeping, Grease, Dirty Dozen, The Natural, Citizen Kane, To Kill a Mockingbird, Star Wars, Goonies, Indiana Jones, … and on and on.

17. Care to share some wisdom? Here's a quote which I love.

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. – E.E. Cummings

18. Least favorite thing about driving in the boondocks? Deer, tractors, squirrels, possums, snakes, cotton trucks, four wheelers, and rednecks in big trucks with big tires.

19. Least favorite part of your day? The horrible beep of the alarm clock that ruins a perfectly good sleep far too early in the morning.

20. Why do you blog? Blogging allows me to express my thoughts, share my life, learn about new things, people, adventures, places and ideas! It is MY place to do with whatever I please, as often as I please.

Rules of the meme:

Respond and rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Tag 8 people. Too lazy to tag. If you like, feel free to join in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Let's See How Far We've Come

In August of last year Rob and I had some serious concerns about the path J.T.'s education would take as he began his second grade year at school. He was a reluctant reader who took lots of time and made lots of mistakes and was an entire grade level behind in reading. This academic weak area was threatening to impact him negatively in other subjects as well: Science, Social Studies, Math... We were also concerned about the erosion of his self-esteem and worried that we would see our bright, confident child buckle under the pressure to perform.

The first month was a little rocky as he and his teacher, Mrs. S., adjusted to each other and we worked together to create the best learning environment for him. The boy is distracted by his own thoughts (something he inherited from me) and can barely stay focused long enough to write his name, which will be an ongoing issue, unfortunately. He will have to learn strategies to keep himself on task, get himself back on task and put in extra effort to be mentally organized. Eight is too young to master those complicated skills, but we were quite proud to get these home from school last week!

We are very proud of his hard work and appreciative of all of the efforts his teacher put in to help him reach his potential and exceed all of our expectations for this year. She has gone above and beyond what we would have deemed her responsibilities to be sure that J.T.'s attention issues did not get in the way of his learning and mastering new skills. Thank you Mrs. S! Way to go J.T.!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

E-free days

The E-free challenge was a little harder last week than I expected. Once the novelty wore off and the kids realized this was a regular deal, they weren't very impressed with giving up their favorite entertainments for two whole days each week. Two days is a really long time for those in the single-digit age bracket.

We muddled through, despite some whining and moaning (I swear it was them and not me doing that). Instead of twitchy wii fingers and a couple of choruses of the Dora theme song, we did this:



and this:



and I got this done:


Quite an accomplishment.

And in miscellaneous news from our house, Abby informed me that I have a square butt while hers is round. THANKS Abby.

At least she didn't bring up cellulite. I think.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To Forgive?



You have probably read this quote elsewhere this week. It was particularly timely for me. I have been struggling with the idea of forgiveness for some time. My head knows that healing and happiness, genuine heart-whole happiness, are impossible if you let bitterness and hurt flourish in your soul.

But it is so hard to let injustice be. To not be able to 'fix' and make right what is wrong. To not get the point across that it hurts so deeply when others cherish things more than people. More than love. So I am resharing what has already been shared (I hope the person I lifted it from doesn't mind.... I haven't been able to get it out of my head nor my heart since I read it).

"What if forgiveness has nothing to do with stopping feeling hurt and nothing to do with letting the person off? What if it's something that is under our own direct control and that we can wholeheartedly choose to do?

Suppose it's this: forgiveness does not mean pretending that the other person did not do wrong. It does not mean switching off your feelings. Rather, forgiveness means depriving the other person's wrongdoing of any consequences in your life.

I forgive by deciding that I will not pass on the hurt by harming others. I will not let the wrongdoing influence me to do wrong. I will not let it damage and distort my life nor alter my relations with others. I will go on doing right, no matter how hurt I feel, no matter what.

You don't decide who I will be, but I do. It makes the wrongdoing irrelevant..." Catherine Gower
It does indeed make the wrongdoing irrelevant.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Me

Ask me what I like about me.

I would have to think about it.

Ask me what I don't like about me.

The answers trip over themselves to get out of my mouth.

My body. My teeth. My distractability and lack of organization. No creative talents like crafting, sewing, quilting, photographing, painting, dancing, etc. My wobbly triceps and the width of my hips and thighs. It would be very fair to say that I spend more time cataloguing what I'd like to change than appreciating what I am. Literally standing in front of the mirror finding fault!

I've decided it's time to look at me. Really look at me and see me, beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful me. Not "needs to be improved" me.

