Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

What a lame week!  A post everyday last week and then not a single word this week.  The truth is that I haven't been able to write a post as Max and I have been undergoing marriage counseling for his Chevy Chase addiction.  And also, the week after Christmas is really busy.  We lost all our tree ornaments in a freak Christmas tree fire.  And New Years is coming up so I've been training to prepare myself to stay up and awake until 1 AM...or much, much later if I have a Red Bull. 

With the New Year arriving so very soon I have a whole list of resolutions to make for 2011.  This takes an exceptional amount of time as well since I want the list to reflect how ambitious, giving, energetic, creative, and caring I am.  As I don't intend on keeping a single one of them it really takes quite a bit of thought to write that perfect list.  But this year, I will totally keep one of my resolutions, Number 86:  To create a beautifully decorated and creatively assembled scrapbook of our wonderful holiday season and to send a New Year's card to all my family and friends.  These two are kinda a packaged deal.  I figure if I can actually complete one of them, how hard can the other one be?

Come to think of it, I should really be able to check off Number 2:  To do a load of laundry so our kids don't have to keep turning their underwear inside out.  That should be a "doable" resolution.   

2011 is going to be great!  I am beginning to feel like this will be the year when I finally live up to my self-titled autobiography "Mom of the Year".  I will pack healthy lunches everyday, remain calm when my children are having meltdowns at the check-out line, suggest reasonable well-thought-out solutions to fights which start with the words, I had it first!, vacuum everyday, and keep my car from resembling a nuclear waste facility by cleaning it out once a month. 

My kids are husband are going to be so impressed.  I can't wait. 

Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Five Posts of Christmas, Number 5









(Please play along and sing to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas)
On the 5th Day of Christmas my blo-og said to me

This was really ha-rd

5 days is too mu-ch

I don't have that much to sa-ay

Let's go back to 2 days

and this is my last post of the week!

It's Christmas Eve!  Tonight, Santa will be feeding the reindeer, packing up the sleigh, kissing Mrs. Claus good bye and heading out for a long evening of delivering gifts to good (and sometimes not great but still deserving) boys and girls.  My kids feel confidant they have done everything they can to be on the Nice List.  My middle child has even informed me that she has it on good authority that the elves DO NOT in fact have the resources to make coal, so kids on the Bad List should be safe.  Perhaps Santa will be going for solar panels, wind turbines or some other green technology to give to those kids this year?


For my last post of Christmas week, I have to share with you the letter my oldest daughter wrote to Santa.

Dear Santa,

You are so nice to your elvs.  Do you know that?  Do you?  Do you?  You do.

You giv presints to uthr childrn.  That is so nice.  Do you know that?  Do you?  Do you?  You do.

I think you make peple happy.  Do you know that?  Do you?  Do you?  You do.

I rele like you Santa.  I am not lying.  I'm serius.  Do you know that?  Do you?  Do you?  You do.

Love,
Me


My favorite thing about this letter is that she never once asks for a gift.  It's as if she's buttering him up for the ask.  "Dear Santa, you might recall how great I think you are from my earlier letter.  Do you?  Do you?  You do.  I forgot to mention that in addition to you just being a great guy...I would love a make-up kit and a diary."  She'll make a great fund-raiser one day.

Perhaps lawyering might be in her future as the tone of her letter could come across as an interrogation of sorts.  Like at any moment she's going to proclaim, "And it was you, Santa, who killed Professor Plum in the conservatory with the candlestick! Do you know that?  Do you?  Do you?  You do!"

I cannot wait for Christmas morning.  It's magical.  And for just a few short years, Max* and I get to relive the magic of this time of year through the eyes of our kids.  Saturday morning, we turn back into kids ourselves as we all rip open our presents, play with our new toys, reach our hand way down into our stocking a couple of times to make sure we got everything out, and just be thankful for the love and laughter of our family.

That is, assuming our tree hasn't spontaneously combusted.

Merry Christmas!!!


*names have been changed to protect the identity of my husband who actually still believes in Santa.  Don't ruin it for him!


...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Five Posts of Christmas, Number 4

How Chevy Chase Ruined My Marriage
A few years ago, I realized that my marriage was not as it appeared to be.  Don't get me wrong, I still loved my husband.  He was sweet, loving, compassionate, funny...I could go on and on.  But I made a discovery that changed everything.

Before I get to that moment let me tell you something...Max* makes me laugh.  Always has.  I love the little things he says that can sometimes cross the line but that in the end almost always make me giggle.

"Max is just so clever." I have often bragged to my friends. "He comes up with the craziest, most original sayings."

Then, one night a couple of years ago, Max and I watched Caddyshack together.  As we're watching something keeps tugging at my brain.  I had never seen the movie, but something about it seemed overly familiar.

Huh.  I shrug off the feeling and watch the rest of the movie.

