Sunday, December 30, 2007

Damn straight, Dorothy

I'm back from our Christmas odyssey and I have to say, it kind of sucked. Although I didn't face lost loved ones, illness, major family dysfunction, or insane travel snafus, the small annoyances piled up until I couldn't pick out which one was worst.

Was it the 15-hour outbound journey, including a six-and-a-half-hour layover in Detroit?

Or was it the snide comments about my children's hygiene/my parenting? (what? no daily baths? wearing pajamas MORE THAN ONCE?)

Was it having to wrap all the Santa gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve because all the cousin's presents were wrapped, and would it make sense for hers to be wrapped and our kids' to be unwrapped? Of course not.

Was it our niece getting two of the items on Jo's wish list and Jo getting none (because they were too heavy to be shipped halfway across the country and then back, just so they could be under the right tree on the right day)?

Maybe it was the ridiculously archaic ideas about hospitality and etiquette that resulted in my being offered food every 10 minutes, like it or not; to the point where I maturely respond by refusing to accept anything, then sneak into the kitchen later to help my own damn self. And that also result in far more discomfort among the part of guests than if you would just stop TRYING SO HARD.

Or! Was it spending literally hours every night putting one or the other child to bed, a parenting chore I loathe anywhere, but especially away from home. Waiting for them to fall asleep is like watching paint dry. In a white room. With no windows.

Hmm ... Maybe the worst was counting the minutes until we could go home, only to be delayed a full 24 hours by a snowstorm. At that point I -- who rarely cries, unless watching a particularly sappy TV commercial -- shed several fat salty tears.

Actually, I know what was the worst. It was knowing how childish I was being. That while I was being facetious with my list of rules, deep down I still have a very hard time letting go of those childhood traditions and realizing that Christmas can go on without them. It might not be the same Christmas, but it can still be a good one. After all, I still got to share it with the ones who are at the very tip-top of my list.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yep, this one's a keeper

These two are, actually.

all it took were two candy canes

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! See you next week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas rules and regulations.

From Wicked Good Cookies on PicasaNB: I will be checking this list twice.
  1. The tree: must be live, with delicate lights and non-generic ornaments. See details.

  2. The outdoor decorations: must be composed of white lights and natural materials only. Nothing that requires a motor.

  3. The cards: must show at least some small effort beyond stuffing, licking, and stamping.

  4. The wish list: must contain ideas and suggestions, but not be so specific as to stifle all creativity on the part of the gift-giver.

  5. The cookies: Must include thumbprints with frosting. Never jelly.

  6. The schedule: Gifts must be opened on Christmas morning. Not Christmas Eve. Except one or two just to take the edge off.

  7. The stockings: Must contain an orange. What can I say? It's a rule.

  8. The gift-opening: Must occur in sequence from youngest opener to oldest, one gift at a time so all can be properly displayed and admired.

  9. The traveling: Must be of the grandparents to the grandchildren, and not the other way around.
    a. Exception 1: presence of great-grandparents over the age of 85.
    b. Exception 2: Hawaii.

  10. The menu: Must not include turkey. What do you think this is, Thanksgiving or something?

  11. The clothing: Must not be thematic, unless worn by a small child.

  12. The songs: Must be sung loudly and with gusto, preferably while seated alongside Harry Connick, Jr., at the piano.

  13. The weather: Must be white. Sparkly, even.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nothing says Christmas like a big frosty mug

Jo did a worksheet at school about the five senses, with a Christmas theme. "At Christmas I see...", "At Christmas I hear...", and so on. My favorite was "At Christmas I taste... rut biey." Mmm! I know I always enjoy a nice A&W with my roast beast.

And now: The 2007 Holiday Photo Outtakes Post.

Merry Christmas from your friends at the Headbangers' Ball!

When I'm done with this candy cane, I'm coming for you, Blondie

What he doesn't realize is that I've rigged up my extra super strong vacuum cleaner inside that fireplace. Perfect for sucking up little brothers.

As soon as he loosens his grip on that candy wrapper, he's out of here.

And then he was gone, leaving behind only a cheap ukulele. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Good Thing

Happy discoveries this weekend:
  • Ginger Beef with Kale from the 1/08 issue of Martha Stewart Living (not online yet, apparently). Easy and tasty, if slightly too spicy for the kids.
  • Halloween with Morris and Boris. Jo brought this home from the school library and apparently it is the funniest thing Opie has ever seen. He busts a gut every time we read it.
  • will print your holiday cards and then you can pick them up at a local store. Saved my procrastinating butt.
  • "Mommy! Look! The snow is sparkling!"

And, to boot: I am guest-posting today at the calm before the stork. Click over to find out whether or not I was calm in my pre-stork days.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hoot w00t!

Wise Owl AwardAn embarrassingly long time ago, the lovely G. from so, what do you do all day? bestowed me with this cute guy. The fine print reads "for esteemed blog mentors and the otherwise inspirational." Moi? Thank you!

Now, to pass it along. I'm sure you've heard this from me ad nauseam, but I'm sure I never would've started blogging without my good friend Julie to hold my hand.

All of my fellow Full Mommies -- Amy, Binky, Jodi, Lady M., Lara, Leighann, Mona, Mrs. Chicken, and Tammie -- have inspired me in one way or another (or several) as we collaborate on that project. To be frank, I started that blog because I needed a place to stash my reviews, and invited others to join me so I wouldn't be lonely. But they've done so much more than keep me company. Thanks, all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Decorating: check

The stockings have been hung by the chimney. With care, even! So I'm feeling (a little) better about this whole Christmas thing. On Saturday we acquired and decorated the tree and put Santa in his rightful place. On Sunday we dragged the whole fam damily to the mall for a gift shopping blitz and accomplished quite a bit.

