Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wait a minute, Christmas is over?

Writing wrap-up posts gives me hives, so I'll just say the following about the past week. These are the moments that I wish I could capture in a snow globe and revisit in the coming months and years:
  • Christmas Eve, Jo had to be dragged to church kicking and screaming (almost literally). She spent the first half of the service on my lap or huddled on the floor with the hood of her jacket up. Then, suddenly, she was captivated by "Angels We Have Heard on High." She wanted to sing along and asked me to help her follow along in the hymnal. This continued for the remainder of the hour.

  • Christmas morning, the kids sleep later than they have in weeks. When Opie finally gets up, we go into Jo's room to wake her up. Her first words are "You could have let me sleep a little longer, Opie!"

  • My dad didn't pack his Christmas pants. My siblings and I scolded him soundly, then turned on our mother for allowing such an oversight. We suggested he turn around and drive nine hours back home to get them. He said "No." Can you believe it?

  • He did, however, bring and wear his 7 jeans. Which looked great on him. Here is how it went down (let me note for the record that my dad is 71 and I haven't seen him wear jeans in years, but he does work out like two hours a day). He came into the kitchen wearing these stylish, dark, skinnyish jeans. Me: "Wow, nice jeans!" Dad: "Pretty nice huh?" Mom: "They're '7 for all' ... nations, or countries or something." Me: "7 For All Mankind??!?" Dad (shows off label): "Yeah, 7 For All Mankind. I got them at the Saks outlet."

  • My mom could not get enough Wii bowling. She was constantly begging someone to play against her.

  • After everyone left, Jeff noted that Opie's behavior had been very good, except for a few subpar moments, including that last morning. His response: "I was a little naughty because I didn't want everyone to leave." Little scam artist!

  • The family construction project (Playmobil airline terminal, with approx 1 beeellion pieces):

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I played Santa today

BloggersGiveBack.comI felt very Santa-ish this morning as I lugged two bags and a box through the snow to help make a child's Christmas special (never mind the fact that yes, my belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly with every step I take).

A few months ago, the folks from Learning Curve gave me a Caring Corners dollhouse to review, with a special condition: I'd get one dollhouse for my kids and I to try out and keep, but I'd also get a second one to give away to a needy child or charity. Part of the toy's charm is its effort to teach kids about sharing, caring, and good deeds, hence the charitable twist on a product review.

I started corresponding with the house manager of a shelter for abused women in a town near Mayberry. It's part of a nonprofit group that manages an array of domestic abuse programs benefiting women and children. The shelter has 44 beds (not counting cribs), and right now every one is full; a mother and child are sleeping in the shelter's library this week because it's the safest place for them to be.

Unfortunately, because it took a while to coordinate the drop-off (note to self: When someone is clearly a bad emailer, pick up the phone), I couldn't bring the kids with me. Still, just having the extra dollhouse in our house for all this time gave us plenty of opportunity to talk about why we had it and what we'd be doing with it.

The coordinator who received the dollhouse was just thrilled, and noted that a dollhouse is an especially useful and therapeutic toy for a child who's experienced abuse. It breaks my heart clean in two to think of a child spending Christmas in a shelter, but I hope this dollhouse helps one little girl dream of the safe, welcoming home she'll live in one day.


I also donated a few other reviewed products: the Positive Spin holiday books, and an I Can Do That! game (since that company had also offered two toys, one to review and one to donate). Thank you, Whitney, for coordinating these efforts. It's been a pleasure to participate.


Also at the Full Mommy, I 've reviewed theater productions that may be coming to your area soon. Check them out: Magic Tree House, the musical and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


And have a very merry Christmas, if you're celebrating. Our guests arrive today, so I'll be busy chopping vegetables and serving salads for the next few days. See you next week!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

These kids are smokin'

Jeff's mom sent us a box of Omaha steaks for Christmas, which was very generous but also unintentionally funny, because let's review the guest list* for our holiday festivities:
  • 2 vegans
  • 2 low-fat/low-carb dieters
  • 2 small children
  • 1 vegetarian
  • 1 diabetic
  • 1 pregnant woman whose stomach has a mind of its own (not a rational mind either)
But just like the box can often be the best part of a gift, the OS packaging brought a half an hour of pure glee:

*P.S. My husband (the special-occasion chef in the MM household) has a whole spreadsheet of the meals he is preparing for this crew. If you have need of any festive vegan recipe suggestions, we stand ready to assist.

P.P.S. Re my last post, it looks like I probably overreacted to the NT measurement I (thought I) saw. The result was normal (although at the upper edge of the accepted range). I feel much better now. And pledge not to abuse Google any further.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too much snow, too much information

Over the ground lies a mantle of white...

You're not kidding. In addition to the foot of snow we got 10 days ago (which mostly didn't melt), we're now in the midst of a fluffy downpour of flakes today, with more predicted for Sunday/Monday. White Christmas: check.

It's not, however, a snow day. Still had to take Jo to school this morning. She gave it her best shot by putting an ice cube in the toilet and sleeping with a spoon under her pillow, but no luck. I have never heard of those two superstitions--is it a Midwest thing? We never did it growing up in Pennsylvania.

