Monday, May 31, 2010

Crime Scene Photos

Small One has a limited collection of Barbie dolls… only princesses, with one Handsome Prince thrown in by my delighted cousin, whose poor daughter always had to let Cinderella date Ken. These dolls live in a pastel briefcase when they are not in use, but today I could not locate the Prince when it came time to put everyone away.

But wait… what’s this?

DSC_6098

Oh no!

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I’m sorry to say, I suspect foul play. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summer Sunday

Drove out to my cousin's today, forty five minutes from my house, and visited with family and old friends. Small One was a little territorial, because there was a new little person visiting her auntie's house, and she was not about to be displaced.

The new little person was a charmer, though, and the day was sunny but not too hot, with intermittent drops of rain to cool it further. We ate and talked and laughed...guitars were strummed, songs were sung. Small One played in the sprinkler, and picked flowers, and by the end of the day her braids had come loose, her feet were bare, and she was running joyfully through the green grass, a wild creature of summer. Watching her reminded me of other summers, years ago, when my older two ran with abandon and fell into the green grass, laughing.

These little moments, these small pictures in my mind, that's what I carry with me of my children's childhoods. I hope that these are the things they carry as well, into adulthood with them, and into the hearts of their own children.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Date Night Fail

The Man, as I've mentioned, is commuting between states. For the next two months or so, he'll be driving four hours on Friday to come home, four hours on Sunday to go back Knowing he was going to be home this weekend, I decided to plan a date night, and bartered friend-time permission for Middle Child in exchange for a long night of babysitting.

It was to be a long night, because first, a new local restaurant was having a sneak peek of their menu before their grand opening on Tuesday. Those of us who are on the email list for the owner of the restaurant got an invitation to come and eat appetizers and drink wine, in the cool of the evening, until 8pm. The Man and I planned to attend that event, and then proceed to the drive in, for a double feature.

The first blunder of the evening was mine, to be sure. Since last September, I've suffered with tinnitus- persistent ringing in the ears. No one has had much positive to say to me about it, though I've seen an ear nose and throat guy and a neurologist. The neurologist gave me a prescription, though, for something that really helps, but I never take it because it makes me sleepy. In the afternoon, getting ready for date night, struggling to remember why I wasn't taking it, I thought that being sleepy wasn't so bad because my Small was napping. I'd just take the pill and then take a nap, and wake up refreshed and with quieter ear noise! Ta dah! No, not so much. I forgot that "sleepy" doesn't cover it- it puts me into a coma like Sleeping Beauty state that lasts a good 18 hours. I fell asleep at 2pm and at 6 the Man brought me coffee and I dragged my still mostly asleep bones into the living area of the house.

Middle Child was grumpy. She'd planned to meet a friend for lunch, and then have that friend spend the night, and help her with the babysitting. So far, no friend. That being the case, the Man and I reworked our date night plans, and took Small with us to the tasting event. (We invited MC as well, but she declined.) Arriving at the tasting, we declined the free wine- in my case, because I was still struggling with the effects of the ear pill and couldn't get my eyes all the way open. We then played with a three year old while waiters occasionally brought us things like salmon tartare and pimiento cheese on toast- not really ideal. But, no matter! There's still the drive in, right?

We hurried home from the tasting, still starving, and situated Small at the table with some spaghetti. MC was still sullenly awaiting the arrival of her friend, and I must say, I was nervous when we left for the movies. After garnering a promise of attention to her sister from MC, we heated up dinner for ourselves, kissed the girls, and ran back out the door.

Did I mention the sleepiness brought on by those pills? In case you're not yet clear on how bad the effect is, let me just say, I fell asleep at the drive in. During Iron Man. During an ACTION SEQUENCE. The man kept waking me up, and I kept apologizing, because I really wanted to hang out with him, and I really wanted to see the movie! Alas, midway through the film, MC called. Small had vomited in her bed, and our assistance was needed.

We bargained for a rain check, and raced home to clean vomit off of sheets and floor- MC had focused solely on her sister, who was playing happily in the tub when we got there. No friend had arrived for MC, so she went to bed, discouraged.

We finally got the whole situation resolved at 11:30 pm, and settled in to watch a dvd, which is the same time that I wrote this blog entry. Deciding at 11:50 that I was too sleepy to proofread, I told the Man that I was going to snooze for 20 minutes, and he told me he'd pause the dvd player- it was 6:30 am when I awoke to realize his laptop and mine still between us on the bed, with his hands, in fact, still on the keys. The laundry from last night's debacle, still needing to be folded, still on the foot of the bed, both of us sleeping awkwardly positioned around all of that. Are we having fun yet?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Highlight of my Night

I didn't feel well today. I woke up nauseous, with the kind of vertigo that I've ever only experienced a time or two, after a night of drinking. No drinking last night or today, just the disorienting feeling that the room was alternately spinning in circles and rolling beneath me as though we were at sea.

I looked it up on WebMd.com. This is not really the best choice, I realize, and it's probably better never to google your own health issues, but I was curious as to what I should do. There was a checklist on the vertigo page, and two thirds of the way through it, it asked "do you have ringing in the ears (tinnitus)?" Well, yeah. I've had that for the better part of a year, to the bewilderment of the ent, general practitioner, and neurologist. So I checked "yes", and WebMd immediately became very closed mouthed and told me I needed to get to a doctor immediately. Sigh. So I did what any sensible person would do- I took a Dramamine and went to sleep.

Feeling a little better this evening, I bustled about, packing boxes, cooking, cleaning... the Man was due home tonight from his new out of state commute, and I was letting Small stay up to see him, so it was very hectic. Small was "helping" me by packing things she wanted to keep into boxes that were going away, and similar unhelpful tasks. But then something happened that made me laugh out loud.

