Sunday, December 29, 2013

Still Here

I think four days may be my longest-ever hiatus from blogging, but I have not fallen off the face of the earth; just relocated temporarily to a different part of it.  We're in central Oregon with my parents for the week (NOLA, I've been thinking of you and wishing that you were with your Oregonian loved ones too.)

I think I mentioned in my last post that my in-laws were coming for Christmas dinner.  As soon as they left, we ran the dog over to her sitter's, spent the rest of the evening packing clothes and snow gear, and left for the airport at 4:30 the next morning!  (Talk about a crazy week...getting ready for both Christmas and a cross-country trip at the same time just about killed us both.) We'd never flown with all three kids before, and thankfully all have outgrown the need for diapers, extra changes of clothes, and special foods, but flying in winter is an adventure at the best of times and fortunately all went well.  Let me just tell you: the smartest move Santa has made in years was bringing the kids new electronics to keep them occupied on the flights.  ;)

Three days into the trip, the kids are not even remotely adjusted to the time change: they are falling asleep in their dinner at 6PM and up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, raring to go at 4AM.  (At least they are quiet when they get up: see comment above regarding Santa and electronics.)  They are skiing for the first time ever: falling down and "yard sale-ing" as often as not, but gamely getting back up and trying again. They are on their second day of ski lessons today and having the time of their lives.  They've spent one day with their grandparents at a nearby very cool museum, where they had an opportunity to see an operational sawmill, look rattlesnakes straight in the eyeballs, and have their hair stood up on end with one of those static electricity balls at the science show, among other things.  Thing One has done some geocaching with me--what, you think I'd miss an opportunity to pick up another state?? not likely!--and I've suffered mightily (ha) through a most lovely spa day with my mother.  I have beautiful scarlet nails now and no more crinks and crunches in my neck, courtesy of a strong-handed masseur named Joseph.   We have three more days more of skiing for all but me (my knees can't take it so I'm not even going up the mountain) and two more of peace and quiet.  We even have additional family coming in today: my brother's wife and two cousins for the kids to play with.

Thing Two has done remarkably well, all things considered.  He doesn't do well with the unfamiliar, and this week has been nothing but 'different' for him.  He's been a trouper.  I never had any doubts about the other two: as expected, they are loving the new adventures and the time with my parents.  Even without the adventures, this week would be about time with beloved family members that we see all too infrequently because of inconvenient geography, and seizing the moments that we do have together.  So...if you notice that I am AWOL far more often than usual this week, please be happy for me!

Laid back, West-Coast style good holiday wishes coming to you all...

Mama D

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning, O-Dark-30

I've mentioned before that my boys do not sleep in, ever.  This goes double for Christmas morning.  The rustles and whispers and bumps started at about 5:45AM, and the entirety of the gifting extravaganza was over before the sun came up!

I, non-morning person that I am, am currently nursing my third cup of coffee and trying to jump-start my nervous system.  Thing One is learning to fly his new remote-controlled helicopter, Thing Two is playing a new DS game, Petunia has Legos scattered from one end of the kitchen to the other, and the dog is hiding under the dining room table with her new peanut butter bone.  (She doesn't like either the helicopter or Petunia's new battery-operated, noise-making kitten toy!)  Himself is in the office updating and charging the family's new electronic devices and giving me grief for clogging the wifi with my blogging.

It's going to be a quiet day.  Since the recent church-related drama resulted in our having to go to Mass last night instead of this morning, there is no rush to get moving...we have nothing on the agenda but my in-laws coming for an early dinner later.

Peace on earth, and goodwill to all.  Wishing you a very merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Thank God for the good folks of NORAD...their truly awesome Santa Tracker website is going to be the only thing that preserves my sanity today!  My sons will be glued to the computer all day watching Santa's progress across the globe and might learn some geography while they're at it (although Thing One the map-obsessed already knows more geography than his fifth grade teacher.)  The kid-excitement level around here has reached fever pitch...the boys have been bouncing around since 6AM and Petunia has not stopped talking for one second since her eyes opened this morning.  My ears are bleeding.  I made the kids waffles for breakfast and have been rocking my regular playlist from the iPad in the kitchen while cooking and cleaning up, since I officially hit overload on Christmas carols sometime yesterday with 24-plus hours still to go.

