Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Confession: I get choked up every time I hear "Auld Lang Syne".

I don't know why it has that effect on me, but it has for years now. It's kind of an all-purpose song meant to acknowledge both beginnings and endings, but doesn't every new beginning come from some other beginning's end? (I didn't come up with that last part. It's a lyric from a song my husband hates! So true though.)

While people are out celebrating tonight, I wonder what they'll toast to at midnight? Will they revel in the blessings the year brought, or is it a farewell to the hardships of the last 365 days? 

I, for one, am going to celebrate tonight as the official end of 2011. 

We've struggled emotionally, with stress and concern for the ones we love. We've struggled financially, due to our growing family and the debts that come along with providing for our children. We've struggled professionally, sometimes it's hard to sit back and watch when things unexpectedly take a turn for the worse. We've struggled to not only maintain, but also to improve, in relationships as well as material possessions.

You know what though? I can't say that it was the worst year of my life. In all honesty, I can't pinpoint a single year in all of my 28 that I would label as the worst year of my life. I have bad days, but I refuse to have a bad year.

The most solid piece of advice that I have ever received is to start each day anew. You have to make a conscious effort to make each day a good day, or the bad days will consume you. Whatever it is, face it, and then get over it. 

We all deserve to be happy today, and every day after. 

Whether you celebrate an end or a beginning tonight, cheers, and best wishes.



 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Santa Came: My Yard Has More Glitter Than a Strip Club Now

This is how I kicked off Christmas 2011.
Focus on the busted screen, not the fact that I take shitty pictures.

By "kicked off Christmas 2011", I really mean "tripped over my own feet after climbing across the baby gate with my phone and a sippy cup in each hand within 10 minutes of waking up on Christmas eve". I stood there in sheer disbelief for a good 10 seconds before a stream of mother-fuckers flowed from my mouth like molten hot lava. The baby throws my phone like a grenade a minimum of 25 times each day, and not even a scratch. I drop it while pulling Super Mom duty to quench the thirst of my two needy babes, and BAM - screen looks like it's been hit by a stray bullet.

On Christmas eve, no less!

The rest of the day was spent in a cleaning frenzy set to the tune of my trusty Christmas station on Pandora. Laundry, some dishes, bathroom scrubbed, bedrooms - I even vacuumed which is a very rare occasion for this happy homemaker. I worked like a robot programmed for perfection, one with an irrational fear that if the house wasn't clean by nightfall Christmas would be ruined. 

By the time Chris got home from work I'd had my fill of cleaning. We had a typical evening cooking and eating supper, checking out our various internet addictions, etc while waiting for Mia to come home from her dad's house before bedtime.

My big girl got home right after the sun went to bed and the stars came out to play; ready for Christmas magic.

We take this exact photo every Christmas eve

Our Christmas eve tradition is that the kids get to open their gifts from Daddy & Mommy, and exchange their gifts from each other. Each year from us, they each get new pajamas to sleep in that night and a new outfit to wear the next day. From each other, they get something useful, but a little more fun (Miles: small stacking cups and new boots, Mia & Marlee: Hello Kitty watches and winter hats). 

Did they love their gifts? Yes. Were they bummed when they realized they didn't get any toys? Yes and the tears began to flow. My kids are spoiled rotten, and even though they're very grateful for the things they receive, they're still kids. Kids love toys - not hats and watches.When kids cry, you distract them with something else.

While I put everyone in their new pajamas, Daddy went out to warm up the car. We put on slippers and the new hats and the girls doused the sidewalk, porch, and pretty much the entire front yard with Reindeer Food. For those of you who remember the fine establishment that was the Million Dollar Fantasy Ranch, my lawn is still coated with enough glitter to decorate an entire generation of single moms just trying to put themselves through college. I'll bet a crisp one dollar bill that the glitter will still be there in July.

The glitter's there. Trust me.

 Never made Reindeer Food? Here's the recipe: 

MIA'S REINDEER FOOD
  • 2 cups uncooked oatmeal (1 cup plain, 3 individual packets apple-cinnamon flavor)
  • 1 huge ass jar of gold glitter (entire jar) 
Combine glitter and oatmeal in a large Ziploc bag. Shake until mixed thoroughly. Then shake it again because it separates every time you move the dang bag.

Bag empty, we loaded into our toasty car with big cups of hot cocoa and blankets on our laps, then drove through our sweet hometown looking at the Christmas lights. "Damn it Marlee! I MEAN IT! Roll your window up or Santa's not going to bring you any presents!" followed by "Chris! Watch the road! CHRIS! YOU'RE ALMOST IN THE DITCH! Are you even watching for deer? You're going too fast - what if a deer runs out in front of us? Or a German Shepard!" I don't drive at night, so logically I don't think anyone else is really capable of doing it either.



Before long, the kids were tired of the lights and asking if we were almost done. I love when we do things with the kids, saying that it's for their enjoyment, but in all honesty we do it because it's something that us adults think is fun... 

At home, we set out milk and cookies for the big guy and Mia read A Very Marley Christmas (about the dog, not the child though it's pretty much one and the same) before my 3 sweet babies fell asleep. Not before Chris caught Marlee dunking her hands in the toilet though, and had to shower her off and change her pajama top. Three year-olds: can't tranquilize them, can't get them to fall asleep on their own.

When the coast was clear, Santa's gifts magically appeared under the tree and stockings were stuffed and hung. Not the 3 foot tall stockings (though I did conveniently find them tucked away in a box in the garage), but 3 replacement stockings.


