Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today it begins.

Two glorious weeks with the Husband here, at home, with us. We almost don't know what to say or do, so strange is the sight of each other across the breakfast table.

In light of that happy development, I'm here to tell you that I am taking these two weeks off. I am not putting the pressure on myself of taking time away from him and the kidlings to find things to post about. I may (for my own sanity) sneak away and read a post or two of yours, but it is adios from this blog for a while.

I know. Try to console yourselves.

Before I leave, I wanted to wish you a merry merry via our Christmas card this year. I designed it myself and am quite pleased with how it turned out.

We opted for the trifold this year:

The front looks like this:

Using the lyrics from my absolute, all-time favorite Christmas song, we added photos that matched the words:

(Because they are still TOTALLY wild)

(And because she is definitely more sweet than wild)

(And the gratuitous family shot - practically the only photographic proof of my existence this year. Have got to get better about getting in FRONT of the camera)

And last, but not least, is our top ten list from this year. Every year I think we will run out of things for the list, and every year the kids keep spewing forth their unintended genius. I keep a journal all year long of funny, random things the kids say (and have done so since they were babies). It's become our tradition, and makes us laugh every year.

Merry Christmas, peeps! And a Merry ChristmaHanaKwanzica, too. See you next year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lord help me, I love them something fierce

Today there was a shift in the universe. Did you feel it?

It happened about 6:30 tonight. I was driving home after taking one child to tae kwan do, and had carpool duty for the little ballerina and her friends at the same time. Both boys were in the car, begging to be let out as soon as we were within running distance of our neighborhood.

Apparently the soundtrack from Glee, combined with the high-pitched chatter of three little girls, was causing their heads to explode off their bodies.

I gave in today, as I was just too tired to fight them on it.

After dropping off the noisy ballerinas, I headed home, fervently wracking my brain for a dinner plan that did not include the words "Subway" or "Mc" anything. Unfortunately, the brain wracking was not netting me any brilliant ideas.

Tired, with feet hurting, I opened the door to the house and was met by a light, sweet scent. I set my purse and keys by the door and walked through the mudroom towards the kitchen. And then I stopped, a lump caught in my throat.

There were my boys. Cooking dinner. All by themselves.

This was a real first. And my mind could not help but flash back to a time when I'd walk in the door and frequently find my boys doing this instead:

They were an energetic pair, these two, that is for sure. Sometimes so bent on their loud and wild play that a wake of broken things was often left behind them. They destroyed a historic landmark and nearly caused me death by embarrassment in the process. Not to mention became walking birth control advertisements for more than a few younger siblings.

But here today, these once-terrors grew up just little a bit, right before my eyes. As I watched McKay confidently flipping the pancakes, and Chase at the stove scrambling some eggs, I got a little teary eyed. I thought back to those hard nights where it was all I could do to not fall down in a puddle of tears before bedtime rolled around. Days spent wrestling them in store checkout lines and then fearfully chasing after them in crowded parking lots. Wondering if they'd be this way forever.

Wondering how I would survive if they were.

But tonight they looked older to me than they ever have before. Chatting pleasantly with each other, they worked together doing such a grown up task. Taking it upon themselves to do something they knew would make my life just a little bit easier. It was a brief window into the men they are becoming. Men who have good hearts. Hearts at home in their sweet, pure souls. I stood there in the shadows, soaking it all in. A tear spilled out, and I caught it before it trickled down my cheek and betrayed my sudden rush of emotions.

Then all at once, Hannah brushed by me, threw off her coat and scrambled up to the bar.

"Yay! Pancakes!"

Yay pancakes, indeed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home Economics

A few weeks ago, the Husband and I had the brilliant idea to have the kids do extra jobs around the house and earn money to buy each other presents for Christmas. Since we knew we'd be shelling out the cash anyway, it seemed so much smarter to get three little slaves helpers out of the deal as a bonus.

Seemed being the operative word here.

Day one of their bondage helping began. I wanted them to really feel that they earned the money. I wanted to instill in them the joy of giving, as well as the pride in doing a job well done. I started assigning little tasks for them to do. After each one was completed, they would come to me and ask how much that job had been worth. I started out very low - one job was worth ten cents. Another was only a quarter. A really big gross job (like cleaning their bathroom) was worth a mere fifty cents.

