Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Signs I've Been a Stay-At-Home Mom Too Long

We brought the girls last night to Picture People at the mall to get their pictures taken... for the third time.
It sounds so gratuitous and non-rational, however you must understand that Jenna is REAL tricky about getting her picture taken. The first time we gussied the girls up into their Christmas Outfits, made an evening appointment so Dan could come with me, and hoped for the best. Jenna took one look at the photographer and absolutely refused to have anything to do with her. (She was kind of a train wreck, and the pics she took were not that great so I really don't blame her.) Michaela got some done which turned out okay. I asked the manager to recommend a gentle, quiet photographer and made an appointment to return a few days later.
And that's when Mindy entered our lives.
(Is that dramatic enough??)
Mindy took fabulous pictures... she made Jenna laugh and took wonderful candids of Jenna looking sweet and gentle and relaxed.
So, like any other mom who sometimes has too much time on her hands, I made another appointment for Michaela to be photographed by Mindy.
We went last night and Jenna felt so comfortable that she jumped into the pictures and we got great shots of both of them. Heaven. We bought lots for Christmas gifts and 3 black and white pictures to put in a triple- opening frame in our dining room.
In other news, I finished my cookbook project- all 128 pages of it. I think it turned out really cute and now many, many family recipes are in one spot to be passed down. I am in full Christmas mode- shopping, returning, ordering on line, decorating, planning, etc. I of course have wild fantasies about baking lots of cookies with the girls, making gingerbread houses, and having Magical Memories. We'll see what actually transpires... and I will, of course, blog about it all.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

What a wonderful Thanksgiving Day we had! My parents hosted us and Dan's Dad and his girlfriend Ann and we had a perfectly delicious day. The girls were great and even allowed us to take this picture for my parents' Christmas card. They spent the whole day eating, playing and watching the DVDs we bought them for "Thanksgiving presents"-ridiculous, I know, but it was only one gift each.

Michaela was most excited for the cinnamon rolls we had for breakfast... and they did not disappoint. We watched some of the parade as the girls started bouncing off the walls from their sugar rush. We even saw some of the dog show and I rebuffed Dan's attempts at convincing me we should get a puppy. In the afternoon, Jenna took her nap and then Paga and Ann came. We visited for a bit and then headed over to my parents'. The girls loved the pigs in a blanket we ate for an appetizer and could not shove them into their mouths quick enough. We sat down at about 5 for a wonderful dinner and then stuffed ourselves with pies, cookies, brownies, and candy. At one point Jenna, who was dividing her time between eating and playing, said, "What are we having next?"- just bring on the next course!

We got home at about 9:30, got into our pjs and watched a little Ratatouille, stuffed and happy. It was a chaos-free, warm, lovely day. I joked with Danny about hitting the stores at 4:30am but as you can tell by the time stamp here, chose to blog and work on my family cookbook project instead. But the morning is still young... I may get out there before 10am.

Hope you all had a peaceful, yummy holiday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends who read this little blog... I am thankful for all of my blessings, most especially my hubby and my precious girls. You three are the lights of my life and I am honored to be be able to share this life with you.
Have a wonderful day!!

Sooooo two

My mom, Jenna, and I did a little Christmas shopping on Monday of this week. We were pretty successful and Jenna was in good spirits most of the trip, which made it even more successful. Among other things, I had to pick up dressy shoes for the girls to wear with their Christmas outfits (which I have pathetically had since early October). As we checked out a pair of snazzy patent pleather shoes from Target, I took off Jenna's socks so we could try them on. One of the quirks of being 24 pounds and two and a half years old is that shoes are quite hard to fit... her feet are just little skinny wisps of bone. We put on the shoes and I rolled up her pant leg so I could see them.
Success! They fit decently and Jenna really, really liked them... so much so that she refused to take them off and unroll the pants. As my mom said in Target, "Sometimes she is soooo... two."