Chris decided that it was time to wrap the gift he'd got me, and always one for surprises, called me into the kitchen "You wanna see what I bought you? Hey, where's some wrapping paper and tape?". In typical female fashion, I got all butt hurt because it wasn't what I'd hoped he'd got me. In typical man fashion, he said he didn't buy my requested gift because I'd told him that we couldn't afford it so don't waste the money. Ugh...ok, he had me there... Shit...
Inside: body wash (wrong scent), perfume (wrong scent), sugar scrub (already have). I'll keep them though!
I woke up every hour between 4AM and 8AM filled with anticipation, but the kids did not. Finally at 8:30AM, Miles started to stir and I woke the girls up asking them if they thought Santa came. Mar's response was to look out the bedroom window and say "Nope. There's no presents in da yard, Mommy..."

They made the nice list, miraculously. 


Somebody got her toy peacock. Name? Toy Peacock Girl.

Amy Rose for my little gamer!
He loves smiling. Smiling's his favorite!




See that coffee mug? My favorite Christmas gift from last year. Hand - painted by Big Sister.
The rest of the holiday was spent with our family: parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Good food, good gifts, and good times. 

Now that it's over - back to cleaning up one giant glitter-speckled mess after the next. Why doesn't Santa think about storage before he goes shopping every year?

Fa la la la la, la la la la


Friday, December 23, 2011

Hurry Christmas, Hurry Fast!

"Christmas, Christmas time is near. Time for toys & time for cheer. 
We've been good, but we can't last. Hurry Christmas, hurry fast..."

Friends, I tell you with all certainty, I'm living the live action version of The Chipmunks' Christmas song right now.
 We end each night by moving the snowman into a new pocket on the advent calendar before bedtime. The wise big sister announces "_____ more days 'til Christmas!" and the excited little sister replies "Yep! And guess what? Tomorrow when we wake up it's be Christmas!"

Toddlers have no concept of time. They do get the concept of presents though.

I've lost count on exactly how many times the words "Be good...Santa's always watching!" have been uttered this week. Once you pass 10, you realize you're only saying it to give yourself false hope that the kids really will be on their best behavior. 

When all else fails - you call the man with the bag to tattle:

"Hi, Santa? Yes, it's Jennifer Palis. I could use a little assistance here. I know you can see that they're acting like turds! I told them you were watching...What's that? Uh-huh...Uh-huh...Ok I'll tell them - Santa says that only good children get gifts on Christmas morning and it makes him sad when you guys try to murder each other/jump on the furniture like you're in a bounce house/use the Christmas ornaments like soccer balls/fill the sink drain with toilet paper/mash Pop Tarts into the carpet/cut your own hair/smear melty chocolate onto the back seat of the car. Yes, Santa Claus, they're listening. Yes, they look sorry. Santa says to promise Mommy you'll be good kids. Ok Santa they promised! Alright - thanks Big Guy, love you too! What? Yep, we're making sugar cookies on Saturday night. Do you want 2% or milk nog? Milk nog it is! Oh! Tell Rudolph that we have reindeer food & carrots ready for him and the team too. Your key will be in the normal spot on the door knob. No, thank you! Bye!"

I wish I had videos of my kids during a tattle call with SC. Their faces are a combination of shame, betrayal, fear, and hope in the purest form. They go from tears to relief through the span of the call and then? All is good, for about...eh...10 minutes until someone gets busted again...

*****
Mia had her First Grade holiday party on Wednesday morning.

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig
My big girl decided to read me a story while some of the other kids played a game of Christmas Pictionary on the classroom whiteboard. She's such a good reader! The only word she needed help with? Pneumatic.

Craft time: Metallic plastic ornament with glittery stickers = Mama will keep this forever
Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells
 Girls were asked to bring a book for a girl, wrapped, with a price limit of $5.  Mia brought in a La La Loopsy book, wrapped in pink Christmas paper with kittens on it and made no secret of announcing to the other girls which was her present and what the book was. Her friend Morgen will likely be reading a little La La Loopsy over Christmas break! Sister received her friend Lily's gift - a book AND a big box of M&Ms! Score!

This is the kind of picture you pull out on Graduation day. Adorable!
*****
Yesterday was our company Christmas party at work. Staff breakfast provided by the senior managers, employee breakfast served by all staff, games, crafts, photos with Santa Claus, and an awesome talent show. By far, the company Christmas party is my favorite day out of the work year. 

This year, the employees decided to forgo their Christmas bonuses in favor of collecting money for another local non profit. A total of $800 was donated to a women and children's shelter. My cup runneth over.

We also held an ugly sweater competition for the staff this year. Jimmy and I searched high and low for worthy gaudiness. We found them at the Christian thrift store in town, and seriously thought I was going to have to fight an older lady for it. Eyeballing my sequins? Aw, hell nah!

Sibling Rivalry: Ugly Sweater Edition
Sadly, neither of us won the cash prize for our sweaters. I can't speak for Jimmy, but as for my sweater, it's in good hands now that I'm done with it. The girls are absolutely loving it!

We're off work until after the first of the year now. Hallelujah! Hello, Christmas vacation, I've been waiting for you!

*****

Our next door neighbor, Jack, brought over bags of Christmas gifts for the kids yesterday. He is SO good to my kids, and they love him like he's just another grandpa. So thankful to have him in our lives!
The perfect fit!
*****

Well, I'm off to clean my house before it gets destroyed again on Sunday. Have a wonderful holiday everyone, and if you don't have a reason to celebrate this weekend - find one!  Life is a gift...

