Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas Beaver

Some families have very normal traditions.  An angel on top of the tree, a special Christmas Eve meal, a story told around the fire during the holidays.

Our family, too, has a tradition - although not as conventional.

Ours, you see, involves a Beaver.

A scented Beaver.

THIS scented Beaver:

It's a little blurry here, but you get the idea.

Probably 7 or 8 years ago, my friend (JS) and I went to a holiday craft fair.  In the 16 years that I have known JS, we've missed this craft fair only twice.  Every couple of years we go crazy and make some less than stellar purchases, caught up in the excitement of getting ready for Christmas.  This particular year, 7 or 8 years ago, was one such year.

We happened upon these darling women who had some very unique crafts going on - they had taken stuffed animals and dipped them in scented wax.  So, they looked sort of like resin animals, but smelled really good.  I, wanting something "Christmassy", concentrated on the animals with Santa hats and smelling of cinnamon, cloves, evergreen - you know... Christmas smells.  There was this really cute little Beaver, about 4 inches tall, and darling.  This was my purchase.

A scented Beaver.

The ramifications of which would not hit me until about a week later.  When I mentioned to someone that they should smell my Beaver.  At which point I knew it would become a Christmas favorite.

Which it is.  Particularly of my young daughters - who have no idea on earth why this is as funny as it is.  They love to bring out the Christmas Beaver, giving it a place of honor each year on the piano.  Which is always funny, but now makes us howl with laughter.  (And here is where our newest Christmas Story begins...)

Once upon a time JS and I took our daughters with us to a Holiday Craft Fair that we try to hit every year.  The year was 2009, and my youngest daughter was not quite 7 at the time.  We were having a wonderful time with our kids, running from craft booth to craft booth, dodging all the 4 million or so people that were there that night.  (I had never seen it so crowded)  When we stop at a booth with candles.  So many candles - and the girls want to stop and sniff each one.  Now, you know how sometimes - when you're in a really crowded place - all of the sudden a silence will hit?  Like it gets REALLY quiet for just a few seconds?  Well, in that unexpected lull was the precise moment in time when my youngest daughter decided to tell me, in her very loudest voice, "Hey Mom!  This candle smells JUST LIKE YOUR BEAVER!"  I kid you not when I tell you that all 4 million or so people swiveled around to try to see the woman with the holiday scented beaver.  My friend, JS?  She and her daughter ran from the booth, screaming with laughter.  Once I picked my jaw up off the floor I smiled, looked down at my daughter and said, "Well yes, it certainly does" and, trying to salvage what dignity I had left, put the top back on the candle she was smelling, grabbed her hand and headed off to hunt down JS, who was halfway down the damn aisle by then. 

Perhaps the most embarrassing moment of my entire life. 

Solidifying that darn Beaver's presence at every Christmas for the rest of my life I suspect - as my husband now encourages the placing of the sacred Christmas Beaver in it's place of honor each year. 

He'll probably have it buried with me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Solstice: Half of the Real Reason for the Season

OK, OK - I'm not here to knock Jesus Christ. I'm a appreciative fan - and am not trying to start a religious war by saying his birth shouldn't be celebrated.  It should... but lets face it, he probably wasn't born at this time of year.  Springtime is most likely when it really happened since shepherds were in the fields day and night only during lambing season - and I don't know the bible very well, but I'm pretty sure that at least Paul mentioned the shepherds were in their fields at night. I have studied neither theology or ancient cultures in any depth, but from my reading I have learned that celebrating Christ's birth in December with Merrymaking and Parties?  Most likely THAT is because of the Winter Solstice. Or, rather, what the Winter Solstice signifies.

Celebrating the day after the shortest day of the year - the passing of the Solstice... welcoming back the sun.  The days get longer, which in our society of electric lighting and central heat isn't such a big deal.  But if you're a peasant or a farmer that can only get stuff done by the light of day, and the nights bring cold and the need to stoke a fire all night long to stay warm?  It's a pretty big deal.  Almost ALL pagan cultures celebrated some form of this passing.  Call it Yule, Hogmanay, Mōdraniht, Sol Invictus, or a hundred other names... it is how the "New Year", the rebirth of the sun was celebrated.  And it was important.  So important there was going to be a lot less converts to Christianity if they were told that this particular celebration wasn't important.  Christianity needed to incorporate it with its own twist in order to get converts.

These weren't societies of instant gratification.  People were willing to make sacrifices of the very currency that sometimes kept them alive, and things didn't get better overnight. It would be months of cold and starvation (things they had spent a lot of time preparing for) before things actually improved enough to make a big difference.  However, every day that they had a few minutes more of sunshine was a reason to be thankful to their gods. 

It isn't groundbreaking to say that the early Church decided that they needed a big holiday to help the pagans over to their side.  The early Church didn't celebrate Christmas the way we do - to them it was simply a "Feast Day."  A day to go to Church (get out of the house in the better of your two outfits), celebrate the Mass, and then have a special meal at home in honor of the feast.  Since celebrating the return of the sun was a pretty big deal, the Church needed a pretty big occasion to nail on to this Feast Day.  The birth of Jesus Christ?  Well, other than the death of Jesus Christ - which is the biggest Feast Day in the Church, the birthday was one they weren't already celebrating and since it had been two or three hundred years since the occasion had actually happened? Who knew the real date?  Following the Winter Solstice was a pretty good day to pin to that Feast. In fact, in the early Church, the feast day of Christmas kicked off the 12 days to the real celebration... the Epiphany.  When the Biblical Magi turned up to celebrate the word of God - the announcement that the savior had been born.  Twelfth Night was, for a long time, the big event. Thus distancing the true reason for Christian thankfulness (the Word of God) from the Feast day of the Birth... yet tying in the pagan celebration day quite nicely. 