Jo picked out a really elegant nightgown for my mom. She had her little change purse with her, containing her entire life savings, and wanted to buy the bright red socks that matched the night-shirt. "How do I make fifteen dollars?" she asked. "You'd need sixty quarters," I said. She consulted her purse. "How else do I make fifteen dollars?" I hated to break it to her: "Well ... you would have to have one hundred and fifty dimes." As her other grandma would say, the poor lamb. Fifteen dollars might as well have been a million. I offered to buy the socks and all was well.

...until we returned home that evening, and realized the little pink change purse was gone. Cue waterworks. We checked all our pockets and bags -- nothing. We distracted Jo, coaxed her and Opie into the bathtub and then into bed. But more than an hour and a half after she'd fallen asleep (when I was deep into my online shopping session, getting everything I hadn't picked up at the mall) she woke up and burst into tears, brokenhearted at her loss. I couldn't do anything to calm her and she eventually cried herself to sleep.

But! Happy ending! It only took two phone calls the next day to locate the precious purse, carefully stowed in a locked drawer at Williams-Sonoma. Jeff picked it up and couldn't resist buying this as well. So much for present overload.

Unrelated (well, draw your own conclusions): Care to comment?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Found gems haiku

Surely there must be
Someone on my gift list for
Whom I can buy this?


Local newspaper
Champion of the townsfolk
Exposes "deadbeat"

--Inspired by this item in our paper's "From the archives" column:
1882: A man was in [Mayberry] to solicit advertisements for a card he said would
be displayed in all the railroad depots in the state. Inasmuch as he tried to
bargain at the newspaper office for only 150 of the cards, we are led in the
interests of honesty to declare him a deadbeat.
Haiku Friday

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gender ... politics ... innnnnn ... space!

Pigs in Space at Muppet WikiI'm ashamed to admit this. A few days ago, Jo announced that she wanted to have a playdate with a boy in her class. And for some reason, I was a little freaked out at the idea of a boy-girl playdate. I have no idea where this came from because she has at least three other pals, who happen to be boys, who she's been playing with for years; I would never blink at a request to play with any of them.

Still, like a loser I tried to stall her a bit on this particular playdate request. I asked her what she and D. would play with if he came over. Right away she mentioned her telescope, her art supplies, and her puppet theatre. And almost as quickly I came to my senses and said "OK, I'll call D's mom."

We haven't had the playdate yet, but Jo's idea to show off her telescope is perfect. We've loved playing with this toy (received for review via Parent Bloggers Network) and I'm sure D. will too. Get the full scoop at the Full Mommy.

And is anyone else as intimidated as I am about calling other parents for playdates? Instant transportation back to 4th grade and fearing that no one likes me. It didn't help when one of the first kids we called this year didn't respond for about three solid weeks. She finally did, but not before the damage had already been done to my psyche.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We're seriously, totally obsessed over here

OPIE: No, my name is not Opie.

MOM: It's not? What is it?

OPIE: It's ... Nothing! [laughs maniacally]

JO: Why don't you say your name is ... Zac!

OPIE: Yeah! Zac!

JO: Zac Efron!

OPIE: No, TROY Efron!

J & O: [die laughing]

*All hail Aimee for the awesome photoshoppage.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Things for which I am not (in the slightest) ready

1. Hosting book club tonight.*

2. It goes without saying, but if I don't say it then this will just be a blank page: Christmas. My score is: Presents 4 (of, I don't know, 40?), Cards 0, Wrapping 0, Decorating 0, Cooking/Baking HA HA HA.

3. Winter. Who is hoarding all the girls' size 6 snowpants? I have dragged two kids to three stores already (that means past all the ridiculously huge displays of TOYS TOYS TOYS) trying to find some. Please God don't make me go to Wal-Hell. I might come out with something inflatable for my front lawn by mistake.

4. [screeek! Sharp turn toward the sentimental!] A 5-year-old girl who, during a stage production of High School Musical, alternately stood in front of her seat shaking her booty ... and cuddled up to me with her thumb in her mouth.

*Actually, scratch that. I have read the book, and I have four bottles of wine and a box of brownie mix. I'm good.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rock around the Christmas tree

For a musician's daughter, I have done a woeful job of exposing my children to music. We have a few CDs that we play in the car on endless repeat and that is nearly it. Once in awhile we rock out in the laundry room or have an after-dinner dance party, but I confess we are just not a household where tunes are always spinning in the background.

So the new That Baby DVD I recently reviewed (along with its companion, That Baby CD) has been a welcome addition. For the full review, as always, please click over to The Full Mommy. This one could definitely fill a few slots on your holiday shopping list--and there's a coupon code available too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yup. There's no place like it.

I will freely admit that I am a creature of habit. A homebody, a Cancer, a don't-rock-the-boat, status quo kind of girl. So these trips throw me entirely out of whack. I love to go, to get back to New York. It's like visiting the old me, tasting what my life would have been like if we'd stayed. But as the days go by (and this past trip was a long one), I start to itch for my real life, my current one, with its precise routines and familiar comforts.

Now that I'm home, my first task is to restore those routines, that order. My first day back, I had an awful, nauseating headache, along with a pile of urgent work that couldn't wait another day. And not being able to stop and unpack, reorganize, dig through the towering stack of mail, reply to any but the most essential emails -- was almost physically painful.

Today I'm feeling better. My stomach is back to normal, my suitcase is empty and I've done four loads of laundry. My to-do list still unspools behind me a mile long (do not remind me how many shopping days are left until Christmas, I beg you) but just being home is, for now, enough.