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Showing posts from 2013

Put down the iPad and walk towards the light

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Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon un-decorating and packing up Christmas stuff. I also had to rearrange our living room furniture because I bought a couch on Craigslist. Of course, I had tons of help from my family. Ha ha! Oooh, I kill myself. Seriously, though, there's plenty of enthusiasm for putting up the tree. Taking it down? Not so much.

I hadn't planned to buy a couch. I had been lurking on Craigslist for a few weeks in search of a recliner. We had two in our living room but one of them had some personal problems - one arm was mostly disconnected and was threatening to fly off at any moment. Anyway, I happened to find an ad placed by a woman who was moving to Hawaii. Yesterday I stopped at her house after yoga class and bought the couch she had advertised. I thought it was a good deal for $65 - it has dual recliners and a center console that flips down when needed. Her sister even offered to load it onto a trailer and bring it to my house. Say what you want about …

The Best Day

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Well, the new iPad seems to be a hit. Our diabolical plan is working - buy the thing, make her love it, and then extract good behavior by threatening to take it away.  [insert evil laughter here]

She received an iTunes gift card from one of her aunts, so now she is blaring Taylor Swift songs in her bedroom.  She is currently listening to "The Best Day," which is the song her cousin sang at the wedding last month. "Roar" by Katy Perry will be on in a second, so hold tight. You may be able to hear it from wherever you are. We also got her a Bluetooth speaker for the iPad. We weren't thinking, I guess.

Surprisingly, the kid didn't roll out of bed until after 8:00 this morning.  Then she tore into her presents like some kind of animal. We weren't up terribly late last night.  We went to church and then put her to bed shortly thereafter. Earlier in the day, she and I watched "Polar Express" and talked about Santa. "Mom," she said. "S…

All Set

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The out-of-state gifts have been shipped. Cookies have been baked (and foisted off on friends and relatives). Shopping for the kid is done. Shopping for the husband is done. All gifts have been wrapped. Woot!

I love these last few days before Christmas, when it's just a matter of waiting. I particularly love the evenings, that hour or so after I've yelled at the kid to go to bed and then I can sit quietly in the living room, enjoying the tree, the candles, the solitude.

We knew a snowstorm was coming, so I took the kid shopping yesterday so that she could pick out a few things for her dad (originally we had planned to go today). Apparently everyone else saw the same forecast, because the mall was insane. Fortunately, I spent two hours doing restorative yoga yesterday afternoon so I was relaxed enough not to utter a single cuss word as I circled the parking lot, looking for a space. We did our shopping and then headed home.

Speaking of Christmas shopping, I have to share a funn…

She can't pay attention, ya'll

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The kid brought home her report card last week. She is graded on a scale of 1-4.

1 = Does not meet expectations
2 = Partially meets expectations
3 = Meets expectations
4 = Exceeds expectations

She got lots of 3s and a few 4s in areas like math, science, reading, history, and social studies.  She is reading above grade level.  Academically, I'd say that my little smartie does fine.

She did receive some 2s, though.  Most of them are clustered under an area called "Life Long Learning Skills." The 2s were in:
Follows school/classroom rules and directions.Demonstrates self-control.Works independently. Some of the comments from her teacher included statements like:

"She does struggle with not talking while others are talking and respecting the speaker."

"A does have some self-control issues. She is often times distracted during instruction and work time by objects in her desk or talking to others."

"I do sometimes ask her to slide her desk away from oth…

My baby can narrate like nobody's business!

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Our church held its annual inter-generational Christmas service yesterday.  This service is fully carried out by the children of our fellowship. It includes a Christmas-themed skit, which is always adorable. You can usually count on at least one wardrobe malfunction or something that does not go as planned.  This year's story was "The Christmas Cobwebs," the tale of a poor cobbler and his family, and how they learn the meaning of Christmas.

It seems like just yesterday that my daughter was one of the toddlers in the annual production, wandering aimlessly around the stage, knocking over props.  The wee ones are usually given bit parts as angels or something along those lines.  Now that my daughter is a very mature eight-year-old, she was given a big part this year: narrator.  It was her job to stand at the podium and read all the narrative parts of the play.