I love my hands. Long fingers with nicely shaped nails that wear polish well and are just the right span to fit an octave on the keyboard of a piano.

The smoocher on this face is pretty hot. Not too thin, not too fat, looks great all glossed up.

My eyes are a lovely hazel color that turn green when I wear green and brown when I wear red. They have a nice gold ring right around the pupil.

My figure is quite feminine. Round in more places than not, but I'm learning to accentuate those girly bits with a nicely fitted dress, a great pair of shoes and some cool accessories.

Fairness, improving the world, justice, equality, friendship, love: I am passionate about the things I care about.

I have a strong work ethic and love figuring things out. I never made a C in college.

Need a birthday cake? I make a delicious cream cheese cake with caramel or chocolate icing. My cooking is fairly simple, but I like to do it and while it's not gourmet, it is usually pretty tasty.

Reading is a life long love and my bedside table usually has a stack on it. Not always anything deep (mostly brain candy) but it counts!

I'm a good listener and rarely meet someone with whom I can't strike up a conversation.

My kids are always at school on time, with lunch in hand and homework completed. They are happy, healthy and confident. I count that as good parenting.

I feel very embarrassed and self-conscious posting this. Isn't that a little sad? That I find it much easier to discuss improvable me than lovely me? Have you looked at yourself lately? Were you looking for the bad or rediscovering the good?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The E-free Challenge


One of the authors at Before Our Time posted about an E-free week. Challenging the kids (with the enticement of a reward) to go one full week without electronic entertainments of any kind. No video games, no PC games, TV, DVDs, etc.


While it is a frightening prospect for me to consider shelving the Pixel Nanny, of whom I am very fond, we were game to wade into the e-free pool. Notice I said wade, not dive in from the 10 meter platform. So we have implemented two e-free days into our week. Wednesday and Thursday will be electronic entertainment free... permanently. No TV, no Wii, no PC (other than at work for the grownups) for every family member, adults included.


We started this last week and really, really enjoyed it. Instead of watching iCarly or Drake and Josh on Nickelodeon, J.T. read in his room and Abby made a colossal mess sorting through her numerous toys, dolls, etc. Our outdoor time doubled and the kids helped me (for two minutes at least) in our vegetable garden and splashed under the sprinkler. We interacted more, got more done, and were less cranky (them) and snappish (me).


Much to my surprise, Rob and I got more of the household nitty gritty done than we usually do while employing the Pixel Nanny! Less noise to distract easily distractable me and more helpers to put away laundry, unload the dishwasher and pick up toys. J.T. really pitched in to help while his sister.... not so much. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be and the kids were pretty cooperative.


Are you up for the challenge? Do you already have e-free days?

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's Nice to be Appreciated!



Even if someone ages you by 9 years and gives you a new hair/eye color. I wouldn't be that light, even if you doubled my weight. Funny things do happy when I'm angry. Not sure what the TV show thing is... some really, really good jokes there though. Strawberries are my favorite food, not Cheerios.

I don't know who yddA is, but didn't she make me a nice Mother's Day gift?

P.S. Have we determined if it's Mothers' Day or Mother's Day? M? Tracey?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chaos Theory

Chaotic behavior is observed by scientists in their studies of electrical circuits, chemical reactions, weather patterns, etc. Our house tends toward chaos too.

Abby's room, for example, is a mish mash of Mr. Potato Head parts, flash cards, doll clothes, hair bows, lip glosses with no caps, markers with no caps, books, and dress up outfits.

J.T.'s room is slightly more organized. The little action figures and their paraphanelia are grouped by theme, ongoing game, etc. The clothes I ask him to put away are rarely where they belong, though. Socks mingling with bathing suits, underwear stuffed in with the shorts and so on.

The kitchen counter is a mixing pot of homework papers, notes from school, receipts, junk mail, book bags, lunch boxes and cookbooks. Underneath, shoes are scattered about with abandoned toys.

The dining room table is playing host to mateless socks, clothes that the kids have outgrown, dish towels that never find their way to the drawer by the sink.

More toys (beginning to think we have too many) are on the couch, the floor, the bookshelves in the den and despite a ban on eating in there, cracker crumbs seem to have taken up permanent residence.

You know, I wouldn't mind a more ordered universe. Especially at home.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The F-word

The daily school commute turned interesting for poor Rob last week when J.T. asked the question. Or one of the key ones anyway:

"Is the F-word a really bad word?"

Rob is shocked. Our 8 year old knows the F-word?! Where did he hear it?