Watched Love Actually with Himself last night.  I've been amused by all the controversy about it lately.  It's a movie, people.  Chill.  I can think of a lot of movies that are less realistic and more disturbing if you need rant material.  Anyway, as usual, I found myself flipping off the screen every time Alan Rickman graced it (for the uninitiated, he plays an annoying and slimy--and married--character, who proceeds to make himself even more annoying and slimy as the movie proceeds by falling for his younger femme fatale assistant.)  The fact that his wife is played by my beloved Emma Thompson does not help matters...the older I get, the more I identify with her and resent society's glorification of the young and perfect.  Every time I see this movie, I'm reminded of the older, illustrious professor who came from another city to give a keynote speech to the students in our program at a meeting while I was in grad school and then proceeded to proposition me in an elevator, not two hours after discussing his wife and children at length at dinner.

Bah, humbug.  Maybe I need to go learn how to say something seasonal in a foreign language!  T minus about 20 hours and counting...

Monday, December 23, 2013

So Proud Of My Girl

Four or five years ago this month, I went on one of my occasional random neat-freak rampages and started clearing out old toys from our basement playroom that the kids weren't using anymore.  Good toys, not junk; just the outgrown things.  As is my habit, I posted them on Freecycle rather than having to deal with a yard sale or consignment store.  Some of the email replies I received on that particular occasion absolutely broke my heart: they were coming from people who wanted my kids' cast-off toys to give to their own children for Christmas, since they couldn't afford anything else.  Since that profoundly eye-opening experience, I've made a point of doing an annual toy clearout every December.  I got to it later this year than I wanted to, but it did finally get done.

My kids are beyond blessed in a material sense.  I've tried and tried to explain that to them, but they really can't begin to comprehend that any child could have nothing, because it is so far from their own experience and that of their friends.   This is why we do the Giving Tree, too.  I asked Thing One to go through his toys for me yesterday and reminded him why, and he was happy to help me.  He took care of the 'boy' section of the basement, but that still left the smaller domain that is Petunia's.  

She's always been very attached to her belongings, even the ones that any rational observer would note are far too young for her.  In the past, I've gone through her toys while she was out of the house or asleep to forestall the inevitable tears when she sees her things bagged up to be given away.   This year, though, she wandered downstairs while I was sorting and offered to help me.  I could tell that it was hard for her to give some of her things away, but she did it, and she didn't cry.  She helped me find missing pieces to some of the sets, and even went above and beyond by bringing me extra toys of hers to put in the bags of her own volition.  For any six year-old, but especially that six year-old, that's tough stuff.

Funny how her voluntary act of sharing made me feel more Christmassy than most of the other things we've done this month, too.  Way to go, little girl.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ok, Christmas Can Come Now

I just spent two straight hours wrapping presents. But it's done, blessedly DONE.  (And who designs those crazy-shaped toy boxes that can't be easily wrapped, anyway?  The Grinch?  Or perhaps the same malicious souls who design four-inch heels??)

Gift wrapping, check.
Cards mailed, check.
Grocery shopping for Christmas dinner, check.

Those were the last three major items on my pre-holiday to-do list.  Hoping that means that I will actually be able to relax and enjoy the season for at least part of the next couple of days.

There's a lot of drama in my life right now, for various reasons.  The pre-Christmas stress isn't helping.  But today was a much better day overall: I even had time to go on a quick geocaching run this afternoon, something I haven't been able to do in a couple of weeks.  Drove out to a park that has three caches I couldn't find the first time I went and found all three (go me!) then picked up one on a haunted covered bridge on the way home for good measure.  Very cool.

The day after the solstice: the days are officially getting longer now.  And merrier and brighter, too.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas On The Small Screen

Watched Patrick Stewart as Scrooge last night and it occurs to me that I really need to do something about my attitude before I start having ghostly nocturnal visitors myself.  :)

Cards are done now, anyway: another big item off the to-do list.  That was last night's project.  Once I get all the presents wrapped and brave the grocery store for the food I need for Christmas dinner, I think that will be the rest of the big stuff.  Hallelujah!

