Monday, March 24, 2008

What Do You MEAN I'm Not on the List

I was recently reading one of the blogs that I stalk, and she was very distraught because she basically lost the list of all of the blogs that she likes to stalk. And she was asking for people to remind her of what they might be, or point her in the direction of blogs that we, as her devoted readers, would like to recommend. So I did. I whipped out my list of personal favorites and hovered over the publish button...and then something occurred to it my place to invite other people to read the blogs of people that I read? In some cases I know these folks...and it just seems like that would be inviting someone else to their wedding. Like I am propping up a big sign outside their ballroom that says "Party Crashers Welcome".

So I deleted most of them and left only the three that I know are already published and have ads and stuff and so I would think are *looking* for folks to read them.

So if I left you out, know that it was only out of my deep and abiding love and respect for you. That and I was afraid that you would beat me up on the playground.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

If You Don't Believe, You Don't Receive

I cannot believe how quickly my kids are growing up...I look at them, and I can still see my sweet, soft babies...but then, they open their mouths and I am astonished at what they already realize. And a little bit afraid.

I love holidays. I love the decorating, the cooking, the celebrating...and I especially love the tender and fun traditions and stories that we use to introduce our kids to the concept of the holidays...and then you know, hook them for life. I firmly believe that, but getting them interested and excited about the more secular aspects of the holidays they will be more apt to listen and absorb the true "reason for the season". Being something of a perfectionist and a control freak (hey, I am embracing it this week), I have anxiously and doggedly pursued a careful consistency in our stories and traditions from year to year.

Seriously, I have sat my husband down and demanded that we have a serious conversation about how Christmas and Easter and such would go down in our home:

Me: "Honey, we really need to talk...we need to figure out how exactly we are going to broach the subject of Santa."

He: "We do?"

Snarky look shot here.

He: "Right. We do."

I have cited the importance of making sure that we decide what our family traditions are before the kids are able to remember things being done differently or not at all. I have whined about needing to make sure that we do it exactly-the-same-way each year to throw the kids off the know, coordinate our alibis...

All this, in the pursuit of extending their innocence about it for as long as possible...hey, I don't want to be the only one excited about the prospect of Santa and the Easter Bunny...that, and I would hate to lose the "Santa is watching..." threat from my discipline arsenal. As far as my kids are concerned, every store that has a video surveillance camera in it is actually taping their behavior and broadcasting it *straight to the Easter Bunny and Santa* - ALL YEAR LONG. (feel free to use that one yourself) I hoped that, by being rigorous in our commitment to the story we would be able to milk a good 7, 8, 30 years out of it.

But then I guess I was thinking we had someone else's kids. You know, kids that aren't having all-nighters in their rooms the minute we go downstairs....

This Easter season has been peppered with portents that the end is near.

4 Days before Easter, in Walmart:

Sebastian: "Mom, is the Easter Bunny real? Or is it just some guy in a bunny suit?"

Me: "Where did you hear such a thing?"

Sebastian: "Nowhere, but..."

Me: "Look honey, soccer balls!" Redirect-redirect-redirect....

3 Days before Easter, in Giant.

Sabrina: "Will we look for eggs outside?"

Me: "Hmmm, probably not honey, it's going to be cold...but don't worry, the Easter Bunny can hide the eggs inside like last year."

Sabrina: "The Easter Bunny didn't hide our eggs...Aunt Robyn did. While we were at church."

Me: "Look honey, milk!" Redirect-redirect-redirect....

Sabrina: (She is my stubborn one...) "Well, I guess maybe the bunny could have come after we left and before she got there...but...I don't know. Maybe she saw him? I should ask her. Can we call Aunt Robyn????"

Me: "Maybe when we get home..."

2 Days before Easter, while in line for Easter Bunny Pictures.

Sebastian: "Mom, is that a real bunny or a guy in a bunny suit?"

47 pairs of children's eyes fix on me, breathlessly awaiting my next words. 90 pairs of grown-up eyes glare at me warningly. Shit.

Me: "That's the Easter Bunny honey."

Sabrina: (cause she has to get in on this action too) "Yeah, but is the Easter bunny a rabbit or a guy in a bunny suit...his hands look like people hands, in bunny gloves."

Sebastian: "Yeah, and his eyes don't blink."

Me: "Well, umm, the Easter Bunny is magic...look kids, it's our turn."

Frankly, I am exhausted by these exchanges...and I was sort of blue, imagining what the incredulous reaction might be on Easter morning, when they went down and saw the eggs hidden. I was afraid that I was going to get called out on my lame hiding tactics. Thankfully the soft, sweet, baby parts of them prevailed and the excitement of finding eggs hidden overrode, even if only temporarily, whatever seeds of doubt they have planted about who is really doing the hiding.

