Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving and birthdays and sprinkles, oh my!

***Thanksgiving weekend was a whirlwind of activity. There was, of course, the typical Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house where way too much food was consumed by me and the kids. Charlotte devoured THREE fudgy chocolate brownies before I happened to take a bite of one. And what mysterious ingredient did I taste? COFFEE.

We happen to be Mormon and therefore eschew the consumption of coffee, alcohol and tobacco. Religion notwithstanding, I think if I had my preference of which of those three substances someone were to give my kid, it definitely would not be coffee. No, I would prefer alcohol, because if they are anything like their mom, it would put them right to sleep. Coffee, on the other hand, especially coffee combined with intense chocolate and loads of sugar? Yeah, you can just imagine the results.

***Yesterday was Charlotte's birthday and we had a little party in Chicago at my mom's house on Saturday. Well, I say "little" but there were actually 25 people there, including 8 kids, all under the age of 8. My mom's house is on the small size and the kids were rambunctious, so it got rather noisy at times.

At one point, Danny started yelling, "Everyone, be quiet! Please! Stop yelling!" But it was so noisy, no on actually heard him. Then, he turned to me and demanded that I make everyone stop talking. My heart sank as I prepared myself for a sensory meltdown.

What happened instead was nothing short of miraculous. I explained to Danny that people were just having fun, but that if the noise got to be too much for him, he could go upstairs where it was quieter. And that is exactly what he did. Periodically, he would join in the fun in the basement and play with the kids, but he would return to the upstairs bedroom whenever it got to be too much for him. And the result was that at the end of the night, Danny was relatively calm and had not pushed, jumped on, or kicked anyone. I really think this was a major breakthrough.

***After the big birthday bash, I took Danny and Charlotte for a walk in my mom's neighborhood. It was after 8:00, but I had promised the kids, and I am so glad I kept my word. My mom's neighbors do an excellent job with the decorating, sparing no expense or twinkling light. There were all kinds of giant blow-up figures, including Santa riding a bear (which perplexed Danny. "Santa doesn't ride a polar bear! He has a sleigh!"), a snowman that pops out of a train car, and--the kids' personal favorite--a snowman roasting marshmallows over a fire (I really had to restrain myself from pointing out that Frosty was way too close to that fire if he wanted to survive until Christmas, but I managed to bite my tongue.)

That walk was my favorite part of the entire weekend. The kids were full of delight at each new wonderfully decorated house. They exclaimed over every light, tree and Nativity set. They even talked excitedly about the beautiful shining moon. Danny kept saying, "We are on a Christmas hunt, mommy!"

It was a quiet, peaceful respite after the party and we enjoyed ourselves completely. After our walk, Bil had hot chocolate waiting for each of us, and the kids slurped it up while detailing our adventures to dad and grandma.

***Last night, we celebrated Charlotte's fourth birthday. She has been excited about her birthday for months and hasn't stopped talking about the butterfly cake that she wanted. I decided to let the kids help me decorate the butterfly and this was the result:

Would you like some cake with your sprinkles and frosting?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas miracles

My kids have been looking forward to Christmas since Halloween. More specifically, they have been on tenterhooks waiting for the day when we can finally decorate the Christmas tree. I don't know exactly why, but the prospect of tree trimming holds almost as much excitement and magic as presents do. And that is saying a lot.

I know I have mentioned this before, but decorating the tree is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I am not entirely sure why. I am not typically very into the decoration of anything, let alone a tree that will be taken down in a month (ok, when I say "a month" I mean more like two months, but let's not get all picky here). Yet decorating the tree has always, since I was a kid, been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Even when I was older and the tradition no longer held any interest for my siblings, I still looked forward to it

And doing it now with my kids? Makes it so much more fun for me. Because they are the only two humans on this earth who get as excited as I do at the prospect. They never tire of hanging yet one more snowman on the tree and they get a real kick out of some of the stories behind the ornaments.

Still, I was worried that there would be conflict this year, as it is the first time Charlotte has been interested in helping us decorate. That means that Danny would have to share some of the more coveted decorations, including the piece de resistance: our golden sparkly star. The kids have been debating all week who would receive the honor of placing the star in its place. (When I say "debating" I really mean screaming at each other endlessly).

I may have mentioned before that Danny and Charlotte have, on occasion, bickered and argued. (When I say "on occasion" I mean they spend about 85% of their waking hours fighting over something.) They fight over the dumbest things, too. It drives me nuts, but I am sure it is a bit of karma biting me in the rear end for the endless fighting I did with my siblings as a kid, teenager and young adult.

