Staring boldly into 2010. Note the festive holiday garb--you will be seeing more of this sweater vest shortly, I promise.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Staring boldly into 2010. Note the festive holiday garb--you will be seeing more of this sweater vest shortly, I promise.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Also, if I hadn't already had a blog, I would have started one this day.
All you need for major kid fun is a really tolerant horse and a family member who loves to help little kids ride. That person in our family is Katie, my brother's wife. Katie, in addition to her many other virtues, is a former rodeo champion, and her parents still keep her three horses at their house. This makes her extra endearing to little children. A trip to ride Katie's horses is always on our agenda when we're in Pensacola. Laura first got to ride when she was three. Now she gets to steer by herself some.
Today we took all the cousins over there to visit, and Katie and Dave led each kid around the field. That Katie can walk really fast! One thing I've always liked is that she involves the kids in getting the horses ready to ride, and puts an emphasis on taking care of them afterwards, so the kids have learned they're dealing with animals and not a horsey amusement park ride.
When Hank was lifted into the saddle today, he said, "I don't wanna do this!" I said, "You're gonna love it, buddy. Be brave!" He said, "But I'm scared," and I said, "You can be scared and be brave at the same time." Two minutes of riding later, he said, "Hey, I'm brave now!"
We got up early, took coffee, and had a great time as always. The kids who were waiting for a turn to ride jumped on the trampoline, and not the new kind of trampoline with the safety walls, the good ol' kind where you can fly off at any moment and break your arm. Horses and trampolines: it's the land God promised to children.
More pictures are here. We hated to say goodbye, but Dave and Katie had to hit the road, and the rest of us had to get back to some important snacking activities. You know, day-after-Christmas things, I don't want to bore you. Also, Amy and Mom braved the sales at Target, but I decided that those bargains would just have to get along without me. I was kind of busy, what with the snacks and being halfway through that new Stephen King book.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
It's That Australian Baby, Grace! My sister Amy and her gang landed in Atlanta on Monday night. This girl is like a real, full-sized baby now and not just a little bean. So snackable!
On Tuesday we loaded up in one big ass caravan and headed down to Mom and Dad's Pensacola house. Matt and I had four kids, one dog, and the entire set of Rock Band instruments in our van. (Okay, we weren't going to bring the Rock Band stuff, but both my brother and brother-in-law got a little wistful about leaving it behind.) We got out for lunch, somewhere deep in Georgia, and realized that not only was Hank barefoot, we hadn't brought any shoes for him, none. My mad organizational skillz, yo.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Lest you think that this was the half-assed work of a moment, I refer you to the 3D tiny wrapped packages under the felt Christmas tree, which they have decorated with little lightbulbs. My favorite part has to be the cheery and vague "Holidays!" leading up to the pom-pom poinsettias on the shoulder. This thing wants a wider audience. Surrender to its cheeriness. Holidays!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Compared to last year's Christmas party, Laura's class celebration today was easy breezy, the difference being, of course, that last year I was the room mom, and I had organized this frenetic and supply-intensive game for the kids to play, in addition to the whole food and craft thing. Maybe I overdid it a little, in retrospect. And then that woman got in my face and told me her kid wasn't happy with his goody bag. Oh sweet fancy Moses. But here I am recapping the post that I just linked to.
Is y'all's last day tomorrow? Have a good one! And here's to just waltzing in five minutes late with doughnut holes.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The other day when I poked fun at Laura's handmade Santa head, I had forgotten about this little gem. That's me in my third grade school picture, sporting what is surely the most unfortunate haircut ever to be inflicted on an innocent child. Mom, if you're reading, don't worry, I'm not interested in laying blame or rehashing the past. My hair and I have moved on. But, you know, wow, it still hurts a little. And the picture is adorning, if you can't tell, vintage early 80's styrofoam. I cannot believe it has survived this long, and really, it is pristine. Now that I look at it, I wonder whether I really made it myself as an 8 year-old? Look how neatly the glitter line is done, and the sequins are stuck precisely in the same spot on each arm of the snowflake. I don't remember making it, maybe it was a gift from my teacher? This creation will probably outlive all of us.
And this hickory dickory dock guy is one of a set of ornaments my mom and dad made before I was born. They're from some kind of paint-at-home kit, and there are all different shapes. They did them so carefully! I picture my parents huddled in their tiny apartment in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, wearing fingerless gloves and painting these tiny mice, sleighs, and gingerbread cottages. Or that's my romantic image anyway. Last year Mom gave them all to me and we love having them.