Somehow I don't think we will make it to 7.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It Looks So Good I Could Eat It...But None For YOU

So I got the most wonderful surprise edible arrangement from my best friend. It really is awesome.
See? Notice the 90lb puppy in the background, pondering whether she can get to it before I can thump her?

There is something poetic about her sending me a fruit basket...what with me being the fruity basketcase that I am and all...

So I must wonder, is it wrong of me to have told Sabrina that the "big brown things" were just decoration when in reality I know that they are chocolate covered strawberries and they are mineminemine?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rebel with A Cause

I've never been a rule breaker. Well not much of one anyway. I get that rules are there for a reason, really I do. I appreciate that, no matter how ill conceived or inconvenient a rule may be, it serves, or at some point in it's history served, some purpose. I am trying to raise my children to appreciate and abide by the rules and so, I am teaching by example.

Until now.

I have come up against a rule that I just can't sit idly by and obey. Ironically enough it is a rule about one of my children.

Our son is 6 and in Kindergarten. He is brilliant. Intellectually, he could be in first grade. In fact, he is already spending part of his day doing first grade work. He is reading and doing math and we are unbearably proud parents. Socially he is exactly where he needs to be.

Our daughter is 4 and just months away from finishing the pre-K4 program at her preschool. She will be 5 in September. She is bright and social and looking forward to starting kindergarten. Every other child in her preschool class will be enrolled in Kindergarten in the fall. She is at the top of her class, yet the rules state that she needs to wait a year longer than her peers before she can start because she misses the age cutoff by 11 days. Less than 2 weeks.

On the one hand, I understand that a line has to be drawn somewhere, and September 1 is that line. As I said before, I am a rule follower so in principle I *get* the black and white of it and on some level admire it's simplicity. I understand that if you start making exceptions it is a slippery slope before that line becomes so muddied that every parent is appealing it. I also don't want my children to ever have the notion in their heads that the rules don't apply to them.


On the other hand I know my children. I know that they are not cookie cutter and that blanket policies don't always work with real world situations.

My son missed the cut off by MONTHS, so we never bothered with it. Sure, when he started kindergarten he already knew and could write his letters and numbers, could read small words, could count to 100 forwards and backwards, could do single digit addition and subtraction and was working on multiplication. He already had the curriculum basically licked. (Did I mention that we are unbearably proud???) Socially though he was very tender, and we felt comfortable that the extra time would serve him well. So, when the time came for Kindergarten, we just sort of crossed our fingers and prayed that it would all work out, and that he wouldn't be bored.

Thankfully, it did. My son is the kind of kid that, if you give him a task to work on, he will dive into it and work independently quite happily. He self manages beautifully. This has been put to the test and proven in Kindergarten, as he is given special "extra work" to do while the rest of his class continues to work on items that he has already completed. No disruptions from him, and he isn't bored.

My little girl is a whole other story. She too knows her letters and numbers. She too can write them and she can do some very basic math. She is not nearly as academically advanced, though still more than capable of handling the work that we see coming home with our son. Socially she is beyond ready. Her attention span is unnerving and she is beyond precocious. The thing is, she loves people. She wants to be engaged. She wants to be involved with everyone. If she is not, she is very skilled at getting everyone involved with her. She *will* get your attention. Her school did Kindergarten readiness assessments and there were 3 skills that she had not mastered: skipping (hey, she comes by this natural...what she lacks in grace, she more than makes up for in clumsiness, just like her mama), buttoning buttons (seriously? Find me kids' clothes that have buttons on the front of them and I will have her practice) and zipping her coat. When I heard that last one, I had to laugh. She *can* zip up. She just refuses to. Think about it...when you have to zip up a child's coat they have 100% of your undivided attention. You stoop down to their eye level, and carefully make sure that you aren't catching any hair or skin. While she has you there, she will strike up a conversation with you to ensure that she keeps your attention. That is our little diva in training. So no, make no mistake, she will get your attention. ..Our great fear is that, if we make her wait another year she will be a disruption both in preschool next year because she will be bored and, if we try to use the same "special work" concept with her as is being used with our son in Kindergarten, the year after as well, because she wants to be working with the group.

I have reached out to the school district to see what can be done...I explained to them that I was aware of the policy and was curious if there was any provision for children that were so close. Their answer was to sent me a copy of the policy, which I clearly was already familiar with (otherwise how would I have known to question it) and to tell me that by making her wait another year she would have the opportunity to be at the head of her class. Because clearly that is what is important. Making sure that your kid is the valedictorian rather than the child that loves school.

I. could. just. scream.

So now what?

I Am the Christopher Columbus of the Ice Cream Aisle

As a special favor to all 1 of you who come here and read what I have to say, I must share with you that I have uncovered the holy grail of decadent frozen treats...