When she was practicing her lines at home, I reminded her of the importance of speaking clearly into the microphone…

I didn't have enough chaos in my life, so I . . .

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. . . took in other foster dog. Two-year-old CeCe was surrendered to a shelter because someone in his family was apparently allergic to him. He's kind of a wild man, so he was deemed a no-go for the adoption floor. Our home is far too small for a fourth dog, but I don't like the thought of doggies spending Christmas on a cement floor in a shelter. And the shelter where he landed is a nice one, as shelters go, but still. Maybe I am just a little bit sappy after all. Don't tell anyone.

CeCe is freshly neutered.  He has attempted to hump Gideon, Gretchen, and Kaiser in turn. I can't say that any of them were open to the idea. In fact, CeCe has been told to go fuck himself about eighty different times in the last hour. So far, he has not been effectively dissuaded from violating his new friends.

He smells like a shelter but I'm hesitant to give him a bath since it's five degrees outside. I sprayed some groomer's cologne on him, so now he smells like a shelter …

Ah, tradition

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We attended our daughter's winter concert yesterday (fifth year in a row!). This year, the school split things up a bit differently. Apparently they had access to two music teachers, so they held two concerts - one with the younger kids performing and one with the third, fourth, and fifth graders performing. I guess my daughter is an upperclassman now.

P and I arrived at the concert at about the same time (both drove straight from work) and found seats in the cafe-gym-e-teria. The third graders were up first.  They filed in and arranged themselves on the risers. As usual, our kid was in the front because she is short. See, there are benefits to being petite! She was wearing her new Christmas dress and a Santa hat. First they sang a song called "Earthlings Unite." It was a little odd, if I'm being honest.  The kids were doing some sort of hand gestures, but our kid wasn't doing them. I even tried to catch her eye and do the hand gestures myself.  (Sort of like sig…

The annual blog post that nobody reads

And yet, I can not be stopped from posting it every year.  Yes, that's right, it's my annual "favorite music of the year" post. Now, I think you know that I am way too lazy to look these up individually and confirm that they were released in 2013 and not at the tail end of 2012 or something.  But, I think I'm at least in the ballpark.

Anywho . . . here are my favorite songs from 2013:

Jake Bugg - this is a toss-up between "Slumville Sunrise" and "Me and You."  I also still have several songs from last year's debut album in heavy rotation. I have a feeling that if I met this kid in person, he would be an arrogant ass. I do think he is extremely talented, though.

Big Boi - "Apple of My Eye" and "Mama Told Me." Okay, I did look this one up and the album was released in December of 2012. But, I listened to it this year.  Big Boi is basically a guilty pleasure for me. Don't tell anyone.

Disclosure - "When a Fire Start…

How cold was it?

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When I drove to yoga class at 7:45 this morning, the temperature outside was 1 degree.  And that's without any sort of wind chill factor.  On my way home (about an hour and a half later), I noticed that the temperature had risen to a balmy 2 degrees.  So, it goes without saying that today was the perfect day to drive to a tree farm in search of a Christmas tree. P and I joked that we were going to take the first tree we saw, even if it was already strapped to someone else's car.

We bundled up and drove to the tree place. The temperature was up to 8 degrees by this point. We grabbed a saw and headed into the field. Now, I don't know one type of evergreen from the next, but normally I am a little bit picky about the tree we choose. I like trees that have firm branches but also have needles that aren't overly prickly. After about five minutes of wandering around and having "how about this one?" discussions as we hopped up and down to keep blood flowing, I chose …

American Winter

(This is my 900th post. Yay me!)

At the risk of spoiling all of the holiday revelry for just a moment . . . 

I am fortunate. I have a family, a job, a home, a car, and a college education. I have a 401k account. I suppose I am firmly middle class and yet, I think all it would take is one medical crisis or a more-than-very-brief period of unemployment and our little family would be in big trouble.

