Monday, November 28, 2011

Decking The Halls

I had every intention of writing on Saturday to tell you all how annoyingly festive our home looks for Christmas, but I ended up having a date night with my husband instead. Define date night? Watching The Walking Dead and sneaking in a quickie with a prayer that the kids wouldn't wake up.

I had every intention of writing on Sunday to tell you all how annoyingly festive our home looks for Christmas, but someone downloaded a virus on the laptop. I don't trust myself enough to attempt repairs, so instead I challenged Mia to a hot game of 'Dance Central' on the XBox and let Chris do all of the heavy lifting when he got home from work.

Thank you for your patience!

Part of the fun in starting a family is that you choose your traditions. You choose which to carry on, and you choose which to leave in the past.
I can remember the elaborate lengths my mother went to every year to make Christmas special - not just about Santa, or Jesus, but about family. There was a tree (fake due to my allergies) and stockings. Family photos would be replaced with Norman Rockwell prints. All dishtowels and oven mitts would feature Santa, snowmen, or holly berries. A cassette tape of Dolly Parton singing 'Walking In a Winter Wonderland' played on heavy rotation, stopped only for the Alvin & the Chipmunks 'Christmas Song'. We made snowflakes from coffee filters and chains of red & green construction paper. When ZuZu was talking about her petals, you'd better hush. And. We. Baked. Together. Those were our traditions.

I, like my mother, prefer to go overboard during the holidays right down to the baking. Our house gets the same treatment that my childhood home got, with the addition of Christmas sheets, a mailbox cover, dishes, multiple advent calendars, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera - and lights on the outside of the house. Not Griswald lights, but we definitely do lights. 

The house isn't quite finished yet, but the transformation is half the fun. Also, if we'd gotten all of the decorations put up in one weekend, I would've just went and bought more. It's a lot of work, but it's absolutely worth it even if it is just for a few weeks.

Annoyingly festive? Maybe, but I guess that depends on the eyes that you experience it through. To my babies, it's a beautiful sight and that's reason enough for me to continue the tradition.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? If you can't think of any, then maybe it's time to start some. The Folger's commercial is one of my personal favorites.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Brown Thursday/Black Friday

(Wednesday night)
MARLEE: Mommy, I wear my 'Punzel dress to 'Sgiving and be so, so pretty?
ME: Oh sure, why not! Sis, what do you want to wear to Thanksgiving?
MIA: Um...probably something brown because turkey is brown. And it's fall, so brown is right.
ME: Good idea, Sis. Very logical.


Miles and I started our Thanksgiving early on Thursday morning. He was awake because the sun had been up for all of five minutes, and I was awake because he's an incredibly efficient alarm clock - plus I needed to prepare my contributions for our family feast.

Brother is not the best sous chef I've ever encountered. Thankfully, he was content with standing in front of the baby gate screaming "Eat! Eat! Eat! Eat!" while eating his breakfast until his sisters woke up and he could pester them.

Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty decent cook. I enjoy cooking (when the kitchen is clean) and I enjoy serving my dishes to the people I love (when the food turns out the way it's supposed to). The dishes I'd been assigned were simple: pumpernickel bread & dill dip, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. Start to finish the food was ready in about two hours, and sat on the kitchen table waiting to make the one block journey to my brother & sister in law's house. Picture perfect, smelling amazing, just tempting someone to sneak a taste before supper.

Imagine my discontent when I realized that Chris was spray starching his shirt as he ironed. Ironed on the kitchen table. Where my food was - to be specific, about eh...4 inches from where my food was. I gave him a kidney slap. Thank God for plastic wrap.

Forty-five minutes later everyone was beautiful, and loaded into the car only to realize that Marlee had stepped in dog poop somewhere along the way from the house to the car. It wasn't just on her shoe though, oh no - too easy. Shoe, carpet, leg, floor mat, back of the seat. Ugh... quick (tedious) clean up, and we were headed to 'Skiving.