It took them all about two hours each to earn their three dollars per person (which was the goal for each day).

The translation of that last sentence is really this: They were constantly up in my face, bugging and nagging, for two hours each, while I had to wrack my brain and come up with new jobs for them to do. It got annoying. Real fast.

I'm a cleaner, people! There isn't that much to do around here in the first place.

Over the next few days, the value of the jobs increased exponentially. What was once worth ten cents was now a whopping one dollar. The unpleasant chores became easier for them as the value attached to that chore increased. I found myself paying them to brush their teeth and make their bed. Anything, ANYTHING that was quick, easy, and required no thinking on my part.

And just yesterday, when one child was at my side once again, asking what job could she do, I told her to think of one herself and tell me once she had done it.

She skipped off very excited, naturally.

I am not sure that the lessons they've gleaned from this plan are the ones that the Husband and I had originally dreamed of.

[I fully blame my poor management style, and lack of motivation for the project.]

Essentially what happened in our little experiment was this: The workers in this warehouse are really doing the job of the manager. The actual manager is hiding out in her office shopping online and blogging, praying that no one in her factory needs a thing from her, while writing out paychecks for work she is not sure was actually completed. She has no quality control department and does not want to take on the responsibility of that herself, so all work remains unchecked at this point. The chairman of the board (aka The Husband) is not told what's really happening in his company, and there is an unspoken agreement between all the employees to keep it that way for as long as possible.

I'd say I've taught them about corporate America quite well.

God bless capitalism.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A little bit of happiness

I find myself cranky and overwhelmed these days. I'm tired. My feet hurt. My hands are cracked and dry. The holiday shopping is still not done. And I look down in dismay every morning to find that the bulges and bumps on my rear end seem to be mating at an alarming rate.

It's enough to drive one to drink. Or overindulge in chocolate. And caramel popcorn. And fudge. And...

You get my drift.

Instead of focusing on all that I need to do or on all that I've not done well, I'm going to focus on a few things that are bringing me a colossal amount of joy today.

Top of that list is this beautiful display:

Since I freakishly obsess over our own card every year, it should not be surprising that I fall down giddy with glee over yours. Every time I walk past these doors, my heart skips a happy, little beat. I love reading your letters and seeing how big your kids get every year. I love walking out to the mailbox and finding an envelope with our name on it. Scrawled in lovely handwriting, addressed by you, with care, to me.

Just makes the day a little better, you know?

I think we should send cards all year long. Mail in February and March would be so much more cheerful if there were something in it besides bills and more bills. Doncha think?

Next slice of joy is the fact that I completed about six dozen of these beauties today, just in time for a cookie swap tomorrow with friends:

I don't necessarily go for the cookies (gasp!) as I can pretty much bake my own any day of the week (and frequently do). But it's such a nice way to spend the morning - chatting with friends in a cozy, warm house. A cup of hot chocolate sizzling in my cold hands. The stresses and worries left at the door. I look forward to it every year.

Next up is a little indulgence I treated myself to. These lovelies, courtesy of the Container Store, sit proudly in their new home on my counter. Snacks at the ready for little hungry fingers to grab. I've had my eye on them for a few months now, and finally just decided that I deserved them.

Which I really don't. But whatever.

They're my little Christmas present to me.

And last, but not least, are these videos sent to my kiddies, straight from the North Pole. I think the younger two have watched theirs at least eight times in the last 24 hours. It's definitely helped up the magic for them this year and kept at least one from not believing.

Which I'd say is pretty freaking fantastic.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whose Child Is This?

Lately I've noticed my kids doing some weird things.

Since I know that my personality contains NO weirdness whatsoever, I can only assume they get these things from their father.

What? I'm not weird.

Shut up.

Case in point: Child number one

This boy leaves for school at the unholy hour of 6:40 a.m. every day. He likes to wake up at 5:40 a.m., shower, eat breakfast, and sit for an hour -- waiting until it's time to go. I have tried sneaking in and setting his alarm back a bit, but he always catches me and resets it. I cannot convince him that the extra sleep in the morning is better than staring off into space for an hour. Because I feel guilty sleeping while he is all alone downstairs, I drag my bleary-eyed self down every morning and stare off into space with him.

