Friday, December 31, 2010

How I Spent New Year's Eve... Eve

Yesterday was beautiful. The kids woke up late. We had a quick breakfast, lounged around for a while, I organized to sell some eggs to some friends because a complete lack of buyers over the Christmas holiday had left me with a vast surplus, and then we headed out. We went to a restaurant for lunch and then took the kids to Border's because I'm a complete book whore and am attempting to make the kids into them, too. Does that make me a book pimp?

When we got to the bookstore, M1 said something about having drunk enough Sierra Mist at the restaurant that he was going to throw up, but he seemed fine and picked out a couple of books - a complete visual encyclopedia of armored war vehicles and "The Phantom Tollbooth" - and so I figured it was nothing.

I wrenched my knee, we delivered eggs, we came home, I read a book while the kids played outside and Oz took down the outside Christmas lights, we watched TV and ate dinner...

And then the boy threw up and the girl freaked out about going to sleep because her nightmares have apparently returned, and while I'm trying to downplay them and give her the mental tools to make them go away on her own, she's still wiggin'. So I got her to go back to bed, and then the boy hurled again.

I didn't know vomit could have a HEIGHT radius. I'd never seen it four feet up a door before. Urp inside door hinges is a complete #*@%^ to clean. Between cleaning floors, doors, and keeping up with the general malaise he felt, it took me till 11 o'clock to get him to sleep.

I breathed a sigh of relief... 30 seconds too soon. The girl woke up and started crying because she thought the bad dreams were going to come get her again. Apparently this particular dream scared the bejeezus out of her, which isn't a good sign because she also got INCREDIBLY clingy at the bookstore when I told her no about something and almost lost her mind when we had company on Friday, which isn't like her at all and reminds me of the rigamarole we went through earlier this year... 2010... with the tantrums and such, and I'm having flashbacks and hoping against hope that this isn't a cycle. However, I got her to smile at the thought of her gerbil named Prince and the kindergarten class guinea pig named Princess talking to each other in Rodent Language, and she went back to sleep.

So I went to sleep.

The boy woke up at 2:13 and yakked on his bed, so I got to pull sheet duty, which was fine until I started the washer and realized that we were nearly out of laundry detergent, which when you have an Urper is NOT GOOD, so then I got to wake Poor Oz up and ask him to go to the store at 3 a.m. to get laundry detergent and Pepto-Bismol (and other stuff, but those were the big things). And he did this for me, which just goes to show how much of a keeper he is.

While he was gone, I tried to go back to sleep, but it was a lost cause. Just as I started to drift off, I heard, "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."

[pause]

"BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."

[pause]

"BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."

[Expletive] smoke alarm, I thought to myself. So I rolled over to text Oz and let him know that when he stepped in the back door, he'd need to grab some batteries to replace the ones that clearly were dying. Except that my phone refused to turn on. I knew it *had* been working because I'd texted Oz the shopping list half an hour earlier because nobody remembers a shopping list at 3 a.m., but now... nothing. I tried plugging it in, even though it had been charging since I went to bed and should have been fully charged, but nothing happened. I tried turning it off but got no response from that, either. Finally I sighed and decided to go throw the laundry into the dryer, watched a giant flash of lightning light up the bedroom windows, cursed to myself, and headed to the back door just in time to hear Oz finish swapping out the laundry himself.

Did I mention the blasted alarm was still beeping?

Turns out it was the CO detector that was beeping and giving the message "ERR - E09." I have no idea what that means other than that it's probably dead. Of course that couldn't have happened BEFORE Oz went to the store.

Pthththththth.

Oz went to try to sleep on the couch, and I tried to get back to sleep, too, after I doped the boy up on Pepto.

No such luck. There was a storm, for one, and as soon as that was about over, the boy donated the Pepto to the carpet and spent most of the rest of the night huddled in the bathroom in his underwear with the room heater on full blast because he had the chills. The girl got up about 5:15 to use the bathroom. I think the boy and I both sacked out about 6. I don't think Oz slept at all before he left to go help his brothers move into a new apartment, but I woke up at 9 to the girl and the boy talking in the living room, where the girl very much was hungry and the boy very much wasn't.

Gah.

The boy is asleep on the other couch right now. The girl is doing a puzzle and singing and talking nonstop. The man is waking up from a nap. And somewhere from the utility room, the dryer is working on load #5 (load #6 is hanging up to dry). The dishwasher needs to be emptied, too.

The temperature is dropping like a rock outside, and it's getting cloudy again, too. I do believe that New Year's Eve is going to have to be a non-celebration tonight. If this is what 2011 is going to be like, I'm going to crawl under a rock NOW. Wake me for 2012.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More Things the Girl Does

My girl is a barracuda.

She's one black wig and set of rockin' high heels away from being the spitting image of Lucy Liu in "Charlie's Angels" where she pretends to be the efficiency expert in a room full of high-school-mentality men. Know the scene? The one where she whacks her riding crop on a table and the whole room jumps? I giggle every time, right before I get an overwhelming scent of GIRL POWER and feel a little awesome even though my fat duff is the one sitting on the couch doing nothing.

Anyway, my daughter. I told you she had charisma.

Yesterday, she cleaned out her room. She had some stuff to give away and a fairly good-sized sackload of trash. From start to finish, cleaning took her about two hours, and she went through EVERYTHING. (I want her energy.)