"Why? Where did you hear that?!" he asked.

"William said it."

Rob is thinking we need to have a talk with my sister to let her know that her son has been corrupted (he does have a teenage brother) and is sewing further seeds of corruption and goes on a long spiel about not saying the F-word. J.T is looking at him like he's sprouted Darth Maul horns.... okay maybe not Darth Maul horns because he'd think that was cool.... but otherwise is eyeing him like his father has lost his mind. So much so that Rob is rethinking the conversation and shrewdly, albeit a little late in the game, asks:

"What does the F-word rhyme with?"

J.T. thinks a minute and says: "Art?"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Played... by the Four Year Old


So Aunty E... you wanna borrow her? I'm thinking a month long trip to Australia might do her good... but only if you don't send her back with new layers of evil!

Last night she lay in my lap staring at the ceiling and statesd quite fatalistically: "God made me this way. I'm BAD."

And I thought, what a horrible mother you are Melinda! Your child thinks she is innately bad!!! ACK!

So I begin telling her how wonderfully sweet she is and how she just doesn't listen some times and even her very own, darling mother sometimes does bad things... but we aren't BAD.... and it dawns on me....

I just got PLAYED by a four year old!

What she meant was, she can't help it. It's not her fault. She gave me the most guileless, innocent look... the one you know is completely fake. And grinned at me. A devilish little grin.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Crazy House (I live in)

Some of the conversations around our house this week:

Me: Abby, we cannot play the Connect Four game, because you did not listen. If you can listen and follow direction we can play it another night.

Abby: But I can't be good! I don't know how!!



Rob: Knock, knock.

J.T.: Who's there?

Rob: Cow.

J.T.: Cow who?

Rob: Cows don't say "who". They say "moo!"



Me: Abby, you left your boots behind the (freshly planted) garden. Go get them, but DO NOT walk in the garden.

Abby: (Stares longingly at the muddy rows) Okay. (Walks slowly out to red cowgirl boots. Picks them. Throws them in the garden rows.

Me: Don't. You. Dare.

Abby: (weighs odds and lifts left foot)

Me: (not repeatable in polite company).



J.T.: Mom, I can't find my shoes!!

Me: Did you look in your closet?

J.T.: Yes!

Me: (looks in closet and, ta da! There they are.)



Connect Four game in progress. Chips are Sponge Bob and Patrick.

J.T.: I'm smart. I'm Patrick.

Abby: I'm smart. I'm Patrick (holds up a Sponge Bob chip).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taking the Plunge

For years I have nervously contemplated the idea of dying my hair. It is quite dark and I lived in fear of turning some horrible color that wouldn't match my skin tone and being stuck with it. After weeks of careful research into colors/highlights and which hairstyles best suit round faces,

I took the plunge. Or at least the paint brush/foil strips. My stylist and I decided that since I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing, we'd wade our way in with highlights and lowlights instead of a full dye job.

I'm pretty happy with the results. It covers the gray (mostly), without the shock of a completely different overall color.







Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Moon Sand Adventures


Abby begged for Moon Sand. Brilliantly colored dirt, er, sand, that can be mushed, squished, and molded into tons of fun shapes, without drying out! It looked fun. It was cheap. Lovely, lovely stuff.

Unless, of course, you are the one in charge of cleaning up the moon sand. My little hand vac had to be emptied three times before all of the moon sand was removed from the table, rug under the table, floor under the rug that was under the table, window sill next to the table and shoes of the squisher who sat at the table molding the sand.

So what does my brilliant husband do? He buys more moon sand! I told him to return it unopened. He insisted that he had a plan. The moon sand was to be restricted to the playroom and the lipped train table, originally built for our Thomas gear. Problem solved.

Guess what stayed in the playroom on the train table for all of 5 minutes?

Guess who is in charge of cleaning up the moon sand now?

Guess who better not ever buy it again?






Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Little Loves


It truly is the little things in life that make the difference between a good day and a bad one. Here are the little things that make my life beautiful today. Most of them are free.


1. An unexpected lunch date with Rob.

2. Susan Boyle on youtube.

3. An ice cold diet coke.

4. new lipgloss

5. a sweet email from a friend.