So. long story short, they came together.  One half pagan, one half Christian.  And the Feast Day / day of Merriment made everybody happy.  Jesus would have been on board with that, he was all about the happiness of mankind.  And really, when you get to the age he was when he died?  Who really cares about their birthday anyway?  You're kind of over it by then.  Human nature, getting older, looming death - it all plays in to that feeling of "You're only as old as you feel" trumping "Can I have a BIG party this year???"  Actual birthdays cease to really matter.

So, as I sit here watching the snow pile up outside and thank God I am in a house with electricity and heat (and fairly soon, a usable kitchen), I don't want to offend Christianity or dishonor anyone who celebrates the Birth of Christ this week. (My family celebrates Christmas.)  Christianity had to do what it had to do to get converts - they had an agenda... and that it probably really ISN'T his birthday this week isn't all that important. He WAS born at some point during the year, and my kids have had birthday parties a month after their actual big day. I like to think of Christmas as a gift the early Church gave to the Pagans.  They didn't take away their holiday, just gave them a new reason to celebrate... Oh, and eternal life.  Bonus.

Monday, December 19, 2011

9 going on 15

Oh my holy hell - was it this bad when the older one turned 9 and I've blanked it all out?  Honestly, this child, my Darling Daughter #2, the light of my life?  So NOT the light right now. 

If at all possible, more erratic moods than her (almost) 12 year old sister.  And I'm hoping with all hope that this isn't hormones - because if she gets her curves and her cycle before her older sister?  All hell will break loose around here.

She's got a friend over today - her BEST friend.  Who, for 70% of the time, has only been playing with DD1.  Why?  Because DD2 has been in her room "thinking about her behavior" several times already today.

She was SUCH a good baby.

But right now?  I wish her door locked from the outside.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bah Humbug, sorta...

I'm not completely a Grinch, but sort of more this year than other years.  Normally I'd be all up for decorations, only this year - with the remodeling in mid swing - it feels like just one more thing we'd have to clean up.  Almost like, "Can we just skip Christmas this year? I'd be willing to make it up next year with double Christmas."  I'm not wanting to bake (which isn't so new), I'm not wanting to decorate, I'm not wanting presents, I'm not wanting to shop and spend money. 

Because when you're changing things in the house on the scale that we are, even though not a ton of money is going in to it, it all feels so... I don't know... costly?  Like you really notice how much you spend on things, and when you are trying to find a place to put all of those toys they already have, and you clean out your cabinets and find appliances you didn't even remember were there... it seems like we don't need more stuff.

And, like it or not, sometimes it feels like Christmas is really all about the "stuff".  The decorations, the preparation, the food and gifts and wrappings.  I've not been playing holiday carols at home, except for the tree and the gingerbread houses the house is undecorated (and covered in drywall dust no matter what we do).  I'd consider it a successful Christmas if I got my cabinet bases all stained before the big day (upper AND lower) - and we have company coming to stay with us right after Christmas.  Our dining room is full of what normally resides in cabinetry, and I hope to God our upstairs hall bathroom is usable by then.  If not?  We're going to be in a world of hurt regarding getting those guests showered.

I haven't plotted our Christmas card strategy yet, which means I haven't even snapped a picture of the kids for the card.

So, Bah Humbug, sorta...

I mean, today is the first day that really felt like the holiday was on it's way and might be worth celebrating.  The annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party thrown by our dear friends was this afternoon, and the neighborhood ornament exchange thrown by T.Z. was this evening.  So much fun - and so festive.  Maybe it'll be enough to kick my behind in to high gear and get some holiday prep work done...

I'll pull it together for the kids, but honestly?  I'd like to not accumulate more "stuff" this year.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Husband? Is a BAD Ass!

Having some work done around the house.  Having a wall taken out in the process. 

I just hit the drywall with a hammer.  Like hit it HARD with a hammer.  And had to hit it hard with a hammer like four times to put a hole in it.

I've seen my husband put his fist through drywall.  In one try.

That is pretty bad ass when you think about it.  (Granted, he was drunk and broke his hand... which he totally deserved don't get me wrong - but still... in a weird way?  Impressive.)

That is all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

She is of my husband's people...

Conversation about 10 minutes ago, as the Husband and the daughters are getting ready to leave for gymnastics:

Husband: Can we bring you back any lunch?
Me: No, I'm good.
Husband: Not even a green chili cheese burger?
Me: No, thanks.  I'm OK.
DD2: How about a hug?
Me: A hug would be great!!

And then?  DD2 walked over to HUSBAND and gave him a gigantic hug. 
We all burst out laughing... sarcastic little bugger.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I am no "health nut", but...

Y'all know me.  I've basically got an inner GPS to the nearest fast food joints in almost every area of the city. I love a good McDonalds French Fry, a Wendy's Double Stack, and practically anything from Sonic... but, even I have to admit I sat up and took note of the KFC commercial that announced its newest offering, the "Cheesy Bacon Bowl." Because really? These KFC "Famous Bowls" already seem so absurdly unhealthy (mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, popcorn chicken, shredded cheese) that adding bacon to the mix is like throwing fuel on the fire. 

I can only imagine this is the idea that came out of some Conference of American Cardiologists.
Keynote: (loudly. Think Oprah melded with Evangelical Preacher) "Patients are on the decline, how do we bring them back?  Let's throw it around the room - Kurt, what do you have?"
Kurt: "More fat in school lunch?"
Keynote:  "a touch obvious. Elizabeth?"
Elizabeth: "Let's bring back Trans-Fats! We could infuse them with Vitamin D and Calcium!"
Keynote: "I like it!  A little complicated, but good.  We'll get R&D working on that. In the short term, though, how do we pump up the volume and get our patient count up? Baxter, give me something here."
Baxter: "How about adding Bacon to everything? Bacon is popular. Add it to the fried food people already eat? Maybe you could just batter and bread the bacon and deep fry it?"
Keynote: "Now we're talking! But let's start slower than that.  Let's just add it on to some already obviously over saturated and unhealthy.  Call marketing - get them on this!"

