Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Boogie

A typical morning in the Strange household…

I hit snooze twice. I’m dreaming about buying extra peas at the grocery store. Yeah, that’s what I dream about now…

E is whimpering a bit but quiets down, so I hop in the shower, but not before I check Facebook and Twitter and find out that the two goofy guys I saw on the side of the road yesterday with massive telephoto lenses made the news – they must have been doing a Big Year, capturing a rare species of bird that had traveled further south than usual. Take me with you, bird! I nudge Mark to tell him about it. He says, “You’re kidding! A Big Year! Wow! And you saw it!!” We high-five.

I hop in the shower, and when I get out, E is crying. I go in her room, and she asks me to turn penguin on. Penguin plays music and projects little flowers on the ceiling. It’s so dark out that she still thinks it’s nighttime. I say, “Good morning, Ellie!” and scoop her up. She’s so happy. I settle her in the recliner and finish getting dressed. I grab a shirt from a laundry pile.

E happily chats with us, and Mark stops by the chair to play.

He grabs her unicorn toy (which she thinks is a piggy) and says, “Meowww…”
“Whatchoo doin’ piggy?” E asks, confused.
“Meowww… Meeeow?”
“Piggy, you no meow!”
“Ohh, what sound should I make?”
“Um… piggy. You go, um… oink oink!!”
“Oh, okay…” Mark has “piggy” nuzzle under her cheek.
E giggles.

Then we’re off to pack our bags, as E ventures out of the chair and starts playing on the floor. A “series of unfortunate events” unfold – a crumb gets stuck to her foot, she has a hangnail, she colors on the floor then tries to help clean it up using a broom which she drops against her cheek. A few whines, tears, and ‘nuggles from Mama, and all is well.

Her new phrases of the week are, “Ok, Mama…” and “Hold on, Mama” and “Ohh, Mama” (with a loud sigh).

Oh, and I have to tell you this!! Yesterday, we were in the parking lot at the grocery store, and there was a huge puddle with a reflection of the store. She saw it and said, “Look, Mama!! A picture!” I told her that she was right – that it was a reflection. She wanted to see herself in the reflection, so I took the pic from above. Gah, I love her, and I love this pic of us!

So, what was I saying? Oh yeah, E running around with her “Ok, Mama”s… My heart melts. It’s almost as if someone told her to just say, “Ok, Mama!” to everything I ever say. She’s listening so much better, too, maybe comprehending more. It’s precious.

I got her dressed as fast as I could, by distracting her with toys, while Mark took out the trash and loaded up the car with work and day care bags. I went on to put together a lunch of leftovers for E (TGIF!). Mark came back in and started to make his lunch. We bustled around each other while E played in the kitchen.

He must have sensed my stress as I glanced at the clock and realized it was 7:55 (8:00 is departure). He slipped his arm around my waist and snuggled my hair, kissed my cheek and neck.

“Whoa. What are you doing?” I ask, laughing.
“You seem stressed…”
“Yeah, guess so – trying to get this food ready.”

I turned around and hugged him as he whispered in my ear that everything was fine and that there was no reason to worry. Then I heard, “Mama!! What are you doing?”

Mark answered, “I’m ‘nuggling Mama…”
She thought that was hilarious and cracked up laughing…

Mark apologized for distracting me and went off in search of his lactose intolerance pills (which he never found).

“You know, I’ve eaten Cheez-Its 3 days in a row without my lactose intolerance pill.”
“Watch out… you don’t want to get the Christmas Boogie… That’s the holiday version of Montezuma’s Revenge.”

Mark went out the door singing a lovely rendition of the Christmas Boogie (to the tune of Monster Mash) as I showered E with hugs and kisses, at her request, and she simultaneously sang:

“Twinka, twinka littow stah
How I wonduh whatchoo ah
Up above da werld so high
Climbing up da werld so high
Climbing climbing littow stah”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Right Here

I just had to quickly document some cute, little E sayings from yesterday:

Ever since I broke this bone in my foot, she’s been taking care of me. “Take my hand, Mommy!” she says, “Don’t worry!” and, “I have you!” It melts my heart. Yesterday, she ran down the ramp at day care and insisted I hold her hand so that I wouldn’t fall down. It works, because I need her to hold my hand so that she won’t run out into the parking lot. Win, win!

I just love my girl! Last night I had to meet Kim to pick up E’s snow pants that we had left at her house. On our way, the moon was coming up, and E kept trying to catch glimpses of it as it disappeared behind mountains and trees. She cried when she couldn’t see it (sleepy girl). Finally, it was in full view.

“Oh, hello, moon!” she cried from the backseat.
“I see you, moon! Don’t cry, moon. I’m right here. I’m right here, moon.”

What a sweetheart!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Triangle Trauma

I expect that I won’t be blogging as much over the next few weeks, with the holidays approaching, but I’ll check in as I can! And, if my child continues to pull stunts like the one on Friday night, I’ll have so much material that I may need to write twice a day for the next few months.

Friday night was Mark’s company Christmas party. Every year it’s at the company owner’s home, a beautifully restored Vermont farmhouse. It looks like it was probably built sometime in the 1800s. The renovations are lovely – very tasteful, simple, and true to the history of the house. Little corners have been lovingly painted with ivy, and salvaged antiques complete the scene. During the holidays, the sitting room houses a real Christmas tree – wide enough to fill one entire corner of the room, and a fire burns brightly in the fireplace adjacent.

It’s like walking into a movie set, and Ellie seems as eager as I am to explore each corner of the house, play with the cats, and eat Christmas treats.

In fact, I always feed E dinner before we go, so that she can just snack on whatever she pleases and play happily while Mark and I eat our dinner. That’s exactly what we were doing when I noticed that E had a dirty diaper. I was in the middle of eating, and Mark was just sitting down, so I asked him if he would mind changing her quickly.

“Sure,” he said, then took her to the coat room off the entryway, adjacent to the bathroom. He came back a few minutes later without E.

“Wow, that was fast,” I said.
“Well, um… honey, E locked herself in the bathroom.”

He says these things so calmly, as the realization of what just happened slowly spreads over my face and I stifle an “OH MY GOD” scream and run past him. In an instant I’ve pressed my ear to the bathroom door.

“E, sweety?? Are you okay?”
“I can’t get out!!”
“Okay, okay. Don’t worry. We’ll get you out. Can you try to turn the lock?”

Mark quickly describes the lock to me – it’s a tiny gold knob, about 6 inches above the doorknob. You have to turn it, about 3 times, counter-clockwise to unlock it. It’s a mini deadbolt. I quickly scope out the hardware as the owner, Nicholas, and the rest of the party gather outside the door.

“Nicholas, can this doorknob come off?” There are screws.
“Well, yes, but the lock is a separate piece, above the doorknob,” he explains.
“Okay,” I say as my brain, and everyone else’s, search for every other possible means of removing the door or lock, while E starts crying.

“It’s okay,” I tell E. “Don’t worry. See my hand under the door? You can hold my hand if you want,” I try to sound calm, while panicking on the inside.

“Is there a window in the bathroom?” No.
“A vent?” No. I’m desperate here.

E starts screaming now as we try to explain to her how to open the door. I can see her little, pouty lips through the keyhole. Though she’s still crying and occasionally panicking, I do see her reaching for the knob and trying to turn it. We praise her for her efforts, but she still cries, “I’m trying! I just can’t do it.” Some of the other women help me calm her down by talking to her in peppy, sing-songy voices.

“Okay, just keep trying. We’ll get to you eventually,” I say, though I have no idea how.

