Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Baby love

Look what I got to play with for a few hours last week:
Gorgeous, isn't she? Her name is Zoey and I have been unofficially adopted as her aunt, and grafted illegally into her extended family, without most of their knowledge or consent.

I hope they don't mind.

Zoey and her cute mama were here visiting their real aunt and popped by to say hello. I immediately pulled out the camera and we had a little impromptu photo shoot. She was charming and adorable throughout the entire process, even when I made her strip down to her skivvies.

Plus, she let me hold her and smell her yummy neck, which is something house guests under the age of one will always be subjected to around here.

Please feel free to come visit me any time. (Just don't forget to bring your babies with you. They will guarantee admission to the House of Stie).

And I promise you will not have to strip down to your skivvies. [Unless you are or remotely resemble Daniel Craig or Mr. Darcy. Then all bets (and shirts) are definitely off.]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A little lesson for the Midwest

Oh, you loopy, loveable midwesterners. You are a classic paradox.

Hardy and strong, you bravely face the endless muggy summers filled with heat, heat, more heat, and mosquitoes. You cheerfully take your kids to the park on days so hot that one actually sweats in a cold shower. You are out jogging in air that is 95 degrees with 80 percent humidity.

Yes. With smiles on your faces.

And yet, when the mere possibility of a few inches of snow is before you, you abandon all logic. You run to the grocery store and hastily clear the shelves of bread, eggs, milk, and toilet paper. You preemptively salt your driveways. You stockpile the firewood and hunker down with quilts to worship the weatherman on t.v.

And then, in a panic, you declare a snow day and cancel school.

Before the snow has actually, you know, fallen.

Well, my not-so-hardy winter friends, let me give you a little lesson. When it snows like THIS, there should, indeed, be a snow day:

(Our front yard in Boston, circa 2005)

Not when it snows like THIS:
Our front yard, about ten minutes ago

Any questions?

[All this excitement, by the way, led one of my children, who shall remain nameless, (*cough*Chase*cough*) to wake up at 4:30 a.m., and not be able to fall back asleep. That naturally led him to wake his siblings at, say, 4:43 a.m. And, of course, none of them would go back to sleep. I blame you, crazy midwest people. Thanks a lot.]

Friday, January 23, 2009

Auld lang syne

It took me a while to get our New Year's Eve pictures off my camera.
Probably because I've spent several weeks thinking of all the bad food that got eaten over the holidays, and how it was now permanently residing on my thighs.
Oh, the nerve of that holiday food.
But when I finally stopped staring at my thighs and hooked the camera up to the computer, I discovered a few gems that needed posting, if only for posterity's sake.

She was deliriously tired - it was midnight, after all - and she tore herself away from the company of her little girlfriends to come find her daddy for a toast. Wearing a paper princess crown, and sporting slightly crooked pigtails, she made sure to ring in the new year with the man in her life.
As much as she likes to make him work for it, he knows what he means to her. She has already mastered that thing they call coy, and he is powerless to resist her.
She, his little tomboy princess.

A happy new year, indeed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some days

Most days, life is pretty good. Some days, I wonder why I bother getting up at all.

Most days, I relish my role as a mother, and find joy in caring for the little people in this house. Some days, it's really hard to care when someone wants their crust cut off, knowing they won't even eat the sandwich anyway.

Most days, I don't mind the Husband traveling. Some days, I really wish he was home.

Most days, I find myself on top of my schedule and can easily manage my responsibilities. Some days, I absolutely forget to do things. Important things, like helping in the first grade classroom, thereby reducing a little first grade girl to tears.

Most days, I am fairly indifferent to my highly imperfect body. Some days, I just can't stand the girl I see in the mirror.

Most days, I make healthy food choices and feel good doing so. Some days, it's all I can do to not eat my weight in cookie dough.

Most days, I answer questions cheerfully, and solve problems in a rational manner. Some days, I tend to yell a lot.

Most days, I am happy, confident, and strong. Some days, I'm just not.

Today has one of those 'some' days.

And I really wish it would leave already.

I hate the some days.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A perfect match

Have you ever found someone you connect with on such a profound level that you immediately begin to wonder if somehow you just might be related?

Well, I had that experience over the Christmas holidays.

And the best part? We ARE related. We just haven't seen each other in a really, really long time.

This is my cousin, Liz. [please ignore my giant head in this picture]

She and her family came to visit us over the Christmas break. Neither one of us knew what to expect, as we have not spent much time together as adults. Sure, we got along great as kids. But back then I was the cool, older cousin with big bangs and pegged jeans. Now? I'm just the older, fatter cousin with a muffin top and three kids. What if we had nothing to talk about?