We finally got our tree all done late last week. It was a multi-day process, much to the kids' chagrin. I ran out of lights halfway up (last year's tree must have been shorter), and then I nearly lost my mind trying to buy more lights in Target. There were no basic white lights. Everything is all LED or "faceted" or craptacular in some way. I felt like Andy Rooney doing one of those "I'm a really old fusspot" routines. I tackled an employee and said, "Is it possible you don't have any more white lights?" And he said, "Oh, we been sold out of those. They're all anyone wanted." Which raises the question, why are they stocking all that other junk? Not that it was really junk, it's just that I wasn't about to rethink my whole lighting plan and unwind what I'd already done.
Monday, December 14, 2009
This morning was the three year-olds' Christmas program at Hank's school. I remembered it was happening, even though it received only brief mention in a newsletter last week. So after I dropped Hank off in the car line, I parked and went into the chapel. I figured, they're three. How big a deal can this be? Well, you'll understand what I mean when I say that the dads were there. Dads with video cameras. And grandmothers in Major Holiday Sweaters. I was served cider from a silver punch bowl. Don't you hate being caught unawares by a dad-level event?
And here's where I was glad to be the mother of a little boy, as gender stereotype-y as this will sound. All the little girls were dolled up: hair fixed, puffy skirts, Christmas tights. The little boys were a more ragtag bunch, so it didn't matter that Hank's shirt was untucked and his hair was sticking up in his eternal rooster-tail cowlick situation. He was standing up in the back row, where everyone could see him as he kept his hands over his ears throughout "Deck the Halls." It was a proud moment.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
You know how your kids make holiday crafts from year to year, and then you kind of forget about them because they're packed away most of the time? Last night we finally brought up our boxes of ornaments from the basement, and from those boxes I exhumed many tissue-wrapped things, including this Santa head. Laura made it last year. I was like, "Yikes!" This precious, precious treasure always makes me think of Oedipus Rex, because he looks really surprised, and not in a good way, and it looks like his eyes have been stabbed out. They look that way because that's how she made them, by stabbing a pencil point into the clay.
Doesn't it resemble one of these Greek masks? Maybe a more dramatically lit picture would help make the point.
AAAAH! See? Yikes. Behold, Thebans, the terrifying, empty gaze of one whom thou must pity, though he be e'er so abhorred!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Part of me feels like I shouldn't permit Hank to eat jelly straight from the jar, but I just can't work up the necessary mom energy. So you know how there are things in your house you just let happen? This is one of those things. (I also let the dog lick plates, and even summon her to clean up kitchen spills. She's a poor man's Roomba.)
I feel more okay with the jelly thing since I found a source of good jelly. Remember how, months ago, I was all like, "OMG, what jelly do I buy that isn't loaded with HFCS, is acceptable to the people who live here, and costs less per ounce than uranium?" I even made a Venn diagram to explain my dilemma. Then one weekend we were up in North Carolina, and I was shopping at the lovable local grocer, Harold's Supermarket in Sylva. I highly doubt they have Google alerts set up for themselves, but if so, hey Harold! Anyway, I rounded the corner and was greeted with this happy sight.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
On Tuesday I went to Costco and walked out of there with a huge poinsettia. It was kind of an impulse purchase. They have big 10-inch plants for about 16 bucks, so not bad. I have it sitting by fireplace as part of the first wave of Christmas decorations. Seeing it in that familiar Christmas context reminded me of last summer, when Matt and I went to Vanuatu. Poinsettias grow huge all over the place down there.