As a holiday movie to be watching, A Christmas Carol is a good one, a favorite, even.  (Unlike It's A Wonderful Life, which I think may be the most depressing movie ever made....all but the last five minutes make me want to jump off a bridge myself.  For real.)

But I still think that for sheer holiday entertainment, it's hard to beat this one:

Ralphie: I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
Mrs. Parker: No, you'll shoot your eye out.

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Some men are Baptists, others Catholics; my father was an Oldsmobile man.
Mr. Parker: That son of a bitch would freeze up in the middle of summer on the equator!
Mother: Little pitchers!
Mr. Parker: Thanks... hold it!
[the furnace conks out]
[Furnace makes creaking noise]
Mr. Parker: Hold it! Shhh...
[Furnace makes loud banging noises]
Mr. Parker: Aha! Aha! It's a clinkerrrr! That blasted, stupid furnace! Dadgummit!
[Mr. Parker falls down the stairs]
Mr. Parker: Damn skates!
Mr. Parker: Oh for cripe's sake, open up that damper, will ya? Who the hell turned it all the way down? Hawk head! Aw, blasted poop flirt rattle crap camel flirt. You blonker frattle feet sturckle frat! Of a womp sack butt ratter bottom fodder...
Ralphie as Adult: In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obscenity, that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.
Mr. Parker: ...smick melly whop walker. Drop dumb fratten house stickle fifer!

Mother: All right. Now, are you ready to tell me where you heard that word?
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master. But, I chickened out and said the first name that came to mind.
Ralphie: Schwartz!

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heady, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness. Life Buoy, on the other hand...
Ralphie: YECCHH!

Narrator: Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl.
Mr. Parker: He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny.
Mother: He does not!
Mr. Parker: He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare!

Miss Shields: Now I know that some of you put Flick up to this, but he has refused to say who. But those who did it know their blame, and I'm sure that the guilt you feel is far worse than any punishment you might receive. Now, don't you feel terrible? Don't you feel remorse for what you have done? Well, that's all I'm going to say about poor Flick.
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Adults loved to say things like that but kids knew better. We knew darn well it was always better not to get caught.

[Mr. Parker reads a side of the box with the prize that he won]
Mr. Parker: Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.
Mrs. Parker: Uh, I think that says FRAGILE, dear.
Mr. Parker: Oh, yeah.

Mr. Parker: [unveiling his major award] Would you look at that? Would you look at THAT?
Mother: What is it?
Mr. Parker: It's a leg!
Mother: But what is it?
Mr. Parker: Well, it's... A leg, you know, like a statue.
Mother: Statue?
Mr. Parker: Yeah, statue.
Ralphie: Yeah, statue.
Mother: Ralphie!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] My mother was trying to insinuate herself between us and the statue.

Mr. Parker: Holy smokes. Do... Do you know what this is? This is... A lamp!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] It was indeed a lamp.
Mr. Parker: Isn't that great? What a great lamp.
Mother: I don't know...
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] The old man's eyes boggled...
Mr. Parker: Oh WOW!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] ... Overcome by art.

Mr. Parker: Get in the car. Get in the car.
[Mother runs back inside]
Mr. Parker: If we don't hurry, we're gonna miss all the good trees!
Mr. Parker: [to the kids] Go on, go on.
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating, as Mother switches off the leg lamp] My mother was about to make another brilliant maneuver in the legendary battle of the lamp. The epic struggle which follows lives in the folklore of Cleveland Street to this very day.
Mother: Don't want to waste electricity.
Mr. Parker: [mockingly] "Don't want to waste electricity."

Mr. Parker: [after Mother "accidentally" breaks the Old Man's leg lamp] Don't you touch that! You were always jealous of this lamp.
Mother: Jealous of a plastic...
Mr. Parker: Jealous! Jealous because I WON.
Mother: That's ridiculous. Jealous. Jealous of WHAT? That is... the ugliest lamp I have ever seen in my entire LIFE!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Now it was out.