We ate way too much from hors d'eouvres to dinner to dessert, with a little wine in between for some of us and juice boxes for others. The kids played, the moms poured over the sale ads, the men watched a James Bond marathon. Sadly, we skipped the annual game of Dirty Word Scrabble. I did the newspaper crossword puzzle with my 5 year old niece as a substitute. "Jay, what's a 4 letter word for NAP?" "Um...probably try SLEEPING, Aunt Bubby."

Once we finally made it home, it was time for Daddy to start getting ready for his Black Friday shift. Like a lot of retailers, Chris's mistress (his job) decided to start the sale earlier this year. When he left for work, the kids and I went to bed.

 I hate Black Friday.
  1. There isn't a discount in the world that's low enough to make me stand in line for 2 hours. Anywhere.
  2. I always worry that some customer is going to flip out once the last 42" TV is gone and shoot up the whole store. No, I'm not overreacting. People are scary on Black Friday.
  3. No work for me = a double shift for my hard working husband.
I love shopping just as much as the next impulse-buyer, but I hate crowds, waiting in line, and sleep deprivation. While the bargain hunters were duking it out over the season's hottest gifts, I slept and later enjoyed coffee with my kids.

Chris left for the last part of his shift after lunch, and the girls and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening setting up the Christmas tree. Be still, my heart. It was perfect. More on Christmas decorating tomorrow though.

The only shopping that I did today? An outfit for each of the kids from Old Navy - purchased online - just as I do every year. No waiting, no rude people, and no fist fights aside from the girls fighting over who gets to put their feet on the step-stool.

And now? Everyone is asleep - including this hairy broad camped out on my sofa.

In case you were wondering, both girls ended up wearing purple dresses to Thanksgiving:
Mia, a thistle colored corduroy jumper.
Marlee, a plum colored cotton floral number...with a stained up lavender Rapunzel dress over it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Don't Sweat It (or Things Drove Me To The Brink of Insanity This Weekend)

You know that series of books, Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...? I guarantee that you've seen them because there's about 4 million varieties, and they cover every profession and situation known to mankind.

I could've written my own collection over the last few days titled Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...Or I'll Completely Flip Out On You Like a Crazy Lady.

Just a few of the gems that got under my skin:

Marlee has strep throat. Initially, we thought it was Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease but the doctor said she didn't have a clue as to what the spots on her hands and feet were. How reassuring. Don't sweat it - the kid loves Amoxicillin.

"BooBoo, give me a sick and sad face."

Miles fits perfectly in the bathroom cabinet once he's removed all of the random junk stored inside. Don't sweat it -  I was able to pull his lanky little butt back out...once I finished doing my business.
It's roomy once the feminine products, bleach spray, and 20 issues of Maxim are gone.

After making a super early trip to Walmart on Saturday morning and ringing up $120 worth of groceries/necessities, my debit card couldn't be processed. The card had magically been de-magnetized. I don't even know what that means. Don't sweat it - my bank made me a new card immediately so that I was able to drive 10 miles back to town and pick up my wares before the popsicles melted.

    I don't carry cash or a checkbook. Because I'm an idiot.
I attempted to watch a sweet Lifetime movie last night starring the incomparable James Van Der Beek. Chris came home one hour into the drama and proceeded to talk nonsense and allow the kids to break my focus for the second hour of the movie. Then he called me by my father's name when I got pissy and turned the volume up. Don't sweat it - I gave him the finger. And I may or may not have threatened to Gaddafi him.

Mia came home from her dad's house a few hours ago. She was super sweet until bedtime when things got rowdy. The American Music Awards were on tonight, and well, who doesn't get crazy when LMFAO comes on - even though you've been in bed for an hour? Don't sweat it - she colored an amazing picture for my desk at work; complete with misspelled words.

'Sined Mia and Angry (bird) (heart) Momy made this for you'
As I type this right now, Miles is laying across my lap with his thumb in his mouth, trying to fall asleep. It makes typing very tricky. Don't sweat it - he's absolutely adorable. No picture though - too risky!

If you comment, tell me something that has frustrated you to near insanity recently. The comments from Old Man were awesome!