I hear the men discussing the situation behind me, all our options – “remove the molding” or “cut through the door” seem to be our best options, but even tearing down the molding won’t give us access to the deadbolt. Nicholas disappears and returns from the garage with a skill saw. They quickly make plans to cut through the door and start unwrapping the wire from the saw, plugging it in.

Oh boy, we’re really going to do this. “Okay, E,” I explain, “this is going to be loud. We’re going to cut through the door.” I mimic the sound of the skill saw and tell her that it will even be louder than that. I tell her that she has to get down on the floor, while images of her fingers being sawed off pop into my brain.

Nicholas drills a hole in the door to insert the blade of the saw. One of the other men prepares to saw. Again, I remind E to get down on the floor. He looks at me for my okay to go ahead, and in this moment, I have to trust my daughter.

I have no idea if she has gotten down on the floor. Time stands still. She’s quiet. I nod. The sawing begins, and it is LOUD.

He makes the first cut, and before he makes the second, it’s silent.

“Are you okay?” I ask, terrified of the silence.
“Yep,” E says. She sounds calm.
“Okay, we’re going to cut again.”

The sawing starts again, another side, of what will eventually be a wide triangle, complete. Again, I ask E if she’s okay and get a slightly shaky but confident “Yeah.” I nod again, and the triangle is complete – just large enough for a hand to reach through and unlock the door.

But first, I want to make eye contact with my child. I peer through the door and see – nothing. Empty bathroom. My heart skips a beat. I get closer to the cut-out and look down at the floor, half expecting to see my toddler passed out, missing some fingers.

She’s lying flat on the floor near the door, face pressed to the tile, and I see her start to get up. No blood anywhere. I sigh happily. She looks out through the hole, sawdust in her hair. She has a concerned look on her face. I quickly reach through and unlock the door, open it, and scoop her up in my arms.

Then I cry, hugging Mark’s coworkers, my shoulders literally shaking as I sob. I check every inch of E and see that she’s fine, just a little shocked. She takes in the scene around her – all of us wiping our eyes, even some of the guys. I hug her tightly. I tell her how proud I am of her, for staying so brave and for following Mommy’s instructions and laying on the floor.

She finally gets a little smile on her face, throws her arms in the air, and says, “I did it! I did it all by myself!” Um… okay. Sure. She continues to report about life on the inside, “I get locked in baffroom! Cookie-cutter come to get me out! I scared of triangle.” I put her down, and she picks up the triangle cutout at her feet. She holds it up to Nicholas’s wife. “What’s dis?” E asks her.

“Well, honey… that’s… my door.”

Mark and I apologize profusely and insist on paying for it. They refuse – they’ve raised 3 boys themselves and happily claim that “these things just happen,” that they can easily repair it.

Well, this experience is brand new to us, and I think we’re still a little bit in shock from the ordeal. It still seems like a bad dream. E seems to have forgotten about it save a few mentions of the “evil triangle.”

Mark still had that “Oh my God, what just happened?” look on his face before we went to bed that night. I soothed his fears with lines like, “This comes with the territory. Let’s celebrate the positive. We have a very smart, brave, not-even 2-year-old! Maybe Nicholas and his wife were drinking and, come morning, they won’t even remember how that hole got there…”

Everything looked better in the morning, and we forged ahead toward a fun weekend with family, celebrated our anniversary early, and came home Sunday evening to begin preparing for my parents’ arrival this coming Thursday.

As we got E settled in bed, I decided to have a hot cup of decaf coffee before I went to sleep. I lazily reached for the coffee-mug cupboard door. It fell off into my arms. The whole door. Just fell right off the hinges. As I wondered how one family could have such horrible luck with doors, I proceeded to tuck it away in a closet and rearrange my kitchen to put all my pretty dishes in my new “display cabinet.”

Oh! And an email was just forwarded to me from Nicholas with this photo attached! Subject of the email: “All Fixed! :-)” Thank God.

P.S. If you want to read about the last company party, check out:
Dinner Parties and Toddlers 101

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Moo!! Neigh! QUACK.

I hope you enjoy my unintentional mullet...
Merry Christmas.
Today is by far my busiest day of the holiday season. I hope there won’t be one to top it!

After work at 12:30, I have to go to the bank and gas station, then head north for an appointment with the kidney specialist. I’m hopeful that all is looking normal and no more tests are required! Prior to that appointment, I have to have my blood work done – never a treat for me (or anyone), I’m sure.

Still, there are people in much worse shape than me this holiday season, and I have so much to be thankful for. My amazing husband is super supportive and E, my tiny, little mini-me gets cuter by the minute.

After my appointment, I get to shop for our company’s adopted family – toys and clothes. Woohoo! Spending other people’s money to spread holiday cheer – always a blast! Then I need to grab a quick bite to eat and head home to make our day care parent meeting at 6pm. Sometime in between, it’d be nice if I could… … … and I totally lost my train of thought. What else is there?? I have no idea. I blame mommy brain.

Anyway – do you know how cute my kid is?? She is amazing. She’ll be 2 this January, but she already acts like a 3- or 4-year-old most of the time – okay, minus the screaming, crying temper tantrums 10+ times a day when she hasn’t had a nap. That stops in a year, right?? Hmm, considering the fact that I’m (cough) 30 (cough) and on the verge of having one myself most days, probably not.

And the temper tantrums have made me act crazy, weird, goofy, strange. Point is, I’m losing my mind. Last night, E refused to stop washing her hands. If in the next 5 years the world’s water supply is completely depleted and you want someone to blame, look no further than my house. This child would wash her hands for 24 straight hours if I let her. Of course, the act of hand washing itself actually involves splashing water, filling and pouring water into cups, using my toothbrush to scrub stubborn soap-scum stains from the bottom of the sink, and ultimately flooding the bathroom.

Last night, after I finally cut her off, she threw herself on the floor and screamed her head off. She got temporarily distracted by a game I made up to get her to put her night shirt on, then she moved to the living room to sit in her baby bath tub (I use it for toy storage in the living room). Something about the baby bath triggered another temper tantrum. I don’t even remember what it was, but I was so exhausted that I just… lost it. I went crazy… in the simplest, calmest way possible.

I was sitting next to a pile of unfolded laundry. I reached for a sock and threw it at her (playfully, though I admit there may have been a little frustration behind my throw). Then a shirt, a pair of her pants, all small, harmless items. I filled her tub with laundry as different clothes items bounced off her face.

At first she stopped and looked at me like I had really lost my mind. Then she got laughing so hard she could barely breathe. So did I.

I finally ran out of laundry to throw and stopped. She looked up at me, big grin, hair a mess, out of breath, and said, “Again!?”

Sure. Why not?

Ever since last night, I’ve dealt with all temper tantrums in this way – by calmly acting like a crazier lunatic. I make animal noises, sing made-up songs like, “It’s Raining Mittens (Better Put Them On)” and “Where Did Your Hands Go (Let’s Find Them in Your Shirt Sleeves)?” Anything to get her to dress herself without a screaming fit.

Sometimes I just scream and run around like Pee Wee Herman until she laughs.

I swear, by next week, I'll be dressing up like a donkey and running out into oncoming traffic screaming, "Save yourselves!"

And, of course, we talk it out too… but when it gets beyond the point of reason, I think Mommy’s allowed to have a little meltdown too.

If you had asked me 6 months ago what my advice would be to new moms, I would have said something like, “Just love your kid(s). Marvel in all that they do, enjoy every moment, and don’t stress about always doing what’s “right” by everyone else’s definitions.”

If you asked me the same question today, I would have a much simpler motto: “Just survive. Grasp onto any tiny thread of dignity and sanity you have left, and do whatever you have to, to survive.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Block Tracing

Today we traced blocks and colored in the shapes -- she helped me trace, and I had fun coloring in the shapes. Nothing too fancy, just some relatively relaxing mommy-daughter time!