Here is the picture of her in Macy's in all of her patent shoe glory:

You may also notice that the tag is still on them, Minnie-Pearl style. And she's holding a fruit-flavored not-found-in-nature-blue Twizzler in her hand that made me gag every time I smelled it. And she's smiling because she knows we're going to McDonald's for lunch when the shopping is done. What a life.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Flashback Friday

Many of the blogs I read have a Flashback Friday- they post an old picture or story and usually it is rather embarrassing in nature. (What old prom picture isn't embarrassing??)
In the spirit of Flashback Friday, I am going to tell you a semi-famous family story from when I was in sixth grade.
First a little background: When I was in fifth grade, I went to a very good elementary school that had a rural segment of its population. One of the girls I became friends with was named Karen. (I will not disclose her last name to help her remain anonymous. Heehee.) She was a very nice girl but it was clear she was poor and had limited resources of every kind. But she was fun and sweet and a bit dramatic, as most fifth grade girls are. She invited me to her birthday party that year, and my mom tells me it was the most nervous she's ever been to leave me somewhere. Her home was a glorified shack with a broad, unfinished front porch- just a plywood platform-and she had various animals roaming around her property. I'm not sure if she had a dad and her mom looked pretty marginal. I distinctly remember that at the birthday party her mom wore a see-through shirt with no bra and I was both fascinated and horrified at that. Her mom also wore a '70s style floppy fedora hat, which to me now indicates that she thought she had it goin' on back then. I was also quite shocked by their fishtank, which was so filled with algae that you literally couldn't see the fish in it. The most memorable part of the story was that one point of the party, a goat was walking around their living room. In the house. Yeah.
Oh.. and noone was screaming, "Ahhh! Get the goat out of the house!! The goat got loose from it's pen and somehow came inside the house!" It was more like, "Move over, Goat, I can't see Karen opening her gifts." So you get the picture.
Let me share one more piece of info critical to this story: for those of you who read my blog but are not familiar with this area, there is a small city about 30 minutes west of Albany called Amsterdam. It is not a prosperous city and it has a large Hispanic population and a large poor area. I'm sure there are nice parts of it, but I don't think at any time it would be heralded as a jewel in the Capital District.
So fast forward to sixth grade. We students who attended our small little rural school have stuck together pretty well, and I am still good friends with Karen. Just before lunch that day, Karen calls home on the pay phone (how quaint!) near the cafeteria and her mother gives her terrible news... they are moving in a few weeks. She is very upset at this and of course we, her friends, comfort her and feel sad that we will be losing our buddy.
That afternoon, I am recounting the events of the day to my mom, who would listen to HOURS of me discussing and processing my days at school. I tell my mom, quite dramatically, that Karen has received this devastating news: "Karen is moving... to the Netherlands!!"
"Say that again?" my mom replies.
"Karen called her mom and her mom said she's moving to the Netherlands."
Clearly confused, my mom says to me, "Tell me exactly what Karen's mom said to her."
"She said they are moving to Amsterdam."
Ahhhh... this makes much more sense. Now as an adult I realize how absolutely hilarious it is to think a rural girl with a braless single mother who had a goat in her living room during her birthday party would have the resources- both economic and intellectual- to move to a liberal European nation. I am also impressed with my knowledge of European geography.
Anyway, Karen moved - to Amsterdam, NY- and I never saw her again. But I laugh everytime I think of this story.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Out and About on Veteran's Day

So Judy and I decided to get together on Veteran's Day since all the kids were off from school. We love to spend a day with the Strausses- the kids play sooo well together and I get lots of Judy-time. We talked Monday morning and decided on an ambitious agenda- going to Build A Bear with all five kids and then going for ice cream afterwards.
Here we are on the way. The kids looked so cute all strapped in.

We got to the mall, parked the car and started unloading. We brought the double stroller with us, presumably for Jack and Jenna to ride in, but for 95 percent of the whole trip, no kids- just purses and coats- were in it. (You know that if we HADN'T brought it, the kids would have been clamouring for a ride. That's the way it always goes.)