Have a great week everyone and try to remember that this too shall pass!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Old Man

My dad is the stereotypical tough guy father:
  • He gets his hands dirty for a living and cleans his nails each night with a pocket knife.
  • We've run out of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies to buy him.
  • He doesn't trust the Kennedys - even the women.
  • Mustache? Fu Manchu - and he can grow one in 48 hours.
  • 'Fun' is finding and attempting to eat the spiciest food possible.
  • His toolbox is meticulously organized and if you borrow a hammer, you'd best give it back.
  • He wouldn't be caught dead in shorts, or even worse, sandals.
  • Two words: Zoysia grass
Dad drove a truck over the road until I started school, so most of the parenting was done almost solely by my mom throughout my early childhood. By the time I was a teenager, Dad had gradually slowed down with his job and I came to know him as a person, understanding and even respecting the reasons that he is the way he is.

Later when I became a parent, it became evident just how many solid tips he'd passed along in regards to raising children.

1. "Why don't we just rip out the carpet and put in a damn rubber floor so we can hose the place down!"
How easy would that be if you could just pull up the flooring like the mats in your car and spray them down rather than lug the carpet shampooer out of the garage every couple of months? Our carpets are covered with stains already, but maybe I wouldn't be as leery of Hawaiian Punch if we had some sweet rubber floors. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that there's a strong possibility that realistically what is nice now, will look like crap soon.

2. "That son of a bitch is a deathtrap! It's going in the trash!"
It's never the kid's fault that they fell off of the bed that they weren't supposed to be jumping on, it's the bed's fault for having a mattress that's too bouncy. And it's the nightstand's fault for being next to the bed when someone gets a goose egg as they fall off of the bed that they weren't supposed to be jumping on. Thanks, Dad, for teaching that kids feed off of your reaction - if you freak out, they cry harder. If you focus on something else, it'll confuse the hell out of them and the tears will stop.

3. "Knock it off - act like you've been taken out in public before!"
Just once while we're out, I'd like to have no reason to quote the old man. I want the kids to be good, but if it takes more than 20 minutes, I know it'll be an uphill battle. The scenario: you notice an acquaintance at the grocery store and just they start to approach you, your kid finds it necessary to bite into an apple and lay down on the floor. You request that they get up and not only does the child shriek their refusal, she/he also makes that cute little body go limp as a noodle as you attempt to pull them to their feet. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me the fine art of smiling & threatening punishment simultaneously.

4. "I pay the bills around here and we're going to watch it because I want to watch it!"
I don't remember watching cartoons with my father - why would you need animation when you had The Waltons, Yan Can Cook, and COPS. It was pure torture as a wee one, but for some unknown reason I stayed and watched anyway. As a mom though, I've figured out the secret to controlling the television is to make the kids believe that what you're watching is cooler than it really is. Do my kids actually enjoy watching House Hunters International with me? No, but they like to guess which house the buyers will choose out of the three. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that John-Boy might've seemed boring, but there was a reason everyone liked him so much.

5. "Jesus, let's just install a hog trough/Stop slurpin & smackin and chew with your mouth closed!"
Teaching your children table manners is important, and you have to start teaching them young. It didn't matter how quietly we ate or how careful we were, something was bound to go wrong. I find myself constantly reminding my kids to chew with their mouths closed and to take smaller bites, and if we're having supper with Granny and PaPa? Have mercy, please don't let it be soup...Thanks, Dad, for allowing me the comfort of knowing that one day my children will be as embarrassed by their children in a restaurant as you were of me, and as I am of them.

Pearls of wisdom, friends, passed down like family heirlooms.

What's the best piece of parenting advice that your father passed down to you? Leave it in the comments section please, I'd love to read them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dear Season

Today is the opening day of the rifle hunt for deer season here in Missouri. Scents of gunpowder & doe urine fill the air, while merry visions of camouflage and freshly skinned carcasses are visible all over town. Bucks and does, gun racks and neon orange accessories, self-inflicted injuries and "I almost had him, but..." stories abound.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Nah, doesn't sound that exciting to me either - too much blood and being outside. We don't own any guns, and to be honest, I've never even shot a gun.