He has also figured out that he can ask me for things and get a yes because I'm too tired to really process the information. Like this morning when he asked to have cookies for breakfast and I nodded? Totally thought he was asking for something else.

While I love and adore this child to no end, I really could use some extra sleep in the morning.

Child Number Two:

This child has recently become obsessed with J.R.R Tolkien's, The Hobbit, and has spent every waking minute reading it. When he's not devouring the book, he's following me around the house giving me a play-by-play of the latest chapter. He took great delight in sharing an excruciatingly detailed account of the giant spider that wraps people up in cocoons.

I love him, but really could do with a little less giant spider/cocoon detail in my life.

Child Number Three:

This girl has recently decided she is in charge of styling her own hair in the morning. I reluctantly gave up that creative control on the weekdays, and have tried to look the other way when she walks out the door sporting very creative buns or funky barrette placement (and usually a combination of the two). Today was Crazy Hair Day at school, and, honestly, I could not tell a difference from her regular hair days.

I love her and want her to be able to express her individuality while learning to master her own hair, but would it be wrong to send a note to the teacher explaining that I'm not in charge of her hair anymore?

Yes, I think we can safely blame the husband for all of these quirks.

Keep quiet, Mom. You know my hair always looked good. Especially those giant waterfall bangs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Inspiring others through my greatness

My brother Dan left a few comments on my post yesterday, which you really ought to click over and read (I think they're his best yet). He was greatly touched and inspired by the photo of the iPod resting gently in the sunshine. He said he could almost hear the soft music coming from the ear buds. He felt the human emotion that emanated from such a simple, profound work of art.

[Trying not to gag on my self-proclaimed importance here.]

In honor of that, I present you with a little iPod photo series. Shot and edited today just for my dear brother Dan. I felt that if the iPod was inspiring to him in such a simple presentation, then seeing the more complex life of an iPod would only lift him higher and higher.

And that is what I do, people. I inspire greatness.

Without further adieu, I give you the many faces of iPod. May it help to inspire you, as you set your own iPod down on the kitchen table of your life.

There. Wasn't that something?

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

With Novembers like this, I could almost forget about the humidity of July

I know I have been MIA lately. Mucho apologies for that.

Right now, I am in the midst of losing a battle to bronchitis, which seems to have gotten the better of me at the moment. I am doing my best to yell my wants and needs to the children periodically, but the scratchy smoker-like voice I'm sporting makes that task near impossible. The sound of my squeaks and rumbles leaves them in a fit of giggles every time I try to talk.

So I've given up talking.

[Bwwaahhh. As if.]

Anyway, I found these pictures buried in the files today and wanted to share them with you. They were taken a few weeks before Thanksgiving on a dreamy, perfect Sunday afternoon in our backyard. We had a freakishly warm November this year, and hit into the mid-60s several weekends in a row.

I'm longing for the warmth of days like this, especially given that we're expecting the first snowfall of the year to hit sometime tomorrow.

Some of the people that live here are counting on a snow day.

Some of the people are pretty sure there isn't going to be one, and think that some might wish they'd done a certain homework assignment.

But whatever. I'm just the mom. What do I know?

So until we get to see the warm sunshine again, I leave you with these. Here's hoping they tide me over come February when I cannot remember what warmth like this feels like.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Pennsylvanian People

As I mentioned a few weeks before, the Phillly Photo Phun Trip of '09 was an absolute blast (not counting the horrible hurricane-like weather that I was battling for half of it, of course). I got to meet some truly amazing families. I got to see some of the most beautiful children on the eastern seaboard. They trusted me, someone they did not know, to try and capture a teensy bit of their essence and record it permanently in picture form.

It was a task I was not sure I was up to completing.

But when you have subjects this fantastic, you can't really screw it up. It would take weeks to show you everything, but these are just some of my favs.

I have a few families that I cannot show you any pictures of until after the holidays, as some of their family members read this blog, and, well, we don't want to blow any Christmas surprises now, do we?

While I like to know each and every present I'm getting (and slyly pry open a box or two or ten every year before the big day), there are those who do not feel that way.

