Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Long List

Thanksgiving is over. That's sad but also a great primer for the next holidays tip toeing toward us which are Haunukah and Christmas. We're celebrating both this year. Some of you already know why. Others will just think I've finally slipped into the deep cool blue pond of nuttery. Both are true.

So, without any ado:

The Long List

  1. family. All of it.
  2. our military. All of it.
  3. home
  4. warmth
  5. seat warmers (can you tell I'm cold?)
  6. Oil of Olay lotion
  7. recycling
  8. happy people
  9. thoughtful people
  10. happy, thoughtful, eccentric with remedy people
  11. preschool, thank you God for preschool
  12. scotch tape
  13. Grayson's teachers
  14. fitness class where everyone is over 60
  15. carrot sticks with caesar dressing dip
  16. no more fast fooding
  17. staying busy
  18. 20 minute respites
  19. old friends who show up
  20. new friends who do too
  21. wheels
  22. "go to" earrings
  23. phone calls from my brothers just because they worry
  24. holiday cards
  25. Christmas music
  26. H'motsi and homemade menorahs
  27. warm rain
  28. cold fronts
  29. roomy belted grandpa sweaters
  30. Hubby's socks
  31. candid pictures
  32. laughter - snorting ugly eager laughter
  33. The Real Housewives of Atlanta
  34. Pioneer Woman's chocolate chip cookie recipe
  35. clippy barrettes
  36. perspective
  37. (and losing it sometimes)
  38. Mt. Vernon
  39. being a SAHM
  40. following through
  41. pipe dreaming
  42. changing course
  43. the smell of wet hay
  44. the color of my childrens' hair
  45. bed time stories
  46. snuggling under blankets before tucking everyone in at night
  47. burst of giggles that erupt eventually
  48. Snapper's new lease on life in our kitchen
  49. making homemade cards
  50. receiving them
  51. those little magnetic shopping list pads for $1
  52. (leftover) turkey noodle soup that came out really great b/c of tumeric - another PW secret
  53. Abby's unrelenting love
  54. Grayson's search for peace
  55. Sadie's obsessive concern
  56. Hubby's return in five more months

Friday, November 26, 2010

T Day

Happy post pineapple stuffing day! Hope you all got to celebrate with beloveds and enjoy losing perspective on portion control for the afternoon.

We sure did. Nam and Pop got here mid-morning. Then Nonie, T, and Uncle Matt arrived. We ate a HUGE meal of HoneyBaked goods plus some homemade dishes shortly after that. Happily, had the rest of the afternoon to stretch out and goof off. And that is just what we did. There may have been a little napping going on here and there too. I do have pictures but I also (unfortunately) made promises not to post them.

And here, the obligatory self-timed blurry family shots. It's the end of the day and Abby wouldn't let go of her balloon long enough to look at the camera but otherwise the only thing missing was The Daddy.

But we managed to get a glimpse of him for a few seconds on Skype.

He said he had a nice holiday with his coworkers. They had a potluck and he made pineapple stuffing too. It made the international rounds yesterday.

Though we certainly missed him here, he ran across a little "piece of home" in the Middle East and met up with a Sadie lookalike for an afternoon run. Said she followed him for a long time, managed to slow him down, curl up on his feet, and ascertain a belly rub in the hot desert sun. Not a bad way to give thanks, if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


A follow up on yesterday's post:

Remember how I was all, "Leave the syrup spills on the kitchen floor! Burn your Swiffers!! Follow the yellow brick road" less than 24 hours ago? Confession: I didn't last five minutes. Not even five measly minutes could I summon enough willpower to not put away my dishes in the drying rack. I even rationalized it by telling myself that "this isn't housework; these dishes are already clean; the children won't notice if I just tuck these few last bowls back in the..."

"MOMMY! Where are you?! You said you going to bring your coffee in the castle with us!"

So busted.

Then, THEN, instead of admitting my digression and just going in the blasted play tent with my sweet warm bundles of love for a morning read, I did the unthinkable. I saw leaves on my kitchen floor (sure, only one helicopter seed thing and half a stem, but still). There was outside on my inside. I couldn't look away. I could not let it go. It had me lock, stock and barrel. It all happened very quickly. Before I could slap my own wrist, the broom was in my grasp and we were engaged in the solicitous act of cleaning on Ignore Mess to Enjoy Children Day.

"Moooooommmmmy, why aren't you in here with us AGAIN?!" said my son who will make an excellent correctional officer one day.