Hagen Daaz, Special Reserve, Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream bars.

There I was, haplessly wandering down the aisles of my Giant Food looking for a sign, any sign that would lead me to chocolate craving salvation. And that's when I saw them.

I have long been a fan of the Pomegranate. Though as a kid, honestly I thought they were called Chinese Apples. Whatever. Of course, in recent years, pomegranate has hit the big time, what with all of the antioxidant blah-blah-blah surrounding it's ruby like seeds. Whereas years ago you could scarcely find the darned things, now, everywhere you look there is pomegranate juice, pomegranate flavored lip stain (honestly, I swear...and yes, I have some) pomegranate yogurt drinks (incidentally, also yummy...goooo Dannon!!!!)...but it never occurred to me that someone, someday might make it into ice cream. So much for being clairvoyant - eh?

Dark Chocolate has also been a lifelong love with me. I can remember being the only kid that wanted the "Special Reserve" dark chocolate bars out of the Hershey's Minis bag...and thinking that although there was clearly something wrong with me, if loving dark chocolate was wrong, I didn't want to be right...So you can imagine my special brand of joy when reports started surfacing about the healthful effects of dark chocolate (in moderation) (but I didn't really hear the moderation part. Did you? Did somebody say moderation? Yeah, didn't think so.). Where I used to have to sneak off in a back alley with a bar of baker's bittersweet chocolate to indulge my craving, I was now finding granola bars even with dark chocolate chips because, yeah, dark chocolate was now a health food!!!!

Anyway, as I was saying...there I was in the frozen food aisle, scanning the Ben and Jerry's and the Edy's for something, anything that would inspire me enough to be worth the extra heaping of calories. Because I am easing into a diet plan. Right now I am just counting calories...and so far I have found that I can count really, really high. Perhaps someday I will limit the number of calories I allow myself, but for right now, I am content with the counting...I am like the Rainman of calories. Except that Tom Cruise isn't my brother. Which is good. Because incest = bad. At any rate, Ben and Edy were leaving me empty...nothing so tantalizing that I just hadtohaveit. I dutifully scanned the gold foil section of the ice creams, seriously not hoping too hard, because Hagen Daaz, while deliciously creamy is not often inventive. That's when a picture of my beloved "Chinese Apple" caught my eyes. At which point I jumped and zoomed in for a closer look. I was so overwhelmed with excitement that I actually opened the freezer case door into my own nose. (See, because I know that there is only like 1 of you who reads this, I have no fears about letting that one slip....Hi mom!!!) Working through the pain I grabbed two to hold on my throbbing nose and the other to examine for clues that I might be being Punk'd. Thankfully the ice cream angels were smiling down upon me (probably laughing their asses off) and it was in fact the real deal. I started looking around tearfully, for someone to share the news with but the only people there were staring at me rather dubiously and shuffling away muttering something about drugs being bad.

With no one to preach to I looked back to the freezer section, vessel of all that is frozen and delicious, and noted that they also make a pomegranate dark chocolate chunk ice cream in a convenient 1 pint single serve helping. Overcome with gratitude I felt weak in the knees and so checked the calories...the bars are 280 per bar. And there are 3 per box. I bought one box. They are now gone. Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring is in the Air...and so is the smell of Cabbage

So here we are, just a few days away from the official first day of spring, and apparently someone sent a memo to our dogs about it. Because they are going berserk today. I mean like bats in the belfry, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, taste the rainbow CRAZY...

Earlier today, as we were eating lunch, I let the puppy and her mother out and then back in. At which point they started chasing each other's tails. Which sounds cute and harmless enough. Until you consider that, between the two of them, they have more body mass than my son's entire soccer team. And apparently more energy.

We headed upstairs to read a book and lay down for nap and the two of them decided to channel their inner Martha Stewart and redecorate. And then, when they had finished, they came barreling up stairs, bounced off of her door until it opened and hopped up on her bed with us...which resulted in shrieking...and yelling...and sobbing. And Sabrina looked at me all, "Will you please stop blubbering and *DO SOMETHING* about this?!?!?". And I was all "Isn't it your turn??"And she was all "Hello, I'm 4?!?!?!?"

So I went downstairs to see what the big deal was...

ALL of the couch and love seat cushions were on the floor.
The dining room rug was moved from the center of the room over to the windows...along with the table and 6 chairs that normally hold it nice and securely to the floor.
The kitchen rug was flipped over and put back , perfectly in place, rubber backing up.
The bedding from each of their crates was strewn out like some sort of hairy, fleece canal through the hallway.
Their rawhide bones were scattered like some sort of grisly crime scene.

Never underestimate the amount of damage that 180 lbs of dog can do in the span of one Angelina Ballerina story.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

I am just the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. Seriously.