A few weeks later we decide it's time to watch Christmas Vacation.  As we're watching, I get that same tugging at my brain I'd had with Caddyshack.  It starts to bug me.  What is it?

The next day we are setting up our Christmas tree.  We bring it into the house and I pause, trying to figure out where we should put it that year.  Max lumbers past me up the stairs with the tree.

"Hey, Max!"  I ask. "Where are you gonna put that tree?"

Max turns around and with a smile says, "Bend over, I'll show you!"

And that was the moment my world came tumbling down.  I felt like Neo waking up in The Matrix to find the world he thought was real was only a dream.  Everything started to make sense.  I began to think back upon all of Max's "witty" remarks.

Like the time in college when he came to visit me at my parents.  He drove up in a new car and when my dad commented on what a nice car it was, Max looked at him and said, "Now, don't go falling in love with it, Charlie.  'Cause I'm takin' it with me when I leave here next month!"

I laughed so hard at my funny boyfriend.

Or just about every time I hand him something he's asked me for, like a beer for example, he says to me, "Thank you very little."  Or if I can't get him something he's asked me for, like a beer for example, he then says to me, "Well, tanks fer nothin'!"  If I'm being honest, over the years those two sayings have produced more eye-rolling from me than giggles.

Or how about the time our friends came over to meet our new little baby boy.  As they bent over to give him a kiss, Max warns, "I wouldn't do that if I were you.  He's got a lip fungus they ain't identified yet."  

Aww, crap.  Now I understand why every Christmas when we brought our homegrown, mountain tree into our home, Max gazes at it lovingly and says, "Little full, lotta sap."

Or when I beg him to please stop asking me to "bend over.." he says, "You'll get nothing and like it."

The laughter of our marriage is completely based on Chevy Chase movies.  What other movies could he be stealing his lines from?  How could I never have noticed before now?  I thought he was so original.
So I decided to confront Max about my discovery.  It was time for him to fess up.

"Max!  I have just realized that all those "funny" things you've said to me over the years have been ripped from Chevy Chase movies.  You are not the man I thought you were!  I bet you can't come up with a single original funny thing to say to me!"

Max is quiet for a minute.  Then takes a breath, looks at me and says, "Gambling is illegal in Bushwood, sir.  And I never slice."

Disappointed, I retort "Are you serious?  You can't even try to be original?   Where is that funny man I fell in love with, Max?" I say sadly.

Max's face falls.  I feel terrible.  He looks so dejected.  I'm about to say something to make him feel better when...

"Bend over I'll show you."  He says with a smirk.

Bugger.



*names have been changed, but this time just because.
...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Five Posts of Christmas, Number 3

The Best Christmas Present Ever

I had a really bad day last week.

After four weeks of crutches, sitting, no exercise, watching my husband take on everything to do with the house, kids and still do his job, and witnessing the slow, painful death of an orderly house, I am embarrassed to admit I felt sorry for myself.

It was only one day.  But it was a bad day.

So what did I do?  I called my sister and my mom.  And I cried.  Oh yes, I can cry.  They felt bad for me.  That was nice.  I felt better and a bit sheepish for feeling sorry for myself in the first place.  But, my eyes were dry and I was ready to face the next day with the knowledge that I was loved and that this is FAR, FAR, FAR from the worst thing that could happen.

Then I get a call from a friend.  She cleans houses for a living and she had just received a phone call from my mama.  As an early Christmas present (which from my Christmas Post Number 1 you know I LOVE early presents) they have arranged for her to clean my house before my guests arrive.

Are you serious?  How fabulous is that?  Is it too much to try and located some fine silver and pretend I need it to to be polished?  This is just so great.  I don't have to face the self-destruction of my house on crutches.  I have help!!

But now, I'm looking around the house and I'm starting to get a bit nervous.  What will she think of me?  Should I clean up a bit before she gets here?  She's my friend and it would be sad and awkward if she started to avoid me after this.

Okay, the state of our bathrooms is quite frankly, unspeakable.  Maybe I'll clean those first.  It appears as though a roving band of Armageddon survivors ripped through our kitchen looking for anything edible.  Crayons, toys, underwear, pine needles from our dead tree, homework, random pieces of paper and I really don't know what else litter most available floor space.

I'll just do a quick scrub of the really bad places...which is practically the entire house.  But this is still such a great present because it's not like I have to clean all that well...just enough so that my friend will think that I'm one of those super-clean, highly organized people who complain that their house is a "mess" as soon as the pillows on the couch are moved. 

I will just work through the night and be ready to open the door and accept her help in the morning.  What a great plan!  What a relief that I don't have to clean the house.

Thanks Mom and Big Sis for getting me the greatest Christmas present ever!


You really do not want to miss
How Chevy Chase Ruined My Marriage


....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Five Posts of Christmas, Number 2


Will Santa leave presents if our
tree gets tossed before Christmas?