And voila! The new Cheesy Bacon Bowl from KFC. Mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, popcorn chicken, shredded cheese and bacon bits.

Roughly 740 calories for $3.99?  BARGAIN.  Really?  If you're going to consume that many calories?  Head to Cheesecake Factory.  At least you know it will be completely delicious.

Note: I will tell you that if anyone does come out with a product like "popcorn bacon"?  I'm gonna try it.  Just sayin - that would be something I'd have to do.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the kitchen

Possibly the ugliest room in our home: the kitchen.  Builder's 1987 oak cabinets, ivory Formica counters, original vinyl floor - complete with rips and burns.  Classy.  Since kitchens help sell houses, we needed a re-do (10 years ago we needed a redo!), and we had a budget.

These are the counter tops.  Bought them from Home Depot, who is having a 10% off sale right now on Wilsonart Laminate counters... so with the extra money we got a fancier edge.  (Full Wrap Ogee, if that means anything to you... to me it just "looked nicer")

This is the tile for the floor and the back splash.  It's actually a lighter, sandy color porcelain tile (not  "pink" like the picture), but has slate profile. My contractor and I both walked right to it - and he said, "It's is never this easy."  Basic 16x16 tiles on the floor, 8x12 staggered tiles as a back splash  (NOTE: THIS IS NO LONGER THE TILE. BECAUSE IT IS PINK AND UGLY.)

I know I was going to paint the cabinets... but with our not changing the appliances (which are white) I actually wanted to go darker.  I'm going to try gel staining over the oak to get a darker, richer color.  Not as dark as below, but this is an example of gel stain over oak. 

Moen Faucet in stainless steel, spot free. 
No decision on the hardware yet, except that it will be in the same metal as the faucet.  I've picked a white, cast iron Kohler sink - very similar to what we have right now.... but new and pretty.

Wish us luck!  The kitchen should be done before Thanksgiving... nothing like pushing a date like that!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A school dance...

On Thursday, directly after school for one hour in the school gym it happened.  DD1's very first school dance.  She's been looking forward to school dances for a while now. 
She?  Had a ball.  She hung out with her friends, they all danced together, they watched the boys all be silly, they giggled, had snacks, were seen, outfits were complimented: pure joy.

She can't wait for her next school dance.
She can't wait for that much fun with her friends after school.
She CAN wait for a boy to ask her, because her response afterwards was, "Mom, you were right. Dances really are more fun when you just go with your friends."  (Not that she has anything to compare this to... but I'm so glad she has such good friends.

It's all good.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

...and sometimes I get it right...

OK, DD2 was feeling a little "left out".  We've been making a fuss over DD1 starting middle school: she got her phone, a pair of really awesome cool jeans, a darling backpack and matching lunchbox, extra shopping... it's been a little bit of a big deal.  Little Sister sobbed when Big Sister got a phone.  She cried herself to sleep that night.

So, at the end of the first week of school I have an inspired thought: DD2 needs a new lunch box.  How about I swing by Vera Bradley and get her the one she was admiring when we where there picking up sister's backpack and lunchbox.  I'm loving the one her sister got, and think this would be a wise purchase... and it will make DD2 SO HAPPY!

Yes.  Or NOT HAPPY AT ALL as the case may be.  See, when told she had a present waiting for her at home, she immediately got excited.  Which I then fed with remarks about how pleased she will be, and how I know she's been needing a little something to make her feel special about going back to school too.  Apparently she got it in to her head that she'd be receiving a set of these:

...instead of this:

So, when presented with this lunch box, that is not an inexpensive purchase considering she is 8 years old, she threw a mother of a tantrum.  As she threw it on the ground screaming, "I wanted SQUINKIES!", my jaw absolutely dropped.  I picked it up, put it back in the bag and said, "Fine.  This can be returned.  If you don't want it that is fine.  You won't have it."  Turned my back on her and dropped the subject.  Refused to engage her.  Sent her to her room when her crying started to get on my nerves.

A few days later I still hadn't gotten over the the mall to return the unwanted lunch box.  She noticed the bag.  "Mom, when we pack my lunch tomorrow can we use my new lunch box."  Me, "It isn't yours, I just haven't returned it yet.  No." 

 Come Friday morning she looked over at the bag (which I was planning on taking back that day after drop off), and said, "You know, I really do want that lunch box.  I do need one."  I said, "So you don't think I should return it?"  She smiled (thinking she's winning at this point), "No.  We should keep it."  I smiled back at her and said, "Fine.  Instead of my returning it to get my money back, you can buy it from me."

Shock.  Betrayal.  Horror.  Tears.  "No! I want the lunch box! I don't want to buy it! You already bought it!"  Me: "Yes, and after your behavior regarding this gift I purchased for you, I've decided that you aren't grown up enough for a very nice lunch box and it should be returned.  However, if you'd like to pay for it, I'll sell it to you."  She was SO mad at me when I dropped her off at school with her paper bag lunch.

Cut to that evening, "Mom?"  "Yes, DD2?"  "I want to buy it.  The lunch box.  How much is it?"  At which point I told her to get the receipt from the bag and read it to me.  Then she went to her piggy bank and brought me the money.

And now it's hers.  Ironically, I went in to it with the actual plan of spoiling her a little - and it backfired in to a pretty good life lesson.  How often does that happen?

Monday, August 29, 2011

I found this great writer...

I love quotes.  I especially love quotes that express how I feel at a certain place in my life.  This is a place in time that I needed words to help me endure... sometimes you just need someone else to say it, to find the words they used, to know that the human condition isn't unique to you.  That this pain has been lived through before you, dealt with by others, and people will survive it in the future. 

I think I would have liked to have met this woman, and I think I'm going to have to read through her writings.