Christmas Card Chaos

When I tried to get E in a dress to take her Christmas card photo, she refused at first. I told her that I needed to take her Christmas picture, and she said, "Okay, take my picture in the light."

So, I did. So, here is E's Christmas card choice. I like her minimalist style!

Christmas Card Outtakes

Just had to share all these -- love her!

How Sweet

Yesterday was one crazy Monday! I’m back to a little bit more normal schedule today. There are so many cute E stories that I want to share with you. They keep piling up on my virtual desk and taking up valuable real estate in my overloaded brain. So, forgive me while I let them all spill out into my blog this week in what won’t be the most elegantly written story… but comes from a place of sincere mommy love and appreciation for this little person we’re raising.

E has been… kind of, um… how should I put it…? WILD lately. She’s like a puppy in human form. She wakes up in the morning and says, “Mommy, I need new pants. You put Chissmiss twee on? I’m hungry. You play dolls wiff me? I want my milk. I go to day care now?”

“First, you need to put some clothes on,” I say, “and let’s focus on 3 things: One, you need a diaper. Two, you need pants and a shirt. Three, I’ll put the Christmas tree on.” Then we move on to the next 3 to-do items. I take a deep breath.

The other day, (which was a no-nap day, in-coincidentally) she had a complete meltdown. She wanted so many things at once that she could barely function. They were: a gray t-shirt, Mommy’s glasses, and a sneaker. I calmly worked through the list with her as she fought me, arms flailed, and tears rolled down her face.

“Hold on, hold on… Let’s start with your shirt.”
“NO. I do myself.”
“Okay, okay,” I cooed, as she put her shirt on upside down, got her arms tangled in it, and screamed at the top of her lungs.

“Wait, wait,” I tried to soothe her, “Let me just help a little bit.”

She threw the shirt off, threw herself on the floor, and cried hysterically. I sat next to her and rubbed her back. Where does this patience come from? Oh yeah, doing this every day for the last 2 years… “Listen,” I said, “Maybe teddy bear would like to help you with your shirt.”

“Okay!” she said happily. Teddy bear sat with me while I pretended to have him help put her shirt over her head, right side up.

Ok, gray shirt mission complete.

“I need you glasses, Mommy!!” She crawled into my arms tried to rip them off my face.
“You can’t have my glasses. They’ll hurt your eyes, and you might break them. We can’t afford to buy new glasses right now.”

Cue the temper tantrum.

“Let me get you your own glasses.” I grabbed an old pair that I had popped the lenses out of and handed them to her.
“No, no, no!! I want you glasses!!” she screamed, as she tried again to get them off my face. When her attempt failed, she arched her back and squirmed to get out of my arms.

By now, I was so frustrated I just wanted to cry. I know that I can say, “Forget it – you’re acting like a brat. Go find something else to do,” but I really was determined to calmly help her get what she felt she needed so desperately – despite the sleepy-toddler chaos that ensued and despite the fact that I had no idea why these items meant so much to her.

She finally agreed to use her own glasses, though angrily. Then she sat down to put on her sneaker – a hand-me-down from her cousin Julia, two sizes too big.

She stood up happily. (I must have absorbed all the bad toddler mojo, because she was fine, and I was now shaking, ready to have my own fall-on-the-floor-and-scream temper tantrum.)

“There!” she said, “I broke my toe.”

She walked off across the living room, clomping on her one big shoe (like mine that I wear since breaking my foot), her gray shirt (matching the old, wrinkled one I had on), and her glasses (I pushed mine up on my nose).

Even the awkward sound of one bare foot and one clunky shoe echoed my own as I chased after her. I picked her up, kissed her little cheeks, got teary eyed, and said, “You just want to be like Mommy, huh?”

“Yeah!” she said grinning.

All of the things about me that I feel make me the most awkward (broken foot, wrinkled clothes, goofy glasses) didn't matter to her in the slightest. In fact, they meant more to her -- they were even worth fighting for -- just to be like me. How sweet is that?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Oh Holy Hits!

Digging photographing my meals!
Yesterday, my blog received 264 hits!! Guys, I'm so touched, but I have to admit that I'm getting a little performance anxiety now. All I have for you today is a post about how much I love My Fitness Pal... Don'tchyall overload the site, now.

It's just that I've been so down on myself after my 5-day Thanksgiving Eating Extravaganza. It was the opposite of a cleanse. It was a... dirtying(?). That doesn't sound right. Anyway, the week was a blur of turkey, stuffing, cream cheese dips, maple pecan pies, chocolate chip cookies, Dunkin' Donuts drive-thrus, and pizza slices. The soundtrack on that visual? -The instrumental version of Jingle Bells and me yelling, "Refill my Coke, please!"

I gained (wait for it) ... 14 pounds. On the grand scale of world problems, this rates right below the "Nobody gives a f***" rating.

But, I've been working so hard to maintain 180. My goal weight was 170, and I had hit 175 just before fall hit... and before I broke my foot and was basically recliner-bound for 2 weeks.

Excuses, excuses, I know. So, now while I'm still living a pretty sedentary life for the next 2 weeks (no sledding, snow angels, or snowball fights for me yet), I decided to go back to using the My Fitness Pal app and doing some light yoga (also known as playing Just Dance on the Wii while E frowns at me).

If you don't have this app for calorie counting, I strongly recommend it! My favorite feature is the bar-code scanner. I hated typing in all my foods to other calorie counters. Now I scan, choose the serving size, and I'm done! Also, once your food is in the system, you can duplicate it each day if you eat the same things. I can input my meal data in less than a minute!

I've been keeping up with it for 5 days straight and feel better already! Also, drinking at least 6 glasses of water a day has helped. As it gets closer to Christmas, I'll of course have a few "cheat days," but I'm hoping it'll all even out, and I look forward to starting a healthy new year!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary! Go F*** Yourself.

A rock!
Yesterday, I got twice as many hits to my site (166!) just by using the F-word in my post! So, sing it with me! 'Tis the season to be jolly! F*** La, La, La, La! -- La, La, La, La!

Why do the holidays always have to be so hectic!? Parent meeting at day care, our anniversary, doctor appointments, holiday parties, etc.!

Our anniversary plan should have been the easy thing... Last year, Mark and I were slightly overwhelmed with having a one-year-old, but he did make secret plans to take me out to dinner while his family watched E, and it was a really nice outing for us. I felt like we actually talked to each other as adults for the first time in months.

I thought that he forgot to plan something this year, with all the craziness of the Christmas season, so I arranged for his family to watch E on the 14th, and I planned to do dinner and a movie with him.

Little did I know, he was asking them to watch her on the 22nd, so that we could go out to eat at a nice restaurant in town. I finally knew something was up when Mark said, "I was hoping to plan something for our anniversary. You know, though, my family is acting really weird about it..." I confessed that I had been making plans with them too. Then, we actually argued over whose anniversary dinner we were going to do. How lame!

As I complained to my friend Melissa at the water cooler the next morning, she said drearily, "Great. Your biggest problem is that you and your husband are too considerate of each other."

"Um, and we actually got in a, uh... fight over who was going to do the grocery shopping yesterday, too!"

She's right, though. I have few complaints. He's a good guy. I'm lucky. He definitely got the short end of the stick...

He admitted that going with my plan stole some of his thunder... and ruined the surprise of planning this year's anniversary for his wife, so I told him to get over it and that, after being married for (gulp) 8 years (!!!), it might be okay to call them our anniversary plans... I sent him the menu for my restaurant pick, and he agreed that the food looked amazing, and more reasonably priced than his gourmet, French, seafood, better-wear-panty-hose restaurant choice. My restaurant is also located conveniently near the movie theater, and the new Hobbit movie will be out that night. See what I did there...? Take notes, nerd wives!