Enjoying coffee in  the warm comfort of my living room this morning, I got to thinking about the seasonal transformation I go through every year from November 1 - December 25. While the hunters spend as much time as possible outdoors for the next few weeks, I will do the exact opposite and spend as much time as I can inside - hunting for empty space to stash all of the random junk that accumulates between the months of January and October, and scrambling to get my life in order before Christmas. We'll call it Dear Season.

Over the next six weeks, Mommy Dearest here will complete a different pain in the ass project each weekend that I've been putting off, and there's no doubt that by Christmas eve, I'll be saying to myself "Dear God, just kill me..."

This weekend's Dear Season project is clothing. To begin, there's roughly 10 loads of laundry to wash, dry, and put away. Tomorrow I'll start cleaning out the closets and dressers, thus creating a bigger pile of 'treasures' in the garage for dear old Daddy to haul to the attic. It's cold enough in the mornings now that summer clothes could result in Family Services knocking on my door, despite how warm it is in the afternoons. I'm not willing to take that chance, so it's going to be on like Donkey Kong.

I'm praying that my little dearies take the day off tomorrow from their typical Sunday crime sprees - attempted murder (Marlee), cyber-stalking (Mia), and tampering with evidence (Miles) - and just play nicely together so I can take care of business. Three closets, three dressers, enough attire to clothe a small African nation.

Each year, the goal is the same: spotless house, delicious food, cheerful decorations, and completed shopping all done before Santa's arrival and each year, the mission is accomplished. Not flawlessly, and not always completed with a constant smile, but accomplished nonetheless. I'm similar to Clark W. Griswald during the holidays and want everything to be perfect for the ones I hold dear, despite the road bumps along the way. I'll cuss, oh yes, I will definitely cuss but eventually the cussing leads to good tidings.

Bless the stress, my dears.

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse." - Clark in 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation'

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Last week, Mia brought home 'The Family Turkey Project'. The instructions said to 'be creative with anything you can find around the house' and 'have fun working together on this project'.

We've had an entire week to work on it together so as you'd expect, we did everything tonight in about two hours. Sure, we started out planning something straight out of a Martha Stewart spread, but life happened like it always does and Mommy didn't get any supplies except the gold glitter. So, we decided to take the teacher's advice and use things from around the house.

The turkey has 11 feathers, so I had asked Sister to list 11 things she's thankful for. Here's her list:
  1. Family
  2. Toys
  3. Books
  4. Food & Drinks
  5. Animals
  6. Art
  7. Mail
  8. Music
  9. Clothes & Shoes
  10. Beauty
  11. Friends
How amazing is this little girl? Six years old and she has a SOLID list of things she's thankful for - a list that would rival one compiled by an adult. Yes, number seven says mail but seriously, who doesn't like mail? I personally love mail as long as it doesn't include bills. Bonus if the sender used a cool stamp.

Daddy helped on the project by wrangling the little ones. If they'd had it their way, their contributions would've been slobber and destruction, with a likelihood of the entire kitchen being covered in gold glitter.

Some things from her list are represented, some aren't. Be creative with anything you can find around the house? Done. We've got stickers, beads, Goldfish crackers, Q-tips, aluminum foil, a Barbie dress, Crayons, and tons of magazine cut outs. Mia is seriously proud the end result, and so am I.

 This is the finished project.

Slightly gaudy - just like everything else Mommy's ever helped her complete.

One thing I'm definitely thankful for this year? My oldest child is sweet, smart, funny, compassionate, responsible, creative, and loving. I have no doubt that she'll do great things with her life, and I'm happy to help out whenever she needs me.

Another thing I'm thankful for? Nobody burned themselves on the hot glue gun tonight. Amen.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Leftovers

Not a celebrity fridge. This beautiful disaster belongs to yours truely.

I don't cook on Friday nights. It's a little reward I give myself after the end of each work week. Tonight's TGIF meal was chicken burritos - just as it was last night. Tasty yesterday, just as tasty tonight.