That's a place we stayed for a few nights on Tanna, one of the outer islands of Vanuatu. There were big poinsettias all along the road, in both red and white. I didn't notice them so much at the time, because there are luxuriant flowering things all over the place. At night the air was fragrant. I've always read that in books: "The night air was fragrant," but I've never really experienced it until being down there. Seeing the poinsettia pots all arrayed at Costco made me think of them growing huge and tall in Tanna, truly a world away.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
That's a small, travel-sized teddy bear and a sippy cup. Into the wild! He is truly my son, because I never step out of the house without a beverage either. Here are a few (okay, several) more pictures from that outing.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Amy told me that she had a plan. A plan so crazy, she said, that it might actually work. If she booked a last minute ticket to Atlanta, could I pick her up Monday night, and spirit her up to the mountain house to surprise Mom and Dad for Thanksgiving? Um, yes, I thought I could do that. Her adoring husband agreed to hold down the fort there and give her a solo getaway, so the only trick was keeping the secret from Mom and Dad. This is easier said than done. Our mother is nearly psychic, especially about things having to do with her kids. I decided that the best plan was to speak to her as little as possible. The woman notices precise shades of tone of voice, choice of words, and what is said or left unsaid. I am accused, in the family, of having broken the news of Amy’s pregnancy by asking mom, “Have you talked to Amy lately?” So I just went into radio silence. My brother, who was in on the secret, declared that we would only refer to Amy, even between ourselves, as The Package. As in, “I’m on my way to retrieve The Package”, or “The Package’s hair looks really cute.”
So Monday night I picked up The Package. I was afraid that I would be unable to restrain myself from blogging about it. I hated keeping the secret from you, Internets! And indeed, on Monday night, Amy had to turn off her Facebook wall, because her friends in Sydney were posting things like, “Was your mom surprised?” and our mom is on Facebook. She’s hip like that. So we were plugging leaks right and left, worrying that our covert op would get blown wide open.
Tuesday, Amy helped host Pre-Thanksgiving with Matt’s family, then Wednesday afternoon we headed up to North Carolina. We had exhaustively discussed among ourselves the best way to go about the big reveal. We didn’t have a cake she could jump out of, so we were left with deciding how to configure the main elements: Amy, our minivan, the mountain house, Mom and Dad, and time and space. The simple way would have been to have her in the back of the van with the kids, and when Mom and Dad came out to open the doors to greet the kids, there she would be. Surprise! My brother Dave was more in favor of the Gradual Surprise, where Amy was let out of the car before we arrived at the house, and would walk up the road after we were in. They would either see her from a distance, thus prolonging the pleasure of realizing it was she, or she would come up to the house and let herself in. I hoped that in this scenario, neither of my parents would have a cardiac arrest.
I was driving the van, and when we got up on the mountain road to the house, I was amazed at how bare the trees were. All of the leaves were gone, and we could see Dad on the deck (and he could see us, I think) from really far away. We were reaching the critical decision-making point, where Amy would either have to deploy or abort mission. Dad was walking around the house, ready to greet us, but I stopped the car where I thought there were enough tree trunks between us to obscure the car a little. Amy got into position, and I yelled, “Go! Go! Dive!” while she rolled out the door and ran around behind the car. I took off again in a spray of gravel while Amy pulled up her hood and crouched behind a tree. Did I mention that she is 14 weeks pregnant? Take that, Delta Force.
So I pulled up in front of the house and we all acted as naturally as we could while being greeted. Which was not working because I did not feel natural. I don’t think I will win any Oscars for playing myself. Inside, Mom followed Hank to his train table in another room, while Dad went back out onto the deck to check his rotisserie meat situation. I decided to go back out to the van to get my camera, and when I did, I could see Amy jogging towards the house. I ducked back inside and tried unsuccessfully to get everyone in the same room. The front door opened and Amy peeked in. When she saw me standing there alone, she closed the door again. So I started, in a so very natural manner, to say, “Hey Mom, come look at this!” I gestured vaguely in the air. “Hey Dad, come in here!” More gesturing.
Finally Amy opened the door again and walked in saying, “Boy, it’s cold out there.” I have never seen anyone more surprised than my Mom. She said later that she thought she was hallucinating, and she actually had her mouth hanging open. The way people look in comic strips when they are really surprised? That’s how she looked. Then Dad came in and made the same face. Then there was much hugging and kissing. We just finished eating dinner. Today is Mom and Dad’s 40th wedding anniversary, and we are all together, and we are very thankful for that and for many things.
Tonight there will be karaoke and hot tubbing, though sadly, not at the same time. I hope you and yours are having a wonderful day.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Here's the before shot. As in, before Dave started cutting and also before he mentioned that he had never done this. Again, this piqued my interest in the proceedings considerably.
The "after" shot. We all thought it turned out quite well. Nice and short but no visible scalp. He did a great job around the ears, and I believe he used a #4 to blend the sides with the top. Cutting each other's hair: it's what dudes do, I guess. I give myself credit for urging them to wait until the light of day and sobriety to do the shearing. I think this should be a Thanksgiving tradition, as long as I never have to take a turn.