Right. That. Playing. With my children. And the joy of it all. Loving. Nurturing. Softness and Light. Step away from the Have Nots, Woman. Crawl into that tent and do it with a smile on your face.

"Hi Guys, I'm here. Wow, it's warm in here. Sooo cozy! Let's read a story, shall we?"
"I need my milk and juice."
"Get my milk and juice first pleeeeeaaase, then a story."
"Ba-Pooh, Ba-Poooh, Ba-Pooh!"

Right. That. Loving. Nurturing. Gleaming with hope and promise. Feed the children, nourish their growing bodies and burgeoning minds. Walk with them on hills of lilac and golden aster or some shit like that. Follow them through the day and let them lead the way.

"Mooooom!!! Do you have my milk and juice ready yet?"

But all was well in the kitchen because I could barely hear their urgent demands over the clanking of silverware and glass pans being put away in their rightful location.

**Disclaimer - I was finally able to leave the mess behind and enjoy the day with, really with the kabibbles. More on that and our discoveries tomorrow. Not all was lost on my inner Neurotic Nancy. It just started out that way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dirty Houses

Lately, I've been really struggling with my household responsibilities and being a patient, loving mom. I seem to get really hung up on the minutiae of household stuff so it doesn't avalanche on me and bury me by midnight. My brain tends to look for shortcuts because I know I'm the only one here to physically get it done. My head sounds something like this:

"I know, little Abby, you just want me to read you another story but I have to do these dishes first or they will pile up before lunch. And Hello Snapper's tank. You are killing me with your filmy water after two days. Don't you suck on algae in your real life pond world? Why are you getting Popeye here in less than brackish water? No more pets. Sadie's water dish. Almost empty. That friggin' self feeding water thing is heavier than Sadie herself. I'm going to get a hamster bottle. That should work for five minutes. Bottles. I need to wean you from your bottles, little Abby. Right after I do these dishes."

"I will relax with the kids once I get everything put away because I just can't think in all this clutter."

"Yay, me! I folded two tubs of laundry and just have to put it away now. I am a Laundry Queen! Wait, that was the buzzer. For what? What was I timing? Is someone in Time Out? Is something in the toaster oven? OH man, that was the dryer. I'm not done with the laundry afterall. My laundry owns me."

"I can play kickball with Grayson after I sweep up the kitchen but -oh my- when did that one happen? What is that, yogurt? We don't even have yogurt. We need yogurt. Where's my grocery list. I forgot to add lightbulbs. What kind are in those little domes in the hallway? Man, I have to check now because I'll forget to do that later. Let me get this chair. What the? What's this sticky stuff on the chair, is that yogurt?" And so on...

So I ask you, when you find a friend's house cluttered with toys, millions of books opened and forgotten, physical evidence of an interrupted tea party, do you judge and think what a horrible house cleaner the mother is? Do you automatically assume you can do much better (because you DO much better?) Do you look down your nose on her parenting skills and suddenly feel superior because you'd never let your house be seen in such disarray?

Here's why we might not want to be so hasty next time. The children in that "dirty" home may benefit from Mom putting down the OCD and letting go of her own expectations of a perfect home, if only for one day of the week. I realize you can't let things go crazy, especially when you're the only one who cleans up but leaving it all go for one day or even two won't hurt. In fact, it's worth it if it helps a little person feel more loved and connected to his/her world and yours. Totally worth it, ten-fold.

When the kids are little, it's all about being with you. That's it. They want your company. They want to have your attention because life is new, overwhelming, and marvelous. Let them marvel with you. It's what makes them happy. That's what gives them peace. That's all they really want. They want you. So give them you, not the back of you as you sponge off your kitchen floor because someone might step in something sticky. You can get it later, with a chisel yes, but later. Your floors will still be floors in two years. Your little children will only be this small for five minutes. Don't spend those five minutes with Pine-Sol.

Here's why I will not clean my house tomorrow. And maybe not even the next day. But yes, I promise I will clean up before Thanksgiving because well, that's just taking things too far out of my comfort zone, y'all.

(Stolen from a wonderful website I stumbled across called Peaceful Parenting)

I Took His Hand and Followed

photo by Mathew Cook

My dishes went unwashed today,
I didn’t make the bed,
I took his hand and followed
Where his eager footsteps led.

Oh yes, we went adventuring,
My little son and I,
Exploring all the great outdoors
Beneath the summer sky.

We waded in a crystal stream,
We wandered through a wood.
My kitchen wasn’t swept today,
But life was sweet and good.

We found a cool sun-dappled glade
And now my small son knows
How Mother Bunny hides her nest
Where fern and larkspur grow.

