Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Are You Doooooooing New Year's Eve?

Not much, would be the answer here at the T household. With T's reclusive tendencies and the fact that our house still sounds a little bit like a TB ward, I am guessing that making big New Year's Eve plans would not be the best idea this year. Eh. It's not like we've done anything too fabulous in the past few years anyways.

I laugh when my friends or younger family members who don't have children boast of what they have planned for the Big Night. Dinner in Chicago. Clubbing in DC. Kissing someone in Times Square. Of course, if they live in the Burg, there is always the option of going downtown to see the giant glittering piece of fruit they lower on C Street in lieu of a ball. (It used to be a pear that looked like an enormous, glowing booger. Gross. Snot makes me throw up.)

But I laugh because I know that sooner or later, they too will be shackled to their homes by the not-so-elusive eight o'clock bedtime of the 3 and under crowd. We haven't exactly done anything newsworthy for New Year's Eve the past 3 years. The first year, I was so tired and stressed out from having a newborn in the house that I honestly had no idea it was New Year's Eve until I was standing in the Wal-Mart check-out line in a stupor, waiting to buy diapers. I went home and cried. Last year, the highlight of my night was watching my friends L, S, and J play with J's daughter's beauty parlor hair-highlighting kit. They gave each other pink and blue streaks as our children ran wildly through the house. I don't even remember what we did the year before that...must have been pretty exciting stuff. Probably involved me falling asleep with my mouth open in T's chair while he watched soccer.

So, if you have big plans for tonight, enjoy! (If you have children, how did you escape? Do you have an unsuspecting relative who forgot tonight is a holiday? Or does your babysitter charge holiday rates?) Think of me, eating leftover fudge and thumbing through magazines while poor T coughs and watches Fox News.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Do You "Celebwate"?

I was working on a newsletter last night when Natalie scampered (she loves this word) into the kitchen with my new GiantCupcakeCakePan. I didn't pay much attention as she sat across from me, mixing some sort of delectable imaginary cake mix (you can be sure it was chocolate). As she worked, she talked to herself, which she often does when playing mommy or teacher or beautician or sanitation engineer (ha, got you...just checking to see if you are on your toes). I caught the end of the sentence, "...celebwate Hanukkah." Huh? First of all, when did she convert to Judaism? Do they eat cake for Hanukkah? And most importantly, if they don't eat cake for Hanukkah, can I have it? Oy vey...this will kill my mother.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Can Santa Bring Some More Afrin?

It was an interesting Christmas in the T household, friends. I started feeling iffy on Monday night. By Tuesday morning, my throat was on fire, and it's pretty much stayed that way. I think T was secretly grateful that his personal Christmas wish came true--less conversation from me. (By conversation, I mean me talking while T stares at Fox News and nods every once in awhile.) I haven't slept more than a couple of hours in several days...add in wiping snotty kids' noses (they're the stinkers who gave it to me!) and the crazy rush of Christmas Day and I am pooped! To top that off, I am pretty sure I have PMS as I caught myself crying during the sappiest Lifetime movie ever this afternoon. (Aside to my sister's fiance: Sam, if you are reading this, I apologize. That was too much information. But you have only yourself to blame by reading this.)

So, I just made myself a nice little cocktail. I like to call it an AcetaminAfriCodeiniti. It's a delightful mix of Acetaminophen, Codeine, and Afrin. The Acetaminophen/Codeine thing expired back in October. I really don't care. I called my nurse sister just to be sure I wouldn't die, and she said it was okay. But I also heard about 594 people in the background, so I am pretty sure she was at Happy Hour somewhere, which could mean she had no idea what she was saying. I have conveniently showered and dressed for bed so if I pass out here at the keyboard, T can just drag me upstairs when he gets home. Or, if my cocktail kills me, hopefully I will live long enough to hit "publish" so you all can tell T what happened. I swear I'm not a junkie. I'm just desperate for a good night's sleep! You moms know this!

At any rate, all the pain was bearable during yesterday's festivities: Natalie didn't realize that there would be toys out under the tree in the Living room after she opened her stocking. I guess she thought the stocking stuff from Santa was it. This photo is when she ran in and saw her dollhouse. The other photo is Michaela Byrd furiously crawling towards the tree, saying "Oh oh oh!" We clocked her going 68 mph.