There's an awful lot of blood around that water is thicker than. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

The real is very real to him, the unreal even more so. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Neurotics always feel as though they were going way up or way down, which is odd in people going sideways. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Likely as not, the child you can do the least with will do the most to make you proud. ~Mignon McLaughlin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Middle School

I will admit, I was worried. I thought about her the entire day yesterday. Husband drove her to school (the first time I had EVER relinquished that duty, First Day is a big deal) on the grounds that the last image in her head before she entered the new school should NOT be of her mother sobbing. I had to agree, perhaps not the confidence boost she needed.

So he did the deed. Drove her to school, dropped her off, and DROVE AWAY. Like it was an ordinary day.

It was a long day. I spent the day with a friend to help pass the time. Mani/pedi/lunch/shopping... time for pickup!!!! I was waiting with baited breath (and some new clothes I couldn't help buying for her) as she bounced over to the car, announcing "This was the best first day of middle school EVER!" She liked her classes, she didn't have a problem finding anything - except her bff at lunch time. That didn't go so well... but she did end up finding some kids from her elementary school to eat lunch with.

After we picked up little sister from the elementary school we decided to go sign DD1 up for classes at her new dance academy. While we were there she and another girl pointed at each other, smiled, and said, "Hey!" Seems it was the girl that sat next to her in Science, and they immediately started chatting. Her mother was very nice, and DD1 and new friend will be in tap class together. Squeal from both girls, huge smile and sigh of relief from both mothers.

Today she managed to find bff for lunch together, and liked her teachers even more today than yesterday. There is a cute boy sitting behind her in Spanish, and she found out she gets to make something from sheet metal in "Technology"... so she's sooooo excited.

Turns out the most difficult thing about middle school so far?
Finding time to use the restroom.
SO not the conversation I thought we'd be having, but Thank the Lord this is the most difficult thing so far this week!!!

She's happy.
I'm happy that she's happy.
It's all I want.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

She's got me thinking...

DD1 heads to "middle school" this August. She goes back and forth on being excited. She's looking forward to meeting new people, is nervous about how hard it might be to stay organized and get good grades, and has already told me that I may never have to pack her a lunch again as they have so much variety to choose from.

But, when you ask her what she's looking forward to most??
"School dances."

Because while she knows that she isn't old enough to have a "boyfriend" yet (house rules, age 15), she knows that dancing with a boy wouldn't be off limits - and that is about as close to one as she will get for another few years.

If I have anything to say about it.
And exactly WHO do I think I'm kidding about that?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another goodbye...

Last week my Aunt Dorothy left this life.
Tonight was her rosary.
Tomorrow we formally say goodbye.

She was my mother's youngest sister, and one of three people I was named after.

My Aunt Dorothy was a "fixer". Whereas some people meddle where they don't belong, my Aunt Dorothy was one to hop in a help fix a problem... knowing that she always belonged. She just did.

When Husband and I wanted to get married outside of the Catholic Church my parents did not take the news well. (One of the many problems being that Husband hadn't been granted his annulment yet, and the Canon Lawyer wasn't trying to hurry the process along any.) Aunt Dorothy, bless her heart, was there with a solution so my parents and I didn't kill each other. She called me up and arranged for Husband and I to meet her friend, Deacon Mike, who counseled us and helped us through the situation. While it didn't completely solve the problem for my parents, it did help us get through the wedding, and for that I will always be grateful.

I had a session with my therapist the day my Aunt passed away. (My standing appointment) She asked me if my Aunt and I were close, and I said "yes, yes we were," and then I paused. "Of course, if I were to be completely honest with you, anyone that knew her would answer that question the same way. Everyone she ever met, I think, thought they were close with her. That was one of the things that was so amazing about her."

My Aunt was one of the most loving women in the world, and one of the most loved in return. I wish I was more like her, she was a giver. She loved, she cared, she counseled, she befriended, she prayed... and she made a difference.

Would that everyone who has ever lived make such a difference as my Aunt Dorothy. The world would be a much better place.

I will miss you, but I know you are in a better place - with your brothers and sisters, your husband, your parents, and so many others who your life has touched... I'm guessing it was one of the biggest Welcome Home parties heaven has ever seen. I imagine the hugging alone took hours. Someday I will see you again - healthy, happy, and glowing with the love that is you.

I love you.
I will miss knowing you are here.
I will pray for your family, because to lose you is huge.
You were truly one of a kind - in the best way possible. I am very lucky to have your name, I hope someday I can do it justice.

Goodbye. For now.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Technology 1, Dodi 0

I think God invented technology to remind me that I am WAY older than I actually feel. See, in my head I'm in my early 30's... God seems to resent this illusion and wants to give me a reality check.

For Christmas this year I received an Apple iPod iTouch. Love it. Love it beyond words. I listen to my music, my books on tape, read my kindle, keep my guided meditation on it, watch movies, facebook, twitter... LOVE it.

About 2 weeks ago I had to upgrade to a Smart Phone. Thought a LOT about it, was very careful about my research, and decided that I had to go Android for work purposes. Android works better with the google apps stuff the company I work for uses, and I'm on skype all day long. Since I didn't need the entertainment apps I wasn't worried about that - for that I still had my Apple. (Plus, I need it to be a hotspot for when I'm away from wifi availability... and having an iPhone seemed redundant if I already had an iTouch.)

Easy enough, right. Now I have both platforms to work on - truly I own the BEST of both worlds.


Except instead of mastering two different platforms? My over 40 brain now can do nothing but stare at the device in my hand for a full minute before I can do ANYTHING with the dumb thing. I have to remember where I am, what I am doing, how to do it on this particular machine, and how come the screen looks different? Where is the app I am looking for - what?? Crap. I know that button is here somewhere! How come I can't wrap my brain around all of this? I'm (fairly) intelligent. I "get" how both of these things work in theory. I did research on this. WHY can't my brain just switch in to whatever gear I am needing at that moment? My brain used to perform like a well oiled machine (this may be an exaggeration... but it's my blog and I'm allowed a little bit of fantasy regarding my own smarts.) What the hell happened?