We got to Build A Bear and they were doing a brisk business since everyone was off from school. The kids all had a blast looking around and picking out their bears to stuff. Well, Jack was really more interested in examining everything in the store. Then he got a bit hungry so Judy took him to get a lollipop (and lollipops for all the kids) to hold him over 'til lunch.
Finally it was our turn and each got their bear stuffed, put the heart inside, and air-bathed the animals. Here's a pic of the stuffing action. It is only by the grace of God that a wet, sticky lollipop didn't land squarely on one of the animals.
Then to the really fun part: dressing the bears. Michael and Aidan were all about the costumes: they picked out Superman and Spiderman outfits for their bears. Jenna initially picked out some Christmas gear for her Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer animal, but opted to go for the Build A Bear stroller (or "doellerrr" as she calls it) instead. Michaela picked out a somewhat ugly black pants and tunic outfit for hers and tried to angle for sneakers and ROLLER SKATES (really? ROLLER SKATES for a stuffed animal???) but again, opted for the stroller instead. She also had leftover birthday money to pay for the stroller, lest anyone think I am uneven in my purchases.
Jack, who picked out a dinosaur, first wanted to put on it a hot pink dress with black lace overlay. Honestly. Then Judy swayed him away from that and he got a stroller, too.
After Judy and I got our second mortgages approved to pay for all this paraphernalia, (both of us said at the checkout line, "You got my coupon, right? That's the total WITH the coupon??") we headed out for some lunch. Here's our group shot.
So you notice how there are now three additional strollers with stuffed bears in them and our double stroller. We were quite a spectacle, especially since the two-year olds' stroller steering ability is a bit limited at times. I saw a lot of people walking towards us with more than a glimmer of fear in their eyes.
Anyway, we had a blast... we went downstairs to Friendly's, it was too busy, we went back upstairs to the food court, ate lunch, went back down to Friendly's for ice cream (and parked all the strollers at the door), and then finished off the trip by checking out the animals at the pet store. Whew!! Soon after we got back to the car (by now it was about 4pm), loaded everyone in, and got some Polar Express Soundtrack music on, here were the two little ones:
Thank you, Strauss house, for an awesome day off!!!

No calls from Hallmark???

Dan's 35th birthday was this weekend! Happy Birthday to my true love and best friend!

We had a fun couple of days celebrating. My parents took us out to dinner at Old Chicago on Wednesday because they were going out to see Brian and Beth for the weekend. This picture was taken that night.

Then over the weekend, JuJu threw a little surprise party for Dan at her and Uncle Dick's. Michael and Jaime came up also so we had a fun night hanging out and laughing. JuJu had lots of appetizers and great food so we left stuffed. I baked a cake for Dan and the girls helped him blow out the candles.
This is verbatim the card that Michaela lovingly wrote out to Dan:
Dear Daddy,
Will you have a happy birthday? I thought you were turning 46, but you are turning 35.
Love, Michaela
I think the left-handed compliment ("Hey, Dad- turns out you're 11 years younger than I thought!!") was softened by the obvious care she took in writing and presenting it to him. I'm just shocked that Hallmark hasn't come knocking on our door looking for her to put out a whole line of cards. (Something like, "I thought you were getting fat, but it turns out you're pregnant. Congratulations!")

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Music lessons

Excerpt from an actual conversation from last Friday:
Michaela and I are in her room, picking out her outfit for the day. (Generally we pick it out the night before like all the "helpful hints for a smooth morning routine" tell you to, but sometimes we just don't get around to it.)
I lay out a nice pair of new sweatpants and a matching shirt, both from the Gap.
I say, "How about this?"
She says, "Well... today is Friday and I have music with Miss Hannah. That outfit is kind of ........sporty."
I snort as to not laugh directly at her. She's really sensitive about that.
We end up agreeing on a new skirt and top with tights and her mary janes.