We have a tradition.  Every year, we drag three frozen snot-nosed, crying children in negative degree weather to find our perfect Christmas tree.  We gather around the tree, take a picture of it in its natural habitat, chop it down, sing a carol, then drag the bawling kids and the tree out of the forest and go home.


I should really stop saying we "chopped" a tree down because in reality what you do is kinda saw at it.  Which takes all of 2 to 5 minutes as there is nothing Paul Bunyan-like about practically pulling your Christmas tree out of the earth like a weed.  These trees are not full.  In fact, you see more trunk than branches. 

But it's tradition, damn it.  And I like it. 

This year....we DROVE to a local garden store and BOUGHT a tree.  A tall, beautiful, full tree.  My husband was in love and content.  No crying, frost-bitten, hungry kids to worry about.  No skimpy, light-challenged tree to put up.  Once decorated, it looked like the tree straight out of Clara's crazy Nutcracker Prince dream.


Since the beauty went up, Max* just stares at it in wonder.  His eyes literally light up if he just happens to glance at it.  Is it pathetic to say the tree makes me jealous?  What's wrong with our mountain tree?  It might not be the prettiest tree ever, but it has wonderful family memories that come with it.  Warm memories with the following highlights:
  • The year I was pregnant and Max had to carry the crying baby and the tree out of the forest.
  • The year I got the stomach flu AFTER we had hiked a mile to find our tree.  I crawled back to the car while Max carried the two crying babies and the tree out of the forest.
  • The other year I was pregnant and Max had to carry two crying babies and the tree out of the forest.
  • The year we drove around for three hours looking for the group of other tree cutting revelers we were supposed to meet.  We all cried that year.
  • And last year, after we found our tree, the sled strings broke so Max had to hold and push three crying babies while I carried the tree out of the forest.
You see?  These are the kind of touching, heart-warming memories I think about with our home grown, mountain trees.  You really can't buy these kind of family bonding traditions with an imported tree.

I will admit that I have allowed myself to enjoy the fullness of our tree this year.  It is refreshing that the branches can hold their own against the weight of the ornaments.  I even began to let go of my favorite holiday tradition of dragging things out of the forest in favor of delightful family trips to the garden store every year. 

Until last week.  I noticed something odd.  The tree looked, well, a little peaked.  I looked closer and noticed that its once soft, green needles were hard, crunchy and brown.  On the floor, dozens upon dozens of needles lay in their final resting place. 

Our iconic Christmas tree was dead.  Is dead.  It's now a week later, and it continues to be dead.  I can actually hear my no-heat LED lights sizzling as they lay on the crumbling branches.

Christmas morning is four whole days away.   I'm tempted to take down the tree tonight and tell the kids that the Elf on the Shelf did it.  They might believe it.  No they won't.  So, I will keep the tree up until 12:01 AM on December 26.

And next year (triumphant bugle sound) tradition returns!!


*names have again been changed to protect the identity of my husband, but this time because he won't admit that his tree is actually dead


And tomorrow...
The Best Christmas Present Ever

....

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Five Posts of Christmas, Number 1


Mrs. Claus Goes Shopping on Crutches

My Grass is Purple presents The 5 Posts of Christmas.  For this week, I'm challenging myself to write a post everyday.  Why, you ask?  Because last week after 25 days, my leg cast was taken off.  I still shudder when I think of it and my husband has yet to look me in the eye.  So I will write and hopefully, leave that memory in the distant past.

 The 5 Posts of Christmas might make you laugh, cry, learn a new recipe for fruitcake or discover an amazing craft to do as a family (yeah, right...have you ever read my blog?) Or just make you thankful that you don't live in my head.   But, please share your holiday moments with me or a link to your own holiday post.  I'd love to hear them.  Seriously.

Here goes....
 
Saturday night, Mr. Claus and I visited the elves to pick out our gifts for the kiddos.  Mr. Claus and I LOVE our tradition of frantically running to the store during the week of Christmas to fill our sleigh.  It has nothing to do with Black Friday craziness, Sunday coupons, Cyber Monday, or any savings whatsoever. Not because we wouldn't like to save money, but because we are terribly disorganized and lack the "I'll do anything to save a few bucks" gene. 

The evening went something like this:

clank, rattle, hop, clank, rattle, hop (crutches are LOUD on linoleum) 
1st aisle of the store (only 449 aisles to go)
"Mr. Claus! Let us look closely at each and every one of the toys on this one aisle.  Then, we will handpick the perfect toy or game for each one of our lovely children. When we have scoured this aisle we shall move to the next aisle and do the same."

clank, rattle, hop, clank, rattle, hop 
2nd aisle of store
"Mr. Claus! How is it possible that we have only one small (yet surely, perfect) gift in that large basket?  At this rate, Christmas will be over before we finish up our shopping.  Ta-ha!" (Nervous giggle.)

clank, rattle, hop, ouch!, clank, rattle, hop, ouch!
3rd aisle of store
"Mr. Claus!! Why do the elves allow so many screaming, whining, and gravity fighting children into their workshop on a Saturday night? Their Christmas cheer has caused a horrific pounding in my head."