In about 24 hours I will have my dearest, closest friend here and my newest nephew in my hot little hands. Bwa-ha-ha...I will get to sniff baby head, nibble baby toes and smooch baby cheeks for 2 whole days...and then...I DON'T have to put him through college or potty train him!!!

How did I stumble upon such riches you may ask? Well, seems the little guy has taken to partying hard all night already and mum needs a someone to pinch hit the chaperoning duties. Which we are MORE than eager to do.

Seems her mummy-hearing is preventing even the best intentioned attempts at sleeping through the sounds of baby from being successful at home, so we are finally going to be able to put the fact that we have spread out our living area across three floors of our home to good use. (Heck, if we just finish off the attic we could send each member of the family to their own floor and not see one another for days...hmmm...I see a trip to Lowe's in my future...hmmm) Tim and I had already stumbled upon the interesting fact that, from the basement you cannot hear anything that is going on on the second floor. Of course we figured this out only slightly after our children did. Like a month after.

Apparently they have been waiting until mommy and daddy retire to the basement to play pool or (honestly, more often...) World of Warcraft - there, I said it, it is out in the open...I have become a video game playing chick - and then they host dance parties and raves up there. We were clueless for who knows how long...though it does explain the bouncer we keep finding at the top of the stairs....unfortunately no one told them that they should be charging a cover, so there will be no supplemental income from that.

Sabrina is the one that actually ratted them both out the other night...she crept down the 2 flights of stairs and then cleared her wee little throat:

"Mommy...I losted the back of my earring." Bottom lip pulled out for full pitiful effect...

"Oh Sabrina...where?"

"In Sebastian's room.." I look at my is 9:30. Bed time is at 8:00. You do the math.

"Umm...*how* did you lose the back of your earring in Sebastian's bedroom an hour and a half after bedtime?????"

"Well, when we were playing Star Wars..."

Nuff said.

I think the little mum should have no problem sleeping soundly.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breathe Easy

Well, I am pleased to announce that the cold turkey quitting of the pig ears has finally led to a resolution to our gas problem. It was a tough go there for a while as apparently cutting a 90+ pound puppy off from her beloved piggy treats will indeed cause a case of the DT''s just harder to recognize the signs as she is most always a twitching, drooling, slobbering mess. Now she just doesn't fart nearly as loudly or as often.

Oh, and I now know that at least some of the malodorousness of recent times is to be pinned squarely on the broad shoulders of my non-four-legged loved ones. And I can't even blame it on the pig ears. Oh well.

In other bright news I was finally able to haul 3 weeks worth of trash out of my garage and to the curb last night. So my garage is no longer a war zone. My car thanks me.

Aren't I just a bundle of useful information and entertainment tonight?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Kid's Say the Darnedest Things...

At dinner last night...(the night before, hubby had been in a particularly foul mood and mommy advised them to give him a wide berth...)

Sabrina: "Daddy, are you still having a bad attitude??"

Some moments will live in eternity. The look on his face and the stillness of the room at that exact second was one of them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Sanitation Situation

That's it. I've had it...I would like to report a crime. There is a conspiracy going on between Mother Nature and my trash company. I already knew that the latter were a bunch of thugs. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that, although they claim Wednesday is my trash pick up day, they actually come to pick it up sometime between 2 & 3Am on Wednesday, which in my younger, glory days was not technically included in Wednesday as I had not yet bedded and ended the Tuesday portion of my week at that time. This latest transgression however has less to do with them and more to do with the fact that clearly Mother Nature - or should I call you Godmother Nature...yeah, that's right, I'm onto you - is the one orchestrating this heist...

The last two Tuesday nights have offered the absolute worst weather imaginable for placing trash outside...last Tuesday it was so windy that Dorothy whisked by me and asked if they were perchance serving peanuts on this flight. A quick bit of common sense and we were able to surmise that, lugging our trash bins out in this sort of gale would surely leave our unmentionables strewn across all of our neighbors' pristine, winter brown yards. Not wanting to be *those neighbors*, we opted to hold off and put out our trash this week. So last night, when we went to lug the refuse to the end of the driveway we opened the garage door, only to discover that, apparently last week's windstorm had transported our house, Dorothy style, to the Amazon. And it is apparently monsoon season. Due to not having braved the winds last week, our lids aren't shut...which means that the water streaming down from the sky would be joining our trash. Which would make the trash bins entirely too heavy for the thugs, I mean garbage collectors, to lift into the vehicle. It rained so much that our basement flooded. The sump pump is pumping it's little heart out. This is the first time that I have EVER heard it go on. We have been here almost 2 years.

So now we have to wait for next week. With 2 weeks of trash in the garage. My car is mad at me for locking it up in the garage with the trash, but someone has to keep an eye on it.

I'm not throwing anything out this, no more napkins, use your sleeves.