I was loading the dishwasher, but a box had somehow migrated under the dishwasher door, so I could not get it all the way open. I nudged the box with my foot, knowing it hadn't yet been packed, but it was heavier than I thought, or perhaps wedged, so I gave it a slightly firmer kick. At that point, my foot slipped inside the open end of the box, and the box hissed really loudly!

My laughter did nothing to assuage the offended feelings of my feline, I assure you. The disdainful glare he gave me as he exited the box and shook the dust off of his tail was one of the better moments of my day. Sorry, kitty!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Song Choice and a Personal Trainer

As I mentioned, I went out last night. Arriving home, I became engrossed in research regarding my impending relocation, and did not go to bed at a reasonable hour. My little dog, not known for his timing, began barking his crazy head off at midnight- presumably because an errant bunny was considering breaking into our home to steal the television?

I went in and silenced the dog (not with a silencer, just by asking nicely), and locked up the house, but still didn't make it to bed for quite a while. At 3:30, he started up again, and again at 5. At 5, when I went to handle it, I realized I was humming. It took me a minute to remember the words to the old tune, but when I did, it made me giggle:

"Whisper a prayer in the morning
Whisper a prayer at noon
Whisper a prayer in the evening
To keep your heart in tune..."

I'm certain that's what the dear canine was doing- whispering a prayer.

To her credit, Small One slept in until 8:22 am. I coerced her into watching public television for a little while so I could steal a few more minutes, not even caring that my doze was peppered with visions of Dinosaur Train and Curious George. After a brief while, though, Small One shook me back awake.

"Mommy!" she said, "You needa wake UP! I think the gym is open, and the kids' club!"

Ah, it's good to have a live-in personal trainer- even one that's three feet tall.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Girls' Night

It's been hectic around my house lately, with a lot of changes and a lot of traveling. Tonight, though, I had the opportunity to spend some time with some of my girlfriends. I have to say, it was a wonderful time of refreshment for me, and really reminded me of how much I've missed some of these wonderful women.

I was never really much of a girlfriend type of girl. I've always been the type to prefer the simplicity of male company, and at any given time I've really only had one or two truly close girlfriends. I was never in a sorority, never understood the appeal of groups like that, always had likeminded girlfriends who considered themselves "more a guy's girl than a girly girl".

Now, though, I'm ridiculously wealthy when it comes to female friends. I have a lovely Sunday school class, full of wonderful, warm, funny women. I have wonderful older women who have been mentors as well as friends. I have a sister, cousins, sisters in law, all of whom I love with my whole heart. And I have an eclectic mix of girlfriends, including the crew that came out tonight. Some of them knew each other quite well, some met tonight, some I've known for my whole life, some only a few months, but everyone chatted, laughed, and generally spent two and half hours enjoying each others company. It was such a blessing to me, I felt like I had a giant smile on my face the whole time, and it wasn't just the pomegranate martinis doing it.

I did have a funny moment early in the day, though. I received an email inviting me to enter a contest with a local mom's group, to win tickets to the sneak preview of Sex and the City 2. I told my girlfriends this tonight, and they all responded with excitement- until I said that I didn't enter the contest because the tickets were only good tonight, and I knew we already had this planned dinner. They looked disappointed for a moment, but then laughed just as I had earlier, when I pointed out that it seemed imminently better to actually go out, with my actual girlfriends, for real cocktails, rather than sit in a theater and live vicariously through fictional girlfriends. After we finished laughing, we ordered another round. Much better than a movie. Thanks, girls.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Great Outdoors

I may have mentioned this a time or two before, but I am an indoor girl. You know, there are indoor cats and outdoor cats? Yes, well, I am the kind of girl who much prefers a saucer of cream and a velvet cushion to chasing mice through the tall grass. I'm not a big camper, sunbathing literally makes me break out in a rash, I don't care for outdoor sports- (who am I kidding, I don't care for sports in general)- I've never understood the charm of working in the garden, and I loathe yard work.

Last year, with the help of an outdoorsy friend, I cultivated a successful container garden. This year, buoyed by last year's triumphant basil and tomato-ing, I've planted another one. I was even bold enough to go one step further and purchase impatiens and a geranium! The impatiens are thriving, (no surprise there, they're hard to kill), my vegetables seem to be doing well, the catnip is out of control, the basil is gorgeous, but I must admit, the poor little geranium has been looking a little bit peaked. I was at my cousin's house today, admiring her gorgeous garden, and I complimented her geraniums, mentioning my sad little specimen. She told me you really have to cut the geraniums back for them to do well.

Returning home, I was thrilled to see that the yard guys had come. Yard men are a new addition to my world. We are not the sort of people who typically hire help, but since the Man is out of town, leaving me in charge of the yard as well as the house, I asked for help from my dear friend and neighbor, from Northstar Christmas Trees, who is a landscape designer during the non-Christmas-tree months. He was on his way out of town, but assured me he'd "hook me up" and let his guys know what needed to be done- and wow! My yard has never looked so fantastic! It's mown, edged, blown, and probably other words I don't know since I'm yardwork impaired, but trust me, it's a miracle to behold.

I was so excited, I went to check out the similarly beautified back yard, and was inspired to tend to my little garden. I filled the watering can for Small One, and turned my hose towards the little geranium...gasp! The dear little geranium has been hacked down to a nub. Uh oh, yard guys. On the other hand, my cousin did say they needed to be cut back. Mission accomplished!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Boxy Mcboxerton

My home is becoming a little overwhelmed with boxes right now, which is fitting, because I'm a little overwhelmed with the thought of packing all those boxes. It all makes sense.

Boxes, good boxes, are pricey. Yes, I know you can get boxes from the liquor store or the grocery store, but the ones I really want to use are the real truly live packing boxes, the ones that were meant to be used in a move, and have never held a head of lettuce or a bottle of whiskey.

