Monday, November 24, 2008


Do you watch Noggin? If you have cable and have children under five years old, I'm sure you do. The catchphrase for the channel is, "It's like preschool on TV!" which is a bit of a stretch but if it means I can go to the bathroom in peace, I'll buy into it. Basically it runs shows like Blues' Clues, Dora, Diego, Wonderpets, etc. twenty-four hours a day, which is great when you need a minute to think and fantastic when you have a sick kid who is up at 2am and you will happily blow your brains out if you have to watch the "Diego Saves Christmas" DVD for the 663,873,988th time.
Anyway, Noggin is hosted by two fairly non-annoying cartoon characters, Moose A. Moose and his best friend Zee, who is a bird, and they sing little songs, and play memory games and do other fun things to kill the time between shows. (Noggin is commercial free and the half hour shows run about 22 minutes, so there's a gap that needs to be filled.) They have cute little seasonal-themed songs, including "I Don't Like Candy Corn" during Halloween. The one they are singing now is for Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite songs they sing all year but I have to admit: it makes me want to cry every time I hear it.

The lyrics of the chorus are sweet and simple:
Everyone's together
Everyone is happy
We're thankful that we've got so much to share.

... and the corresponding visual is of people sitting around a Thanksgiving table; a huge turkey dominates the middle of the scene, and everyone has these big goofy grins on their faces. Everything is brown and burnt orange and subdued yellow and it's just all too much for me... because while I am very much looking forward to Thanksgiving, I just feel so bad for those for whom Thanksgiving is a nightmare: people from freshly-broken homes, families in which someone has passed away; homes filled with anger or violence; families that experience hunger in body or spirit. Because for them everyone is not together and everyone is not happy. Something about the child-like innocence of the song and it's gaping vulnerable optimism brings this all up for me each time I hear it. Which is alot, because Noggin is on for several hours a day in my house, happily humming along as the background noise to our lives.
So while I love the song because we are all together in our house and we actually are all happy and have lots to share, my heart breaks for those who don't.
It is another example of realizing you are living in your own utopia.
Savor every minute.

In other news, our 90 year old next door neighbor died alone in his house last week. Fell asleep in his bed and that was that. His daughter had gotten his admittance letter from the nursing home they applied to on the day he was found. He really, really wanted to stay in his own house. That's called beating the system.
John was a great guy; we used to call him the Mayor of our street because he would cruise up and down the street driving about 5 miles per hour and craning his neck to see what everyone was doing, and he would beep his horn and wave. If we did a home improvement project, he loved asking us, "If you don't mind me asking, how much did that set you back?" and we didn't ever really mind telling him. When his first great granddaughter was born a few months before Michaela, I was so happy for him and his wife and asked what the baby's name was. "Uh... Hannah Grace. Or Grace Hannah. Can't remember which. You'll have to ask my wife."
He was adorable and kind and gruff and always had a sparkle in his eye.
The street won't be the same without him.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweetness and love.

First the sweetness: I found these notes, handwritten by Michaela, while straightening up today. They were from last week when I had a bad cold and lost most of my voice.
Note 1 (which makes my heart glow a little) reads:
"Dear Mom, I hope you feel better. Love, Mimi"

Note 2 (which makes me think she may have a future in politics) reads:
"Dear Jenna, We should do what Mom wants. Love, Mimi"

Smart girl.

Now the Love: Here are the before and after pics from our bedroom makeover project of last weekend. We painted the ceiling and walls, got new curtains, new curtain rods, new rug and put on different bedding. I'm currently searching for a new set but this works fine for now. The quilt in the "Before" pics was handmade by my Aunt Kathy and it is so precious to me that I only keep it on the bed for a few months of the year so it doesn't get trashed by all of us. We also took some stuff off the walls and hung my favorite pictures of the girls from over the summer under our 'Love' sign.

During: Michaela really enjoyed helping out.

And... After!

I see that the color of the walls looks a little different in each picture... the true color is in the picture of Michaela painting.

The ones below look too dark or too taupe or too gray. But you get the general idea.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I think a new game is in our future.

Spurred on our friends who have similarly-aged children who played Pictionary as a family with great success, I pulled down and dusted off the first non-Disney, non-Candyland, non-Memory game in several years- Pictionary- for the whole family to enjoy a few nights ago. As we were setting it up, I got a little nervous about how the whole thing was going to go down so I changed the rules a bit to accommodate the ages of half our players (the 7-and-under-set). The girls were mostly fascinated by the sand-filled timer and could care less about the rules or game structure.

So I picked up the first card and Michaela's word to draw was "RABBI."

Um..... I think Pictionary Junior may end up being a better option.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November Morning Visitors.

This is the scene at our house this morning at around 8am. Michaela is providing the narrative.

"Oooohhhh.... look at the little squirrel!! Look at how cute he is!
Look at his fluffy tail!
He sure is getting plump for the winter!"

"And look! There's his little friend! I think they're looking at us!"

