Monday, December 31, 2007

Greens, blackeyed peas and cornbread, a Southern tradition

Well, the countdown has begun and it is already New Year's Day out there somewhere across the globe. I just wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for coming by my blog. I love hearing your comments, and if you're just breezing through that's O.K., too. I wish you much happiness, health and peace over the next year.

In following our Southern heritage, and E's family tradition, tomorrow we are having a bunch of friends over to have greens, cornbread and blackeyed peas. The custom of serving blackeyed peas, greens and cornbread on New Year's Day comes from the belief that this will bring good luck and financial success for the coming year. The blackeyed peas are “coins”, the collard greens represent “greenbacks” and the cornbread is gold. E was cooking the greens this afternoon - 2 pots simmering on the stove with a pan full of sizzling bacon to add in for seasoning . The blackeyed peas are soaking overnight. And tomorrow, I'll whip up some cornbread and warm up a ham. It's been so wonderful not traveling during the holidays this year and I'm enjoying all of the celebrating with our little family and our large family of friends. We are blessed.

One of the great things about living where we do is that you can drive up to the mountains, play in the snow then come back down and be running around in a T-shirt on the same day. Today we did just that. We were in our PJs until 10, showered, packed up a lunch and headed up the hill. An hour later we parked where the road was closed and walked 1/4 mile up to where the snow came across the road. BOY and GIRL had their first sledding experience and it was rapturous to see the thrill and excitement on their faces as they flew down the small slope. BOY sat behind GIRL, put his arms around her and they were off with a generous push or two or three from E. There wasn't a lot of snow, but enough for them to get the experience and to feel snow on their fingers. Life is pretty good these days, with a BOY & a GIRL 10 months apart. Thanks for taking the ride with me...

Happy New Year to all!

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Nothing worse for a woman than feeling fat AND hairy

I've had an important, earth shaking epiphany... and I say that there is nothing, nothing worse for a woman than feeling fat AND hairy. One is not a good feeling. Two is just plain let's go into the kitchen and eat a bunch of chocolate. Oh, can't do THAT. That makes me fatTER. The hairy part is just plain ...well, truth be told I think my legs are too tired and heavy to be lifted up, balanced on the shower stall wall and take a razor to....cut down the wild forest of BeLOVEzhskaya, and believe you me - LOVE has nothing to do with it. In fact, this is all a bit much for me to handle today. I think I'm going to go lie down, contemplate the upcoming New Year and airlift my Sequoia trunks up on a pillow. Maybe I could retrain my mind to think of them as a national treasure.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

8 Things meme or how to OVERtax one's brain by being a good girl

O.K., I was tagged by the lovely Lisa, Mama Milton , for a meme loooong ago. And since I tend to procrastinate, shall we say, over doing these memes... Look, I don't even know how to pronounce the word meme. That's how bad it is around here. And after I do a meme, I always remember something else that is so incredibly OBVIOUS that I've forgotten to list it. But, here goes anyway:

8 Things I'm passionate about:

  1. My husband and my children...they have the ability to fill my heart, sometimes break my heart, and yet they nourish me and are my teachers.

  2. Chocolate... anywhere, anytime, off of any surface...well maybe not the floor - wait ... 5 second rule!

  3. Clean explanation necessary.

  4. Books, books and did I say...BOOKS? I love words, the curve of a sentence, the way it wraps around you...

  5. .... [this is called...the ellipsis.....]

  6. Sharpened, sharpies, legal pads...basically any office supplies will do, reminds me of a fresh start - new school year.

  7. Taking candid pictures of my children...they always surprise me and the camera, I love how the picture you didn't know was there is there!

  8. Movies in the movie theater...from what I can remember it is where you get to sit in the dark, and immerse yourself in a story that sweeps you up, shown on a large screen.

8 Things I want to do before I die [this strikes me as incredibly morbid, but WHATever]:

  1. Have a romantic vacation with just my husband... this will require ingenuity, money, leaving children with some sappy soul, and finding a place with no television - all of which seems insurmountable at the present time.

  2. A trip to Scotland to do a roots tour [no I am not descended from Kunta Kinte, that would be if I was from Africa, which I'd like to be, but am not.]

  3. Have grandchildren...well, it IS possible...maybe, let's see if BOY has a child at 29 I will be in my 70's, a mere spring chicken.

  4. Spend at least a month in France and Italy...who wouldn't?

  5. Go back to visit Lebanon...a place of many special memories and left so quickly all those years ago.

  6. Have "a room of one's own" space with natural light for painting, writing and a chaise lounge for reading and lounging- oh, and my own computer & desk!

  7. Know that my children have grown into happy, loving, peaceful adults wanting to make a difference in the world. [LOOK, I've run out of "to do's," O.K.?]

  8. Have published something...a poem, a story, a sentence, anything will do.

8 Things I say often:

  1. Actually, ....
  2. Apparently, ...
  3. That's really cool [O.K., I'm embarrassed, but I say it...OFTEN]
  4. O.K., ...
  5. You're going to lose your privileges! [yes, this is what I say to E every night]
  6. Would you like to earn some privileges? [what I say to E every morning]
  7. TIME OUT!!! [A useless exercise in futility, but time-outs are really for me, anyway.]
  8. No way! [Still embarrassed]

8 books I've read recently [hahahaha....I'm changing this to 8 of the 12 books I have stacked next to my bed, some I'm reading, some I intend to read.]

  1. Conversations with Erica Jong [a collection of interviews, that I'm just diving into] - edited by Charlotte Templin

  2. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - this was a great read!