Luckily for me, I know about Freecycle. In case any of you are not aware,Freecycle is one of the greatest concepts known to modern man, a group people join to promote reuse and save things from the landfills. Here's how it works- people who want to get rid of things post a note offering them up to other "freecyclers" for (and this is the key) free. Contrariwise (as the Tweedles would say), people who need things can post a "wanted" note, and other freecyclers volunteer to give them those things!

It's a genius system. We've gotten rid of appliances, baby toys, books, and other unwanted brick-a-brack, and received good and useful things like, in this case, boxes! Boxes aplenty! Wonderful, generous freecyclers have come forward, and I even scored a wardrobe box. Amazing, but true!

One box, though, has me a little bit bewildered. On the side of it, it reads "Mini Puppies- best by 2/26/2011". I don't even want to speculate on the origin of that box.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Doing this NaBloPoMo challenge is exactly that- a challenge. It doesn't sound so hard to blog every day for thirty days in a row, but some days it's more difficult than you would imagine. Let's face it, I'm just seriously not that interesting! Sometimes I do nothing notable for an entire day.

Today, for example, was an extremely lazy Sunday. The Man was preparing to leave for his new job, planning to return later in the week. He didn't really want to go to church, preferring to hang out and spend some quality time before the routine changes. So we slept in, ate French toast, played, and just generally lounged about.

We did pick up some boxes and packing tape, so I guess that's an accomplishment. But perhaps more noteworthy, I got my three year old to not only eat kale, but to declare it "super yummy!". That, I'd say, is the most satisfying accomplishment of my day.

Sometimes I'm easily satisfied.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Giving it Up

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we're contemplating a move. The Man has been through all the meetings and negotiations, and it now comes down to a decision on our part. Do we stay or do we go?

I'm not really an obsessive person. I'm actually pretty relaxed, in most circumstances. But when I have a big decision to make, I can't stop going over and over it in my mind. I think about it, I pray about it, I make lists of the pros and cons, I talk it over with friends and family...I blog about it.

Over the past few days, I started to have the nagging feeling that I was getting too tangled up in emotions to think clearly, and too circular in my thoughts to hear any answers to my prayers. I started redirecting my prayers, turning them from pleas for a sign on the decision to a request for clarity on what's me and what's more than me. And suddenly, I had an answer:

"The decision belongs to your husband."

Huh? Yeah, ok, but we're partners. I'm hardly a strident feminist, but there is a certain equality that I treasure in our marriage...

"The decision belongs to your husband. You chose him as your husband, let him make this choice."

Ok, that definitely did NOT come from my own brain. My brain is the one that almost lost my last baby because I was so convinced that the world would stop revolving if I slowed down at all, stopped making all the decisions, stopped trying to save everyone.

I paused to consider what I was hearing. I allowed myself to become quiet, in my person, and in my mind. And the interesting thing is, I felt a sudden peace about the situation, once I made the choice to allow the decision to belong to the Man. It was liberating.

And here's another interesting thing. My typically indecisive husband thanked me for stepping back, and he quietly but firmly made a decision. We will be moving. Whether it's long term remains to be seen, and I've requested that he keep an ear to the ground for opportunities here in our beloved home, but for now, the decision has been made.

Having given up that piece of control, I'm really at peace with the whole thing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hope

I am not tall. This is actually an understatement, as I am five foot two inches, taller than very few of my friends and acquaintances, short by any standards. When my son was a preteen and got excited about outgrowing me, I had to burst his bubble and point out that, even for a twelve year old, this is not such an accomplishment.

Most household tasks I handle quite well, and don't consider my height an impediment. But this year, I decided to grow my tomatoes upside down- (all the cool kids are doing it, it seems)- in one of those containers meant to be hung from the eaves. This was a dilemma for me, not only because my height makes all things eaves-related daunting,
but also because the package also specified "full sun", and our eaves are rather shady. I thought I'd solved the problem brilliantly when I purchased a shepherd's hook for the garden, but while I was out of town, it became apparent to the Man that the shepherd's hook was no match for the heavy planter. His solution was to hang it on the hammock.

I argued that this was not a good spot, because it was too low to the ground, and I encouraged him to hang it from the eaves by the front door, which was my mother's suggestion. He did not. This was great news for the bunnies who live in our yard, because it was directly within their reach, which was, of course, bad news for the tomato plant.

The delighted little bunnies chewed it down to a nub, at which point the Man acquiesced, and decided it was time to move it to the front eaves. I was doubtful that it would make any difference at this point, as it was literally a sad little leafless green nub, but today when I went to water it, I saw this:


I don't know if you can see it, but there's a sprout on the bottom, a little green leaf midway up, and, right where it meets the container, a new little shoot has sprouted it's own leaves and grown about an inch long.

That, in my opinion, is what hope looks like.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer Start

The definition of a cockeyed optimist, in my opinion, is someone who knows full well that she has a preschooler, and yet tells people she will leave her house in ten minutes. I'm not sure why I always do that, overestimate my own ability to be a superhero, but I always truly believe in what I'm saying, even though I realize that ultimately it makes me look like a flake. I'm not a flake, I just overextend.

We did eventually get to where we were going today, and where we were going was a playdate with our dear friends. Small One was excited to get into her bathing suit for the first time this year, and who can blame her? These two girls are awfully cute in their swimwear.