I have to brave the highways later on for an OB appointment. My practice now has a new procedure for urine tests: BYOU. They give you a little cup at your appointment and tell you to bring it back at the next one--full. Isn't that delightful?

I had an sonogram yesterday, the nuchal translucency screening. Baby spent the whole time sucking his/her thumb and trying to shove away the ultrasound wand pressing down on its turf. Not to sound like a pro-life activist but it really is amazing to see that at 13 weeks gestation. When I got home, like an idiot I googled what a normal NT measurement is. It's almost 4 times less than the number I thought I saw on the screen. Thanks a lot, Dr. Google.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Muchas gracias, you Hip Mom, you

Far too long ago, the lovely Kirsetin gave me a bloggy award, in Spanish no less. I'm going to go ahead and take her word for it when she says that recipients "are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!" (I mean, wouldn't you take her word for it, if her word was "charming"?)

(I do like prizes though. I bought a bundle of Christmas presents and several months of upcoming book club books with recent PBN winnings.)

So hmmm ... writers that need more attention.
  • Kate from Eucalyptus Pillow recently started a couple of new blogs and a business so I guess she's attention-seeking. Right, Kate?
  • Tammie from Soul Gardening needs us to read so she'll keep posting, because I miss her when she doesn't.
  • That goes for you too, Nancy. (Uh. No pressure, though, gals.)

If there's anyone you'd like to pass this award on to, go forth with my blessing. As if you needed it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas in Mayberry

So the Santa Float came by a couple of days ago. It's a fire truck fully decked out in Christmas lights and it ferries SANTA! around our whole town, street by street, over the course of a week until he passes every single house. Here's us watching with our neighbors (at the end you can see my husband is holding the neighbor kid, who ran out of his house so fast he forgot to put on shoes).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Good night, sleep tight

Someone will probably want to revoke my Mom License for this, but I never used to check on my kids at night before I went to bed. Just getting them to sleep in the first place was far too time-consuming. I dared not risk it by tiptoeing anywhere near. The only time I chanced it was if I suspected they might not, in fact, be in their beds--hence the time I found Opie sound asleep on the floor of his room, completely bare of pajamas or even a diaper.

Lately, though, I can't resist sneaking a peek. I must have established the habit when Jo was sick this summer. Now I crack open each door just an inch or two, to see those little sleepyheads. I'd never realized Jo talks in her sleep. But nearly every night, she mumbles a little something. The sound of the doorknob turning is just loud enough to rouse her ever so slightly, but she rolls over and is dreaming again before I can even close the door. Opie, inevitably, hasn't moved an inch since I left him a few hours before, snoring slightly, with the stuffed animal du jour tucked in nearby.

Turning away from his door, I look across the hall at the room that's now (theoretically) a home office, and will one day be the new baby's room. Can it really be that one day another child will sleep right there behind that door? I'm still amazed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Random 'n' ranty

Item 1. Not so much a rant, really, as another "What's the deal with..." question. Why do kids love getting their faces painted? It takes for-fricking-ever, we always have to wait in a huge line (because every other kid at the event wants her face painted too), it smears within 10 minutes, and the kid can't even see it. Why, I ask you. Why?

Item 2, in case you missed this on Twitter. It is too important for you to miss: The best search string ever. Someone arrived here at Mayberry Mom by googling "are you down with opie pee." Yeah, you know me! My friend, I hate to break it to you, but this here is a mommyblog. If you're looking for OPP, try here. Or possibly here.

Item 3. I had the most stay-at-home-momish kind of day I've ever had. School drop-off, yoga, home briefly, school volunteer thing, church thing (me and 40 old ladies in the church basement, for real), home again to clean up hideous dog accident in basement, school pick-up, back home for small window in which I accomplished one tiny work task (only because kids were watching TV and husband came home from work early), swimming lessons, home to wolf down dinner, PTA meeting. And tomorrow? Is a half-day of school. TGIF.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Donors Choose (to continue making me weep)

Remember when I donated to Donors Choose? Yesterday I got a packet of thank-you notes from the kids who received the scissors and tape. Some excerpts:

"So, thank you again for the scissors and tape just remember it helped a lot. Sincerely, Mike"

"You know what, I was the one who came up with the name 'cut into education' that was cool wasn't it. Thanks again. Sincerely, Kenny"

"We really appreciate the scissors that you sent. Before, when we were doing a project last year in seventh grade, we had the worst scissors. (I mean that in a bad way) They coudn't cut for anything and they always got caught in the paper. This letter is to tell you thank you for the scissors and tape. Sincerely, Khalil"

"The scissors helped a lot because we had these crappy ones and they didn't even cut. And the tape, we didn't even have any, but you gave us some and now we use it for a lot of stuff. Every time I see them I think of you and I say thanks in my head. Sincerely, Sean"

Thank YOU for reading because every page view helped fund that project.