It was so much fun to watch them both get excited over their gifts. Michaela Byrd was most excited about a sippy cup she received in her stocking. However, if you were to review our video tape of the morning's events, you'd see Michaela sidling up to the dollhouse, and this would be the transcript;

M: ooooooo!

N: No! Michaela get outta my spot!

Me (frantically): T, turn the camera off!!!

(shuffling, silence)

With the exception of the raging fire in my throat which is currently calming to a dull roar with the aid of my concoction, Christmas was really special this year. T gave me a cookbook I asked for (Hungry Girl- anyone know if it's any good?), a cartridge for my Cricut machine, a scrapbooking gadgety thing, and a new camera. Yay! He also did a great job with my stocking this year, which I can attribute to the fact that he forced my sister to go shopping with him on Christmas Eve. Most importantly, T and I are blessed with two beautiful, smart little girls. They may not always act like angels, but sometimes they sure look like them!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Inappropriate Christmas Carols

"I don't know. It's complicated, and it is inappropriate."

These were my sister's final thoughts on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" tonight as we rode around town looking at lights. It had just come on the radio, and we were passing a delightfully tacky display. It was dark in the backseat (Mimi was driving), and we were separated by Su-Su, otherwise I would have slapped her upside the head.

"You really didn't know that the little girl was singing about seeing her father dressed up as Santa Claus, but she doesn't know it?" I asked incredulously.

"What? I thought the mom was kissing Santa. That's inappropriate, Manda."

It took Su-Su and I several tries to explain to Alison that the little girl in the song sees her father dressed up like Santa Claus, but she doesn't realize it's her father. It's like a funny little joke to her. Obviously to my sister this is a ballad of heartbreaking familial betrayal.

She's supposed to be the smart one. Right. I feel like I just told a kid that Santa isn't real. Am I spoiling the song for anyone else?

I leaned my head back as Nannie exclaimed over the same lights we saw last year.... She must have missed a few throwbacks of her mighty-water today because she did not remember the enormous blow-up Nutcracker (or, CrackerNut, as Natalie calls them) or the flashing gingerbread men or even the thousands upon thousands of lights plastered to every surface of home and yard.

As we passed the one house on the street that seemed to be boycotting the splendiferous displays (they only had one wreath on the door and a tree in the window, geez), I thought of a few more inappropriate carols.

What about "Baby, It's Cold Outside?" That man is clearly going to drug the young lady in an effort to keep her in his home (Glenn Beck analyzed this song cleverly on his show the other day). I'm sure there are more.

You have to be careful about what you let your kids listen to around the holidays, people!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"I can't deny that fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"

It seems that of the three people who read my blog, one of them generously chose me for this prestigous award:
I am truly honored. I would like to start off by thanking the Academy. Well, I guess I should thank Meri. Meri is awesome because she is always serving behind the scenes, whether it's at church or our MOPS group, or with her friends. She is always up for meeting me for coffee. She is super-creative, and I have never seen the woman without a spool of yarn and some sort of project. Meri also she raises four (!!!) little boys with her BrilliantHusband and still manages to not only be awake, but to serve others so faithfully. She is smart, genuine, and never afraid to speak her mind. It doesn't hurt that I love her blog too. So here is the "interview" she sent me:

Do you have any friends from childhood?
{Yes! I went to school with most of the same people from 1st grade to 12th grade, and I still keep in touch with some of them, mostly through Facebook. My friends M (of "I Heart NY 2008" fame), E, E, S, and M I see pretty regularly at MOPS or just hanging out}

What do you value about your friends?
{I love and admire their many talents and abilities: cooking, sewing, decorating, writing, teaching, research, cake decorating, good gossip!, knitting, crotchet, running more than 10 steps without getting winded, dance, fashion, conversation...the list goes on and on. There is something about each one of them that I can admire and aspire to be. They have been there for me, especially during my second pregnancy, which was unexpected. They gave me advice and helped me to understand that my feelings were normal. They offered to help me with childcare, meals, and cleaning my house. Most importantly, there were just there. }

Are they your sounding board?
{Most definitely! Especially when it comes to matters of decorating. I am pretty unsure in this area. My friend L is very good at furniture placement, so I always ask her before I move something. My friends are all great listeners. Most of us are mothers, so we're all in the same boat and we are in this journey together-might as well pop the champagne cork and enjoy the ride!}

