Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Merry

We hope you are enjoying a very merry Christmas and if that's not your holiday, at least some serious passionate dancing.

Here's some (click here) from our home to yours.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Thought That Counts?

Do you obsess over gifts?  If you don't?  You are so very much smarter than me.  Tell me your secret and I'll mail you the first 5 pretty things I see in my house even if one of them is Abby. 

I obsess.  Every single year.  And it's always a super bad idea.

This year I chose to obsess over teacher gifts.  Teacher gifts that usually include one mini Yankee candle, 7 Hershey kisses in a Ziploc and a cute note like "Kisses to My Favorite Teacher for lighting my way" or something equally nauseating. (BTW, I loved gifts like this when I was teaching however I also loved getting mugs.)  But no.  I wouldn't settle for cute or normal this year.  I had to go light years into Impossible to Achieve Given Your Lack of Skill in the General Area of Crafting, You Idiot.

And it lasted for about 14 days.

Just like the Indo-Pakistani war.  Except with less Bangledesh and more chalkboard paint.

I had it in my mind to design and personalize something meaningful for each of the kids' teachers; there are four.  (Hello, have you seen my house?  It's designed by the total lack of design.)

Now, what kind of meaningful tabula rasa you can find in the aisle at A.C. Moore with a slightly feverish two year old is limited at best to four things:
  • wooden picture frame
  • wooden clipboard
  • wooden (hoopty) music box
  • wooden birdhouse
You'd think I'd choose the picture frame, right?  You'd be giving me too much credit.  I went with the clipboard.  And then I had an AMAZING idea to make it not only personalized BUT ALSO a chalkboard!

It's what every Early Childhood graduate hopes to get when they're throwing their black caps high into the air.  "If only my students would thank me in a decoupaged clipboard that doubles as a messy black half-assed chalkboard on which I will write my name because nothing else will fit!"

Yessss, obviously I should be paid in gold bars and chocolate dipped diamonds.

OMG you guys.  Something is not right with my brain.  There should exist a greeter at all craft stores that check your credentials for making stuff before you check out with 900 things you won't know how to put together because you failed Geometry.  Twice.  That greeter should say, "Hello, let me see inside your purse," and if that person does not find glitter glue, color coded brads, a bottle of Mod Podge, or antiqued craft paper, you should be escorted out of the building and sent directly to Starbucks to buy the damn gift card already.

So, yes, it nearly cost me a divorce but here is what I made for Abby and Grayson's teachers.  Remind me to tell you the pen holder story.  That one will make you think very highly of yourself and thank your lucky stars you're not Martha Stewart's drive trapped inside Pippi Longstocking's body.

Teacher One Clipboard/Chalkboard Nightmare

(Why yes, I did hand stamp paper because clearly I've stopped drinking the vodka.)

Teacher Two Clipboard/Chalkboard Monster

(It's ok.  All the dogs made it back in the truck in the end.  I wouldn't have it any other way.) 

Teacher Three Just Clipboard by Day 12 Because God is Good

(Yes, I did hand stamp her paper too.  I saved her the near dogs in the open truck bed crash.  Hope she wasn't too disappointed.)

Teacher Four Pen Holder 

Oh wait, that is Abby in a butterfly net.  Well, the cupholder looked pretty similar only it was bright fuschia and maybe weighed 7.5 lbs of heavy glazed ceramic.  Exactly what every preschool teacher needs in her room full of clumsy tissue-paper-for-flesh toddlers.

You know these teachers are amped for their end of the year gifts. 

Let's all pray A.C. Moore hires purse checkers way before June.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good Taste

So you know how you tend to treat the people closest to you the worst?

Yeah.  That.

It's happening to me.  Only I'm on the receiving end this time.

Two examples.  If you're a parent, be prepared to wince.

Example One:
A few days ago and completely out of the blue, Grayson asked who was going to die first:  me or Daddy.

I told him that's not something he needs to worry about as a little boy.  Then I told him we don't get to know those kinds of things.  I know, I should've just said neither of us is ever going anywhere ever so please crawl back in your innocent little person happy meadow where bluebirds speak, Superman rewinds the hands of time, and only bad people get hurt.

But no, my kids got a realist for a mom who feels compelled to cushion the blow but still delivers the punch.

After listening to my remarks, Grayson then adds, "Well, I hope it's not Daddy."

Ha.  Serves the realist right.  Right back at me, Sunshine.

Example Number Dos:
Abby cupped her sweet little hands around my face last night and touched her nose to mine.  While I melted in the warmth of the precious sentiment, she says...and I quote, "Mommy?  I love you but I love Miss Tanya more than you.  She is the best mommy."