I was pondering this weighty thought last night as I watched the HBO documentary "American Winter."  It was a sobering experience. If you have an opportunity to see the film, I highly recommend it (it is currently on HBO on Demand and was just released on DVD as well).  American Winter profiles a handful of American families struggling with poverty.  Their stories are heartbreaking. These are people who desperately want jobs and often cannot find them. Or, the jobs available to them offer such low pay that they must still visit a food pantry just to get by.  They must explain to t…

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

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Oh, four-day weekend . . . you make all my dreams come true. Well, except for the part where my husband screams at various football games on TV. And the part where his greatest contribution to our list of household chores is to lift his feet when I come through with the vacuum. But, other than that . . . it's all good.

Our Thanksgiving was basically a repeat of last year. I cooked dinner and then we went to a friend's house for dessert.  I picked out a couple of cookie recipes from a kids' cookbook and tasked my daughter with the job of making dessert - under careful supervision, of course. In anticipation of indulging in said dessert, I worked out four days in a row, including a yoga class on Thanksgiving morning. It was free if you brought a canned good. At this time of year, I keep extra cans o'food on hand for just this sort of thing. Food drives galore.

Although I don't actually prepare a turkey (I bought some roasted turkey breast for my husband from the Hone…

I can keep a toddler alive (and other tales)

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You probably thought I forgot to tell you about the rest of my east coast trip, but fret not!

I got home (well, to my sister's house) from the wedding at 11-something p.m., at which time the babysitter went home. I knew that I needed to get my nephew (the nine-year-old) out of the house at 7:45 a.m. for a robotics competition of some sort. So, I set my phone to wake me up at 7:15.  I then took the baby monitor (for my two-year-old nephew) downstairs to the room where I was staying. I figured I should probably be aware of it if he woke up during the night. At around midnight, I was all set to go to bed when I received a text from my brother-in-law. "Can someone walk Bess?"  Doh! I forgot about the dog. See, my dogs maul you as soon as you walk in the front door. It is hard to forget about them. Bessie Mae is a very peculiar but sweet hound dog. She just sits silently in her crate and doesn't make a peep. Anyway, I went back upstairs, retrieved Bess from her crate, and…

The big day

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I can't begin to tell you how honored I felt to be a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding. I mean, I had a horrifying blemish on my face and she still let me be a part of the festivities. The day flew by and I'm struggling a bit to remember details. Saturday afternoon was a complete blur. I was at my sister's house and there was quite a flurry of activity. The kids were running around like crazy. A make-up artist came and went. My sister had her hair done. I picked up my mom from the hotel where she was staying and brought her back to my sister's house. Oh, and I also picked up my nine-year-old nephew from a Lego club meeting.

We all needed to be at the winery by 4:00 p.m. for pre-wedding photos. My sister headed over at 3:00 to get her gown on while the rest of the bridal party got ready at her house. The limo that was shuttling us to the winery was a 1964 Rolls Royce, which was very cool.  My youngest sister and I got dressed downstairs.  The main goal was to keep …

Wedding: Mission Accomplished

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My sister and her guy are now officially hitched. Now that I've got my bridesmaid's duties all checked off, I am just hanging out and enjoying a couple days of vacation.  I've barely seen my kid. As you'll recall, the best man died two weeks before the wedding. His daughter is here and she and my kid seem to be getting along famously. They even slept together on the top bunk in my nephew's room last night. My nephew actually gave up and moved to his sister's room because the girls would not stop talking. Anyway, A has been so busy hanging out with her new friend and her cousins that I only see her periodically when she needs food.

To back up a bit, my daughter and I arrived late Thursday night. My dad and his girlfriend picked us up at the airport and drove us back to their house in Maryland. I went to bed and the kid stayed up and partied with the grown-ups. Typical. On Friday morning, I left the kid with my dad and I drove to my sister's house (in Virgini…

I can't win

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I had an appointment to get my hair cut and highlighted on Monday. I've never had highlights and I was really looking forward to doing something a little different. My hair is very fine, thin, and fragile, so this was a once-in-a-blue-moon sort of thing for me. I wanted to look cute for the wedding. I asked for red highlights and picked a hair swatch out of a book. The stylist and I agreed that the highlights should be noticeable but not overly chunky. She did her thing and then spun me around so that I could look at myself in the mirror. I could see nothing. Nothing. My hair was exactly the same as when I color it myself with a box from Clairol.

