Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far....

My son woke up this morning and informed me that the Cowboys would be playing tonight at 7, and wondered if he could stay up late and watch the game. A football game. He wants me to put on a football game while his Daddy is at work. He wants me to give up my sweet kids-to-bed-early-while-Mommy-mindlessly-watches-TV-Thursday-night-routine so he can watch a football game. He actually wants football to be on our television while his Daddy is not even home.

Well, obviously that's not going to happen. Still, I think it's sweet that he's growing up to be more and more like his Daddy every day.

my 2 favorite Cowboy fans

Monday, November 26, 2007

Say Cheese

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time for hanging our stockings by the chimney with care. Time for baking Christmas goodies. Time to pause and reflect on the wonder of this season, and the blessings of our families. Time to dress those families up in coordinated clothing and force them to smile and sit still for extended periods of time while we attempt to capture on film what we seldom capture in real life: children who are simultaneously clean, well-groomed, sitting unnaturally close together, smiling blissfully, keeping their hands to themselves.

I do this every year, and every year I have this vision in my head of a laughing, perfectly lit, professional quality, spontaneous moment of love and joy caught on film. What I get instead are offerings like these:

Really? Can't at least one of you look at the camera? And what exactly are you looking at?

Another favorite...

Hey, now that's just uncalled for. Nothing says 'Merry Christmas' like an blurred-but-potentially-obscene hand gesture on your Christmas card.

Needless to say, it went quickly downhill from there...

Merry Christmas...Blehhhhh.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ask and You Shall Receive

Yeah, baby. My favorite soup. In powder form. So from now on, I'm just going to name all the things that I want and then wait for them to arrive in the mail. Who knew I wielded so much power?
I promise to use my powers for good instead of evil.
Or maybe just to get free stuff.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Highlights

It was a very good Thanksgiving at our house. The grandparents came from Georgia, bearing gingerbread men.... furniture for Katie made by Grandpa...

and making cornbread dressing with "helpers".
Add some smoked turkey and eighteen casseroles, and you've got yourself a great time. We had twelve people for dinner, which is a formidable task when you only own eight chairs, but it was really fun. My cousin and his family came over, who I hadn't seen in years, and the kids ran and played while the adults chatted over coffee and red velvet cake.

This weekend it's cold and rainy; perfect weather for turkey soup, watching movies by a fake fire, and tree-decorating while listening to James Taylor Christmas music.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lord, make us truly thankful

Every year at Thanksgiving, I ask my children what they have to be thankful for. They are still small, and the most devastating thing in their lives so far has been to wait to eat until supper is ready, so most of their answers come at my prompting. "Mama and Daddy, Brother and Sister, Grandma and Grandpa, Grammy and Grandpa C.", they repeat, echoing their nightly prayers. When I try to emphasize all they truly have to be grateful for, the food on their table or the roof over their heads, their eyes just glaze over, uncomprehending.

The other day our World Vision gift catalog came in the mail. Inside are pages filled with real needs of real people throughout the world, and a price is listed next to each need, so you can "buy" it, and if you choose, send a card to someone describing the gift that was given in their honor. You can buy 5 ducks for $30 to provide eggs for a family in need or a well for $18,000 to provide water for a village, and pretty much anything in between.

I've been getting this catalog for a couple of years now, and every time I read through it, I am moved. Every year I vow to really focus on giving this Christmas and not getting caught up in another onslaught of toys. But eventually my thoughts turn to the Wal-Mart sale paper or the Toys R Us book, and I end up spending more on my children than they really need. And I do end up giving my charity donations, but as I do so, to be truthful, my mind is calculating my tax deduction more than the genuine needs of others.

So this year I decided to let the kids pick something out to send. Grace and Tommy sat down to peruse the catalog, and were astounded to learn that people needed things like vaccinations, school supplies, and seeds to plant crops. For one thing, it was hard to convince them that the crying baby in the picture needs those vaccinations to survive, and that by paying for them we would be helping her and not hurting her. But mainly, I think they just assumed that everyone has been given the same things they have. Things like school and homework and doctor visits to them seemed like things they have to endure, rather than gifts from God.

We put the catalog away and eventually, yes, they started looking some more at the Toys R Us flier. Then Grace and I went grocery shopping together for our Thanksgiving meal. We loaded down our cart with pounds of butter and pecans and sweet potatoes and green beans and cornbread mix and marshmallows, and then lugged it out to the car. I couldn't help but think of the excess of food that will be doled out at my home on Thursday, and while my heart was glad (especially for the sweet potatoes), I was again reminded to be thankful.