...quite a bit later...clank, rattle, hop, sigh, clank, rattle, hop, sigh
around the 45th aisle of store
"Mr. Claus!?! (said quite shrilly) Come to think of it...this past year has been filled with many, many timeouts for hitting, talking back and just general pissiness.  Perhaps one toy and a pair of socks would be sufficient to express our love?"

clank, rattle, hop, sniffle, clank, rattle, hop, sniffle 
Upon reaching the checkout lane and learning the total:
"Mr. Claus!?!?! For this amount, we could have flown to Vegas, played Blackjack while drinking for free, slept in, stayed out late, gambled some more, slept in again and perhaps even brought some of our winnings home to fix the sleigh. Then, we could have generously given our loving children a beautiful refrigerator magnate saying something to the effect of "My parents went to Vegas" or "Santa won big in Vegas" or "Don't ask the reindeer what happened in Vegas!"


By the time I retired for the evening with Mr. Claus, we were another few tens of dollars lighter from paying the babysitter and my hands, head and remaining good leg, knee, and hip felt every bit as achy and old as the real Mrs. Claus.  But now, I have to wait an ENTIRE WEEK for Christmas morning.  As a rule, when I buy gifts, I wait until the last possible moment to give it.  Because if I feel like I've really gotten the right gift, I just can't wait for the person to open it.  I have been known to encourage the recipient of my gifts to open them early.  So, now I have to stand strong against the kids insistent begging and pleading to open a gift for five whole days.  Ugh!  Why didn't we wait and do our shopping on the 23rd like normal? 

I'm terrible at waiting.






The Five Posts of Christmas, Number 2:
Will Santa leave presents if our tree gets tossed?
....find out tomorrow

















Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Poinsettia That Lived

Buy me. 

What?

Take me home.

Who said that?  You sound a lot like Mr. Darcy.
 
You can take care of me.

Oh, no I can't.  I can barely take care of my husband.  Sometimes, I forget we live together and make dinner just for me. It's kinda embarrassing.

I'll make your house look festive and beautiful, plus I'll purify the air. 

W-ell, that sounds nice.  I guess it would be a good idea to decorate for Christmas.  Very Martha Stewart of me. 

It was Christmas 2000.  I was married, barely.  No kids. No dog.  No responsibilities.  It was just like college.  Except for the cat.  I had to feed her.  And the husband. I had to feed him, too. 
 
I was in produce when I heard the call.  Over the apples and across the store I saw it.  Its leaves were a deep, Christmas green.  Rudolph's nose could not have been redder than those beautiful blooms. 

It was THE yuletide plant.  Churches were filled with their satiny white and red flowers.  Homes across our great nation had at least one, possibly more adorning doorsteps, mantels, tables, and fireplaces.

The problem...I am not a friend to plants.  Some would say I am their mortal enemy. 

Hush...the poinsettia whispered to me...you can do this.

"Yes!  Yes I can!"  I announce to produce.


"Uh, ma'am?  Can I help you?"

Stupid helpful, produce boy.  Must you call me ma'am?

So I buy that beautiful poinsettia, bring it home and ceremoniously place it on our hearth (fancy Christmastime word for fireplace).  The plant soon inspires me to decorate everywhere in red, green and twinkling lights.  My house had never looked so festive.

Thank you, poinsettia.

You're welcome.

Before I knew it, we had opened our presents, shared a wonderful meal and rung in the New Year.  Another Christmas was behind us.  Time to put the decorations away.  I placed my meager collection of ornaments, lights, and holly into a box when I reached for the poinsettia.

What are you doing?

 Uh, Christmas is over...so, I'm, uh, you know...putting away the decorations.  And, well...you're a decoration so...in ya go!

I'm a plant.  A LIVING plant.  Look!  I have beautiful new blooms coming up on this side.
 
Interesting.  Stupid produce boy did not say anything about what to do with the poinsettia AFTER Christmas. Doesn't holiday cheer or something like that keep it alive?  It must, because I feel pretty confident that I haven't watered the plant yet.  Do I keep it?

Yes, you idiot...I mean, please do, if you'd be so kind, miss.

Oh now.  Miss is totally acceptable to call a woman in her late 20's.  I love poinsettias. Especially when they sound like Mr. Darcy.  They are so great!

So I decide to keep my handsome poinsettia and ceremoniously place it back on my hearth (fancy Mark Darcy sounding word for fireplace).  And I even give it a drink of water.

Christmas 2001.  I play our one Christmas CD, get out the box of decorations and begin the joyful process of transforming our ordinary home into a winter wonderland (but inside, and with heat).

He-ll-o!

I didn't remember poinsettia sounding so much like a snippy Alan Rickman.
Well, hello, poinsettia.  It's your time to shine.  Let's dust you off.  I really can't believe you made it a whole year.