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating, after Mother breaks the Old Man's Major Award, and he is unsuccessful at repairing it] With as much dignity as he could muster, the Old Man gathered up the sad remains of his shattered major award. Later that night, alone in the backyard, he buried it next to the garage. Now I could never be sure, but I thought that I heard the sound of "Taps" being played, gently.

And then, of course, there are the Bumpus hounds:

Love this movie.  LOVE it.  (What?  Did I ever claim to have a highbrow sense of humor??)

On Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and wrapping time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Mother's Question For The Universe

Why, oh WHY, must a child who is going to throw up do it in the middle of the night nine times out of ten?  And, more often than not, after having eaten something that is very difficult to clean out of carpets and bedding??

The stroke of midnight two nights ago brought with it a few hacking coughs from Petunia, a quick thundering of feet, and then sobs of distress, all of which were clearly audible from our room next door.  The poor little thing valiantly tried to reach the trash can in time but failed: bed, wall, and carpet were all liberally covered with the foul remnants of her dinnertime mac and cheese.  I've done eight loads of laundry since then (three of which were from her room alone), scrubbed her carpet four times, and thrown out her pillow!  The good news is that she is already feeling better...much like Thing One's experience earlier in the week, this appears to be a one-and-done sort of bug with no fever involved, at least.

On the plus side, I had a whole day at home with just my girl.  And bless her heart, she insisted on helping me with the general housecleaning that I decided to do while I was home and cleaning anyway.  All the sink faucets and handles are gleaming, the baseboards clean, the socks sorted, and she dusted the family room all by herself.  

On my mother's side, I am descended from a long line of 'neat freaks,' as we affectionately call them. Like like we've got another generation, Mom.  ;)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lightning Strikes Again!

Andrea over at About 100% nominated me for a second Liebster Award!!!  All these compliments are going to start going to my head one of these days, y'all.  :)  Seriously, it means more to me than I can ever express that people are actually coming to this blog at all...these nominations are just the chocolate-curl-topped ganache on a cake that that was pretty darned sweet already.

Anywho, for those unfamiliar with the Liebster Award meme, it's an award given to up and coming bloggers (not my words!) who have fewer than 200 followers.  Not sure how you check this on other people's blogs, but I'm sure there's a way.  According to Google Translate, Liebster means "dearest" auf Deutsch, so I'll take it.

The rules (which I may not follow completely):

11 Facts About Me (different ones from the last time!)

1) Clutter makes me insane.  Yet I live in a perpetual state of chaos due to the other four members of my household not being driven insane by clutter.  :)

2) I get carsick and seasick but not airsick.  Go figure.

3) I'm a speed reader.

4) I try to get to taekwondo class three days a week.  Right now I'm a Blue belt getting ready to test for Senior Blue, which is somewhere in the upper-middle in the rank system.  Best way to vent stress ever!

5) One branch of my dad's family came to Massachusetts in the 1630s.  Seriously.  Not on the Mayflower, but one of the first boats to arrive after the Mayflower. 

6) I have one ceremonial beer every St. Patrick's Day in honor of my Irish heritage, but otherwise much prefer wine.  Or good gin and tonics, ideally made with Bombay Sapphire gin.  

7) I look good in jewel colors and positively hideous and toadlike in yellows and olive greens.  

8) I loved roller coasters as a kid, but if I ride one now it gives me a headache.

9) I much prefer raw cookie dough to baked cookies!

10) Vanilla and cinnamon are two of my favorite smells on Earth.

11) I've never met a cheese, fruit or vegetable that I don't like.  

Questions posed by Andrea:

1. What embarrasses you?

Feeling unprepared or that I could have done better at something.  (And my kids on a regular basis!)

2. How much do you swear around your kids, if you have kids?  If you don’t have kids, how much do you swear in general?

I try very hard not to swear at all around the younger two in particular...I'm a bit looser around Thing One but not much.  I have come up with some creative replacements for swearing in their vicinity and have been known to explain that, in the right context, the exclamation "Jesus Christ!" can be a prayer.  :)  When I'm alone, all bets are off, especially in the car.

3. Do you speak a foreign language?  Why or why not?

Courtesy of my international upbringing, I speak Chinese and some German and can swear fluently, give taxi directions and count to ten in half a dozen other languages.  :)   

4. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?  It’s okay if you say “right where I am now.”  I won’t judge you for being boring.