The beauty of enjoying a leftover is that they sometimes taste a bit different the second time around. I'd like to invite you to enjoy the remaining leftovers of my week. Some of them were perfect at the initial serving. Some are more enjoyable now that time has passed. Bon appetit...

Monday: Halloween
Miles had a little cold, so he helped Granny pass out candy. Marlee was a witch (very fitting). Mia was a she-wolf. Big Sister's look included werewolf ears, a plaid dress trimmed in purple fur, wild curly hair poufed ala Snooki, and hot pink/baby blue eyeshadow with bright fuschia lips. In the bathroom as I was curling her hair, Mia stood in front of the full-length mirror beaming. When I asked her if she liked her look, she grinned from ear to ear and said "I look beautiful..." My response was that she always looks beautiful, and I swear, she smiled so big that I thought the dimples were going to leave permanent pinholes in those sweet cheeks. She's definitely my daughter though: big hair & a new lipstick always make me feel a bit prettier too. Oh, and just so we're clear; I totally stole the peanut butter cups from the kids' candy bags.

Tuesday: Parent/Teacher Conferences
I absolutely love parent/teacher conferences.  Few things rival the level of enjoyment a mom gets from someone else talking about how great their child is. Oh have mercy, there isn't a word in the English language that does that feeling justice. Plus, I adore Mia's teacher, Mrs. H, so it means a lot to hear her praise my baby. MiMi has all As in her academic categories & satisfactory marks in her elective classes...with an unsatisfactory mark in one category: HANDWRITING. Her teacher laughed and apologized for the low mark (I'd anticipated that), but said that she knows Mia is capable of better (which she is). Mia's reasoning for her poor handwriting? "Mommy, one day we won't have to write anything - we'll just type it on computers." Miss Smarty-pants is probably right, but we'll be riding her butt about her penmanship for the rest of the semester anyway. If we're not strictly typing when she's an adult, I predict she'll be a doctor. Nobody can read a doctor's handwriting.

"Mia needs to slow down when writing so that she will be able to form her letters more neatly." - Mrs. H

Wednesday: Girl Scouts
I thought it would be fun for Marlee to attend Girl Scouts with Mia & I this week at one of the local churches. How did that work out? Marlee pulled down a set of mini-blinds during the meeting. Marlee decided to bare-ass moon some of the Scouts in the bathroom - two separate times AFTER crawling under the stalls. Marlee left the building screaming "No, Mommy! Don't spank my butt!" while the church choir practiced in the sanctuary. I won't be taking her to the next meeting. Scout's honor.

Thursday: Wedding Anniversary
I reminded Chris on Wednesday night that our anniversary was the next day. He responded by saying that he thought we'd gotten married on November 5 and asked if I was sure of the date. Um...yes? I had to think for a minute just to double check. As you can tell, we go all out for our anniversary. Long story short - I got him a card about not being romantic. His gift to me? He came home from work on time. It was the best gift I'd had all year. I loved him four years ago on our wedding day, but I love him even more four years later.

Friday: Winding Down
There's all of this hustle and productivity that leads up to Friday because you'd really like to start next week as a clean slate. Isn't it ironic though that Friday also seems to be the day with the least amount of pressure? Casual Friday: love it because there's no pressure to look decent (I decided to rock wet hair, jeans, & flip flops today)! Pay Day Friday: love it because I can once again afford the things that were too expensive earlier in the week (gas, groceries, paying bills)! Dad's Weekend Friday: love it because even though we miss Mia while she's at her dad's house, Marlee & Miles usually go to bed a little earlier (they like Sissy & they REALLY like when Sissy gets them wound up before bed)!

Miles has been asleep for about an hour and a half. Marlee's winding down as I type this. Probably out of fear - about 30 minutes ago, she tried to shut the laptop with a pacifier wedged between the screen & the keyboard. I can only imagine what her computer-selling father is going to say when he gets home from work.

Marlee won't be a doctor. She'll be an inmate. The kind who shanks someone her first day in the slammer.

Hope you enjoyed the meal. Have a good weekend.