I asked Grace as we drove home what she is thankful for this year. Here is a partial list of things she named:

Our family.
Our house.
Good health.
Clean water to drink.
Enough food to eat.
A heater that works.
A country where we have freedom.
A school to go to.
Clothes to wear.
Shoes on our feet.

I could add so much more.
Thank You, Lord.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Evicted from the Internet

Four days without the Internet! Gasp! Has my life really come to this, that I found it such a difficult thing to bear? Weren't there years of my existence that happened before this thing was invented? What did I do back then? Maybe I should Google "Life before the Internet" to find out.

I had no idea I relied on my computer as much as I do. Then suddenly it was gone from my life until the AT&T repairman could fit me in, and I felt so lost. Payday came and went, and I couldn't balance my checkbook because I download my transactions online. I couldn't do my online bill-pay. I couldn't order my Christmas cards. (Sob) I couldn't even check my comments, y'all.

On about day 2, I couldn't take it any more and decided to go to Kinko's to score a fix. I actually walked into my home office, thinking I could Google to see where the nearest Kinko's might be.

O, Internet, you have infected my brain.

It was interesting to watch the kids go through withdrawal, too. They asked me about every 20 minutes the first day or so if they could play Noggin. I had to break the news to them about 12 times before it really sunk in. The birthday girl mourned the loss of her new Webkinz' cyber-shopping ability. The baby wanted to watch 'Wow Wow Wubbzy'. It was brutal. After a day or two, however, they adjusted. They actually ventured outdoors to play without being pushed. They rode their bikes. They interacted with each other. Then they fought, and my first impulse was to send one of them to have computer time so I could get some peace and quiet.

Well, today my computer geek hero finally arrived, punched exactly 12 buttons, and rode off into the sunset in his AT&T truck.

Now, at last, I can isolate myself from my family in peace. Until they find me, at least.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How to Throw a 7th Birthday Party

First, you must decide that you want a Fairy Tea Party above all other themed parties. Then you must invite all the girls from your Brownie troop, and request that they don their best ballet clothes. Next, the decorations:
To make a FairyLand out of an ordinary dining room, simply drape it in tulle, sprinkle silk flowers and candy on the table and floor, et voila.
After your home has been transformed into a magical land, you then await your guests by the window.

Don't forget to ask your mother when they are going to get here...

...every minute and a half for thirty minutes...

...while your brother waits for his friend's mom to come pick him up because he doesn't like all of this girly stuff.
When your guests arrive, have your mother tell them that they are not dressed for the fairy tea party, so they must go outside and find some suitable fairy wings* hidden in the enchanted wood (backyard).

*these fairy wings must be made by your mother out of pastel knee-high stockings, wire, hot glue, and spray glitter, but only after she checks at the Dollar Store to find that they don't carry fairy wings. After the wings are completed, your mother's friend must call to tell her she found fairy wings at the Dollar Store across town.
But they are worth the effort.
After your mother has taken a few dozen pictures of the fairy wings in action, the fairies must return inside to create their magical fairy wands. The wands must be covered in sticky glitter-glue, and the fairies must proceed to smear it on every surface in the kitchen.

Once everyone is suitably attired in head-to-toe glitter, they may enter the FairyLand Tea Room, where they must be served at least a pound of sugar apiece, in the form of cupcakes, ice cream, pink M&M's, clearance Halloween candy, and red fruit punch.

Make sure you include your baby sister in the partaking of the sugar.

After the sugar has been consumed and the presents have been opened, the fairies must proceed directly to the enchanted wood (backyard) and play soccer until their parents arrive.

There you have it. All the ingredients for a Happy Fairy Birthday Party.
Suggestions for how to clean up massive amounts of glitter are not included in these instructions.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dear Grace,

You're seven years old today! It's hard to believe that time has gone by so fast. It seems like just a few minutes ago, I was holding you in that hospital bed, with tears of relief and joy streaming down my face, looking upon you for the first time. It was in that moment that I fell instantly, irrevocably, irrationally in love with you.

We took you home and proceeded to photograph your every move, every outfit, every expression. I spent the first few months with my nose in a parenting book, trying to decipher every cry or need that you had. Thankfully, you not only survived my ministrations, you thrived, and you taught me quite a lot about trusting my own instincts.

