Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Time Out 2010, Part 2.

In my somewhat bucolic description of our weekend, I forgot to mention that the girls were utterly fascinated by the turkey timer-popper-thing and insisted on keeping it after we carved the turkey. So we washed it and gave it to them.

Jenna chased her brother and sister the rest of the weekend, wearing thin cotton gloves they use when they are playing doctor or dentist, waving the timer-popper in her hand, saying, "It's time for your flu shot! Come get your fluuuuuu shot!"

And they both screamed and ran/crawled/creeped away from her in terror.

It was the kind of moment when I thought, "You know, sometimes these blog entries just write themselves."

Turkey Time Out 2010.

So we just wrapped up a fabulous, restful Thanksgiving weekend. And I had to promise Dan that we'd only be eating leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner two more times.

After I got back from my Chicago weekend away (and let's take a moment to remember diaper changes for FOUR DAYS!), I got right to work baking and cooking for Thanksgiving. I made apple pie, soft gingersnap cookies, some Christmas cookies, yeast rolls, and Pilgrim hat cookies with the girls. (It was a wonderful flashback to the kinds of hats my people wore back when I was a Pilgrim. Ahh, memories.) I also of course had to clean, get the table linens ready, grocery shop several times, etc, etc, etc- all the stuff you do to host a holiday. It all went really smoothly and before I knew it, it was Thursday morning. After our traditional holiday breakfast of cinnamon rolls (and it seems like each year we all eat more and more of them, but I blame that on the fact that every few years we add another mouth to feed) we watched a little of the parade (watching the Rockettes do their line kick kind of makes me cry with happiness, and I can 't quite put my finger on why) and the dog show while we started cooking. Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, brie en crote, dips, sides, gravy, turkey, stuffing, cucumber salad, mashed potatoes- all of it got ready and made it's way to the table.

We had 10 people total, and five of them were us: we added Dan's dad, his aunt and uncle and my parents. It was a lovely day, pretty calm and relaxed, and I think everyone had a great day.

Friday came, and as much as I love going shopping on Black Friday and have for years, between Alec's morning schedule and the fact that I really didn't need to BUY anything, I skipped a shopping trip. We finished cleaning up and then started decorating for Christmas. First I had to say goodbye to my favorite Harvest-y themed decorations, which I am ridiculously attached to, and bid them farewell until next September. (Sigh.) But then we started getting out the tree and the ornaments and the garland and the spotlight and the candles and oh, my, it was lots of fun. We got it all together by the end of the day and then sat around our electric meter and watched it spin with all the decorative lights on. Good times!

Saturday and Sunday were quiet days; I tackled my humongous pile of junk and papers and things that need to be filed and whittled it down to a manageable level, all the while promising myself for the 372nd time that I'll certainly never, ever let it get to that level again. The girls went to a sleepover party at my cousin's house and had a great time. Dan and I and Alec went to his aunt and uncle's for dinner and were amazed at how quiet it was without them. And we missed them.
We capped off Sunday night by watching a Hallmark movie called "Christmas in November" about a 8 year old girl with cancer (she lives) whose parents speed up the holidays so she can enjoy them in case she doesn't survive. It was a charming movie, but I cried through the vast majority of it all while holding my sleeping baby and constantly smelling him to make sure he was real and here and not dying of cancer. Gut wrenching.

I have a relatively quiet week ahead of me which I will certainly quickly fill up. But the four day weekend with my family was long and pretty leisurely and we were so happy to host a big holiday at our new house, not only because we can now comfortably fit our extended family into rooms without their elbows touching, but especially because we got to keep all the leftovers.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little Girl in the Big City.

I am back from my mini-vacation to Chicago and I am happy to report the following:

1. I did not change any diapers while I was there.
2. My children are all still alive.
3. My flights were flawless.
4. The Art Institute of Chicago is amazing. And peaceful. And quiet. And beautiful.
5. My brother and I both love riding the train.
6. I slept through the night each night I was there.
7. There is nothing as comfy as sitting on Brian and Beth's couch, eating M&Ms with your jammies on and a big blanket covering you while you watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Heaven.
8. I had a wonderful dose of fresh perspective while I was travelling by myself.
9. Seeing a Renoir painting in real life is indescribable... something about seeing the light bounce off the actual painting makes it appear to glow with dazzling color.
10. Sunset is the best time to go to the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center and enjoy a relaxing drink as the lights of the city come on and twinkle all around you.
11. If you eat at a restaurant in Chicago's Greektown, you will not only taste the best spanakopita you've ever tasted, they will set cheese on fire and it will be a-MA-zing.
12. I was able to sit around a roaring outside chiminea fire on Saturday night and talk to other adults for several hours without once being interrupted.
I had a wonderful time and was happy to come home and see my babies and my honey.
Many thanks to Brian and Beth for making my weekend so special!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reason #2.