"I'm going to grab a piece of paper and pencil and instead of getting dressed for school like my mom has asked me fifteen times so I'm not late for the school bus and raise my mom's blood pressure sky high and get the whole day off to a yelling, awful start, I'm going to sit here in front of the window and do a detailed sketch of these adorable squirrels feasting on our pumpkins that Mommy got a little too wrapped up in and bought too many of!"

"They sure do like the pumpkin! Funny little friends!"

Then, at 3pm I returned home from being out and about and this is what I found on my front step (Mommy provides the narrative here):

"Filthy little rodents."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quick Bits.

Ahhhh! I've been a bad blogger this week. I have been busy with Preschool budgets, Strategic Planning communications for our church, and lots of other odds and ends. On top of it all I developed a lovely cold on Tuesday that has slowed me down somewhat. But to let you know I've been thinking about you, here are the various goings-on and random thoughts I 've had this week.
* Michaela has a tough time in the morning getting ready for school in a brisk and efficient fashion. Somehow she manages to be incredibly pokey and in constant motion at the same time. She and I were having a disagreement about something this week, and she, in a very dramatic pre-teen type of move, spun around on her heel, turned her back to me and folded her arms. I walked away from her because I'm not interested in being part of the little dramatic play she was putting on. When she turned her head to see where I was, she said to me, "Mom, talk to my back!" And of course I did not.
* I am addicted to the show Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Thursdays at 10pm. Watch it. It's entrancing and horrifying at the same time. And really fun watching Gary Busey try to be 'inspirational' to the other patients. Note to Gary: You're JUST as screwed up as the rest of them. Heal thyself, brother.
* I am one of the greatest snot producers in all the earth. Note to President-elect Obama: If you're serious about solving the energy crisis, find a way to convert my snot into energy. We'd achieve oil independence by the end of next week.
* I am paying the local YMCA $105 for eight weeks of swimming lessons for the girls and by far their favorite part is taking a long, meandering shower after the lesson. The showers last almost as long as the lesson. Maybe longer.
* Michaela got her school pictures back. They are adorable. We are all struck by how much older she looks than last year's picture. Michaela's reaction: "I LOVE this picture of me!!!"
*We are signing Michaela up this Saturday to play softball in the spring instead of soccer. My brother, a diehard baseball fan, is rejoicing.
* Dan is painting our bedroom this weekend. And yes, I took "Before" pictures so I can post them along side the "After" pics. 'Cause I'm a dork like that.
*Jenna has not stopped talking for the last two days. It is hard to believe I was worried that she would never talk. We have played babies alot, since that is her favorite past time, and it can be quite an ordeal. She likes me to 'feed' the babies, which involves getting out the baby highchair, the baby bowl, the baby spoon, the baby food box, the baby bib and the baby wipes. She sets this all up for me in the kitchen, usually when I'm eating breakfast, and wants me to stop eating my meal so I can feed the baby. And I'm all, My meals were interrupted enough by you and your sister. This is MY TIME. The baby can wait until I'm done with my cereal. And Jenna handles that pretty well. She prepares the baby's favorite food, called binachos, which is some strange compound of bananas and, well, nachos, I guess, which is weird because we've never had nachos. She feeds the baby using the exact same techniques my brother and sister in law used this summer to feed Kate. It's hilarious.

I will leave you with this Flashback Friday-esque ending: I went to a small party at a friends' house with some other moms from Michaela's school to count and sort the Boxtops for Education points that are collected at M's school. The mom who organized us promised alcohol and chocolate on a school night in exchange for counting little bits of cardboard and plastic, and as a result, there were a bunch of us gathered. We counted $410 in 10 cent increments. The lady who organized it commented that with the level of post-high school education sitting around the table, SURELY we could come up a better way to use our time and skills to make money for our school. But we were all too drunk to think of any. Haha! Just kidding! Sort of.
The point of my story is this... we got talking about Halloween and dressing up and someone commented that she wanted to wear her prom dress for Halloween but it didn't fit anymore after having three kids. That lead to a discussion of our prom dresses and someone mentioned the Gunne Sack Dresses by Jessica McClintock that were popular in the eighties. I hadn't thought of them for years... I used to get seventeen magazine and soo looked forward, as a young teenager, to seeing the Jessica McClintock dresses in the ads of the prom issue. All the models had bangs that were curled back and permed hair and faces like china dolls. The dresses were soft and gauzy and beautifully photographed in soft focus and you just ached- ached!- to be going to the prom and looking that good.
It was all very sweet and innocent.