What activities do you like to share together?
{Anything and everything! Shopping, play dates, MOPS meetings, girls' only trips, coffee dates, double (and triple and quadruple!) dates, movie nights, game nights, spa name it!}

Now it is time for me to pass the love on. I choose to bestow the honor upon my friend, Tracy. Tracy and I became friends last summer in our MOPS Bible study. Tracy is a dedicated blogger, and a very devoted mommy to two precious little boys. (Natalie is obsessed with her younger son. I think she wants to be his mother.) I don't think I've ever met another mom with such a love for teaching. Tracy comes up with the most creative ideas for teaching her boys, and she blogs about it too! Her family always looks like they are having a blast. Tracy is quiet, but always a friendly face. Her bruschetta recipe rocks. I hope our friendship keeps growing, Tracy! Love to ya!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"MyLeese Nahbeeblah" and "Merry Christmas" to You Too!

You know, "MyLeese Nahbeeblah," that classic Christmas carol! If you don't speak three-year old, let me translate. "Feliz Navidad." I'd love to tell you that I taught Natalie that during our intensive home creative learning time, but I am fairly certain she picked it up from Elmo's Happy Holidays or the obsessive selection of Christmas music I force upon my children in the car. We have learned a lot this year though!

We learned that things don't always turn out the way we want (week-long stay in the NICU for Michaela in January). We also learned to thank God for answering prayers. (He let her come home with us and she's just fine--no more infections!)

Natalie learned that little sisters can be fun...

...and frustrating.

T worked very, very hard on our bathroom, the addition, and the Living room.

We were blessed with a beautiful new addition! (Thanks Mama and Nannie!) I worked hard on window treatments and decorating to make it fun for me and the kids...we'll get there someday!

We also learned that sometimes it's okay to stop and smell the roses.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year from the "T" family!

Oh, and Myleese Nahbeeblah too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This Party Was Brought to You By...

...the letter "N" and the number "3!"

What kind of mother would I be if I didn't boast about the millions of hours I spent planning a 3 year old's birthday party? Natalie's birthday is in early December, so December has been a stressful month for the past few years: babies being born (or about to be born), decorating to do, trees to put up, and of course-birthday parties to plan. Come New Year's Eve, I am plumb tuckered out!

We had 11 (yes, 11!) children (10 girls and one adorable baby boy) cram themselves into our home one Saturday for a Sesame Street birthday. No, we do not normally force Elmo to brave sub-zero temperatures on our front stoop. This year, I decided to take it easy on myself and not plan a craft that would just be thrown away the minute the kids piled back into their minivans. I kept things simple, and the girls colored Sesame Street party hats and decorated them with little jazzy pom poms on the top. That kept them busy for all of 3 minutes before the whining (Natalie's) commenced. She wanted cake. RIGHT NOW!

I managed to distract them (her-she has a cake obsession, don't know where she gets it) long enough to propel them into the new room. We played "Pin the Cookie on Cookie Monster." Natalie cheats. Then we managed to get all the girls to sit in a circle for my very own version of "hot potato," which we called "hot cookie." This entailed the girls passing a small plastic cookie around the circle while Sesame Street music (theme song and "C is for Cookie") played in the background. When the music stopped, the person holding the cookie was out. Except that two and three year olds are very egotistical, and the shock of being "out" is more than their little psyches can handle. So the "loser" had the privilege of choosing a glittery necklace and standing to the side. This went over much better than dragging them screaming from the circle.

After the mass riot over the necklaces ended, the SWAT team (other moms) ushered their kids into my kitchen for the best part: cake and ice cream! At this point, I don't want to see a cake decorating tool for a long, long time. I was up very late making these Cookie Monster cupcakes, which were my very first attempt at cake decorating (unless you count running a spatula of icing over some hastily prepared cupcakes and then eating the remaining icing). They weren't all that hard to do...just very, very time consuming. They were also devoured in about 2 minutes. Please don't report me to the Cake Wrecks blog, Meri, as I am a novice and I do not sell my work. Not that anyone would be buying....

The animals gather for feeding.

Birthday Girl! I can't believe we have had only 3 years of her benevolent dictatorship...sniff sniff.

Well, if they won't let me eat cake, I will eat my shoe!

All in all, a fun little party! Natalie had a blast, and I will too once I take a breath and relax after Christmas. I think I need some eggnog....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I could convert for this....