  3. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley - half-way through!

  4. Today Matters: 12 daily practices to guarantee tomorrow's success by John C. Maxwell - GOD knows I could use some guarantees!

  5. Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Jane Nelsen, E.d.D., Cheryl Erwin, M.A., and Roslyn Duffy - positive....positive...GO TO YOUR ROOM NOW YOU BAD BOY!...positive, positive...maybe it will rub off.

  6. Are Men Necessary: When sexes collide by Maureen Dowd - a must read, just for the controversy.

  7. Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from Nature-Deficit Disorder - a fascinating book that weighs heavily, and that's just the introduction.

  8. Raising your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka - all kidding aside, I LOVED this book - need to get the updated edition that came out in 2006 or this year.

8 Songs I can listen to over and over:

  1. Tall trees in Georgia by Eva Cassidy

  2. Building a Mystery by Sarah McLachlan

  3. You're so Vain by Carly Simon

  4. You've got a Friend by Carole King

  5. Magic Man, Crazy on You, Kick it Out, Dog & Butterfly by Heart

  6. Perfect Fit by Van Morrison

  7. Crazy by Seal

  8. Any song by Joni Mitchell period.

8 things that attract me to my best friends:

  1. Laughter, humor & wittiness

  2. Ability to gab and gab and gab and gab...and gab...and gab

  3. Kindness

  4. Generosity

  5. Being from another country and culture

  6. Someone who is not afraid of my tears

  7. Heavy drinkers [it helps them with #8]

  8. A good listener

8 People who should TOTALLY do this meme [if you don't want to do it, that's NOT O.K.-- I mean it's fine, fine!, I'll just have to come over and do some blog ass kicking]:

Johanna at Inside Out

Attack of the Redneck Mommy

Liv at madness, madness i say

Kellan at On the Upside

Professor J at Professor J's Place

Janet at Adventures in the 32-Aker Wood

Bub and Pie

And then I have to make special mention of Tootsie Farklepants who tagged me for a Christmas meme that I failed to do. Tootsie, my dear sexy woman, I have failed you and I am sorry. Every time I started to do the Christmas meme, and I tried several times [I swear on my chocolate smeared keyboard pad!!!] I kept hearing:

I do not like them in a house.

I do not like them with a mouse

I do not like them here or there.

I do not like them anywhere.

I do not like Christmas memes. I do not like them Ms. Farklepants.

Basically, I'm just lazy. But, I do like you and so I magnificently tag you...Ms. Tootsie with the Farkle in her pants. [See this is what happens when I do memes!! I completely, totally lose my mind. Now, of course there is NO PRESSURE for you to do the meme. Just wanted to lob something back over to you, girl. Your serve!]

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Just Older that's all, like my boyfriend Jon Bon Jovi says

Oh...did I not TELL you? Yes, Bon Jovi is my boyfriend, well one of them.[Viggo's montage video was so HOT, I can't post it. And it has nothing to do with the subject of aging. I have to appear that I am writing about something with substance - hence, AGING. A.G.I.N.G. After all, E will only put up with SO much, friends. Pssst...but, if you want to sneak a peak: oh, MY, MY, MYYYYY... just throw a bucket of water on me and let me never wake up...]

Back to the subject of aging... if you've been feeling a little creaky and it appears that you've been run over by a truck when you look in the mirror [well, maybe that's just me]... watch this and you'll INSTANTLY feel better. Instantly. It is THAT fast.

"Just Older"

Hey, man, it's been a while
Do you remember me?
When I hit the streets I was 17
A little wild, a little green
I've been up and down and in between
After all these years and miles of memories
I'm still chasing dreams
But I ain't looking over my shoulder

I like the bed I'm sleeping in
It's just like me, it's broken in
It's not old - just older
Like a favorite pair of torn blue jeans
This skin I'm in it's alright with me
It's not old - just older

It's good to see your face
You ain't no worse for wear
Breathing that California air
When we took on the world
When we were young and brave
We got secrets that we'll take to the grave
And we're standing here shoulder to shoulder

I like the bed I'm sleeping in
It's just like me, it's broken in
It's not old - just older
Like a favorite pair of torn blue jeans
This skin I'm in it's alright with me
It's not old - just older

I'm not old enough to sing the blues
But I wore the holes in the soles of these shoes
You can roll the dice 'til they call your bluff
But you can't win until you're not afraid to lose


Well, I look in the mirror
I don't hate what I see
There's a few more lines staring back at me
Now the nights has grown a little colder
Hey man, I gotta run
Now you take care
If you see coach T. Tell him I've cut my hair
I've kept my faith
I still belive I'm just...

I like the bed I'm sleeping in
It's just like me, it's broken in
It's not old - just older
Like a favorite pair of torn blue jeans
This skin I'm in it's alright with me
It's not old - just older

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Amusings and cat scratch fever...

There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of cookies that Santa consumed and the tightness in the seat of my pants. mmmm...not sure WHY that would be.

Yesterday was a combination of delightful moments and exercises in excess. BOY woke up first, but at a very reasonable hour of 7am. We slept in! He was ready to go see if Santa had really come. I guess there was some doubt that all of this magic was really possible. We woke up GIRL and all went into the living room together. There was a moment of silence and then the kids flung themselves upon their gifts from Santa. But the biggest shriek came from BOY who discovered that "SANTA ATE ALL THE COOKIES AND DRANK ALL HIS MILK!" And Santa had left a note:

Dear BOY & GIRL,
Thank you for the cookies & milk and the reindeer food.
Love - Santa

[That Santa really has a way with words.]