Really... what the hell just happened?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Learn something new every day

In this season of graduations there are many speeches being given. "The world is your oyster," "you have your whole life in front of you," "never stop learning." These are some of the many famous lines and clichés that will be uttered in the many thousands of speeches given all over this great land of ours.

"Never stop learning" is probably one of the easiest of these lessons to take to heart. After all, "you learn something new every day" is one of the most popular colloquialisms in the world. Why just today, while out running errands I learned that porkchop sideburns on a bald man don't particularly appeal to me.

So, maybe not what MY valedictorian had in mind...but it's something.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Short Term Memory Kerfluffle

So I don't believe I've every discussed this on the blog, I'm on a medication for anxiety. It works well... between the medication, my learning how to meditate, and seeing a behavioral therapist I'm feeling a lot better about everything. Miles from where I was a year ago - waiting to find out if I had MS and finding out it's just a crippling case of anxiety and my panic attacks are "unusual" to say the least. (And yes, I'm blessed that it's only anxiety... that much I am thankful for - that and the wisdom of the neurologist that spent time making the diagnosis.)

Heck, I even felt like I could take on a job... and I'm liking it.

The medication does have some drawbacks, however. In that it messes with my short term memory. (Which wasn't that perfect to begin with, truth be told.)

For example, I had to call my husband last week because... well, "because" is inferred in the conversation that follows:

D: "Hi, it's me. You're picking up DD1 from Girl Scouts today so I can do what?"
Husband (who is WAY too used to this kind of phone call): "I'm picking up DD1 from DANCE today so you can go pick up the dog's medication."
D: "Oh. Hmmmm. Yep, thats it."

Yea. Good thing I happen to remember all the great movie lines from when I was in my 20's, but parts of my present life are a complete mystery to me.

(I do wonder if I'll suddenly remember about the kids schedule and dog's medication in 10 years, when it isn't short term memory anymore - but won't be at all useful? Wouldn't that be handy? Is that how memory works... ?)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So happy...

Really, just so happy on this vacation. Being in paradise does take away all the stress! What I felt on this trip was intense love for the family that Husband and I have created, gratitude at being led to the place I am in my life right now, and happiness. I have a really blessed life - and I've been stopping to appreciate that more since our vacation.

(...and I want to be that tan again! Being tan, strategic placement of a child, and sticking my neck out like an iguana help make me look SO much better than I do in real life!! LOL!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life advice for the future

My daughter doesn't understand why we won't let her dance on the dining room table.

I told her that when the Lord gives you a daughter, one of the agreements is you do everything you can to keep them from dancing on ANY tables - at ANY time in their (hopefully long and wholesome) lives.

Sure, it makes no sense to her now - but perhaps when she's 20 she'll remember that really confusing conversation with mom one morning when she was 8. Mom was looking for the coffee filters and saying something about never dancing on tables.

Never Ever.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three years ago

Right now DD2 is in second grade, and working on her Amazon project. She has picked the Amazon River Dolphin (for very important reasons, like the fact that its pink). Her report packet is completed, her pictures are taped in place, and her diorama is done. She did 95% of the work herself, so it's safe to say it's not going to be the "prettiest" project out there, but it will be her own work. She will proudly turn it in tomorrow.

Back up three years. DD1 was in second grade when my mother died. Also working on her Amazon project. She had chosen the three toed sloth, and had worked a little on her report... but that year they HAD to have a diorama - because it was a science fair year. Their completed projects were due Friday, May 2nd that year. I remember it clearly - because my mother's funeral was Wednesday April 30th, and with all the visiting my mom in the hospital and then the ICU, not sleeping, losing our mom on April 27th, funeral arrangements, family flying in, and general chaos of that month I completely forgot about the diorama portion of the project until late in the day of mom's funeral. At which point I knew that my daughter would not be doing the work - I would. I looked over at my sister-in-law, an elementary school teacher, and said, "Oh Crap... what am I going to do?" She looked me in the eye and said, "Get a shoe box and some brown paint... and tomorrow let DD1 paint the inside of the box. Then, have her find a picture of a sloth on the internet. After she goes to bed, cut the sloth out, glue it to the back wall of the shoe box and hot glue all kinds of leaves and stuff from Michael's in front of it. Make sure its messy and they'll never suspect a thing."

May 1st 2008 was a day that I broke a big rule I had set for myself as a parent. I wasn't going to be the mom who's kid turned in the most beautiful projects - even if it killed me with it's awkwardness - because I was going to make my kids do their own work.

And then I got caught up in real life, and the rug got yanked out from beneath my feet, and I - without a second thought - did 95% of that diorama and lied to the teacher about it. And told my daughter to lie to the teacher about it as well. "Just tell her I had to help you a little with the hot glue because you're not allowed to use it by yourself." (as I am explaining the diorama to her that morning and pointing out where the sloth was in the back so she'd know.)

I'm not going to lie, when my dad fell last week and they took him to the very same hospital, and they put him in the ICU, and I knew the 2nd grade Amazon project was due this Friday it was the worst kind of deja-vu ever. But my dad is getting better, and is expected to complete re-hab on May 11th. He's planning on moving to an apartment in a retirement community, and I don't have to lie to the teacher about who really did the diorama.

Tonight is so much better than three years ago it's unbelievable... Thank you, God. And tell my mom hello for me. I still miss and think about her every day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This can't be how it works...

In nine days it will be the 3rd anniversary of my mom's passing.

Tonight my dad is in the same hospital, the same intensive care unit (not the same room, thank God), hooked up to those same machines that we watched so carefully when mom was sick. It's too familiar, it's too scary... and this can't be how it goes.