6. Azaleas in full bloom.

7. An unopened bottle of vanilla body wash.

8. Knock-knock jokes told by an 8 year old. They aren't really funny, but they make me laugh.

9. Rocking the itunes: Dancing with myself.

10. A rousing rendition of "Everyone Smiles in the Same Language" at a school play.

11. Pastel wrapped Hershey's Kisses.

12. Knowing where the wine opener is.

13. Anticipation a day off and a new haircut/color. Yes. Color. The first time.

14. A jumbled up recitation of the ABC song: R, O, P, Q..... T, U, W.

15. You. Whoever and wherever you are, dear reader.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter





Eggstravaganza!

Food - fresh fruit, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, enough delicious spinach dip to solve the food crisis of a small 3rd world country.

Eggs - 200+ candy filled goodies and not nearly enough places to hide them. What were we thinking? Do you realize how much candy that is?

Weather - balmy and gorgeous! Perfect for egg hunting and game playing and the occasional kid squabble.

Family - 30 people and lots of laughing.

Below you see me, flanked by my older brother Sidney and my older sister Christie.


P.S. Note how much HAIR my mother has this year!! Isn't it gorgeous?

Disarray



A post with a soundtrack. LOVE this song. Just change it to Life in a Southern Town and scratch the part about freezing winter and replace it with boiling summer.

My mother is one of those organized people who makes menus for the week ahead and uses it to make her shopping more efficient. The laundry shelves are labeled, the vacuum always goes back in the same place, the colander, gravy boat and punch bowl all have permanent homes. They are ALWAYS in their respective spots.

I, however, have to check several cabinets to find the colander, don't have a clue where either the gravy boat or punch bowl are located. Wait. I don't even know if I own a gravy boat. My laundry is scattered all over the seldom used dining room table and I'm quite certain the lone black sock has been there for at least two weeks. I'm lucky to leave the house with grocery list and hand and even luckier if I don't forget and leave it in the car once I get there.

Don't you just bet that drives her nuts? Good thing I married an organized person. He knows where the vacuum is. If I could just talk him into using it more.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Milestones

My brother would have been 45 today. My parents, sister and brother will gather this afternoon to remember him. To celebrate his life, to share our memories, to weep, to laugh, to comfort.

Time, as Danielle put it so eloquently, does in some fashion, heal us, but doesn't. I use the word heal reluctantly. There is a hole. There will always be a hole in the fabric of our family. The crushing, hopelessness of those first days, weeks and months, eases. But the missing lingers. We struggle to remember him as he was. To close our eyes and have that mental video playing of him laughing, talking, joking, moving. But more and more often, the video has become still images. Snapshots instead of movement. Which is hard in its own right. Someone else put it like this: “I miss the missing.” The acceptance of the new reality brings its own sadness.

The things I remember:

Camping trips. We all had matching red coca cola shirts. The boys slept on one end and the girls on the other.

Holidays: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Birthdays...

6 of us. Two boys, two girls... how perfect.

Graduation night. It rained.

The first big break up.

His first car: a camaro with white vinyl seats. How proud he was of it.

Joining the army. I thought it meant he was going to war, even though it was a time of peace. I cried.

Letters first to Oklahoma during basic training, then to Germany.

Long distance phone calls.

The birth of a daughter on Christmas Day.

Then a son

Two more daughters.

He made pancakes for them every Saturday.

Laughter

Lots of laughter.

I wish I remembered more. I wish I had known him better. I wish, I wish, I wish. A thousand things.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now THAT'S the life!


This is J.T.'s "to-do" list. Nape on number 3 is actually nap. I haven't had "nap" listed on my "to-do" list in forever. Not that I don't want to, mind you. Just that there seems to be little time for it. I'd trade "to-do" sheet with the boy, but I doubt he'd want to trade in his lovely list for my projects: laundry, cooking, dishes, laundry, etc., etc..

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jump (for my love)

Rob and I put together a trampoline… and we’re still married!

I KNOW!

Amazing!!

Our first attempt at assembling furniture in the early days of our marriage almost resulted in divorce. I learned first hand that men think the instruction sheet is really not necessary at all. They also don’t like to be given suggestions about where to put what and when to do it. (Keep it out of the gutter, people… I’m talking about shelves and fasteners here).




The peanut gallery spent most of the construction time playing in the box, scattering the various parts, screws, springs, foam padding, etc. and asking, “Is it ready?”, despite the fact that it was very obviously, not ready.







It took three hours, minimal cursing and no injuries to get it done! The kids got a good bounce in before bedtime.



P.S. We used the instructions.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sprung




Spring is here. The azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom. The trees are budding out with new leaves. The pine trees are stretching towards the sky as new shoots form and reach up toward the sun. Sandals are on the front row of the closet floor and the shorts, capris and breezy skirts are back on the racks.