"Is that so?"  I ask.

"Yes, it is," she said without flinching.

"Why do you love Miss Tanya more than me?"

"Because she is gooder and I just love her so much I could live at her house but I would like to bring my brudda and my daddy."

"I see.  Hm.  Maybe I could keep Sadie then?"

"No, she loves Daddy more than you."

Wow, this just doesn't get any better for mom, does it?

So, in the end I've learned one thing. 

I have very good taste in husbands and friends.

That and I can probably go back to work any time now.  My damage is done here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

While Abby Naps...

...the tired Christmas Carolers practice.

Press here for Frosty the Snowman.

I think we are ready to take it to the studio. And by studio, I mean living room floor concert when Abby wakes up.

Merry Five days before Christmas.

And Happy Hanukkah.

Videos on that soon.

Before you go? Here's one more to warm the cockles of your heart. Press here for his made up medley please.

You'll need to stick with it for a while before it becomes meaningful. I, of course, ruin the tender moment with an uberly unattractive yawn at the end. You don't have to stick around for that part. I think Mommy wants to hibernate for Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Alternate Holiday Card Picture

It took everything in me not to order this one as our holiday card this year. 

May joy fill your hearts and do funny things to your face this holiday season, my friends.

Happy Weekend Before The Big 25.


Thursday, December 15, 2011


In case we haven't met, I'm the sentimental type.  I love holiday cards.  I save most things that have people's handwriting on them.  For years.  I don't throw away love notes from the husband. (P.S.  My husband is the one to hide the Elf in the morning.  And for some reason Clark is the Elf on the Shelf's new name.  Grayson didn't think Elk was any good anymore.  Also? The best part of this pic might be the tell tale 5am coffee stain.)  

 For a week or two the holiday cards have been showing up in the mailbox.  It's like a visit from an old friend every time.  I love the pictures, the sentiments, the color choices.  This year's common thread is a throwblack classic look: red, black and white card with or without snowflakes.  Each year I've noticed there is a popular choice for design and this year everyone seems to be feeling nostalgic and old school.  I love them all.  

What do you do with all these lovely cards once it's time to take them down?  I thought of a collage but I don't even make the time to do that with my own family pics so I'm sure that will never happen.  

What about some kind of Mod Podge coaster set or picture frame? 

I'll be burning the late night HTML looking for ideas so send 'em if you got 'em.

By the way, at around midnight, this is what I found at the foot of our bed.  

(He spread out Andy's long sleeve shirt to sleep on and climbed right in the oversized Santa stocking like a sleeping bag.)

Someone is very brave about Clark during the day but doesn't like the idea of him so much at night.   All uncertainties are forgotten in the light of the early morning, however, and Grayson is on the search for him before Andy defrosts his car at O Dark Thirty.

Abby has decided Clark is fake and wants no part of him because he "doesn't even have shoes on."  Leave it to Abby to monitor his choice of footwear and judge him accordingly.  Diva. 

And finally, we are still searching for a blue Power Ranger that was lost on Saturday.  Looking through a few pics to post here, I found a clue.  I've checked the train cars but not inside the little plastic houses.  Worth a shot since this is his last known whereabouts. 

Happy Almost Friday, you guys.  We're practically there.

Are you as wiped out as I am?  What is that about?  Holiday stress?  Winter doldrums?  Lack of vitamin A through E?  I did a Zumba class this morning and felt great right up until 2pm at which time me and every single other mom in the parking lot looked like we just drank expired Egg Nog.

Maybe we need to get all dolled up and have ourselves a big girl Princess Party.

Where I'm from, they call that Book Club.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Elk" the Shelf Elf

Have you heard of The Elf on the Shelf?

It's a Christmas gimmick going around this year about a little stuffed elf that has magical powers. He is discovered somewhere in the house and watches over the kids in the house to make sure they are nice and not naughty. He then flies off at night to report back to Santa about his findings.

He is an adorable little narc found by Grayson in our kitchen this morning. Grayson was totally buying what the elf was selling.


She is our in house skeptic.

Here's the video.

Abby is now wandering the house with a comforter over her head so the elf cannot see her. I guess naughty is not visible through a cotton and nylon blend.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Heap Two

Life is chunky.

It comes in large heaps of time that shape who we are and where we are going.

I feel as though lately I'm entering Heap Two.

Heap One was Youth.

Heap Two is Post Youth.  It's the stage where you begin to differentiate from what you want to what you want your legacy to be.  You are no longer existing on the top of the hourglass.

For me it was once all about figuring out who I am and now it is only about how I want to spend my time and what to impart to my children.   