Yesterday afternoon, I told the boy to go do the same. He shrieked like I was trying to kill him, but he agreed when I told him he could get back his confiscated-for-two-weeks DS if he completed the chore. (The DS was confiscated because he had been told NO MORE DS and was then caught playing the DS when he told me he was going to be reading a book. Yeah, Lego Indiana Jones does not equal "reading a book." Nice try, Mr. McFly.) Anyway, he has a few more toys than M2, but not much. However, three hours later, I couldn't even get inside the door of his room, it was so blocked with... stuff. He hadn't done anything other than disperse laundry throughout his room and turn on his radio full-blast to drown out the sound of his sister singing. I had known he would be overwhelmed by the job, so I had given him specific tasks, but he hadn't buckled down at all. It was utter chaos.

I didn't get him in trouble, though. Not at all. I just told him that he had to finish the job before we could go somewhere other than running errands this week and invited him to come have dinner.

Today, after running these errands, M2 asked if she could go into M1's room and help him finish the job since he had made essentially no progress before we left the house and really didn't seem motivated to get done any time this year. (I do forget sometimes that the boy really doesn't care if we ever leave the house again.) I said okay but that if I heard bickering, they would be separated instantly and that M1 woud be back on his own. I also agreed to pay M2 five bucks if she could motivate the boy, and he agreed that he would listen to her if she had good ideas.

I figured the plan would backfire, but eh, what the hey, she wanted to try. I'd had no success, so why not try Plan B?

We got home, ate lunch, and the children disappeared into M1's room. The door was left open by design. I went to my room to read and keep a close ear on things, but I could barely concentrate on the book because I kept hearing snippets like, "NO, M1, that doesn't go there!" and "What on earth do you have that for??" and "You can't stop. If you stop working, I stop working." and "No, if we keep moving, Mom promised to read us another chapter, remember?" and "I want my five bucks, so let's get done, okay?"

An hour and a half later, the boy's room was spotless. Everything was sorted and classified, bins were arranged by color (not kidding), everything was put away, and the trash was hauled out.

M2 - 1
M1 - 0
Mom - Flabbergasted

If it wasn't for child labor laws, I'd let the girl out for hire. She has one awesome work ethic. (And I still want her energy.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas...

My daughter sang to me...

500 songs or so.

The girl has a singing fetish. I wouldn't find this nearly as annoying if she ever stopped to breathe or at least punctuated the songs with bits of silence, but alas, such is not the case. She's also recently decided that my room is no longer off-limits and that she's invited in whenever her dainty little heart desires, and so I frequently find myself with a bra or shirt or pair of pants half on when a brazen 5-year-old chuffs in with a full head of steam and starts talking and singing for all she's worth.

I usually have to interrupt her with some version of, "Get out! You're not invited! Shoo!" at which time she stares at me with an appalled expression and stalks out like that's what she meant to do in the first place and how DARE I speak to Her Highness that way. And then she returns 45 seconds later with a whole new topic of conversation on the brain.

Tonight, after dinner, she sat on the couch with Daddy and cuddled up. She was in a cuddly mood due to the viewing of her brand-new copy of Tinkerbell, which made her tear up, which I thought was adorable.

Anywho, she cuddled up with Daddy. There was silence for two seconds. Then, "dum dum de dum dum, deee dee dee dum dum... deeeee deeee dee deeeeeeeeee."

Oz turned to her and gave her a tickle. "You just can't stop singing, can you?"

"NOPE!" she proclaimed, and then she danced off to the hall to do... something. I don't know. I do know that it was punctuated with various versions of "The 12 Days of Christmas." My favorite verse went something like this:

"Nine drummers drumming,
Eight drummers drumming,
Nine drummers drumming,
Eight drummers drumming,
Nine drummers drumming.

[slight pause]

"Six geese a-laying."

[slight pause]

"GOOOOOOLLD RIIIIIINGS."

Clearly the girl has mental dialoge going on in her head to fill in the blanks there.

I can tolerate much when it comes to babble and song. Really I can. And I love that she knows these traditional songs.

But I swear if I have to hear the songs from her school play one more time, I just might snap. There's only so much "POOOOOOR, POOOOOR SCROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGE!" one mom can take before she becomes one herself.

Deeep breathing. One day she'll never sing for me again and I'll miss this.

Then again, if I've truly become Scrooge, maybe I won't.

P.S. She's still wearing the kitten hat. She has accompanied it this evening with pink and orange floral pajamas, a white and purple scarf, and yellow dress socks. Thought you'd want to know.

G'night!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas (Part 1)

How was Christmas? We'll let's see. I've learned some things. The big thing I've learned is that anticipation isn't the worst part. Not by a long shot. It makes the kids nuts, but it doesn't wear them out and cause a massive case of sensory overload. Thankfully, M2 isn't too bad about that; she's an extrovert. M1, on the other hand, has told us it's bedtime REALLY early the past few nights because he is SO done. Bless his heart. Not that he's had bad days. It's just been constantly busy, and that takes a toll quickly on my poor boy.

He and Oz went up to Kansas on a fudge... I mean, Grandma-fetching mission on Thursday while the girl and I cleaned the house, made dinner, Parker House rolls (during the making of which I discovered my yeast was dead, which was a whole mess in and of itself), and gluten-free muffins. Grandma spent the night, which meant that I slept in the boy's bed while he kicked me with socked feet all night long and M2 shared a bed with Oz, and then we got up on Christmas Eve Day to greet...