They were shooting water rockets and playing with the hose, and there was initial trepidation- they kept saying "this water is too wet!" I found this funny, because isn't that pretty much the definition of water? They got over it, though, because who can resist the allure of playing with your own personal rainbow?
It gave me a general sense of well being, watching these sweet girls play. I love Summer almost as much as I love Spring, though for different reasons. I love Spring because of the lush beauty of it, the aspect of rebirth after the Winter, the gorgeous bursts of color everywhere you turn. I love Summer for the laziness. Summer is Spring's more laid back sibling, shaking its head over Spring's excesses, from the vantage point of a hammock in the shade. As with every hammock lying creature, Summer is burnt out after a few months, but these first days are wonderful, to be sure.

Middle Child finishes the school year tomorrow, and there are many changes coming in our lives very soon. But for now, I just really want this Summer, the lazy days, a time to kick back with my children and enjoy the people they are. I'm grateful for today, for just that sort of opportunity, to start the Summer the right way, with friends and water and ice cream and rainbows. Here's to many more days like this!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Today

Today marked two momentous gatherings. The first was a meeting my dear Man attended, in which he was more or less offered a job in another town, four hours from here. (I say more or less because there's an additional meeting in the morning, to wrap up the details.)

The gathering of which I was a part was the final class of the year for my Small One. I don't think she quite understands that preschool is over for the year, and I don't think her classmates realize it either, but I could tell from their faces that it was a bittersweet moment for many of the moms. Childhood goes too quickly, and every milestone is just another reminder that they're moving on to the next age, the next phase. It was a great time, this morning, and the teachers gave us these wonderful keepsake books chronicling our children's first year of preschool, but even looking through the books pointed out how far they've come in a year, and how quickly they're continuing to go.

It was particularly emotional for me, though, because if the Man takes this job (and he really should, it's a significant pay raise), my Small will not be back at that school next year. As much as I'm trying to keep a stiff upper lip about it, for the good of the family, that makes me incredibly sad. I really wanted her to stay at that school until kindergarten. The school is part of our church, and we've been at that church, and in this town, for thirteen years. I'm sure that there will be many positive things about moving away, but I'm not in a place to see them yet. My friends are here, my community is here, my life is here.

My bank is here. Small One and I stopped by the bank today after the preschool party. We bank at a local bank, with free popcorn in the lobby and tellers that have doted on Small since she was much smaller. We opened our account the month after we got married, and everyone there knows us by name. I mentioned to one of the women there today that this move may be in the works, and she shook her head adamantly. "You go on and move then," she said, "because I know the money's good, but the baby stays HERE, with us. Don't worry, Mama, we'll take good care of her!"

We laughed, and I made the usual comment, about not being able to manage without her. But it makes me wonder- how will I find another such bank?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jiggety Jig

I'm home again, and happy to be here. It seems like I've been perpetually on the road lately, and I feel like I'm behind in every area of my life- stalled out by too much time in other places, not enough attention to my own world. I'm trying to get caught up, but I'm mindful of the fact that I will probably be back on the road within the next couple of weeks, so I feel a real time crunch. I'm trying to arrange time with friends, set up meetings regarding new opportunities, tend to the garden and pets, and clean the house.

Cleaning the house, to be honest, feels a lot like digging to China with a teaspoon. I'll start in the living room, for example, dusting, sweeping, and mopping, move on to the dining room, head to the kitchen, and, feeling a great sense of accomplishment, walk through the living room to put something away, only to find that the fur on the floor is equivalent to the fur I removed ten minutes earlier. In addition, having a teenager and a preschooler in the house assures that for every piece of clutter I put away, two more pieces spring, unbidden, to take its place. It's frustrating, to be sure. I'm scooping away with the spoon, and China is never any closer.

If I'm being truly honest, I will also admit that we have a minor hoarding problem. Well, ok, it may be more than minor, but I promise it's not like the people on A&E, but I do feel a sad sort of kinship with those people when I watch the show. I don't have cable, so I really only watch the show when I'm visiting my sister, and then I'm sitting alone, after she has gone to bed, in horror, unable to look away. The problem with that show is that those people have experts that come and fix them, which I must admit makes me insanely jealous, because I want someone to come hold my hand and say to me "It doesn't matter if your grandmother gave it to you, it's a polka dotted suit, and you won't wear it, so give it away!" Or "No, you actually don't need that broken hair clip or the egg dipping wires from Easter."

No one comes to do that. No one holds my hand. So I have to tell myself that I don't need those egg dippers, when in fact I put up a pretty good argument for keeping them, since most egg dyeing sets only come with one dipper and we all have to share. Wouldn't it be more convenient if we each had our own? The problem is, by next Easter I will have forgotten where I put the wires, even if I've made every attempt to find a logical spot for them.

I'm also, of course, perpetually struggling with my darling Man's idea of recycling. I believe I've mentioned his recycling technique in a previous blog entry, but to recap, he puts things in my way until I can't stand it any longer and a)throw them away, b)figure out somewhere to take them, or c)throw a fit that causes him to put them in his car. I'm not sure that leaving egg cartons and plastic bags in his car is actually considered recycling, but at least they're not in a landfill, right? My soapbox of the day is batteries. We have two junk drawers in the kitchen, and over half of each drawer is full of dead batteries! What am I to do with those? I have no idea. More research is needed, I suppose. For today, I've closed the drawers and I'm pretending they aren't there.

I had a small victory today, though. I'm actually proud enough of it to share, and if any of my dear readers have a hoarding issue like mine, you'll appreciate the enormity of this accomplishment. I threw away my wedding bouquet. Because, after almost ten years of marriage, I have come to terms with the fact that, since I'm keeping the Man, and I have photographic documentation, it's rather pointless to keep a dried out, unattractive, somewhat dusty bouquet. China, here I come!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Silly Sunday Part 2

It's just not a party until my mom teaches a clinic on how to make flatulent sounds with the hands. (Because you never know when you might need to know that!) Poor video quality, but you get the idea.

video

Silly Sunday

Someone had too much to drink at my birthday celebration. Hint: it wasn't me, and the beverage in question was water.

video

Saturday, May 15, 2010

No Moon Pies THIS Time

So, today was my birthday, and we're in Nashville. I have some family up here- my aunt and uncle, cousin and her family, and of course, my sister. Additionally, my mom's up here this weekend, because of the Alias show last night, so it was nice timing to have a family celebration for my birthday.