Me either as you watered me no more than 2 or 3 times.  I think the most moisture I got was when the damned dog peed on me. 

That is surprising.  Sorry about the dog - he's new.  But please watch your language...it's Christmas.


Against all odds, my little poinsettia survived that Christmas, Christmas 2002, a move across the country in 2003, Christmas 2003, and a move back across the country in 2004.  I must admit that over time it did loose a bit of its luster.  The beautiful green foliage turned mostly a dull brown...and then fell off.  The red blooms wilted...and also fell off.  In the end its only resemblance to an actual poinsettia was the shiny green cellophane tied onto the planter with a gold ribbon.

Sadly, my poinsettia never made it to Christmas 2004.  Some have suggested it was because I never re-potted it - whatever that is.  Others have pointed out that watering might have made a difference.  But we live in a dry climate.  A few have pointed out that it was strange that my poinsettia talked to me in the first place.  Whatever.  

But here's the thing...I kept a plant alive for four years!!!  For me, that is a badge of honor I wear proudly to this day.  And then, a few short years ago I was at the grocery store, yet again.  It was Christmas.

Buy me.

Oh, crap.  This one sounds like Daniel Craig.  Not again.
I can see the new poinsettia beckoning to me.  This is awkward.  But I just smile and keep on walking.  Because this year, at Target, I made the most amazing discovery!  Fake plants!  I bought a non-alive poinsettia.  But it looks totally real.  And the very helpful sales woman, who was in her 60's and called me young girl (LOVED her), said that it won't ever lose its leaves or blooms and I don't have to water it, or do anything with dirt, or talk to it.  And after we ring in the New Year, I get to pack it away with all the other decorations.

Merry Christmas!!








.....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pat, I'd like to solve the puzzle...Sibling Rivalry!

I have a sister.  And I adore her.  But, it wasn't always this way.  Is this the never-ending tale of sisters?  We fought.  And some of those fights were epic.  Like the time I threw our ceramic dog at her and broke it.

There are two things seriously wrong here.

First, to this day, I still don't understand why in the world my parents owned a ceramic dog.  They aren't the type.  And the way I remember this dog, it was just like that dog that no one ever purchased on the old Wheel of Fortune.  Remember?  Those were the days when Vanna had to physically turn the letters.  And contestants spent their prize money on random items spinning around on a gigantic lazy susan.  One of those items was a huge ceramic dog.  That no one ever bought.  And I broke it, or one just like it.

And second, I'm pretty sure she started it.

You see, I'm the second born and middle child.  It's a heavy load, I can assure you.  As a child, I just wanted everyone to love me, all the time.  All I wanted from my sister was her unconditional love, acceptance, encouragement in all things, play time, and, well, I also really wanted to read her diary.

So, on this particular day, I was reading her diary.  And let me tell you, she did not write nice things about me at all.  I was not a baby.  I did not say mean things to her.  And I DID NOT HAVE A TEMPER.  It was such an unfair representation of me.  How could she?  If my best friend Misty saw this she would leak it to the entire first grade! (Oohh!  Misty could make me so mad, too.  Was the whole world against me?)

Here's what happened when she found me:

"MISSY, are you reading my DIARY?!?  That's my private diary!  Put it DOWN!"

"Yeah, I am.  So what?  You can't make me!" I probably said this after I stuck my tongue out at her...in self-defense.

"Stay out of my things, you little twit!" she screamed as she ripped the diary out of my small, defenseless hands, "This is PRIVATE!!!"


For obvious reasons, this made me really, really, mad.  So I picked up that stupid, Wheel of Fortune dog and threw it - just to show her how mad she made me.  And also because children have no control of their feelings or actions.  At least that was the defense I was prepared to present to my parents if that dog actually hit her.


But it didn't.  Instead, upon floor impact it cracked and the dog's head fell off.  We both just stared at the dog.  Up until this point, our fights had never led to the destruction of household items.  This was bad. 

But here's the best and most surprising part.  Instead of running off to tell mom, or berating me for being exactly the kind of kid her diary was all too familiar with, my sister knelt down, picked up the dog, and said we, that's right we, needed to fix it.  I was floored.

My...sister...really...loved...me.  Y-E-S!!  I'm not sure how reading her diary did it, but she must finally realize that despite our three year age difference, I was probably the coolest kid she would ever know.  And to prove it, she was going to show me how to avoid telling the truth to our parents.  She was the best role model, ever. 

Fortunately, my sister did not lead me down a path of destruction and cover-ups.  Our relationship was not exactly what I pictured it would be in the years that followed.  (To be honest, I did envision me sharing a room with her, wearing her clothes and reading her diary whenever I wanted.)  But, over time she became my best friend, really and truthfully.

Over the years, I have often glanced at my daughters and thought how lucky they are to have each other.  They will cherish one other, just like I cherish my big sis, I think.