I just realized that while I'm in Chicago on my vacation, it will be the first time in over nine years that I will not be changing diapers and coming face to face with someone else's poop.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reason #1 Why I Need a Vacation.

I was woken up by one of my three children at 2:30am, 3:30am, 4:30am, 5:30am, 6:30am, and 7am. That's not sleeping; it's napping while it's dark.

One time I was woken up to address this pressing issue: "Mommy, when I swallow, my whole body feels fuzzy."

Even in daylight, I can't fix that one. It is especially difficult to handle at 3:30am.

At 6:30am I was woken up by Michaela to see if it was okay for her to take a shower.

Thursday night cannot come soon enough.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On Being Home, Being a Mom, Time, Swimming, and Altered States.

A few days ago I posted on Facebook that it was 1:30pm, I was still in my pajamas, I was doing things around the house, like laundry and changing sheets and Alec was following me around the whole day. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the comments I received about this, most of which were incredibly sweet and positive and indicated that others wished they were able to do the same things. I am sure that for someone working, getting up early, with a very structured day, a day of loosey-goosey working-in-my-pajamas activities would sound appealing, but I have to be honest with you: when I posted that I was sort of bored (not that there wasn't anything to do, just not anything that I was looking forward to doing), annoyed that I hadn't found time to shower and get dressed yet, tired of holding a clingy baby and a little lonely.

My friend Judy says it best: There's no utopia, baby. Someone else's life/schedule/stressors always look better than your own.

On that day, I would have really enjoyed being sort of put together- at least bathed and dressed in nice clothing, doing something I was getting paid for, interacting with other adults, working on something that was not immediately going to be undone.

And certainly I understand that I have an immense amount of freedom to create my own structure and projects and socialization time. And the ability to bathe and dress myself however I want. I can recreate that for myself, if my baby is able to tolerate me doing that.

But the last few years of my life have been a little like living in an altered state, filled to the brim with needy babies and busy school-age children and broken-up nights of sleep and incredible happiness and fullness and a lack of day-to-day structure and meeting the needs of four other people first and feeling overwhelmed and absent-minded and constantly being interrupted while I'm doing anything and loving things deeper than I've ever felt and experiencing totally uneven levels of productivity. It's like a dreamy, swirly, foggy- and pleasant- universe. I am really only held accountable to my babies, and my husband, and myself, and I have tremendous amounts of leeway to do things when I want, how I want, or not at all. I am protected quite a bit from the big, bad world outside and can easily be comforted by my cozy familiar surroundings. But with that comes this sense of isolation, and the sense of never getting anything done, especially since my clean kids get dirty again, the food I cook gets eaten, the clothes I wash are worn, and the items I pick up always manage to find their way out again.

It all seems able to slip through my fingers, especially time, and while I remember clearly when I stopped working to have Jenna, now I look at portraits of my babies on the wall, and they seem so incredibly big and grown up and I wonder where the time has gone.

And I realize: it has swirled around me all this time and I have been swimming in it, day after day, hour by hour, making and growing these wonderful children and here they are, happy and healthy and seemingly not headed towards being serial killers. Not yet, at least. And this is my work.

A few weeks ago at a party someone met my kids for the first time. "You have beautiful children," she said. "Thanks," I answered. "I grew them myself!" And I felt kind of silly for saying that afterwards, but then I kind of liked it. I did grow these kids myself, and I am pouring my heart and soul into them every day.

The trouble/curse/blessing with being home with little kids and a baby is that the day stretches out before you, full of promise. Or boredom. Or frustration. Or magic. And some days you don't shower, or get as much done as you thought you could or thought you should, and you are rushed or looking for something to do or someone to talk to. It's on you.

You are the master of that ship, and responsible for whether it- and you-sink or swim. I definitely know I am swimming, doing fine, very happy with my place in life. But there are some days when you are barely treading water, and a different life looks pretty good... just for that day.