We had my birthday in Nashville last year, too, but that was a little bit different. It was the brainchild of my sweet young sister-in-law, who thought it would be fun to combine my birthday and her bachelorette party, and make a weekend of it. It was a lot of fun, I will say, but involved a lot of drinking, as well. In fact, this afternoon my sister-in-law and I were trying to reassemble the order in which we visited various places that weekend, and were pitifully inept. As the song says, blame it on the a-a-a-a-alcohol.

This weekend had a different tone. Unlike last year, we did not have bachelorette party girls with us, and, also unlike last year, we did have the Man and Small One in tow- so the venues were tamer, the fun more family friendly. Last night, of course, we went to my sister's show, and during intermission, my aunt asked me if we wanted to go to the Moon Pie festival.
"There's a Moon Pie festival?" I asked, incredulously.
"Sure!" she exclaimed, "Do you know how many flavors of Moon Pie there are? A LOT of flavors. AND they deep fry them. AND there's R.C. Cola."
Well, now, I ask you- who could resist an event like that? So I said that of course I'd want to go, and then I asked what time they were leaving. She said 8:30. I paused for a moment, certain I'd misheard, but no. 8:30. In the MORNING. Because if you don't grab that first Moon Pie before 9, you've wasted your day? Nevertheless, despite my personal "no Moon Pies before noon" philosophy, we decided to go.

Arriving home, I puttered around a bit, then at about 1am thought I might check out the Moon Pie festival online. Turns out, it wasn't this weekend at all! I'm really glad I figured that out, though, because there actually was some sort of biker gathering in the town to which we were headed, and I would have been deeply upset to have gotten up early on my birthday to go see bikers. We regrouped, and decided to go to the Strawberry Festival in Portland, TN.

It was a wonderful day, overall, and I very much enjoyed having a chance to visit with my family. We ate lovely strawberry shortcake- really, top notch, and probably too much of it. And Small One had fun bouncing,


climbing,


and sliding down various inflatable things.


I learned a few things today, as well, like this:

which I wouldn't have expected, since it was roughly three hundred and eight degrees outside today. I also found out what the Six Million Dollar Man has been up to since 1999:

That's really good, I think- good to see him staying busy. But the biggest revelation at the Strawberry Festival was some of the crafts. I'd been blissfully unaware, until today, that people made hair bows out of bottle caps! Were you aware? I didn't get a picture, but you can get the idea out of this one I found online. You get the idea, though, and I can't figure out where one might wear these unless it is to some sort of pageant. A pageant for the tacky, perhaps.


The biggest surprise to me, though, was the garden hose wreaths. I mean, nothing says "Welcome to Our Home" like a big old garden hose hanging on your front door. Thanks, Strawberry Festival folks, for the idea- I'm going to go put on one my door the instant I can manage it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

More of a Plug than a Post

Tonight we're in Nashville, for a concert by the non-profit group of which my sister is a member. The group is called Alias, and if you are in the Nashville area, and especially if you love classical music you should really try and get a chance to check them out, because it's always a treat! They only have three concerts a year, all to benefit worthy causes, but they will be performing at an event next month, called Arts and Flowers. It's a very exciting time for the group, they just got a grant from the NEA, and they're doing a recording, as well.

Because I'm a proud big sister, I'm skipping the blog tonight, and posting a link to the Alias website. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh, no she DIDN'T

But oh, yes, she did.

I need a vacation. Preferably all expenses paid, to some tropical locale like Maui or Jamaica. I need massages and time to read novels by the pool, and fruity drinks.

It's not going to happen, of course. I'm the Mama, and whoever said woman's work is never done was dead on. Today was one of those days, where I hit the ground running, and ran until Small One and I were both a bit ragged. Truthfully, it was two hours past naptime when I took her to the grocery store, which is a rookie mistake, and I know better, but sometimes, that's just the way it goes.

We walked into the grocery store, and Small began clamoring to ride in one of those ridiculous buggies with the steering wheels on the child's seat, meant to look like a car. Some of those buggies aren't bad, but this particular store has horrible ones, twice as long as a regular cart, and practically impossible to maneuver. Sometimes I'm indulgent, but today I was not. I told her no and firmly but calmly wrestled her into a cart, under the malevolent glare of several old biddies, because of course, Wednesday is when senior citizens get a discount, so they firmly believe they should be the only ones allowed in the store, I think. Silly me, forgetting.

Just as I got her settled and walked through the door, something completely unbelievable and horrifying happened. My Small, who is typically rather mature for her age, leaned over and put her MOUTH on the side of the cart. Mortified, I grabbed her upper arm and pulled her back far enough to remove her mouth from the e coli she was surely about to ingest, and she let out an impressive wail. "Yooou HURT meeeeee!" she howled, and I glared at her and informed her through clenched teeth that much worse things would happen if the noise did not stop. It stopped.

The rest of the grocery trip was uneventful- as uneventful as any grocery trip with a preschooler can be- and I'd almost forgotten the incident when we got to the register. At that point, she began begging for a balloon. Still not in an indulgent mood, I declined to troop back to the floral department for a free one, and further declined to pay for one of the pricey ones at the register.

She was mad. SO mad, that just then, she smiled prettily at the cashier to get her attention, then turned to me and loudly said, "Mommy, why do I have tears in my eyes? Oh, I remember- it's from when you grabbed my arm like THIS and hurt me really really bad." (This was accompanied by her pinching her own arm so hard it turned bright red.) I looked at the cashier, who looked back at me with a face of stone. I smiled at her. Then I fled the premises.