P.S. Christmas Dinner 2011's dessert? Cake pops from Bitty Bites Cake Pop Company. Granny won an assortment of them in a pictures with Santa contest on Bitty Bites' Facebook Page. Check these beauties out - I'm DYING to eat them!
Flavor varieties shown: chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, lemon coconut, and mint Oreo

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

As of tonight, I haven't wrapped a single gift, haven't properly grocery shopped in roughly 2 weeks, haven't found the perfect hideous sweater for the company Christmas party, haven't the foggiest as to what the hell happened to the 3 giant stockings that Santa has filled for the last 4 years, and haven't figured out what's caused my car's heated seat button to go on the fritz. I'll save those worries for a Tuesday or a Friday.

In Momland, Monday through Friday holds the same old work/school schedule, and Saturday is the day to play catch up on all of your other priorities. Sunday is fun day: the day to relax, the day to do something special, the day to simply reward yourself for the battles won the six days prior. And then? You get to start all over as the sun rises on Monday. 

So, I sit here on Sunday night, wrapping up what's left of my weekend, and tying a big red bow on top for your reading pleasure. Life is a gift, that's why they call it the present.


Behold, the gifts I've been given:

Hello, beautiful...
Thanks to this crazy December heat wave, the weather is a comfortable 50F during the day, and just chilly enough to warrant fleece blankets and hot coffee in the evenings. I'll take Sunny Days/Cozy Nights for $200, Alex!

Mia, Marlee, Miles
The postman delivered Christmas cards from Santa himself to my 3 babies. Not just any old cards though, pop up cards - with glitter AND Christmas ornament stamps. I believe Mia's exact words were "Santa...sent...a card to MEEEE! I know I'm on the Nice List now!" through a fit of excited giggles. Helpful hint: Santa's handwriting looks just like everyone else's, but he adds little circles to the connecting points of each letter. Crafty old elf, that St. Nick.

I'm no Annie Lebovitz. Also, I take most of my pics on my phone. It's handy.
Mia spotted 7 cardinals in our front yard today. Growing up, my mama always told me that when a cardinal lands, it's a sign that snow is on its way. Lo and behold, the forecast shows a possibility of snow on Tuesday. I love when I get to pull out my Farmer's Almanac knowledge with the kids. It makes me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I REALLY love that!

"Purple is the Mommy flower, pink are the babies" - Mia
It was candy-making day at Great Granny's house today. We were invited to come by and sample the wares, so of course, we complied. You don't pass up an invitation to Great Granny's - especially when there's taste tasting involved. Great Granny is recovering from her second mastectomy and decided that she had enough flowers in her house, maybe a few blooms would like to come live at our house with the girls. P.S. I'd like to recommend the peanut butter fudge and the lemon cake balls dipped in white chocolate. Have mercy on my thighs...

Shock me, shock me... Marlee isn't wearing pants...
We surprised the kiddos with a TV for their bedroom. With a pricetag of $10, it was a deal too sweet to pass up. Squeals of delight, I tell ya! So far, it's been well worth the price, based solely on the fact that they're able to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas in a room separate from Daddy and I. I swear, when I was a child, The Grinch was on once a year. Fast forward 20 years, it's on every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas on one channel or another. You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

Next week, we'll take down the Christmas tree. Until then, we'll be fighting what's sure to be a losing battle with Brother. Bless us, everyone.

video

Sunday, December 11, 2011

For Your Listening Pleasure

"Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from Heaven to the soul."

I've been in a funk for the last few weeks. I'm not going hash it all out here because let's be honest - a real man hides his emotions from the outside world (a little something I picked up from the Old Man) so that no one thinks he's a pansy. Also, I realize that I have a uterus and that actually makes me a woman, but I tend to have a man's mentality a lot of the time. 

Anyway... I feel like I've been going through life on autopilot lately, and that has left me with little motivation to enjoy daily life and little motivation to write. I apologize for slacking off. This isn't exactly Rolling Stone, but I love that my little blog allows people to escape from their lives and experience mine momentarily. I hope you take what you like from my ramblings, and leave behind the words that hold no value for you.

Music is - and always will be - the cure for what ails me, and I feel like that rings true for a lot of people. I like to think that people don't make a living in the music industry simply because they want fame or fortune, but because they want to create something powerful and share it with others.

I love that music has the ability to be interpreted differently by each person, and to take on a new meaning to the listener each time they hear a song even if it's been heard a million times before. To inspire us to live and to feel through the good times and the bad, and to encourage us to carry on when things don't go as planned. 

Last Friday, I started my day feeling emotional as a result of the ups and downs I'd experienced during the week. I drove to work, my mind stumbling across various low points, driving my outlook into darkness. And then, a song I've heard a million times before came on the radio - "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons

I've always enjoyed the song - the driving rhythm of the drum and banjo combination, the empowered rise of the chorus, and the cadence of the lyrics as they are sung. A million times before, I'd heard the song and sang along, tapping my foot to the beat. A million times before, I'd heard the song and in my mind it represented the struggles of someone I love. In that moment though, the song represented my own struggles and served as reassurance that after darkness always comes the light. I love when that happens.

The rest of my Friday was great, as was my Saturday. Now that Sunday is here, I need to clean my disgusting house. To motivate myself, I created a little playlist to get the job done and it starts with "Soul Singing" by The Black Crowes. (Even if you don't like the song itself, watch the video and witness the way Chris Robinson dances like a cross between a VH1 Diva and a hippie on the best trip of his life. The power of music at its finest.)
 
My request for comments: What inspires you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ho Ho Holy Shit...

Before I go into the rundown of last night's visit from Santa, let's take a peek at the technology that makes tonight's post possible...