This conversation revealed two things:
1. Michaela's fashion sense is a bit more advanced than I thought.
2. I underdressed for music class for years.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I went to the redistricting meeting last night and Michaela will not have to change schools next year! We are very happy and it was fun to see our neighborhood mobilize against any change. The meeting was packed- I'd bet there was about two hundred people there- and thankfully everyone generally left very happy.
In other news, Jenna is feeling much better and the color in her cheeks is back. Michaela had her second swimming lesson yesterday and loved it. We had a fun day being with her- she was off for a teacher's conference day- and we went to our little playgroup (M was the big shot)in the morning and then stopped at McDonald's for lunch, along with every other stay at home mom and their kids in Delmar. Michaela was pretty punchy by the afternoon so the swim lesson helped her blow off some energy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Playing Catchup

Every once in a while, I feel like I need the whole world to stop for three days so I can catch up on doing the laundry, going through the mail, cleaning, processing stuff, going through papers, and planning out our schedule. This is one of those times. We have had a busy weekend and week, mostly dominated by Jenna getting another one of her famous viruses for which the doctor can give us nothing. (The first time she got it, on Christmas Eve two years ago, I went in to the pediatrician's thinking, "SOMEONE is leaving here with drugs... either Jenna or Mommy.") These viruses usually involve fevers, a bad cold, cough, and interrupted sleep for Jenna and I and they seem to last forever (or a better part of the week, whichever comes first). Jenna's latest virus started on Halloween and she is about 90% better now.
We had a nice weekend. Saturday I woke up early to go to the Hallmark Open House because I'm both a freak about their pre-made scrapbooks and a model American consumer. They did give me a nice VIP gift bag full of beautiful ornaments so it was clearly worth it. Then my mom and the girls and I went to a local craft fair to support our friends at Doullina Designs - custom scrapbooking- and of course bought a little Thanksgiving Day chipboard scrapbook that is so adorable I couldn't stand it. I am such a dork that this thought actually crossed my mind: "The papers they used will match the Thanksgiving Day outfits I bought for Michaela and Jenna!" Sad, I know. But it will look cute when it's done.
Saturday afternoon we went to our niece Olivia's first birthday party, which was a lot of fun. We saw all of Dan's family and Olivia looked adorable as always. I love first birthday parties- the noise, the celebration, the gifts, the overstimulated one year old. It's awesome. Someone at the party asked me if I thought Olivia knew what was going on and I answered, "I can ASSURE you she has no idea, but is having a good time anyway!"
Sunday Jenna and I stayed home from Sunday School and church and rested. Dan went to a car show after church- we are on the lookout for a new car next year- and then we went to my aunt's house for the Annual November birthday dinner for Dan and my cousin and his wife. My aunt is an awesome cook so it's always a delicious and fun evening.
Monday morning I got up a little early in case the girls were really off from the Daylight Savings Time change (they adjusted remarkably well) and Dan asked me, "What are you up to today?" and I answered not much... Jenna and I will hang around the house. When Michaela got up, she asked me if today was November 5th and I answered yes. She exclaimed, "Oh goody! Today's the day you come to school with me!!!" Yikes! I had totally forgotten that this is National Education Week or something like that and the parents are invited into the classroom and I had told Michaela somewhat vaguely a few weeks ago that probably I could go. So at 7:45am I had to start scrambling to get ready, find childcare for Jenna (no preschoolers allowed), and replan my day. It all worked out great and I did go to school and saw the class do "station work"- all literacy/language arts activities broken up throughout the classroom, went to her art class (right up my alley!!!!), played on the playground at recess, and ate almost inedible cheese raviolis with her at lunch. Her teacher is awesome and she has a really nice class of kids. Jenna stayed with Judy and had a blast with the Strauss boys... they are all so in love with each other.
Today I am off to playgroup with both girls (Michaela is off for Election Day) then we're hitting McDonald's, voting, and coming home for naptime. Tonight is the unveiling of the school's redistricting plans so maybe I will get some insight on where M will be going to school next year. It should be a fun meeting... filled with over educated and anxious moms and dads- what a blast!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Letdown Monday

So did you read about how jam packed our weekend last week was? The parties, the fun, the hayride, the baptism, the friends?
Monday was a bit of a letdown.
I did five loads of laundry and gave Jenna an enema (soooo fun!) and she pooped four times. Those events were literally the highlight of my day. That is the rhythm of the stay at home mom... some days are really, really fun and some are just filled with poop.