Now that that's all settled, I'm off to finish up the week by finishing up some apartment organization and cleanup and awaiting the arrival of my best friend, Krista, who's coming this weekend!

Meanwhile, all art projects are on hold until life slows down a bit. I'm both okay with that and feeling a little down on myself about it... but that's for another post!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Merry Christmas. Go F*** Yourself.

What is wrong with people??

At work, we're arranging our annual sponsor-a-family event for Christmas. We buy gifts for a local family in need and deliver them before the holidays. I made arrangements with the Salvation Army, and information about a local family was given to us. Due to a misunderstanding on my part, we only had 3 children to buy for. Last year we had more.

So far, these are the emails that have been sent to me:
  • Why don't we have more kids to buy for this year? (from a few people)
    Valid point. I explained my misunderstanding and the fact that we got a late start this year. We only have 1 week to collect gifts, but if we can have them in by the beginning of next week, I can add another family. I sent my email to the entire company. 
  • Stop sending these emails to the entire company!
    Really? All... 3 emails? Is it too hard to hit your delete button 3+ times if you choose not to participate? Merry Christmas. Go f*** yourself. 
  • I can't afford to buy presents for my own family. Why should I help someone else?
    See, that's the beauty of this whole "not mandatory" thing... You don't have to. When Mark and I were dating, then married, and before we had Ellie and went completely broke, each year we donated in some way -- with time, design services, presents to a local family in need, or money. We enjoyed doing that. Often older employees whose children are out of the house like to donate to a young family. They enjoy picking out a gift for a child. There are people who want to do this, and offering the opportunity through the workplace makes it easier. Personally, we can't afford to make more than a small monetary donation this year, so we'll be donating our time. 
  • Why are we buying them toys? Wouldn't it be better to buy them food or clothing?
    There is an option to buy them clothing as presents, too. Most of these people have access to the local food shelf, and if you'd rather donate food to the food shelf, you can. Isn't this "free will" thing amazing?? This is a separate charity event that you can choose to participate in if you want to. For kids, a big part of Christmas is receiving toys. This doesn't mean that they're brats, greedy, or lacking a passion for the "true meaning of Christmas." They're just... kids. Also, check the list... These kids are mostly asking for Legos and Matchbox cars -- not a lot by today's standards. 
  • One of them is asking for video games. If they're so poor, why do they have a game console?
    None of your f****** business! Maybe they don't. I know many families with kids who buy games to play at their friends' or cousins' houses. Maybe someone gave him the game console. Maybe someone bought it for him last year. If you're over the age of 18 and resent a 10-year-old for having a $100 gaming console and think this is an indication of him being rich, you need to check yourself.

    Also, don't act all high and mighty, as if we all haven't contributed to this insane American consumer-culture/Black-Friday hysteria and then sooo surprised when a kid wants a video game for Christmas.


But I will be happily delivering the gifts on the 13th to 3 happy children who deserve a little extra Christmas cheer this holiday season.

If anyone else would like to experience the absolute joy of giving during this holiday season, contact your local Salvation Army or Food Shelf. You can donate money or find volunteer opportunities in your community!

Oh, and I put up our tree finally, last night, after E said, "I just can't wait my own Chissmiss tree."

"Get the box, Mark. We're doing this."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dreamer Code Addendum

So... I've reached that point in the broken foot recovery process where I feel like my life is falling apart. The apartment is a mess, dishes piled up in the sink, table covered in papers, art projects, and other miscellaneous stuff. I haven't put up the tree yet, because that requires cleaning out one more bookshelf to move into E's room.

Mark set up the card table to put all our folded laundry on. E pulled off all the folded laundry and danced in it. I made her put it back, which she did... in one giant ball. So, the table is taking up my little living room, with a pile of laundry on it, and underneath it is a sea of toys, yarn balls, and anything else that grabbed E's attention over the last week. The laundry bins are sitting in the living room next to the recliner.

And instead of being able to get my house Christmas-ready, I'm sitting at work...

So, this week, as I'm feeling a little better, my goal is to do more picking up after myself and to encourage my little E to do the same.

I realized there was a slight problem with our approach to cleanup when she took a deck of cards off the table this morning, opened them, took all 52 out, and threw them into the air. They fell around her in a cloud of black and red. She danced happily, then threw the box on the floor and ran out the door to go to day care.

Don't get me wrong, I want her to feel the freedom to dance in a storm of makeshift confetti. She's my little dreamer, after all, and I feel I'm raising her by the dreamer code which is or at least would be, um...

Storm wildly through this world.
With a respect for all its wonders.
Don't ever forget that you're one of them.

Addendum: Clean up your messes!!

I love you, kid.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hello, New York!

NYC Trip 2011
Ok, so the weekend didn’t go exactly as I had planned. Does it ever? Nope. And I’m so okay with it. Maybe it’s because I got so caught up in the outpouring of love and support at my in-law’s. They took care of me like their own daughter and sister – as they always have. We ate good food, played with E, and I spent a good majority of my time either resting my foot, reading my true crime book (happy sigh), or shopping. We decided to stay over again Saturday night after taking E to her first movie (Frozen), which she loved!

By Sunday morning, I was still a little tired after getting up with E at 7:30, so I asked Mark if I could lay down after breakfast. I drifted to sleep at about 9am and woke up feeling more well rested than I have in awhile. I reached for my phone to check the time. 3:00PM!! I couldn’t believe it. I had slept for 6 hours!

So, my plans for getting home early on Sunday, picking up the apartment, doing dishes, catching up on laundry, and putting up the tree just weren’t possible. And I pretty much didn’t care. I slept. Really slept! Without being on high alert listening for E.

I went downstairs to find her happily running around at Nini’s house, being doted on by Mark, Nini, Grandpa, Bee, cousin Christian, and pugs Alfie & Waffles. Snow falling outside, hunkered down in the little brick house, warm woodstove, and toasted tuna fish sandwiches. Who could ask for more? I love Vermont! This family. This life.

We got home last night at about 5:00, and Mark spent a few hours cleaning the apartment, doing dishes, laundry, and washing the couch-cushion covers. E had fallen asleep in the car, so I woke her up to eat a quick dinner of lentil soup and crackers, then put her in a bath. After, we snuggled and read stories in “Mama’s big bed.” Perfect end to a perfect weekend. Once she was settled, Mark and I caught up on some TV and went to bed.

Back to reality this morning, though. I snoozed for as long as I could and finally rolled out of bed and made E a quick lunch of leftover lentils (Sorry, Ell!), cheese, crackers, and applesauce. I had to wake her up, so I picked her up, cuddled her in my arms, and rocked her in the chair for a bit. She was all smiles and happy to find out that she was going to day care this morning.

I got her out the door and made my new-diet smoothie (Sorry, Me!). Then off to work.

I pulled into the office parking lot in a dreary, turkey-hangover state of mind, drunk on love and a good-old-fashioned Vermont-country-weekend. I yawned as I pulled myself out of the car, work bags in hand. Then I noticed the huge delivery truck parked in front of the door with New York plates. The back was open, packed with cubicle parts (our office is expanding) and three 20-year-olds in Yankees hats, goatees, and earrings. One was yelling in a thick New York accent, “Hey, Tony!! Hey!! You take this cabinet. Whaddya mean, ‘Where does it go?’ You bring it upstairs!!” The guy next to him chimed in, same accent, “Yeah, why are we tellin’ ya this? You know! You know!! Go do it!”