It seems like you have grown in the blink of an eye. You are such a big girl now. You are smart. You love to read. You are an excellent artist. You have a beautiful face, a gorgeous smile, and most importantly, a kind and loving heart. You have a strong love for God and a compassionate spirit for others.

You are such a good big sister. I love how you care for Tommy and Katie, how you play with them, how you comfort them when they are sad, and help them when they need it. My favorite times are when the three of you dance in your jammies right before bed, your laughter filling the whole house.

Grace, you are a wonderful daughter. Every day, I give thanks to God that he sent you to be my child. You have brought such joy and laughter into my life. Today is a happy day as we celebrate the day you arrived into our lives, but at the same time, I feel sad that the years have flown by as quickly as they have. You are growing up, and while I am proud of the big girl you are becoming, I will always think of you as that sweet little red-faced nine pound four ounce pink bundle in my arms.

As strong and unbelievable as my love was for you in that first moment that you were born, I can honestly say that it has grown steadily stronger since. You are a precious treasure to me. You are truly a delight to my soul.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

She Sells She-Crabs by the Seashore

To answer the She-Crab Soup queries of my Canadian and Louisianian readers:

She-Crab Soup is a delicacy served in Charleston, South Carolina, made from female blue crabs and their eggs. The best place to get this soup is Hyman's Seafood Restaurant, and I just learned they have a pre-made mix you can order and just add frozen crab, so now I am wondering if they might send me some free soup mix for advertising their product to literally (2 or 3) dozens of people. (Hyman's Seafood: It's the Best Restaurant Ever.)

You can find the recipe here. Bear in mind of course that I have never tried to make this soup, so I can't vouch for this recipe. However, I have now been thinking about the soup all day, so I might give it a shot, if I can get my hands on some good frozen crab. (Frozen Crab: It's the Best Frozen Seafood Ever)

Now you know why I didn't go into advertising.

Friday, November 9, 2007

7 Random Things About Me Meme

Me me me me meme.

Ahh, a good topic for writers' block. Or is it bloggers' block. Either way.

1. My favorite soup is She-Crab Soup. I love it. I can't get it where I live. I pine for it. It is an unrequited love. I had a scrumptious quart of it last summer while I was on vacation in South Carolina, and I can still recall the taste. Mmmmm.

2. I rode on a tour bus for the 1996 'Colin Powell for President' campaign. Colin Powell wasn't actually on the bus. People kept coming up and asking for him, and when we said he wasn't there, but we were getting out a petition to get him on the ballot, people walked away disappointed. I was a college student who knew nothing about politics, but my boss was running the campaign and wanted me to ride along for 3 days, and it seemed like a good reason to skip class. Come to think of it, any reason was a good reason to skip class. Plus there was free food, so there you have it. My short career in politics.

3. I hardly ever leave the house with everything I need for my destination. I almost always have to turn around in the neighbors' driveway and come back to get something. The other day I did this 3 times.

4. I am frequently late. See #3.

5. I take a bag of Twizzlers on every long road trip. Also, we always eat at Cracker Barrel on the way home.

6. I get the same thing at Cracker Barrel every time I eat there. Grilled chicken tenderloin on grilled sourdough bread, squash or sweet potato casserole and sweet tea. Chocolate cobbler for dessert if there's room.

7. Trying to think of a non-food-related thing....I know all the words to Beethoven's 9th Symphony in German. I sang it in college choir, and for some reason it has chosen to stay in my brain. I can't remember where my keys are, but this I can recall.

Anyway, since this I am the last person on the internet to complete this meme, there is no one else to tag. I propose that we start a new one called "The 7 Most Boring Things About Me", which is what this post was frequently veering toward to begin with.

Here's a sample for you of the boring things I thought of while writing this post: 1. I still have my natural hair color. 2. I love 'The War' documentary on PBS. (hey, stop yawning!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Things I am Thankful For Today

Clean house.
Laundry done.
Kids in bed.
Pumpkin-scented candle.
Clean sheets.
Down comforter.
Good book.