It has to end differently this time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I put it out there, and there it is...

Husband has been wanting me to get a job since DD2 started 1st grade.

Sort of.

He makes enough for us to live on, but really feels like I should have something now that the kids are out of the house. When the discussions first began (ahem... 2 years ago), I explained to him that I really did not ever see myself returning to an office full time, and we discussed that with the kids outside commitments and his erratic travel schedule that a part time job would be all that I was capable of taking on. I've never been a working mom... I didn't want a job where I had to call in sick if he couldn't work from home if one of the kids was home sick... and I need to be available to pick then up from school and be flexible in the afternoons because of their after school activities and homework load. In short... it would have to be the perfect scenario or our lives would change drastically and neither of us really wanted that to happen.

An opportunity did come along when DD2 was in kindergarten - but it was more of a 3/4 position working at this woman's home office, and left the kids "uncovered" during the Summer. When we crunched the numbers we discovered that daycare or nanny cost for the kids over the Summer would eat up pretty much all the income... so it turned out to be a "no". As cool as the job was, it wasn't going to work.

I decided a few months ago that it was going to have to be retail - and only if I could make it work the hours I needed. It was going to have to be weekends and some weekly hours (perhaps evening), but I couldn't think of any other jobs that would present me with a perfect working environment... and I liked retail jobs I'd had in the past. The discounts were awesome! The time away from family? Not so much.

Then last Sunday I saw a guy that I hadn't seen in over a year and a half - he is a dad I met when DD2 was in preschool, and he's working remotely for a company in Scottsdale AZ. It is a fairly new company, in start-up phase, that is about simplifying your technology access with Cloud computing. So I said, off-handed, "Hey, if anyone in your company ever decides they need a virtual admin, I'd love to talk to them about a position. I was an admin in my previous life before children."

Three days later he called.

The job is Virtual Administrative Assistant, 4 hours (maybe 3 or 5 depending on the needs) per day, M-F... and I work from home. Actually, I can work from anywhere I can get an internet and phone signal. I can work from the dance studio or the pool in the Summertime if need be. The money is not huge - but it is a foot in the door of a start-up company that could potentially do great things, and for what I need right now it is as close to perfect as I could hope for. I work when my kids are at school, from home. If someone is sick, I'm not going to have to call in sick. The man I will be working for is himself a father of 4 kids - and totally gets that kind of schedule. Because it will be contract work I will have the freedom to take vacations with my family, or schedule lighter work load weeks with him during "recital week" at the dance studio. The absolute best part is that I am still here with my kids over Summer vacation and will be able to remain plugged in as a parent. Husband's travel schedule won't have any effect on my abilities to do this job - and I'm still in disbelief that it all happened so quickly.

It makes you wonder... when you send out a "list" of very specific needs to the universe and you get an answer so quickly - that so very closely meets the requirements you need for it all to work - how can you not at least give it your best shot and see where it takes you?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thank you 5th grade, I needed a good laugh today...

Today was the day in 5th grade that the girls stayed behind in the classroom for their movies, while the boys were taken to the gym by a male teacher for their movies.

Hilarity ensues. See, they not only see the movies that talk about their own puberty experiences, but the movie about the opposite sex as well.

And this, my friends, is how my daughter learned the word "erection." She can say it with a straight face... I can't right now. I was hoping against all hope that the topic would come up over dinner tonight, just to make my husband super uncomfortable... and it wasn't happening on its own (which surprised me, because she was so excited to talk all about the movies in the car on the way home)- so I had to help it along a little.

Over chicken and mashed potatoes I said, "So, DD1, what did you do at school today?" DD1, "The boys had to go to the gym and we got to see the movies about what happens when you change. And Dad, we learned about boys erections and wet dreams." (I am hiding my face at this point, my shoulders shaking with laughter.) I quickly compose myself and say (choking back the laughter), "DD1, I'll bet Daddy would be willing to tuck you in tonight if you have any questions you'd like to ask him." They both look at me like I'm insane and I can't hold the laughter in any longer.

I love it when he squirms! Wait until she shows him the "goodie bag" she got, and starts explaining all the uses of panty liners to him! He'll be thrilled!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Birds and the Bees visit my house

I honestly have NO idea why this topic is called "The Birds and The Bees"... as neither of those species have anything even remotely in common with the reproductive system of mammals unless you count that they procreate at all. They should call it "The Dogs and The Bears" or something a little closer to how it truly works.

I've known the sex talk was coming for some time now - I discussed puberty with DD1 before she started 4th grade, and it's been an onslaught ever since. Wanting to know WHEN things would start happening. Let me tell you something: my daughter is little. I think she weighs somewhere in the ballpark of 60 pounds, and (at age 11) is still in a girls size 8. (Sometimes 10S, but only if she needs the length.) She isn't anywhere near the 100lb tipping point for that pituitary gland to kick things off, with no "upper" development to help in that department either. She is going to be a later bloomer than many of her friends. BUT, the puberty talk is different from the sex talk. The puberty talk contains information like it's time to use deodorant, wash your face more often, up the time you spend in the shower on a weekly basis. Because when your daughter is really probably a couple of years away from "the big stuff" of puberty, this is all pretty easy to deal with. She knows about feminine hygiene and why her body is going to change, but that knowledge has yet to be put in to practice.

Cue yesterday on the way to the dance studio from school: "We learned about the human reproductive system today. Boy, the women have a lot more work to do that the men do!" OK, like I said... I knew it was coming. My good friend, N.M., and I even discussed last year that I needed to open the topic up before the embarrassment window had closed and she wouldn't talk about it with me. Clearly I dodged a bullet in this department - she wants to talk. Plus? I signed the form that came home from school that said it was OK for her to learn about it. She's ready to learn. I, on the other hand, am not quite ready to discuss. But, just like the "Santa talk", moms don't really get to decide when this is going to happen. She made her announcement in the car, and I said, "Well, I'll bet you have some questions about all of that, right?" She said she did, but since her little sister was in the car (and hates all of these topics) I said, "How about when I tuck you in tonight we talk?"