Oh, the sounds! Truck rumbling, boxes sliding, exhaust filling the air (I breathed it in greedily), and a flurry of angry but soft Rs and rushed-over Ds. I closed my eyes for a minute and said under my breath, “Oh, hello, New York!” I resisted the urge to spin around in the gently falling snow, imagining skyscrapers towering above me.

As I made my way slowly up the walk (still favoring my broken foot), one of the guys in the back of the truck noticed me, elbowed his buddy, and yelled out to Tony again – who was now struggling with the front door, as he tried, on his own, to maneuver the awkwardly oversized filing cabinet through it. “Hey Tony!! There’s a lady coming! You better hold that door for her!” Tony rolled his eyes, and his buddies laughed, but he turned and gave me a big smile then painfully waited for me to make my slow journey to the door. “Sorry,” I mumbled.

“Oh, no! Don’t apologize! Tony’s got this,” they laughed, “and you be careful on that floor, Miss! It’s slippery!” I laughed too and gave them a thumbs-up.

As I hobbled in the door, in my mind I was skipping. They called me “Miss,” even amidst all signs that I was at least 30, and Tony held the door for me, amidst a constant threat of being crushed by a filing cabinet. I love Vermont, I really do… but there’s nothing quite like a little dose of city-style chivalry and harsh comradery on a Monday morning. Ahh, I love New York!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

"I'm awake!!" "Haha! Yes you are!!"
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a great meal with friends and family! Then we spent the night at Nini's and Grandpa's house. E was so happy to have time with her cousins. They had a cute, little cat named Nugget who she really took to. She spent most of the evening feeding him food and petting him. She was so giddily happy, she'd just laugh and cover her face every time she saw the cat. It was so sweet! This morning, she's happily playing with the toys at Nini's while we eat a home cooked breakfast and watch TV. I'm so relaxed I just want to go back to bed...

I have to work this morning, then I'm going to take some much needed time off. I'll be back on Sunday or Monday, and by then we should have our Christmas tree up! Also, we're taking E to her first movie today -- Frozen! I'm so excited! Last but not least, I have some fun craft ideas for the week ahead and hope to have some free downloads available if you want to join us in our art endeavors over at A Happy Muddled Mess!

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and are slowly coming out of your turkey (or tofurkey) comas today!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marker Watercolors

I thought E may be tired of painting today, but she was happy to get out the brushes. At first she just tried to drink the paint water, but she was more interested when I started drawing with markers then using water to brush the marker ink across the page.

I was impressed how quickly she picked up different brush techniques -- smushing it into the paper, letting the water drip off the brush, and splattering water on the page. She loved watching the water react with the marker ink and bleed into the paper.

I drew the brown vines and let her do the rest!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Happy Muddled Mess

Super happy to unveil our new, little "sister site" -- A Happy Muddled Mess!

As mentioned in my way-too-long Facebook post, I hope to grow it into something BIG!

Here is my little blurb about it!

Ok, ok, so I promise that I didn't *exactly* create another entirely new blog... I only *kind of* did. After spending a good chunk of time in the recliner last week, I made myself settle on some type of long term hobby/business model that I could grow and develop as my life changes. My life has always revolved around art and music, so why not develop that and share it with E and others, in a much more significant way?

So, for starters, I made an art journal site for me and E, with plans to turn it into a business in the long run, when life calms down a bit... to eventually integrate some different programs, events, local participation, and community outreach -- to put myself out there more. I resisted doing this, even publicly advertising YMIS, because I felt I had no direction. I think this site is better focused on what I want to do long term, even though I haven't entirely, 100% figured that out yet. I'm closer, and that's a huge deal for me!

And, for now, this site is just a platform for those long-term plans... Sorry for the huge post... just thinking "out loud" a bit.

Anyway, YMIS is still going strong and will still be where the majority of my writing lives. But our art projects will live on our new site where I hope others will join us in creating: A Happy, Muddled Mess!

Mixed Media Mashup

Since this is a short week before our 4-day Thanksgiving weekend, E and I are just creating some mixed media art.

We made two abstract pieces this afternoon using some miscellaneous art supplies -- stencils, markers, pencils, and watercolors. E scribbled, and I colored in the shapes!

I used a toilet paper roll dipped in paint to make circles. I also loved how the watercolor blended with the marker. I'm already planning some fun watercolor activities for E that involve just painting over our marker drawings on watercolor paper.

Next week, we're going to be making prints from all different objects found around the house. Can't wait!

If you want to share your own kid creations with us and other readers, use #HMMartsubmit in your Instagram captions. Your images will automatically appear in the slideshow on our home page!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Granny Square Advent Pockets

I wanted to buy E a special advent calendar this year, but we're going to be broke until the first week of December... Such is life!

In the meantime, I decided to make some crocheted advent "pockets" to hang on the Christmas tree -- E can take one off the tree each day of December and find a little "prize" inside -- a piece of candy, some stickers, etc.

My hope was to make 24 pockets altogether, but I'll most likely only finish 12 and have to refill them halfway through the month. Ah well, if I make any more compromises on this project, I'll be left with an advent ball of yarn.

I considered doing a tutorial video for these, but there are quite a few good YouTube tutorials for granny squares. I made mine about 3" x 3" and stitched them together using basic slip stitches around the outside (leaving one side open, of course). I'm sure you could also sew these together or use any type of stitch you prefer for connecting your crochet pieces.

If you have any other questions about how I made these, feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email!

Hello Snow!

E loves the snow! We bundled her up this morning -- usual attire -- boots, snow pants, coat, hat, mittens. Mark dressed in the same. I donned my supportive boot on my broken foot. Haha! Snow hobbler on the loose!

We went out to the back of our lot where the most snow was piled up. Mark put E down and started making some snowballs. She freaked out -- not in a good way. It was so cold out, and the wind was blowing in her face. She only wanted us to hold her.

Even Mark's snow angel didn't impress her. We took her to play on the back porch, out of the wind. After a few minutes, she opened the door and went inside. We were out for maybe 20 minutes...

Still, I made her hot cocoa and a warm lunch and took some pics with my digital SLR.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Okay

One of E's newest phrases is, "I'm okay!"

Being a mom with anxiety, this is music to my ears! Even after she takes a tumble or pinches her fingers in a door, the sound of those two certain words, "I'm okay," triggers a sigh of relief from me.

Last week, we were out shopping, and I had stopped at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I threw it in the cart with E. A few minutes later, I noticed her eating something. She was holding the prescription box, but it was clear that it wasn't open. Still, I worried something had been stuck to the outside of the box, something that she was eating...

She immediately noticed the look of concern on my face and said, exasperated, "Just pretend, Mommy! I'm okay."

Whew. Ok!

Somehow she's learned to respond to even the subtlest look of terror in my eyes with a, "Geez, Ma! I'm totally fine!" attitude.

As much as I hate that she has to have that attitude with me at 2-years-old, I'm so grateful that we're figuring each other out, that we're forming this funny little mother-daughter relationship.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tea for Two

I hobbled with my broken foot over to E's crib this morning and scooped her up.

"I need doggie, Mommy."
"And my new blankie. And kitty. And that blankie... And that doggie."

I filled my arms with all her security items until I almost couldn't see over the bundle. E tucked her head under my chin, buried her face in all her favorite stuffed animals and blankies and let out a sigh.

I took her out into the living room and put all the stuffed animals and blankets on the couch, but she didn't want me to put her down yet. So, I hobbled into the kitchen, toddler on my hip. I made myself some tea with honey to help my sore throat.

"I want tea, Mommy," E mumbled, so I poured some tea into a cup for her. It was decaf. With the promise of a grown-up tea cup, E happily got out of my arms and curled up on the couch. She was so happy to sit and have morning tea with me.