We don't eat in the kitchen anyway. Hence, my carpet is Dalmatian colored.
You might remember the laptop from this post. You might also remember that my husband actually sells computers for a living. How does this contraption work? Well, you take a laptop with a broken screen, hook it up to a separate flat screen monitor, then - here's where it gets good - you keep the laptop open and type on it and then the words will appear on the second monitor. Like something straight out of Star Trek, huh?

Anyway... 

We have an annual tradition of having Santa make an early visit to the kids. He does magic tricks and lets the kids help, then each child gets a turn to sit on his lap. Everyone gets to tell him what they would like for Christmas, and everyone gets one gift from the big guy. Santa then thanks everyone for being good boys and girls, and warns them that he's always watching and he hopes to see their names on the Nice list on December 24. It's a fabulously festive passive aggressive way of telling the kids to chill out for Dad and Mom or they won't get the good stuff.


Santa Saturday kicked off with my sister-in-law, Laura, being rushed to the emergency room with mystery internal pains. Not rushed as in taken by ambulance, but rushed as in my brother drove her there in a Ford Contour. Turns out, it was just a kidney infection and once she had a few pain pills in her system, she couldn't feel the outside of her body, let alone her kidneys. Fa la la la la, la vi-co-din!

Granny and Papa went over extra early to sit with the kids, and make the $75.00 worth of pizzas purchased for the night.

LADY @ PIZZA PLACE: I always forget your name...
ME: Jennifer
LADY: Jennifer, that's right! You're in here every week and you buy at least 4 pizzas every time. You know that you can call your order in ahead of time, right?
ME: Yep.  I always remember that when I'm standing in line.
LADY: uncomfortable laughter

Back to the story. Sorry!

To help out with the kids, I went over early too with Marlee and Miles. Chris would be there when he got off of work and Mia was coming with her dad at 7PM to get dressed up.

What happened between supper and Santa? Behold, holiday hijinks:
  • I became the juicebox police. "NO! There's only enough for each of you to have 2 juices. Nah! You've already had 2! Put it back and I'll get you some water!"
  • PaPa cussed the TV because he couldn't find the remote and the channel was set to Disney.
  • 2 kids fist fought over whose turn it was to play with Batman, and who got Joker.
  • Marlee ate half a bag of lemon cough drops - the Halls kind. Yum!
  • Got to hold down my 2 year old nephew so that I could wash the pizza from his face and hands. He proceeded to scream bloody murder because I'm probably the meanest aunt in the world, and baby wipes are like sandpaper to the skin...
  • The dog sat in the front yard the entire night howling and yelping because he wanted inside. If the dog were a man, I would've punched him. I love the idea of a dog, but in real life, I hate them because they're almost always buttholes.
  • Talked to Mia's dad at 6:45 to make sure that they'd be there by 7 and wouldn't be late. They were taking family pics in front of their tree. He assured me that they were almost done and would be there on time.
  • Chris arrived, just as PaPa realized that the porch light wasn't working. "Well God damn...Pitch black out here. Someone's gonna fall down these steps and kill themselves." Thankfully, it was just a burned out bulb and there was no need to cut a hole in the side of Jimmy & Laura's house.
  • Mia's dad pulled up around 7:15 - just as Granny was heading across the street to wait for Santa to pull up in his 'sleigh'. From what I'm told, an ass-chewing was dealt out by Granny to Uncle TyTy, and vice-versa over being late. Once inside, tensions were running high, so it was mutually agreed upon that Mia would stay with us and see Santa and I'd run her back over to them later. I've said it once, I'll say it a million times, it's not a family gathering unless someone leaves pissed off.
  • Jimmy and Laura walked in just in time to give hugs before Santa showed up. Laura: "I had pain pills so I don't hurt anymore. P.S. I'm high as a kite...Can we move a bench in here to sit on now?"
Then...Santa walked in. It. Was. Great. That jolly old elf really has a way of boosting everyone's spirits - young and old, and all of the frustrations of the day simply vanished. 


I don't remember what gift each of the kids specifically asked Santa Claus to bring them. I do know that Marlee and Jonis were slightly astonished when they opened their gifts and found Doodle Bears instead of a peacock and blue Batman. When all else fails, give a toddler markers. Works every time.

No description necessary. Adorable!



Miles liked Santa's jingle belt

Have you ever made Tootsie Rolls using Tupperware, a coffee table, and magic?
Big kids = trying to figure out HOW he does it
Before Santa came, it was unanimously decided that this would be the last year for this tradition. Once he left, plans were already in motion for next year. 

Christmas magic, Christmas magic, Christmas magic!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Decking The Halls

I had every intention of writing on Saturday to tell you all how annoyingly festive our home looks for Christmas, but I ended up having a date night with my husband instead. Define date night? Watching The Walking Dead and sneaking in a quickie with a prayer that the kids wouldn't wake up.

I had every intention of writing on Sunday to tell you all how annoyingly festive our home looks for Christmas, but someone downloaded a virus on the laptop. I don't trust myself enough to attempt repairs, so instead I challenged Mia to a hot game of 'Dance Central' on the XBox and let Chris do all of the heavy lifting when he got home from work.

Thank you for your patience!

Part of the fun in starting a family is that you choose your traditions. You choose which to carry on, and you choose which to leave in the past.
  
I can remember the elaborate lengths my mother went to every year to make Christmas special - not just about Santa, or Jesus, but about family. There was a tree (fake due to my allergies) and stockings. Family photos would be replaced with Norman Rockwell prints. All dishtowels and oven mitts would feature Santa, snowmen, or holly berries. A cassette tape of Dolly Parton singing 'Walking In a Winter Wonderland' played on heavy rotation, stopped only for the Alvin & the Chipmunks 'Christmas Song'. We made snowflakes from coffee filters and chains of red & green construction paper. When ZuZu was talking about her petals, you'd better hush. And. We. Baked. Together. Those were our traditions.


