Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Update

Being so far from family is by far the hardest thing about living where I do (although a lack of CiCi's Pizza and Sonic and many other fast food chains I have come to crave) come in a close second).  In North Carolina, I had two sisters a couple hours away; now they are my nearest relatives, but at a 12 hour distance.  Somehow I was able to bribe and beg (and possibly add a slight bit of guilt) both sisters to drive up for Thanksgiving.  The good news for them is that after holiday traffic added an extra 3 to 4 hours to both their drives, the balance of guilt capital has decidedly switched back to them.

It was a wonderful, but too quickly over, few days.  I enjoyed seeing my niece and nephews.  Um, my sisters and their husbands weren't too bad either, but I couldn't hold and love on them nor smile at the things they say and do (at least not to their faces!).  I intended to get copies of all the photos everyone took, but forgot so I will share the sparse ones I took.

Thanksgiving itself went wonderfully.  My brother-in-law, Ken, spent Wednesday night making a pumpkin cheesecake that I accidentally dropped.  Luckily it more imploded than splattered and still tasted wonderful (although it looked a little, well, dropped).  That was the worst mishap of the day and for that I can be extra grateful!

So in the last week of preparation, company, and recovery I haven't had time for much else.  Now that all I have left is Christmas, I'm sure to have lots of time to hang out online.  Actually I do have a story about my husband's Black Friday experience,  my Christmas decoration preparation (I wasn't kidding about going slightly crazy), a video of my family dancing, and other sundry things banging around the inside my head. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

O Amazon

It is once again the time of year where I am thankful so many of my presents come directly to my front porch.  As I was doing my Christmas shopping this morning in my PJ's, I remembered my ode to Amazon I wrote last year and thought I would post it again!

O Amazon,
O Amazon
I love you so much

I Christmas shop
with kids asleep
and hubby gone.
Sanity I keep. 

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Your prices rock,
Selection's great.
I’ve never had
You ship too late.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Supersaver shipping
changed my life.
Ship straight to friends
Saves me some strife.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Come home and find
At my front door
Another box arrived
from your great store.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much


Monday, November 16, 2009

Just Another Typical Afternoon (of Chaos)

And now for another episode of Sanity is Overrated featuring abandoned children, idiotic cars, and obliging friends...

The afternoon opens with Peter on his way to a doctor's appointment (the first in WAY too long) and Elise waiting to be picked up from an after school activity.  I am headed out the door, having timed my departure from the house so I can pick up Elise and go directly to piano lessons.  The other 5 children are getting in the car at their usual pace of turtle/snail.

It takes me a moment to remember why I parked the car backwards.   **  This is the part where I flash you back to yesterday where I realized on the way home from church that I was nearly out of gas.  Or at least I might be, it is hard to tell when your fuel gauge only goes down to a 1/4 tank.  I had decided to risk making it home.  **    I was worried enough about my gas level to think parking on a down slope was important, but had completly forgotten I was running low until that very moment.  Great, a stop at the gas station will make me late picking up Elise.

If only that was the worst of it.  The Suburban is out of gas.  The gas container for the lawn mower is obviously hidden next to the porch.  So obvious that I find it after several minutes of looking in the garage and a call to my husband confessing my overreliance on fumes.  The sloshing liquid looks less than a half gallon, but it is enough to start the car ... if the battery hadn't died in the five minutes I left the keys in the ignition and the car door open.

Peter, who is only 20 minutes into the 25 minute drive to the doctor and ironically at the exit for piano lessons, turns around to pick up our daughter, who, in turn, is only sitting outside the school 30 minutes later than all the other students.  (Luckily she called me to find out why I wasn't there; my call to the school office went unanswered.)  They swing past the house to jump start the Suburban (a task we are quickly perfecting, stupid car) and Peter follows me to the gas station, ensuring his family isn't stranded by the side of the road.  He needn't of worried, I had enough gas to enter the station, realize I turned in wrong, pull out, drive back around, and reenter with the fuel tank on the correct side.   By the time we get to piano, the kids have been sitting in the car an hour.  Their feelings on waiting so long are EXTREMELY clear and have been for at least 45 of the 60 minutes.