My precious new healthy baby nephew, Brody Austin, whose birthday is today. (and praise God his mom is healthy, too)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Suburbia Morning News

Workday Declared at Local Eyesore

SUBURBIA, TX - In a quiet little neighborhood in the south part of town, there is one house on one street that is known to all the neighbors. At first glance, the house appears to be vacant, due to the layers of leaves covering the tall and unkempt grass, but after peering in through the windows, it becomes clear that the home is in fact inhabited by an extremely messy family.

"They mostly keep to themselves," said one of the neighbors, speaking on terms of anonymity. "I'll tell you one thing, I never see them doing yard work. Most of the time, I see the husband going to and from work, and every time I see the woman, she is trying to hurry those kids in and out of the minivan."

The Suburbia Morning News was able to land an exclusive interview with one of the residents of the home, who would only identify herself as Chrissy.

"I know the place is a mess," she said defensively. "I went on a trip a few weeks ago, and they just trashed the whole house while I was gone. I've been trying to catch up with the laundry, but then the kids got sick, and I just haven't had time to get everything cleaned up, okay?"

Although her claims of not having enough time seemed sincere, our investigative report has uncovered that 'Chrissy' (if that is her real name) in fact spends much of her time on the computer. She reportedly has a website where she inflicts her readers with picture after picture of her family and her vacations. After obtaining her internet records, we have learned that she spends a marginal amount of time on the writing of her blog (which can be surmised by her incoherent and badly worded posts), yet she compulsively checks her comments and site meter in a pathetic display of her need for the approval of others. She spends the remainder of her time online reading other people's blogs and leaving poorly-spelled comments for them to decipher.

According to city records, the residence has been cited in the past for having a vandalized mailbox, as well as an unruly lawn. It would appear that the grass has only been cut after receiving a warning letter from the city, and based on our observations, another letter appears imminent. 'Chrissy' referred us to her husband to discuss these infractions, but he could not be reached for comment.

As a result of our investigation, the family has declared a Cleanup Day, starting Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. Reportedly it will start with laundry, and will be followed by a thorough cleaning of the floors and bathrooms, which are in a terrible state. Chrissy has stated she expects to have very little cooperation from the other residents of the home, whom she conveniently blames for much of the mess.

We have learned from a reliable source that the family is planning to host a birthday party in the home on next weekend. Our source also claims that she dropped her child off for a playdate at the home last week, and was shocked to discover that the girl had been exposed to a wicked virus. We can only hope the home will be sufficiently disinfected during this Cleanup Day, or else untold numbers of partygoers could be affected.

(this post was written for the Monday Mission, and the assignment was to write in the style of a news article. Go to Painted Maypole's if you want to read some more. Happy Monday!)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sick of Candy

Okay, I woke up this morning with a candy hangover. Seriously. My neighbor was handing out candy last night, and for some reason she gave my youngest child of those gigantic Hershey bars. The really big one. The other kids gave a collective "Oooooh" in appreciation, and my husband immediately responded, "Oh, that is mine."

His it was, half of it, and the other half was mine, all mine. So yummy. I need to confess to you right now that I am a total candy junkie. I ate candy for breakfast today, people. Butterfingers, with milk. It's really bad. I am powerless to control my addiction. Do they have a 12 step program for sugaraholics?

Anyway, apparently the amount of caffeine contained in half of a giant Hershey bar is just enough to keep me awake until 1:30 a.m. reading people's blogs, but not enough to keep me awake with enough energy to do anything productive, like last night's dishes or yesterday's laundry. So of course, this morning was rough. Hence the need for Butterfingers for breakfast. It's a vicious cycle.

Meanwhile, Katie has been acting horribly for the last two days. She has been fighting with everyone, whining, complaining, and just generally uncooperative. She had a friend over to play today and she was just being absolutely terrible. At one point, she was whining like a puppy dog. Being the nurturing, intuitive mother that I am, I fussed at her for not speaking like a big girl, and told her she needed to stop that incessant whining, and when I picked her up to put her in time out, I discovered she was burning up. 101.9! Oh, I'm just the mother of the year.

A teaspoon of Tylenol and a nap later, she is back to her genial self for now. And she's eating a box of yellow and red Nerds. I hope that doesn't come back to haunt me later. Literally.

Edited to add: Tommy joined the quarantine this evening with a fever of his own. Looks like I'm going to need a lot of chocolate to get me through this.... Meanwhile, my friend who let her kid come over here to play is really loving me right now.

The kiddos

The kiddos

Kidney Peril Updates
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chrissyinthecarpoollane at g mail dot com.