Friday, February 25, 2011

Where in the world are YOU?

It's been a long week, peeps. The Husband had a business trip, followed by a little ski vacation with his brothers. I begrudge him neither - that man continuously bends over backwards to let me go play with my girls. He lives to ski, and I am thrilled he gets to do it.

However, it will leave us home this weekend without him.

Which is hard.

The weekdays without him? We are used to that. We're pros, actually. But the weekends? The weekends are all about him. We rally around him, bask in his laughter, and make the most of our family time together. Friends are told no, phones are turned off, and emails are left unanswered. To say that we all live for the weekends would be a huge understatement.

If the weather were better this weekend, I might not feel so forlorn. But old man winter has reared his ugly head once again, and I find myself a wee bit melancholy.

So do me a solid, will you? Drop me a comment, tell me where in the world you are. Just your city and state. Or country. Or planet, if that's the case. I promise to not stalk you, send you anthrax, or demand you become my new BFF. I just thought it might be a fun little project this weekend for the kids and I to graph out the readers of this little old blawg. See where everyone is and map it out statistically.

Play along, won't you? Even if you hate to comment, indulge me this once? Pretty please?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to be the hostess with the mostess

I have made no secret amongst my family and friends how much I love having visitors. Maybe it's the excitement of showing off my city to visitors who've never been here. Or reconnecting with loved ones that we haven't seen in a while.

Quite possibly it's the week-long manic cleaning fest I engage in when I know guests are coming.

Whatever the reason, it's something we all look forward to.

And because I am bored awesome, I am going to share some of my hosting secrets with you.

I know. Try to contain your excitement.

In our current home, we are fortunate enough to have two extra bedrooms that we use as guest rooms. We've not always been so lucky (I'm talking to you, tiny townhouse in San Diego! And you, two-bedroom apartment in Boston!) but we are thrilled to be able to offer guests their own bedroom and bathroom now.


When we've not had lodgings to spare, we've kicked children out of their rooms, scoured every surface in bleach, and put guests in there. A key for happy visitors is not having to share a bunk bed with your three-year-old who is having night terrors. Privacy is a must. If you simply can't spare the space, offer to sleep on the hideaway in the living room, and put the guests in YOUR room.

Remember, they've come a long way and likely spent a pretty penny to get there. Make them feel welcome and comfortable.

Extra towels are a MUST. I always stock the guest bathroom with fresh towels, and put a stack of extras at the foot of the bed. I can't think of anything that grosses me out more than using a towel after someone else - be it my own husband, children, or otherwise. Towels cost only a few dollars at Wal-Mart or Target. Plus? When your guests leave, you have new towels to add to your own rotation, as well.


One trick I learned on my first visit to Casa de Gabi was the guest basket. I loved having one of my own at her place, and have never let a guest sleep in my home without one since.


The contents vary by visitor and my anticipation of their likes/needs, but the gist is the same. Magazines, snacks, water bottles, and spare toiletry items. You know never what you'll forget at home on a trip, and it's nice to have it on hand.


I also call each visitor a few days before their arrival and ask if there are any drinks/foods/snacks that they'd like me to pick up. My mother-in-law's drink of choice is far different from my own, and I know it makes her happy to find it waiting oh-so-cold in the fridge. If there are kids coming, what do they like for breakfast? What passes for a morning meal around here may not work for someone else's kids. Everyone is most comfortable when familiar foods abound.

Another thing I like to do is have a stack of recently-read books on the nightstand. I am not necessarily a book saver - if I've read it and liked it, I am happy to pass it on to the next person.

Plus? Maybe your guests are speed readers and have plowed through their 18 books on the plane or in the car. (No, Daniel, I'm not talking to you. I realize you're barely literate). But it's always a nice treat to have a new book to read or put on your list to be read next.