Granny, who was bringing up the roast turkey that needed to be heated. She also brought up gifts, of course, and two boxes of rice pilaf-esque 'stuffing.'

Then my sister and her husband showed up [note the cheesy grins that she and my mom share? I hereby promise never to do the cheesy grin thing again in a photo. I might resemble my family and OMG who wants that?? ;) ]

We ate till we couldn't eat any more, and then we adjourned to open gifts.

My sister made these hats for the kids. You can't really see it too well on this shot of M2, because she'd much rather show off the chocolate-dipped pretzel than the hat, even though she's barely taken off the hat since she got it, but it has a cute pink nose and whiskers and gray/pink ears and looks remarkably like a kitten.

M1's looks like a wolf. Except in this shot, where it resembles a turban and makes him look like he's meditating, which he's not. He's mentally telling me to go take a hike with the camera. He doesn't like having photos taken of himself these days. *sigh* The teen years are sneaking up.

One of the best gifts of all Christmas, though, was this GO-CART. My grandmother bought it for them. It's electric, and it's not going to be something they can take out in the pasture, but it's got some speed to it, and they love it. Totally friggin' awesome. My mom and I discussed the go-cart while we did dishes later and wondered why we never got anything that cool when we were kids! (Answer: We were girls and technically the go-cart is Michael's but I'm not telling the kids that EVER. Gender roles don't come into play when there's a go-cart involved.)

We even rounded out the day with a family rendition of Beatles RockBand. Because who doesn't love a little "Yellow Submarine" at Christmas? And don't worry. We didn't leave M2 out. She commandeered the drums at one point and then found her niche at the mic and wouldn't let it go for anything short of guests leaving.

What a day.

Then Santa paid a visit, and we started all over again!

M2 got a bike she'd been wanting for ages (a tricycle doesn't really cut it when you're 4 feet tall and almost 6).

M1 got a box.

That contained another box.

And the second box contained a netbook.

Boy is spoiled.

I love this shot because the Christmas ornament I got for M1 was entitled "The Magic of Believing." Since this has been the Christmas he learned the "truth" about Santa, I wanted him to have this. I think he got it.


"Mom, do you have to take photos of us eating breakfast?"

It's been quite a day. We visited my in-laws and M1 came home with a 'dig your own rocks' kit and promptly started digging up rocks. On his bed. And when Oz and I made him move the gear to his desk, it became clear that it was bedtime. M2 didn't want to go to bed, either, since she'd just broken out her brand-new art set, but I assured them both that there would be time for that tomorrow.

Thank heaven my dad and his wife are in Hawai'i for Christmas! I don't think I could take another round! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and will join me in starting a new diet tomorrow!

Friday, December 24, 2010

In Which I Realize...

I'm definitely not Tiny Tim. I'm not even the Ghost of Christmas Past. I *might* be the Ghost of Christmas Present, assuming I'm the version from "Scrooged" starring the ever-lovable Bill Murray, 'cause dang, that girl kicks... everything. But she's annoying. I dunno, maybe I am, too. I have once been portrayed as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, and that was awesome, but I don't think I could fit into that gear any more, even in a cartoon form.

Don't ask.

I'm about one step away from Bah, Humbug.

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas and tradition and seeing the kids get excited.

I love it when Oz goes up to get my grandmother from my teensy tinsey town in Kansas and picks me up over 2 lbs. of homemade fudge from the drug store for something like $10 and there are four different flavors in the box. Hello, Peanut Butter Fudge. I can see you and my waistline are going to be GREAT friends.

I even love seeing the tree twinkle and watching the lights come on outside every night.

BUT. The shopping. The people. The pressure I put on myself for every holiday to be perfect. It eats me alive, and I wind up at some point during the holiday hating Christmas.

Argh.

I have to let go so that future Christmases aren't like that, but I'm not sure how. Right now I'm relaxing with fudge, wine, and a good friend. It's a start. Later I'm going to dope up the tree with gifts and sleep off my grandmother's visit.

And on that slightly somber note, have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!! (And I mean that from the bottom of my heart in the 'I know what it's like to NOT have a Merry Christmas so REALLY have a good one' kind of way!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kids vs. Fire

No, my kids didn't set anything on fire. I'm reasonably sure the boy would only do that if it occurred to him to use fire to conduct an experiment, and the girl wouldn't do it unless she was deliberately trying to kill me.

Don't ask how I know.

Anyway, all is well around here. When the children checked the Christmas chain this morning, it suggested that we "dress up and go out to eat."

The children spent a good 30 minutes bickering with one another about where to go. "Let's go eat Mexican!" "NO, Italian!" "No, I want fish! Red Lobster is the best restaurant ever!" "No, I want to go eat hamburgers, not fish! Mommy, Mommy, a hamburger is the ONLY thing I want. I'm not going to a stinky fish place!"

You get the idea. It was one of those times when Mommy has to step in and say, "OH MY GOD WILL YOU BOTH SHUT UP ALREADY!!!!"

OK, so I didn't actually say that, but I thought it really, really hard. In reality, I told them to hush or we wouldn't go anywhere at all.

I love making threats like that three days before Christmas because the Santa card isn't playing any more, especially with the boy. "Mom, we know the presents are already made. We've been good enough. And I've never met anyone who's gotten sticks." (At this point I mutter to myself something about him being the first. This is the boy who, when Oz and I were going over details regarding Lifestyles of the Incarcerated, didn't believe us and now wants to take a tour of the jail just to see if we're really right about all the surveillance and cheap food.)