We watched a robin feed her young,
We climbed a sunlit hill,
Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky;
We plucked a daffodil.

That my house was neglected,
That I didn’t sweep the stair,
In twenty years no one on earth
Will know or even care.

But that I’ve helped a little boy
To noble manhood grow,
In twenty years the whole wide world
May look and see and know.

~ Ms. Peifer

The Short List

I realize this is blog post cheating but I'm feeling rather grateful today because things have gone all right instead of all wrong. I hope for a day like this for all of you. I hope for a YEAR like this for you all.

What I'm thankful for right this very second:

cotton clothing (to include jeggings and holey socks)
Max & Ruby DVDs
friendly neighbors who offer up their staplers
already sliced up vegetables from Giant
apricot leaves still on trees
sunshine splitting time between backyard and my living room
Sadie's eyelashes
independent play (lasting minutes but they are beautiful and interesting)
Sarah Mac's 'Wintersong'
Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving
Grayson telling me, "I am taking good care of you, Abby, and Sadie while Daddy is away."
cocoa butter lip balm
Puffs kleenex
Abby asking me to rock her for a "long time with no shinging Mommy."
Clorox Clean-Up
Hubby's emails and IMs
scheduled free time; the right to keep it simple
hot tea
Grayson and Abby's new babysitter who I wish I could hire on full-time
seeing the moon at 4:30pm
other military spouses who just know
early bed times
sandwiches for dinner
readers, followers, commenters, no commenters, you.

Be back with a real post tonight. Kids will succumb to their delirium at some point. If not, there's always the treadmill. If Sadie can do it...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dear Honey

There's so much my husband and I forget to say over Skype. Probably because it's either 11pm his time or past my pumpkin hour here when we see the orange alert pop-up on the screen. Because of this, he is now an official One-Sided reader so he can catch up on what's going on at the homestead. That in mind, figured I'd surprise him with a running list of things I will continue to forget unless I write them down. Here. On the mommy blog.


Dear Honey,
  1. Abby has not forgotten you. I know you think she has. In fact, this evening she asked where you were, then told me "Daddy not here, Daddy miss Abbies. Daddy miss hold Abbies," at least five times. She means the reverse on the latter part but it doesn't matter because I'm guessing both are accurate.
  2. Grayson desperately wants to please, even more than before you left. His little face dissolves into hurt and confusion if (yes, when ) I take a "tone" with him. I'm trying so hard to be the moon and the stars and the red balloon (but am so often the quiet old lady who is whispering hush.)
  3. I am holding myself together nicely. The scotch tape is barely visible.
  4. I am also holding myself to a higher standard with you gone. You know, not letting cranky win ever since I'm all they have for their day-to-day and how much would that suck for them if they were faced with that woman all the live long. Also? I want to win something really nice at the end of this. Like a lovely little metal purple heart number. I hear they go great with a pair of jeans and boots.
  5. Snapper is living in our tupperware. Bleaching his tank just never makes my Top 10 list.
  6. Our landlord invited us over for Thanksgiving. We were right, nicest guy ever.
  7. I have balanced our checkbook only once since you left...a month ago.
  8. I bought a new purse today. Smaller. I know, I'm purse bi-polar. Bottomless pit bag, then a zipper with vacancy only for lip balm. But this one's red with blue trim. To die.
  9. Sadie no longer asks for dinner. It's so depressing. She just knows it's never going to happen so goes over to the cookie bin instead to wait for one of those to drop from the sky.
  10. Holy Crap is this whole deal a complete exercise in Lamaze. Don't forget to breathe. Whistle if you have to. Sing loudly and often-ly but never ever say no to the epidural (white wine) when it's on the table.
  11. Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning. Then I pour more Hazelnut creamer in my coffee.
  12. Abby let herself go to sleep tonight without clutching four plastic Strawberry Shortcakes and screaming, "Abby need Yellow Girwl! Abby need Shawtcake. Dey not hewe!!" even though they are clearly in her little tight fists.
  13. Do we own a stapler?
  14. I played a Christmas CD and bawled my eyes out while slicing lettuce and tomatoes (we had seven layer dip tonight for dinner and Grayson almost threw up) because there was a verse about how family is not an heirloom and I don't really know what that means other than you are there and we are here and our family has a big wide gaping hole in it so it made me feel sad while chopping vegetables. I came *this close* to losing a thumb.
  15. I'm so thankful for you. Happy Early Thanksgiving, Honey. You're gonna miss all the HoneyBaked ham.
** addendum since 15 min. ago. Just balanced checkbook. We're good.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What a Bad Dog

Funny story. Forgot to share it. Here it go.