E and I had kept the Christmas gifts from us to a minimum, feeling that a simple Christmas is a more enjoyable one. BUT... still being relatively new to the job as parents we had not taken into consideration the gifts from everyone else. And it was clearly A LOT. There were toys. Everywhere. And a cacophony of sound between motorized vehicles and a life-like cat that kept meowing. (A present for GIRL, it kept them both delighted for hours.) OOHHH the bounty. The living room looked like an explosion at a paper factory. And it took about 6 hours (not really exaggerating) to finish opening the gifts. When 11ish rolled around and we were still a la PJs and had not had nourishment of any kind - except chocolate from our stockings, E and I decided it was time to finish it up.

After getting a 2ND wind, we took the kids to a local canyon and went for a hike. On the way BOY was a bit concerned about us running into "cannon balls" in the canyon. It took a bit of discourse back and forth to explain the differences between "cannon" and "canyon." It was a glorious Southern California day and we felt if not invigorated, less claustrophobic after getting some fresh air and exercise.

Then my brother, Uncle D, popped in for a few hours and was a delightful diversion for BOY & GIRL who had by this time worn-out their parents. He entertained us all by reading aloud from "Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth, 73rd Edition" - an absolutely hysterical, witty parody that leaves no country unscathed. And doing impressions of Chucky "Hi, I'm Chucky. Wanna play?" with the life-like, much coveted, stuffed animal cat.
The culmination of my brother's visit came when he had to climb a 2 story ladder to rescue a cat out of a palm tree. Yes, it is true. I am pet sitting for a friend's cat and fish. Up until yesterday I was more concerned about killing the fish while they are gone. [It's a known fact that fish die whenever the owner goes out of town.] Oh, no. Not anymore. I gave the cat a near death experience yesterday. I had the brilliant idea of walking our dogs over to the house and someone, who shall remain nameless (not my brother), had the equally brilliant idea of letting one of our dogs loose. Well, the dog chased the cat and the cat flew up a palm tree. This called for drastic measures... First we left the ladder propped up against the tree, hoping that the cat would come down on her own. Poor Kitty, 2 hours later, was still up the tree and wrapped around the inner fronds. My brother, MY HERO, scaled the ladder and rescued her. Nary a scratch. When handed off to me, she put in a good claw to my neck. She now hates me. I figure I deserved it. E seems to think that there's a chance that I'll come down with cat scratch fever. And here I thought it was just a song... Personally, I'm not worried, it might be a pleasant diversion from job hunting.

We ended the evening at E's brother's house where we had a delicious dinner, fabulous company and conversation, and the kids managed to be quite civilized (other than a few well flung "POOP" phrases at dinner) considering all the stimulation and sugar consumed that day. We placed BOY & GIRL in their PJs for the ride home, and they fell asleep before we rolled into the driveway. By cover of darkness, we dragged all of the recycle bins, overflowing boxes and shredded wrapping paper down to the street. If I'm going to be embarrassed about the excess, I might as well feel good about recycling. Then E and I sat together in the living room with the soft lights of the Christmas tree. Indeed, a Christmas to remember...

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Magic Reindeer Food

BOY was sick with a fever for a couple of days. It seems to have passed just in time for Santa's appearance tonight. Yesterday E and GIRL went to church while BOY and I lazed around in PJ's and didn't do much, which was delightful. GIRL came walking in the door wearing the reindeer antlers that she had made at church and carrying a set of reindeer antlers that she had made for BOY. They are adorable - colored in with brown markers and each of their names written with glitter glue. Last week BOY made magic reindeer food out of oats and glitter with his class. He brought home a little bag of it stapled to a card from Santa. It said:

On Christmas Eve, before you go to bed, sprinkle this Magic Reindeer Food on your lawn. The magic glitter, sparkling in the moonlight and the smell of the oats will help to guide Rudolph right to your house.

Merry Christmas

Love, Santa

So, tonight, BOY & GIRL wearing their PJ's and donning their antlers went outside and sprinkled the Magic Reindeer Food over the lawn. E pointed to the North and explained where the North Pole was and which direction Santa's flight pattern would be across the sky. GIRL's eyes were huge saucers in the moonlight, taking in every word. BOY decided that he would make a circle pattern all the way around the huge tree in our front yard. This was serious business. I just about died taking in their cuteness. It is a full moon and clear skies tonight, so there will be no problem with Santa finding our house. These are the moments when there is nothing, nothing better than being their mommy. Not one thing. I couldn't have dreamed anything this beautiful. And I'm sharing it with their father, my husband, whom I love fiercely.

I wish you all many blessings and joy during this holiday season!

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Stimulating conversation in the minivan

You may be surprised that I often get this comment:

You own a MINIVAN?! WOW, how exciting!! I adore them! Cool Ride...MAN, I wish I had one. They're awesome. Chillin' coach, babe.

No, not really. That doesn't happen. I absolutely lied.

To make driving in a minvan THRILLING, we like to do rhyming games in the car. Truthfully, we do it SO much that I'm afraid that I'll start talking in rhyme in my regular life. Or perhaps burst into song. That, indeed, would be a grave mistake - for everyone around me. The expression TIN EAR fits me well. I wonder if it has to do with my large ears? Perhaps large ears have a tendency to be tin? Could be. Could be... So, anyway, rhyming in the car passes the time, breaks up fights, distracts the objects that seem to become airborne mysteriously. The other day we were headed home after picking up BOY from preschool.

Me: So, what shall we have for lunch today? How about some peas?


ME: I think we should have peas in the leaves with a bunch of fleas?