And the pollen-induced sneezy/hacky/coughing/watery eyes have begun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yowza!

In a few weeks I will have been working out regularly for one year. One whole year. For the first time in my life, I have stuck with it for more than a few weeks or months and can proudly say that I have lost, and kept off, 15 pounds thus far! I had hoped that number would be closer to 40, but I'm willing to count the 15 pounds as a victory. I would like to lose the other 25, but I'm not obsessing over it.

Much.

Rob needs to lower his cholesterol, so our entire family is eating healthier (except the pickier members, who still turn their noses up at most of the vegetable group). We have switched to whole grains completely, including pastas and rice, added more veggies into our meals and cut out some of the sugary goodies. Some, not all. PMS would be a nightmare for everyone in our house without at least a little bit of chocolate. My favorite treat now is a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips or a bowl of Raisin Bran.

Yesterday I tried this new workout:



image courtesy of google images

It kicked my arse six ways to Sunday. I figured 20 minutes of intense workout would be a piece of cake as I've been doing a kickboxing cardio program since April. Wrong. Five minutes in and my heart was pounding, sweat was beading and I was sucking wind like an octegenarian on a mountain climb. Which means it was a good workout of course. Might be just what I need to kick start the second year of working out.

If I can manage to not trip myself with my own feet in the grocery aisle that is.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Educated Idiots

J.T. is doing well in school. He even made the honor roll last nine weeks, an honor we didn't dream of early in his educational career as he struggled to focus and got a slow start learning to read. At the teacher conference on Thursday, we learned that he is a grade level ahead in math AND reading.

Grammar is still a struggle. Tracey's Apostrophe Man would be getting an exhausting workout dealing with our 's issues. Now that he has discovered the apostrophe, he wants to use it whenever he sees an s! The flexibility of the rules in grammar, all of the 'exceptions to the rule', confuse him.

The other chief topic of the conference was attention. He isn't paying any. He's not disruptive, hyper or struggling to stay in his seat. Instead of listening to the lesson, he is re-creating Star Wars battles, inventing new characters for his imaginary games and in general daydreaming. His teacher does a great job of prompting him, giving him cues and working with him to keep him in the flow, but it is a constant battle. I know how hard it is as I keep saying: "Put on your shoes. Please put on your shoes. Do you have your shoes on yet? We can't leave until your feet are inside a pair of shoes! Shoes, shoes, shoes. Now, now, now!"

For a child who is easily distracted or bored, the current state of our education system means we are absolutely dependent on lucking out with an understanding teacher. If J.T. doesn't have a patient teacher, we are going to be in big trouble next year. I have a degree in education and was trained to be as flexible as possible in dealing with students with different learning styles and personalities. Multiple-choice test was a dirty word and worksheets were avoided like the plague.

Our government, regardless of party, thinks that standardized tests like the CRCT are the only and best choice for assessing skill mastery. Portfolios, group assignments, projects, experiments and other forms of applied learning have fallen by the wayside in favor of memorization and worksheet after worksheet. Instead of teaching a few things at a time and teaching them well, teachers are expected to juggle multiple concepts at a time, moving forward after minimal achievement. J.T. has worked on addition, subtraction, double and triple digit addition and subtraction, geometric shapes, quanities, multiplication, area, estimating (concrete thinkers, which means most 2nd graders, find this very, very hard to understand), measuring, etc. For the most part, there has been a total of one week instruction per concept... not enough for this age group.

It frustrates me that these 'smart' people cannot grasp that memorization isn't learning! Merit pay for teachers doesn't work!! No one gets into teaching for the money... it is insulting to think that politicians assume that test scores are falling because teachers aren't working hard enough. Are there bad teachers? Yes. Bad policy is what is strangling our educational system. Shoving facts in and asking them to be regurgitated back out in the form of an a, b, c, or d test shouldn't be considered shooting for the stars.

I am working on plans for hands-on, thinking activities for the kids to do this summer. The feeling that we must desperately supplement their learning gnaws at the back of my brain. I'm very concerned that a generation is coming along that won't have been given the best opportunities to develop their talents and knowledge into satisfying life and career choices.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Accidentally


I'm thinking of doing an in-depth study of phrases used in our household. I'm curious to see where this one ranks:

"But it was an accident!"

The following "accidents" have happened recently 'round our place.

J.T. "accidentally" opened the playroom window, pushed the screen out, and dropped Abby's fave Barbie cell onto the ground. Where the dog was thrilled to find it, even more thrilled to have a cranky lady chase her down and wrest the much slobbered upon plastic from her.