Halloween night started out great. Got Spiderman dressed without losing an eye. Tinkerbell/Princess SnowQueen was all put together (the rodeo boots make it, in my opinion) and even Sadie was dressed up with her chocolate bow and matching scarf.

The four of us hoofed it up the street trick or treating and got exactly one house away when I understood how ridiculous I was being. People don't take their dogs trick or treating for a reason. It's hard. Other kids are scared of them. Other moms are scared of them. Other neighbors think you're crazy, not cute to dress up your dog for Halloween. They (the dogs, not the neighbors) also don't sit nicely at the front door waiting patiently for a Snickers but instead barge into the home to go a-visiting because the kitchen smells like sausages and cake. I had to take her back home.

We schlepped back to our house. Sadie skulked back inside, slumped down in front of the pantry and we three humans went along our merry way.

When we got home, an hour or so later, this is what greeted us.

As you can see here, Abigail was as mortified as her mother because she could see "the rest" in the living room. Coffee grinds, tea bags, little white bags of deodorizers that probably would require a visit to the doggy ER by 3am.

Moral of the story?

Next year, Sadie wears the feathered mask so nobody knows she's not one of us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Take Home Chef

Past two nights the kids have been waking up at odd hours requesting California rolls and lemonade spritzers or so seems at 2 am and/or 3am, and/or again at 4am. I'm so delirious that being grumpy or impatient isn't even an option. The kids are met with warm arms, cuddly hugs, and soft hush now words. Abby's back is rubbed in circles until she feels like a warm loaf of buttermilk dough on my shoulder as I lay her sweet self back in the crib for (hopefully) the duration.

Grayson shadows me, no matter what time of night, back to the bedroom and asks for a "Mommy show."

"No Honey, it's time for bed."
"Can you find just one Mommy show to watch so I can listen and fall asleep?"

And I struggle for the fortitude to deny him that luxury. To teach him how to fall asleep on his own. To show him that you do not need the television on in order to go to sleep. Struggle the incessant struggle of easy over difficult. I do not win. Easy has another notch in her lipstick case. I reach for the remote instead and turn the blasted thing on.

"None of your singing and dancing shows on, Mom?" he asks as I flip from one paid program to the next like it's 8pm instead of time to milk the cows.
"Nope. Guess not, Babe." Nothing but Proactive and Andy Cohen in another blue shirt. Then I find an old and almost forgotten favorite: Take Home Chef. It has new graphics, men sous chefs (and not just hot single lady market go-ers since Take Home Chef got hitched), and of course the reason to tune in himself, Curtis Stone: a handsome Aussie who slices a tomato and makes the world over blush at the same time. He's that good.

We're set. Mommy show, here we go. I'm riveted. Grayson's psyched too. It's 4:23 am.

"Ooh good, Bananas Foster - I've always wanted to see how they make this."
"Me too," he whispers.

"That's a lot of sugar, Mommy." Grayson says through a tiny boy yawn and I agree.
"That IS a lot of sugar, holy cow is that a lot of sugar." I add to that tiny boy who had very much succumbed to the wee-early hours of his teething sister and who had miraculously already begun to snore.

Take Home Chef. I highly recommend it for those too-too early morning false starts for both comfort, peace, and more sugar than any lonely housewife can stand.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How to Make a Green Tube Shirt

Step One:
Test dye a small portion of your material.

Step Two:
Squish dye between your fingers so Mother cannot remove easily even with an entire bottle of Johnson's Baby Soap. Yeah, go ahead and add some yellow.

Step Three:
Apply color generously to bulk of material.

Step Four:
Take a moment to smile pretty for your fans, after you remove your pants.

Step Five:
Pretend you are an Etch-a-Sketch

Step Six:
Show off your wares to the most discerning critic in town (also pantless, those eccentric types).

Step Seven:
Do your best Lily Tomlin impersonation.

Step Eight:
Try a distracting chicken dance.

Step Nine:
Drop it low and get your green shirt groove on.

Step Ten:
Bathe in the beauty of your inner O'Keefe and patent the half-arm, pointer finger look. It's sassy, avant-guard and oh so green.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Thousand Pieces

Lo and behold, we found ourselves in a toy store today and bought a mini kitchen. Figured it could be an early birthday present for Abs. It was a great deal. $19.99 for an entire set - stove, microwave, bottom cupboard, cell phone (would've loved a teapot but manufacturer preferred communication over Chai), oven range, little plastic knives, forks and plates. Too cute. Had to have it.