Lastly, be prepared with fun ideas in various price ranges for sight-seeing. Your guests have not likely prepared an itinerary of every local spot they want to hit. They are relying on you to know the best restaurants and sights to see in YOUR city. Have ideas ready so you're not spending half a day trying to decide what to do.

So, now I just have to ask, who is going to come visit next? Your room is all ready...

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's too early in the morning to buy a gun

This morning, it being a holiday and all, I was ecstatic to sleep in.

At a quarter to eight, I felt my bed jiggling and heard the whispers.

"Is she awake yet?"

"No. Not yet."

"Is she alive?"

"Yeah, she's breathing. Just not awake."


I cracked a wary eyelid to find my boys' faces a mere three inches from mine, studying my every move, searching for any signs of life.

"She's awake!" they shouted in unison. I reached blindly for my glasses, looked at the clock, and wearily dropped my head back onto the pillow. I groaned and wondered silently if it was legal to sell kids on Craig's List.

"Mom, can we go to the store? Dad said I could spend my money on a new airsoft gun and I have the money. Can we go now? Let's go to the store. Pleasecanwegotothestorerightnow?"

Apparently, the Husband had given him permission to buy yet another massive piece of deadly machinery.

I acquiesced, trusting that the Husband knew what he was doing. I threw on my sweatpants (breaking my hard and fast rule of never going out undressed) and drove to the sporting goods store. Tragically, weapons of this magitude require an 18-year-old to purchase them, so I was forced out of the car and into the store against my will. The boys practically ran through the store to the gun section, and before I could catch up to them, were running back to the register, gun in hand.


Once home, it took some serious work to get it out of the package. Both brains nearly exploded with glee when it finally came loose from the plastic. The aim was tested and ammunition loaded. I think they would have gladly fired a few test shots at my leather sofa had I not been there to intervene.


The backyard is a much better alternative, don't you think?


Apparently, acting as a chauffeur for their weapons acquisition is enough to make me "like seriously the best mom ever!"

I think, however, I share Hannah's sentiment on the matter:


{Yawn} Can I go back to bed now?

Monday, February 14, 2011

To my real valentine

A Recipe for Happiness

Take one tow-headed little boy:


And one farmer-tanned little girl:

Wait about 20 years, then mix in some awkward dancing, hand-holding, and head-over-heels falling:


Combine it with a ring, a nervous proposal, and lots of kissing:


Mix gently with an early morning wedding, newlywed bliss, grad school, and several cross-country moves:


Let it simmer, bubble, boil, and cook for almost 17 years, and you will have this:


Thanks, baby.

Thanks for loving me in spite of the very hideous perm years. And the pink gravy I made in our first apartment. And the pregnancy rage.

Thanks for helping me see what you see when you look my way.

Thanks for three beautiful children who are, as it happens, turning out to be quite a lot of fun.

Thanks for getting on planes very early in the morning, multiple times per week, and working into the wee hours so that I don't have to.

Thanks for not complaining when I am less productive than I should be.

Thanks for holding my hand, letting me cry, and hugging me tight this past year. I would never have made it without you.

Thanks for loving me anyway.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I totally get it now

A few weeks back when I delighted you all with the smutty details from the dream, many of you wrote in and said your night-time fantasy man was Hugh Jackman.

I wrinkled my nose and judged you to be insane.

All I could conjure when that name was said was this less-than-stellar image:


Gross, right?

But then my friends Mindy, Beckie, and Shilo staged an intervention and tried to convince me otherwise. Mindy suggested several You Tube videos of Hugh hosting the Tony Awards.

Beckie dropped off the movie "Australia" and demanded I watch it.

Shilo told me (for the millionth time) that I was just plain crazy.

And lo and behold, what do you think I discovered?
Oh, yes. I get it now. He has quickly moved to the top of a very short list of men I wish to be given in my next life. He can sing, dance, and break a wild stallion in the outback. He grows a fierce man beard and is tall enough that I think it would work out between us. In fact, I think we make quite the handsome couple, don't you?