I, like my mother, prefer to go overboard during the holidays right down to the baking. Our house gets the same treatment that my childhood home got, with the addition of Christmas sheets, a mailbox cover, dishes, multiple advent calendars, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera - and lights on the outside of the house. Not Griswald lights, but we definitely do lights. 

The house isn't quite finished yet, but the transformation is half the fun. Also, if we'd gotten all of the decorations put up in one weekend, I would've just went and bought more. It's a lot of work, but it's absolutely worth it even if it is just for a few weeks.

Annoyingly festive? Maybe, but I guess that depends on the eyes that you experience it through. To my babies, it's a beautiful sight and that's reason enough for me to continue the tradition.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? If you can't think of any, then maybe it's time to start some. The Folger's commercial is one of my personal favorites.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Brown Thursday/Black Friday

(Wednesday night)
MARLEE: Mommy, I wear my 'Punzel dress to 'Sgiving and be so, so pretty?
ME: Oh sure, why not! Sis, what do you want to wear to Thanksgiving?
MIA: Um...probably something brown because turkey is brown. And it's fall, so brown is right.
ME: Good idea, Sis. Very logical.

*****


Miles and I started our Thanksgiving early on Thursday morning. He was awake because the sun had been up for all of five minutes, and I was awake because he's an incredibly efficient alarm clock - plus I needed to prepare my contributions for our family feast.

Brother is not the best sous chef I've ever encountered. Thankfully, he was content with standing in front of the baby gate screaming "Eat! Eat! Eat! Eat!" while eating his breakfast until his sisters woke up and he could pester them.

Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty decent cook. I enjoy cooking (when the kitchen is clean) and I enjoy serving my dishes to the people I love (when the food turns out the way it's supposed to). The dishes I'd been assigned were simple: pumpernickel bread & dill dip, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. Start to finish the food was ready in about two hours, and sat on the kitchen table waiting to make the one block journey to my brother & sister in law's house. Picture perfect, smelling amazing, just tempting someone to sneak a taste before supper.

Imagine my discontent when I realized that Chris was spray starching his shirt as he ironed. Ironed on the kitchen table. Where my food was - to be specific, about eh...4 inches from where my food was. I gave him a kidney slap. Thank God for plastic wrap.

Forty-five minutes later everyone was beautiful, and loaded into the car only to realize that Marlee had stepped in dog poop somewhere along the way from the house to the car. It wasn't just on her shoe though, oh no - too easy. Shoe, carpet, leg, floor mat, back of the seat. Ugh... quick (tedious) clean up, and we were headed to 'Skiving.

We ate way too much from hors d'eouvres to dinner to dessert, with a little wine in between for some of us and juice boxes for others. The kids played, the moms poured over the sale ads, the men watched a James Bond marathon. Sadly, we skipped the annual game of Dirty Word Scrabble. I did the newspaper crossword puzzle with my 5 year old niece as a substitute. "Jay, what's a 4 letter word for NAP?" "Um...probably try SLEEPING, Aunt Bubby."


Once we finally made it home, it was time for Daddy to start getting ready for his Black Friday shift. Like a lot of retailers, Chris's mistress (his job) decided to start the sale earlier this year. When he left for work, the kids and I went to bed.

 I hate Black Friday.
  1. There isn't a discount in the world that's low enough to make me stand in line for 2 hours. Anywhere.
  2. I always worry that some customer is going to flip out once the last 42" TV is gone and shoot up the whole store. No, I'm not overreacting. People are scary on Black Friday.
  3. No work for me = a double shift for my hard working husband.
I love shopping just as much as the next impulse-buyer, but I hate crowds, waiting in line, and sleep deprivation. While the bargain hunters were duking it out over the season's hottest gifts, I slept and later enjoyed coffee with my kids.

Chris left for the last part of his shift after lunch, and the girls and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening setting up the Christmas tree. Be still, my heart. It was perfect. More on Christmas decorating tomorrow though.


The only shopping that I did today? An outfit for each of the kids from Old Navy - purchased online - just as I do every year. No waiting, no rude people, and no fist fights aside from the girls fighting over who gets to put their feet on the step-stool.

And now? Everyone is asleep - including this hairy broad camped out on my sofa.


*****
In case you were wondering, both girls ended up wearing purple dresses to Thanksgiving:
Mia, a thistle colored corduroy jumper.
Marlee, a plum colored cotton floral number...with a stained up lavender Rapunzel dress over it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Don't Sweat It (or Things Drove Me To The Brink of Insanity This Weekend)

You know that series of books, Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...? I guarantee that you've seen them because there's about 4 million varieties, and they cover every profession and situation known to mankind.

I could've written my own collection over the last few days titled Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...Or I'll Completely Flip Out On You Like a Crazy Lady.

Just a few of the gems that got under my skin:

Marlee has strep throat. Initially, we thought it was Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease but the doctor said she didn't have a clue as to what the spots on her hands and feet were. How reassuring. Don't sweat it - the kid loves Amoxicillin.

"BooBoo, give me a sick and sad face."

Miles fits perfectly in the bathroom cabinet once he's removed all of the random junk stored inside. Don't sweat it -  I was able to pull his lanky little butt back out...once I finished doing my business.
It's roomy once the feminine products, bleach spray, and 20 issues of Maxim are gone.