So, I geared up for possible squabbling and bickering, and this is what I heard instead:
"Hey, Charlotte, here's an ornament for you."
"Thank you, Danny. You are a good sharer."
"Mommy, I love Christmas. I love our tree. It's so beautiful."
"Charlotte can have the star if she wants it."
"Here, mommy, you can have this one."

Yes, my kids decorated in peace and harmony. No one fought over a single ornament, not even the star.

Do I believe in Christmas miracles?

Yes, yes I do.

Monday, November 16, 2009

transcript of a stirring and intellectually stimulating conversation or welcome to my world

Here's what Charlotte's and my conversation sounded like today on the way to the grocery store.

Char: Look, mommy, I spy balloons.
Me: Yeah, and I spy some cows (we live in the country, people)
Char: I spy a tree.
Me: And I spy a pumpkin.
Char: I spy a Christmas tree.
Me: Yes, and I spy a flag.
Char: I spy a tree.
Char: I spy a pine tree.
Char: Mommy, I spy a brown tree.
Me: Uh huh.
Char: I spy a green tree!
Char: Look, there's another tree!
Me: You're right. But look at that dog.
Char: Mommy, mommy, look at the tree!
Char: I spy a naked tree.
Me: Yes and I spy a house.
Char: Look, I spy another brown tree.
Char: And there's another one! I spy a tree, mommy! There's a tree. And there's a yellow tree, mommy. Mommy, mommy, look at the TREES!

That's when I turned on the radio.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

our good news!

Two weeks ago, Bil got a job offer. A really good offer with a really good company. He will be working as a software engineer at a dental software company in town, so not only will he have a job he's always wanted to do, but he will have a ten-minute commute (as opposed to his roundtrip commute of almost 2 hours).

But the best part? He'll be working days. Days! Bil will be home by 5:30!! And even when he has to work late, he should be home well before 1 AM. Can you believe it? we have been so blessed, beyond our expectations.

I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

random thoughts Tuesday: facebook, babies and flatulence

*** I took delight in watching Tommy, my eight-month-old baby, this evening after bath time. I let him hang out naked for a bit tonight because he seemed to be enjoying himself so much. (Just one more way he resembles his father.)

As he rolled around on the floor cooing and burbling, I noticed that all the incredibly cute things I was exclaiming over would be completely repulsive had Tommy been an adult. For example, I laughed at the way he drooled so much that long strings of spit dangled from his mouth all the way to the floor. I know. Totally adorable, right?

Then, he let loose a whole series of farts that were nothing less than charming. Even
when he spits up all over me, I usually just laugh it off in a "babies will be babies" kind of way. And when he burps? Yeah, we often praise and congratulate him. And don't even get me started on his rolls of fat and "cankles" (legs that are so fat the calves and ankles are basically indistinguishable). I love them.

But tonight the unfairness hit me. I mean, why is it that only babies are adorable when they have rolls of flesh all over their bodies? Why can't adults be fat, jolly and flatulent and still be super popular?

Because man, could I be popular....

*** Speaking of popularity, I find Facebook a really fascinating phenomenon. Not only is it a great way to reconnect with long lost friends, but it's also the place to get back in touch with every single acquaintance you have ever made and forgotten about in your entire life. I swear
my memory must be even worse than I think it is, because I keep getting friend requests from people I don't remember. I mean, I might remember their name, but cannot for the life of me remember much else about the friend of the guy I dated my sophomore year of high school.

Also, I must have a different memory of what happened years ago. That's the only way I can explain why I have gotten a friend request from a girl who was actually seriously mean to
me in junior high. While I don't think I harbor any grudges, I don't see why I would actually want
to be privy to S's daily ramblings after she made me cry every single day of the 7th grade.

Unless of course, her daily ramblings reveal that she has gained 300 pounds, works at a toll booth, and has no love in her life.

I am just kidding. Sheesh. Well, mostly kidding, anyway.

***Another thing I love about Facebook is the quizzes. I am constantly amazed at how many wacko quizzes there are out there. And I admit, I have taken a few of them myself, and have acquired some really interesting information.

For example, I have discovered that according to a Dr. Phil personality quiz, I am a narcissistic, selfish and insensitive person. And let's not forget that I was a gorilla in a past life.

Oh, and "The Office" character I am most like is Kevin Malone. You know, the big, fat, jolly guy who farts all the time. Hmmmm....maybe there is something to these quizzes, after all.

*** My friend Rebecca once commented that Facebook is much like high school. Lots of trying to sound cool and be popular. And I think she is right. I suspected that some people add anyone as friends whether they like the person or not. This was confirmed when Bil created a Facebook page for Dolly, a scary doll that my sister and I pass back and forth.