ME: What about corn before you were born in a baby Bjorn?


ME: How about... bread with Fred colored red? [I know you are absolutely in AWE of my rhyming ability. Maybe this is my true gift?]


ME: How about edamame? (sounds like EttaMommy)

GIRL: No! Yucky!

ME: How about edadaddy? I think we should have edadaddy.

BOY & GIRL: NO!!!!!

ME: When daddy gets home I think we should stuff him full of vegetables, put him in the oven and have him for dinner.

BOY: No, Mommy. I LOVE him. He's NOT food.

ME: He's not?

BOY: No. He's my friend. I can't eat him. I love him.

Our BOY, loyal to the end...

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Friday, December 21, 2007

I cannot get her out of my mind

A woman's life was celebrated yesterday at 11am. She was 45. Survived by her husband. And many loved ones. No children. I wonder if she wanted them? They had expected it to be a quiet ceremony, maybe 15 people. More than 150 people came to honor her. She was so young. Younger than me. A losing battle with breast cancer that had returned. As I sat with my children in the Guild room of our church, celebrating the Christmas holiday with our mommy & me group, I saw the mourners walking past. Some wiping away tears, some smiling, touching each other with shared memories.

This week I've been making a giant frame out of all the beautiful holiday cards we have received so far this season. It borders the large window looking into our sun porch. As I take in the view of all of these friends and loved ones who make up our life, I imagine all the cards going to her house, empty of her. And she will never see all of her people again. She will not sip on eggnog, stretching her legs in front of a warm fire and throw back her head and laugh. She is...gone. She is done here. I cannot get her out of my mind. Her name was Elizabeth. I did not know her. I wish I had.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not your usual Christmas PARTAAY!

BOY and I were making the usual last pit stop in the bathroom before he went to bed. He was a bit preoccupied... with his penis.

BOY, come on time for bed! Me trying to get his pull-up on and not make an issue out of the preoccupation.

Oh, Mom my penis is having a birthday party.

Excuse me? I say that a lot. Sometimes the ability to stay cool under pressure and keep your good manners about you comes in handy.

He's having a birthday party!

A birthday party?

First he's having a birthday party and then he's going to have a Christmas party.

What do you say to THAT? Clearly nothing.

MMMMmmmm....So...that's how it begins. Apparently as early as 4 years old, the penis becomes a HE and throws his own parties. It all makes sense now. By the time a boy matures into a man, he will have celebrated many penis birthday parties. And a few Christmas parties thrown in for good measure. After all the penis does like to PAARTAAY!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This is crack...This is your mommy on crack...

I wrote this post back in June. As I am in the process of job hunting and getting ready to reenter the work force soon, it is good to look at these moments and admit to myself what the biggest challenge has been of staying at home. Yet, I don't regret it for a moment. But, I'm ready to shake things up....

Imagine if you will...the ubiquitous egg frying in a pan. And the words: This is CRACK. This is your Mommy on CRACK. No, that is not how the original ad went, but maybe how it should have gone. The egg sizzling and frying to a crisp in the pan is brain, mommy brain. Some days are so friggin' miraculous. And some are so full of frustration and anger and yes...disappointment and then GUILT. Because, here I have this amazing life. I am at home with my children - something I dreamed of, and don't have any regrets about. I am here. I am with them. I try as hard as I can to be in the moment with them as much as possible. But, there is a very real feeling of this right? Is there something wrong with me that I don't feel incredibly fulfilled? Staying home is definitely about them. I think Moms or Dads staying home are doing it for the kids. Not for themselves, although we may convince ourselves that we are doing it for the greater good. I guess I'm trying to find some kind of peace with it. It is hard. And I am striving, constantly striving to be an adult and realize that yes, it is not supposed to be about me - and my fulfillment. I live fully knowing that I don't have regrets about being at home, yet I do have conflicts within myself about it. It is their time. Not mine. But, God...I understand so much more now. I understand the Valium housewives of the 60's, the affairs, the great, gnawing need to just bust out of yourself and feel alive! I get that. So, here I am busting out - hoping that by writing these things down and acknowledging these conflicting feelings that I will find something within myself that makes me whole. It is too facile a solution and so bloody desperate to go outside of yourself to fulfill the emptiness within. The challenge, the journey has to be to find "it" within myself. And of course none of this is new news or original or even very interesting, but it is what it is and grasping for "the crack" or whatever that may be at the moment is always tantalizingly near.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mom My Ride

This IS my life in a minivan and other tales of a road much trampled...

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Monday, December 17, 2007

The photograph

There is a photograph that I love that sits on a shelf in my children's bedroom. It is of a couple embracing. She is leaning into him, in a way that clearly shows that she needs him. He is holding her tightly. They look tired. He is wearing a baseball cap and her eyes are red-rimmed. It is a picture of relief, joy, exhaustion, wonder and love. All. And more. I know this because it is of myself and E. Just minutes after BOY was born. There is a purity and rawness about the photograph, a complete lack of pretense or even awareness of the camera .... it is beautiful. It is a moment in time that I remember vividly. I can still touch it... A moment captured by the loving eye and talent of my dear sister-n-law. I am conscious of gratitude tonight. And all that I have.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Apparently I did something wrong

Apparently I did something wrong.

You DIDN'T ask me, Mommy!! You DIDN'T ask ME! Waterworks and shrieks issued forth from BOY.

We were sitting down to our weekly Sunday brunch whipped up by Chef E. Pancakes were on the menu. The chef extraordinaire had just created pancakes for BOY and GIRL in the shape of a letter - the first letter of each of their names.