I busted out the phone and started going through a list of restaurants and came across one that's a local version of a Benihana. It had been years since Oz and I had been there. The kids had never been. So Oz called and made reservations, and we got dressed in clothes that didn't have stains or holes (and M2 threw a fit because I made her put her boots inside her bootcut jeans and nobody was going to see the decoration, Mama) and off we went.

We were seated with two couples. We had a relatively young chef. And when he wrote the word "OIL" in oil on the griddle and lit it on fire, M1 nearly flew backward out of his seat. Thank heaven there was a wall behind him.

When he recovered, he rubbed his face and said, "He wrote the word oil, Mom... with oil."

"That's right," I said, impressed that he could read upside down.

He enjoyed the food and really liked watching the performance, up till the time when the chef created the onion stack and filled that with oil and drew a line across the griddle and lit the whole thing on fire again. I think he would have dove under the table if there had been a hole to dive into.

"Was that cool?" I asked him as he stared at me, owl-eyed.

"No. Do I have eyebrows? That was too close and too hot."

M2, on the other hand, laughed at his concerns. She promptly chirped, "THAT WAS COOL!!!"

Is it wrong that I agree with my girl on this one? There's just something about fire...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oh, Good Grief

Every year I swear I'm going to get a handle on the holidays and have things done early and plan ahead and make sure everything possible is done WELL BEFORE the children get out of school and take over the house in what has to be the most remarkable impression of the term Chaos I've ever seen in my life. (What gets my goat is that they don't do this during summer; only during winter break does the house officially turn into a haven for stray Nerf bullets and dinosaur bones and heaven only knows what else... I'm honestly scared to look.)

And every year something happens.

This year, I thought I was doing fantastic. I ordered the last big Christmas gift for the kids in October. During the last week of November, I ordered the last gift for Oz.

And during the second week of December, he went out and bought himself the same gift.

REALLY?!?!?!?!?

Now, he claims that he told me he was buying it and that I was playing a game on my phone at the time (probably Angry Birds Seasons because if there's anything better than Angry Birds, it's Angry Birds plowing through snow and Christmas presents like... well... like my children), and he should know that if I'm attempting to calculate the precise angle at which I should aim a bird at a particular green pig that I'm not really paying any attention to him, especially if the TV is on, which it was, and I can even tell you that it was Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. See? My memory isn't that bad. I just can't focus on the sound of his voice. And he can't fault me for that, because I can't even tell you how many times he's tuned me out, so it's my turn, dangit.

I don't have ADHD. I just have...



SQUIRREL!

Moving on. A box arrived from a particular ginormous online retailer who shall remain nameless but whose might start with A, and when Oz opened up the box and pulled out the contents and unwrapped them, I began mentally cursing.

Because it meant I wasn't done. He undid my beautiful early planning! Curses!

The children and I are now in cahoots. Plotting against Daddy is one of their favorite exercises. It's a Domination thing.

And I must say, they're remarkably good at it.

Merry Christmas, Sweetheart.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sanctimonious

I have been looking for an adjective to properly describe my daughter for... well... EVER. My husband came up with this one today. Sanctimonious.

It's true. She truly believes the world revolves around her and that she's always right. She usually behaves very well and often is right, but that's not the point.

Let me illustrate.

I was admiring the jeans that I bought for her back at the beginning of fall when I realized she had outgrown every single pair of jeans that she had been able to wear in spring. I had found some jeans that fit her amazingly well - i.e. they don't display copious amounts of buttcrack and don't have decorations all over them (thus making them multi-outfit-oriented, and any mom of girls knows that it's darn near impossible to find these), so I bought her something like four pairs. Anyway, the girl heard me being happy with my purchase and decided I needed to be taken down a few notches.

"I don't like these jeans. I just wear them because they're in my drawer. I don't like them because they're just blue."

"Oh? Well, almost all jeans are blue. What color would you rather have them be?"

"Pink. And I think on Wednesday you should sew me pink jeans."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA....

I do not sew. Period. Oz has to repair all button casualties around here because I'm actually that incompetent with a needle unless there's a cross-stitch canvas involved.

Then talk switched over to Christmas when I dared to ask her if she was excited.

"No.. I don't want gifts."

"You don't??"

"No. I don't care about toys. I don't like toys. I don't want anything. I just want pink jeans."

Oh, my.

This all comes after I caught her chewing out her best friend after the Christmas recital at the school the other day. Nothing like seeing your 5-year-old rip a new one into another student right in front of an altar. I still don't know what that was about, and she doesn't remember. Clearly it was life-altering. She also lit into her brother this morning after he dared to preempt her reading of the daily Christmas chain AND after he had apologized for doing so.

She doesn't let things go easily.

Sanctimonious.

Oz and I are wondering if there's a nunnery that will accept her now. Though when we asked her if she wanted to become a Sister like her teacher (who is a wonderful, wonderful person), she was quite okay with that.

I haven't yet told her they can't wear jeans... or pink. I'll save myself the lecture and tell her another day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recital Season

'Tis the season...

For recitals.

Fa-la-la and all that jazz.

M1 doesn't have recitals. He's quite happy about this. The closest he came this year was a commercial that he wrote, directed, and performed in. I'll post that in a day or two.