But now...they have begun to fight...and in much the same way my sister and I used to fight.

Sigh.  The never-ending tale of sisters continues.  I have secured ceramic dogs, nailed bookshelves to the walls, and put away all toys which can be used as weapons.  I worry about them.  Will they ever be friends?  Will they ever love each other again?  And then...

...a few nights ago, I sent the girls up to the bathroom to brush their teeth.  As usual, they had been bickering about one thing or another all day.  I knew that eventually I would have to hobble up there (crutches, remember) to stop the inevitable fight.  Then...laughter.  Little girl giggles, which are literally the best kind of giggle.  I hear,

"Hold still, sweetie.  You got toothpaste all over your hair.  HOLD STILL!  I will get it out."

I hobble anyway, just so I can take a peek.

I see my 6 year old with a kind and loving smile on her face wiping the toothpaste out of her little sister's hair.  I see my 4 year old gazing up at her sister with a goofy grin and absolute adoration in her eyes.

Is this their moment?  The moment they will hold onto over the fights to come? The moment that will guide them to that late night teary phone call to the one person who will understand?  The moment that forever reminds them that having a sister is a built-in best friend?

"HOLD STILL!!!  Stop staring at me like that!"

"Hold still.  Stop staring at me like that." Her little sister repeats.

"STOP IT!"

"Stop it!"

Damn.  Maybe not this moment.  But I'm sure it will happen...eventually.




...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dead Poets Society Lied...and Laundry

You may remember that I recently broke my foot.  As my blog is barely 6 posts old, if you don't recall the broken foot ordeal, then you have a terrible memory.

No worries.  I cannot remember a person's name one second after meeting them.  It's true.  I will meet someone and at the moment we exchange names, I say to myself, Remember her name!   Unfortunately, I'm usually saying this at the same moment she is saying, "Hi, my name is Alice."


Anyway, about my foot, what's your name.  Since I'm on crutches and not supposed to 'bear weight' on injured foot, I cannot do most of what I'm supposed to be doing as the Household Manager and Offspring Negotiator/Program Coordinator (HMONPC).

I like titles.  It helps every year when I re-negotiate my health benefits.
Here's my current plan:
  • at least 6-7 low-key happy hour get-togethers with close friend
  • 1 always regrettable night out with the girls where I remind myself that I'm too old, too married, and too mom-like since I inevitably end this evening counseling a young girl about her choice of non-existent skirt/shirt/underwear and/or am called "ma'am"
  • monthly book club attendance which is always canceled because no one ever reads the book
  • at least 2 to 3 bottles of wine in rack at all times
  • and, exercise time (exercise time may be substituted with "relaxing sleep-in time" in case wine consumption has interfered with sleep or exercise motivation)
It's a pretty good plan.  We have private insurance.

But the point here is my broken foot.  Since every activity I do as the HMONPC requires mobilization, my job duties have been severely affected.  One household job this has devastatingly affected is Housekeeping.  In short, the house appears to have been overtaken by the children.

It probably comes as no surprise that I don't like cleaning my house. I really, really don't.  When I decided to stay home with the children, I had no idea what this would really mean.  I envisioned my time at home as more Dead Poets Society.  With tears in my eyes, I pictured the day when my children would stand up on their push-toys or high chairs in response to some inspiring mommy thing I just did and shout lovingly, "O Mommy, My Mommy."


I even downloaded some emotionally supportive music to play when this moment arrived. Maybe I need to show them the movie first.



The truth is that being a stay at home mom is nothing like being an inspiring English teacher at a private boy's school.  I'm pretty sure there was not one scene where Robin Williams is vacuuming the classroom, cleaning the dorm kitchen, or for Pete's sake, doing the LAUNDRY.

And that is what I intended for this post to be about today...Laundry.  It was going to be a well-defended thesis on why Laundry is the downfall of the modern mother.  I had examples, pictures, interviews, and in-color charts.


Unfortunately, as my posts tend to be a bit LONG WINDED at times, I will have to shorten my well-thought out, informative, and mind changing case against Laundry into one concise, powerful, but equally true statement.

In summary, Laundry flippin' SUCKS.

..

Monday, December 6, 2010

toxic confetti and seasonal wishes

Aack!  It's the holiday season. 

Did you know?  Really good moms take cute pictures of their kids.  Then, they actually develop those pictures and place them in beautifully decorated scrap books.  These moms might even take the time to write a sweet little note to a grandparent, include a picture or two, and then actually place note and picture in the mail to grateful grandparent, aunt or any other loving relative. 

I am not this mom.

And when the holiday season comes around these thoughtful and productive women gather the family together in a loving scene, snap a picture, add a holiday message and then, once again, mail the picture to family and friends.

Tis the season for me to fall short.

Actually, for most of my life I have often fallen short in all areas of paper correspondence.  At some point in my past I must have had a terrible encounter with the mailman. Or, maybe in a former life I was a dog.  