"This just like Bee's tea, Mommy!" Yes, Auntie Bee loves her tea!
"That's right! I love tea, too, it's so cozy!"

We sat and visited for a long time about the bandage on my foot, how it was a cold morning, the fire drill at day care yesterday, and which craft activities we would do when she got home. It was such a sweet morning with her. Then she went off to day care with Mark.

I'm home a few more days nursing my foot and this awful case of strep throat, looking for more craft ideas to keep E busy when she gets home in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crafts and Chaos

Yesterday, Mark was desperate to get some more work done in the afternoon. With my broken foot and strep throat on the mend, he's had to get Ellie from day care at 2pm and bring her home to me. Then, he works in our home office/bedroom/storage shed into the evening.

On Monday, this didn't really work, because E was much too busy and cranky for me to keep up with. She hadn't had a nap, so she was a beast, trying to escape out the front door, and running back and forth terrorizing us. Recliner-parenting wasn't going to be sufficient.

So, yesterday, I told Mark that I would come up with an afternoon plan, and I set up a few craft projects in preparation of her return. Luckily, he brought me a freshly-rested toddler! As soon as she came in the door, I got her settled at the table with two projects.

One was from my sister's day care curriculum -- a fresh twist on the classic hand-print turkey.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Guess Which Weekend Event Is False

Allow me to sum up my weekend... One of the following is not true:
  1. E ate a Tootsie Pop for breakfast on Saturday morning.
  2. On Sunday, I sat down on an old chair.
  3. It shattered.
  4. My foot hit the underside of the table when I fell.
  5. I broke my toe.
  6. I spent an hour in the ER getting wheeled around, x-rayed, and set up with crutches and a boot.
  7. The doctor demonstrated how the human foot moves by running his hand up and down my thigh.
  8. The nurse was the same nurse who I thought was kidnapping E from the nursery when I was in the maternity ward 2 years ago. I told him that and recounted me stumbling through the nursery door at 4am and demanding, "What's going on!?"
  9. He said, "I'll never forget that..."

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Hear Sleigh Bells!

Rearranged the living room in preparation of the arrival of our Christmas tree!

And so it begins – my Christmas quest. I spent yesterday afternoon rearranging our living room in preparation of the arrival of our Christmas tree. I still have some more decorating and decluttering to do, but it's getting there!

Would you believe that Mark is actually considering getting a real tree again this year?? Yeah, me neither.

This year, I was content to put up ol’ faithful, the “plastic disaster” – our $20 WalMart tree that we bought when we first moved in. We bought it out back, in the Lawn & Garden section. A masculine woman knocked it off the top shelf of a warehouse pile, and it fell 30 feet to, what we thought, was its certain death and dismemberment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ready for Christmas Cheer

First year with a real tree -- Christmas 2010.
‘Tis the season for holiday cheer and crotchety, old bookstore ladies!

Yesterday, E and I went to the bookstore just to browse. We sat down on the floor to look at some books. The woman working the counter sounded annoyed that we were there, as she grumpily said, “Can I help you?”

We had just sat down, and it was clear that I was just helping E look at books. E is always good with her books, but a few minutes later the woman yelled, “Hey! Don’t bend that book back!”

“She’s absolutely fine!” I said.

Beside the fact that she wasn’t bending the book back, I was supervising just to be sure she was being gentle.

“Well, she’s too young, and I thought she would bend them.”
“Well, she’s not,” I said.
E piped up, “I want to go home, Mommy!”
“Me too!” I said loudly, “and I have no desire to come back!”

Don’t yell at my child because you think she might misbehave! How rude! Bookstores are supposed to be fun!

We spent the rest of the time browsing the mercantile downstairs, where no one else yelled at us for picking up items to look at.

Ugh. Now I’m ready for some holiday cheer, some hometown friendliness, and some Christmas magic!

Tonight I’m hoping to rearrange the living room to make room for our Christmas tree, which I hope to pick up the day after Thanksgiving this year. I’m so excited for E to experience this Christmas. She’ll be so much more aware. I’m making the most of it and starting as early as possible, and spreading some holiday love -- despite Grinchy old ladies!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vacation Success!

On our way down Hunter Mountain!
Hello, friends! So, you may have noticed (at least I hope you did) that I’ve been pretty quiet over the last week. That’s because we were on our first official family vacation of the year! We rented a house in the Catskills with a group of friends (a yearly tradition) and spent time enjoying some much-needed relaxation in front of a TV, fireplace, and on the mountain – playing disc golf and enjoying some park time! We also had many good cooks among us who created some delicious meals including ziti with homemade sauce, taco soup and nachos, and baguette French toast with cinnamon butter glaze (drools). After E was in bed, we drank too much wine and soda and stayed up until all hours playing Cards Against Humanity – oh the inappropriate humor! I woke up every morning sore from laughing.

E did great on the trip, but the fact remains that we brought a toddler to an otherwise adult party. I felt bad when people held back their swearing, and I insisted that we didn’t mind. I felt guilty when, after a night of restlessness, she cried and whined a lot for most of the next day. Typical toddler behavior that I dealt with as patiently as I could.

Dinnertime! Scarf it, Mark!
When we arrived the first night, we were surprised to find that the half of the house that was shown online, the main living area, was, indeed, beautifully kept, had a nice, new kitchen and cozy fireplace – but the other half of the house looked like something out of a 1970s horror movie – teal wood paneling, half detached from the wall, nails sticking out in places; cobwebs and closet-spiders galore; and rickety old beds with equally old bedding (though it smelled clean). Over my bed, I even found what I believed to be blood spatter. I’ve seen enough episodes of Forensic Files to recognize the aftermath of blunt-force trauma, and I was certain I had uncovered evidence of a grizzly murder scene… or possibly a nail-painting session gone awry in the 1980s with polish shade #105 – Like, Totally Wicked Red. It’s anyone’s guess, but as I curled up in bed with my True Crime novel, my mind wandered, and my anxiety rose.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Note to Self: Always Wear Pants

Yesterday, I put on my skinny jeans. Ugh. They fit okay in the waist… even though I haven’t run in the last two weeks and still have a weakness for mini-cans of Coca Cola (Lord, help me), but they were snug in the legs, so when we got home, sitting on the floor with E was a bit of a challenge. I shook them off and opted to run around in a t-shirt and undies. Our apartment is on the third floor and always gets too hot anyway, so I was comfortable.

I went about making some dinner, boiling some macaroni. E must have shared my feelings about the 80-degree kitchen. As soon as she spilled a bit of milk on her shirt, it was a good enough excuse to wrestle her way out of it. Ok.

At that moment, the timer for the macaroni beeped, then the corn.

From the stove, I glanced over my shoulder to check on E. She was over in the corner, by the door, up to something – I think she was hoarding a piece of cracker she found on the floor.

“What do you have?” I asked suspiciously.

That was enough to trigger her flight instinct. She grabbed the doorknob in a storm of giggles. She could only get the door open about a half-foot, so I waited to see what she would do. Apparently, that was all she needed to squirm through. I rushed to her side, reached for her arm, but she quickly made it outside and into the hallway.

I ran after her, forgetting that we live in a building that has one other apartment and a business on the other side of the hall, and that I was in my underwear…

I realized my situation once I was in the hall, pant-less, in a very public, drafty place. I hid behind a corner wall and peeked around to see where E was. She was standing against the opposite wall, no shirt on, giggling, next to one of the office doors, waiting for my next move.

I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, as no one had come out of the office yet, and it was 5:00 PM -- only a matter of time before the end-of-business-day mass-exodus.

“Ellie! Come here!” I whisper-yelled.

She laughed harder.