(Keep in mind, I already know that little sister isn't going to come to me for information - she's going to go to DD1. I want to make sure all the facts are there, so I'm feeling a little pressure to lay a good foundation.)

So, after an evening of barely being able to contain herself on the topic (much to Husband's horror), it was finally time to tuck her in and chat. She did in fact have some very specific questions. Basic, but specific. Mostly along the lines of "how". They had discussed fertilization and what happens after that, but the logistics leading up to "how" things get to where they need to be was on her mind. I used simple language, very basic information, and then started breathing again when she said, "But why would someone ever want to do that?" Yes, I agreed, right now it seems to her a little bit like sticking your finger in someone else's nose... but when she got older and past puberty, and fell in love... then it would make more sense to her. I also made her laugh a little bit, which I think helped both of our comfort levels a lot.

So, we're talking. And I am reminding myself that this is a good thing. She is willing to talk to her mother about sex - we may end up having a fairly open relationship about this, and that is a good thing too. (Or we may not, it's too soon to tell.)

But... I'm not actually ready for her to figure out that this stuff is actually going on between her dad and myself. Which will occur to her within days of our conversation, trust me. She's going to figure out that sometimes when mom and dad have their door locked it isn't because we are having a private, adult conversation. And just like that, I'm back to being horrified again.

Friday, April 1, 2011


OK, so... this movie came out in 1995. I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan, and this movie is based on "Emma". (Loosely based... but all the major points are there.) My friend, Suz, and I LOVED this movie. It was one we would watch over and over together when it came out on VCR. So many great quotes, made us laugh each and every time we watched it. Always loved that Cher and Josh ended up together at the end of the movie - as it should be.

Yeah, watched it again last night for the first time in I can't remember how long. For the most part? Still so charming and well played. Clever idea, Cher Horowitz (the "Emma" of this movie) as darling as ever. Only now I know that I view this as a parent, and I'm a little bit not crazy that Cher ends up with Josh at the end of the movie. Sure, they're cute together... but she has just turned 16 at the end of this movie - and Josh is in COLLEGE. I get that Emma and Mr. Knightly had a large age difference. She was newly in her 20's and he was in his 30's... but all of the sudden the way it was written into Clueless just wasn't OK anymore for the mother of two girls (especially as one approaches puberty). All through the movie I wondered when I would show this movie to my daughters. It really is a cute movie in so many ways - but when it hit me at the end that a Sophomore in high school was dating a guy in College (and although they don't allude to it, I don't think he's in his Freshman year in college) - well it hit me in a completely different way. Because I don't think that is OK, and certainly would do everything in my power to keep my 16 year old daughter from dating a college boy.

OMG, giving birth and becoming a Mom ruined Clueless for me. If I ever wrote a parenting book I think I would feel compelled to include this little tidbit... because really? Who knew??

Monday, March 28, 2011

Putting Mother Nature on notice

Today is official DAY 1: Spring Break 2011. I have a tan - in MARCH. I am ready for some nice weather, Spring Fever was implanted in my brain during recent trip to beautiful tropical island, and I woke up today fully expecting to see crocus popping out of the ground and daffodils about to bloom. Springtime magic. Right. Mother Nature, it seems, did not get the memo. I hate to be the one to ALWAYS complain, but when I woke up today to this, I got a little mad:

Because really? I know I live in Colorado, and we won't be done with snow until May, possibly June... but DAY 1 of Spring Break? Really? It hasn't snowed in forever... today seemed like the best possible day to remind us that Springtime in the Rockies doesn't mean shorts and flowers and warmth?


Friday, March 25, 2011

Romance redefined

I used to think it was so romantic when Husband would give me flowers out of the blue... and he still does that - and I still get a little leap in my heart when he does.

This morning he called to find out what kind of memory card my camera took, since he was at the electronics store and remembered I needed one. And you know what? My heart kind of took a little leap.

Romance, after all these years, is still there. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in other stuff that I don't to notice it, but my heart reminds me of it every now and then so I won't forget: It is the million little things that matter most of all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thats some good parenting right there...

So, my eight year old daughter (DD2) is in a particularly whiny phase of life right now. And when I say that, please imagine the most irritating, whiny child you can imagine and multiply by two. It's bad.

We've been wondering how to handle this - we haven't quite found her "currency" yet... sending her to her room and other simple punishments aren't working so well. We've threatened to video tape her, she hates that idea. We've also told her we're more than willing to take her to school in her pj's - but she pretty much knows we're bluffing on that. However, our voices are starting to sound like we've been at too many very exciting sporting events from all the yelling we've been doing around here, and we hate the thought of starting off the day with a swat on the bum to try and stop the behavior.

This morning? She had a total tantrum. ROLLING on the floor of the landing, screaming at her sister every time she saw her face, yelling at the dog for walking by... much like the last five years of her life had never happened at all.

What set her off?

She wanted me to pick out her clothes for her. Again. Another habit I'm trying to break - as at 8 years old she's old enough to pick out her own clothes - especially since she hates what I pick out! Trying to head off a whiny start to the day I ended up picking out some jeans and a t-shirt which she HATED, and thus the drama began.

So, what does a good, caring, loving, supportive mom do at that point?

She grabs her iTouch and FILMS HER having a tantrum.

You thought she was mad before that point? It was like a volcano went off. She tried the "paparazzi hand over the camera" move, then she flew to her room and slammed her door. At which point all I had to say was, "Now, if you don't pull yourself together and either wear the outfit I picked out or find one you like better, I'm going to email this video to your teacher."

10 minutes later she was dressed. She hated me, but she was dressed.