But, as this is the season of hope, I will tell you a story of when I almost lived up to the very high standards set by picture taking, Christmas card sending women.  While it's not a story of actual success, it's an almost-accomplishment which sometimes is as good as it gets.

A few years ago I was gazing out the window at the freshly fallen snow.  Gorgeous.  The Christmas tree was up and decorated and my few non-life threatening to children Christmas decorations were sprinkled around the house.  What a wonderful season!  I looked over at my then 2 1/2 year old daughter and her 8 month old sister.  Ooh, this is what family is all about.

A brilliant plan pops into my head.  "I should share this feeling with others," I declare out loud.  And with conviction, I announce,  "I will send out a Christmas card!"  Yes!  I have never had the motivation to send a Christmas card in the past, but watching my lovely children I just know that this is something I WILL and MUST do.

I turn to my husband, "Max*," I say enthusiastically, convinced that he will absolutely love and admire my idea.  "With a camera, I am going to take a picture of our two beautiful children and then I'm going to somehow affix that picture to a Christmas card with an inspirational and uplifting message about the season." As I talk, more smart card ideas keep forming in my quick-thinking mom brain.  "Also, I will handwrite a well-written but informative update on the intellectual progress of our two amazing children."

I turn to Max with a satisfied smile.  He says nothing.  Wow, he's really impressed with my idea, I think.

He still says nothing.  He is in awe of me.  And really, he should be.  Here I am, a full-time mom of two young children.  And yet, with such a busy season on hand I have the energy and creativity to share our happiness with others.  I wait patiently for his response.

"Babe," he begins, "Today is Christmas. Don't you think it's a bit late to send out a Christmas card?"

"Right."  Crap.  Okay, I will not let this stop me.  I am creative and persistent.  I cannot let the actual date of Christmas stand in my way.  It is a season, after all.

"I know that, babe.  Of course I know that.  I meant to say that this year I will send out a New Year's card."

So I immediately got started three or four days later.  Why rush?  New Years technically lasted, like, a month.  Right?  I'm pretty sure the check-out lady at the grocery store wishes me a Happy New Year until I start giving her the dirty please-stop-wishing-me-out-of-season-greetings look.  And loads of people leave up their decorations till March. (I have trouble talking about my feelings on that subject.)  Therefore, I had plenty of time.

I borrowed some black velvet for the back drop, dressed the girls in pink tulle and black velvet party dresses, and sprinkled confetti all around.  I stepped back and looked at my photo shoot set-up.  Impressive.  Maybe after I raise our kids and guide them towards successful adulthoods, I will become a well-known and famous kids photographer specializing in New Year's photo shoots.  Hmm. 

When the lighting was just right, I gathered the girls and set them gently on the festive backdrop.  I gave them various noisemakers then stepped back and immediately began taking professional quality pictures with my vintage model digital camera.

"Look at me, girls!"  The girls looked all around but not once do they look at the camera.  I will not get frustrated, I say to myself.  I am a creative, patient, full-time mom.  I try again.

"Hey, sweeties, look at mommy!  Look, at the camera!  PLEASE!  Take the confetti out of your mouths, please."  Oh, no.  Was that the non-toxic to children confetti?

"No!  Don't eat the noisemakers, baby!  And please don't put the confetti up your nose...take that OUT OF YOUR EAR!!"

Wait.  If the confetti is toxic, is it only toxic if eaten?  Is toxic confetti still toxic if it goes up your nose?  Why don't I read warning labels closer??  Okay, that will be my New Year's resolution, to read warning labels better.  Back to the shoot.

"Just one smile for Mommy girls!"  I'm beginning to sound a bit shrill.  But honestly, is it that hard to glance at least once at the woman who bore you?

I don't have much time to capture that perfect moment.  The light is fading and since I haven't replaced the ceiling fan lights since, oh crap, since....has it been since before we had kids?  Focus.  I have to get the good shot before that confetti is permanently digested.

Suddenly, both girls look at me (having nothing to do with the pillow I threw at them) and CLICK! I take the perfect, festive, celebratory New Year's picture of my lovely and cooperating children.  It will be the first of many.  Our friends and family will look forward to our creative and unique New Year's cards for years to come.  It will be a seasonal highlight.

Two weeks later, I realize that I should really get that picture developed.  And figure out how to affix it to a holiday card.  But then I decide that glue and scissors and craft stuff in general just really make things complicated.  And isn't glue toxic?

So I decided to use one of those photo web-sites that basically does it all for you.
I order 120 cards and envelopes and cannot wait for the day they arrive so I can see our lovely New Year's card in person.  I am going to send one to everyone we have ever known.  Finally, on the last day of January (still technically New Years!) they arrive.  I excitedly open the envelope and pull out our 1st Annual New Year's Card.