Grandmas of my Philly friends, take heart - if you can't wait until Christmas, I can be bought for the right price...

KIDDING! Only kidding.

Sort of.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random bits and pieces

A few things to share today:
  1. I have been getting a ton of Chinese spam comments on my old posts. Like several per day. So I switched on the comment moderation, thinking it was the word verification thingie, but did not enter an email address for the comments to go to. As a result, I have lost all your lovely thoughts on my last post and will never be able to read them. If you had earth-shattering news to share (which I am sure you all did) please tell me again. It is really quite sad to wake up and not have a single comment to read. Hopefully, the problem has been solved.

    Stupid Chinese spam.

  2. I have approximately 2.5 billion photos to share with you. Gear up, my friends. It's going to be a photo-tastic week!

  3. I have had more migraines this week than in the past several months combined. Am thinking of amputating my own head to see if it solves the problem. I suspect not having a head won't be all that noticeable given my current state of brain power anyway.

  4. Went to 'The Blind Side' and lunch with a lovely friend yesterday. I highly recommend both. A good movie, large salad, diet coke, and fabulous conversation? Just what I needed on a Monday morning. Come to think of it, just what I need on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, too. Movie and lunch anyone?

  5. I have forced myself to hold onto my Christmas cards until today, and am giddy with excitement to mail them off. These puppies have been dying to hit the post since Halloween, and it's high time they had their day in the sun. After I'm sure they're all received, I'll post our card here for you to see. Pretty excited about it. LOVE the good mail of December.

  6. Last, but certainly not least, it is time once again to find a new home for the Traveling Shoes. Please, please, please, go see Thelma's blog and throw your name in the hat. I know a lot of you girls out there wanted a shot at them and now is your chance. Winter or no, those beauties need to go someplace fabulous. If I can't, then they must.

  7. That is all. Happy Tuesday.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Why, hello there, little blog. Miss me?

I am just unpacking, laundering, and detoxing from four days spent off the grid with our cousins from the east in Amish Country, Ohio. While having no cell or internet service whatsoever was a wee bit inconvenient at times, this was my view first thing every morning:

We stayed once again in these charming little cottages smack dab in the middle of a working Amish farm. Our kids spent approximately 18 hours outside every single day and got so dirty it made my mama heart warm. They hiked through fields. They shot bows and arrows. They ran hard. They slept hard. We sat with our husbands around a table and laughed until our sides split.

It was a little taste of heaven.

The farm also allowed our kids to indulge their inner pet ownership fantasies, as the two farm dogs kind of adopted them. One of the dogs is missing a leg, and we respectfully dubbed him Tripod (though his real name was Tango). We suspect he lost the leg while trying to win a race with an Amish horse buggy. He tends to be a little reckless, this one.

Tripod's companion on the farm is a small four-legged dog that our kids called Little Dog (creative naming geniuses at work, clearly). Little Dog sometimes lifts that fourth leg up and runs on only three legs. We think he does it so Tripod won't feel left out. You know, with his disability and all.

Everybody needs a friend like that.

Tripod also has no clue that he is a land-dwelling mammal. He was always frantically scrambling to keep up with the kids on the paddle boats. Pretty good swimmer, too, considering he's minus a limb.

The gratuitous turkey dinner was fed to us by the locals at the one and only restaurant in town. Gabi and I thoroughly enjoyed not having to lift a finger to cook it, and took devilish delight in walking away without washing a single dish.

It makes me wonder why I ever spend the holiday cooking for days at a time.

Plus, it was sinfully delicious and sent us all into that magical tryptophan coma.

Mmmm, tryptophan coma.

On our way home, we stopped in to see some very good friends, and felt sad leaving, as there just wasn't enough time spent with them. It was like we had been together yesterday, instead of four years ago. It was so easy to pick up right where we left off. We drooled over their fabulous home, gorgeous boys, and shared a meal like old times. Remind me sometime to tell you my favorite story of our friend, Chris. He's a good man, that one. He and Emily are the best.

A lot of hours on the road later, and we are home safe and sound. There is mud in every crevice of my children's jeans, a pile of mail to go through, and a million calls and emails to return. But I find my heart is full from the love of it all - good friends, family, simplicity, and time.

I feel so blessed.