After making a super early trip to Walmart on Saturday morning and ringing up $120 worth of groceries/necessities, my debit card couldn't be processed. The card had magically been de-magnetized. I don't even know what that means. Don't sweat it - my bank made me a new card immediately so that I was able to drive 10 miles back to town and pick up my wares before the popsicles melted.

    I don't carry cash or a checkbook. Because I'm an idiot.
I attempted to watch a sweet Lifetime movie last night starring the incomparable James Van Der Beek. Chris came home one hour into the drama and proceeded to talk nonsense and allow the kids to break my focus for the second hour of the movie. Then he called me by my father's name when I got pissy and turned the volume up. Don't sweat it - I gave him the finger. And I may or may not have threatened to Gaddafi him.



Mia came home from her dad's house a few hours ago. She was super sweet until bedtime when things got rowdy. The American Music Awards were on tonight, and well, who doesn't get crazy when LMFAO comes on - even though you've been in bed for an hour? Don't sweat it - she colored an amazing picture for my desk at work; complete with misspelled words.

'Sined Mia and Angry (bird) (heart) Momy made this for you'
As I type this right now, Miles is laying across my lap with his thumb in his mouth, trying to fall asleep. It makes typing very tricky. Don't sweat it - he's absolutely adorable. No picture though - too risky!

If you comment, tell me something that has frustrated you to near insanity recently. The comments from Old Man were awesome!

Have a great week everyone and try to remember that this too shall pass!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Old Man

My dad is the stereotypical tough guy father:
  • He gets his hands dirty for a living and cleans his nails each night with a pocket knife.
  • We've run out of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies to buy him.
  • He doesn't trust the Kennedys - even the women.
  • Mustache? Fu Manchu - and he can grow one in 48 hours.
  • 'Fun' is finding and attempting to eat the spiciest food possible.
  • His toolbox is meticulously organized and if you borrow a hammer, you'd best give it back.
  • He wouldn't be caught dead in shorts, or even worse, sandals.
  • Two words: Zoysia grass
Dad drove a truck over the road until I started school, so most of the parenting was done almost solely by my mom throughout my early childhood. By the time I was a teenager, Dad had gradually slowed down with his job and I came to know him as a person, understanding and even respecting the reasons that he is the way he is.

Later when I became a parent, it became evident just how many solid tips he'd passed along in regards to raising children.

1. "Why don't we just rip out the carpet and put in a damn rubber floor so we can hose the place down!"
How easy would that be if you could just pull up the flooring like the mats in your car and spray them down rather than lug the carpet shampooer out of the garage every couple of months? Our carpets are covered with stains already, but maybe I wouldn't be as leery of Hawaiian Punch if we had some sweet rubber floors. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that there's a strong possibility that realistically what is nice now, will look like crap soon.

2. "That son of a bitch is a deathtrap! It's going in the trash!"
It's never the kid's fault that they fell off of the bed that they weren't supposed to be jumping on, it's the bed's fault for having a mattress that's too bouncy. And it's the nightstand's fault for being next to the bed when someone gets a goose egg as they fall off of the bed that they weren't supposed to be jumping on. Thanks, Dad, for teaching that kids feed off of your reaction - if you freak out, they cry harder. If you focus on something else, it'll confuse the hell out of them and the tears will stop.

3. "Knock it off - act like you've been taken out in public before!"
Just once while we're out, I'd like to have no reason to quote the old man. I want the kids to be good, but if it takes more than 20 minutes, I know it'll be an uphill battle. The scenario: you notice an acquaintance at the grocery store and just they start to approach you, your kid finds it necessary to bite into an apple and lay down on the floor. You request that they get up and not only does the child shriek their refusal, she/he also makes that cute little body go limp as a noodle as you attempt to pull them to their feet. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me the fine art of smiling & threatening punishment simultaneously.

4. "I pay the bills around here and we're going to watch it because I want to watch it!"
I don't remember watching cartoons with my father - why would you need animation when you had The Waltons, Yan Can Cook, and COPS. It was pure torture as a wee one, but for some unknown reason I stayed and watched anyway. As a mom though, I've figured out the secret to controlling the television is to make the kids believe that what you're watching is cooler than it really is. Do my kids actually enjoy watching House Hunters International with me? No, but they like to guess which house the buyers will choose out of the three. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that John-Boy might've seemed boring, but there was a reason everyone liked him so much.

5. "Jesus, let's just install a hog trough/Stop slurpin & smackin and chew with your mouth closed!"
Teaching your children table manners is important, and you have to start teaching them young. It didn't matter how quietly we ate or how careful we were, something was bound to go wrong. I find myself constantly reminding my kids to chew with their mouths closed and to take smaller bites, and if we're having supper with Granny and PaPa? Have mercy, please don't let it be soup...Thanks, Dad, for allowing me the comfort of knowing that one day my children will be as embarrassed by their children in a restaurant as you were of me, and as I am of them.

Pearls of wisdom, friends, passed down like family heirlooms.

What's the best piece of parenting advice that your father passed down to you? Leave it in the comments section please, I'd love to read them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dear Season

Today is the opening day of the rifle hunt for deer season here in Missouri. Scents of gunpowder & doe urine fill the air, while merry visions of camouflage and freshly skinned carcasses are visible all over town. Bucks and does, gun racks and neon orange accessories, self-inflicted injuries and "I almost had him, but..." stories abound.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Nah, doesn't sound that exciting to me either - too much blood and being outside. We don't own any guns, and to be honest, I've never even shot a gun.

Enjoying coffee in  the warm comfort of my living room this morning, I got to thinking about the seasonal transformation I go through every year from November 1 - December 25. While the hunters spend as much time as possible outdoors for the next few weeks, I will do the exact opposite and spend as much time as I can inside - hunting for empty space to stash all of the random junk that accumulates between the months of January and October, and scrambling to get my life in order before Christmas. We'll call it Dear Season.