And if you are still feeling charitable: My sister is running a marathon through Team in Training. She only needs $850 more to reach her goal of $3800. If the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a group you'd like to support, consider throwing a few bucks my sister's way. She would appreciate it!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Books with a positive spin

Ever wonder how the tradition of trick-or-treating got started? Author/illustrator team Lisa and Tucker Johnson have a sweet suggestion. In their book All Hallows Eve: The Story of the Halloween Fairy, they imagine a cute little fairy named Eve who loves candy, but can't seem to produce any for herself with her magic wand.

I reviewed this book, plus two follow-ups covering the winter holidays (Christmas Eve: The Joy of Giving and Winter's Eve: Love and Lights), thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network. Head on over to The Full Mommy for the full review.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Hands down, the game my family is most obsessed with plays most often is Scrabble. I'm not even sure when this habit got started, but anytime my brother, sister, and I are together it is ALL ABOUT the Scrab. Being the Word Girl in the family, I assumed I would have a natural advantage, but that is not the case. My brother, the visual artist (and in recent years, his wife--another artist) is the undisputed champ. I talked him up so much that two years ago, one of our neighbors came over on Christmas Eve for a game just to see Steve in action (and got his butt kicked for his trouble).

Steve and his wife:
  • have memorized all the 2-letter words legal in Scrabble
  • brought a travel Scrabble set on their month-long camping honeymoon and played nightly
  • keep track of all the games they play on a spreadsheet. Data gathered includes total points scored, who played the Q and Z, any bingos, and probably more obscure information too.
I still play against them. But I go into it knowing that if I come within 50 points of their scores, I've done really well.

We also do have an alternate game in case we are all tired of getting clobbered. Syzygy is a fast-paced, board-free version of Scrabble. Each player creates her own grid of interlocking words using letter tiles. You start with 9 tiles, and when you've used them all you call "Draw!" and all players must grab another. You then continue to incorporate these new letters into your crossword; you are free to change anything you've already put down. The game is over when all the tiles are gone and one player has a complete crossword with no leftover tiles. (And then, half the fun is checking everyone's work and arguing about the liberties they've taken with the English language.)

(Gift tip: If you're shopping for someone Scrabble-obsessed, they must read Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis. Both a fascinating character study and a how-to manual for Scrabble nerds.)

If you smelled blog blast on this one, bingo! (50 points to you.) Post yours by midnight tonight and you could win a fat pile of fun video games from EA.

Friday, December 05, 2008

What would you name yourself?

I've been having an email conversation with two friends about what names we would have chosen for ourselves (as children) if we'd had the option. Two out of three of us wanted to be "Lisa." So now we're curious. What name would you have given yourself at 5 years old? Or 10?

And did you ever try to change your name or nickname? In 6th grade, I decided my name was boring and I henceforth wanted to spell it with an "ie" at the end instead of a "y." Much grief ensued in the form of kids calling me "Cath-WHY." Eventually, I did get it to stick and kept that spelling through high school and college, at which point I finally gave it up as dumb. And that's why friends and family now spell my name three different ways.

You see why Lisa would be so much easier.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

6 things Opie plans to teach his baby brother

1. How to dance

2. How to sing

3. How to quit ("You know. Like leave his job.")

4. How to DON'T play with matches

5. About stop lights, go lights, and slow down lights

6. How to play the guitar

By the way, Jo and Opie are certain their new sib is a boy. Because they have consulted the Magic 8-Ball, and not only did it say that yes, it's a boy, it also said that it's not a girl. So, totally definitive.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The story so far

Week 4: This isn't so bad.

In Denver, Julie is either psychic or takes note of my greenish tint and the fact that I don't drink any Skinny Dip. She sends me home with a huge wardrobe of maternity clothes (mine, hers, and even some of Liz's) "just in case."

Week 5: This is ... getting more bad.

Week 6: Feel like death warmed over.

Stop buttoning my pants. Unapologetically eat deli meat AND brie.

Week 7: Heartburn and morning sickness. Cruel and unusual.

Also cruel: "morning" sickness and potty-training, night-waking preschooler and vomiting dog.
[Pause to acknowledge The Boring. Aren't you glad you didn't have to read all of this in real time?]

Week 8: Way too fat and sick for just one baby.

Have totally convinced myself there must be two in there. Panicking about need for new car, crib, double stroller, and "how will I even get from the garage to the house with TWO BABIES?"

Week 9: Ultrasound! Just one (of course).

We tell the kids. They tell everyone they see including the teenage kid working at the playroom at the Y.

Week 10: Giving thanks for my whole family, even (okay, especially) the one that's currently acting like a tapeworm.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas in June

Last Christmas Eve my husband and I had one of the most profound conversations of our then decade-long relationship. Conducted entirely in whispers (we were staying at his mother's and Opie was sleeping just inches away in a travel crib), our talk touched on the experiences we valued from our childhoods, what we wanted for our own kids, and so much more. At one point, Jeff said he was sad that Jo and Opie are not growing up with lots of cousins around. They only have a few, and see them only once or twice a year.

Without even thinking about it--certainly without thinking he would ever take me seriously--I said, "We could have another baby."

I was astonished when he said, "Yes, we could." And for the first time ever, he really meant it.

And that's how it came to be that the best present of Christmas 2007 will, if all goes well, be delivered sometime in June, 2009.