It's a "G!" shouted GIRL.

I've got a "B!" screamed BOY, not to be outdone.

I, myself, did not earn a letter. Must be the PMS backlash from the chef with the hot cross buns. YOWZA!

GIRL asked me to cut up her pancake. I obliged. I then started to cut up BOY'S. BIG mistake. BIG one. Apparently GIGANTIC mistake.

YOU DIDN'T ASK ME, MOM! I WAS IN THE KITCHEN WITH DADDY AND YOU DIDN'T ASK ME! Such wailing, watering and gnashing of teeth ensued, you would have thought I had broken his favorite train. All of them.

I'm sorry, BOY. You are right. I didn't ask you. I thought you'd want your pancake cut up.


O.K., I'm sorry, BOY.

You didn't ASK ME!

Meanwhile, E, was whipping him up another letter "B" pancake to make up for the tragic loss.

BOY, appeared to think I hadn't "gotten it." He wailed, gnashed and flooded some more. And more. Just as we were about to build the ark, E swooped in flipping the handsomely crooked letter upon BOY'S plate.

Where tears had gone nobody knew. Vanished. In a whole of 2 seconds.

You can ask me now, Mom.

What would you like me to ask you, BOY? Ask you if you'd like me to cut up your pancake? Somehow clarification seemed vital at this juncture.

Yes, smiled a boy with no trace of previous trauma on his face.

O.K. BOY, would you like me to cut up your pancake?

Yes, please, Mommy.

And then... You're a good "Asker" Mommy. You're a good "Asker" he said. And he gave me a couple of nice pat-pats.

"A good Asker." Apparently I did something right.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The gluteal cleft is apparently....MOI

Oh, the Joys was thrilled & PROUD to discover that her site is the first listing when you enter Hot Park Rangers into the Google search engine. And Tootsie Farklepants over at Vintage Thirty was quite OVERCOME when she pursued a bit of detective work - following a link to someone visiting her site (through Site Meter) and discovered that she is listed #2 on for shaving a woman's.... I'll let her explain.

So, after licking some 75 or so Christmas card envelopes, I was feeling a bit tipsy. I ventured over to Site Meter to see if there were any interesting links today. And...what to my wondering eyes should appear....but, an AOL search for "butt crack clipart." No, I do not jest. Butt crack clipart. I am the 5th listing. What an honor. Who cares if on Google, I'm on page 2 in the number 2 position. Apparently the competition is pretty stiff out there for butt crack clipart. Not everyone can hit it out of the ball park with a Hottie Park Ranger and if I had a name like Tootsie, my, my...what I could do with that name. Butt crack clipart. Good, GOD, my mom will be disturbed by this... I assure you, Mom, there are no pictures. Of any kind. If only I had called it the gluteal cleft....or buttock cleavage...words, merely words...yet, they SAY so much.

And as for my post that stirred all this up? Well, it was one of my first posts. And I don't really want a bunch of angry mommies with low riders stalking my blog.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Just an ordinary toenail clipping

GIRL: Mommy, Mommy, I've got a really sharp nail. Get the clippers, quick.

Excuse me?

GIRL: Mommy, PLEASE can you get the nail clippers and cut my toenail. It is really, really sharp. Look!

Queen of the year (I've nominated myself, by GOD!) goes to get the nail clippers. O.K., GIRL let's see what we have. Oh, wow, that is sharp. Let me just ---

GIRL: It won't hurt!

No, GIRL, it won't hurt. Toenails are dead like hair. (Not quite accurate, but work with me here.) It's like getting your hair cut. That doesn't hurt, does it?

GIRL: No.....Toenails are like crabs!

Like crabs? [My GOD, is the summer crab phobia still lingering?]

GIRL: Yes, they are all dead like crabs. They don't move. They don't run around. That's how you know that they are dead.

Mmmm.... toenails are like dead crabs. Well, it is something to think about!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

I just want to wallow in my migraine SO sucky day

The reason everyone talks about the terrible two's is because you can't talk about the f*cking four's in polite company.

Thank GOD for my friend from the U.K. She made me laugh today.

It was one of those really, really bad days. I should have known it when I woke up with a migraine. It was a foretelling of what was to come. I should have turned around, gone back to bed, and pulled the covers over my head. But, I got up, like every mother does, and just pretended my head was its normal size and hadn't swollen to the size of a small stadium overnight. Of course, it didn't help matters when I ran over a bucket of dry concrete with my car. It fit perfectly underneath -jammed in next to the muffler and some other mysterious auto part under the car. It was resolved, actually, by my own inventiveness, and a random act of kindness by a stranger. But, that story is for another day. Right now I just want to wallow in my migraine SO sucky day that I should be pampered and called Queen for ....well, at least a year.

And then the Christmas cards came that I created online. I've been waiting with excitement, only to open up the card and the font size on the letter inside is so small, it can only be read with a microscope. Yes. That bad.

The day wasn't a total loss. My migraine finally started to fade after 12 hours and about 14 dozen Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen & Aleve. Not a good idea to let yourself run out of Imitrex. And we took the kids with friends to a local place called Travel Town and rode the train to see Santa & Mrs. Claus. It was dusk outside and the place was decked out beautifully in magical Christmas lights for the kids. GIRL told Santa she wanted a Birthday hat. Then she changed it to a Christmas hat and BOY said he wanted a fire car. I have NO idea what these items are. Hopefully Santa will figure it out. After all, tomorrow is another day...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WFMW - Easy Holiday Candle holders

It's WFMW over at Shannon's Rocks in my Dryer blog. I'm happy to join in again, it has been a while!