Every day I choose outside my comfort zone with the intent to show my children a little more of a big beautiful sometimes overwhelming world.

Because in life it is experience that breeds confidence.  And confidence without fail gives you choices.

Sometimes our choices are limited.  (I live in the D.C. area.  All choices exist between the hours of 10am and 3pm or else you are defaulted to brake lights and NPR on the car stereo.)  But within those limits, we are busy choosing as well as possible for Heap Two.

Heap Two doesn't try to keep up with the Joneses.  Heap Two also doesn't give one poo about squaring up relationships that don't work.  Heap Two is liberating this once devout People Pleaser to someone who puts her minivan in the way of an impatient BMW jacka**  and the elderly driver who needs more time to make her three point turn.  It's talking less and listening more.  Heap Two is growing out bangs and opting for color instead of neutrals.  Heap Two has priorities, bottom lines, and self worth.

So Cheers to you if  you're heaping too.  Heap One to Two, Two to Three or even Three to Four.  None of it is without pitfalls but we all have the choices within our own city limits.  And when you do find yourself in a place you're not happy with?

Heap again.

Maybe this will be the chunk of time that finds you looking at your world through different eyes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


(Handprint Turkey expertly crafted by my brother, Donnie)

Over Thanksgiving I decided to start a new tradition.  I got this idea from a blog called A Soft Place to Land. It's a fantastic blog with so many thoughtful ideas that I can't wait to go back and see what she's got in the works for Christmas.

If you click on her link above in pink and scroll down a bit you'll see the Thanksgiving Tablecloth idea I borrowed.  Basically you prepare by buying yourself a king size sheet and some fine point Sharpies.  You're gonna need to throw in some gum so the cashier doesn't look at you sideways but whatever.

The idea is to then give every person attending Thanksgiving Dinner a Sharpie so they can write their name and a little message if they so desire.  In large part, my family so desired.  I am now supposed to embroider everyone's message so the tablecloth becomes a beautiful tapestry and one day an heirloom. Store it away for the winter and repeat next Thanksgiving on same bed sheet.

I have no idea how to embroider so I intend to hire out before next Thanksgiving.  
The time was precious at my Dad and Chris' so I didn't get everyone's messages on film but I do have a few to show you.  Not sure why I chose no flash for the last four.  Remind me to keep the lights on.

I loved this idea so much and I'm tickled my brother Donnie went shopping at Wal-Mart with me for a sheet, Sharpies, and popcorn crunch.  You know, instead of the gum.

This first one is from MiMi.  It sums up the entire visit and (my overall life) experience.   

This one's from my brother, Alex.  Only I disagree with him.  I happen to think that this turkey drawing is spectacular.

This one is from Pop-Pop.  He's right, we did miss the rest of our family a lot and hopefully next year we can figure out a way to all be together in one huge warehouse with a bounce house, trampoline, paintball firing range, and all 72 of Eric's big boy toys (unicycle, remote control cars, wheelie trike things, etc.)

Here's mine. No wit but the heart bullets must count for something.

And lastly, here is some free flow from Abby.

That's gonna be a bear to embroider.   I may be charged extra for her portion but the end product will be worth much more than the price of admission.

Hurray for Family Traditions, old and new!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Not Grumpy List

While getting kids ready for bed last night Grayson said to me, "Mommy, you've been grumpy since Bahrain."

Like I was the one who went.

Sad thing is he's right.  I have been grumpy since Bahrain. Combination of two things:  massive quantities of imbalance and ineffective self-care habits.  Working on both.

What's ironic is that a friend whose husband is deployed is now reaching the halfway mark and has hit the wall.  It's the same wall as when you run a marathon, only the cement that fills your legs fills your mind too and you are left chipping away at ossifying brain matter before it dries up, cast hard forever.  She said she is scarred.  I understand that feeling so well.  You can be scarred by it all.  You can have post traumatic stress.  You may not heal entirely from it.  While "being left behind" or working through a deployment is certainly not the worst thing in the world, it is draining and difficult to recover from if you don't make every effort to do so. 

All that sounds dramatic but as I wrote her back (pleading with her to take every single shortcut available in effort to make her life easier), part of me was surprised to see how viscerally and easily it all comes rushing back.  Part of me is still not quite over it and I'm not sure I will ever be the same mom/person/wife ever again.  Maybe that's how it's just supposed to go down.

