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!