The piano teacher is understanding that we are a half hour late, the doctor willing to postpone Peter's appointment an hour.  There seems to be only one relationship damaged: I am not on speaking terms with my fuel gauge lying, too small battery Suburban.

This stress filled afternoon is why ...

... I never called back my sister (sorry Brenda!).

... I dumped out and reorganized my friend's Dora memory game during piano lessons. (Nothing wrong with trying to find some order somewhere.)

... I cruelly snickered when Peter called (on the way to a recruiting dinner before heading out to the night shift- did I mention I'm a single parent tonight?) after his doctors appointment  to tell me he has been permanently banned from aspartame (in all diet drinks) and caffeine.  

... we had Burger King for dinner.  Well, also because I am susceptible to commercials, despite the fact that I fast forward through most of them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Whistler's Mother (A Cautionary Tale)

Once upon the time there lived a beautiful princess full of patience, wit and grace; but this story isn't about her. It is about a slightly frazzled, frumpy, grumpy mother who, cursed by the evil work schedule of her husband, had to take all the children to the far away land of piano lessons (even though only the oldest three take them).

During this long journey, amidst conflicts and territorial disputes, an annoying sound permeated the air: the sound of whistling. "Please stop whistling," this mother would ask her 3rd child and for a time it would stop. But the yearning of expression is strong and inevitably the whistling would start again. Loudly, the same lines over and over and over and over till the mother wanted to jam something, anything, into her ears to keep that tune from echoing inside her already stressed out mind.

"JUST STOP WHISTLING NOW!!!" She finally exclaimed in a last ditch effort to preserve sanity. In the stunned silence that followed the mother could (finally) hear her conscience whisper, "Dude, that was a bit harsh." In an effort to restore any lost or broken confidence in her tender son, she followed the outburst by weakly chuckling, "You know, you are just like your father, he is always whistling, too. Can't help it."

And That Was The Fatal Flaw Which Sealed Her Fate Forever.

"Just like Dad. I whistle all the time just like Dad." Now her entire house is filled with the whistling of this young child. Interspersed with, "You know I whistle all the time, just like Dad." One can hear the forced quality to the whistle, but it is quickly being engulfed by a more natural, habitual sound. Years of living with a unaware, prolific whistler are now twice as fun. She inadvertently created a monster.

The moral of this story? Never, ever, EVER drive with Peter or Ethan on a long car trip. Especially if the radio is broken.

The End.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Theory of Sleep Deprivation & Chirstmas Ideas

It is once again that time of year. The time where I wake up and realize Christmas is only a few weeks away and I have six kids and I had promised myself I would start Christmas preparation months ago. It is quite unfortunate that this realization always comes just after late nights of  Halloween prep compounded by the evil time switch of daylight savings. Because I am sleep deprived. Not enough to appear overly grumpy (ha ha!), but enough to definitely impair my judgement.

I hold that this is the reason I decide that playing Santa to 6 kids isn't enough stress in my life. It's inadequate rest that makes creating all homemade decorations sound lovely. Staying up late to order on Amazon is directly related to the inspiration of cooking five hundred thousand cookies for neighbors and friends. (If I had pushed my bedtime another hour I might have decided to hand quilt them all blankets!)

It is a vicious cycle. A night of stitching individualized book marks leads to a (too early) morning and an idea to bake every Christmas pastry known to humankind. Welcoming the next new day at its earliest beginning, still brushing glazes on bread, will definitely mean choosing to go with hand quilled snowflakes. And as the paper rolling winds into another all nighter, my sleep deprived ideas are fueled into even wilder ideas.

So far this year I have kept my ideas to a minimum. Except the crayon holders, Christmas banners, painted ornaments, and husband's coworker gift. Did I mention my dearest husband is enabler to my lack of sleep creativity?

So if I seem a little distracted, perhaps snoozing in the middle of conversations or forgetting little things like my name or pants, please excuse me. At least there will be enough cookies, decorations, and hand sewn gifts to last a lifetime (or at least till next November).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Overcoming What Life Throws at You (3-Year-old Style)

It all started with a common morning complaint of growing young children, "My leg hurts."

I assumed it was typical growing pains, he had complained similarly a few days before, but an hour later this Friday morning he was still limping around the house like a zombie. Groaning, too.