Abby "accidentally" poured all the decorative pebbles out of the candle jar in the guest bathroom. Then "forgot" how to pick them up.

J.T. "accidentally" poked Abby in the ribs and she "accidentally" pushed him back.

There was an "accidental" splashing incident at bathtime, an "accidental" meeting of blue marker and armchair, AND an "accidental" chocolate chip cookie theft.

Do you have these kinds of "accidents" at your place?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ooooo, such GRACE!

Ms. Abigail has suffered the undignified female response to an antibiotic regimen, necessitating a trip to the grocery store to restock our yogurt supply. Guess what I did, right in the middle of the dairy aisle at the Bi-lo?

Coordinated, ever graceful me, managed to fall down. Luckily I caught myself with my FACE and my right knee.

Was the floor wet, you ask? No.

Did someone spill something, a coke or a glass of sweet tea? No.

Some small fry wrapped around your leg, greatly inhibiting your ability to balance yourself? No.

Remember those lovely black peep-toe pumps I purchased last summer? They're a death trap. Doing nothing more complicated than walking, I managed to get the heel of my right pump caught in the insole of the left one. Which meant the stupid laws of gravity and momentum carried me face and knee first into the floor. Talk about embarrassing. Luckily nothing more than my pride was damaged beyond repair. My knee, however, is swollen and I am using it to my advantage. While I sit here typing with an ice pack on the bruised appendage, Rob has already bathed the boy and cleaned up the kitchen. Our washer broke this morning, so he is taken the half-washed load over to his mother's later.

I would love to sign up for one of Stomper Girl's tap classes. But can you imagine the disasters awaiting me in a pair of tap shoes?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Restaurant

Tonight we played "Restaurant" at Abby's request. Our menu featured the following and only the following:



It actually turned into a very clever way to get help with cleaning up the countertops. The flour spilled all over a freshly mopped floor was worth it. No WHINING!



Our customer has been sick with the flu for most of the week. Cookies were deemed an excellent antidote.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carried by Love

Mother has finished her chemo! She has actually been done for about a month and a half. Her hair is growing quickly and is lovely, chic and short right now. Thick and a little wavy.

It is so exciting for us. Of course it is most exciting for her. No more sticks, pokes, prods, blood work and tests. She has her Thursdays back! She has all her days back. We have her back.

I have said the words 'thank you' many times over the past year. We have had so many to thank. Kind friends who have visited, delivered food, mailed cards, taxied to and from appointments and called with words of encouragement and support. Someone else once commented that on our toughest days, we are carried by love. That is how we feel. Carried by love.

The following Monique Duval quote is one I read on another blog today. Another dear friend is facing a struggle and I hope she is carried by love as well. And that this quote strikes a chord with her as it did with me this morning.

"Then swing your window open,
the one with the fresh air and good eastern light
and watch for wings, edges, new beginnings...”
- Monique Duval

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Post That Wasn't


We're back! Healthy, for the most part. Rob is still feeling the lingering effects of his sinus/cough/icky illness. Abby is definitely back to 'normal'... normal for her anyway.

This post was to have been a lovely little video of the Abster singing (yelling) "We Will Rock You!" Blogger doesn't like our wmv file though. Perhaps the 60 MB size was too much for google to handle? Perhaps blogger sensed that you would be traumitized by the graphic nature of this little home movie?

Here's the verbal trailer: "Abby, fresh from the bath, freshly gowned, hair still wet from the tub, opens our show with a unique rendition of the classic Queen song, "We Will Rock You!" Our heroine follows up this number with an encore performance of "All Summer Long," by Kid Rock, (yes I'm aware that this qualifies as child abuse and I will probably burn for it) featuring backup by her glamorous female parent, all dolled up in yoga pants (okay, they're pajama pants, but yoga pants and pajama pants are nearly identical, so why would you pay money for yoga pants when pajama pants serve the same purpose and you could spend that money on trashy paperbacks, hmmm?), workout top and sneakers, no makeup and a hairstyle that can only be described as, post-workout slick. An image that might actually inspire a spontaneous chorus of "Fat-bottomed Girls".

Southern accents abound and you are sad that you did not get to hear these performances and a couple of Hannah Montana electric guitar solos. Which were made all the more fabulous by the fact that the battery was dying. Perhaps the cats could have done backup for those? The effect probably would have been the same. Look out American Idol.

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