“Ellie, right now!!” a little louder…

I heard some commotion on the other side of the office door, so I ducked back into our apartment. Most of the employees know me and E, so I wasn’t too worried about someone finding her out there. I might just look like a not-so-great mom who has no idea where my half-dressed kid is... I ran in my bedroom and grabbed my jeans, throwing them on quickly.

I ran back out in the hall. Someone had come out of the office and must have scared her. She was now standing, pouting, terrified outside our door. I quickly pulled her inside.

I told her that she couldn’t just leave whenever she wanted – that I didn’t want to lose her or have her get hurt out there, but I couldn’t keep a straight face. I’ll do better next time.

No burnt food, slightly over-cooked macaroni, and no one saw me in my skivvies. I'm counting this as a parenting win.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Running Away From Ham

E having a sad moment at day care.
I feel like every morning is like the Amazing Race, even today, though more successful than yesterday, was a blur of lunch boxes, neon pink clothing, curls, and one orange sneaker. Then the sounds -- of my nagging voice, Mark’s calm one, and one whiney toddler. Oh, the whining…

“Use your big girl voice.”
But I don’t want to wear a shirt….!
“Here. How about this purple one?”
“No, no, no!!”

And, off she runs, to hide in the corner near the front door.

I finally grab the first shirt I find and try to make it fun… It is the I Rode the Prudent Living Train t-shirt – 3 sizes too big, but I’m desperate. I also realize that it’ll require a warmer sweatshirt over it, but I decide to deal with that later (or let the day care teacher handle it).

“Here you go, how about a train shirt!?”
“YEAH!!” she cheers.

Yeah, happy toddler! I keep my cheer to myself, not wanting to jinx it, then take advantage of the next few minutes of happiness to get her diaper changed, pants and socks on.

Then I find a sweatshirt. But she wants a fleece sweater. Ok, fleece sweater it is. NO, now she wants the sweatshirt. I put both on the floor for her to choose and put on. She picks the sweatshirt.

Mark helps her into her shoes, then she runs up to me in the kitchen, where I’m finishing up her lunch.

“Mommy, I want ham, please!”
“You can have a piece,” I say, as I attempt to hand her a slice.
“NOOOooo!! I want that plate!”
“That’s the plate with your sandwich on it. You can have another plate for your slice of ham.”

I hand her a paper plate with a slice of ham on it. She screams “Nooo,” and throws it on the floor. And, now I’m ticked off. I am patient, and I have raised a good kid. I pick my battles wisely, sometimes letting her do things I wouldn’t normally encourage, because she asks nicely. And, 90% of the time, I have an angel – she knows that she will usually get what she wants (within reason), if she is gentle, nice, and does not whine. And, when I do say "No," she knows that there is an alternative solution -- a compromise, so we have fewer temper-tantrums. We discuss more, we bargain. We communicate. I'm proud of how far we've come.

But, when we do discuss, compromise, communicate, and I give her what she wants, and she throws it on the floor. ARGH!

“Absolutely not! You will pick up that plate right now!”
“Excuse me?? You don’t say no to me. Pick it up now.”

She refuses, so I lead her over to the plate to help me pick it up and put the ham in the garbage. Then she runs back to her corner to pout. I go back to finishing up her lunch.

Then I hear the door close.

Mark says, “Did she just?”
“Yep, she just left,” I said, nonchalantly.
“I’ll go get her.”

“Okay.” Fine. Whatever. She can’t get far, can’t open the door at the top of the stairs. But, did my not-even-2-year-old just run away from home for the first time? Because of… ham? I cringe to think what other tricks she’ll have up her sleeve in a few more months.

Mark came in holding her. She wore an exaggerated pout, pointed right in my direction, from the safety of his arms.

She got her coat on, and somehow we all managed to get out the door on time, hugs and kisses, and I-love-yous all around.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Can I Just Say...

YAWWWNNN... Ugh. What a Monday morning. Mark and I had complete communication failure this morning. Yesterday, I had asked him if he would mind bringing E to day care, so that I could get to work at a more decent time (since I have to be to work earlier than him).

He swears he agreed to this, but all I remember is him wandering off silently to never speak of it again. As usual, I interpreted this as a "no" and went about my Monday morning as usual. I got myself ready, made lunches, then turned around to find Mark all ready but not E.

"What's going on?" I asked.
"I'm just getting myself ready. You're getting her ready, right?" he said, sleepily.
"No. I don't know. Why?"
"The new plan, right? You get her ready, then I take her to day care?" he asked.
"Did we agree to that? You didn't say anything."
"Yeah, I did. I was like, 'Oh yeah, fine.'"
"Yeah... 99% sure you didn't say anything."
"Well, are we doing it or not? I can go either way with this..."

So, I rushed to get E ready in time for him to take her to day care, trying to make sure that he wasn't late for work.

Once they were gone, I proceeded to clean the kitchen, look everywhere for the key to the office (which I never found -- thank God for early-arriving coworkers who could let me in this morning), and plopped down in my chair at work ready to conquer my day.

Then I had a meltdown, because I didn't get to see her off to day care, as I have almost every day for the past year and a half. I can't get her face out of my mind, her big eyes, looking up at me all confused, asking, "You take me, Mommy?" and me having to tell her, "No, Daddy will take you today, but I'll pick you up."

My little 1.75-year-old, looked up at Mark, then back at me. Then, she reached out for his hand and casually walked out the door. No tears. I know this is a good thing, but sometimes I'm not ready for her to be so grown up.

And, in this moment, a (relatively) smooth Monday morning getting out the door leaves me a nervous wreck and weepy. This mom stuff is so weird...

Up next: grocery shopping, dinner prep, cleaning the apartment, then getting ready to head off to New York on Wednesday for our very first 7-day vacation with friends (and E)!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

From The Craft Table

Just wanted to say a happy "Hello!" from our craft table today -- where there's more paint on the table than on the paper, our limbs are more decorated than our canvas, and our accidental-art approach takes "mixed media" to a whole new level!

E climbs up on the table -- she insists on sitting on the table top, so all her tools are within reach.

"I want black paper, Mommy. And red paint," she insists, very seriously instructing me on the preparation of her supplies. I happily comply, curious about what she might create. She continues to politely list her needs:

"Some yellow paint here now." She points at the bottom left corner of her page.

"Mommy, can we make orange?"

I quickly show her the two tubes of red and yellow paint and begin mixing. She scoops some up with her brush and continues to work away.

Then blue. It glows against the black paper. She squeals with delight as she spreads it across the page.

"Now I need those paints, Mommy." She points to her watercolors and adds, "Need some water."

I go and fill one of her little play teacups with a little water. She takes it from me and very carefully pours the water across each of her watercolors (and drenches the case). She dips her fingers in paint, then her paintbrush, and begins making dots on the paper. She carefully watches how the watercolors are absorbed by the paper. She tries each color until she finds just the right one.

"Purple! Oooh, purple!" she says. The purple is only partially absorbed by the black paper and creates areas of shadow and light -- a grungy but shimmery effect. She smiles happily, then dots the purple across the page.

By now she tires of painting the page and proceeds to paint the table (ok), pen cup (alright), bulletin board (um, well...), and lamp (wait a minute...). I reach for her, but she squirms away from me, legs flail over her painting, watercolors tip and spill.

I get her in the bathroom for cleanup, which must happen completely by her terms. "No bath," she insists, though standing in the tub to wash her hands and legs is acceptable.

"If you just want to sit down," I offer...
"No, no, no, Mommy."

Sitting down would qualify this cleanup time as a "bath," which may lead to the inconvenient "washing up time" in which there will be no avoiding the torturous "hair cleaning."