One of the things that I lovingly unwrap every year is a holiday candle holder that my mother made when I was a child. She is very craftsy, my mother. And she has a green thumb. Is this fair?! Me... black thumb, Kimosabe. And my home goddess craftsy talents? Well, let's just say that I am good at standing back in awe and admiration. In other words, I'm the first one to start clapping. Someone needs to. But, I digress...

This holiday candle holder is really fun and easy to make, and it looks lovely. You will need the following items, almost all of which can be picked up at a crafts store - like Michael's:

  • Several (10-12 )different colorful, festive ribbons

  • Rick Rack in a few colors (gold or silver is niiice)

  • Small single candle holder base to go in bottom of jar

  • Loose faux pearls and/or small strings of pearls (or other "gems")

  • Empty glass jar (i.e., coffee jar)

  • Craft glue, preferably clear
And this is what you do: Segment by segment, cut a piece of ribbon and glue it around the jar moving upwards (or downwards if you are so inclined, no one's picky.) After the jar is covered in ribbon, glue on loose faux pearls, Rick Rack or other items. Let dry. Place a single candle holder in the bottom of jar. Put a single candle in the holder, are DONE! BOOTIFUL! Really, they are gorgeous.

Get creative with the colors. For example, in the one that my mom made, she used nontraditional holiday colors for the ribbons. It is made with turquoise, gold, pink, and green ribbon with a touch of red on the rim at the top. She also glued gold Rick Rack on top of some of the ribbons. And then added the pearls. Remember faux pearls. BIG mistake to use the string of pearls that your husband gave you for the 2nd time last Christmas. Hey, it happens.

You can also use any type of candle depending on the width of the jar you choose. A taper, a pillar - even a tealight candle if it is a small jar.

If you make one, come back and tell me about it. I'd love to hear how it went. I promise it is easy. Promise. Although Happy Geek has doubts. She tried my "easy to make cookies with small children" recipe and this is what happened. She is hysterical! As for the holiday candle holders...perhaps best to make these holiday candle holders during nap time!

Happy Holidays to all!

Added Note: the picture was taken with my cell phone and the candle holder is over 40 years old....But, I still think it lovely, don't you?

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Every pebble makes a ripple in the pool. Every pebble.

The lovely Liv over at madness, madness I say! nominated my post on Malawi for a November Just Post- "the parenting blogosphere's round-up of writing on social justice issues." I am honored to be on the same list with so many great writers who bring courageous issues to the forefront. Please check them all out. For more information on what Just Posts are, please follow this link. The Just Posts are brought to you every month by Mad over at Under the Mad Hat, Jen of One Plus Two, Susanne of Creative Mother Thinking and Hel of Truth Cycles.Thank you, Liv for that kind nod. And thanks to all of you who were moved to make a comment on my blog.

Mad's post yesterday announcing the November list struck a chord with me. In it she questions herself and us and asks if most of this is just Facebook activism. This really got to me: "And yet, the part of me that is a pessimist and that longs for dramatic change through concrete action gets the blues sometimes. Part of it is 'parent of young child syndrome'. I want to do more in my community, but by the time I get my kid up in the morning, take her to day care, squeeze all my work into the shortest day possible, pick up my kid, deal with the domestic, and get her to bed, I'm spent." I relate so much to what Mad is saying. It is often how I feel myself. I encourage you all to go over to her site and read the whole post.

I do think we can make a difference. No matter how small it may seem. A small gesture inspires someone else who often makes a larger one. Hence the concept of passing it forward. How many of you have experienced a random act of kindness or have gifted someone with a random act of kindness yourself? It is how we exist, I really believe...down deep. We continue to exist and evolve truly through kindness and helping others. Through love of our fellow man. If not, we are doomed. So, in that spirit, I challenge you my readers to create something that you gift the world with this season. Or perhaps if someone asks what you want for Christmas you can ask that a donation be made in your name here. A continuing food crisis in Malawi afflicts more than 4 million people - and more than a million of them are children under 5. Nearly half of Malawi's population struggles to live on less than $1 a day. Imagine, if you will, if you made a donation or a donation was made for you in lieu of a present in the amount of $50. How many people would that feed? If someone asks you what you want for Christmas, what will YOU say? Every pebble makes a ripple in the pool. Every pebble.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Blog posts are little snapshots into our lives


Mrs. G wrote a very thoughtful post yesterday on the boundaries of blogging, called Boundaries, Anyone? She raised several issues in her post and ended with this paragraph, "What are your feelings, reader, about the boundaries of blogging? Is your blog open to the public or your immediate family? Do you occasionally tip-toe or do you feel it's your life, your blog, your story to tell in whatever manner you choose...warts and all?"

I've been wrestling with these questions since I read her post. Just how do I feel about boundaries and my writing here, open to any who care to find me on the Internet? It is an interesting question and one for me that needs further exploration.

When I first started this blog, late last spring, I didn't tell anyone about it. There was something so freeing about the ability to just empty my thoughts onto a page and post it out into the world. Like sending little messages in a bottle, wondering if someone would find it and for a moment feel a connection through a message from a stranger. It was during a period of time in which I felt both suppressed and invisible. Suppressed because it had been many, many years since I had expressed myself creatively - other than the brief period of time that I took up painting to deal with the pain of infertility, or wrote my spiritual autobiography to share with a small, intimate group at a Covenant I class at church. Make no mistake, this suppression was self-inflicted.