Huh.  Didn't realize the dog hair on the black velvet back drop would show up so well.  And is that a diaper in the corner?  Ah man.  You can see the pillow I threw at them...picture's a little fuzzy, too.  Wow, I didn't realize the confetti would clump like that - and all around the baby's mouth.  Okay.  Not perfect, but at least the girls are looking directly at the camera.  Success!!

A few weeks later, I sit down with the first card to write our very personal, touching and humorous note.  (Grocery store lady is still wishing me a Happy New Year so I'm well within the season.)  After getting a cramp in my hand from writing out the first note, I quickly decide that Happy New Year's says it all.  Simple, elegant, perfect...and already pre-printed on the card.

After several more weeks, I finish stuffing, addressing and stamping the last of our cards.  I can just see the look of love on our family and friend's (and a few people who I don't remember but I'm pretty sure we invited to our wedding) faces as they open up our computer-made, non-toxic cards and feel the warmth of our New Year's wishes while they stare into the slightly blurry, confetti ringed eyes of our two obviously intelligent children.

This is a really good mom moment for me.  I revel in it.

Five months later, while clearing out the toys, food bits, and socks that have made the annual migration to the couch down under, I find the box full of our stuffed, addressed and stamped New Year's cards.

Crap.  Did I forget to mail those?  I guess I don't actually recall taking them to the post office.  Is June still considered part of the New Year's season?  Let's see, I gave my stink-eye to the grocery store lady 3 weeks ago.  The guy's house on the corner is technically still decorated for Christmas, but he stopped turning on the lights in late May...guess the New Year season is officially over.  No sense in sending the cards now.  Wouldn't want to seem out-of-season to all our family and friends.

Hmm...okay...I will send one card to my sister's boyfriend's parents in Scotland.  With the time change and how far away it is, I'm sure it's still the New Year there. I will save another card...which will serve as the inspiration for the beautifully decorated and creatively assembled scrap book I will construct with non-toxic items.  I dump all the "extra" cards in the recycle bin.  No need for evidence.  And then...

"Baby girl, please stop sucking on that Sharpie." (Not sure if it's toxic as I forgot to read the warning label, but just to be safe.)

And, I will stop making silly New Year's Resolutions that I cannot keep.  My new resolution will be to make a beautifully decorated and creatively assembled scrap book.

How hard can that be?


Epilogue
Honesty is important.  As you may have guessed, I was not able to keep the scrap book resolution that year or any year since.  But, I have become VERY talented at identifying toxic hazards to children.  

*name of husband remains changed...this time to protect me as I never told him about the "recycling" and "non-using" of all those cards.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Grass Is Purple

The following story is from my 4 year olds point of view.  
This was her story to tell.

My mommy exaggerates.  She didn't fight a mountain lion, her feet are far from manicured, and her so called "mommy patience" superpower is often in the shop.  What IS true is that since she hurt her foot, she sits on the couch with her UN-manicured foot up, a lot.

On this particular day, I was playing nicely and quietly with my big sister, as we always do.  I had dressed her up in our baby brother's clothes and she was pretending to be my baby.  We love that "baby" game.  It's just the greatest.  If you ask me, I think we kids love that game because our baby time was too short.  We are forced to grow up too fast and before we know it, we go from cuddly toys, strollers and blankies to CHORES and SCHOOL.  Yeah, I know, it's only preschool, but still.

There I am, sitting on the arm of our couch, having a great time when...BAM!....(dots are great, Mommy!)...the next thing I know I'm falling.  And when I land on the carpet...I break my collar bone.  That's right.  That's two broken bones in the same family in just 3 days.  At least we know that this would definitely not be the right time for us to buy a lottery ticket.  So, there's that.

When we got home, I joined Mommy on the couch.  I started thinking about all the things I was going to miss - skiing, ice skating, swimming, swinging, playing - and, well, I started to cry.  (I am just 4.)  And as it happens with kids, my sister joined in with why life in general just isn't fair.  (She's 6 and knows a lot.)  Like, girls who have American Dolls when she doesn't, or kids who get to watch movies WHENEVER they want, and all sorts of other general unfairness.

But then Mommy says, "Well, girls, the grass is always greener on the other side."



Oh, great.  Here goes Mommy with another adult saying she will try to explain with many, many words.  So, because we can't help ourselves, we both ask, "What does that mean, Mommy?"

And then, like she does, Mommy explains.  And it goes on and on.  And to be honest, she kinda lost me.  So I started to think about fields and fields of green grass.  And that seemed nice.  But then I think to myself, why does the grass have to be green in the first place?  And, also, I really love rainbows, and singing, and when mommy puts my hair in a bun, and tutus, and...

"So, does that make sense, girls?" Mommy asks, interrupting my thinking.

"Sure, Mommy," I say, because that's what you say so they think you've been listening.  "Except that I don't think the grass is greener, because my grass is purple."

So now you know where that came from. 
And this is an exact account of how it happened.