Half a bottle of soap later, her hands are washed, a task that distracted her enough to allow me to wipe most the paint off her legs. She runs off to play, and I wipe down the table.

Tomorrow, we'll start again.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our HappyMess!!

Ok, so I know that I've been saying "More art!!" on the blog for awhile now, but now I have the inspiration to actually follow through!!

Lately, doing art projects with E has been more "mess" than creation -- which is creation, really, I know. And, E has been running around saying "happiness" as "happy-mess" which is, quite honestly, adorable. I wanted to change my entire blog name to "Our HappyMess" and start fresh doing only art projects from now on, but... you know me, next week, I'll be into... um, fly fishing or something.

So, my sister-in-law suggested maybe just making that one part of the blog... She knows me so well. I may even just make it a weekly feature, who knows...

But anyway, the point is... while looking for fun things to add to my Amazon wishlist... I stumbled upon the Art Lab books. Wow! I guess I'm late to the Art Lab scene. The author of the drawing/mixed media Art Lab book, shown here, was -- Carla Sonheim! I had never heard of her, so I Googled her... and do you know what I found out??

She has a BLOG -- the Art of Silliness (and an Etsy shop)! She even posted today! I commented right away, of course. She has online classes, and free online tutorials! And, I'm just so inspired to do more fun, silly art projects with my amazing kid -- more messes, more creativity, less of me saying, "Careful, that's permanent marker!" and more of me saying, "Let's create! Let's explore!"

I just hope that E is up for it this weekend! Maybe some left over Halloween candy at the craft table will sweeten the deal! Of course, I'll post all of our creations here.

Check out this sweet, "blob" illustration from Carla's site, found on her Go Blob Hunting Tutorial page!

Wonderful Halloween!

So, what do I do when I'm too tired the day after to write about our Halloween?? I direct you to my sister-in-law's site to see pics and read a beautiful post about Halloween in a small town. I felt like I had grown up there with them!

We had such a nice time with family! We did crafts and danced at the town hall, trick-or-treated in the parking lot, went on a hayride through town, then back to Nini's house for pizza and candy!

E got out some of Nini's toys and played for a long time in the living room. She was so happy to talk about the entire adventure this morning on her way into day care.

"I dance in the lights," she said, and "I eat candy!"

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Last night, our local toy store put on a story hour. It was so sweet! There were spooky stories, snacks, and craft activities. E loved it, and it was the perfect event for her age. Kim came down and got some really adorable pictures! We snapped this one outside.

E insisted on wearing her cupcake costume. I hadn't thought to dress her up, but when we got there, all the other kids were in costume, so she fit right in!

Tonight, we'll head down to my in-laws for some Halloween fun and trick or treating, I hope -- as long as this rain holds off!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sims Confessions 2

Here's a random photo of a house fire they had.
So, are you dying to know what happened when we last left Faye and Rafael in the hot tub? I was curious, too! I picked up the game again last night.

If you need to catch up, the original story is here.

As Faye’s pregnancy progressed, Rafael was being a class-A jerk, so she gave up on wooing him and went after her first love, Barry Tenderlove. To make a fresh start, she actually confessed to Barry that she had been seeing other men and that Rafael was the father of her unborn baby. Barry wasn’t thrilled, but surprisingly, he didn’t have a meltdown like Rafael had when he found out Faye had been cheating (in every public place in Sunset Valley). Barry and Faye made up quickly, and he moved in with her.

Stylish Faye, bringing home Baby Heath
A few days later, Faye waddled up to the steps of the hospital in a sun dress and high heels and delivered a newborn baby boy, Heath Hawthorne. Barry helped so much with the baby, but he and Faye struggled to get along. Still, Barry was a stand-up guy and even visited Rafael to try to convince him to come over and see his son, Heath. Barry even proposed to Faye, and she graciously accepted!

Eventually, Rafael agreed to come over to the house and began visiting Faye and Heath regularly. One night, Rafael came over while Barry was at work. After the baby was in bed, Rafael and Faye got talking, then hugging, then kissing. Unfortunately, Barry came home in time to witness the event. As understanding as Barry was about Faye’s previous infidelities, this he just couldn’t take. He moved out immediately.

The good news was that Rafael finally seemed ready to take on some of the responsibilities of being a parent. He decided to move in with Faye, just to help with the baby… Faye finally thought she knew what she wanted, after being confused for so long – her family complete, her son’s father living with them. She and Rafael began slowly building their relationship again.

"I wear my sunglasses at night, on the toilet"
The only problem(s)? When Rafael moved in, Faye realized a few things about him that she wasn’t prepared to know: he was already dating 2 other women – Bianca and Jessica! Jessica was a vampire (I have the Night Life expansion, so she was really a vampire). How would that vampire react to her “boyfriend” being in a relationship with another woman and having a son? Yikes. Faye didn’t want to find out. She also soon realized that most of Rafael’s friends were already vampires. It seemed that Rafael may be next on the list to be transformed (shivers). Also, Faye caught him wearing sunglasses on the toilet and dancing like this out at the pool in the middle of the night…

Don't hurt yourself. -- Rafael dancing poolside
Faye didn’t know what to do. So, she turned to the only person who had been there for her from the very beginning – Barry Tenderlove. She went straight to his apartment. She hit the call button for Barry’s apartment number. She waited patiently.

Finally, Barry came downstairs… and promptly attacked Faye. They fought in a cloud of smoke a few times, she slapped him across the face. She tried to apologize, told him to calm down. He got more violent, so she declared him a nemesis. Surprisingly, this declaration, and nothing before, was what ended their engagement.

Still dancing...
Faye went home, defeated. When she arrived, she found Rafael happily caring for Heath. The next day, Heath grew from a toddler into a child. Now Faye had a big decision to make about Rafael – stay with a potential vampire, a horrible dancer, and the father of her child, or kick him out and restart the search for Mr. Right.

I checked her relationship status bar -- all her old flames had faded -- so she wasn't dating anyone, besides Rafael.

If she wants a new man, she's going to have start from square one. Ugh, I'm not sure I'm ready to revisit the dive bar scene with Faye... I did, however, notice that Rafael's brother is a celebrity, a famous singer I believe... Maybe it's time for a little family reunion!

Oh God...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Winter in October

Last week, it actually snowed in the mountains! I didn't grow up up around mountains, so as I drove toward them on the way to bring E to day care, I giddily pointed out the beautiful white-capped peaks on either side of our car. She happily shouted about "snow," which I'm not sure she remembers from last year.

When I headed back that way in the afternoon, to pick her up from day care, I wondered if I could reach the snowy part of the mountain. It was hard to tell from a distance how high the snow was. I got E in the car and asked her if she wanted to try to find some snow. "Yeah!" she said. We headed for the base of the peak.

I was really skeptical about actually reaching the snow, and I imagined telling Mark about our little adventure and him laughing at me, in that, "Oh, aren't you so cute and naive" tone.

I figured that, even getting closer to the snow would be fun for E, so we forged ahead. As we got closer to the mountain, I started noticing little clumps of snow on the ground. It was almost like a line on the ground -- no snow, then snow. As we drove a mile further, it was like someone had flipped a switch, and it was winter. There was snow everywhere -- about 2 inches on the ground, trees covered, snow-topped roofs.

It was eerie, how fast it changed. It was like stepping onto the set of a movie. E was in shock. "What is that, Mommy?!" she asked, concerned.

"That's a lot of snow!!" I cheered. She really didn't remember snow from last year. We parked at the now-closed ski area and got out to play. She was scared at first and didn't even want to walk in it, but when I set her down and marched around in it myself, she started to jump and run in it. We made foot prints, snowballs, and took in the scenery.

Then back home to autumn in our little valley. The next day, snow fell at our house. Here it comes!