Over the next six weeks, Mommy Dearest here will complete a different pain in the ass project each weekend that I've been putting off, and there's no doubt that by Christmas eve, I'll be saying to myself "Dear God, just kill me..."


This weekend's Dear Season project is clothing. To begin, there's roughly 10 loads of laundry to wash, dry, and put away. Tomorrow I'll start cleaning out the closets and dressers, thus creating a bigger pile of 'treasures' in the garage for dear old Daddy to haul to the attic. It's cold enough in the mornings now that summer clothes could result in Family Services knocking on my door, despite how warm it is in the afternoons. I'm not willing to take that chance, so it's going to be on like Donkey Kong.

I'm praying that my little dearies take the day off tomorrow from their typical Sunday crime sprees - attempted murder (Marlee), cyber-stalking (Mia), and tampering with evidence (Miles) - and just play nicely together so I can take care of business. Three closets, three dressers, enough attire to clothe a small African nation.

Each year, the goal is the same: spotless house, delicious food, cheerful decorations, and completed shopping all done before Santa's arrival and each year, the mission is accomplished. Not flawlessly, and not always completed with a constant smile, but accomplished nonetheless. I'm similar to Clark W. Griswald during the holidays and want everything to be perfect for the ones I hold dear, despite the road bumps along the way. I'll cuss, oh yes, I will definitely cuss but eventually the cussing leads to good tidings.

Bless the stress, my dears.

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse." - Clark in 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation'

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful

Last week, Mia brought home 'The Family Turkey Project'. The instructions said to 'be creative with anything you can find around the house' and 'have fun working together on this project'.

We've had an entire week to work on it together so as you'd expect, we did everything tonight in about two hours. Sure, we started out planning something straight out of a Martha Stewart spread, but life happened like it always does and Mommy didn't get any supplies except the gold glitter. So, we decided to take the teacher's advice and use things from around the house.

The turkey has 11 feathers, so I had asked Sister to list 11 things she's thankful for. Here's her list:
  1. Family
  2. Toys
  3. Books
  4. Food & Drinks
  5. Animals
  6. Art
  7. Mail
  8. Music
  9. Clothes & Shoes
  10. Beauty
  11. Friends
How amazing is this little girl? Six years old and she has a SOLID list of things she's thankful for - a list that would rival one compiled by an adult. Yes, number seven says mail but seriously, who doesn't like mail? I personally love mail as long as it doesn't include bills. Bonus if the sender used a cool stamp.

Daddy helped on the project by wrangling the little ones. If they'd had it their way, their contributions would've been slobber and destruction, with a likelihood of the entire kitchen being covered in gold glitter.

Some things from her list are represented, some aren't. Be creative with anything you can find around the house? Done. We've got stickers, beads, Goldfish crackers, Q-tips, aluminum foil, a Barbie dress, Crayons, and tons of magazine cut outs. Mia is seriously proud the end result, and so am I.

 This is the finished project.


Slightly gaudy - just like everything else Mommy's ever helped her complete.

One thing I'm definitely thankful for this year? My oldest child is sweet, smart, funny, compassionate, responsible, creative, and loving. I have no doubt that she'll do great things with her life, and I'm happy to help out whenever she needs me.

Another thing I'm thankful for? Nobody burned themselves on the hot glue gun tonight. Amen.







Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Leftovers



Not a celebrity fridge. This beautiful disaster belongs to yours truely.


I don't cook on Friday nights. It's a little reward I give myself after the end of each work week. Tonight's TGIF meal was chicken burritos - just as it was last night. Tasty yesterday, just as tasty tonight.

The beauty of enjoying a leftover is that they sometimes taste a bit different the second time around. I'd like to invite you to enjoy the remaining leftovers of my week. Some of them were perfect at the initial serving. Some are more enjoyable now that time has passed. Bon appetit...

Monday: Halloween
Miles had a little cold, so he helped Granny pass out candy. Marlee was a witch (very fitting). Mia was a she-wolf. Big Sister's look included werewolf ears, a plaid dress trimmed in purple fur, wild curly hair poufed ala Snooki, and hot pink/baby blue eyeshadow with bright fuschia lips. In the bathroom as I was curling her hair, Mia stood in front of the full-length mirror beaming. When I asked her if she liked her look, she grinned from ear to ear and said "I look beautiful..." My response was that she always looks beautiful, and I swear, she smiled so big that I thought the dimples were going to leave permanent pinholes in those sweet cheeks. She's definitely my daughter though: big hair & a new lipstick always make me feel a bit prettier too. Oh, and just so we're clear; I totally stole the peanut butter cups from the kids' candy bags.

Tuesday: Parent/Teacher Conferences
I absolutely love parent/teacher conferences.  Few things rival the level of enjoyment a mom gets from someone else talking about how great their child is. Oh have mercy, there isn't a word in the English language that does that feeling justice. Plus, I adore Mia's teacher, Mrs. H, so it means a lot to hear her praise my baby. MiMi has all As in her academic categories & satisfactory marks in her elective classes...with an unsatisfactory mark in one category: HANDWRITING. Her teacher laughed and apologized for the low mark (I'd anticipated that), but said that she knows Mia is capable of better (which she is). Mia's reasoning for her poor handwriting? "Mommy, one day we won't have to write anything - we'll just type it on computers." Miss Smarty-pants is probably right, but we'll be riding her butt about her penmanship for the rest of the semester anyway. If we're not strictly typing when she's an adult, I predict she'll be a doctor. Nobody can read a doctor's handwriting.