This doll, along with some much prettier dolls, were bequeathed to us after the death of my aunt. We divvied up the others, but neither of us wanted to claim Dolly as our own. Frankly, she scared the crap out of both of us, as we envisioned her coming to life and killing us in our sleep. What commenced was a game in which we try to pawn the doll off on each other. My sister has hidden Dolly in my underwear drawer, under my car seat, and has even had my mother mail it to me along with Christmas gifts. I, in turn, have stowed Dolly all over her house and have taken delight in the times my sister couldn't find her. The only rule of our game is we cannot hide Dolly in our kids's rooms. You know, just in case she finds herself in possession of a tiny doll knife and goes homicidal.

Because Bil and I are total nerds, and because this game of ours has at times driven my brother-in-law nuts, Bil had the idea to
create a Facebook page for Dolly. We uploaded pictures of her in various parts of my sister's house and posted them on FB for my brother-in-law to see. The funniest part of this rather pathetic story is that when Bil created the FB page for Dolly, he invited several people to add her as a friend. And though none of these people (save my brother-in-law) knew anything about Dolly, they accepted her bid for friendship. It baffles my mind. I mean, seriously. Tell me, after seeing her picture, would you add this scary doll as your friend on FB? I didn't think so.

But, if you are interested, her FB name is "Dolly K. Brown."
I hear she is pretty desperate for friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

dogs, nudity, and rotten chicken.....or why I love Meals on Wheels

Every couple of weeks, I deliver Meals on Wheels to people in town who are sick or homebound. A woman at church started the route and we all take turns delivering each Wed. It's a pretty easy gig and the people I deliver food to are really sweet.

Besides occasionally getting turned around when I first started, the delivery is pretty straightforward. Still, I have managed to have some dubious adventures in the couple years I have been delivering. A year or two ago, I got a surprising eyeful on what turned out to be an X-rated delivery. A totally naked man exited the bathroom as I handed the meals to his wife. Apparently, he hadn't heard me yelling, "Meals on Wheels" as I knocked on the door. Luckily, that family was not on our route very long, as it was really hard to look the couple in the eye after having seen the husband in all his naked glory.

A couple of weeks ago as I hurried to the apartment of a woman who is deaf, I totally wiped out, sending food packages flying and in the process, scraping up my knees, elbow and hand and tearing an enormous hole in my jeans. Thank goodness they package the food really well; luckily, none of it spilled, which was pretty amazing considering the distance it traveled through the air before landing on the pavement.

Of course, I had to fall right in front of this young guy, who happened to be outside today when I delivered, as well. I doubt he recognized me, though. Don't all soccer moms look the same?

Today was pretty eventful too. It started out when I arrived to deliver food at an apartment complex. I got up to the second floor and was overwhelmed by a terrifically rancid smell. I actually looked around expecting to see steaming piles of feces nearby. The woman I was delivering to was walking down the hall when she spotted me. She mentioned that there had been a really bad smell and it had taken her and the building's maintenance people all weekend to figure out the culprit: a bag of rotting chicken sitting on top of her refrigerator since Friday. As she opened her door, she said, "You can't really smell it anymore, though, can you?"

That's when the stench hit me like a giant nauseating wall of stink. I had great difficulty answering her, as I was trying to breathe through my mouth without gagging. Will I go to hell for lying to her and saying, "Well, maybe just a little"?

Is it a lie or just an under-exaggeration? When I got outside, I gulped down air greedily.

Yeah, it was a total bald-faced lie. Poor Ethel.

Just when I had finally cleared the smell from my nose, I got to a regular on the route. She rarely comes to the door, as she is extremely hard of hearing, so I normally leave the meal on the little table by the door. No matter how loudly I yell "Meals on Wheels," she never seems to hear me, even though her dog is barking up a storm. This time, there were two dogs, and I was worried one would get out as I entered the house. That's all I needed: to have to chase some dog through the neighborhood while the rest of the meals cooled in my car.

Escaping dogs was not what I should have been worried about, however. I should have been so lucky to have the dogs run away. No, instead, one of the pint-sized little canines bit me. Right on the shin bone. And while it didn't break the skin, that little dog did leave a blue bruise on my leg. The puny flea bag. He's lucky I was so surprised, I didn't have the wherewithal to react, because I think my first reaction would have been to drop kick yappy Fido across the room.

Never a dull moment.

**No animals were harmed in the writing of this post, though not for lack of trying on the part of the author.