Ireland.  Love it, love it, love it.  Only place in the world with that much rain where I would live on purpose! 

5. Outside of your family and yourself, what is your biggest love?

Science.  Coolest thing in the world.  

6. What is one thing you are terrible at?

Being patient??  Also flexibility (the physical kind) and any kind of Latin dancing involving hip movement.  :)  

7. Your dream job.

I had it once, actually.  I got to review every single invention that came out of a major cancer center for patentability and marketing potential.  Fascinating as it gets and I didn't have to be the one doing the benchwork!

8. What is your biggest sociopolitical concern?

Access to clean water and medicine.  

9.  Where and when would you go if you could travel through time?

With written assurance that I could return home immediately and in one piece at any time, ancient Egypt so I could watch the Great Pyramid being built.  Followed closely by London in 1928, so I could personally observe the discovery of penicillin.  (Yes, I'm a dork.)   

10. Are you adventuresome?

I'm generally not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants kinda gal, but I've been known to have some adventures. I just prefer to plan them in advance.  :)

11. Creatively, what are you best at?  What are you worst at?

I'm a left-brainer in general...not so much creative.  Art of any kind is not my strong suit (especially drawing!), but I'm a decent musician.   I've played drums, several varieties of saxophone, organ, trumpet, and flute at different times in my life.  

At this stage of the game, I'm supposed to pick 11 other blogs and tag them, but since I've already done that (sort of) relatively recently, I'm changing up the game a little this time around. 

I'm going to take two of the questions I posed to the bloggers tagged in my first Liebster post, copy them here, and then ask you, whomever might be reading this, to answer them in the comment section if you are so inclined.  

No ulterior motive, I promise.  I 'know' some of the regular visitors here, but many more are a complete mystery to me.  I'd love to turn this award into an opportunity to learn a little more about whom I'm talking to when I sit down to write.  (And I firmly believe that the quotations that resonate with people and the foods they love the best are true windows into souls.) So here goes...

1) What is your favorite quotation?

2) If you were to die tomorrow, what would be your last meal request?

Thank you again, Andrea...this was fun and I am duly (deeply) honored!! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Puzzle Of The Day

Just had a lot of fun creating a seasonal puzzle cache: the latitude and longitude coordinates for the final site are encoded using the names and numbers of Santa's reindeer (Dasher  = 1, Dancer = 2, etc), the container is a small plastic box with a Rudolph head on top that formerly held gum, and it is hidden under an evergreen "Christmas" tree along a nearby walking trail.  :)

Not exactly the season to be geocaching (I was tromping through snow to set it out) but oh well.  Hopefully that one will give somebody a smile!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Peace On Earth

Last night's ice storm removed all obligation for us to go anywhere today.

The tree lights are on.  Thing Two is playing Christmas carols on the piano and Petunia is standing next to him and singing along.  (They are doing this purely of their own volition, which is amazing.)  Thing One is watching a show about the geology of the East Coast on the Science Channel, Himself is puttering in the office, the dog is sacked out on her bed, and I am making apple-cinnamon pancakes (involving my own home-canned applesauce) and enjoying my second cup of coffee.

All is calm, all is bright.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

That Could Have Been Really Ugly

Every December since Thing One was five or so, Himself and his mother have taken our kids to Nearest Big City to see some of the holiday light shows.  It's their tradition.  I've been invited each year, but have been permitted to beg off in favor of having a free day for getting things done or for just taking a break in the middle of a chaotic month!  This is the first year I've gone along, and this year my sister-in-law and nephews came for the first time as well, making a grand total of four adults and five kids aged ten, eight, six, six and four.

This trip involves driving to my in-laws' to meet up with the crew, driving to the train station from there, and then catching a train into the city, so it is quite a production, and there is no quick exit back home or possibility of separating from the group.  Which became a problem when, halfway through the morning, Thing One started telling me that his stomach hurt.