M2, however, loves recitals. She gets incredibly excited about the notion of showing off to anyone. Whoda thunk??

We started at the beginning of the month with her violin recital.

I love to brag on her and her violin skillz. She's no prodigy, but for a 5-year-old, I think she does pretty well! She's the youngest in her group by a couple of years, but she keeps up admirably.

The concert was roughly divided by skill level. They started with the easy stuff, then she and her groupmates and the brand-spankin'-new students sat down while the older kids played a few songs, and then there were a few songs at the end that she also knew, Jingle Bells being one of them.

I loved watching her stand up there with the 'big kids' when not everyone in her group was. I try not to be one of 'those' parents, but sometimes I get a little carried away when I talk about her. She simply amazes me, and I love watching her learn.

Then we had her school play/concert on Thursday.


Mom, do we *have* to be here??

Yes, Son. And you will live.


That's my girl there in the front row in her new Christmas dress with a sheep 'costume' over it. She's supposed to be wearing a hat like the little boy next to her, but she decided she didn't want to because it might mess up her hair. She's nothing if not vain! All the kids in the front row are her classmates, and everyone did a fantastic job. It was the best play I've seen the school do.

This is her in her non-speaking role as sheep. Hence the hat she was supposed to wear. I wish I had gotten a shot of the little boy in her class who had a solo and stole the entire show, but I didn't. Let's just say he got a standing ovation all to himself. He's truly a cutie.

And the best part of it all?

She didn't cry once!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gingerbread: A Study in Contrasts

Decorating gingerbread creations isn't necessarily an annual tradition around here, but it was one of the things on The List when we created our Christmas Countdown Chain, so there ya go. Except I decided to go with trees instead of houses because A) they take up less space and B) they're not as complicated, which agrees with M1 just fine.

You'll see what I mean in a minute.

I got the boxes out. I made the first batch of powdered royal icing from the packet that came with the kit. I inwardly rejoiced at my wisdom to buy a kit because I wouldn't have to clean icing tips, which is a pain in the backside at the best of times. And I let the kids have at it.

And then I reveled in the glory of my children's unique and highly individualized personalities.

M1 took to decorating with relish. He decided he was going to create stripes, stripes, and more stripes on his. "M1, did you forget there's also green icing?"

[pause]

"Oh, yeah..."

(For the record, his tree has a single green stripe. The End.)

M2 had to make everything JUST SO. And by Just So, I mean that everything had to line up perfectly and all dots had to be of equal size. If they didn't meet standards, they were scraped off and reapplied.

M1 enjoyed the scrape and reapply part, though for a slightly different reason...

M2's candy had to be meticulously applied, and when she accidentally dropped a purple candy where a yellow was supposed to go... well, you get the idea.

M1 did not share this need. For him, the idea was to stick as many candies as possible on one gingerbread tree. When M2 got done with hers and had leftover candy, he pounced. "Can I have it?

"Okay... wait. Mom, is this a nice thing?"

"Yes, dear."

"Okay, M1, you can have it. I'm doing a nice thing by letting you have these instead of eating them, you know."

*grunt from the boy as he continues to coat his tree in candy*

*forehead smack from the mom*

See the differences? Even their clothes tell a story. M1 wouldn't be caught dead in short sleeves after Labor Day; M2 believes her short sleeves are a statement all their own.

And when we all got done, M2 insisted on posing for a picture with her creation. M1? He bailed. Lickety-split down the hall before I could even ask if he wanted to do the same.

Ah, well. Christmas traditions are nothing if not great for laughs!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Domesticity Award Is Tarnished

I have gobs of pictures and actual things to share with you, really I do. But right now let me make you feel better about the state of your own home by sharing an anecdote about mine.

Remember how, a month or so ago, I had a negative experience making pumpkin streusel pie?

Right. Well, Oz ran the oven through a cleaning cycle a few days after the original pie mishap, I wiped up every speck of pumpkin residue I could find, and I was content that all was right in my kitchen again. I proceeded as if everything was normal.

Little Did I Know...

Today I was making Greek-inspired turkey burgers (turkey burgers in pitas with spinach, feta cheese and a nice little dressing that contained kalamata olives and cucumber) for dinner. New recipe. It said to broil the burgers, which I thought sounded like a grand idea because I'm all about not cleaning the top of the stove these days.

It's another example of my domesticity run amok. I can hear all the Martha Stewart wannabes out there clicking their tongues and shaking their head in chastisement. I know. I know. I do. I promise to do better soon.

I digress.

I opened the drawer underneath my oven to pull out my rarely-used broiler pan that sits at the bottom of the drawer, hiding underneath the cookie sheets, pizza pans, and jelly roll pans (that are more often used for baking fries and chicken strips than anything resembling a jelly roll), filling almost all available space at the bottom of the drawer, thereby OBSCURING the view of the bottom of the drawer.

This is crucial.

I pulled this broiler pan from its lowly place in the hierarchy of the oven drawer... to see something black, white, and greenish-blue staring up at me.

Mold.

MOLD.

In my oven drawer.

I stared at it for a second, trying to figure out what on earth could have caused mold to spontaneously grow in the bottom of this drawer when it hits me like a Chinese fighting muffin a la Charlie's Angels.

Pumpkin. I didn't get all the pumpkin.

Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.......... *cue dance of grossness, complete with wringing of hands*

I spent the next 20 minutes NOT fixing dinner as I relegated the broiler tray to the sink to be washed, removed everything else that thankfully hadn't touched the mold (which must have stopped growing when we used the self-cleaning system on the oven because it was long since dead and crusted over which... ew ew ew ew ew ew ew AGAIN).

My oven drawer is successfully cleaned now, thankfully long before my spic-and-span mother and grandmother arrive for Christmas Eve lunch. I sense a hunt coming on to go through the rest of my kitchen to see what else lurks. If nowhere else in my house, the kitchen should at least be up to code!

Slummy am I

I've gone from unanimous to slummy. And before you think that's a bad thing, let me reassure you, it's bad. It's just not as bad as it could be.

See, I just finished reading the book "Slummy Mummy" by Fiona Neill.

I'm not much of a modern literature person. Most books I read are set well before the 1800s. OK, either that or they at least pertain to something that happened well before the 1800s. But a friend of mine recommended "Slummy Mummy" and when it caught my eye on the shelf at the library last week (it has a pale blue cover and is quite eye-catching), I snagged it.

And I read it.

And I breathed a sigh of relief that marriage is still a solid place where my husband isn't anywhere near as OCD as the husband in the book but still does things the same way every day and tolerates the chaos that I bring into the house. Even though I'm the OCD one, it still feels like I'm also the one letting in all the chaos, too. How is this possible?

A newspaper headline of the book would read "Mom Survives Midlife Crisis." If there was a subtitle, it would read "Survival of 3 Boys Still Questionable."

I really loved the book.

It made me have hope and brought me a lot of peace. The best part was being able to relate to the main character, even if that was disturbing at times. For example, she has one go-to dress that she wears to all semi/formal social occasions. She says that at one point it fit her beautifully but that over the years as her hips and waist have broadened, it now wraps higher and higher and fits a little more snugly each time.

Preach it, sister.

She talks about how she used to have a "real" career as a mom on a news show. I used to be a reporter for a small-town newspaper. Not quite the same level of prestige, but there's still that "used to have a life" element about it. Now my life revolves around feeding various critters smaller than I am and wondering what's for dinner and pondering if my current stock of bras can last another season because I'm not in the mood to buy more until I lose the 15 pounds I've put on this year... and I have a boy with me at all times who's just at the age to think Victoria's Secret is verboten and get the giggles at all the mannequins in lingerie.

She talks about all the foot-in-mouth moments that inevitably happen when you're a mom, like blurting out the answers to questions meant for kids in group settings... or being politely pulled aside by other parents and/or teachers because one of the children is doing something socially inappropriate yet again. Not that I've been there, either.

Never.

Not me.

*snort* NOT.

Mostly, the character gets it (I feel the need to use lots of italics for emphasis today). She understands that even as we moms enter the Middle Ages, aka the Dark Ages, we still need things to be shaken up once in a while... but not too much. She correctly portrays the craziness of a single day in the life of any parent and the frustration we feel as moms when our husbands agree to "babysit" for us and get more mileage out of one night with the kids than we get for an entire month... or sometimes year... of the same thing. She relates to how family vacations usually aren't and refers to more put-together parents as "Yummy Mummy" or "Alpha Mum." You know who they are. I can list more than half a dozen of them.

I'll shut up now, because the book is much, much more than I've made it sound. All I'll say is... go read it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Am Unanimous!

OK, so if you're not a big fan of Britcoms like I am, you probably have no idea who Mrs. Slocombe is and why she's unanimous in herself. But if you've seen her, you'll understand.

I am currently unanimous in my hatred of this weather and today. I'm in a funk. I don't like cloudy, cold, blah winter weather. I feel like yelling at the sky, "Either snow or skip straight to spring already!!"

I've spent the last two days in agony because the left side of my head, jaw, neck, and shoulder went into revolt and were trying to physically rip themselves away from my body, and I have discovered that sort of pain is rather excruciating. I could talk. I could eat. I just couldn't move my head. I especially couldn't bend forward without holding my jaw in place, which amused M1 greatly when I was studying music books at Mardel and they happened to be on the bottom shelf. It was all a very interesting phenomenon. The pain is magically gone today, but now I'm staring at my house that has been horribly, horribly neglected over the past week and starting to wonder how much junk I can donate to Goodwill before they actually tell me to quit bringing things in. And how wrong is it to tell your husband and two children that NO FUN THINGS are going to happen until everyone spends three solid hours helping Mama clean the house on a Saturday morning in December? Because ugh.

How bad is it? A spider took up residence on my stove yesterday. My stove that hasn't been properly cleaned since I cooked rice for something over a week ago and it of course overflowed. I discovered the spider when I turned on the fire under the teapot and watched it skitter across the back of the stove, away from the heat. I might have skittered away, too. M1 finally took care of it for me with a spatula that I promptly insisted he place in the dishwasher because I ain't eatin' no spider-feet germs.

The laundry is piled four loads deep in the utility room. It would be five, but I actually did manage to get one load into the washer. It sits there still. I should get up and go put it in the dryer, huh?

The dishes in the sink are overflowing, too. I did put some of them in the dishwasher this morning in a vain attempt to get something done, but now I don't want to take the dishes out of the dishwasher.