I knew it was getting serious when he started asking to be carried wherever he went, opting to sit the rest of the time. That is not normal for any of my children. After several attempts to get things done were foiled by my shadow whimpering, "Mommy" while trailing behind me with an increasingly severe limp, I gave up and spent the afternoon on the couch with him. He fell asleep long enough for me to get some work done and woke unwilling to walk at all with a visably swollen knee.

Saturday morning Peter took him to get an X-ray: no apparent broken bones, swelling didn't look like an infection, traumatic injury of some sort probable. (Did I mention that I have no idea how the leg was injured? Not even a clue.) Appointments made on Monday with an orthopedist to make sure.

But my son was tired of waiting to be carried around. He simply wasn't going to wait to be pampered. The 2nd day of injury he was up and down the steps, all over the house, on and off the couch, and giggling while playing hide and seek with his siblings all while vehemently eschewing most attempts to be carried. He wasn't walking, but had perfected his own technique:
(Note- this was Halloween day, I was busy with things other than sweeping. This is what my floors look like after one day.)

So, what do you do when life throws you for a loop? I was impressed how well (and quickly) Matthew adapted. He wasn't grouchy about it, he didn't even complain. In fact, he was delightfully cheerful the entire time he scooted. He just dealt with it. More often than not I spend a lot of time fretting about what I can't do instead of looking for solutions that will work within my limitations. I am hoping to become a little more like my little son the next time life decides to challenge me.

Post-Script: Sunday he was willing to tentatively put weight on his leg, taking a few steps by the end of the day and waking up Monday without limp or complaint. Found him jumping on the mini-trampoline. Cancelled the ortho appointment, kept his leg wrapped another day, and all appears to be well.

Post-Post-Script: Just watched the video. Didn't comment on the noice because I forgot not all of you are used to the regular Saturday noise level of my house. This might actually be considered a quiet moment. And my boys are practicing Mario Cart in the hopes of one day defeating my friend's husband- they are out for you, Clark...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

There is something about autumn that wakes up the craftiness in me.  I may only use my sewing machine and glue gun for Halloween and Christmas, but it often totals the entire 3 months.  And then the craftiness in me hibernates another 9 months.  I always think I will keep it going; I do, after all, enjoy it, but it takes that long to recover from the late nights of those last months of the year.

This year we went with a more loosely held theme for Halloween.  We had everyone choose someone from history.  After Ethan chose an obscure Japanese ruler from a PS3 game called Civilization Revolution, we limited it to Western history.  I made a total of 5 tunics without a pattern.  I had no idea how easy they were. May need to figure out how to always use tunics in my costumes.

I made spider cookies and our traditional Dinner in a Pumpkin.  Peter and the kids carved a couple pumpkins.  But mostly I sewed, measured, glued, and painted.  Here is the breakdown:

Peter was Caesar.  I was particularly proud of his costume because I made it all without a pattern.  The laurel wreath took some thinking, but gold spray paint, hot glue, old fake leaves a I already had, and pipe cleaners did the trick.

I was Cleopatra.  A little but of a frumpy Cleo, but I can't complain.  Also made up the costume without a pattern. 

Elise was Amelia Earhart.  This costume was chosen before knowing about the movie.  Her costume was store bought and she has been wearing the jacket for over a week again.

Ryan was King Tut.  My sister helped me with ideas for the headpiece.  The snake was a rubber one that  I cut the head off and spray painted.

Ethan was Leif Ericson.  Another costume I made up completely.  The shield is a pizza pan and the helmet was a cheap plastic one I fancied up.

Kirsti was Queen Elizabeth.  When we went trick or treating, she was every one's favorite.  I bought the dress (I have made princess dresses before and knew what a pain they were), but added the white collar.  After looking all over town for a red wig, I gave up and spray painted a blond one.

Joseph was Abraham Lincoln.  His was the first pattern I used.  Couldn't think of another way to get the old fashioned coat.  The beard was left over of Ethan's cape and a cut up sock.  The hat was foam.

Matthew was Joseph and the multicolored coat.  Made up that one, too.  He hurt his leg a few days before Halloween and wouldn't put any weight on it.  So we carried him the near mile around the block.