In the last few years, my entire life has been about being a mother and a wife. And overall this path has been glorious and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But, as a woman and as a wife and mother, you are "trained" to put everyone else's needs before your own and you often lose track of who you are. Especially choosing to stay at home, despite the playgroups, the wonderful friendships made with other mothers and the variety of activities that fill your day. I think that it is extremely challenging to find something that is just for you - something to cherish and hold close - that is not within your role of a mother or wife. And I found that separateness, that fluid channel through blogging.

For me, my blog is a place to exercise my writer's muscles. To stretch and grow, to blunder and smash my face, to at times rip myself down the middle and show my insides - when I'm brave enough. It is therapy. It is a way of staying sane. Because I couldn't stay quiet anymore. It is my mini-course. My salvation. And most importantly, it is my connection to other people who might hear an echo into their own souls, as I have heard the echos in their writing, in their blogs. A sense of community. As if riding together on the crest of a wave that starts out far at sea, gathers momentum and then slams onto the beach. Do it. Just to make sure that you are still ... Awake. Alive. Present. Do it, because it feels good not to keep it all inside. Do it, because in the end it doesn't really matter - it is just words flung out, into the wind - maybe sticking, probably not. It is just not all that important, other than that it fulfills you. And that is important. To you.

It seems ironic to me that although I was having some kind of identity crisis, and feeling that I had lost a part of myself since I had become a mother, I chose to start a Mommy Blog. And to write about that part of my life. Yet, you write what you know and I do know about being a mom. I am reassured that I am recording the moments with my children somewhere, for the moments are so fleeting. Perhaps someday I will have the courage to write about something a little less personal, a little more interesting and something that bears more weight. For now, this satisfies and feeds my soul.

My husband, E, encouraged me to open up my blog to family members. At first I was a bit resistant. The idea of it was scary, vulnerable to do so. When I was an actress that was always the case for me. Far easier to perform to a packed house of strangers than for my family. Maybe because strangers don't have preconceived notions of who you are and their comments on your life tend to hurt less, if critical. And to mean more if in praise. Hey, someone out there likes me! And they don't really know me, so that must mean they really like me! A.K.A. Sally Field's Oscar acceptance speech. So, I did invite family members to come to my blog and some of them visit and some don't. And that is good, because somehow it feels balanced. And I don't have to repeat stories about the kids again in emails!

I fear that I teeter back and forth between tip-toeing and flipping my skirt up and saying, WHOOOHOO look at my panties! I am both of those people. My children are getting a little older now and I am more conscious of them having the ability to someday read what I wrote about my life with them. I would never want to hurt them in any way. And my relationship with my husband is off limits, yet I touch on things that hopefully he will not feel threatened by. Having his respect is crucial and vital to me.

I hope that I have not been guilty of airing dirty laundry. Maybe some stained laundry, but not dirty laundry. That holds no interest for me. Somehow there seems an agenda behind those kind of posts. An agenda that begs to blow up in your face.

Mrs. G's post has stayed with me and weighed on me until I had to sit down and write about this. It has gotten me thinking more about what I want out of blogging and is there a purpose to it, other than just using it as a vent or outlet for creativity. Perhaps it is meant to be temporary, to bridge the jump between writing about things banal and then really taking a risk and trying to write something more concrete - like a book. Perhaps it will be just another creative venture that dies out... All I do know is that it is a journey that I relish and hopefully will make me a more interesting person to my children, when they think of me someday as someone who had her own interests. Created her own fire in the belly. Even if it was pretty messy on some days. Because life is messy. That's why they invented baths. Blog posts are little snapshots into our lives. And everyone uses different lenses.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

He misses me

He misses me. I can see it in his eyes. I can hear it in what he doesn't say. I have floated away for a time. To write. To disappear into the world of blog. Yet, I can't redirect this wonderful pulse of light that has found its way into my heart again. I feel alive and worthwhile and vibrant. Different than before. More than just..and I am because of... We will find our way back to each other. Our paths have forked for the moment, yet we reach for each other across the brambles. I love him. Still. More than ever. But, I don't tell him that enough. And I think his hands grasp emptiness instead of the warmth of a woman he calls wife. Passions swirl...wend around and around...our connection will return.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

How I love my little GIRL

How is it that my beautiful little baby girl is not a baby anymore? She is a little girl. It is as if I have just woken up from a long trance to this realization. It is stupefying.

Yesterday, as I was delightfully bent over scooping up dog poop into plastic bags (will there ever be a day when I'm not dealing with poop!?), GIRL called out to me:

Mommy, Mommy watch this!! Watch this, Mommy!

She then hoisted herself on the swing, started slowly pumping her little legs, momentum building, until she was actually swinging through the air. And as she gleefully giggled, she called out:

Look, Mommy! I'm going higher and HIGHER!

And she did. And each time her legs snapped forward for the big glide she would lean her head back and shake her hair. It was TOO much. And it was stunning. And I will carry that vision for the rest of my life.

How I love my little GIRL. The one I was so afraid of having. Girls are complicated creatures. And she challenges me daily. But, there is nothing like the perfect round clouds of her soft cheeks that you can dive into with your nose. And the little bud of her mouth. Huge eyes always watching. She is an observer. She studies everything until she gets it down. And then she repeats it again and again. She is methodical.