There's no utopia, baby.

Friday, November 5, 2010


These things have helped me retain my sanity while I manage a weekend ahead without Dan, a bouncy fourth grader, a needy kindergartner who lost her watermelon-scented smencil on the bus today, and Mr. Clingy Von Clingster, who is teething and miserable:

1. Walmart: Okay, Walmart makes me happy no matter what's going on in my life, but I love it around the holidays when they start filling up the aisle displays with baking items, tins full of gingerbread spice cookies, endcaps with stuffing, cranberries and other holiday foods, and of course the ultimate sign of the holidays: bags of red, dark green and light green M&Ms. Something about Walmart's brilliant marketing and anticipating my needs as a consumer makes me feel... well, like I have to work less to buy the things I want. Because it's right there within easy reach. If only more areas of my life had the same devotion to anticipating my needs. Sigh.

2. Shopping channels: Oh, yes it IS time to start watching HSN and QVC. Last night I was beside myself as I flicked back and forth between Colin Cowie and his brilliant entertaining ideas and Bethlehem Nights Seasonal Lighting shows. All of it, I want all of it!!! And the ideas of how to use the items! So many suggestions! Battery powered LED lights and garlands and topiaries and you can set the lights to twinkle or steady and the indoor fireplace that Colin was touting which you hang on the wall and the co-host who I swear said the word, "LITERALLY!" about 382 times. ("LITERALLY, if you can hang a picture, you can LITERALLY hang this fireplace! LITERALLY!") I am mesmerized by the cheerfulness, the eagerness, the call-ins, the whole thing.

3. Christmas Music: I turned on Christmas music today to listen to while I folded laundry. I know it's early, and many, many people get very sick of Christmas music, but I love, love, love it.

4. Travel: Two weeks from today I will be in Chicago with my brother and his family. Hopefully on my third glass of wine.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Boy, My Joy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween: By the Numbers.

60: Number of pieces of candy Jenna got trick or treating
86: number of trick or treaters who came to our door
350: apparently the number of trick or treaters I was expecting to come, based on the amount of candy I bought
158: number of pieces of candy Michaela got trick or treating
1: number of times it had to hail on Jenna while trick or treating before she gave up and came inside
2: number of neighborhoods that Michaela trolled around looking for candy
15: the number of feet I had to carry Jenna at our YMCA's Haunted Trail, which totally freaked her out
10: number of times I had to remind MYSELF that the Haunted Trail was NOT REAL
Seemed like 20: the number of times on the Haunted Trail that a real person in the pitch-black woods fired up a REAL chainsaw and then laughed like a maniac
60: number of minutes it took to do hair and makeup for Halloween... 'cuz it's ALL about the hair and makeup.
150: number of people at our neighborhood's Halloween Parade and block party
2: number of bouncy-bounces at the Block Party
1: number of 24' climbing walls at the Block Party
7: number of bags of candy I have bought since the beginning of October and rationalized by saying, "This is for Halloween..."
220: number of calories in a Hershey's Cookies and Cream fun size bar
200: number of calories in a Hershey's Chocolate bar
90: number of calories in a Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin fun size candy, further advancing my belief that there IS a God and He loves me
3: number of scary-type house settling noises Dan and I heard last night after we watched The Walking Dead on AMC
15: number of zombies we watched get shot at point blank range during The Walking Dead on AMC
0: number of pumpkins we carved this weekend
0: number of times the kids seemed to notice we didn't carve any pumpkins
1: number of trick or treaters dressed as Snooki that came to our door (I LOVED it)
1: number of times my heart broke when Michaela announced she didn't want to carry her Pottery Barn kids pumpkin trick or treat candy holder, she wanted just a plain pillowcase, and I realized that she may be growing out of it (sniff!)
7: number of times I felt guilty because I didn't buy Alec a costume
2: number of Halloween-themed t-shirts that Alec rocked all of October and looked adorable
4: number of pieces of candy that Jenna can eat, very quietly, before I realize she's eaten FOUR PIECES OF CANDY 10 MINUTES BEFORE DINNER
3: number of boxes of nerds Jenna got trick or treating
3: number of boxes of nerds I am coveting
1: number of times I sighed with relief when this crazy weekend was over
4: number of times I told people today we had an AWESOME Halloween