I will try though.  I will fight to bring back the old fun me.  If for no other reason, I don't want my children to remember me as the mean one (disciplinarian), the tired one (Want to take a nap, kids?), and the grumpy one

So in light of last night's revelation, I give to you things I am not grumpy about:

  • Hiring a babysitter who can possibly do 8 hours a week.  
  • Egg Nog
  • Massage chairs
  • Reindeer
  • Holiday Party Invitations
  • Cupcake liners
  • Fitting in to prebaby clothes
  • Getting rid of them anyway because they are over 5 years unfashionable
  • Oversized Stockings from the North Pole 
  • Soccer pick up because Grayson is the sweatiest one
  • Christmas lights
  • Witty small talk
  • Black & White photos
  • New Hairdos

What's on your Not Grumpy List this week?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Air Swimmers Shark - RC Blimp

This is what Grayson wants for Christmas this year.

Air Swimmers Shark - RC Blimp

His sister will not allow it.

Neither will his daddy.

Sorry, Kid. No gigantic shark blimp under the Christmas tree this year.

It will be floating above your head on Christmas morning with Mommy at the control panel.

Merry Christmas, Baby!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Rocket

Last Sunday the kids and I got a Christmas tree into the house by all means attainable. 

We basically made a ladder from tall garbage cans and recycle bins 
and rolled the tree onto them from the top of our van.

We then rolled the tree from those cans to a wagon.

The wagon was our transit system to the kitchen where we used a blanket to drag the poor thing to its final standing position.

And it's perfect...

for launching things to orbit.

We love our Christmas Rocket!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sadie Wants a German Shepherd

I'm about one coffee cup shy from freaking out once and for all.  The Final Freakout.  The Nervous Breakdown.  The Last Neuron Standing. 

Our house alarm went off at 4:40am Tuesday morning. Sirens blazing, chest pounding, child gathering, soul praying.

But let me back up.

As you know, Andy's job requires significant traveling.  He was scheduled to be away on personal leave most of this week too.  He came home early and unannounced Tuesday afternoon.  I was confused, happy, confused, happy, and so on.  To celebrate both our state of confusion and happiness we took the kids out to eat for dinner.

Abby got a balloon on our way out of the restaurant. Her (pink!) balloon snuck out and into the cold drizzly sky as soon as she was fastened in her car seat. Helium does fancy itself some elbow room.

Abby cried like her best friend just shot into the sky to live among the clouds and raindrops forevermore.  Andy asked me to go back inside and ask for two more balloons.  I returned with one green and one yellow.  The only pink one they had was now airborne to the moon.

Later that night, we giddily did our bedtime routine and got the kids to sleep without promising them trampolines and twenty dollar bills. We all drifted into a sweet comfortable sleep.  Until 4:40 a.m. when the siren in our home and my heart went off.  I was the first one vertical followed by a bleary eyed Andy who had somehow reached for his pants and a firearm at the same time.

I ran down the hall to check if Grayson was maybe sleepwalking and turning doorknobs in his sleep.  He wasn't.  He was still sleeping like an angel in his bed.  Abby was up and asking for cartoons.  Sadie was blinking hard and wondering where her beauty sleep went.  I was somewhere between losing my mind and bionic hearing.

It seemed like light years before the police arrived (it wasn't, it just felt that way).

They walked around to make sure whoever had been trying to get in was long gone.  They saw no sign of forced entry.  I was still shaking in my pjs.  Sadie threw up three times.  Grayson snored.  Abigail was hungry.
We carried on with our morning as much as possible and the kids were none worse for the wear.  I on the other hand?  Seriously needed a margarita.  Andy immediately went down the yellow brick road and assumed it must've been a malfunction of our alarm system.  I am not such an optimist.  The whole time we've been using this system it has not once malfunctioned or even so much as made a blip if it wasn't completely pilot error.  So I find it near impossible to believe it decided to break at 4 in the morning on a clear skied windless night.

I spent the next 6 hours investigating, trying doors and windows, checking batteries, talking to the alarm tech support, recreating the imagined scene with Andy as the bad guy, etc. I nearly drove him back to his tree stand. You can see where my son gets his pervasive need to figure things out.  I cannot let things go when they do not make logical sense.

So, after all that I have to admit two things:  We still don't know whether or not it was an attempted burglary or perhaps a case of something....Christmas tree....the green and yellow balloons?....setting off motion sensors that were inadvertently set that night before going to bed.

The only problem with the motion sensor theory?

The balloons were tucked neatly into Grayson's laundry basket.  All night long.  I found them there at 7am.  And the Christmas tree?  I stared at that sucker for ten minutes straight and it did not even quiver. 

So you see, it's time for a saber toothed German Shepherd to come live at our house.  Sadie needs her beauty sleep.

  (Can you spot her?  Only her ears are visible.  Look closely, you can almost see her royal crown.)