"You might see it better, when you're outside in natural light," she told me.

I thought to myself: "It's November, it's 29 degrees outside, and it gets dark at like 3:30. But I'm supposed to stand outside until someone spots my invisible highlights?"

I know I shouldn't make a big deal out of somethi…

A wedding toast!

When the preparations for my sister's wedding got underway, I was so happy for my sister that I felt like I had some stuff I wanted to tell her. Mushy stuff. I thought maybe I could give a toast at the wedding so I started to write one. Later I learned that tradition dictates that only the maid of honor and best man give toasts at a wedding.  I guess I've been to some non-traditional weddings that didn't follow etiquette or something. I remember going to the wedding of one one of my husband's childhood friends several years ago. Abel (the groom) stood up and said, "I know that the bride is supposed to be the center of attention, but I need everyone to pay attention to me exclusively."  If you know Abel, this will make sense to you. Anyway, I still have some stuff I want to say to my sister, so I'll share it here. I'm going to go ahead and use my brother-in-law's name because it's a common one and I don't think it will give you a way to tra…

How do you know?

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Sometimes I worry that my daughter will think her middle name is Focus. I'm constantly saying, "A, focus. Just try to focus." How do you know when your child's personality quirk is actually a medical issue that needs to be addressed?  This topic has been weighing heavily on me lately.

Everyone who meets my daughter finds her to be very charming and engaging. And she is!  I know I'm biased but she is just downright likable. Everyone at church says, "Oh, she's such a free spirit!" She is a free spirit but even free spirits need to get dressed every morning.  People have no idea how hard the mornings are at our house. I think they believe I am exaggerating or that I am too hard on her.

No one ever says, "I can't wait to be a mom so that I can yell at a short person all day long."  No one wants to be that kind of parent. And yet, I find myself turning into some crazed harpy every morning. Her dad ends up yelling, too, and he is not a man w…

You'll wear a shirt with a kitty on it AND YOU'LL LIKE IT

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I went shopping with my daughter last weekend. She needed some new boots. Not snow boots, but fashion boots.  In the past I have seen some cute boots at Gymboree so I took her in there.  They were having a sale and I had a coupon. Woot!  I started poking around and spotted some adorable pants with flowered appliques on them.  And, there were brown boots that matched! "Look at these, baby girl. Aren't they cute?"  She shrugged. I poked around some more, determined to find some article of clothing on which we could agree. And then, finally, I heard this:

"Mom, I just don't see anything in here that I like."

Whaaaaat?  No more Gymboree?

"Are you sure?" I asked, frowning slightly.  I held up a skirt.  She shook her head. We left and headed to Old Navy.

Later this month, Sesame Street Live is coming to town. I used to take her every year. Now she is too old.  This morning she left the house in skinny jeans, high tops, and a tee shirt with her school lo…

And so we move forward

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My heart was so heavy on Friday night, after the news of the best man dying, that I didn't know what to do with myself. I decided to go to the gym. Did you know that you can have the place to yourself if you go on Friday night? 'Tis true. Well, there were three other people there. So that makes four of us with no social life, apparently. I've noticed two young women who come pretty regularly. I think they've made some sort of pact to get fit together. However, as far as I can tell, they just walk very slowly on the treadmill and run their mouths.  They'll probably quit soon because the gym "did nothing for us!" But, I shouldn't judge. I thought I was killing it on the elliptical one day until I happened to glance at the settings on the elliptical next to the one I was on. This woman's settings were basically double mine - higher incline, higher resistance, etc. She probably thought I was a colossal pussy.

Anyway, normally I go to the gym on Satu…