I could convert to nerdiness for this:
It looks like so much fun, and a total throwback to my old highschool cheerleading days. I HATE video games, but this could be worth trying....I had no clue there were games like this. I thought they were all about wizards and trolls and monsters trying to slay dragons and other such nonsense. This could be interesting.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I (Heart) New York {2008}

Several months ago, I registered for a county Parks & Rec sponsored trip to New York City. My friend M decided to join me, and another friend A signed on at the last minute. Just a day-long trip to the Big Apple...the bus left Virginia at 4 am on Saturday and returned around 1 am on Sunday.

I've done the trip before and assured my two friends that the gloriousness of NY at Christmas awaited us (along with the massive crowds, traffic, puddles of dirty water, and the occasional crazy-but I left that part out because it's not kind to scare your friends, 'specially when you want them to take a trip with you). I have some other girlfriends who tricked, I mean convinced, their husbands to accompany them in a separate van. I'm not sure why they did that, because a trip to NYC with T is about as much fun as watching a pot boil-unless you're into that sort of thing, in which case you'd have a blast with your husband. Mine, however, is a bit of a Grinchy-Scrooge type. T is a 72 year old man in a 29 year old's body. He was happy to be left home with the comforts of leather cushions and cable television, and I was just as happy to have a girls-only day in the most fabulous city in the U.S.

I'll be honest and admit that I wasn't feeling the love at 2:45 am when my alarm went off. By the time M and I took our seats in front of A on the crowded bus (behind Mullet-Lady and across from Cell-Phone-Rings-Too-Much), we were too keyed up to go back to sleep right away. So for awhile we gossiped and eventually exhausted ourselves into a stupor. After a few rest stops and some make-up adjustments, we were entering the magical Lincoln Tunnel. I'm not sure what exactly is magical about the Lincoln Tunnel except that it has lots of traffic and some mildew, but maybe the magic is that people can swerve and cut in front of each other to get inside without having a 300 car pile-up. If this is the case, our bus driver is a master magician.

The bus dropped us off on 34th street, near Macy's and a very tall guy dressed as Frosty the Snowman, who was accompanied by two scantily dressed Mrs. Clauses. After gawking at them, my friends and I decided to experience New York! We chose to ride the subway yesterday, and I am so glad we did. With a $7.50 Fun Pass (T and I did this a few years ago and decided it was worth it), we had access to all the wonders of Manhattan. I'm not sure what all the fussing is about, because the subway is pretty awesome. With the exception of the scary man with the wild beard dressed in a trench in the back, everyone on our car was normal and just out for some fun. A and I came to the conclusion that since M is a law school graduate and passed the Virginia bar, she was the most obvious choice to read the maps and tell us stupid regular college graduates which line to take.

Our fun took the form of a jaunt down Canal Street in China Town. The shops on Canal Street seem to me to be the modern version of a Speak-Easy. A customer approaches the shop keeper and whispers the password, which is usually "Versace" or "Coach" or "Kate Spade" (my personal favorite). If you get the magic password correct, the shopkeeper takes you back to view rows of *real* designer handbags, and you just won't believe the prices, people! $30 for a Prada bag! $10 for a Burberry scarf! It's really almost too good to be true. M lectured me for a moment on the woes of the business on Canal Street, but I pretended not to hear her. She bought a non-designer green beaded bag, which A and I deemed just perfect. Then some other people bought some other things and yadda yadda yadda we ended up at Lombardi's in Little Italy for a pizza lunch. Lombardi's boasted an excessive wait in the cold, and fairly decent pizza. We chose a large pepperoni, spinach, and mushroom and inhaled the entire thing. It was a great break from the cold.
Rockefeller uptown was even more packed this year than it was last year. We couldn't even find a spot to take good pictures of ourselves with the tree in the background. It was M's idea to head inside St. Patrick's cathedral next, and I am so glad we did. It was warm and gorgeous inside. A and I were amused to see a priest filling a vial of holy water from a large orange "Gatorade" tub, but all in all, the cathedral was very impressive. Their indoor nativity scene was breathtaking. As we walked the aisles, we could hear the amazing choir practicing somewhere...the echoes were lovely.