"Mia needs to slow down when writing so that she will be able to form her letters more neatly." - Mrs. H


Wednesday: Girl Scouts
I thought it would be fun for Marlee to attend Girl Scouts with Mia & I this week at one of the local churches. How did that work out? Marlee pulled down a set of mini-blinds during the meeting. Marlee decided to bare-ass moon some of the Scouts in the bathroom - two separate times AFTER crawling under the stalls. Marlee left the building screaming "No, Mommy! Don't spank my butt!" while the church choir practiced in the sanctuary. I won't be taking her to the next meeting. Scout's honor.

Thursday: Wedding Anniversary
I reminded Chris on Wednesday night that our anniversary was the next day. He responded by saying that he thought we'd gotten married on November 5 and asked if I was sure of the date. Um...yes? I had to think for a minute just to double check. As you can tell, we go all out for our anniversary. Long story short - I got him a card about not being romantic. His gift to me? He came home from work on time. It was the best gift I'd had all year. I loved him four years ago on our wedding day, but I love him even more four years later.

Friday: Winding Down
There's all of this hustle and productivity that leads up to Friday because you'd really like to start next week as a clean slate. Isn't it ironic though that Friday also seems to be the day with the least amount of pressure? Casual Friday: love it because there's no pressure to look decent (I decided to rock wet hair, jeans, & flip flops today)! Pay Day Friday: love it because I can once again afford the things that were too expensive earlier in the week (gas, groceries, paying bills)! Dad's Weekend Friday: love it because even though we miss Mia while she's at her dad's house, Marlee & Miles usually go to bed a little earlier (they like Sissy & they REALLY like when Sissy gets them wound up before bed)!

Miles has been asleep for about an hour and a half. Marlee's winding down as I type this. Probably out of fear - about 30 minutes ago, she tried to shut the laptop with a pacifier wedged between the screen & the keyboard. I can only imagine what her computer-selling father is going to say when he gets home from work.

Marlee won't be a doctor. She'll be an inmate. The kind who shanks someone her first day in the slammer.

Hope you enjoyed the meal. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A (Kind of) Survival Kit

My husband is addicted to The Walking Dead. He's been begging me for awhile to watch it with him, and of course my response has been a consistent "Hell no! You know that'll give me nightmares, Chris!" 

I don't do blood and I don't do apocalyptic survival scenarios. Blood makes me queasy; apocalypses give me anxiety. I try to avoid both whenever possible.

Anyway, I broke down and started watching the show with him (Aw...romantic...), and I actually like it.
  1. I'm only on the first season. If you watch it, don't spoil it for me.
  2. Yes, I cover my face with the pillow when it's on. A lot.
  3. I've put some thought into what should go into our zombie apocalypse survival kit.
I did a basic Google search for 'zombie survival kits'. Check this out - very informative. It seems that people should be seriously prepared in the event of an undead disaster: food/water, flashlights, a whistle to signal for help, tools, hygiene items, blankets & clothing, important documents in waterproof bags, etc. 

Basically, I'm all set if a zombie apocalypse happens though: I live in Missouri and I'm the queen of the tornado survival kit.  Everyone laughs...until they need to borrow one of the things I thoughtfully hauled down to the basement. "No, you may not borrow my Swiss Army knife. It's tornado season, damn it!You should've been prepared and packed your own."

Daily, something happens to signal the end of the world at our house. With that being said, I've compiled a list of things that we can't make it through a single day without, let alone a zombie invasion.

  • DRYER: I'm not going to iron before school/work: A) it takes too long, B) I always burn myself, C) the ironing board would never get put away. Spray with water, throw in dryer. Also, my dryer was made by HOTPOINT. I've never heard of that brand either, but it was here when I moved in and free is my favorite price. Pretty sure it's top of the line.
  • MARLEE'S SLEEP ESSENTIALS: I totally agree - she's 3 years old. It's time to retire the pacifiers and sippy cup at bedtime. I tell myself this every night, and every night I find myself frantically searching for them because if we don't find them...well... she's going to cry and I'm going to cuss. It's easy and this mama's still waaaaay cool with easy bedtimes.
  •  BABY-PROOFED KITCHEN: This is the extent of my baby-proofing. I don't have safety latches on any of the cabinets in the kitchen and usually let Miles drag out every pot & pan because it makes him happy. Occasionally though, we forget to batten down the hatches and an entire bulk size box of Goldfish crackers gets dumped onto the floor. The gate & striped ribbon are my preventative measures and they're in place roughly 20 hours each day.
  • REMOTES: You need these in multiples or it ends in mass hysteria. The idea of switching channels and adjusting volume on the same changer would be ridiculous. The stereo & DVD player are on the same remote, but I only know how to use the DVD part. No clue what the last one on the right goes to, and the batteries are always missing from the first one on the left.
  • WET WIPES: I don't care if you don't have kids or even if you don't want kids. Everyone needs wet wipes, plain and simple. They're the duct tape of cleaning.

  • PLUSH VIDEO GAME CHARACTERS: Right to left: Princess Peach, Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Princess Zelda, Link. These are Mia's. At any given time, we have these 5 or more (many, many more) strung throughout the house. They go to bed with her, in the car with her, to her dad's every other weekend. And damn it, I'd better know exactly where each of them are at bedtime because they're on a random rotation that only Mia knows the schedule to.
  •  MY RETAINER: I personally like my smile better with the fake tooth as opposed to the big gap where my bottom tooth once was. Personal preference - everyone is different. *Toothless photos by Chris Palis