Small knew she was in trouble. Before we even left the store she started apologizing. I told her that if she ever did anything like that again, she would not even know what hit her, she'd be in so much trouble. Then I made her sit in silence on the way home, no music, and none of the fruity snack she'd been promised. She broke the silence occasionally, to tell me how very VERY sorry she is, and what a good girl she'll be in the future. I told her to be good in the present, by zipping her lip.

I love my children, really I do. Children are a gift from God, and I'll keep saying that as a mantra until mine are grown, because what else can I do? He didn't give me a gift receipt. But I need a vacation. Or at least a nap.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scary Creatures

My Small One is relatively fearless. She's very active, reasonably coordinated, not intimidated by bugs or dogs, not shy or fearful or strangers. Sometimes loud noises bother her, and the first time she saw the Wizard of Oz, we had to turn it off the very moment the Wicked Witch made her appearance. But for the most part, she faces the world unafraid.

Except for the Storyteller. For some reason, she is absolutely terrified of the woman who comes to her school once a month to tell stories to the children. This is particularly strange to me because this is the same woman who taught music to the smaller children last year, when Small was on the smaller children side of the preschool, so she's a familiar face, and when she was the music teacher, there was no problem with her. But this year, it is such an issue that Small asks me to "check it out" every school day, to make sure there's no story teller before she walks into her class. She has a standing arrangement with her teachers to allow her to be the "special helper" on story day, which means she gets to stay in he classroom instead of going to hear the story. Stranger still, when we see the storyteller outside of her story telling capacity, she has no issue with her. We can only surmise that something in the animated way the stories are told just rubs her the wrong way.

Apparently, this dread of animated performers extends to clowns, as well. I think this is a fairly common phobia, because, let's face it, clowns can be pretty creepy. But it made me giggle this afternoon when I picked Small up from school.

She hopped in the car and leaned forward, hands extended, palms downward in a reassuring gesture, and said, "It wasn't a CLOWN walking up to the school. It was just a parent dressed UP as a clown."

Whew! Such a relief.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stuck in the Middle with You

I'm extremely blessed, as a mom, with three beautiful, healthy, bright children. One of them has already left the nest, (flown the coop?), and one is still in that fun preschool stage, where everything I say and do is wonderful, and she wants me with her all the time. Mother's Day was fun yesterday, because she was so pleased and proud to present me with the little gifts she'd made in school and Sunday school.

My Middle Child, though, is the one that occupies most of my time, and most of my thoughts. She's in that phase of adolescence right now that is the complete opposite of the preschool time, where the things I say and do are moronic and embarrassing, and the thought of being touched by or seen with me is repulsive. She's having a tough time of it, too, really trying to find her way, and I'd like to help her, guide her around the potholes I can see in her path, but she can't see that. To her, I'm an obstacle, an impediment, the only thing between her and the fulfilment of her dreams.

Mothers I know, who have been there and done that, tell me it will pass, and I hope it will. I miss the closeness I used to feel with my daughter. I miss seeing her get really excited about accomplishing something. I miss feeling like I know her better than anyone else.

The truth is, despite her current struggles, I know she's a really remarkable girl. Beautiful and strong, smart and quick-witted, full of ideas and spunk, creative, gifted and with a lively imagination. I look at her, and I see all the things she doesn't realize she can be. I look at her and want desperately to be able to fast forward her through the troubled times and bring her to a place of cognition, an age of reason, where she sees the world more clearly, and understands that I am not a stumbling block but an ally, and an advocate.

The strange thing, I think, about motherhood, is the ability to see your children as all their ages at one time. I look at my Small, and see her sweet preschool face, but have a vision of the woman she'll grow to be. I look at my Oldest, and still see that tiny, funny little boy, hidden in the man he now is. I look at my Middle Child, and behind the teenager I see the soft baby, my little pig-tailed sweetheart, round faced and sunny, my chatty and funny preteen, and the woman I want her to grow into, confident, accomplished and successful. My highest goal, my biggest challenge, is to help guide her, and all my children, really, into the place God has for them, the place where they become the amazing people I know them to be.

My prayer, every day, is for strength, for wisdom, for guidance, and for perspective, with a debt of gratitude and praise for all the people they have been, are, and will become.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Is it cheating to repost my own blog?

Today is Mother's Day, and it's a strange one for me. My Oldest no longer lives here, and is unsure whether he'll "make it by" today. Middle Child spent the night with a friend on the other side of town. My Small has been very excited, bringing me gifts from preschool and Sunday school with a delighted look on her face, and she and the Man are out picking up lunch even now. But I'm not spending the day with my big kids, and I don't get to see my own mother today, (or as often as I'd like to), so it feels anticlimactic and strange.

A few days ago, I was reading through some old blogs, and came across one from Father's Day weekend last year that really struck a chord with me, as a good picture of how I feel about motherhood. So even though it may be a cheat, I want to post it again:

The last day at the mountain house, we sit on the back porch, the Small One and I, and eat cherries. The sun is low on the mountains, and it’s the time of day when the world seems benevolent and warm. I bite the cherries in half, being careful to take the seed in my half, so I can give her a seedless chunk. She’s impatient for more, but I relish the time, watching the cherry stains spread across her face and fingers.

I suddenly have the thought that this is the way I want parenting to be, but it rarely is- I always want to hand them pieces of life from which I’ve stripped the obstacles and rotten parts, and watch them enjoy themselves. The cherries I bite are sometimes not sweet, and when they’re not I throw them off the deck, so she only gets the choicest pieces. I tell her we’re throwing away the yucky cherries, and she looks at me with her trusting, not quite three year old face, and nods agreement. “We don’t like yucky cherries,” she says, “because they’re not so yummy.”