We trudged further up 5th Avenue, passing the likes of Cartier, Trump Tower, Harry Winston (!!!), Louis Vuitton, The Waldorf Astoria, The Plaza (hi, Eloise!), and beautiful Tiffany & Co. The beautiful, glittering, glowing, shining display outside of Tiffany & Co. sang to me all the way down 5th Avenue. Walking inside that store (I've never made it that far up 5th before) was like hearing the hallelujah chorus, except that we just heard the choir at St. Patricks, so maybe it was just them echoing in my head. At any rate, I am convinced it was a miracle that I did not purchase anything in there. My wallet is thanking me today, but I am mourning for that little blue box I wanted to bring home.

It was dark by the time we reached Central Park, and our camera batteries were beginning to wear down, so any flash photography in the park would have failed miserably. We walked in just far enough to say we'd been to Central Park, but not so far as to encourage a mugging, kidnapping, or stabbing. After a quick photo shoot in front of The Plaza, we ran into FAO Schwarz, and then hitched a subway ride back to Herald Square. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the perfect spot for shots of Macy's all lit up. A and I decided that it wouldn't be a trip to NYC without a pretzel from a street vendor, so we munched on our snacks while we staked out a spot on 34th Street to wait for the return of our bus. Last year, it felt like you sort of had to run after the bus like a hobo trying to board a moving train, so we wanted to be early this time.

As we finally boarded, a tiny little policewoman appeared out of nowhere and gave our driver some flack for parking on 34th. She jokingly told him that she'd make his passengers split the ticket. I told her that would be impossible because we'd spent all our money already. That seemed to lighten her up, and she let us go with no problems.
While we rode back through Manhattan, I couldn't help but reflect on such a fun day. I am so grateful to have a chance to take a break from Mommy-duty for a day and just have some fun! I already counting down the days until next year's trip...A and M, are you guys up for it? I (Heart) New York!

In Case You Were Wondering What True Love Looks Like...

This is it.

The beautiful, glowing Tiffany & Co. display lured me close like an enchanting Siren. Here is a more subdued shot of me and my friend, A, in front of the store.

We found all sorts of things to put on our Christmas lists inside. Our friend, M, humored us and was kind enough to find a "secret" elevator in the back so we wouldn't have to wait with the throngs of jewelry worshippers to get back down to the main floor.

More on our fabulous "I (Heart) New York Trip 2008" to come!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Like Little House on the Prairie

Let me begin by saying that I was always a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books growing up. I used to imagine what it would be like to ride in a covered wagon, shop in a general store, and share a cozy bed with my sister on a cold prairie night. Well, scratch that last part because I shared a room with my sister for 7 years and it was pure torture most nights because she found great joy in making me miserable.

This week has come about as close to life on the prairie as I want to get. We have some kind of BIG, unfortunate clog in the pipes under our house, which resulted in some major backing up in the downstairs bathroom. Ick! So T declared that we must not use the showers or the toilets (except for Natalie because it's impossible to ask a three year old to hold it) until the situation is resolved. He seemed to think that it would be okay to use the dishwasher and the kitchen sink because those lines weren't affected. Wrong. Whatever clogged the pipe blew the kitchen pipe apart, so all the water we were using went under the house. Great.

So I've really felt like Laura or Mary Ingalls as I get in my (covered) Chevrolet Trailblazer and drive to WaWa to use the bathroom. And showering at my mom's house has sort of been like camping out in the wilderness...her mood can sometimes swing and she'll go all Comanche on you. Dangerous.

Today is Day 5 1/2 of "The Great Plumbing Debacle of 2008." The plumber sent his guys over last night, and they tried to run a monster snake down the line, and even that wouldn't go through. They asked if someone might have flushed a toy down the toilet...meanwhile, Natalie is standing at the door wearing a red scottie dog dress, pink fairy wings, and pink dress-up shoes with flowers on them. They must have been referring to T.

Yes, I am sure I've seen him sneak his He-Man action figures into the bathroom. It couldn't have been Michaela Byrd--she prefers playing in the dog water. But just to be safe, we asked her, and the look on her face was priceless. Her mouth dropped open in shock that we would even consider accusing her of such treachery. "No! I di'int!"

Well, okay then. Back to square one. Looks like they will have to replace the entire line under the house if their magic balloon trick thingie doesn't work tonight. I honestly don't care anymore. I just want to be able to shower at my house! I am PRAYING that they can just fix the darn thing tonight...and let the record show that if they take the pipe out and discover a Fisher Price Little People car, or a My Little Pony, or any sort of toy a 3 year old might find fascinating to flush, there will be a very unhappy little girl on L Avenue. And that someone isn't me.
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