I have a long list of errands I need to run today, and I don't want to do them. Except that I have to because we need milk. And salt. And lunch meat. And cat food. And any sort of human food for breakfast because right now all we have is cereal... and we don't have milk to go on it. I really don't want to go get chicken feed, because A) I don't want to have to talk to people and B) I don't feel like lifting a 50-lb. bag of chicken feed out of the back of my van. Dead weight is hard to heft. What I really wanted to do today was go to the Christmas meetup my mom's group is having as I type this, but since I didn't get to the store and M1 is still doing schoolwork, clearly it's not happening. At least I realized the folly of trying early enough that I could change my RSVP.

The cat fur on the floor is multiplying and begging to be swept, and the toothpaste all over the bathroom counter is spreading and needs to be cleaned. There's also toothpaste in the soap dish, courtesy of my children.

It's been that sort of week.

I think I might have Russian food for lunch. Or Caribbean food. Assuming by "food," I really mean "liquor."

I'll be more cheerful in a day or two. I just have to get out of the funk first. Wheee...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A blurb

Because I haven't blogged in FOUR WHOLE DAYS... here's a blurb.

My son went to spend the night at his Grandma's house last night because he didn't want to come substitute teach with me today. I get that he didn't want to be the 8-year-old in a classroom of 3- and 4-year-olds and maybe one or two 5-year-olds (again), so when my wonderful MIL agreed to watch him and make sure he got his school stuff done, I was at peace.

But I missed my little dude, and I told him that at bedtime tonight. Here's how it went:

Me: I love you, Dude. Sleep well. I missed you!

Dude: Really?

Me: Yes, really!

Dude: Why?

Me: Because you're my little dude! And even though you drive me nuts half the time and I have no idea how to handle you and we both get frustrated and mad sometimes, I love you tons and tons! And I missed you!

Dude: Oh. [smiles] Cool.

*heart melt*

I'm a sap. I can't help it. My kids are totally my weakness.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Stories

It came to my attention tonight that I did not have a normal upbringing when it came to Christmas. A little background information is required first. Allow me to set the genealogical stage, if you will.

I am German. OK, I'm American, but if you look at my ancestry, it's about 90-95% German with a little British/Welsh thrown in for good measure. I have embraced my heritage and can speak a smattering of German, but I'm nowhere near as good as my paternal grandmother. But we're not talking about her today. Oh, no. Today we're talking about my mother's family. The family from whence my good china came and from where, also, I got the stuff I'm talking about today.

My mother's grandmother came from a well-to-do family, the kind of family for whom the Great Depression didn't mean as much as it did for farming communities. My mother's grandmother's name was Frieda. Frieda Margaretha Magdalena Baden. At least she was a Baden till she married a Hellwig, but never mind. Frieda's family spoke primarily Low German, which is closer to Dutch in origin, and apparently the stories her family learned for the holiday season are pretty close to the stories the Dutch still tell today. I know this because my friend Berber is from Holland and shared her holiday traditions with my mom's group recently, and it matched the stories my mother used to tell me.

Enough background; on to the good stuff. These are some Christmas tree ornaments that I've apparently had since I was four. The year is written on the back, along with my name, or I'd have no idea. In my world, they've just always been there.

I love the ornaments. I think they're beautiful. I love the old Victorian-looking Santas. Just gorgeous. What Christmas should be, in my mind. I thought they were older than they are; apparently they were made in 1977 or 1981, depending on the ornament, but they're still pretty.


My mother used to tell me stories about the ornaments, and about how Santa (Sinterklaas, she always called him when she talked about these stories) would come and visit the children and leave presents down the chimney. But only if you were good!

If you weren't good... well, then, THIS would happen:

... and Sinterklaas would whisk you away to his workshop, and you'd become one of his Black Pete's.

Forget coal and sticks. This was the stuff true Christmas nightmares were made of.

Sweet dreams, everyone!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Letters to Santa

It's that time of year again, when children all over turn their thoughts to gifts and Christmas and Santa and ponder what they can get out of The Man in Red. Which is really cute sometimes, especially when your 5-year-old daughter turns to you and says, "Mom, what are you putting on your list for Santa? What does he bring you?"

Credit card bills, my dear.

Anyway, Ye Olde Christmas Chain said that yesterday was the day for writing letters to Santa. The kids sit down in their desks, newly relocated into the hall for the holiday season, and scrawl off their deepest desires. Then they put them in their stockings for the elves to come and swipe to take back to the North Pole so Santa can go through his inventory and toy-making checklist and see what can be done for these children who have been good (because "I've been really, good, Mom! And the elves will tell him that, too!" I may have put it into my kids' heads that the elves are also Santa's spies and peer into our house at random intervals all year long to do random behavior checks. Yes, I am totally that evil).

As expected, M1 got done with his letter first. Most of it isn't very surprising. We're actually getting him a netbook, so yay for getting something right. One item on his list, though, was completely unexpected. See if you can figure out which one it was.



If you guessed the puppy, you're right. Is it an age thing for boys, to want a puppy? A PUPPY?? I barely do dogs. We have two of them already, and thankfully they're housebroken. There's no way I would have the patience to housebreak and train a puppy, and ADHD boy would care for it for about, oh, 35 seconds, until it chewed something up or peed on something, and then it would be my job. Thank you, NO. Still, it cracked me up. He must think Santa loves him way more than he actually does. Santa doesn't want puppy pee in his sleigh, either.

The 1' thick book also made me giggle. He knew what he was doing when he wrote it, and he really did mean one foot thick. I asked.