Well, we had plenty to talk about.

We had a blast. The kids immediately became fast friends, and the husbands chatted it up while bonding over the football. She and I stayed up late, laughing, joking, and never once running out of things to say.

It was a little eerie, though, how similar our families are. Our kids were a perfect match for each other.

Her oldest is a polite, tender-hearted bookworm, who is very eager to please. Just like my oldest.
Her second child is spunky, curious, energetic, and passionately creative. Just like my second child.

Her daughter is a sweet, pink-loving princess who can climb trees with the boys, but also happens to be a devout Dancing Queen fan.

Just like my daughter.

Her baby boy is a chubby ball of content, smiling love who never once cried in the three days we drooled over him.

My baby boy is...oh, wait.

I don't have a baby boy.

Sorry. Got a little carried away there, what with the similarities between our two families and all. But I could not have hand picked better friends for my kids. It truly was the icing on the cake for our holiday break. We were so sad to see them go.

The kids have not stopped talking about their new cousins, and I am thrilled to have connected with my cousin. Thanks for everything, guys. We can't wait to get together again soon.

Which we will. Because when you find people you like this much? You just have to get some more time with them. And soon.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Have you ever? (The parking edition)

This afternoon I decided to brave the below-freezing temperatures and head to the mall. The kids were home for a half-day today, and Hannah was in need of some entertainment. The boys were having a play date, and she was stuck at home with mom (a fate worse than death, I know).

She has become an ardent scrapbooker (read: she likes to rifle through my stuff) and I figured an outing to the local scrapbook store would serve several purposes today. One, it would get her some new supplies and increase the chance that she actually leaves my stuff alone; two, it would give us something fun to do together; and, three, it would enable me to spend more of the Husband's money on pretty paper, ribbons, and such (which just so happens to be one of my favorite things to do with his money).

So we bundled ourselves up and headed out. Seeing as it is literally eight degrees today, I circled the parking lot repeatedly, looking for a spot close to the doors. I spied one on the front row, and headed toward it with glee. That glee was short lived, however, when I noticed it was designated parking for expectant mothers only.

Oh, for half a second I actually wished I was pregnant.

I stopped. I hesitated. I mentally debated whether or not I looked pudgy enough in my winter coat to be able to get away with it (which sadly, I probably do). But in the end, the thought of some poor actual pregnant person having to walk farther in the cold because of me was enough to compel me to do the right thing.

With a sigh, I resigned myself to the mile-long walk in the cold, and headed for a parking spot farther out. As Hannah and I approached that front-row mother's spot on our way inside, another car was pulling in.

And to my horror, a very obviously-not-pregnant person was getting out of the car. How could I be sure, you ask?


Yes, a lone man was parking in the expectant mother's parking spot. You can be sure that my frozen face scowled as fierce as one could in the sub-freezing air.

I don't think he noticed, what with his short, warm trip inside the mall.

So, once again, I reminded myself not to judge, and prayed that a real pregnant person was not stuck in the cold longer because of him.

But it begs me to ask -- have you ever parked in that spot when you weren't pregnant? How about the handicapped spot? Ever parked there when you know you shouldn't have?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My favorite time of day

I think I love the half-hour after dinner, showers, and PJ's the best. The dishes are usually done. The kids all smell nice and clean. The house is silent, but for the sweet little voice of this girl, reading out loud to her mama. Our favorite lately is anything Junie B. Jones. But we laughed ourselves silly at this old classic the other day.

The quiet is briefly interrupted by one of these wily fellows, wanting to share something funny from their books, or stumbling upon a word they're not quite sure of.
The day's cares have melted away. There is a look of contentment on each of their faces, as they are immersed in one of my favorite worlds - the wonderful world of books. I have raised three readers, and I might just think myself a success for fact that alone.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Selling my blogging soul for a bottle of free lotion: SkinMD Shielding Lotion and Sunscreen

A few months ago, I was contacted by the nice folks at SkinMD to review a bottle of their shielding lotion with sunscreen.

I was thoroughly excited to have been chosen and could not wait to get my hands on the product. I have typically said no to product reviews before, but they got to me on a good day, I suppose, and I said yes.

I have been using it for over a week now, and I have to say that -- gulp --I don't like it. [Insert SkinMD permanently adding my name to a product review black list here.]

I wanted to like it. I felt compelled to like it.