Looking into the serious eyes above the cherry stains, I have a flash of the years to come. I’m all too familiar with the difficulties ahead, having raised two other children almost to adulthood, and I want to hold her right where she is, while she still trusts me completely and loves me without reservation. I want to sit with her and listen to her say that she loves cherries because they’re red, and red is her favorite color. I want to know her favorite color. I don’t want to fight with her about tattoos and piercing and curfews, I don’t want her to assume I’m setting rules because I hate her, I don’t want to look into her face and see a hostile stranger.

I’m thinking this as she hops off her rocking chair and stubs her toe. She yelps, and I hand her a cherry half. She examines it for a minute, then looks at me and brightens up. “Thank you, Mommy,” she says, “that will make me feel better.”

Happy Mother's Day, especially to my beautiful Mama!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jokes and Nonsense

My dad came to visit today, in the way my dad usually does, which is to say that he was passing through, flying to visit someone else, and stopped in my town for a few hours. This time was a little different, though, because he brought his new stepdaughters who are, strangely enough, relatively close in age to my two older children. (Not so strange if you realize how close in age his new wife is to me, but that's a story for another blog.)

I was happy he was bringing them, not least because Middle Child had not met them before, and had been wanting to. Come to think of it, I guess they hadn't met the Man before, either, but I totally forgot about that when they were here. He wasn't able to get off work for the wedding last year, but I forgot about that, because there were SO many weddings and other events last year that it's all a bit of a blur. M.C. was not particularly charming, unfortunately, having had a not so great week, romantically speaking.

One person that everyone has met, and enjoyed, of course, is my Small One. Today she was in rare form, running all over Centennial Olympic Park, singing songs in the back seat, telling everyone her long name, and just generally entertaining the crowd. We decided to take them on a tour of Decatur, since that is our favorite hang out spot, and M.C. brightened considerably and suggested a pizza place for lunch.

This suited everyone but Small. "Noooo!" she said, "I don't want PIZZA!" I'm not sure what that was about. It could be because last week, in Nashville, she had a bit of a run in with jalapenos on a pizza, which caused her to squeal and rake at her tongue with her fingers, but I didn't think she'd been traumatized by that!

We assured her that she wouldn't be required to eat pizza, that we were certain there were other things on the menu. But as we walked, one or the other of us would say something about pizza, or "the pizza place", and she would begin her protests anew. No, no, no. No pizza. She did NOT want pizza, she was NOT going to eat pizza, on and on.

We got to the place, and I ordered a soup and sandwich combo to share with Small. When it came, she eyed my minestrone suspiciously, mentioning that she really only wanted "soup with nothing in it". Then she turned to the nearest "step-auntie", who was digging into a thick slice of Sicilian pizza, and asked if she would share. We reminded her that she'd told us persistently for more than a half an hour that she did NOT want pizza, to which she replied, "Yes, but I was only JOKING!"

In the car on the way home from the airport, she was singing in the back seat, as she played with her Mickey Mouse doll. The song went something like this: "I DON'T have a ladybug on my head, no I DON'T have a ladybug on my head, no I DON'T have a LADY bug ON my HEEEAAAAAD!"

There was a pause, and then she called out, "MOMMY!!! Mickey Mouse is singing that he doesn't have a ladybug on his head, but he DOES! Can you please tell him that he DOES have a ladybug on his head?"

I called into the back seat, "Hey! Mickey Mouse! You DO have a ladybug on your head!"

Because, really, what else could I do?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Photo Friday- the Prom Edition

Middle Child has been dating a senior, from another high school, for the past several months. So, even though she's only a sophomore, tonight was prom. His dad drove, and, sadly, took video of the whole "getting out the door" process, which included me, freshly showered, with wet hair and no makeup, awkwardly trying to pin a boutonnière on his son without stabbing him through the heart. (I had reason to want to go ahead and stab him, but that's a story for another blog.)

I was kinder to the other parent, and did not catch him in any of the stills. The Man is the photographer in this family, but I think I did an adequate job of capturing the moment.




Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday 13- the almost missed it edition

Wow! I have 8 minutes left in this day to do my promised daily blog! So, how about 13 things that made me happy today:

  1. My student who'd been on vacation came back full of delighted anecdotes about his trip.
  2. That same student had done his homework, and was almost as gleeful about presenting it as he was about telling me his vacation stories, because he really hadn't thought he could do it.
  3. My other student came to class very pleased with the book I'd assigned him over the break, and gave a very enthusiastic oral report.
  4. I got to see some friends today that I hadn't gotten to see in quite a while, and catch up a little.
  5. One of those friends gave me some real encouraging words about life in general, and teenagers in particular. AND an acquaintance wrote me a lovely encouraging email, offering me assistance with a task I've been dreading.
  6. I was able to share my Small One with some of those friends, who were just as charmed by her as I tend to be.
  7. Small was incredibly well behaved and polite throughout the day, even though I dragged her on errands. In addition to demonstrating her unflagging devotion to her big sister by bringing her everything in the store she thought might POSSIBLY apply to her prom outfit (and the 3 year old imagination comes up with some interesting choices), she also turned to me at one point in the mall and quoted song lyrics. How fun is that?!?
  8. She was so sweet to a baby who was fussing at the post office that another woman in line assumed she was the big sister. She kept saying "Oh, what's the matter, little baby?" in a really loving tone.
  9. Middle Child and I finished prom shopping, which means no more malls for me! Hooray!
  10. In a surprising moment, Middle Child informed me that I rock, and gave me a high five, so that was rewarding.
  11. My dad sent me a recipe for mojito cake yesterday, which made me happy today because I got to come home from teaching and eat it.
  12. My garden is thriving.
  13. I got a very loving birthday card in the mail- very heartwarming.
So there you go! Happy Thursday, and hooray for the impending weekend!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Must be Genetic

The girl has inherited my wanderlust, apparently:

video

In case you can't translate the dialect, the song goes "It's fun to travel everywhere". (Repeat)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Long names

Small One is a friendly sort. She says "Hello!" to everyone we pass, sometimes getting very upset if the greeting is not returned. She freely gives hugs and smiles, demonstrates the more interesting features of her toys ("Hey! Lady! Listen to the noise my monkey makes!") and is just a general force of cheer in the world.