She is not a baby anymore. But, when she snuggles into my neck and mumbles...Mama, Mommy, Mooommm...I know that she will be my baby girl forever. And ever.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

The art of negotiating with a 3 year old GIRL

The art of negotiating with a 3 year old GIRL. An experiment. No, I do not jest. It can be done. Really. It can. Sometimes. Occasionally. Well, it's happened once. Today GIRL and I worked on vocabulary. Compromise. It is a word, yes. Not one usually associated with 3 year olds, I admit. However, today I experimented. Otherwise known as taking a walk on the wild side. Not to be confused with the wild side of my misspent youth. Youth. *Sigh* Alas, those salad days are gone. No, the only youth around here these days is the deadly duo of BOY & GIRL. Bless those bloomin' rosy cheeks. If we could only bottle it.

It all started with the beginnings of a tantrum. GIRL and I had buzzed BOY to school, zipped into TarJAAY to find that our pictures were not ready (don't you hate that?!), and zoomed home only to receive a call from my girlfriend that she was on her way to our weekly mommy & me group at church...early. Of course I had to meet her! How many times do I get the opportunity of the gift of gab with girlfriends and free daycare. Once a week. And I'm always primed for it, baby! So, out of my URGENT need for adult conversation, albeit all of us are moms of young children and our brains seem to be half-baked at best, I approached girl mustering my "Mommy is confidently in charge" voice:

GIRL, that was Miss S who called and we need to head over to church for God, Mommy & Me.

NOOO!! I don't WANT to. I'm NOT ready YET!!

GIRL, I really want to see Miss S and she needs my help. [A small lie. Trying to work the sympathy angle... With a 3 year old? I know...SO pitiful that I actually thought it would work.]

NO! I want to play at home like you told me.

I'm sorry, GIRL, I know I told you that you'd have time to play before we go, but now we need to leave a bit sooner.

I'm. NOT. Going. TO. [She was pissed.]

[I pulled on my surgical gloves, got out my hardiest manipulative tactics, and slipped on my combat boots.] O.K., GIRL, I know what we'll do! We will do a compromise! That caught her attention. Suddenly, she was riveted. Perhaps it had to do with some kind of consumable treat?

A COMPROMISE! A compromise is when one person wants to do something and another person wants to do something else. So, you both find something that you can agree on in the middle. [Much gesturing of arms and hands for illustration and use of my "too happy, peppy mommy on some kind of Ecstasy induced trip, speaking in an unknown octave" voice.] I want to leave now and you don't. How about if we leave in 7 minutes? You have 7 minutes to play! O.K.?

O.K., Mommy.

O.K.! O.K. It worked. By GOD, I'm brilliant. At least for today. Yesterday, definitely not. And tomorrow...anybody's guess. You've got to take it when you can get it. And that means NOW. Today a compromise. Tomorrow, with my luck...a stalemate.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My back is aflame with overzealous Christmas Card designitis

My back is aflame with overzealous Christmas Card designitis. Caused by a ridiculous amount of time spent on the computer moving pictures around and trying to write something witty. All of which leads to staying up too late and finding oneself staring off into space. I need to be stirrin' up some SOULFUL thoughts sistahs, and I ain't got none at the momento.

But, before you grow too alarmed at my obvious descent into giddy, mommy brain-drain, idiotic mumbles...I will reassure you with this tidbit. Rudolph has been following BOY around for the last couple of days. Yes, that Rudolph. He rides in our van, accompanies BOY to meals and is just an overall friendly Reindeer. So, that being said. I'm SURE he will be able to lead me back to my bedroom tonight where I intend to launch my weary unbotoxed filled body onto my bed. I'm counting on Rudolph to lead the way through the dark... Maybe he'll get my bells all jingly. Such perks!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Some days I feel like I've been disconnected.

Some days I feel like I've been disconnected.
No one hears what I am saying.

As if I talk in a void.

Lips moving, words drifting up through space.

Don't you hear me?

I sometimes scream too much.

Like beating a dead horse.
Being a mother. Being a wife.

Tomorrow will be my fresh start.

I hope my words will be softer.

And easier to understand.
Please don't hang up on me...

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Monday, December 3, 2007

We are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community

Yesterday I saw excerpts from a documentary on Malawi. The haunting images are still with me...

A mother with a young girl sitting on the ground. She is skeletal, as is the child. She needs medical attention, but the services are hours away and she has no money to get there. She gets a ride on the back of a bicycle, but must stop and sit again on the side of the road. She does not have the strength to hang onto the bicycle. She is 75lbs. Later when she does arrive, she is diagnosed with HIV. She is dead 4 months later. The child, one of more than a million orphans.

A young boy talking about how he misses his parents. The love from his mother. All the things that his father would have taught him. How no one cares if he attends school, but his parents would have cared. He is wearing a torn shirt. One sleeve is missing entirely, the other cut off. He is grateful for clothes that we throw out. Every day.

66% of the population in Malawi exist on less than $1 a day. Child mortality is 103/1,000.

We've got to do something.

I am because we are. A documentary.

The title is from Desmond Tutu’s (famous Archbishop from Cape Town, South Africa) words. “Ubuntu” is an idea present in African spirituality that says “I am because we are” - or we are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community, health and faith are always lived out among others, an individual’s well being is caught up in the well being of others.

Directed by Nathan Rissan. Produced by Madonna. Due out in 2008.

For information on how you can help, please go to Raising Malawi.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Boy's bedtime tale

Most nights, after tucking BOY & GIRL in bed, I tell them a story as we sit together in the dark. It is a time when the imagination can wander. Lately, as I edge out the door...tired beyond reason, BOY has started his own ritual, his own story telling.

Mommy, Mommy, wait.... I have to tell you SOMETHING.

What do you have to tell me BOY?

A long, long, long time ago I went to a store and I ate all the food and all the people.

All the people?


... WOW, you must have been full.

I ate them ALL, had a BIG BURP and they flew out.

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