But I just can't tell a lie, especially to you good people.

It is moisturizing, to be sure, and really made my skin feel great, but I cannot get past the smell. It is not an awful smell per se, but it's got a faintly medical odor to it. It brings to mind old ladies in white hats giving shots, which is not exactly how I want to spend my days smelling, no matter what my skin feels like. Having soft, luscious skin that is doubly protected from the sun is one of my life's goals, but I can't do it at the price of my nostrils.

Plus, the Husband won't come near me when I wear the stuff. [Of course, that could be a major market they're missing - target the wives wanting to keep the husbands away! No? Okay. Can't blame a girl for trying, right?]

So, please, in spite of my less than stellar review, try the product yourself. I would love to be proven wrong on this one, especially as I am quite sure it will be the last review I am ever asked to make.

Unless, of course, someone wants me to review, say, cookie dough, chocolate, or Mr. Darcy movies. All of which would undoubtedly get an earnest thumbs-up.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Solidarity, Christie-style

I won't lie to you. This morning was not a pretty one, my friends. We've known this day was coming for two-and-a-half weeks. We have talked about it. We have prepared for it. I thought we were finally ready.

Oh, I have never been so wrong.

When that awful beeping startled me out of my blissful dreams, I half considered blowing off school and not getting up.

And I would have, had it not meant I'd have the children home another day.

Painfully, I tore myself away from the warm quilts and slid into my pink fuzzy slippers. I plodded down the hall and found all three beds still occupied; a phenomenon which never happens. The crazy people in this house take great delight in waking up at the crack of dawn on any given day. Except, naturally, the one day they have to.

Breakfast was marked with yawns and their drowsy, resentful silence.

At one point in the morning, I found a child asleep on the stairs with his backpack and coat on. I gently nudged him awake, and reminded him of all the fun he would have at school today; how his friends would be so happy to see him, how he'd be having pizza for lunch. His sleepy eyes and pouty lips were not to be convinced.

Finally, the bus lumbered slowly around the corner. I watched as their shoulders drooped just a little bit, and their feet grudgingly moved forward, one tired step at a time.

I felt so very sorry for them. But ever the stoic, I waved earnestly, then did the only decent thing a good mother like myself could do: I crawled back into my still-warm bed and took a nap.

My own brand of solidarity.

[Just don't tell the kids. I think it'd break their little hearts.]

Monday, January 5, 2009

I resolve...

It's that time of year, friends. The time of year when we are all gorged out on Christmas cookies, and find ourselves pining away for crispy vegetables. We have most likely spent our Christmas break sleeping in late, lounging in our PJs, NOT exercising, reading books until three in the afternoon, and then deciding we're so tired from all that hard work that we need a good nap.

You know I'm not the only one.

I think it's because we spend the last two weeks of each year in a constant state of gluttony and slothfulness, come January, we resolve to be better. We need to be better. We can't stand the thought of our lives turning into what they've been over Christmas break. So we make lists, goals, and we dream big. We exercise. Boy, do we exercise. Ever been to a gym the first few weeks of January? It's AWFUL. It's so crowded with sweat and good intentions that one can hardly breathe.

Well, this year is no different for me. I have spent the last few days pondering over some things I would like to accomplish this year. But rather than set myself up for disappointment when I don't do any of them, I thought I'd make a list of things that I will not do. Sort of a backwards resolution list, a list of things I can accomplish by simply NOT doing any of them. I did a list of these resolutions last year, and really enjoyed them. Thought I'd expand on the idea again this year.

So here it is, my list of things I WILL NOT do in 2009:

  1. I will not pull weeds poison ivy in my backyard.
  2. I will not eat cookie dough and call it dinner.
  3. I will not stop reading books.
  4. I will not laugh out loud when I see people still sporting mullets (I will only laugh inside).
  5. I will not flash the goods for the UPS man.
  6. I will not stop exercising. See number two for reasons on this.
  7. I will not start smoking.
  8. I will not start selling crack.
  9. I will not let crazy ladies do bad things to my hair with scissors.
  10. I will not let a day go by where I don't tell those three kids how much I love them.
  11. I will not love my thighs, especially come summer.
  12. I will not run away to Paris with famous male movie stars, even if they beg and plead.
  13. I will not stop shopping for that perfect pair of shoes.
  14. I will not hate myself, even on those really ugly days.
  15. I will not stop loving and laughing with the Husband.
  16. I will not enjoy doing laundry.
  17. And I will not spend my days wishing for a different life.
What will you not do this year?