For a while, her favorite activity was to show people how fast she could run and how I she could jump. She'd approach an unsuspecting stranger and say, "HEY! Do you want to see howfastIcanrunandhowhighIcanjump?" Typically, not comprehending anything but the questioning tone in her voice, the person would nod dazedly, at which point Small would be OFF! She'd jump in the air as high as, oh, about a centimeter, and then dash off down the hallway. Catching on at this point, the stranger would become the appreciative audience, clapping and cheering, as Small One beamed with pride.

These days, she has a new one. She approaches everyone with "My name is (Small One), what's your name?" When they tell her, she then asks "But what's your LONG name?" This is because she has now learned to say her first, middle, and last name, and she's very proud to show off this skill. Once they tell her theirs, she gets to fill in the blank with her impressive name recitation, which is always a big hit.

Today, I had a little fun. A saleslady leaned down to coo over Small One, and I noticed from the lady's name tag that her first name was the same as Small's. Even better- it was the same as Small's LONG first name, not the name she's commonly called. I seized the opportunity. I patted her on the head and said "Ask the nice lady her name!"

She did. The lady responded. Small was dumbfounded. For the first time in her life, rendered speechless. She looked at me, then back at the lady. After a minute, she said really quietly, "But what's your LONG name?" When the lady's long name was not identical to hers, she regained her confidence and shared her long name as well. She then added that she is ALSO called by her commonly used name. The lady was suprised, charmed, and delighted, and told Small what she's commonly called, which is a slightly different variation.

I love these encounters, they make me laugh and warm my heart. I love them less, though, when I'm in a hurry. Middle Child summed that aspect up best last night when she turned to her sister and said "Don't talk to strangers. It takes up too much time."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy Happy Birthday, Baby!

This post has nothing to do with looking up, it has more to do with looking back.

Twenty years ago today, I went for my six month prenatal check up- (in those olden days we counted months rather than weeks)- and by the end of the day, my Oldest had entered the world. Surprise!

We didn't get to take him home for six weeks, which wasn't bad, considering he'd been ten weeks early, and when we finally did get to take him home he only weighed four pounds. His infancy was rather an exercise in terror, with such a tiny and fragile boy, and I have to say the girls were a breeze, comparatively speaking. I tell the story of my son, who was born at two pounds and fourteen ounces, to anyone with a preterm infant, as encouragement, because he's a robust and healthy young man now, strong and tall.

In my heart, though, sometimes I still see him as the tiny little guy who needed me so much. He doesn't live with me now, hasn't really needed me for years, and I miss him. I always thought I'd be the last mom on earth to suffer from the empty nest, I thought I had a firm grasp on the concept of raising independent people who will leave and live their own lives, but I must admit, I miss him every day.

It's a strange fact, isn't it, that the older you get, the shorter time seems? For a child, a day can seem like forever. For a teenager, a six month relationship is long term. But for a mom, twenty years pass in the blink of an eye, and suddenly this guy:

is this guy:



Happy birthday, Oldest! Call your Mom.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Queen of Look Up

Ruminating on the NaBloPoMo theme for the month, I've had many ideas flitting through my mind. For those who don't know, NaBloPoMo is a challenge to write a blog post every day for a month. Nablopomo.com, in an effort to help participants overcome writer's block, provides a monthly theme- the theme for May 2010 is "Look Up".

There are many reasons that the phrase "Look Up" appeals to me in my life right now. Many situations are causing me to gaze heavenward for guidance, some other situations are beginning to look up. Many deep paths can be taken down this particular blogging road.

But tonight, I'm going shallow. It occurred to me that another definition for "look up" is what I do continually- I look things up. For one thing, I work for a text question service, where I spend entire shifts looking up the answers to people's questions about their homework, relationships, sex life, addictions, and medical conditions. But really, I just like to look things up.

Remember when we had to sit through movie credits to see who played a certain character or wrote a certain song? No more! I leave the theater and make a bee line for imdb, to look it up. While I'm there, I learn things I didn't even know I WANTED to know. Did you know Brad Pitt currently has 21 projects in production? How does he find the time, with all those kids?

It makes me pretty good at trivia, but only temporarily. Tonight, my sister was speculating on a comedian's age, and I was at the ready with the year, because I looked it up last night. I won't remember that piece of not very useful trivia in a few days, but for now, I'm an expert on that particular guy.

Middle Child recently ran up a $23 cell phone bill texting the very service for which I work. Are you KIDDING me? Text Mom! It's FREE! Naturally, I made her pay me back, and I also threatened her life.

Do you remember when we had to use books to look things up? My family once watched a movie about a historical figure, and afterwards, my father came home from the library with books for every age level... we all researched and shared facts for days! Now everything from dictionaries to medical journals is accessible online. We don't even use phone books in our house!

Not that the phone company doesn't try, by the way. We get new phone books at a pretty alarming rate, particularly in light of the fact that my husband won't allow me to throw them away, instead choosing to "recycle" them, which is his code word for "put them in the carport until my wife's head explodes". True story- he recently got rid of about 30 phone books he'd recycled in that charming manner, and the next day, there was a brand new set sitting in the exact same place, courtesy of the phone company.

Because the phone company hates me.