We were all so excited to open the box when we got home. An hour before dinner, I dove in scissors first and ripped into the goods. Then and only then could I see why it was less than 20 dollars.

There were thousands of pieces.

Millions of plastic connectors still requiring release by wire cutter. Screw holes not exactly big enough to house the fatty screws that came with the set. Things labeled alphabetically, then doubling up alphabetically because there were that many pieces to this thing.

Grayson jumped up and down. Abby rooted me on with her bare feet and wet chin. I could not let them down. I had to channel Ty and do this thing.

A million pieces.

Keep going.

Effing screw holes.

Don't give up.

Daggone it all I loaned out the automatic drill. When do I ever need the automatic drill?

You can do this.

I'm only up to double Cs.

Where's my husband?

"Mommy, is it ready yet?" he kangaroos around the living room.
"Eees eet raddy et?" she echoes.

5:30 pm and still half a million pieces to go. We paused for leftovers, an all out brawl over a spoon, was it? and bath time which resulted in water inside Abby's lungs from drinking the bathwater and one inch of water outside the tub because Spiderman is an avid water skier apparently and loves to show off by jumping over washcloths and rubber turtles.

7:00 couldn't come fast enough. Jammies, socks, teeth, ba-pu, Little Bear, nice story with nothing remotely sharp toothed. soothing crib music, rhythmic humming and rocking Abby. I return to find the tall lanky one on my bed already fast asleep. Sadie is down for the count right next to him. There is a God.

Yep, there is a God who lends a hand when you find yourself with a thousand pieces left to go.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Kissing Bandit

A kiss for you, Brubba...

And another....

And another....

And another? How much is a guy supposed to take?

That much.

We're done here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Silence is Not So Golden

It's not very often you listen and hear a bunch of nothing.

Here, at our house, it's usually "Troller (stroller), Brubba, MY troller Brubba, NO!" Followed by, "Urrrrrrrrrgggh, give it to me Abbbbbby - MINE!" Why Brubba wants Abby's troller to begin with is beyond me. Probably to hide all of her baby girl kose (clothes) and run over Daddy Long Legs or something heinous.

This morning, Nammy and Pop took Grayson to preschool and Abby went along for the ride in her pajamas and coat. Oxycotton look but cute when you're two. I stayed back with Sadie and cleaned up the kitchen. Then I leaned on the kitchen sink and sipped at some tea-with- my-honey drink. Then I freaked out. I couldn't hear anyone.

Where were all the high pitched trillings?

Why wasn't the phone ringing?

Where was that wood chipper that isn't a minute past 7am?

Why is it so strikingly mute in here?

And then, because she is the missing link to my brain, Sadie whined for a cookie.

"Thank God. I was beginning to spiral."

This is totally why people (women) have 32 cats and dress their iguanas. I promise you this now, you will definitely see me on Hoarders one day. I'll be the one who is keeping ketchup bottles and tiny Vienna Sausage containers because my children don't write or call. Just turn the channel, pretend it's someone else and mail me some Heinz 57 for Christmas to cover up all that screaming quiet.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Reds up high,
yellows and golds,
oranges rust to brown
fall waits to be noticed in
the back of the room
like a quiet child

and every year this is the time
my spirits rise

my spirits rise

my spirits rise

Yes, this is the time my spirits rise.

The most glorious time of the year.

Monday, November 1, 2010

22 Weekends

The day of Hubby's deployment was hilarious. It was heartbreaking, depressing, and horrible too but it started off hilarious. We both went around nesting. Cleaning, stacking, scrubbing, putting away, taking out, clearing out, clearing off anything and everything that was within grasp. It was as if we were prepping for a delivery of a nine pound baby instead of the departure of a grown man with three 70 lb duffel bags. Funny how the psyche works. Guess we thought we could outclean the clock and get ahead of all the future messes that will happen while he's overseas. Little does he know I have greatly lowered my standards and believe a house junked up with toys and dust bunnies is a house of clarity and a vision for dinner.

Then there were the eyelashes-on-fire moments. All morning long we'd avoid eye contact. Hell, for weeks we've been avoiding eye contact as though locking visual would suddenly result in an airline ticket and immediate luggage check. Silly, silly human brains.

And, finally the day was catching up to us and we had no more laundry to put away. This was when my mental mettle let me down and the last 30 minutes before he left felt like paper cuts.

Things weren't as funny anymore.

It was time to say the long goodbye.

And it totally sucked.