M2 decided to write hers with red marker, and I was not allowed to watch the process, which meant that deciphering the letter later was, well...



CHALLENGING.

The actual text of her letter reads as follows: "Dear Santa Maggie I want a computer [note: she doesn't mean a real computer, just a toy one], and a Ipod, also hard puzzles, and easy books, and chapter books, bike, radio, a big Snuggie."

As you can see, the list expanded somewhat when I helped her translate her miniscule scrawl into English. Her last sentence was (is) my favorite.

My children amuse me greatly. They're great for comic relief. I'm saving the letters to show to their significant others in 20 years. That ought to provide comic relief, too.

What do your kids want for Christmas? Anyone else think they need a puppy?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Survey

So here's a little rant.

Why do people take offense at Christmas being called Xmas?? I've seen three posts on Facebook today, all copied and pasted from some random source, I'm sure, but they argue that by writing Xmas, you're crossing the Christ out of Christmas. Now, I'm not a diehard Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm intelligent and informed enough to know that the "X" in question stands for the Greek letter "chi" in the chi-rho symbol of... imagine this!... CHRIST. According to this site, Xmas has been in use since the invention of the printing press in the 1400s. The 1400s, people. Even Wikipedia agrees that it's been around for centuries. You are not smarter than history. Stop being sheeple and edumacate yourselves before you post!

This has been your public service announcement of the day. Thank you.

Rant off.

*smile*

And now for something completely different!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate. I am actually sipping some as I type this and watch Storm Chasers. I can never decide whether Reed is really a giant arse or if he's just incredibly passionate. I like Joel. I like Tim. Sean amuses me. I'm sorry, what was the original question again?

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Wraps them. I had no idea until about two years ago that some people didn't wrap gifts from Santa. I couldn't imagine not wrapping them. Although it might deter the cats from eating the wrapping and ribbons before the kids get up.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Ahhhh a mix is best, Grasshopper. I have a prelit tree that uses white, but then I put on two strands of multicolored LED lights (red, green and blue) that I set to differing patterns so the white lights shine constantly and the colors twinkle. Then outside we have traditional strands of white lights on the wishing well that look gold compared to the white LEDs on the house, red LEDs on the tree in the front yard, and this year Oz made a tree out of green LEDs topped with a star of white. It looks just gohhhhr-jus, dahling.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? When there are bits of it on the tree in the neighbor's yard that hangs over our fence, we'll sometimes bring in a bit if we have company coming over. Something about six cats and mistletoe...

5. When do you put your decorations up? Either 12/1 or the weekend closest to that date. Since it was a Wednesday this year, 12/1 it was. Is. Whatever.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Pie. But that only applies if every day is a holiday.

7. Favorite Christmas memory as a child?
Oh, gosh... opening gifts, of course. I do have one memory of going to my grandfather's house (my dad's dad) and sittiing on my dad's lap and "helping" him play poker with his brothers. We lived three doors down, so my sister and I got to stay up REALLY late. There was a big white Christmas tree in the huge living area downstairs, and my grandfather had small gifts for each grandchild (seeing as he had 12 kids and there were already a lot of grandkids when I was born, that was a big effort) separated by sex and age. My sister and I got doll cradles. I think he had made them. I also twisted my ankle running down the hill to the back door while playing tag with my cousins and got to sit with my foot in a bucket of ice for a while. Good times, good times...

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember! I do remember that once I learned, I became an incredible snoop. The day I discovered where my mom hid credit card receipts was the best day of my life. I never felt like I ruined Christmas for myself, because I was always just as excited to open the gifts as I was to find out what they were.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Not unless I'm visiting someone and we're doing a gift exchange.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Lots and lots of random ornaments. My tree is stuffed, and I'd say 80% of the ornaments have memories attached to them. The kids love pointing to and talking about each one. I also have the lights, as mentioned above, and a string of red beads that runs around the tree. Oz picked out a gold star for the top years ago, and he loves it so much I will never get rid of it. This year it was M1's turn to put it on top. He did it by standing on a chair rather than being lifted. Oh, the milestones...

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it so long as we keep power, because I don't have a fireplace! Have I mentioned I hoard food?

12. Can you ice skate? I can... doesn't mean I'm good or I should...

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Yes. I use it nightly. It's my heated mattress pad. Mmmmmmm prewarmed bed... I hear it calling me.

14. What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you? Finding the time to relax and really enjoy it!

15. What is your favorite holiday Dessert? Pie. Nom.

16. What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Making our Christmas chain is at the top of that list. We use red and green construction paper, of course, and make links, but on each link I write something special to do. Tonight it was light the outside lights for the first time. Tomorrow the kids will write and read their letters to Santa. Watch for videos.

17. What tops your tree? Gold star. I have a gorgeous angel, but she's too big for our tree, so she sits in my curio cabinet and looks gorgeous.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? Giving, of course.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? "What Child Is This?"

20. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? YUM! Especially when melted in hot cocoa.

21 Favorite Christmas Show?
I think it's a tie between the Grinch and Rudolph. I'm nothing if not a nostalgic sap.

22. Saddest Christmas Song? Honestly don't know. I tend to ignore them. That shoe song is right up there, though.

23. What’s your Wish for Christmas? Another white Christmas would be nice, though I'd like the roads to be clear enough to drive on the next day, please ;)

Better wish... I'd like the military to have a peaceful holiday. All of them. World peace for one day isn't too much to ask, is it?