Hello, Drover...
Yes. Apart from my hideously awkward Kidman-esque skin tone, I think we are quite striking together.
But, alas, there is also my other boyfriend. The first boyfriend. The one I will love from now until the end of time. And the one that belongs to me. So don't even think about it.
Don't worry, Darcy. You will always have a special place in my heart. Even while I'm off in the outback with my newest boy toy.

What's that, James? You had something to say?
I know, Pookie. Don't be angry. You know they can't help it. I'm just too attractive to resist.
Oh...coconut cake, the beach and a very hot man all in one place? It's the ultimate trifecta.

However will I choose?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On humor and cannibals

The other day I had a very memorable conversation with Chase. It went a little something like this:

Me: Ha ha hee hee ha ha ho!

Him: Hey, Mom, what's so funny?

Me: I'm just reading a really funny blog post.

Him: Is it about man-eating sharks or cannibals filled with bacteria?

Me: Umm, no.

Him: Oh. [Shoulders shrug in disappointment]

Although, had I been reading a post about either of those topics, I'm sure it would have been hilarious.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Something about an apple? Not falling too far from...what was it exactly?


A few days ago, while driving in the car to church, the boys were bickering and competing with each other over highly controllable things like height and shoe size. Fed up with it, the Husband settled the debate for them with the following statement:

"Relax, boys. Your life is not a competition. But if it was? You'd both be losing to me anyway."

THAT, my friends, is exactly why I married him.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lucky Thirteen

[My all-time favorite picture of you. I can't ever get enough of it. Photo courtesy of Heidi Ballou]

Dear McKay,

Well, I finally did it. Finally found the time to sit down and get this letter up for you. I had no idea you had been checking the blog all day Friday for it. I feel terribly guilty that it wasn't here waiting, but what can I say? I was up at 5:30 to get your birthday breakfast ready. Then I was making your cake from scratch, and brining and baking your birthday brisket (all per your request).


The funny thing is just how well you understand. Of all my children, you are definitely the most forgiving. Like that picture above? The one with the dog we had for a total of two days before having to give it back due to horrific allergies? You smiled and shrugged it off, though I know it broke your heart. Your brother? He asked if it would be possible to keep the dog and send ME away.

But not you. You accepted the bad news and made the most of the time you and the dog had left.

You are still like that today. When things don't go your way, you never pout or get angry. You never slam doors or yell in frustration. You simply adjust your way of thinking and move on to something new. Your disappointment is never carried around on your sleeve.

Oh, but I envy you that trait.

I think it will serve you well in your life. I think it will make you a fair and just companion. You are quick to forgive and so easy to love. (And I know you did not get that from me.)


When retelling the story of your birth last Friday night, I looked at you in awe and wondered how it was that 13 years have gone by since then. It seems like only yesterday. I can still feel your warm body in my arms, as they handed me this wrapped, red bundle of baby. I recall with vivid clarity, watching with teary eyes as Daddy held you for the first time - you, just minutes old. It was that precise moment that we became a family.

Oh, but you made parenting so easy. Your happy laughter filled our tiny apartment. Your smile made the winter seem like spring. You brought us a new level of joy that we had never known before.


I am particularly loving your new independence in the kitchen. Many a gourmet meal has been served lately - and all of them prepared by you! I flatter myself that your interest in cooking is not due to my lack of abilities, but as a result of your own drive to learn new skills.

Yeah. That's it, right?

Either way, it's been so fun to see you try new things. You never seem daunted by difficult recipes or techniques. You were born fearless, and it extends into every part of your life.


I love you, kid. I cherish your obedient nature. I see you trying so hard to do your best - in school, at church, and at home - and I sit here and wonder what I ever did to deserve you. You have the heart of a giant. You love everyone around you, and make it impossible for them not to love you back. You work hard and expect the absolute best from yourself.

I hope this year is your best yet. You. are. amazing.