At first, I thought it was a muscle injury--he'd done an unaccustomed number of sit-ups on Thursday for fitness testing in gym, and a quick kiss on his forehead established that he was not running a fever.  We watched light show #1, walked to a nearby theater to see 'A Christmas Carol," and then had lunch.  Midway through lunch, I looked over at him and could immediately tell from his face that All Was Not Well.  Not being anywhere near my usual purse or any of the first-aid and cleanup supplies I normally keep in my car, I had a feeling we were in for it, but I grabbed a handy plastic bag from the lunch table and put it in the tote I was carrying just in case.

Our last itinerary item was one final light show.  Thing One was looking somewhat better, and since the light show was relatively brief and on the way back to the train station, we decided to chance it.  While waiting in the lobby of this building for the show to start, he turned to me, gave me an anguished look, and then proceeded to completely empty his stomach in a most projectile-like manner.  Thank God for that bag in my tote...I got it out and into position just in time, or there would have been a SERIOUS mess in that lobby.  Whew.

Once he got whatever was bothering him out, he felt completely fine.  If that was a bug, it's the darnedest one I've ever seen.  Guess the acid test will be whether any of the remaining eight of us get it.  At least the trip home went completely without incident after that.  Never a dull moment with this parenting gig!  


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reality Check

My kids are pretty lucky little creatures.  Roof over their heads, food a-plenty, toys and electronics galore.  We're not the Gateses by a long shot, but these children are not exactly lacking in the material comforts of life.  And since most of their peers are more or less in the same boat, my three have no real opportunity to see socioeconomic differences: they don't have any idea how little some other children have and how fortunate they actually are.  They are still young, but this is not a good state of affairs.

Their CCD (Catholic religious education) program is sponsoring a Giving Tree this year.  The idea is simple: people request things that they would like for Christmas but can't afford, and these are written on tags and attached to a Christmas tree in the parish hall.  People select tags, buy the indicated gifts and place them beneath the tree, from whence they are delivered to those who requested them by the organizers.  On the way out of class last week, I called the kids over to the tree, explained the situation and asked them each to pick a tag.  Petunia chose a tag requesting a Barbie doll, Thing Two a tag for toddler books, and Thing One a tag for infant musical toys.  As I was tucking them into my purse for later shopping, one of the tags still on the tree caught my eye, and I picked it off the tree to make sure that I was reading it correctly, which I was.  It said "Socks."

Hit me right upside the head, I'll tell you, and here I was worried about what my kids were taking for granted.  Some child somewhere doesn't even have socks, never mind toys!  I slipped that tag into my purse with the others because it hurt my heart...what a reminder to be grateful for all the blessings that I have.

I wish the tag had said what size socks to buy, and for a boy or a girl, because that would have helped me find a toy to put in the bag with the socks, too.  Since it didn't, I bought the biggest damned bag of socks you've ever seen instead; boys' and girls,' a variety of sizes.  

Merry Christmas, child.  Thank you for the gift that you gave me.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

There May Be Some Hope For Me This Holiday Season

This morning, I found myself cheerfully donning Christmas socks and dangly colorful present-shaped earrings with bells on them before heading to the kids' school, where I spent a good chunk of the morning helping Petunia and her classmates make thumbprint reindeer holiday cards for their parents.

It's hard to be one of these

when faced with a roomful of excited first graders.  The kids who weren't working with me were writing letters to Santa, and they were all just so darned cute.

Maybe my heart is growing a bit after all??

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Thing, It Is Done

For the past nine years, I've been on the committee that puts on our Town Day (and the Easter Egg Hunt, the visit with Santa, the Holiday Decorating Contest, the Fishing Derby, Skating Night, etc etc etc.)  Pretty much every fun community activity run by our municipality is coordinated through this committee.  For the last three of those nine years, I've chaired the group.  At the beginning of November, I decided that this was going to be my last year, and I've been working on transition planning and getting all the paperwork ducks in a row for transfer ever since.

Last night was my last meeting ever.  I brought celebratory brownies.

It's been a big responsibility and a lot of work.  I resigned because I could feel myself starting to get a little crispy around the edges, and I didn't want to become that crotchety crabapple who stuck around beyond her expiration date.  I thought it was going to be a huge relief to officially hand over the reins (and the town hall keys) to the woman who's taking over in January, who is fantastic and will do a great job.