Trust me, iTouch is at the ready from now until this phase ends. Turns out that was her currency all along. (I almost can't wait for the next time I have the chance to say, "Oh hold that pose so I can get the video camera ready!")

I know, I know... it's not exactly Love and Logic, and Dr. Phil's audience would probably boo me. But I think I just found a new "perk" of parenting.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh, Gnomeo...

OK, how do you not like a movie where the characters are this cute? (My VERY favorite character? The little mushroom on the left.) It's typical of the original story, the Montague clan on one side of the fence (in blue), Capulets on the other (in red). The Montague gnomes are in a garden with a porcelain toilet as it's centerpiece, while the Capulet gnomes are more posh, with a pond and tower in their garden. (No coincidence that the Dolly Parton Gnome comes from the blue side of the fence.)

The gnome in the Borat swimsuit amuses, but the real humor of that was missed completely by my kids - as was the comment by the twin gnome to the gnome he was attached to, "I wish I could quit you." There are some funny pop culture references, and while Tybalt dies in the original tragedy... he makes an appearance at the end of this movie super-glued together, which made the kids laugh.

There were some cute Shakespeare references: "a hat for a hat", Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet make an appearance - on the moving truck that takes lady flamingo away.

The part when the jogger encounters the 100 or so gnomes "frozen" in the alleyway was my favorite scene.

Would I give it two thumbs up? Probably not. My kids don't get British gardens and gnomes and the particularly crusty Brit attitude of the neighbors that hate each other. However, I giggled and the kids liked it... I didn't fall asleep (sorry, Brad... it wasn't THAT bad). Of course, I have to admit, it helped to remember that this little guy:

Is this guy, who is probably one of the best looking men on the planet:

Keep reminding yourself of that and it helps!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Amazing history being made in our lifetimes - so why do I have this nagging urge to tell the people of Egypt, "Be careful what you wish for."

However, a peaceful revolution (on the part of the protesters) is history making in itself.

Just please be careful. The hard part is beginning.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

You know how I hate to rush things...

So, I find myself here - the middle of January gone - staring down what is left of the Christmas decorations. It isn't pretty.

The tree seems to have begun to undecorate itself, tired I guess of being the last holiday tree standing in the neighborhood. (Well, probably not the LAST one... but it's getting down there.) There are now so many toys at it's base I can no longer tell the Christmas toys from the ones that lived here before December 25th. The nativity set is scattered, most of the pieces have spent the new year partying with the Kelly dolls - only the camel left in the crèche to try to help me figure out what is what, my only companion as I try to locate Joseph again this year (Joseph annually goes missing right after Christmas, one year he never did make an appearance... but we found him in with the stockings the next year and figured out he'd just needed an extended holiday). Today however Joseph was located early, and the shepherds fell into line - and even Mary was there waiting to be packed away. My elusive nemesis this year? The Christ child. I managed to pull myself together before frustration set in and the obscenities started. Screaming, "WTF have you done with the baby Jesus?" throughout the house hardly seemed like the proper way to close out the holiday season, and with patience did finally manage to locate him dressed up in a zhu zhu pet princess costume over with the rest of the holiday hamsters. No harm done.

So as I pack up the last reminders of the happy holiday season there is a pervasive thought running through mind... How much longer till the pool opens?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference.

Snowy Freezing Cold January:
See above.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Less than a week ago a child died after a year long battle with a brain tumor. He was a first grader at my children's school. I have found myself starting an entry about this on and off since I heard the news on Sunday. However, I keep finding myself wanting to rant about how I don't understand God's plan when something like this happens, and how as a mother I can't imagine dealing with this...

...but this isn't my story to tell. I didn't know this little boy except for minor interactions at school, and I don't know his family. I kept up with their news through a friend, and prayed for a miracle. We all did. Now I pray that God will give his family and friends the strength to get through this, to stay together and try to find one good things to hold on to and keep living. Them living through this will be a miracle. Not the one we all prayed for originally, but the one that needs to happen now.

Please join me in sending prayers for this family. God bless this family and give them comfort. Keep them safe, and love their little boy who is with you now. Please make sure something good can come from all of this, and walk with his family and friends while they need your strength and guidance. Amen.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Is it me, or are the baristas going mad?

I pull in to Starbucks drive thru today on the way to pick up the kids from school. It's FREEZING outside (technically, colder than freezing), so I pull up to the speaker - and here is how that little conversation went:

Speaker box: "Welcome to Starbucks! I'm Kent, can I start you off with a peppermint mocha today?"
Me: "Uh, no thanks, Kent. I'd like a Grande Sweetened Green Tea please."
Kent: "Great, that'll be $2.11 at the window!"

I drive up to window, and hand Kent exact change.

Kent then turns around hands me an ICED Grande Sweetened Green Tea.

Me: "Wow, it's freezing out here, I had hoped that it would be HOT tea."
Kent: "Oh, OK. You want HOT Sweetened Green Tea?"
Me: "That would be exactly right."
Kent: "What did you want that sweetened with?"
Me: "Come again?"
Kent: "What kind of sweetener do you want us to use in your hot tea?"
Me: "Is this a trick question?"
Kent: "No."
Me: "What did you sweeten the cold drink with, Kent?"
Kent: "Simple syrup."
Me: "Is there a reason you wouldn't just use that for the hot version?"
Kent: "Ma'am, we don't make sweetened hot green tea usually, unless someone wants a latte. Did you want a latte?"
Me: "No. What I want is hot tea. Green tea. Hot. Sweetened with simple syrup. I've ordered it before and not had this problem... why is this a problem?"
Kent: "It isn't a problem, it just isn't something we usually make. I'll get that right up for you."

So I wait.

And Kent hands me a steaming hot, sweetened green tea. I'm happy, Kent is relieved, I drive away.

Kent is lucky that I'm on the highway before I realize it's a Tall.