I can only imagine what the dresses will be like when Michaela goes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Playing Pollys

This morning I played Polly Pockets (or "Pa-tets") with Jenna. For the uninitiated, Polly Pocket is a 4 inch tall teenage- or-so small plastic doll who is ridiculously skinny and has enormous head and hair. There is a main character, Polly, and all of her friends, who have various hair colors and styles and eye colors. They are all into fashion and the main gist of playing Polly Pocket is changing her into many, many different outfits. The "clothes" are made of a really soft, flexible rubber and it is almost impossible for a three or four year old with normally developed fine motor skills to dress and undress the Pollys. I cannot tell you how many times I have had one of my daughters wordlessly approach me, Polly and clothing in hand, and I just automatically grab the handful of plastic, put the new clothes on and hand it back, never missing a beat.
The bane of Dan's existence for years has been Polly Pocket shoes, whose size can only be measured in millimeters, and have managed to find their way into almost every hidden corner and nook in our house. And there are just millions of them. It took us a few years to realize we can just throw out the shoes as soon as we get any new "outfits" for Polly and Michaela was none the wiser.
So now we're experiencing our second generation of Polly Pocket player- Jenna- and we're more savvy this time around.
Jenna and I sat on the couch and played for about a half hour. This is what I learned:
1. Clothes are optional. Pollys come with painted on underwear which Jenna calls their bathing suits. That is enough.
2. The main activity is getting married. White dresses must be worn for this.
3. Everyone kisses when they greet each other.
4. Frequently, the Pollys lay down and go to sleep. When it's time to get up, Jenna says, "Cock-a-doodle-doooo! It's da mornin'!" which is funny to me because she says "It's da mornin'!" every morning to me to prove to me it's time to wake up.
5. Polygamous marriages are a-okay.
6. Often a Polly girl needs assistance and yells "Help!!" and needs a boy Polly (who, of course, are all raging metrosexuals) to rescue her. I was not able to identify what the real danger was, but the rescues often lead to kissing and then getting married.
7. One of the Polly girls, "Lisa" is a good singer. Her favorite song is the ABC's. She is also available to sing at weddings.

And that is basically it: lots of kissing, hugging, rescuing, marrying, and sleeping.
Someone's watched a few too many Disney Princess movies.

PS- Jenna has kept me company as I wrote this... I have had my teeth inspected with a paper clip (doe-ing to the dentist), I have given my food order (playing service) and she has read me several books and taken great liberty with the actual content. She also dragged the cash register over to the desk and I was chastised that she only had four dollars of play money. I finished up by speaking into a microphone. So if my writing isn't at it's sharpest, blame my sidekick.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween, Facebook, and other scary delights.

Here's the latest:
Halloween was a great success. The girls donned their ghost (or as Jenna calls it: "dost") costumes and hit the mean streets of Delmar with Dan, prowling for candy.
And they were back after 13 minutes.
Apparently they went to about three houses until the costumes started to annoy them and they realized, "Hey, you know what? My mom has BAGS of candy right at home. Why not just eat that instead of traipsing around half-blinded by a rough 140 thread-count cotton sheet from Walmart falling into my eyes every three seconds?"
Well, that's a bit of a stretch... they don't really use the word "traipsing."

So they came home and I recommended they go over to my parents' house to show them the costumes. My parents get close to 200 - yes, two HUNDRED- trick or treaters and it turns out that Michaela is a champion Halloween Door Answerer. She loved seeing everyone else's costumes that came to my parents' house and they are thinking of hiring her next year to answer the door the whole night. And paying her in Hershey bars and Skittles.

In other news, I made myself a Facebook page after being roped in by my friends Gina and Angel. Because I really need another outlet to maintain and keep updated.
It is kind of fun, however, people somehow find me and then ask to be my friend. It turns out that I feel about Facebook friends the way I feel about friends in real life: I only really need a few good ones that I love to death and the rest just kind of annoy me.
This makes for some awkward self-examination at 10pm when I fire up my Facebook page and it turns out three people I marginally know have requested to be my friend. Do I accept? Do I reject them? There's no button to click that says, "Thanks for offering but I really have all the friends I want right now." Being new to Facebook in general, I am not sure of the etiquette so I have chosen to accept all who offer "friendship".
And the stress! The stress of writing new updates, choosing a non-dorky picture, and making my life seem just a little bit better than maybe it really is.... I can't take it.
And then last night, the whole lid blew clean off. A girl I knew in high school somehow found me and asked to be my friend. We shared a homeroom for four years and she was always friendly. So I click to accept her as a friend and when I go to her page to see her friends, it is almost all people we graduated high school with. Holy crap.
I saw pictures of people I have not seen nor thought of in over 16 years. It was mind blowing. All I could see was their little picture, where they live and if they aligned with a workplace or organization. Many were holding babies in their picture, indicating they had some type of partner and had plunged into parenthood.
What a Pandora's box! It was like reading the end of a book that I started reading a long, long time ago. Of course, since I was looking at this at roughly 12:30am- not my most rational hour- my head started spinning about what people would think of how my life turned out. Would they be impressed? Underwhelmed? Pleasantly surprised? Not surprised at all? How do I even feel about how my life turned out? What would I do differently? What choices would I make again?

I know this: I love my husband. I adore my daughters. I love my family. I laugh A LOT with my friends. I have people I could call at any time, day or night, and they would help me. I like my house. I love my town. I worked hard at my education and feel like I really helped some people who were in crisis situations. I feel like I am doing the best for my kids right now that I know how. Things aren't perfect: I could eat less chocolate. I could live in a more exciting city. I could have a sexy job. I could live more in the now.

But overall, it's a good, happy, satisfying life, with lots of good, fun things to look forward to.
Now how do I shove all of that into a two inch by three inch picture???