Instead, it was surprisingly bittersweet.  One of my best friends is stepping down as well after seven or eight years on the committee, and I could tell that she was feeling the same way.  I guess it's just hard to walk away from something that you've helped build, even when it's clearly the right thing to be doing.

I won't miss the paperwork or the putting-candy-in-a-bazillion-Easter-eggs or the driving on winding roads in the snow trying not to wreck while judging holiday decorations.  I won't miss the people giving me grief about park user fees or dog rules.  I won't miss the phone calls, the organizing or the never-ending search for volunteers.  I will miss the feeling of accomplishment I had when the group pulled something off well, though.

I'm not good at saying 'no' or walking away from things, never have been.  This may be the only time I've walked away from something big voluntarily, but change is good, and it was time for a change.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another Success Story

The boys had a piano recital yesterday afternoon.  Thing One is an old hand at these by now, but he still gets very anxious immediately before the show and spends a lot of time pacing around the auditorium.  Thing Two, being new to piano lessons, was performing publicly for the first time ever.

Thing Two has suffered through far more than his fair share of therapy (speech, OT, etc) through the years, and is very sensitive to the fact that he needs so much more help than most of his peers.  Although he is doing remarkably well at the piano, he's still a beginner, and most beginner recital pieces are written as duets, with the student playing a simplified melody and the instructor a more complex harmony.  A few weeks ago, his instructor asked me to come into her studio during one of his lessons, and when I did, I found him crying on the piano bench.  She was distressed and apologetic and had no idea why he was so upset.

A little questioning sorted out that he was very unhappy about having to play two duets, because in his mind it was the instructor having to 'help' him with his pieces.  He's had it up to his ears with help--he's a proud child--and the instructor rightfully had no idea what was going on, since she didn't have that particular piece of the backstory.  She and I decided on the spot that it was not a fight worth fighting and that we wanted his first recital to be a happy experience for him.

He went onstage yesterday and played his parts of the two duets as solos instead.  They sounded beautiful--he played them perfectly.  And he was able to show everyone--in his mind--that he didn't need any stinkin' help to do it, either.

Thing One did a great job...muscle memory took over and he rocked his piece.  Thing Two did exactly what he was supposed to do, right down to the bow after his second piece.

I'm calling that a win all around.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

He Rocked It!

Himself finished today's marathon with a time of 3:27.27.

For those like me who can't readily do mile-split calculations in their heads, that works out to 26.2 freaking 7:55-minute miles in a row!  He beat his marathon PR (personal record) by about two and a half minutes, which is HUGE.  I was standing at the finish, watching the clock inch inexorably closer and closer to his goal time of 3:30 and whispering "Come on, baby.  Come ON, baby..." to myself as I anxiously scanned the incoming runners, looking for his blue shirt.  When he turned the corner onto the home stretch, the clock said 3:27.03 and that was just a beautiful sight.

This race didn't go so well for him last year, so it was great to see all the training pay off this time around.  His great finish made all the standing out in 40-degree wind at various mile markers with energy gels and drink bottles for him worth it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Stream Of Conciousness Overheard In The Car

I'm in the car with Himself on the way to a marathon.  (Himself is running it; I'm just the pit crew.)  Himself is, as per usual, driving like the Northeasterner that he is. 

Me (after a particularly loud and profanity-laced outburst): "You're getting cranky in your old age."

Him: "I prefer to call it cratchity.  Oh wait, I mean crotchety.  Isn't Cratchit Tiny Tim's last name in A Christmas Carol?  I suppose cratchity would mean I love Christmas...guess I'm both cratchity and crotchety."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


In the last three days, I have paid over $2500 in repair/maintenance bills for our two cars.  No accidents or other crises, just things breaking or wearing out and needing to be replaced.  Ouch.  I have had multiple kid activities every day after school plus an evening event each of those three days, in addition to the usual daytime insanity and drama (and the car appointments.)  Oh, and Thing One nearly got himself killed in the church parking lot this evening on his way into CCD.  Perhaps one of these days he will actually learn to look before he dashes off into traffic...I maintain that one of his goals in life must be to make me watch him die.  As you may imagine, I do not support him in this endeavor.

On the plus side, at least the dermatologist didn't find anything exciting at my semiannual checkup this morning.  This is something that I do not take for granted: I absolutely dread these visits, but make them religiously anyway and also personally keep the sunblock and sun-protective-clothing industries in business.  (Fair skin and a tropical upbringing do not mix well.)

Time for a nice glass of wine and some Angry I told my squabbling kids on the way home in the car tonight, "Mom. Has. Had. Enough."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Story Of My Tuesday

This day has just kicked my ass up one way and down the other.  In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, I shoulda stood in bed.

What I want to do is pout and whine and sulk, but instead, I think I'll just call it a night.

Monday, December 2, 2013

This One

A good friend needed to talk tonight. Mostly girl drama stuff: because she is non-confrontational by nature and takes crap, she gets crap.  I, on the other hand, will only take so much nonsense before I blow like Vesuvius.  Or a dragon, as it were.

Love this shirt.  LOVE it.  I consider it fair warning.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Just Too Much

We put up our Christmas tree and about 90% of the decorations in the house today.  I had only intended to deal with the tree today, but once I got going and was digging around in the boxes in the basement anyway it just made sense to bring them all upstairs.  I am sorry to say that the thought "let's just get this all over with at once" skidded through my head a time or two, which is a lousy attitude but there it is.  One less thing on my to-do list now, anyway.

I think that my outlook today would have been a little more cheerful if I hadn't spent the last couple of weeks going full tilt with myriad other things and then the first three days of the long weekend either eating, cleaning, socializing or shopping.  All I wanted to do today was sit, and that wasn't an option.

I know my posts are becoming more and more grinch-like as Christmas approaches and I feel bad about that.  I have nothing against the holiday itself; my problem is with the excess that invariably accompanies it.  The cleaning and shopping and cooking and wrapping and decorating and pressure to live up to some thoroughly unattainable Martha Stewart-like ideal that leaves me completely exhausted by the third week of December, when I am trying to get all of the above done plus remember if I picked up enough teacher gifts for the CCD teachers too and drop off the dry cleaning and walk the dog and do the laundry and all the other jobs around the house that don't magically disappear when all the seasonal to-dos kick into high gear.  That's the point at which I want to start swearing when a Christmas carol comes on the radio, even though it's still two weeks till Christmas.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this today because of a Facebook post by one of my cousins.  (One I didn't like much as a kid: coincidence??)  We peacefully coexist as adults, which is a distinct improvement.  She is one of those Pinterest-type moms and God bless her...she works full time as well, but she makes the most amazing decorated cookies--you'd swear that they were created by a professional.  At any rate, she is also one of those moms who not only owns an Elf on the Shelf and moves it every night, but feels compelled to post pictures of where the elf ended up to Facebook each day as well.

These are not her pictures, but they might as well be.  They are right up the same alley.  Check this one out.  Did you notice the brown 'toasted' spots on the marshmallows that the toys are holding?

Or this one: a soda fountain date?  (Both images borrowed from for illustrative purposes.)

For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a brief explanation: this little critter is supposed to be watching the kids' behavior in the runup to Christmas.  He flies home to Santa each night to make a report and then perches himself in a different spot to be found by the kids the next day.  (Woe to the parent who forgets to move the damned elf after the kids go to bed.)

Even here, there's pressure.  A simple move of elf from bookshelf to kitchen counter (for example) won't do: oh no.  The elf has to be presiding over a fancy North Pole breakfast or having a movie date with a Barbie or making snow angels in flaked coconut or something.  All documented on Instagram and/or Facebook, naturally.

I ask you; is that necessary?  Is it really necessary??  If I don't have an elf and stage fantastically creative scenarios for it each evening, my kids are somehow missing out on that elusive "Holiday Magic" that it is my bound duty as mother and holiday-provider to be giving them?  Never mind that the damned elf was the straw that broke the camel's back: the kids may have a crazy mother, but at least they have a creative elf.  

I do not have an elf.  I do not want an elf.  If anyone gives me or my kids an elf, I will view it as a hostile act and respond accordingly.  That's my line in the sand, y'all...this is where the holiday crazy stops at my house.  

**steps off soapbox**

Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I d...